Other than the New England Patriots winning the AFC East each year, football can be a very difficult sport to predict. 5th and 6th Round picks regularly become Pro Bowlers. Teams go from worst to first all the time. And you never quite know who’s going to be the latest hot coaching name.
But we still have to make predictions. And it only makes sense to make them bold predictions due to the randomness of the game. Below are a number of educated guesses at what might surprise fans in the upcoming season.
Eli Manning Starts Every Game For The Giants
Eli Manning is now 38 years old and has been in decline for a few years now. The Giants have moved closer to a full rebuild and drafted Manning’s potential successor, Daniel Jones, with the 6th selection in the NFL Draft. Most teams would realize it’s time to see what Jones has to offer.
The Giants are a bit different though. After a botched benching of Manning in 2017, the team has done everything they can to placate the quarterback. While most teams would try to see what Jones has at some point, here’s guessing the Giants choose not to.
Miles Sanders Wins Rookie Of The Year
While the Philadelphia Eagles have a lot of talented players, they have a wide open depth chart at running back. Miles Sanders was a bit overshadowed by teammate Saquan Barkley at Penn State. The talented player lasted all the way to pick 53 in the 2nd Round of the 2019 draft.
Sanders has the capability to contribute to the team both running the ball as well as catching passes. Sometimes the key to winning Rookie of the Year is having the right opportunity and the Halfback has that. There have already been reports of Sanders turning heads at Eagles training camp.
Drew Lock Becomes The Broncos Starter By Week 6
The Broncos have been searching for their Quarterback of the future since Peyton Manning’s retirement in 2015. Denver tried to fix the position in two different ways this offseason. They traded for veteran Quarterback, Joe Flacco, and also drafted Drew Lock with the 42nd selection of the draft.
Flacco is there to serve as a placeholder and is not likely the Quarterback of the future. Drew Lock is, though. The slinger from Missouri has a huge fan in John Elway and I’m guessing that the Broncos make their rookie the starter by week 6’s game against the Titans.
Yannick Ngakoue Leads The League In Sacks
Last season was an unbelievable disappointment for the Jacksonville Jaguars. The team signed Quarterback Nick Foles during the offseason in hopes of fixing their offense. In order for the defense to be fixed, they just need to play at the same level as they did in 2017.
During that 2017 season, Ngakoue broke out with 12 sacks. In 2018, that number fell down to 9.5. The Defensive End is currently sitting out of camp hoping for a new contract. Here’s guessing he proves to the Jaguars that he is worth the money with a monster 2019.
The Dallas Cowboys Win The Super Bowl
It’s been a very long wait for Jerry Jones and Dallas fans. Tony Romo’s teams never really made it deep into the playoffs, but this current Dallas team is built differently. Like the Jags, they’re going to play defense and run the ball.
The team also has game-breaking Wide Receiver Amari Cooper on the outside. Dak Prescott may not be an elite QB, but he makes smart decisions and limits turnovers. The defense will take over for the Cowboys as they win their Super Bowl since 1995.
The Cleveland Browns Win The AFC North
Yes, you read that correctly. Let’s look at this carefully. The Baltimore Ravens won the division in 2018 with a 10-6 record. The Cleveland Browns have a ton of firepower heading into the 2019 season. Not only are they going to the playoffs for the first time since 2012 but they will secure the division.
Sophomore quarterback Baker Mayfield did exactly what he was supposed to do in his rookie season. Now, with Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry catching his passes, defenses are going to have a tough time keeping up.
Dwayne Haskins Is The Redskins Week One Starter
There were five Quarterbacks drafted in the 1st Round last year. Of the quintet, only Sam Darnold operated as the day one starter for his team. The experience was valuable. Darnold took his lumps at the beginning of the season but was one of the top-rated QB’s in the league over his last five starts.
The Darnold blueprint is a good one for the Redskins to incorporate with Haskins. The Redskins are reasonably talented but don’t necessarily look like a playoff team. Haskins is the future and Washington will realize its best to use this season for his growth.
The Panthers Win The NFC South
It would be fair to say that the Panthers have underachieved since reaching the Super Bowl in 2016. The team has had a hard time putting the right pieces around Cam Newton and Newton has struggled to stay healthy.
The Panthers, though, may finally have the right parts in place to make a significant run. Christian McCaffery is as talented as any Running Back in the NFL. Curtis Samuel and DJ Moore are an exciting receiver combo. This year, the Panthers will surprise the NFL by finishing ahead of Atlanta and New Orleans.
DeShaun Watson Is The League MVP
There will be many contenders for the MVP Award this year. Pat Mahomes is an obvious threat to repeat. Alvin Kamara will have the New Orleans backfield all to himself in 2019. And Aaron Rodgers figures to angrily lay waste to the league. The MVP, however, will be Houston’s DeShaun Watson.
The Texans fired their GM this summer after he failed to put enough talent around his Quarterback.The team still has substantial weapons with DeAndre Hopkins and a healthy Will Fuller. That should be enough for Watson to put up staggering numbers.
Eddie Jackson Records 10 Interceptions
The Chicago Bears defense of 2018 hearkened back to the team’s dominant defenses of the 1980s. With Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks and Leonard Floyd providing serious pressure, the team’s defensive backs were able to jump in front of a ton of balls.
Bears Cornerback Kyle Fuller led the league with seven interceptions while the team’s Free Safety, Eddie Jackson, picked off 6 passes. This year, the ball-hawking Jackson will have plenty more opportunities for turnovers and will lead the lead with 10 INT’s.
Josh Rosen Throws At Least 20 Touchdown Passes
The Browns (Baker Mayfield), Jets (Sam Darnold), Bills (Josh Allen) and Ravens (Lamar Jackson) were all happy with their rookie Quarterbacks last year and moving ahead with them as their franchise’s future. The Cardinals, though, were unhappy enough with Josh Rosen to draft a new Quarterback and trade Rosen to the Dolphins.
The Cardinals, with middling talent all over the offense, gave Rosen very little chance to succeed. The Dolphins should be bad too, but could offer the QB a fighting chance. Rosen will make the most of his second chance and tap into his immense potential.
The Steelers Finish In Last Place
The Steelers have been one of the more successful teams in the NFL pretty much since ever. The Ben Roethlisberger era has resulted in two Super Bowl wins and a number of Playoff appearances. There is trouble in paradise though.
The team traded Antonio Brown to the Raiders and lost Le’Veon Bell to the Jets this offseason. The best players of the defense are aging and need to be replaced. In this prediction, Ben Roethlisberger misses a number of games and the Steelers drop to last in their division.
Rob Gronkowski Returns In Week 11
New England Patriot Rob Gronkowski shocked the NFL world by announcing his retirement during the offseason. Despite his prodigious on-field success, the Tight End has had to deal with a number of injuries including a chronic back condition.
While the injuries have been difficult to deal with, Gronk is an intense and passionate player who loves to play football. Missing training camp and the first 10 games should allow the NFL great time enough to heal. My guess is Gronkowski returns just in time for another run through the playoffs.
Kirk Cousins Leads The NFL In Passing Yards
Prior to the 2018 season, Cousins signed a massive three-year $84 million contract with the Minnesota Vikings. The first season was a major disappointment as the Vikings failed to make the playoffs despite major expectations.
Cousins and Minnesota will be back with a vengeance in 2019, though. The Quarterback will be throwing to star receivers in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Cousins led the league in passing back in 2016 and will do it again in 2019.
Rams Backup RB Darrell Henderson Goes For 1,000 Yards
When the Rams drafted Todd Gurley in 2015, they anticipated that he would be leading their backfield for the next 10 years. Those plans have been thwarted, however, due to the Running Back’s potentially chronic injuries.
Darrell Henderson, drafted in the 3rd Round of the 2019 Draft, represents an intriguing backup plan. Henderson has major talent, as evidenced by his college average of 8.2 YPC. Gurley will miss a number of games this season and Henderson will jump in to produce for the team immediately.
Quinnen Williams Wins Defensive Rookie Of The Year
Some could argue that this isn’t all that bold a prediction since Quinnen Williams was considered the most talented player in the entire draft. Williams plays Defensive Tackle, though, and that is not traditionally a position that wins the DROY award. That’s normally reserved for a pass rusher or a cornerback.
Williams is a special kind of Defensive Tackle, however. He is capable of darting through the line to make splash plays in the backfield. His innate pass rushing skills should lead to at least 8 sacks, enough to capture the award.
Alvin Kamara Goes For Over 2,000 Combined Rushing/Receiving Yards
Since he inexplicably fell to the 3rd Round of the 2017 NFL Draft, Kamara has been taking revenge on the teams that passed him over. The Running Back teamed with Mark Ingram to create a dominant backfield in New Orleans.
But now Ingram is gone and the full job belongs to Kamara. The electric talent scored 18 TD’s last year and should go over 20 this year. The extra number of touches will also allow the Saint to easily surpass 2,000 rushing/receiving yards.
The Chargers Win The AFC West
Again, you may argue that this isn’t all that bold a prediction. The 2018 Chargers won 11 games and are returning much of that team. San Diego must contend with a buzzsaw, though, in the mega talented Kansas City Chiefs.
The Chiefs have undergone some meaningful changes in the offseason. The Chargers, other than a Melvin Gordon holdout, remain mostly intact. The continuity from one year to the nest will be key for San Diego as they capture the division.
Jalen Ramsay Is The Defensive Player Of The Year
After a dominant start to his career, Jalen Ramsey took a bit of a step back in 2018. This was a pretty common theme among nearly all the Jacksonville Jaguars last year. That doesn’t mean they aren’t talented and no player is more talented than Ramsey.
The Cornerback has also spent a large part of his offseason asking to get paid. This year, Ramsey is going to play at an elite level and earn that payday. Combining blanket coverage and picking off a fair amount of balls will earn the Jaguar the Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Bruce Arians Wins Coach Of The Year
After his successful run with the Arizona Cardinals, Bruce Arians spent a few years away from coaching. The job that lured the offensive mastermind back to the NFL was that of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The team is not expected to compete this year.
There are pieces here, however, for Arians to work with. Jameis Winston can really throw the ball and Mike Evans and OJ Howard are top targets. With Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles whipping the defense into shape, the Bucs will be more competitive than most think. And Arians will be rewarded for his good work.
The Jacksonville Jaguars Make The Super Bowl
If this prediction was to come true, that may mean that two of the above predictions came true as well. The Jaguars were supposed to be a contender last year, but fell way short of expectations. This offseason they landed a Quarterback who’s won the big game in Nick Foles.
The Jags are built like a team that can win during the playoffs. They want to play defense, run the ball and Foles should be able to complete the clutch pass when needed. The Jags will make it to the big game but won’t win it.
Wentz Lives Up To New Contract
Whenever a player receives a massive contract, the pressure is on for them to live up to the great payday. How does $107 million guaranteed sound? That’s what Carson Wentz has to prove he’s earned and we think he will.
People can argue that he didn’t even do much to warrant such a lucrative deal. Nick Foles was the one who finished out the season the past two years. Wentz also was only 5-6 as a starter in 2018.
The Cowboys Will Finish Last In NFC East
It’s safe to say that the Cowboys will come into the 2019 season feeling good about themselves. After adding Amari Cooper at the wide receiver position, which seemed to breathe new life into his game, the offense transformed tremendously.
Still, even with the three-headed dragon of Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and Cooper, one can’t be too sure of Prescott’s passing abilities. The Cowboys aren’t the only team who improved in that division, so anything can happen.
Matt Ryan Will Throw For 5,000 Yards
That heading might sound a bit crazy but these are bold predictions after all. Matt Ryan didn’t even throw for 5,000 yards in his MVP season, so what makes this year so special?
That task isn’t easy for any quarterback, not even Tom Brady. The thing is, he was less than 100 yards short in 2018, which makes us believe he will ride that wave into this season and reach the coveted 5,000-yard plateau. Anything is possible.
Newton Declines Even More
Has Cam Newton been the stud we became accustomed to seeing in his first several years in the league? No. Can he get back to that point and eventually make a return to the Super Bowl? Yes.
As likely it is that it could happen this year, the opposite could arise as well. He battled a shoulder issue in the 2018 season which caused the Panthers to make him sit the last two games, so there is a good chance that problem might linger.
Brees Wins Super Bowl, Retires
After the way the Saints’ season ended last year, Drew Brees might be on the road for redemption. The Saints could have very well been in the Super Bowl last season if it weren’t for an erroneous call.
This year, Drew Brees will lead the Saints to the promised land, win, and ride off into the sunset. Fans might be witnessing the final go for the legendary quarterback, so they better enjoy it while it lasts.
Bears Rookie Will Lead Rookie Class
David Montgomery was the Chicago Bears’ top draft pick, even if it came in the third round. The Bears traded away Jordan Howard, leaving room for Montgomery to be a star carrying that ball.
A lot rides on Mitchell Trubisky because we have yet to see if he can survive without a solid run game. Montgomery is in one of the sweetest positions a rookie can be in, so there is a chance he breaks out in his first season.
Patricia Gets Canned Midseason
Can you give a guy some slack after going 6-10 in their first season as a head coach? Sure, let’s give Matt Patricia some room to breathe because that isn’t so bad. Still, nothing indicates that he will improve upon that in 2019.
Patricia’s former colleague with the Patriots, Josh McDaniels, got cut in Denver only half-way through the season during his second year as a head coach. Don’t act shocked when it happens in Detroit.
Matt LaFleur Is Your Coach Of The Year
Everyone always talks up Aaron Rodgers as being the best quarterback in the league. Year in and year out, he does play amazing in spurts, so we get it. This year will be the year he dominates consistently and proudly thanks to Matt LaFleur.
With some more support around Rodgers and better play calling thanks to LaFleur, expect the Packers to have a stellar year, and their new head coach should take home that best coach trophy.
Cousins Throws More Interceptions Than Touchdowns
Don’t get us wrong, Kirk Cousins played fantastic in his first season with the Vikings. He threw for 30 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions; any coach and fan would appreciate that. They also appreciate winning and the pressure is on for Cousins to prove that.
The defense of the Vikings might also take a little dip in 2019 as well, so Cousins will have to play better to pick up the slack. With all that mounted on him, things could get ugly.
Le’Veon Bell Explodes
Listen, Le’Veon Bell did what he had to do to secure the bag. The Steelers didn’t make it happen so now Bell will make sure the Steelers miss him forever. He’s already a top five running back, but with added rest, he should be even more explosive.
Bell also took to social media to tell his fans that he’s going to lead teams to Fantasy Football victory this season as well. We expect to see a lot from Bell in 2019.
49ers Win NFC West
With the 49ers sharing a division with the St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks, and Arizona Cardinals, it’s safe to say that’s a tough division to be in. Still, the 49ers might be the leaders at the end of the season.
The word is still out on Jimmy G, but he still might be the real deal. With the star quarterback enjoying full health and a good running back game behind him, the sky is the limit for the bay area team.
David Johnson Will Lead The NFL In All-Purpose Yards
It amazes us how many people forgot how miraculous David Johnson was in 2016. He was a complete monster and it wasn’t even fair. Then, he sustained some injuries so we understand that part, but get real.
The Cardinals aren’t going to let it all ride on Kyler Murray as Johnson should be ready to send everyone a friendly reminder. His ability as a pass catcher and freakishly good running makes him a serious threat.
Rams Miss Postseason
The Rams will miss the playoffs. You read that correctly. One season removed from playing the biggest game of their lives and losing, they won’t bounce back stronger. Instead, they will plummet.
It might be a little cliché to say they will have a Super Bowl hangover but that’s the case here. Todd Gurley’s health is still in question, so if their best player isn’t up to par, things will become increasingly difficult for the Los Angeles team
Carr Gets Benched
There’s no telling what will happen with the Raiders this season. Will they play in Vegas, will Oakland fans burn the team down, or will Jon Gruden bench Derek Carr? Of those choices, the latter is highly likely.
Gruden is a bit back and forth with his intentions. After saying Carr is the quarterback of the future for the Raiders, he publicly said that he liked the back up the Raiders currently have.
Seahawks Will Have A Bottom-Five Defense
It’s fine to admit that the Seattle defense isn’t what it used to be when they won the Super Bowl. They traded away their leading sack guy from last season Frank Clark (14) and no one else on the depth chart had more than three sacks.
The odds are very high that their new additions won’t be able to pick up where Clark left off. Russell Wilson will have to play lights out to make up for the sorry defense.
Antonio Brown Misses Half The Season
With the Raiders being the new team for Hard Knocks on HBO, fans get the chance to see inside the team’s hard work and drama. Antonio Brown already has media going into a blitz because he failed to be in the front during a meeting.
He’s also dealing with a foot problem that could linger over time. Will he be the same dominant player we know and love? Yes. Only it will have to come mid-way through the season.
Nick Foles Flops
While Nick Foles might be a Super Bowl champion now, that doesn’t mean he can do the same on a different team. In fact, it could spell the opposite for him in Jacksonville.
He’s never started more than ten games in a season, so things could get interesting in for the Jaguars. Foles is an upgrade over Blake Bortles, we’ll admit, but is that much of an upgrade? At least Bortles was familiar with the offense.
Odell Returns To Top Three WR status
Over the years in New York, Odell Beckham had some shaky seasons. Whether it was the benching of Eli Manning, or injuries, Beckham only had a few runs of being a consistent top wide receiver.
This year will be different. With a new environment (no distractions like in New York), and a fresh quarterback, look for Beckham to be the guy he thinks he is. Only this time, he’ll be much better than anyone expects.
Patriots Win Again
Is it safe to count out the New England Patriots with Tom Brady still under center? No, that would be foolish of everyone. No matter what, they always find a way to make it to the big game.
Whether they win or lose, they’ll be there. If they’re there, you can count on Brady turning into the stone-cold killer that he becomes when it’s crunch time. Do we have to remind you about what he did to the Falcons?