The 2016 NFL season is just around the corner, and by the looks of things, it promises to be an interesting one. Peyton Manning is gone, Tom Brady figures to spend the first four weeks on the bench due to a suspension and a competitive field looks to be otherwise wide open for 32 teams to chase down a Super Bowl title.
Of course, this isn’t just the time for pointing out the obvious. It’s also the perfect time to make some bold NFL predictions. Let’s start with the AFC and see what sticks out going into the new season:
Baltimore Ravens – Mike Wallace leads them in recieving. Mike Wallace hasn’t been very relevant since he left the AFC North, so maybe coming back can be his spark. A big armed quarterback like Joe Flacco should be able to chuck the ball downfield for the speedy Wallace.
Cincinnati Bengals – Jeremy Hill leads the NFL in rushing touchdowns. Hill broke double digit touchdowns last year on a “down year” and while he can be blamed for their playoff downfall I expect Hill to be better than ever.
Cleveland Browns – Robert Griffin III starts 12 games this year. Health is the main concern for this pick, but the Browns don’t have a bad line, and they don’t have any better option at quarterback.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Top 8 in overall defense. It all starts with Cameron Hayward, the guy is simply an animal on the defensive line. Bud Dupree and Ryan Shazier are getting better by the day and are taking fans back to the Steelers defense of the 70’s. Finally drafting William Jackson is a big lift for a secondary that has been very poor lately, so I like this defense to be a top tier one in 2016-2017.
Buffalo Bills – Rex Ryan will be fired. Ryan is a flashy coach that you either love or hate, but he is also wearing out his welcome in Buffalo. With an already stacked defense he relentlessly drafted defensive player after defensive player with many offensive needs on the board. After another year under .500, his time has come.
Miami Dolphins – Two 1,000 yard receivers. Jarvis Landry has proven that he has the tools to be a good WR for years to come, he could be taking a back seat to the freakishly athletic Davante Parker this season. Parker is a breakout player in the making for this season and baring injury I don’t see anyway he doesn’t get to the 1,000 yard mark.
New England Patriots – 9 wins and a division title. The Patriots go 1-3 without Brady and get back into the swing of things to get to 9 wins, when as usual they win in Week 17 and the Jets lose to replay every season ever it seems – at least in my lifetime.
New York Jets – Revis Island is closed. For years Darrelle Revis has been an elite cornerback, unfortunately I believe this year he will fall from his pedestal. Being a defensive back is a young men’s game and with the talent of the wide receivers only getting better, the island will be closed.
Houston Texans – Lamar Miller is your rushing champion. If Houston likes to do anything on offense it’s run the ball, even if they were less than spectacular last season. Lamar Miller is the perfect fit for this team with a new quarterback as they will not try to make Osweiler do too much in his first season at the helms. I like Miller to have a monster season with 1,650 yards and 12 touchdowns in the rushing game.
Indianapolis Colts – TY Hilton, the third WR in town. A healthy Andrew Luck means a lot of throws to go around. I believe Donte Moncrief is the clear cut go to guy in Indy, his size and speed to go with his stellar hands is just dangerous with Andrew Luck slinging the ball his way. My shocker though is Phillip Dorsett will be Luck’s second favorite target, as he has the same skill-set as Hilton but faster and better ball skills. Maybe all 3 can break 1,000 yards?
Jacksonville Jags – Blake Bortles throws 30 touchdowns… And 22 interceptions. Everyone is buying Bortles and it’s hard not to after the season he had last year. But if any quarterback could get too comfortable it is Bortles. With two dynamic receivers and a team on the the rise, I just don’t think their leader is ready yet.
Tennessee Titans – Delanie Walker leads all Tight Ends in yards. Walker is a big time threat year in and year out, with DGB on the rise and a better run game Walker should be freed up a lot more. I don’t think it’s crazy that we see a 1,200-yard season from the crafty veteran.
Denver Broncos – No reciever in the top 20. This is a big gamble considering Sanders and Thomas had good years with Peyton Manning at half mast and a guy who looks like he should be acting in Twilight movies at QB. I believe Denver will change the whole outlook on offense, though, with a run first game plan.
Kansas City Chiefs – AFC West champs. This division has belonged to Denver for years and it is finally time for the Chiefs to return to greatness. An offense that keeps improving and a defense that is relentless, the big question is what comes of Jamaal Charles. With or without him I’m still taking them as the division champs.
Oakland Raiders – Back to the Bottom. While everyone loves Oakland this year, I am on a completely different vibe. Adding all these guys that are supposed to put them over the top but in the end, they are still the Raiders. Derek Carr will have an average season and Oakland will ponder whether they need a new quarterback or not. A classic 5-11 is the mark I’m seeing.
San Diego Chargers – Keenan Allen breaks the top 5 wideouts. After signing a big deal it just seems like it is officially Keenan Allen time. I LOVE this guys upside and he is still a young guy. He will continue to grow and have a career year while him and the Chargers improve from a bad season last year.