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NFL 2018 A RAMbunctious Year By Mark Hollis

It’s that time of the year again when every NFL pundit predicts which team will win it all this upcoming season. There are a number of teams that have taken advantage of free agency and grabbed those veteran players who’ll have an immediate impact on their squads. Then there are those teams that have taken advantage of the draft with the anticipation that the rookies will be contributors to a winning season. As many of you realize, football is one of those sports where players cannot rest on what they accomplished last year. Each new year brings new challenges.

In 2018, the Philadelphia Eagles, led by backup quarterback Nick Foles, won the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, my picks were the Oakland Raiders and the Dallas Cowboys and I’m prepared to eat some crow. However, in my defense, both teams looked great on paper prior to the season, but fell flat once the season kicked off. So, I will take a bite of the black bird and try to redeem myself.

I have some considerations to factor in for this next season. The first one is that there will always be injuries that even impact players can fall victim to. If Aaron Rodgers, Derek Carr, or Tom Brady, get injured, their teams can almost kiss the season goodbye. No coach wants their marquee player on the PUP (Physically unable to Play) List. The second factor to be considered are off-field incidents. Domestic issues and drug use are two of the most common area’s that most coaches fear. Take the case of Ezekiel Elliot, a phenomenal player for the Dallas Cowboys, whose domestic issue resulted in a major suspension. And lastly, as seen this past season, there remains the cultural divide between the owners of the NFL and those players who use their first amendment rights to protest during the playing of the national anthem.

I take all these areas into formulating my decision picks and firmly believe that Southern California will have two teams in Super Bowl 53. The NFC will be represented by the Los Angeles Rams whose off-season moves acquired Marcus Peters, Ndamukong Suh, and Aqib Talib to beef up its defense. These players will make their teams the most dominant offensive stoppers in the game. Then add the offensive attacks featuring quarterback Jared Goff, running back Todd Gurley, and receiver Robert Woods, and that is a formula for success. The AFC representative I predict will be the Los Angeles Chargers, led by quarterback Phillip Rivers and Keenan Allen on offense with Joey Bosa on defense. The Chargers will surprise many non-believers this season.

My prediction of who will win the Super Bowl between the two LA teams is the Los Angeles Rams with a final score win of 31 – 27 in a highly offensive donnybrook. The Rams are just too well-balanced and dominating and barring any injuries, they will not lose.