The NFL season is set to kickoff on Thursday, September 5 with the Chicago Bears looking to defend their NFC North title by hosting their longtime rivals the Green Bay Packers. The Bears/Packers opening night game is the first opening night game that doesn't feature the defending champs since 2003. The defending Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots, will open their season with the Sunday night football game.

They host the Steelers in Foxboro, where they will be presented with their championship rings. Tom Brady will try to add another Super Bowl title in 2019. Here are predictions for the 2019-20 season.

Smith-Schuster leads WR in receiving yards

If Bell didn't holdout and Brown put all his drama aside, the Steelers could have arguably had the most lethal offense last season with Roethlisberger calling the shots, Brown and Juju in the slots and Bell and Conner running around the field causing chaos for opposing defences.

That didn't happen though which cost the Steelers a playoff spot.

This season the Steelers are nowhere near as lethal as Bell signed with the Jets and Brown was traded to the Raiders where he's still causing a ton of off-field drama but the Steelers have one of the top QB-RB-WR tandems in Roethlisberger, Conner and Smith-Schuster. With Brown now gone, Smith-Schuster will have more targets and touches as he's now the clear number one option when Big Ben is throwing the ball.

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Last season, Juju had the fifth-most receiving yards (1426) on 113 catches (12.8 yards per reception). Meanwhile Brown had 1297 reception yards on 104 catches (12.4 yards per reception). Since Brown is no longer on the Steelers, three-quarters of Brown's yards and catches will go to Juju which will lead to him having the most receiving yards of any WR in the league.

Arguments can be made that opposing defences will cover Smith-Schuster with their top defenders or even double team him but Juju is that athletic that he'll find ways around them.

Also, Roethlisberger's experience will prevail over whoever is covering Smith-Schuster as he is one of the most experienced and successful quarterbacks in the NFL.

Nick Foles is a bust which prompts Jaguars regret in signing him

As things didn't workout last season with Blake Bortles at quarterback for the Jaguars, things got even worse when Bortles was demoted to backup and Cody Kessler took over which led to disastrous results.

The Jaguars had an obvious need at quarterback as a team can't be successful without a starting calibre game caller so during the offseason, they signed Nick Foles to a four-year, $88 million contract with the possibility of Foles earning up to $102 million in incentives.

Throughout his whole career, Foles was always relegated to backup duties with the exception of two seasons, 2013 where he appeared in 13 games and started 10 and 2015 where he appeared in 11 games and started all of them.

2015 saw him throw more interceptions (10) than touchdowns (7) and he also posted the lowest completion rate of his career (56.4 percent) until he posted the same completion rate last season in five games.

Foles primarily got his big payday due to his postseason success and heroics. Foles has appeared in the playoffs in the past two seasons where he took over for an injured Carson Wentz. In the past two years, he's appeared in five games where he's posted a completion rate of 67.8 percent with nine touchdowns and won the Super Bowl MVP in 2017 where he guided the Eagles to victory over the Patriots.

The Jaguars relying on Foles performing at his highest in the regular season will be a tough task for both Foles and Jacksonville. With Foles lack of experience as a starter, things won't workout well and it will be another season to forget for the Jaguars.

Tom Brady has a down year

The Patriots for once look beatable for the first time in a few years. Rob Gronkowski retired, S Patrick Chung has a legal case wavering over his head which could force him to miss games and even affect his on-field performance, C David Andrews is out for the season due to blood clots and rookie WR N'Keal Harry was placed on injured reserve with ankle problems.

Even with all those starters injured, the Pats should still walk away with a division title in a fairly weak AFC East.

Factor in all those injuries and Gronk's retirement, that will lead to a down year and regression for Tom Brady. As Gronk and Brady built a connection, Gronk was Brady's go-to target and with Gronk calling it a career in the offseason, Brady will no longer have a supersized TE to protect him and throw the ball to which Brady will severely miss. With no Gronk, Brady's number one option is Julian Edelman which is absolutely nothing to sulk over but it may be a problem when it comes to defenders pairing up with Edelman.

Edelman, only 5'10, will have trouble finding his way around big, tall linebackers and safeties who typically stand at the heights of 6'3-6'5. This will cause Brady to have Edelman on short slants with hopes that he could run and juke his way around defenders when he has the ball.

One thing that Brady typically excels at is getting rid of the ball quick by throwing very short passes and relying on his receivers to run the rest of the way to get closer to the endzone. The typical receivers for these plays were Gronkowski and RB Rex Burkhead.

Gronkowski excelled at these plays as he was bigger than his opposing defenders as he stood 6'7 weighing 265 pounds and was a tough task for opposing defenders to tackle as it took as many as two or even three defenders to get him on the ground. With no more Gronk, Burkhead is the only guy left in order for Brady's short passes to be of any good use but this time around, it may not work as Gronk is no longer there to be a blocker and David Andrews is no longer there to help block as well.

With all the injuries, a somewhat depleted receiving corps and a weaker blocking unit, Brady will have a down year which will cause debates whether father time has caught up to him as he will be 42 years old this season.

Ravens offence struggles mightly

Expectations are somewhat high for the Ravens this season as second-year QB Lamar Jackson led the team to the playoffs with a 6-1 record after being inserted into the starting role in week 11 in his rookie season. With the success the team had with Jackson at the helm, the Ravens are hoping that Jackson will lead them to another playoff berth, especially with the addition of Mark Ingram who is their new starting RB.

Although Jackson had a successful rookie season, everyone now knows the type of player Jackson is.

Jackson has a good arm but is a quarterback that loves to run the ball himself which he does so very often. With a quarterback that loves to run and the addition of Ingram, the Ravens will be relying heavily on the run game which opposing defences sure know by now which will prompt Jackson and the Ravens to throw the ball more often. That may be a problem as well as Jackson doesn't have the greatest receivers to throw the ball to. Last year, Ravens WR combined for only four touchdowns and they also added two WR in the draft including Marquise Brown who they selected in the first round but rookies who play on the offensive side of the ball usually don't make a huge impact in year one.

Last year, the Ravens used their first-round selection on TE Hayden Hurst but he didn't do much for the Ravens and the TE position for the Ravens for the past few years has been ghost.

The Ravens are going to rely on a heavy run game at the beginning but they'll eventually be exposed and will have to rely on throwing the ball which will be a huge mess for the Ravens. This won't be a good season in Baltimore.

Barkley wins MVP

A running back hasn't won the MVP award since Adrian Peterson did in 2012 but that's about to change this year as Saquon Barkley will walk away with the hardware when the season is over.

The Giants are going to be a really bad team this year and Barkley will be the only thing that's worth watching the Giants play.

Barkley rushed for 1307 yards last season, good for second-best in the league and rushed for 11 touchdowns. He also caught 91 passes for a total of 721 yards as well as four reception touchdowns. That all came with sharing the spotlight with star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. who had 1052 reception yards and it's not to be forgotten that the Giants also deployed Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram in the slots who are all capable of putting up big numbers.

The Giants offence is somewhat different this year compared to last year's. Odell is now in Cleveland and the Giants brought in Golden Tate to fill his spot on the depth chart. During training camp, the Giants received news that Tate has been suspended for the first four games to due banned substance use which now has defences putting their strongest defenders on Engram and Shepard. The Giants have Eli Manning tabbed in as their week one starter and Manning's glory days are way past him making it difficult to have a successful throwing game. Tate's suspension only helps Barkley as he'll be handed the ball more and will also be tasked with being an option when Manning decides to throw the ball.

Even when the Giants commit to rookie Daniel Jones as their starter, which will most likely happen at some point in the season, he'll be too young and inexperienced to find openings for all his receivers which will prompt the Giants to just let Barkley control the game for them. The Giants relying on Barkley will see an increase in rushing and receiving yards for him which will lead him to the prestigious MVP award for the 2019-20 season.

Browns win their division with one of the best records in the league

It wasn't too long ago when the Browns were the laughing stock of the league. They combined to go 1-31 over two seasons and didn't win a single game in the 2017-18 season. Then all of the sudden their fortunes changed with high draft picks, trades and signings that saw them bring in the likes of Myles Garrett, Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb, David Njoku, Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr, Denzel Ward, Sheldon Richardson and others. With those guys as the core of the team, they're now seen as a playoff team.

Last season the Browns went 7-8-1 but Mayfield didn't start until week four in which the Browns went 1-1-1 in the first three weeks, Hugh Jackson wasn't fired until week nine and Chubb got immensely better as he built a connection with Mayfield. Now with Beckham Jr in the fold, a top receiver across the league, the Browns got more dangerous and have one of the most lethal offences in the NFL.

The Browns play five games against basement teams as the play the Dolphins, Cardinals, Bills and the Bengals twice. They also play the likes of the Jets, Titans, Broncos and Steelers (twice) who the Browns are a better team but aren't guaranteed wins as in football, almost anything can happen as it's only one game a week. Their toughest games will come against the Patriots, Rams and potentially the Seahawks who are all more complete and experienced teams than the Browns are. Assuming everyone can stay healthy and can build a strong bond amongst each other, the Browns could very well end the season winning their division with a record as strong as 13-3.

Other predictions

NFC North is the tightest division

Bears

- Added to strong defence but offence is weaker (Jordan Howard traded away, one injury to Cohen forces Bears to throw the ball more often which defences will pick up on)

- Ton of question marks surrounding kicker position

Vikings

- Defence remains strong with strong offensive core but Cousins struggled last season and doesn't look like he's getting any better

- Face five strong teams not in their division in Chiefs, Cowboys, Seahawks, Chargers and Eagles

Packers

- Offence is strong but defence is mediocre at best

- Crosby is only getting worse severely hurting chances of Packers winning games

Lions

- Sneaky contenders to have top 10 defence in NFL

- Stafford's health will be the determining factor in being a good or bad team

Chiefs vs Cowboys in Super Bowl

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