The 2017 NFL season is here and we can finally enjoy life again. Every year before the season starts I like to make some predictions: the top 10 draft order, award winners, playoff seeding, Superbowl winner and three bold predictions. This year I decided to make the bad decision to share them publicly and embarrass myself.
2018 Draft Order Top 10
The six teams at the top shouldn’t surprise anyone. All six teams clearly aren’t ready to contend for the playoffs and have major holes on their respective teams. While the Bears, Browns and Rams believe they have their quarterback of the future; the Jets, Bills and 49ers will be looking for a quarterback early in the first round. All three teams are facing a long term rebuilding project and should look for their future signal caller early in the draft.
The Ravens and Colts have their franchise quarterback, but have a poor roster around them and have already been hit by the injury bug. Both teams have questionable, at best, offensive lines and should look to spent their top 10 pick on upgrading the line. Both the Jaguars and Broncos will be two of the most underachieving teams this season. Both have a strong defense, solid offensive line and weapons but lack a quality quarterback. With former first round quarterbacks Blake Bortles and Paxton Lynch, respectively, looking like busts both teams will be looking for either a new rookie quarterback or will be aggressive trying to acquire one.
NFC Playoff Picture
- Packers 12-4
- Falcons 11-5
- Seahawks 10-6
- Eagles 9-7
- Buccaneers 10-6
- Giants 8-8
Wild Card Round
Seahawks defeat Giants
Buccaneers defeat Eagles
Packers defeat Buccaneers
Seahawks defeat Falcons
NFC Title Game
Packers defeat Seahawks
The Packers and Seahawks should be clear favorites to win their divisions this season. The two have been the best two teams in the NFC over the past five seasons. The Falcons are likely to beat out the Buccaneers, this year’s surprise team, for the NFC South title. The Eagles and Giants are the two teams in the NFC East with the least amount of holes but both should finish the season with 9-7 and 8-8 records respectively.
Seattle always plays better at home and with their great defense, the Giants offensive line will struggle. Odell Beckham Jr. will be taken out of the game by the “Legion of Boom” and the Giants offense as a whole will struggle to allow the Seahawks to win easily. Both the Buccaneers and Eagles will be entering the playoffs with a quarterback with no playoff experience. However, Jameis Winston has a years more overall experience then Carson Wentz and that will show. Thanks to his better supporting cast, Winston leads the Buccaneers to a close win over the Eagles.
After the first round bye, the Packers will have an extra week to prepare and get healthy, giving them the upper hand on the young and emotional Buccaneers. Aaron Rodgers outplays Winston and the Packers easily win. Despite going on the road, the Seahawks come into Atlanta and pull off the upset. The Falcons will struggle against a healthy Seahawks defense and the Falcons’ hope for another Super Bowl run ends before it can begin. A late interception from Matt Ryan gives the Seahawks a close win.
For the NFC title game, we get a rematch of the opening weekend game, Seahawks at Packers. In a matchup of a good Packers offense against a good Seahawks defense, Rodgers comes through at the end of the game and the Packers pull off a late game comeback; punching their ticket to the Super Bowl for the second time under Rodgers.
AFC Playoff Picture
- Patriots 13-3
- Steelers 11-5
- Raiders 10-6
- Titans 10-6
- Chargers 9-7
- Texans 9-7
Wild Card Round
Raiders defeat Texans
Chargers defeat Titans
Patriots defeat Chargers
Steelers defeat Raiders
AFC Title Game
Patriots defeat Steelers
The Patriots, Steelers and Raiders are all clear favorites to win their divisions. The only thing up for debate is if the Raiders can beat the Steelers for the number two seed despite playing in the toughest division in the league. The Titans and Texans will take advantage of a weak division as both the Colts and Jaguars struggle. The Titans defeat the Jaguars in week 17 while the Texans lose to the Colts to secure the division title and the number four seed for the Titans. Many people are sleeping on the Chargers, but they shouldn’t. One of the more underrated offenses combined with a strong defense, the Chargers will finish second in the AFC West as both the Chiefs and Broncos struggle with quarterback problems.
This year with a healthy Derek Carr at quarterback, the Raiders offense is able to overcome the Texans’ great defense to score 30 points in the game. Meanwhile, the Texans offense is unable to score 20 points against the Raiders defense leads to a easy win for the Raiders. Marcus Mariota will be playing in his first career playoff game while Philip Rivers will be starting his tenth playoff game. The Chargers experience and underrated defense cause the Titans offense to struggle. The Chargers win the game easily but the Titans future is bright.
The only reason the Patriots don’t run the table and go 16-0 this season is because Bill Belichick rests his players after the team locks up the number one seed. With the extra rest the Patriots are able to defeat the Chargers in a high scoring, close game shootout. The Raiders and Steelers have arguably the two best receiving combos in the AFC. However, the Steelers have the clear edge at running back and on defense. Carr does his best to duel with Ben Roethlisberger and keep the Raiders in the game, but in the end the Steelers offense rips apart a weak Raiders defense. Steelers win the game in a semi-close shootout.
For the AFC title game, two great offenses and two underrated defenses collide. These two teams met in the title game last season with the Patriots winning 36-17. This year the Steelers have a healthy Le’Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant that keeps the game close. However, the Patriots offense outlasts the Steelers and win a close game. The Patriots return to the Super Bowl for the third time in four years and for the eighth time under Tom Brady.
Super Bowl 52 Prediction
A battle between the two best quarterbacks in the league, Brady leads the Patriots to it’s third Super Bowl appearance in four years while Rodgers and the Packers reach the Super Bowl for the first time in seven years. Both teams have high powered offenses led by their future Hall of Fame quarterbacks. In a close game that goes back and fourth all night long, the Patriots defense proves critical as they get late game stop on Rodgers giving the Patriots a win, 34-31.
NFL Award Winners
MVP: Aaron Rodgers
Rodgers leads that Packers to the #1 seed in the NFC and the Super Bowl. The Packers finish second the league in scoring as Rodgers throws for over 5,000 yards and 45 touchdowns while throwing under eight interceptions.
Offensive Player of the Year: Le’Veon Bell
Upset about his contract situation, Bell takes it out on every team the Steelers face this season. With Bell leading the way, the Steelers lead the league in scoring while Bell has over 2,200 scrimmage yards and 18 total touchdowns.
Defensive Player of the Year: J.J. Watt
Returning from an injury plagued season, Watt comes back with a bang. In six seasons as a pro, Watt has racked up over 17 sacks three times. Watt finishes the season with 17+ sacks for the fourth time. Behind Watt, the Texans finished first in the league in sacks and top five in overall defense.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Joe Mixon
Mixon would have been a top ten draft pick if not for the off the field issues. However, the Bengals now have a dynamic play maker in the backfield. Mixon starts out of the gate slow but in the second half of the season becomes near stoppable. Mixon finishes the season with over 1,000 rushing yard, 600 receiving yards and 12 total touchdowns.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Reuben Foster
While the 49ers’ season goes down the toilet early in the year, Foster gives the fans hope for the future. As a starter, Foster plays all 16 games and finishes in the top ten in total tackles. Foster takes over as the leader of the 49ers’ defense and finishes his rookie year with over 150 total tackles, five sacks, and six combined fumble recoveries/interceptions.
Comeback Player of the Year: J.J. Watt
What Watt has done in for the victims of hurricane Harvey is amazing and goes so far beyond football. Last season Watt only played in three games and recorded just 1.5 sacks thanks to a back injury. Healthy and motivated, Watt finishes first in the league with over 17 sacks for the fourth time in his career.
Coach of the Year: Mike Mularkey
Last season the Titans finished the season 9-7, leaving many people impressed with their success. However, a leg injury to Marcus Mariota in week 15 derailed the team’s playoff hopes. With an improved passing game, thanks to all the offseason additions, the Titans finish the season with a 10-6 record and claim the AFC South division title for the first time since 2008.
Three Bold Predictions
Prediction 1: The Cowboys miss the playoffs by one game.
Between the tenth hardest schedule this season, a horrible defense, an offensive line that lost two starters from last years’ team and the possible Ezekiel Elliot suspension, the Cowboys aren’t the same team as last year. They have too many issues that cause them to struggle and miss the playoffs by one game finishing the season at 7-9.
Prediction 2: DeShone Kizer will start all 16 games for the Browns, give both the fans and the team hope for the future, allowing the Browns to spend all their draft picks on improving the team around him.
Kizer will have his ups and downs as a rookie. However, he will have more ups than downs and the team will stick with him for all 16 games. While the Browns struggle and finish with a bottom five record, Kizer shows enough as a rookie allowing the team to use their top five pick on another position.
Prediction 3: After winning Super Bowl 52, Tom Brady retires and the Patriots give Jimmy Garoppolo the first contract worth over $140 million dollars.
At age 40 and coming off his sixth Super Bowl win, Brady calls it a career. He then goes on to promote his “TB12” band even more. The Patriots then simply hand the keys to the franchise over to Garoppolo who signs for the richest contract in NFL history worth over $140 million, and the team enters the 2018 season as Super Bowl favorites again.
Bonus Prediction: Sam Darnold continues the trend and becomes the third USC quarterback in the last 13 years to stay in school an extra year.
Both Matt Leinart and Matt Barkley stayed at USC for their senior season and it ultimately hurt their draft stock, but who can blame them for not wanting to leave sunny Southern California? Darnold stays for his redshirt junior year because he doesn’t want to play for the Jets or Bills and rather stay in school verse playing for one of those rebuilding teams.