Saturday, May 19, marks the kickoff of the Lucas Oil's AMA Outdoor National Pro Motocross [VIDEO] racing season, expected to be one of the most competitive in recent years. Multiple riders have the skill to put themselves on top of the podium each week, and any of the top five riders have the talent to win the number one plate once the final dust clears. Top teams, like Monster Energy Kawasaki, Team Honda HRC, Red Bull KTM, Rockstar Energy [VIDEO] Racing Husqvarna, and Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/WPS/KTM put their best talent on the grid to go head-to-head for 2018's MX Championship Series.

There are many SX/MX seasons where a rider can say he is biding his time and looking to improve while being content with a top five or podium finish absent the overall win, believing such a result matches his particular stage of development among the talent pool in the sport.

This year however, not one of the top five riders is approaching the season with that mindset. They are poised to win, and each believes he is fast enough that this is his time. Anything other than a championship will be a disappointment. There is only one top step on the podium however, so four of the top five riders are destined to finish the season with unfulfilled expectations. We take a look at each of these riders in expected finishing order:

1. Eli Tomac has a huge chip on his shoulder. His fans believe he should have won multiple championships by now. When at his fastest outdoors, he has simply left the field in the dust. He is healthy and dissatisfied that he didn’t win the Supercross title this season, having been the fastest rider on the track most weeks. His run-in with Musquin in Foxborough that cost him a race win is still fresh and only fuels his determination to gap the field.

However, it is a long season. Eli needs to settle down and go to work with a clear head to avoid the costly mistakes that have hindered his championship runs in the past. If he does that, it is hard to imagine anyone else being able to beat him right now. He is a consensus odds-on favorite to successfully defend the title.

2. Marvin Musquin is the favorite challenger to unseat Tomac. Following the example set by his predecessor, former practice partner and teammate in seven-time champion Ryan Dungey, Musquin has been the most consistent rider on the track, advancing in development each season. He is technical, calculated, smart, and consistently fast; seldom making the big mistake. He may not win as many races as Tomac, but consistent finishes can gain more points over the course of the full season than wins, making it very possible Musquin takes the title. He will no longer be happy with second place, and come Saturday, we’ll see him race like it. He will push Tomac to the final race in the hunt for the big prize, and no fan will be surprised if he's lofting the championship trophy when the racing is done.

3. Jason Anderson is coming off a confidence-building Supercross Championship. He has steadily improved, but more importantly, he has gained consistency to mitigate point’s losses on the days he has struggled. He is fast and determined to prove he can win the outdoor title. Expect the Tomac-Musquin-Anderson train to be a tight one as these three trade places and blows all season long. Anderson has the toughness to come out on top. It wouldn’t be a shock to see him take it all.

4. Blake Baggett has not had the success on the 450 he enjoyed on the 250 where he earned his nickname El Chupacabra while often flying past the competition, but last year he made a huge stride forward and was in the title hunt for several weeks until a broken hand dropped him out of final contention. Can he find the speed and consistency that made him a 250 Class [VIDEO] Champion in the 450 Class? He feels ready to take the next step. He showcased good speed during Supercross this season and has always been more comfortable outdoors. He knows he can race with the top guys like Tomac because he did it last season before injury. Expect him to be in the mix every week in the top five. This could be the year he surprises everyone and steals the show. He has the ability to be number one.

5. Ken Roczen was riding faster than anyone in the sport at the time of his horrific crash in Supercross that devastated his arm and shoulder and put his entire racing career in doubt. It has been a tough road back, and only the sheer will and fighting spirit of this rider have allowed him to overcome such a major injury obstacle and put himself back in the mix to start the 2018 outdoor season. He knows what he is capable of, and he is determined, but he is also coming off another injury setback that sidelined him for most of the Supercross season. It is hard to predict if he can regain his old speed and form, but if his determination is the critical factor, then it is hard to doubt the fighting spirit of this true warrior.

He’d love to win the championship, but the most important goal for him this season might be to pace himself, gain consistency, and put in a full series without injury to build toward the future. However, if Roczen regains his speed, he could quickly move to the top of this list. Fans would rather see a solid fifth and a full season of healthy riding from him, rather than a close championship run lost to injury.

How to watch

The action kicks off this Saturday, May 19. Moto1 is from 2:00-4:00 PM ET. It is available streaming online via NBC Sports Gold Pass, or you can catch it on MAVTV with your local cable/satellite provider. Moto2 can also be streamed via NBC’s service, or catch it on NBCSN 8:30-10:30 PM ET through your television provider. Televised times may change, so be sure to double check the schedule the day of the race.