NFL 2019: How the Cleveland Browns, Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts can surge into Super Bowl contention next season

Cleveland are buoyed by the trade for Odell Beckham Jr, while the Colts have drafted superbly to produce a well-rounded roster

The NFL Draft: Who are the top five prospects?

While a week is considered a long time in politics, twelve months can be an eternity in the National Football League.

Given the parity inducing college draft, salary cap, trade and free agency period, the fortunes and expectations of any NFL team can fluctuate vastly from season to season.

But which NFL teams have made up the most ground in the last twelve months?

Great teams are made in the months leading up to the new season.

In this article we take a look at which clubs’ Super Bowl chances have risen most over the last season, draft and free agency period.

Cleveland Browns

Super Bowl Odds 2018: 100/1, Win Total OU 4.5 wins

Super Bowl Odds 2019: 14/1, Win Total OU 9.5 wins

The Browns finished their 2018 campaign winning five of their last seven games, ending the season with a record of 7-8-1. The perennial AFC North cellar dwellers then made their biggest splash by trading for former Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

Given Cleveland’s weapons on offence, a lineup that includes the wide receiver tandem of Beckam Jr and former LSU teammate Jarvis Landry, quarterback Baker Mayfield and the prospect of former Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt joining the starting line-up in the second half of the season, hopes are high the Browns will win their first division title since 1989.

From odds of 100/1 a season ago, the Browns are now slashed to 14/1 with their 2019 win total over under rising a full five wins on their line of a year ago with an improvement of two wins expected on their 2018 win loss record.

While the Browns defence claimed a total of 31 turnovers in 2018, placing them second overall behind Chicago for takeaways, that same defence ranked just 30th in the league for average yards conceded per game game. It is more likely that the latter will repeat itself in 2019 than the former.

While the Browns look poised to enter an era of genuine title contention, expectations currently exceed our best estimations for Cleveland in 2019. The win total of over under 9.5 wins will no doubt tempt many casual bettors expecting the Browns to explode in 2019 and easily claim at least ten wins. We’re happy to play against the crowd here. Take the Browns Under 9.5 wins in 2019.

Best Bet: Cleveland Under 9.5 wins, odds 5/6 at bet365

Chicago Bears

Super Bowl Odds 2018: 100/1, Win Total OU 5.5 wins

Super Bowl Odds 2019: 14/1, Win Total OU 9.5 wins

Mitch Trubisky has shown flashes of brilliance

After starting 2018 with three wins from their first six games, the Bears came home strong winning nine of the final ten games, with their only loss down the stretch an over time defeat in New York against the Giants.

While the Bears ambitions were assisted by the play of second-year quarterback Mitch Trubisky who improved on a quarterback rating of 77.5 in his rookie season to 95.4 in 2018, it was the addition of explosive defensive playmaker Khalil Mack at linebacker that saw the Bears defence improve from 15th for yards conceded per game in 2016, 10th in 2017 to third in 2018. The Bears formidable defence also held opposing teams to a league low 17.7 points per game through the regular season while claiming a league high 36 turnovers including 27 interceptions along the way.

Concluding the year with a 12-4 record, the Bears finished 6.5 wins over their preseason line of 5.5 wins. Bookmakers are not expecting the Bears to repeat their exploits of a year ago with the 2019 win loss line set at 9.5 wins, a full 3.5 wins below their 2018 win loss record.

While Trubisky may consolidate on his 2018 season at quarterback, we expect the Bears defence to be as stout and as aggressive as they were last season. If the Bears defence can maintain their position as one of the league’s best, Chicago fans can feel optimistic about the team’s chances of improving on their disappointing divisional round home loss of a year ago.

Given their form of last season, a dip in excess of three wins seems overly pessimistic. On the back of their defence, we expect Chicago to claim at least ten victories in the upcoming season.

Best Bet: Chicago Over 9.5 wins, odds 10/11 at bet365

Indianapolis Colts

Super Bowl Odds 2018: 40/1, Win Total OU 7.5 wins

Super Bowl Odds 2019: 16/1, Win Total OU 9.5 wins

Andrew Luck is tipped to lead the Colts back to the Super Bowl

The Colts were another team to finish strong in 2018. Indianapolis won just one of their first six games last season before going on a tear and winning nine of their last ten with the lone defeat a peculiar 6-0 loss at Jacksonville.

With ten wins the Colts eclipsed their line of 7.5 wins in 2018. While their Super Bowl odds of a year ago have been cut from 40/1 to 16/1 bookmakers believe the Colts are on track for another 10 win season, a mark that should reward them with a divisional crown and first round home playoff.

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck had arguably the best season of his seven season career and looks more than recovered from injury that saw him play just 22 games across his previous three seasons. The Colts finished seventh for yards gained per game in 2018 which saw them improve on their Luckless performance of 31st a season prior.

It was likewise an improved season for the Indianapolis defence, with the team finishing an acceptable 11th for yards conceded per game, a stark improvement on their 30th place finish in the same category in both 2017 and 2016. Indianapolis looked to sure up their defence taking seven defensive players from their first eight draft selections in the 2019 draft while signing former Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston during the free agency period.

With Luck returning for his second season following injury and maturing into the quarterback many believed he would become when drafted first in the 2012 draft coupled with the improved play of the Colts defence, we expect to see Indianapolis return to the playoffs again in 2019 and earn at least another 10-win season.

Best Bet: Indianapolis Over 9.5 wins, odds 10/13 at bet365

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