Which teams will rise and fall in 2018 in the unpredictable NFL

JAIME C. HARRIS | 9/7/2018, 11:52 a.m.
The Philadelphia Eagles finished the 2016 season 7-9, last in the NFC East division.
Deshaun Watson Contributed

The Philadelphia Eagles finished the 2016 season 7-9, last in the NFC East division. They entered the 2017 season as a 50-1 long shot to win Super Bowl LII. They defied those odds by first ending the regular season 13-3, and then, under the direction of backup quarterback Nick Foles, who took over for MVP candidate Carson Wentz when the second-year signal caller tore his left anterior cruciate ligament in Week 14 against the Los Angeles Chargers, defeated the New England Patriots 41-33 to win the franchise’s first Super Bowl to culminate a dramatic turnaround.

Will there be another team to emerge from the depths of the standings to become a Super Bowl champion? Or will a mainstay such as the New England Patriots continue to their dynastic run? In the unpredictable National Football League, it is likely an unexpected team will emerge to enter the playoff fray and a favorite will be in deep contention come late January.

BetDSI Sportsbook has the Patriots and Eagles as the top two betting choices to reach Super Bowl LIII. The Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings round out the five leading Super Bowl favorites. The Giants come in at 19 and the Jets at 28. It isn’t inconceivable the Giants and or the Jets could make significant improvements and catapult themselves into the postseason tournament. Even the Cleveland Browns, who were 1-31 over the past two seasons, can find redemption in 2018 and bring hope to their long suffering fans.

But the Patriots, Steelers, Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars are teams that, based on their history (Patriots and Steelers) and talent (Jaguars and Texans), should be forces in the AFC. The Patriots edged the Jaguars in the conference championship game last season, and the Steelers, who last made it to the Super Bowl in 2011 and was the conference runner-up in 2016, are overdue to play in the sport’s ultimate showcase.

Injuries and instability at the quarterback position have been the Texans biggest obstacle to reaching football’s summit. Last season, rookie Deshaun Watson solved the Texans QB dilemma as he electrified the league with both his legs and arm before tearing his right ACL in practice in early November, ending his season. A month earlier, the Texans’ all-world defensive end J.J. Watt’s season was devastated after he suffered a tibial plateau fracture against the Kansas City Chiefs.  

The NFC might come down to the New Orleans Saints facing the Minnesota Vikings in the conference championship. The Vikings shocked the Saints 29-24 on a game-winning touchdown in a divisional round matchup before falling to the Eagles. 

The Saints return a nucleus led by future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees, as good as any in football.

The Vikings felt an upgrade at the position was the final ingredient to reaching the Super Bowl, so they signed former Washington QB Kirk Cousins to a three-year, $84 million fully guaranteed deal in March.

The NFL season should be compelling as usual with the Saints and Texans squaring off in February in Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta.