The 2018 NFL season is over, but in an era of needing to funnel content out at all times, ESPN has already provided us with extremely early predictions for the 2019 NFL season. Their panel of columnists and analysts were asked who would win Super Bowl 54 in Miami, as well as who would be league MVP.
This is behind the ESPN Insider/ESPN+ paywall, so I can’t give you everything, but I will give you the Seahawks related snippets. Kevin Seifert is going bold by having Russell Wilson as the 2019 regular season MVP, citing his excellent 2018 campaign despite a run-first approach.
Kevin Seifert, national NFL writer: Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks. Lost in the weekly debate about the Seahawks’ running emphasis was that Wilson had one of the best passing seasons of his career, with 35 touchdown passes, seven interceptions and 9.0 adjusted yards per attempt. If coach Pete Carroll shifts the ratio just a bit, Wilson is ready to put up MVP-type numbers.
Now I’m of the opinion that the Seahawks offense’s consistent habit of starting slowly just about eliminates Wilson from the MVP race before it can really begin. I imagine he’d have gotten votes in the 2015 season if they didn’t go the entire first-half of the season without scoring more than two offensive touchdowns in a game. But hey, trends can be broken, and if the Seahawks passing offense gets into gear early in 2019 and keeps that pace up, we could see Wilson in that MVP conversation.
Unsurprisingly, Patrick Mahomes topped the predictions tally, with four of nine panelists picking the Kansas City Chiefs star to repeat as league MVP. Aaron Rodgers was the only other QB to receive more than one vote, while other MVP predictions went to Drew Brees and Andrew Luck.
As for the “way too early” Super Bowl LIV pick? Well again, very early, free agency hasn’t started, but why the hell not? Former Seahawks beat writer Mike Sando, now an ESPN senior NFL columnist, has got Seattle in the Super Bowl... except they lose to the New England Patriots again.
Sando: Patriots over Seahawks. These teams are 1-2 in NFL winning percentage since Russell Wilson’s rookie season in 2012. New England is always in the mix. Seattle’s ability to win 10 games during a rebuilding season served notice that Pete Carroll’s team will be contending sooner rather than later. Minnesota is another interesting dark horse from the NFC.
The other predictions included the Los Angeles Chargers over the Chicago Bears (from Matt Bowen), the New Orleans Saints over Houston Texans (Dan Graziano), and unsurprisingly multiple analysts went with the Kansas City Chiefs over the Los Angeles Rams, while KC Joyner went Rams over Chiefs. Yes, KC picked KC to lose.
I’m sure we’ll be bringing up national media prognostications throughout the offseason, so this is just the start. Will anyone dare pick a terrible season for the Seahawks again? You’re all on notice.