With NFL Preseason drawing near, the aroma of NFL football is beginning to fill the air. Fantasy football drafts are starting to have dates set, training camps are starting around the league, and anticipation is skyrocketing. With the NFL season inching closer by the minute, it’s time to look forward and prognosticate for the upcoming year of football. Without further ado, let’s dive right into five bold predictions for the upcoming season.
- Both rookies of the year will be second–round picks
Please hold your gasps until the end of the article, thank you. This upcoming season, NFL fans very well may end up seeing both the Offensive Rookie of the Year as well as the Defensive Rookie of the Year be second-round picks. Often, first-round prospects tend to be favorites for the awards due to their draft placement as well as the reasons they were drafted so high to begin with. However, the second-round holds a couple of prospects who feasibly could win rookie of the year awards.
First and foremost, the newly drafted Denver second-round pick quarterback Drew Lock is in a position to succeed. This off-season, Denver grabbed one of the game’s premiere right tackles when they signed Ja’Wuan James in free agency. Denver later went into the draft and grabbed an extra interior offensive lineman in round two via Dalton Risner. These two additions to the offensive line combined with the return of young left tackle Garett Boles, and a solid veteran presence at right guard in Ronald Leary all adds up to an underrated offensive line unit for Denver this upcoming season. Additionally, Denver’s defense will surely do its part in giving Drew Lock plenty of opportunities, while Lock also has exciting young pieces around him on offense with wideout Courtland Sutton, speedster tight end and first-round pick Noah Fant, and the rookie phenom at running back with Phillip Lindsay. Yes, Denver didn’t pay Flacco all that money to sit behind a rookie quarterback, but Lock very well may simply get eased in and come in five or six weeks after the season starts (a la Baker Mayfield).
Additionally, Nasir Adderly is an electric free safety prospect and second-round pick for the LA Chargers. His ball skills, range, physical intangibles, and instincts allow him to make plays on any given down. Most importantly, however, he’s in a position where he can be comfortable and have a smooth transition with strong safety and rookie phenom Derwin James next to him along with the Chargers having defensive playmakers such as Casey Hayward, Melvin Ingram, and Joey Bosa. In conclusion, both Lock and Adderly will fight for a spot in the NFL Awards show before the Super Bowl.
2. The Rams miss a first round bye in the playoffs
Todd Gurley just wasn’t the same in the playoffs for the Rams. Yes, he had a magnificent 115 yard performance versus the Cowboys in the divisional round, but Gurley’s workload and effectiveness were neutralized in the playoffs. Throughout three games in the playoffs, Gurley averaged just ten carries a game and recorded a measly ten rushing yards off of four carries in the NFC Championship, while recording just 35 in the Super Bowl off of ten carries. To make matters worse, this off-season it was announced the injury that limited Gurley will have a permanent effect as he now has arthritis in his knee. If the Gurley seen in the playoffs is the Gurley the Rams will have for the remainder of his career, the team has lost its most potent offensive weapon. To make matters worse, the Rams lost veteran guard, and a critical piece to their praised offensive line via Roger Saffold. Meanwhile, the hits came on the defensive side of the ball as well as defensive tackle Ndamokung Such left in free agency. This new look Rams is not a good look at all. Next season, the Rams just may falter and barely scrape by the Seahawks for a divisional title in the NFC West.
3. The Jacksonville Jaguars go all the way
The collective “WHAT”s, gasps, and smashing of computers has now ensued as all chaos reigns supreme. Yes, the Jacksonville Jaguars will go all the way not to a wild card spot, not to division champs, not the the AFC Championship, but to the Super Bowl. Last season, the Jaguars defense still had the same level of talent and was just as dominant. The sole reason statistically that the Jaguars defense fell on its proverbial face was because it was simply overexposed. Blake Bortles turned it over last season an astonishing fifteen times in just twelve starts. To make matters worse, left tackle Cam Robinson suffered a torn ACL, left guard Andrew Norwell went down with an injury later in the season, and star running back Leonard Fournette played just eight of sixteen games. In short, the offense imploded in monumental fashion. However, with the horrifically pathetic excuse of a quarterback in Blake Bortles gone, a Super Bowl MVP quarterback named Nick Foles in, some magnificent drafting which saw an already stout defense take the draft’s best edge rusher as well as perhaps the draft’s best right tackle in round two, Jacksonville very easily could be a magnificent first-to-worst candidate this season. With injured players back, blockbuster rookies on both sides of the ball, and a gargantuan turnaround at the quarterback position, expect to see “Sacksonville” return to its former glory.
4. Three NFC East teams make the playoffs
People just love to forget that prior to Alex Smith going down with an injury as well as, well, basically anybody on the roster that mattered, the Redskins started the season off 6-3 and gave up 20 points on defense just twice in their first nine games. Washington before getting ravaged by injury had one of the league’s elite front sevens and most feared defenses and managed to hold Aaron Rodgers’ Packers to just seventeen points. With the team now back to full health (except Smith), an electric rookie quarterback under center with first round pick Dwayne Haskins, and Landon Collins now manning the secondary, the Redskins can easily find themselves playing football in January. Furthermore, the Cowboys are defending NFC East champs who lost nobody impactful in free agency (except Beasley), signed exciting veterans with Randall Cobb and Robert Quinn, and will only progress with all the teams’ key players very young. Lastly, the Eagles always seem to ride their lines on both sides of the ball into the playoffs. Don’t be surprised to see both wildcards occupied with NFC East teams come January.
5. Tom Brady falls short of 4k yards passing
This isn’t so much a knock on Tom Brady as it is a testament of what’s to come for Sony Michel. Last season, in all five of New England’s regular season losses, they failed to hit 100 yards rushing as a team. Additionally, New England was undefeated last season with a 13-0 record (including postseason) when they succeeded in hitting 100 rushing yards as a team. The Patriots need to find balance on offense and run the ball early and often if they want to keep Tom Brady fresh enough to grab another Super Bowl win. If New England repeats next season, it will be because of Sony Michel, who averaged nineteen carries per game, 4.67 yards per carry, and nearly a touchdown per game over the last nine games last season. With the emergence of Sony Michel and the need for a more balanced offensive attack, Tom Brady just may fall short of the 4k yard mark next season.