Every season we see crazy and bold things happen in the NFL. So it got me wondering, “what will happen this season?”. So I looked in my crystal ball in hopes of seeing what will happen during the 2017 season. Now full disclaimer the crystal ball is currently “out of order” so I’m totally shooting in the dark on these 15 bold predictions; hopefully some turn out true. Let’s see what the broken crystal ball said and remember don’t go run off to Vegas to bet on any of this!
- Todd Bowles is the only coach fired during the season, but Bill O’Brien and the Texans agree to part ways right after another embarrassing playoff lose.
We all expect the Jets to be awful this season and someone is going to pay the price for that. Unfortunately for Bowles, he is the fall guy for the Jets. Good news is Bowles is a good coach and will get another chance to coach an actual NFL team. With O’Brien, the Texans and him have been at odds over his level of control on the team for a while now. Rumors were flying around that O’Brien was almost fired at the end of last season. I believe with a repeat of another good season, poor playoff performance and frustrating coach/front office relationship leads to O’Brien leaving for another job, possibly a hot college gig.
- Christian Hackenberg leads the Jets to more wins than any other quarterback the on roster; unfortunately that’s the only win for the team all year.
Clearly Bowles will get fired for trying to save the franchise long-term rather than trying to win four games with this scrapyard roster of misfit toys. The front office has all but admitted that they are tanking this season. If they are tanking for the number one pick in the 2018 draft, then Hackenberg should be given a shot to showcase his talent. Much like the Browns last season, it’s hard to go 0-16 and the Jets will luck into a win at some point. Why shouldn’t that one win be with Hackenberg at the helm?
- The Jets will be picking first overall and the Browns won’t be picking in the top three in draft.
I promise these 15 bold predictions aren’t all about how bad the Jets will be, but when you win one game you’re kind of a lock to pick first overall in the draft; like they want to be. The Browns still aren’t ready to contend for the playoffs but will be competitive in most of their games this season. Between a strong running game, thanks to the big money spent in free agency on the offensive line, and an underrated young defense led by Myles Garrett; the team will win at least four games.
- Myles Garrett will finish in top ten in the league in sacks but will lose DROY to Reuben Foster, who finishes in the top five in the league in tackles.
Over the last five seasons the only pass rusher to win defensive rookie of the year (DROY) was Joey Bosa last season. Historically linebackers win the award; from 2004 to 2009, five of the six award winners were linebackers. If not for a shoulder injury, Foster would have been a top five draft pick. Landing with the 49ers was a perfect spot for him to win the award, as the team doesn’t have any other elite tacklers on the roster.
- Joe Mixon finishes top ten in all purpose yards and wins OROY.
Joe Mixon is an elite talent, and if not for the off the field history Mixon would have been a top ten pick. The Bengals current duo of Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard haven’t gotten the job done the past couple of seasons and will be an after thought by mid-season. I expect Mixon to get the opportunity and touches as a feature running back and win offensive rookie of the year. Mixon has three down ability and with a shaky offensive line he will get plenty of touches both on the ground and in the air. If Tyler Eifert gets hurt again, Mixon could end up with even more touches as a rookie.
- Four rookie running backs finish with over 1,000 rushing yards.
The year of the running back is here! The past two seasons have produced only three rookies with 1,000 plus yard rushing yards. This year Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook and Joe Mixon will all finish with over 1,000 plus rushing yards. All four of these teams targeted their rookie runners with plans to feature them and the running game this season.
- Alvin Kamara will have more total yards than Mark Ingram for Saints before they trade him at the deadline to the Packers.
People may have already forgot, but the Saints loved Kamara so much that they traded away a 2018 second round pick to get him; don’t expect him to keep the bench warm. Kamara is very explosive and dangerous in the open field, making him a great fit for the Saints high-powered offense. If Kamara and Adrian Peterson end up controlling the majority of the touches in the backfield the Saints will ship Ingram to the Packers. Even after moving Ty Montgomery to running back full-time and drafting three running backs, the team will be in the bottom five in rushing yards until they trade for Ingram.
- Michael Thomas leads the league in receiving yards.
Thomas was so good last season as a rookie that the Saints had no problem telling Brandon Cooks to beat it and trade him to the Patriots for a draft pick they used on an offensive lineman. Thomas finished last season with 1,137 yards ranking – ninth in the league. Cooks finished with 1,173 yards ranking seventh. Ted Ginn and Willie Snead can only take on so much of that yardage. Thomas could easily finish with 1,600 yards and lead the league.
- Sammy Watkins will have a career year, get slapped with the franchise tag then traded to the Seahawks because Zay Jones will lead rookies in receiving yards.
After struggling with a foot injury last season, Watkins will have a bounce back year; making the Bills look stupid for declining his fifth year option and force them to place the franchise tag on him. However, the Bills then trade him to the Seahawks because Jones will lead all rookies in receiving yards and show signs of being a number one receiver. The Seahawks have traded past first round picks for established players and are looking for an explosive threat on offense.
- Two teams will win 12 plus games this season and seven teams will win 10 or 11 games but the NFC east champion will finish at 8-8.
The top seed in the NFC will be the Packers and the Patriots in the AFC; they will be the only two teams to win 12 or more games. However, the Buccaneers, Falcons, Raiders, Seahawks, Steelers, Texans and Titans all win 10 or 11 games. All nine teams will make the playoffs leaving the last wildcard spot in each conference open for a down to the wire battle for the 8-8 and 9-7 teams. The NFC east has a tough out of division schedule and will have to beat up on each other to win the division title at 8-8.
- Chargers finish 9-7; second in their division behind Raiders while the Chiefs and Broncos finish below .500.
Don’t look now but the Chargers are for real and the Chiefs and Broncos can’t score enough to keep up with them. Most expect the Raiders to win the division but few have the Chargers finishing second. The quarterback situation for the Chiefs and Broncos eventually bit them in the rear as their defenses can’t keep them in low-scoring games. The Chargers are primed to breakout this season with an improved offense to go along with one of the more underrated young defenses in the league. The favorite to grab that last wildcard spot in the AFC at 9-7; the Chargers are ready to got, watch out!
NOTE: The injury bug bites again. After reports surfaced that 1st round WR Mike Williams may miss the entire season with a back injury, 2nd round G Forrest Lamp tore his ACL and will be out for his rookie year. Both were expected to be major components of the offense.
- Alex Smith will get benched in favor for another young athletic quarterback, again.
All signs point to the end of Smith’s tenure in Kansas City. The team spent a first and third round pick to move up in the draft to select Patrick Mahomes as their quarterback of the future and only $3.6 million is guaranteed on Smith’s $20 million cap number in 2018; meaning he will be cut this coming offseason. With the Chiefs struggling to get to .500%, Andy Reid will bench Smith for Mahomes in hopes of saving the season and getting a look at his new quarterback.
- Jared Goff will play well enough to keep the Rams from drafting a quarterback early in the 2018 draft.
After a poor rookie season, Goff will bounce back in year two under new head coach Sean McVay. The team will still struggle and end up with a top ten pick but Goff will improve thanks to an improved offensive line and a bounce back season from Todd Gurley. With more explosive weapons and a head coach that has faith in him, Goff could throw for 3,200 yards and 24 touchdowns this season.
- The Patriots will run the table till they lock up the number one seed in the AFC.
Many believe the Patriots can go 16-0 this season, and I agree they can, but they won’t. Knowing Superbowls are more important the Patriots will blow through the weaker AFC teams till they lock up the number one seed and then begin to rest/put their star players at less risk.
- Superbowl LII will be the Patriots sixth title and Tom Brady won’t retire, but the team will sign Jimmy Garoppolo to a long-term deal as the heir apparent.
The current favorites to win Superbowl LII at 13-4, the Patriots will win back-to-back Superbowls for the second time in franchise history. Even though he will be 40 years old this coming season, Brady declares at the end of the game that he will be returning again in 2018. Then the Patriots do only what the Patriots can do, they rework contracts and get Brady and others to take less money so the team can sign Garoppolo to a $120 million+ contract to replace Brady after the 2018 season.