Prediction #1: The Philadelphia Eagles will not make the playoffs.
Maybe I’m just a salty Patriots fan. But I’ve been looking at the NFC, and I came to a realization: only six teams can be in the top six. By my count, there are 10 teams with legitimate chances at the top seed in the NFC, and another four which also have a shot at making the playoffs. The Buccaneers suck, but everyone else could make the playoffs.
In the NFC East, I see the Cowboys and Giants as legitimate threats to the Eagles, and I think the Eagles can’t secure the Wild Card with other division battles taking spots away. It doesn’t add up (well, it does add up, but to a number greater than the possible number of playoff teams). The defending champs have too many injuries, and the NFC is too good.
Prediction #2: Michael Thomas will lead the NFL in receiving yards.
Given the quality of the NFC teams, it seems likely that the Super Bowl winner comes from the NFC. My pick is the Saints. But that isn’t an especially bold prediction. So instead, I predict that Michael Thomas beats out Antonio Brown, Keenan Allen, Julio Jones, and Odell Beckham Jr. It seems like Drew Brees could roll out of bed and throw for 300 yards in a game. Mark Ingram is suspended for the start of the season, Alvin Kamara will force defenses to focus on run stopping, and the Saints don’t have many other great wide receivers. Thomas will rack up some monstrous numbers.
Prediction #3: Jimmy Garoppolo will be the second coming…of Andy Dalton.
The hype around Jimmy Garoppolo is close to surpassing that of Y2K. I don’t doubt that Garoppolo will be a starting quarterback in the league for years to come. Even though he has won every game he has started, he has never proved his ability under pressure against good teams.
Furthermore, his receiving corps is one of the worst in the league, and starting running back Jerick McKinnon is out for the season. Things won’t be easy for the golden boy of the league. He will show his colors not as the successor to Tom Brady, but as the successor to Andy Dalton. Maybe Bill Belichick was right to only take a second-round pick for him.
Prediction #4: Marvin Lewis will finally get fired.
Speaking of Andy Dalton, the Bengals are an interesting team this year. Their perpetual state of mediocrity has been ensured by the continued employment of Marvin Lewis. Of all the workers in the United States who make a seven-figure salary and have held the same job for over a decade, Marvin Lewis is the worst at his job since John Madden was still the Monday Night Football color commentator. He’s now been head coach of the Bengals for over 15 years, and he has no playoff wins in that period. Bengals’ owner and General Manager Mike Brown has given Lewis carte blanche for a decade and a half.
This year, Brown finally comes to his senses and gets rid of Lewis, replacing the epitome of mediocrity with a colorful, new, young head coach who will do even worse.
Prediction #5: Vikings will not win a playoff game.
This one goes along with the prediction that the Eagles will miss the playoffs. I think that there is a good chance that the Vikings miss the playoffs too. Don’t get me wrong, they improved at quarterback. They also got Dalvin Cook back from injury and signed Sheldon Richardson. Despite their powerhouse defense and promising offense, I think they overperformed last season. Their dependence on Kirk Cousins, who I do not trust to win a playoff game, along with the quality of play in the NFC, make me doubt that the Vikings will make it far in the playoffs.
Prediction #6: Sam Bradford and Rob Gronkowski go the whole season without missing a game due to injury.
Sometimes, bold predictions aren’t bold enough. This is not one of those times. This prediction comes in two parts. First, Sam Bradford won’t miss a single game due to injury this season, because Josh Rosen will replace him at quarterback within the first four weeks. Therefore, Sam Bradford, whose bones might as well be made of spaghetti, will get by in bubble wrap for a couple of games.
The bolder prediction is that Rob Gronkowski, who has missed several games throughout his career due to knee, back, ankle, arm, and head injuries, will get through an entire season without missing a game due to injury. I am not counting the final game of the season if the Patriots’ seed is already set in stone. This happening might be crazier than the Browns winning a Super Bowl.