The Patriots are still the last team to win back-to-back Super Bowls. The Kansas City Chiefs are looking to change that this season.
The Chiefs are favored to win Super Bowl LVIII after head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Patrick Mahomes helped to topple the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII last season. They’re expected to face heavy competition from the Eagles, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals and San Francisco 49ers this season, according to oddsmakers.
It’s not easy to repeat, and no one has done it in nearly 20 years. The Patriots accomplished the feat in 2003 and 2004. Even Bill Belichick and Tom Brady had to take a year off between wins in their second championship run from 2014 to 2018, however.
So, who will win it all this season? Can the Patriots sneak into the wild card? Who’s taking home MVP?
The Herald’s Patriots beat writers make their NFL predictions.
Callahan: Buffalo Bills
For all the Jets’ and Dolphins’ offseason splashes, the Bills remain the favorite. And rightfully so. They have the best quarterback, the roster with the fewest holes and highest floor.
Kyed: Buffalo Bills
The Dolphins, Jets and Patriots all made up some ground on the Bills this offseason but not enough. Quarterback Josh Allen and the Bills have too much talent to topple this season.
Callahan: Baltimore Ravens
New Ravens offensive coordinator Todd Monken is going to do for Baltimore what Bill O’Brien will do for the Patriots: update the passing game and elevate the quarterback. Lamar Jackson will be back in the MVP race this season. Book it.
Kyed: Cincinnati Bengals
Joe Burrow will have even more protection this season after Mike Brown splurged to sign offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. in free agency.
Callahan: Jacksonville Jaguars
Are you going to pick the Titans, Colts or Texans, all of whom might finish the season with rookie quarterbacks starting? Me neither.
Kyed: Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars have come a long way since Urban Meyer was fired as head coach. They’re the best team in a bad division, and Trevor Lawrence should take another major step in 2023. He was sneakily one of the league’s best quarterbacks in the second half of the season.
Callahan: Kansas City Chiefs
Bet against the Chiefs at your own peril. The NFL’s gold standard is coming off another Super Bowl campaign. Not to mention, none of the other AFC West teams have won a playoff game since January 2020.
Kyed: Kansas City Chiefs
It’s best to pick the Chiefs out of the AFC West until they prove us wrong. Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes are the best head coach-quarterback pairing in the NFL. The Chiefs took a risk replacing Brown with Jawaan Taylor at left tackle, however.
AFC Wild Card
Callahan: Miami Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Chargers
Tough calls abound here. The Dolphins edge the Patriots and Jets because of superior weapons and overall talent. Once he returns from injury, Joe Burrow should ensure Cincinnati makes the dance again. And the Chargers return thanks to new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, who will further develop star quarterback Justin Herbert instead of restricting him to short passes like his predecessor, Joe Lombardi.
Julian Edelman set to reunite with Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski on FOX Sports
Kyed: Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets, New England Patriots
Lamar Jackson will carry the Ravens to the wild card. Defense will lead the Jets and Patriots to the playoffs, however. We’re also banking on a major bounce-back from Mac Jones with Bill O’Brien as his new offensive coordinator.
Callahan: Dallas Cowboys
It’s time. The Cowboys are too talented, too well-rounded, too well-coached on defense to not make a deep playoff run. It starts with a division title, as the Eagles don’t benefit from the same injury luck as they did last season as the third-healthiest team in the NFL.
Kyed: Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles’ roster is constructed too well for a Super Bowl hangover. General manager Howie Roseman is such a wizard that he convinced Darius Slay to stick around even after hiring Matt Patricia to his defensive staff. Slay and Patricia clashed in Detroit.
Callahan: Green Bay Packers
Surprise! New quarterback Jordan Love leads the Pack to a title in his first season thanks to one of the NFL’s best offensive lines and a fast-developing receiving corps. Green Bay is also one of the best-coached teams in the league, which will shine through this season.
Kyed: Detroit Lions
The Lions had the NFL’s best offense, based on expected points added (EPA) per play from Week 12 on last season — yes, even better than the Chiefs. Expect the offensive dominance to continue this season.
Callahan: New Orleans Saints
All Derek Carr must do is not screw it up. The Saints own one of the NFC’s most talented rosters, an excellent defense and their competition in the division is in tatters.
Kyed: Carolina Panthers
The NFC South is looking like the worst division in the NFL this season. The Panthers have a lot of talent on defense, and rookie quarterback Bryce Young could be a difference-maker in Year 1.
Callahan: Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks are an ascending team with an improved roster, proven coaching and a better quarterback than the division favorite. That’s the recipe for an upset.
Kyed: San Francisco 49ers
I think it’s fair to be skeptical of 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy, and second-stringer Sam Darnold has been historically bad in his NFL career. But head coach Kyle Shanahan is a quarterback whisperer and should get success out of any passer with an otherwise strong roster.
NFC Wild Card
Callahan: San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, Detroit Lions
Barring disaster, arguably two of the NFC’s three best teams, the 49ers and Eagles, return to playoffs. The Lions finally break through under coach Dan Campbell after finishing last season strong.
Kyed: Dallas Cowboys, Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings
The Cowboys and Seahawks can’t quite beat out powerhouses like the Eagles and 49ers but should still make the postseason. The Vikings emerge in a pretty weak conference for the final playoff spot even if they’ll take a step back from their 13-4 finish in 2022.
Super Bowl matchup
Callahan: Cowboys vs. Chiefs
NFL headquarters pops champagne for two full weeks ahead of the Big Game, which could set a record for ratings. In the end, Patrick Mahomes earns his third ring, firmly establishing the Chiefs as the league’s next dynasty.
Kyed: Bengals vs. 49ers
In a rematch of Super Bowl XXIII, the Bengals emerge victorious this time. It might be now or never for Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and crew. Shanahan still can’t get his 49ers over the hump to win a championship.
Callahan: Ravens QB Lamar Jackson
Don’t underestimate Jackson. He’s one of the league’s most dynamic athletes and dangerous players at its most important position. If he stays healthy, another season with 3,000-plus passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards should be expected.
Kyed: Bengals QB Joe Burrow
The Bengals quarterback missed most of training camp with a calf injury. He’s been one of the best two or three quarterbacks in the NFL over the last two seasons. Expect him to improve even more in Year 4.
Offensive Player of the Year
Callahan: Browns RB Nick Chubb
If you watched the Browns last year, you know it’s all on Chubb. Deshaun Watson is no longer the quarterback he once was, and Chubb worked this offseason on honing his receiving skills. Look for him to league the league in rushing and set career highs as a receiver while scoring 20-plus touchdowns to lock up this award.
Kyed: Vikings WR Justin Jefferson
Jefferson makes ESPN analyst Ryan Clark pay for saying George Pickens is the more talented wide receiver. Jefferson won Offensive Player of the Year last year and is primed for another massive season with quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Defensive Player of the Year
Callahan: Cowboys DE Micah Parsons
Let’s get spicy: Parsons will break the NFL record for sacks in a single season, currently held by T.J. Watt and Michael Strahan at 22.5. Parsons might even nab 25.
Kyed: Jets CB Sauce Gardner
Gardner lived up to the hype as defensive rookie of the year and an All-Pro in 2022. He’ll build on that for the ultimate defensive award this season if he can force more turnovers. Of course, that would require quarterbacks actually targeting him.
Coach of the Year
Callahan: Green Bay’s Matt LaFleur
LaFleur should’ve been in the conversation when he had the Packers among the league’s elite every year with Aaron Rodgers. Now that Rodgers is gone, his work with Jordan Love over a playoff campaign gets the attention of voters and LaFleur some hardware.
Kyed: Carolina’s Frank Reich
Reich will deserve it if the Panthers can make the playoffs, even if it’s in a weak division.
Comeback Player of the Year
Callahan: Rams WR Cooper Kupp
Bills safety Damar Hamlin is the heavy favorite for this award, but in the off chance he doesn’t play this season, or plays only a few snaps, Kupp makes the most sense given he ranks among the NFL’s best weapons and will again be the focal point of a Rams offense with few options.
Kyed: Bills S Damar Hamlin
Hamlin taking the field at all is worthy of this honor after he nearly died on the field last season.
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