Why do we make bold predictions? In fact, why do we try to predict anything at all?
You cynics reading this particular blog post will undoubtedly scream, “For the clicks, right?” and, to be fair, yes, it’s for the clicks. But aside from it being easy #content, getting a prediction correct at the start of the season can make you feel like you are super duper smart.
“I KNEW IT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN! I TOLD Y’ALL SO. GET ME ON TV.”
Of course, bold predictions rarely come true. That’s what makes them bold, after all. Ahead of last season, I released 10 bold predictions for the NFL season and, if I’m being charitable to myself, they were putrid.
Here’s how I did.
- Dallas Cowboys Will Reach the NFC Championship Game
- Lamar Jackson and the Ravens Will Bounce Back
- Daniel Jones is Replaced at Midseason at QB
- The KC Chiefs Will Break the Super Bowl Loser Curse (But Just Barely)
- Carson Wentz Will Take the Colts to the Playoffs & the Eagles Get a 1st Round Pick
- The Cleveland Browns will have the best record in football in 2021
- The Matthew Stafford Trade Was a Mistake for the Rams
- Josh Allen and the Bills Take a Step Back
- The Saints are Going to be Bad
- Houston Texans Will Go Winless
Virtually all were egregious misses.
The Chiefs were insanely good once again, Wentz did NOT take the Colts to the playoffs, the Browns absolutely DID NOT have the best record in football, the Cowboys fell well short of the NFC Championship Game (I had no problem missing that one), Matthew Stafford was a godsend for the Super Bowl champions, and Josh Allen had perhaps one of the greatest seasons in NFL history. Lamar Jackson and the Ravens missed the postseason, the Texans did not go winless, and the Saints almost made the postseason. Daniel Jones WAS replaced at midseason, but only due to injury.
Yeah. All of them were wrong.
I did predict the 49ers to beat the Titans in the Super Bowl and I got pretty close on that one, with San Francisco losing the title game on a dropped interception. Tennessee got the No. 1 seed but choked that away, but they were both really good last season. But on the whole, the predictions were a disaster.
So why am I doing it again?
That’s right. The clicks.
Onto the predictions!
Packers, 49ers and Cowboys Miss the Playoffs
Generally speaking, there are two or three playoff teams from the season before that do not make it back the following year. This season, I’ve got three of the NFC’s marquee franchises missing out.
Aaron Rodgers is great, but we’ve seen him have bad seasons when the talent drain around him became too much. I think he’s lost too much, specifically Davante Adams now in Oakland. That’s a morale crusher. The 49ers are going to have to adjust to Trey Lance, and that could take some time, and the Cowboys’ roster got worse this summer, not better. No NFC East team has repeated as division champs since the 2001-04 Eagles, and Dallas isn’t bucking that trend this year.
Lions, Commanders and Vikings Make the Playoffs
If those three teams are missing the playoffs, then three who missed out last year must replace them.
The Lions are a chic pick to at least win a wild card and, with the fall of the Packers, I think they’ll battle the Vikings for the top spot in the NFC North, with both reaching the playoffs. Also, I think Carson Wentz plays well enough, with more talent around him, in Washington, earning the Commanders a wild card spot. Antonio Gibson and Terry McLaurin are both awesome, and I think last year’s collapse by Wentz in the final two games was just very weird.
Patriots Win 6 or Fewer Games
Losing Josh McDaniel will hurt Bill Belichick’s offense, and I’m not sold on Mac Jones as a big-time QB in the NFL. The talent drain has been significant and, let’s be honest, the AFC has once again become the premier conference by a wide margin. The Bills are head and shoulders better, the Jets and Dolphins should both be improved, the Chargers and Bengals are both Super Bowl contenders with franchise quarterbacks, and teams like the Jaguars and Broncos should be much better in 2022 as well.
The Patriots will struggle to win six games. You hate to see it.
Jimmy Garoppolo is Traded to the Dolphins at the Deadline
The 49ers say they’re willing to hold onto Garoppolo all season, but that just doesn’t make sense. Trey Lance needs to know that it’s his team, and he cannot do that with Garoppolo looking over his shoulder. It may mean San Francisco takes a step back in ‘22, but they have to move forward and get something for Garoppolo before he becomes a free agent at the end of the season, while at the same time showing confidence in Lance.
I predict Miami is the most likely landing spot, with Tua struggling early forcing the Dolphins’ hands.
Justin Herbert Wins MVP
While I’m not making it one of my bold predictions, I think the Chargers could finish with the best record in the NFL this year. They’re unbelievably solid on both offense and defense, with a QB who will challenge Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes for the mantle of best quarterback in the AFC, Justin Herbert.
He’s going to have a monster year, with over 5,000 passing yards and 40+ TDs, leading a dynamic Los Angeles Chargers attack on a deep playoff run.
Von Miller Leads NFL in Sacks
Buffalo’s ageless defensive end is going to have a field day on the division’s young QBs in Mac Jones, Zach Miller and Tua Tagovailoa, and he will benefit from the Bills’ outstanding secondary, specifically their safety duo of Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer. I know Joey Bosa is a popular pick for Defensive Player of the Year, but I think it’s Miller who will lead the league in sacks, threatening the all-time record of 22.5 held by Michael Strahan and T.J. Watt.
Doug Pederson Named NFL Coach of the Year
The upgrade from the incompetent Urban Meyer to the supremely excellent Doug Pederson shouldn’t be lost on anyone, and we should see a drastic improvement in the overall quality of play from the Jags, especially from former No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence has all the tools and, although there is work to be done, Pederson’s ability to coach up QBs is, by now, legendary.
The Jaguars are going to threaten for a playoff spot and, as a result, Pederson is going to get a lot of Coach of the Year chatter. If they happen to snag one, he’s a shoo-in.
Chicago Bears Go Winless
Last year I picked the Texans to go winless. They won four games.
This year I’m picking the Bears to go winless. They’ll probably win four games.
They’re terrible, no matter how many it winds up being, but let’s have some fun and go 0-17.
Dalvin Cook Wins Rushing Title
There are a number of running backs who could end up atop the leaderboard, specifically the reigning champ, Indianapolis’ Jonathan Taylor, as well as Cleveland’s Nick Chubb, and Cincinnati’s Joe Mixon. Pittsburgh’s Najee Harris is a popular choice, as the Steelers will likely rely on him while Kenny Pickett gets his legs under him, but I’m going to go with the dynamic Dalvin Cook, who is unstoppable when he’s on the field. Staying healthy will be the biggest challenge for the Vikings running back but, if he does, I say he takes home the title this season.
Bills beat Bucs in Super Bowl 57
I really love the Chargers in the AFC and, right now, that’s my predicted AFC Championship Game, with the hard-luck Bills finally breaking through and getting back to the Super Bowl for the first time since the Jim Kelly era. The pick in the NFC is not as tough for me. The Packers, Cowboys and Niners will all miss the postseason. The Vikings, Commanders and Lions aren’t ready. The Rams will repeat as division winners, but it’s very difficult for teams to repeat, and let’s face it, Tom Brady being back changes everything. So yeah, I think the Bucs beat the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game for a huge Super Bowl 57 in which Josh Allen defeats the legend in Brady’s final NFL game.