A Preview Of The 2018 NFL Season

USA Football LogoThe 2018 NFL season kicks off on September 6, 2018 and concludes on February 3, 2019 with Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta, Georgia. This season is expected to see more wagers than any season prior due to legal sports betting sweeping the nation. Here is our preview and odds on each NFL team for the 2018 season.

Super Bowl 53 Odds Entering the 2018 Season

As the 2018 NFL season has begun, the futures odds will start tightening up for the Super Bowl.  The closer we get, the more attention will be given to the betting lines for Super Bowl 53. Odds change weekly throughout the regular season, so to keep on top of them, you can visit any of the sportsbooks listed in our  NFL betting guide, which includes industry professional recommendations for the best online sportsbooks offering competitive odds and legal access to USA bettors.

2018 AFC East Preview

Buffalo Bills – 2017 Record: 9-7, lost in wildcard round

After leading the Bills to their first playoff appearance since 1999, the team parted ways with QB Tyrod Taylor during the offseason and drafted QB Josh Allen in the first round of 2018 NFL Draft. The team is currently rebuilding the roster from the ground up, so don’t bet on the Bills making the playoffs in 2018.

New England Patriots – 2017 Record: 13-3, lost in Super Bowl LII

After losing to the Eagles in the Super Bowl last year, the Patriots comes into the 2018 season as the favorites to win Super Bowl LIII. The Patriots are the surest bet the NFL has ever seen, appearing in eight Super Bowls, winning five times, since QB Tom Brady became the starter in 2001.

New York Jets – 2017 Record: 5-11, missed playoffs

The Jets hope they got their franchise QB for the foreseeable future when they drafted Sam Darnold in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. The team isn’t expected to compete for a couple years while they build around Darnold, so don’t bet on the Jets making too much noise in 2018.

Miami Dolphins – 2017 Record: 6-10, missed playoffs

The 2017 season was one to forget for the Dolphins after losing QB Ryan Tannerhill to a season-ending injury in training camp before the start of the season. Tannerhill returns healthy for the 2018 season, but the team will need him to raise his level of play significantly if the Dolphins want to challenge the Patriots for a division title.

2018 AFC North Preview

Baltimore Ravens – 2017 Record: 9-7, missed playoffs

The Ravens narrowly missed the playoffs in 2017 and will need QB Joe Flacco to play much better in 2018 if the talented Ravens want to make the playoffs. The team drafted Heisman Trophy winner QB Lamar Jackson in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, so if Flacco struggles again this season, Jackson could take over at QB.

Cincinnati Bengals – 2017 Record: 7-9, missed playoffs

QB Andy Dalton and WR A.J. Green have developed one of the best QB-WR relationships in all of football, but that wasn’t enough to get the Bengals to the playoffs in 2017. If the team wants to compete in 2018, the offense will need drastically improve their run game, ranking 31 out of 32 in total rushing yards last season.

Cleveland Browns – 2017 Record: 0-16, missed playoffs

Much has been said about the Browns not having won a game since December 24, 2016, and the Browns won’t likely be Super Bowl contenders in 2018. However, the team will likely improve significantly with the addition of several talented players and drafting Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield 1st overall in the 2018 NFL Draft to be the franchise QB of the future.

Pittsburgh Steelers – 2017 Record: 13-3, lost in divisional round

Considered to be the team with the best odds of challenging the Patriots in the AFC, the Steelers come into the 2018 with some worrying signs. During the offseason, it was speculated QB Ben Roethlisberger might retire and the team drafted QB Mason Rudolph to the dismay of Roethlisberger. In addition, RB Le’Veon Bell refuses to play until he is given a new contract, and if Bell doesn’t play in 2018, the Steelers chances of winning it all will likely go down the drain.

2018 AFC South Preview

Houston Texans – 2017 Record: 4-12, missed playoffs

The fate of the Texans in 2018 falls on two players: QB Deshaun Watson and DE J.J. Watt. Both are arguably the two most important players on the team and both had season-ending injuries in 2017. If both are healthy, then the Texans could make a deep playoff run.

Indianapolis Colts – 2017 Record: 4-12, missed playoffs

All eyes will be on QB Andrew Luck to see if he has the same zip on the ball following complications from shoulder surgery that made him miss the entire 2017 season. While the defense of the Colts needs to improve, if Luck is back to 100% then he’ll likely be a top 10 QB in 2018 and give the team a chance to compete for a division title.

Jacksonville Jaguars – 2017 Record: 10-6, lost in conference championship

The Jaguars came out of nowhere in 2017 and almost made the Super Bowl last season, falling to the Patriots in the AFC Championship. The team is expected to have one of the best defenses in the NFL in 2018, but if the team wants to make a Super Bowl run, they will need QB Blake Bortles to become less of a liability and become a reliable QB the team can count in the clutch.

Tennessee Titans – 2017 Record: 9-7, lost in divisional round

After surpassing expectations last season and upsetting the Chiefs before losing to the Patriots in the playoffs, the Titans come into 2018 with most experts not expecting them to repeat last year’s success. QB Marcus Mariota will need to stay healthy for a full season if the Titans want any chance of making the playoffs this season, since the AFC South will be much tougher in 2018.

2018 AFC West Preview

Denver Broncos – 2017 Record: 5-11, missed playoffs

Last season was a disappointing one for the Broncos as they continue to search for the answer at QB after Peyton Manning retired following their Super Bowl 50 victory in 2015. The team believes, for now anyways, that QB Case Keenum is the answer, signing with the Broncos in the offseason. However, Keenum isn’t an elite franchise QB, so don’t expect the Broncos to be much better in 2018.

Kansas City Chiefs – 2017 Record: 10-6, lost in wildcard round

The Chiefs decided to part ways with QB Alex Smith in the offseason and believe they have found the future of the franchise and a potential superstar in QB Patrick Mahomes. Scouts say Mahomes is very talented with a cannon for an arm, and if he as good as the Chiefs believe he is, then the talented Chiefs could make a serious run at the Super Bowl in 2018.

Los Angeles Chargers – 2017 Record: 9-7, missed playoffs

For a team having so much talent, a cloud of uncertainty remains around the Chargers in 2018. Much has been said about the team over the years, since on paper the Chargers should be a Super Bowl contender every year. The team will need to improve on defense, and QB Phillip Rivers will give it another go as the window of his great career begins to shut.

Oakland Raiders – 2017 Record: 6-10, missed playoffs

The 2017 Raiders were a disappointing team across the board and management decided to go a different direction in the offseason, hiring head coach Jon Gruden to rebuild the franchise. Don’t expect too much from the Raiders this season, but the team will likely compete within the next couple of years and just in time for their move to Las Vegas.

2018 NFC East Preview

Dallas Cowboys – 2017 Record: 9-7, missed playoffs

The Cowboys in 2017 took a step backwards after the 2016 season showed so much promise for the future of the team. QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliot will need to lead the team in 2018, following the release of WR Dez Bryant and the retirement of TE Jason Witten. Without any playmakers on offense outside of Prescott and Elliot, it’s difficult to see the Cowboys being better than their disappointing 2017 season.

New York Giants – 2017 Record: 3-13, missed playoffs

After drafting RB Saquon Barkly, arguably the most talented player in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Giants believe they can “win now” and compete for a Super Bowl. That is a bit of a stretch, but the Giants can compete for an NFC East title if QB Eli Manning can show he has some gas left in the tank.

Philadelphia Eagles – 2017 Record: 13-3, won Super Bowl LII

The defending Super Bowl champion Eagles are among the favorites to win it all in 2018. However, the Eagles will enter the season without starting QB Carson Wentz, who is still recovering from his season-ending injury a year ago. The team will need Super Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles to keep the ship afloat in the meantime. The Eagles have a good chance to win the division but keep in mind that only eight teams have won the Super Bowl in back-to-back years.

Washington Redskins – 2017 Record: 7-9, missed playoffs

After parting ways with QB Kirk Cousins, who many believed would be the franchise QB for years to come, in the offseason, the Redskins signed QB Alex Smith – a move most believe to be a downgrade. It’s difficult to make sense of what the front office is doing currently, but it isn’t difficult to see the Redskins struggling to win football games in 2018.

2018 NFC North Preview

Chicago Bears – 2017 Record: 5-11, missed playoffs

The Bears traded for and signed DE Khalil Mack before the start of the 2018 season, giving him the biggest contract ever for a defensive player. Mack is one of the best players in the NFL, but the Bears will likely struggle this season as Mitchell Trubisky continues to develop as a QB.

Detroit Lions – 2017 Record: 9-7, missed playoffs

Even though the team hired Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia to be the new head coach, the Lions will need his expertise and more talent on that side of the ball if they want to be a contender any time soon. QB Matt Stafford will likely put up big numbers but it is unlikely the Lions will be relevant in 2018.

Green Bay Packers – 2017 Record: 7-9, missed playoffs

QB Aaron Rodgers is considered by many to be the best player in the NFL, and if he has fully recovered from his season-ending injury in 2017, then the Packers could be a worthy Super Bowl wager. If Rodgers goes down for any reason, then be prepared to jump off the Packers bandwagon ASAP.

Minnesota Vikings – 2017 Record: 13-3, lost in conference championship

The Vikings are one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl and acquired QB Kirk Cousins in the offseason and believe he is the missing piece to the Super Bowl puzzle. The team had the No.1 ranked defense in the NFL in 2017 and with numerous talented players on offense, all eyes will be on Cousins to see if he can live up to the high expectations.

2018 NFC South Preview

Atlanta Falcons – 2017 Record: 10-6, lost in divisional round

The Falcons on paper should be a Super Bowl contender and have a talented roster returning in 2018. The team will need another WR to step up to take double teams away from WR Julio Jones. The Falcons will likely make the playoffs but predicting a winner in the tough NFC South is no easy feat.

Carolina Panthers – 2017 Record: 11-5, lost in wildcard round

Seeing QB Cam Newton return to form in 2017 was a positive sign for the team, but the Panthers will need playmakers other than RB Christian McCaffrey to help the offense consistently move the ball. The Panthers have one of the best defenses in the NFL, so that alone gives them a shot at going far in 2018.

New Orleans Saints – 2017 Record: 11-5, lost in divisional round

As mentioned above, the NFC South is a tough division, maybe the toughest in the NFL, and the Saints managed to win the division in 2017. The team in 2018 will have no problem scoring points and RB Alvin Kamara is an 2018 MVP candidate. The big question will be whether the Saints can improve on defense, and if they can, the Saints could make a serious run at the Super Bowl.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 2017 Record: 5-11, missed playoffs

The Buccaneers 2017 season was one to forget and saw players make numerous mistakes both on and off the field. QB Jameis Winston is suspended to start the season and will likely be on a short leash with the franchise going forward. The roster has talent but will likely not contend for an NFC South title in 2018.

2018 NFC West Preview

Arizona Cardinals – 2017 Record: 8-8, missed playoffs

RB David Johnson returns from his season-ending injury from a year ago, and the Cardinals believe he is 100% healthy, giving him a new contract before the start of 2018. QB Sam Bradford takes over as the starter, but that doesn’t exactly instill confidence. Look for the Cardinals to take a step back this season and contending for the Super Bowl in 2018 is probably a pipe dream to say the least.

Los Angeles Rams – 2017 Record: 11-5, lost in wild card round

The Rams are arguably the most talented team in the NFL and are led by 2017 MVP runner-up RB Todd Gurley and 2017 Defensive Player of the Year DT Aaron Donald. If QB Jared Goff can take the next step and become an elite QB in 2018, then the Rams will likely justify being the favorites out of the NFC this season along with being Super Bowl contenders for years to come.

San Francisco 49ers – 2017 Record: 6-10, missed playoffs

All eyes will be on QB Jimmy Garoppolo for the 2018 season to see if his play at the end of the 2017 was a fluke or not. Odds are that it was a bit of a fluke, since the real test of a great NFL QB is whether they can lead their team to victory over the course of a full 16-game season and beyond – something Garoppolo has never done but something the 49ers will need if they want any shot at challenging the Rams in the NFC West.

Seattle Seahawks – 2017 Record: 9-7, missed playoffs

The Seahawks barely missed the playoffs in 2017 and not because of QB Russell Wilson, who was an MVP candidate much of the year. However, the 2018 team is shell of its former Super Bowl-winning self and have parted ways with nearly every member of the once-feared defensive secondary known as the “Legion of Boom.” Wilson will likely have another great season, but don’t bet on the Seahawks contending for a Super Bowl in 2018 or in the near future.

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