Brian Sullivan (@MadManScouting)

The NFL is so difficult to predict; the parity is unrivaled and there is so much volatility with all of the injuries that take place, and all of the new talent that enters the league every year. So here’s my attempt to make some predictions that will look foolish right now, but could work in my favor. Last year, I predicted Wentz would win the MVP, and I’d argue I was at least 75% correct. I also predicted that Devante Parker would be a top 5 wide receiver… I’d argue I was 0% correct on that one. Here we go.

The Browns Will Finish With A Top 5 Run Defense

This Browns defensive line is absolutely loaded. Carl Nassib is very underrated. Myles Garrett could be a superstar. Joe Schobert and Jamie Collins form a very nice linebacking duo. Some team should have drafted UDFA Trenton Thompson. Larry Ogunjobi is on the verge of stardom. And the Browns could actually have a somewhat adequate offense. Cleveland was 7th last season in rushing defense, and 2nd in the league in yards allowed per attempt with 3.4. This defense could be lethal.

The 49ers Will Win More Than 11 Games

I’m putting all of my faith in Kyle Shanahan and Jimmy Garoppolo. I mentioned it in another article of mine, but I really like this roster. It is loaded with young players who could become established superstars this season; a few of my favorites are Arik Armstead (who I could not have been more wrong about coming out of college) and Jaquiski Tartt. Dante Pettis and Marquise Goodwin will both establish themselves as high quality receivers as well. The hype is real people.

The Jaguars Will Finish Last in The AFC South

This is not necessarily a knock on the Jaguars; I really do like this roster. But this is a quarterback driven league, and I’m just not sold on Blake Bortles. Andrew Luck is back. Deshaun Watson is back. Matt LaFleur should have a huge impact on the Titan’s offense. To further prove my point, here’s a list of the quarterbacks that Jacksonville defeated last season.

Tom Savage (Twice)
Jacoby Brissett (Twice)
Joe Flacco
Andy Dalton
Deshone Kizer

That’s 7 of their 10 wins. The other three DID come against Philip Rivers, Russell Wilson, and Ben Roethlisberger, but overall, they didn’t have to deal with elite QBs very often, and when they did, they often lost. This season? They get to take on:

Tom Brady
Andrew Luck (Twice)
Deshaun Watson (Twice)
Carson Wentz
Ben Roethlisberger

That’s 7 elite QBs right there, not to mention that they get Alex Smith, Dak Prescott, Patrick Mahomes, and Marcus Mariota (twice) all in very complete offenses. The Giants aren’t exactly a walk in the park either. This season could be humbling for the Jaguars defense.

Tom Brady Will Not Be A Top 5 MVP Candidate

Tom Brady is currently the #2 candidate to win MVP according to Las Vegas. No, I am not one of those people who thinks that Tom Brady is going to fall off of a cliff this season. I still firmly believe that the Patriots are the favorites in the AFC, and that they will easily win their division. In fact, I think people are starting to underrate their roster in general; aside from wide receiver, they still have plenty of talent. So why this my take? Because of a few factors.

  1. His schedule is pretty easy, especially within the division. The strength of schedule argument could end up playing a role.
  2. Voter fatigue; we see the same thing with Lebron James in the NBA every year. Between the returns of Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, and Carson Wentz, as well as the potential breakouts of players like Jimmy Garoppolo, Jared Goff, Deshaun Watson, and Marcus Mariota (in his new system), voters will look for any reason to keep Brady off their ballots if another player garners attention. There’s even a few unsung heroes like Matthew Stafford and Philip Rivers who could have career years this season.

Brady will have a great season, but the votes will go to some new faces instead; there are plenty of other candidates who will be more exciting than voting for the 5 time Super Bowl champion.

Patrick Mahomes Will Lead the League in Passing Yards

We might as well rename this site to I get it, you’re tired of hearing it. But I need to include this here. He might throw a ton of picks. He might not throw a ton of TDs. But he is going to air the ball out to Tyreke Hill, Sammy Watkins, and Travis Kelce. And if the Chiefs defense isn’t great, he’s going to have to throw a lot. He could eclipse 5,000 yards and I wouldn’t be surprised.

Joe Flacco Will Set Career Highs In Passing Yards, Touchdowns, Passer Rating, and Completion Percentage

If Joe Flacco does have a career year, it will be because of two reasons. First, he now has a chip on his shoulder with Lamar Jackson entering the quarterback room. Second, this is an offense that has added a ton of new talent. The Ravens added two talented tight ends in Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews. They signed Willie Snead and Michael Crabtree, who is a perfect Flacco receiver. Rookie Jordan Lasley could be a very nice player for them as well. I can see this being a great year for Flacco, where he surpasses his career highs, which include:

27 TDs (2014)
4317 Yards (2016)
64.9% Completions (2016)
91.0 Passer Rating (2014)

The Bears Will Finish With A Top 5 Rushing Offense

The Bears managed to finish 16th in the league in total rushing last season. That’s pretty impressive, considering that they had virtually no passing offense to alleviate the running game. It’s not like they were leading in a ton of games either. Insert Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, Trey Burton, and suddenly this team could stretch the defense a little more. Add in the fact that Mitchell Trubisky is a pretty solid athlete himself, and suddenly you’re looking at a team that could throttle teams on the ground all season.

Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs Will Combine For Over 25 Touchdowns

Thielen and Diggs are arguably the best receiving duo in the league. They combined for 12 touchdowns last season, which is not bad by any means, but I know that they’re capable of more than that. Kirk Cousins is a few tiers above Case Keenum in my opinion; he could find a way to get the ball into both receivers hands more often than Keenum was able to.

Andrew Luck Will Win The MVP

I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but this is the most talented team Andrew Luck has ever been a part of. His offensive line should seriously improve with the additions of Matt Slauson, Quenton Nelson, and Braden Smith. He’ll actually have time to throw. Everybody is picking the Jaguars and Texans to win this division. Nobody thinks any team aside from New England, Pittsburgh, and MAYBE Los Angeles are AFC contenders. If Andrew Luck managed to drag an offensive line that consisted of your local YMCA gym rats to an 11 win season and an AFC title game back in 2014, imagine what he can do with actual protection. If they get at least 12 wins this season, Luck will be a serious candidate. Vegas might regret setting his odds at +3400.

Derrick Henry Will Lead the League In Rushing Yards

Demarco Murray was a solid running back, but I’m convinced that Tennessee only game him so many snaps because they were committed to “the veterans getting their touches”. In reality, Henry might have been the better option, and this new offensive system could really benefit him. Sure, he’ll have to split some time with Dion Lewis; but how many teams don’t have a 2nd option at RB, let alone 3? Behind this insanely gifted offensive line, Henry could erupt onto the scene this year.

Von Miller and Bradley Chubb Will Combine For Over 30 Sacks

We all know that Von Miller is capable of putting up massive sack numbers, but he’s been surprisingly quiet the past three years in that regard. He’s had 10, 13.5, and 11 sacks over the last three seasons. Obviously, he produces in other ways, but I’m surprised he hasn’t come close to his 18.5 that he put up in 2012. Now that there’s another dynamic rusher opposite of him, he could see more one on one opportunities. This could be the year that he surpasses 20 sacks. Bradley Chubb is absolutely capable of getting 10 of his own. Broncos fans have a lot to look forward to on defense.

At Least 5 Quarterbacks Will Throw For Over 40 Touchdowns

Last season, Russell Wilson lead the league with 34 passing touchdowns. That will be topped this season, and I’ll go extra bold and say that this could be a huge year for scoring. Any of these following QBs could toss over 40 if you ask me:

Aaron Rodgers – Duh.
Tom Brady – Also Duh.
Drew Brees – Another “duh”.
Carson Wentz – With that much talent around him? In his third year? If he plays the whole season, it’s easily possible.
Deshaun Watson – He threw 19 touchdowns in 7 games last season. An extra year of prep and more talent? His numbers could be filthy.
Andrew Luck – He threw for 40 back in 2014, and this roster is a lot better.
Jared Goff – Todd Gurley, Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks… he could really build on last season.
Matthew Stafford – This could be the most talented roster he’s ever had. He’s bound for a “wow” year.
Philip Rivers – His receiving corps is ridiculously deep, and this is the best offensive line he’s had since 2009.
Derek Carr – Jon Gruden is a quarterback wizard, Derek Carr is a stud, and there are a ton of weapons on this offense.
Russell Wilson – He lead the league last season, who’s to say he can’t throw even more this season?
Ben Roethlisberger – I can’t believe it took me this long to get to him, but he could obviously put up some ridiculous numbers with all of the talent surrounding him.
Matt Ryan – Do I even need to say?

That’s 13, and those are just the ones that I figured we can all agree on. That excludes a ton of dark horses who could all explode next season.

At Least 5 Teams Average 30+ PPG

This one goes with my previous point; this could be an insane year for offenses. We watched Big Ben torch the Jaguars daunting secondary. We saw Nick Foles air it out against a pretty talented Patriots defense. These offenses are getting too good. Last season, the Rams lead the league with 29.9 PPG on offense. I can see multiple teams topping that this season.

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