This is kind of an extended metaphor, but just stay with me here.

The other day I was in an (establishment name redacted) restaurant here in our area, and I was absolutely going through it. I don't use the term "hangry" often, but I was 100 percent in it.

Pre-dinner workout: check.

Seated in nice booth: done.

Food: NOT ON MY TABLE YET. WHY IS IT NOT ON MY TABLE.

It was that feeling we are all too accustomed to when all you just want some chicken fingers, but the booth next to you who arrived like ten minutes after you did gets their food first, because reasons I guess.

But then, like the pearly gates of heaven opening or that feeling you get when you peel those transparent films off of electronics, that undeniable sense of euphoria washes over you.

The waitress is approaching your table, holding that glorious plate of chicken tenders.

That's what the beginning of the NFL season feels like.

The Packers and Bears kick off the NFL's 100th season on Thursday night, with a full slate of games this weekend. Let's take a look at our predictions, both for this week's games and for the entire NFL season.


SEASON PREDICTIONS

AFC

  1. Patriots
  2. Chiefs
  3. Colts
  4. Steelers
  5. Chargers
  6. Browns

NFC

  1. Eagles
  2. Packers
  3. Falcons
  4. Rams
  5. Cowboys
  6. Panthers

Super Bowl Prediction: Chiefs beat Eagles

Starting with the AFC, I feel like Tom Brady will continue to defy father time and lead the Patriots to the top seed in the conference, however I think this will me mainly be due to how they start the season. With their soft-ish schedule, I could definitely see the Pats being 6-1 after the first seven games.

However I do think the Chiefs will get a measure of revenge in the playoffs, making the Super Bowl. This team top to bottom is better, which is scary considering how good they were in 2018.

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A lot of people are writing the Colts off following Andrew Luck's abrupt retirement. I think they will still win the division, albeit less convincingly.

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Outside of quarterback, the offense is better, the defense is still as good as it was last year, and head coach Frank Reich will put Jacoby Brissett in a position to succeed.

Additionally, the Jaguars won't be anything special and Marcus Mariota/Ryan Tannehill can't win the division for the Titans. The Texans (outside of DeShaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, and JJ Watt) are average at best. the addition of Laremy Tunsil alone won't solve the Texans' offensive line woes on his own, and the front office/coaching staff is kind of in shambles right now.

The AFC North is the hot division in the conference this year. I think the Steelers burning off the chaff of Antonio Brown and LeVeon Bell was a wise move. Yes, the offense is technically less talented, but I think it will be a more cohesive unit with infinitely less drama. The defense is much improved.

The Browns are many people's hot pick to win the division. I'm not ready to crown them just yet, but I do think they sneak into the playoffs as a wildcard. So too will the Chargers. They won't be as potent, especially with star safety Derwin James missing most the season, but they're still dangerous.

In the NFC, I love the Eagles to get to the Super Bowl, on the condition that Carson Wentz stays healthy all year. If he misses any substantial time, they will likely be a wildcard team at best. Carson has potential to be the best quarterback in the league, but he has to stay healthy.

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The Packers will have a major bounce-back year, likely losing to the Eagles in the NFC Championship. I like the improvements on defense. I also think Aaron Rodgers will have an MVP-caliber year.

The NFC South is a huge toss-up. You can really make a case for either the Falcons, Saints, or Panthers to win the division. In the end, I think the Falcons will shake off last year's massive injury bug to have a solid season and win it, while the Panthers sneak into the playoffs as a wildcard. The Saints will barely miss out on the playoffs. Drew Brees really slowed down a lot last year, likely due to age and the wear and tear of a full season.

Honestly, I think the Rams will take a sizable step back, but I don't see the Seahawks winning the division, I still don't know what to make of the 49ers, and the Cardinals are, well, the Cardinals.

If both Carson Wentz and Patrick Mahomes stay healthy, I think the Eagles and Chiefs will make the Super Bowl. This will be a reeeeeeeeal close game, but the Chiefs will come out on top.

NFL MVP: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

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Mahomes will still have an MVP-caliber year, but it will honestly be real tough for him to top what he did in 2018. Carson Wentz will be great, but I don't necessarily trust him fully to stay healthy.

Aaron Rodgers is the pick for me then. Again. I think the Packers will have a big rebound year and make a serious run at the Super Bowl, mainly due to Rodgers. It will be the perfect combination of Rodgers having the lofty stats and the team's success being largely dependent on him.

Defensive Player of the Year: Darius Leonard, Indianapolis Colts

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I can't not pick him. He was an absolute stud last year. 163 total tackles, seven sacks, and four forced fumbles as a rookie is just obscene. Leonard was a main reason why the Colts went from 30th in both points and yards allowed in 2017, to 10th and 11th respectively last year.

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals

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I want to say that a running back like Josh Jacobs or David Montgomery who will get plenty of touches will win it. Marquise "Hollywood" Brown's speed is also expected to prove a lethal combination on the Ravens with second-year dynamic quarterback Lamar Jackson. However, Murray will produce and likely have many electric moments to win the prize.

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Devin Bush, Pittsburgh Steelers

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Bush has looked like a stud in the preseason and has been just what the Steelers have been lacking at linebackers since Ryan Shazier's serious injury. He'll pip Nick Bosa, Quinnen Williams, and Devin White for the prize.


WEEK ONE PREDICTIONS

Packers at Bears-- Thursday 8:20 p.m.

Prediction: Packers win 27-24

Chiefs at Jaguars-- Sunday 1 p.m.

Prediction:Chiefs win 35-17

Falcons at Vikings-- Sunday 1 p.m.

Prediction: Falcons win 24-14

Titans at Browns-- Sunday 1 p.m.

Prediction: Browns win 17-9

Bills at Jets-- Sunday 1 p.m.

Prediction: Jets win 17-14

Ravens at Dolphins-- Sunday 1 p.m.

Prediction: Ravens win 27-10

Redskins at Eagles-- Sunday 1 p.m.

Prediction: Eagles win 35-7

Rams at Panthers-- Sunday 1 p.m.

Prediction: Rams win 28-24

Colts at Chargers-- Sunday 4:05 p.m.

Prediction: Chargers 21-17

49ers at Buccaneers-- Sunday 4:05 p.m.

Prediction: 49ers win 28-14

Lions at Cardinals-- Sunday 4:05 p.m.

Prediction: Lions win 23-21

Giants at Cowboys-- Sunday 4:05 p.m.

Prediction: Cowboys win 27-17

Bengals at Seahawks-- Sunday 4:05 p.m.

Prediction: Seahawks win 24-7

Steelers at Patriots-- Sunday 8:20 p.m.

Prediction: Patriots win 21-17

Texans at Saints-- Monday 7:10 p.m.

Prediction: Saints win 36-27

Broncos at Raiders-- Monday 10:20 p.m.

Prediction:Raiders win 20-14