Hello, friends. This is a grand time of year, mostly because the hellish month of August is over and European soccer has gotten underway. Oh, and also FOOBAW. It begins with Thursday night’s clash between Kevin Roberts’ Green Bay Packers and the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. It’s a shame that every Thursday game after this will have Phil Simms and Jim Nantz presiding over them, but we can’t win ’em all.
The aforementioned Mr. Roberts (@BreakingKevin), along with Terrence Kirker (@TerrenceKirker), Jonathan Pollak, Tim Young (@TimCYoung) and I (@TaylorBojangles) are here today to present a few bold predictions for the soon-to-begin season. Five from each of us, to be exact. See? BOLD.
Let’s get started.
Kevin Roberts: Toby Gerhart will top 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns: I’m a believer in Gerhart to the extent that I think Gus Bradley wants to recreate the Seahawks as they are now with poor variations of the players that exist in Seattle. As a poor man’s Marshawn Lynch, the mashing Gerhart should see 300+ total touches. Even if he gains a paltry 3.5 yards-per-carry in a place where fantasy talent goes to die, he should still have the role to produce solid numbers overall. Health is the only true question here, in my opinion.
Terrence Kirker: The New York Jets will make the playoffs: Geno Smith is poised to make the “sophomore jump” that quarterbacks tend to do after the growing pains of a rookie season. Mix in a fresh start for RB Chris Johnson (who has never rushed for under 1,000 yards) and a capable Eric Decker at WR and the Jets seemingly have something going.
Jonathan Pollak: The San Francisco 49ers’ defense will take a step back: In addition to the Navorro Bowman injury, the Niners have off-field and/or injury issues with four defensive linemen and pass-rusher Aldon Smith. They may have stockpiled draft picks in recent years, but operating at 60% on defense is tough for any team.
Tim Young: Alshon Jeffery will finish the fantasy season with more points than Brandon Marshall: Brandon Marshall is the better wideout, and the No. 1, but Jeffery will see easier coverages and fewer double-teams. Plus, Jeffery has the talent of a star.
Taylor Smith: The Seattle Seahawks won’t repeat: It’s probably not particularly bold to predict a team won’t win the Super Bowl, since that’s a pretty damn hard thing to do in the first place. But there’s been an awful lot of talk about a potential dynasty with the current iteration of the Seahawks, so perhaps it really is something of a leap to say they won’t win it all again. With the Niners seeming poised to regress a bit, Seattle may well wind up with an easier road to the Lombardi this time around, but there’s an awful lot that can go wrong. Injuries, potential suspensions, etc. are all factors that will prevent Seattle from a repeat.
Kevin: Johnny Manziel will be a top-15 fantasy quarterback: If he starts by Week 5, naturally. That is a prediction that hinges on something, so take it for what it is. Brian Hoyer is a sad sack and the Browns should unceremoniously have their asses handed to them against the Steelers, Saints and Ravens to start the year. With the Brownies in an 0-3 hole, Johnny Football should take-over and make numerous fantasy football pundits that doubted him look like total newbies. Even if he ends up getting folded like a lawn chair a la Robert Griffin The Third, he’ll still produce for fantasy folks.
Terrence: Trent Richardson will be a 1,000-yard rusher: Call me crazy but the kid is still talented. Cleveland was just a mess and moving to a new system midseason for a sophomore RB can be tough. Not that he’ll be a beast, but he’ll show some flashes and mesh well with a potent Colts offense led by Andrew Luck.
Jonathan: The Carolina Panthers go from first to worst: The defense should still be very good, but the team decided not to field NFL-caliber receivers on the roster, and keep the same old injury-prone RBs. It’s a good thing Cam Newton can run, because that’s going to be the only way he moves the ball this season.
Tim: Arian Foster will be a top-5 fantasy back: Foster’s back surgery wasn’t as serious as “back surgery” makes it sound. He’s still a stud with three really good offensive linemen in Myers, Brooks and Brown.
Taylor: Kansas City will finish last in the AFC West: The Chiefs, after owning the NFL’s worst record in 2012, went on to surprise many by making the playoffs in 2013 under new head coach Andy Reid and QB Alex Smith. However, I think they’re the kings of regression in 2014. It’s no real stretch to say they’re worse than both the Broncos and the Chargers, but I even think the Raiders overtake poor KC this season. This offense has very little to get excited over other than Jamaal Charles, and they were successful last season due in large part to a cakewalk schedule. The Raiders spent a lot of money on defense during the offseason, and hopefully Derek Carr is the answer for them at QB.
Kevin: Robert Griffin III will be done for the season by Week 8: Speaking of the devil. I don’t hateth The Third, but he does sucketh a bit. He’s not a good pocket passer, he’s inconsistent, often inaccurate and is arguably the worst slider in any sport – ever. That lack of a sliding skill will almost certainly spell his inevitable 2014 demise.
Terrence: Nick Foles will be a top-4 fantasy QB: Philly’s offense is stacked with weapons and Chip Kelly is a master strategist. I’d be shocked if the Eagles don’t win 12 games and average 30 points a game. That means Foles’ numbers will be huge.
Jonathan: Cordarrelle Patterson breaks-out: The Minnesota Vikings wideout obviously has the talent, and looked sharp in the preseason. As long as Adrian Peterson is limited to no more than, say, 80% of all touches, then Patterson will take the rest.
Tim: The Jaguars will not win more than 1 game this year: The offensive line is still garbage, and the fan(s) will be clamoring for Bortles by Week 3, as if the rookie will have a better shot at success with this offense.
Taylor: The AFC South and NFC East will have two teams over .500…combined: Barring some kind of unforeseen turnaround, things are looking rather bleak this season for Houston, Tennessee, Jacksonville, Dallas, New York and Washington. Can you imagine any of these teams actually finishing better than 8-8? Me neither. Indy and Philly probably win their respective divisions by Week 7.
Kevin: Tony Romo gets the Cowboys back to the playoffs: Yes, even with the Cowboys’ defense allowing 6 trillion points to everyone they face. Romo is aging and has a bad back, but it’s only that new label that makes me want to see him prove everyone wrong, all the more. He has an insanely stacked offense and an actually competent O-line, so if his defense can give him a handful of painfully average performances, he might just make it happen. This is still the sad sack of the NFC East we’re talking about, after all.
Terrence: Brandin Cooks will top 1,000 yards: Rookie WR Brandin Cooks looks to be a perfect fit in the Saints’ fast offense. Working as the No. 3 receiver out of the slot, he could seemingly burst onto the scene with better numbers than Victor Cruz had in his breakout year. He’s that good!
Jonathan: Michael Floyd will surpass Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona: The changing of the guard is coming. Floyd out-gained Fitzy last year, and is younger with better measurables. Larry will still get his touches, but don’t be surprised if Floyd is the true No. 1 by the end of the year.
Tim: Danny Amendola will put up top-25 fantasy WR numbers: Amendola was brought in to take on targets that Welker left behind. Edelman took over because Amendola was hurt, but he’s healthy again and ready to take on that No. 1 role in Tom Brady’s offense.
Taylor: Jordan Cameron will be the top TE in fantasy: This one is probably terrible, considering there’s no real reason to believe Jimmy Graham won’t rule the world once again. But who other than Cameron will be catching passes for the Browns? Miles Austin? HAHA. I’m fully expecting Brian Hoyer to get tunnel vision in Cameron’s direction in a desperate attempt to save himself from the inevitable benching in favor of John Football. Cameron should benefit largely.
Kevin: Tony Gonzalez comes out of retirement: Because why the hell not? What else is he going to do? He’s 37 and just got done putting up 80 receptions for over 800 yards. He can still ball and he’ll be needed. It probably won’t be in Atlanta, but if the Pats come calling after The Gronk breaks every bone in his body in Week 9, why would Gonzo say no?
Terrence: Philly wins the Super Bowl and apologizes to Santa Claus for pelting him with snowballs in 1968: Yes, Philly fans are so bad that they would even BOO and hit Santa Claus with snowballs. After a Super Bowl win, I’d expect Philadelphia to parade with Santa to forever atone for their sins.
Jonathan: Paul Worrilow leads the NFL in tackles: The Falcons’ undrafted rookie had a monster preseason in 2013 but had to wait until midseason to get his chance. He then posted six games of double-digit tackles out of the nine in which he played. Atlanta will hand him the starting middle linebacker job this season, and really, nobody else on that defense will stop anyone so Worrilow (and his IDP owners) will benefit.
Tim: The Bills will make the playoffs: Manuel showed solid improvement towards the end of the season. Jackson/Spiller is one of the best two-man backfields and even after losing Kiko Alonso, the defense is still above average.
Taylor: The 49ers will miss the playoffs: This stupid organization has already had a year filled with tumult and the freaking season hasn’t even started yet. They almost traded their head coach in the offseason, for F’s sake, and I’m pretty sure he hates all his players. They gave Colin Kaepernick all of the money, and he probably isn’t that good to begin with. They play in the NFL’s most loaded division and there are a handful of teams in other divisions that are capable of qualifying for the playoffs out of the NFC, as well. So there ya go.