Each week I'm going highlight a couple of team's situations and issue some ever so hot takes. Don't take it personally if I suggest that your favorite team or favorite player sucks. I'm in the same boat - I'm a Bears fan.
There is a creeping sense of optimism in Cleveland which probably hasn't been felt since the day they drafted false messiah Johnny Manziel. While it didn't work out last time, it will this time for three reasons:
1. Baker Mayfield is going to be good. I don't like to "call shots" with young quarterbacks, but I saw everything I would have hoped to in last Thursdays clash. The guy is accurate, has a good enough arm, and he's a fierce competitor. You can win football games with those attributes. I know he's a rookie, but I see him as a young Drew Brees. 2-5 years from now I can either be mocked for that take or championed as a king of evaluation.
2. The Browns defense is already good. They're getting Christian Kirksey back this week and already have enough pieces in place to cause some problems. Myles Garret has four sacks and two forced fumbles in three games this year. Denzel Ward - who I wouldn't have drafted fourth overall - isn't Marshon Lattimore, but he should have a solid career in the NFL. These are the foundations of a playoff ready defense.
3. They still have a card to play for an extra boost - firing their disaster of a coaching staff. Lets call it what it is. If there is a worse head coach in the NFL than Hue Jackson he should be ashamed of himself.
Outlook: This is a team that talent wise probably could win 9-10 games. Coaching will limit that to somewhere around 6 or 7 and Mr. Jackson will be relieved of his duties immediately following the season. The Browns will make the playoffs in 2019-2020.
This is going to be a painful season in Minnesota. They easily have a top 5 roster in the NFC and possibly even the NFL. But they won't make the playoffs.
A common phrase regarding the Vikings that gets thrown around is that "they have a Super Bowl defense". That statement is misleading at this point. The reality is, Minnesota has had a Super Bowl defense for the last four seasons. Their age is going to show in the coming weeks.
Everson Griffin and Harrison Smith are two guys that come to mind. Griffin is in his 9th season and was due for regression even before his mental breakdown. He was still highly productive last year, but it ends abruptly for guys like him and Smith. There are not a lot of players who can throw their bodies around at the safety position and keep themselves in one piece in their 8th season in the league. Smith has remarkably started a lot of games, but this has to end sometime and it will likely be this year.
Besides the aging defense, the Vikings won't make the playoffs this year because they put too much stock in Kirk "Kurt" Cousins. The next time that guy comes up big will be the first time.
Kansas City Chiefs
They're a fun offensive team, but watch them get beat this week in Denver. The Broncos will be able to slow their offense down just enough and their defense is going to cost them. This won't be the only game either, their sloppy D will cost them several games this season. In typical Chiefs fashion, I expect them to be heading home after the first weekend of the playoffs.