It should be said before we go any further that the biggest bold prediction for the 2020 NFL season is that it goes on as planned. As we’ve already seen, due to the COVID-19 pandemic training camp has been altered and the preseason has been canceled.
With that said, the NFL is the most important American sports league and fans all over the country will be looking forward to its arrival, with or without fans in the stadium. The 2020 NFL season is shaping up to be one of the most exciting in recent history.
Legends like Tom Brady have changed teams. The young guard is proving their championship mettle and coaches will look to put up massive offensive numbers yet again. The league has never been more exciting, so let’s dive into some bold predictions for the upcoming season.
The Pittsburgh Steelers Will Win the AFC North
Sure, the Ravens still have reigning MVP Lamar Jackson under center and won the division last year by 6 games, but the rest of the division was abject. Their biggest competitors in the division, Pittsburgh, was missing their talismanic leader Ben Roethlisberger for nearly all of the season.
Big Ben is back and healthier than he’s been in a long time. If the Ravens drop off at all in 2020, the Steelers will be there to regain the throne. Their defense is as stout as ever, and their offense looks dangerous with a capable quarterback under center.
The Green Bay Packers Will Miss the Playoffs
Year after year Aaron Rodgers cries out for the front office to draft offensive talent. Well they finally listened, and in the first round no less. The only problem is that talent was Rodgers eventual replacement, Jordan Love.
In case you haven’t been paying attention, Rodgers production has begun to drop and at 36 he probably isn’t getting any better. This isn’t to say that the Packers will end up with the first overall pick, but the teams on the rise in the NFC have passed them up.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Will Miss the Playoffs
Tom Brady and his old pal Rob Gronkowski pulled up in Tampa and now they’re Super Bowl favorites, right? Wrong. Just a reminder that Brady is nearing AARP status and out of the comfort zone of New England and Bill Belichick.
Gronk has been out of football for the last year and is certainly lacking sharpness. For all we know he’s spent the last 12 months doing keg stands in cities all around the country. The Brady/Gronk experiment in Tampa will be fun to watch for the storylines, but that’s it.
Myles Garrett Will Win Defensive Player of the Year
Before he had a rush of blood to the head and cracked Mason Rudolph over the head with his own helmet, Myles Garrett was on his way to a monster season last year. He’d racked up 10 sacks in his first 7 games.
He publicly stated before last season that he wanted to win DPOY so you can only imagine how hungry he is for the award now that he has to re-prove himself and repair his reputation. He’s one of the best defensive players in the league and this season he’s going to show the league. Watch out.
Joe Burrow Will Win More Games Than Cam Newton
Ok, so it’s not a head to head battle between the two quarterbacks but it does show the confidence we have in the rookie gunslinger over the oft-broken former MVP.
Don’t forget, Burrow will have better weapons to work with in Cincinnati than Cam will in New England. A healthy AJ Green and a repaired tackle, Jonah Williams will stabilize that offense until Burrow learns the ropes. Newton will just be lucky to stay healthy for the entire season.
The Los Angeles Rams Will Finish Last in the NFC West
The NFC West is loaded. Super Bowl losers San Fran will contend again, Seattle is always in the hunt for a Super Bowl, and the Cardinals are on the rise behind their NFL-style Air Raid offense.
This leaves the Los Angeles Rams as the only team not actively improving. And in the NFL if you improving all the time you are going to get left behind. For the Rams that will mean falling to the bottom of the pile in the NFC West.
DeAndre Hopkins Will Have a Record-Breaking Season in Arizona
This one is almost a no-brainer. Look at the success he had in Houston with a quarterback who couldn’t stay off his backside. Now he’s in Arizona with a quarterback who is looking to improve on a stellar rookie season.
Oh, and he has a coach who would throw it every play if he could. All of this combined means that DeAndre Hopkins is going to rack up thousands of receiving yards this season. Literally thousands.
This Will Be Drew Brees’ Ride into the Sunset
They say legends never die, and that’s true. But they do have to retire someday. That day is coming soon for Drew Brees. He’s been fighting the good fight against Father Time for a few years now, but time always wins.
It would be a shame to see Brees limp through a final season, which shouldn’t be how he plays this season. He’s got gas left in the tank so leave it all out there on the field, one last time. Who knows, there may be another Super Bowl trip in it.
Miami Dolphins Will Win the AFC East
For the first time in nearly 20 years, the AFC East is up for grabs and Brady-less. Sure, grumpy old Belichick is running the show for the Patriots but without two of his best weapons. Into that vacuum steps the Dolphins, who had a really underrated season last year.
Coach Brian Flores has the Dolphins project ahead of schedule and has fans excited for what’s next. The key will be the crowded quarterback room. Which of Tua, Josh Rosen, and Ryan Fitzpatrick will take the bull by the horns and make the job his? That will be the key to the Dolphins season.
CeeDee Lamb Will Win Offensive Rookie of the Year
Anyone who saw CeeDee Lamb ball out at Oklahoma last season knows that he’s a human highlight reel when the action turns his way. He’s big, strong, and fast, and nearly impossible to take down in the open field.
Pair him with the offensive weapons already in Big D and that Dallas offense is looking downright scary. Who do you key on if you’re the defensive coordinator? Zeke? Amari Cooper? CeeDee Lamb? Count on the rookie to take advantage of that and put up massive numbers.
Jalen Hurts Starts Multiple Games for the Eagles
The reasons for this should be fairly obvious and are not all that related to Jalen Hurts abilities as a quarterback. Is he better than the incumbent starter Carson Wentz? No, obviously not. However, Wentz has a horrible record of injuries.
Wentz has played all 16 games just twice in his four NFL seasons. Don’t expect that to change this season either. What we should attribute to Hurts is his ability to beat out Kyle Lauletta and Nate Sudfield for the title of QB2.
Chicago Bears Will Win the NFC North
This is finally it. This is the year the Bears will take advantage of that incredible defense they’ve built and win the division. They brought in Nick Foles to compete with (take over for) Mitchell Trubisky, who has underperformed given his high draft selection a few years ago.
With a proven winner in Foles under center, the Bears should have all of the pieces they need to get things done in the division. Literally all they’ve been missing was a competent starting quarterback and now they have one.
Kansas City Repeats as Super Bowl Champs
It’s so incredibly difficult to repeat as Super Bowl Champions. The league changes so quickly and the balance of power is always shifting. In fact, no one has done it this century. The Denver Broncos in 1998 and 1999 are the last team to repeat.
But rarely has there been a team so complete as these Kansas City Chiefs. They are loaded on offense and good enough on defense to go all the way yet again. Patrick Mahomes wasn’t even excellent last season and they still managed to win. Just wait until he’s fully healthy again this year.
Raiders Make Playoffs in First Season in Las Vegas
Don’t look now but while we were all making jokes about Jon Gruden and trades of Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack, he was busy turning the Raiders into a contender again. Derek Carr is coming off a season in which he set career highs in passing yards and completion percentage. Gruden is turning him into the quarterback he always looked like he could become.
It’s just too bad there will be no, or at most a reduced amount of fans in the brand new desert jewel of a stadium in Sin City. Gruden’s boys will have that place rocking.
Adam Gase is First Head Coach Fired
Adam Gase was as surprise hire when the Jets made him their main man a few years ago but it will be no surprise when he gets canned early in this season. He’s been off-putting in press conferences and confrontational with his players. Oh, and his team stinks.
Unless he can turn Sam Darnold into a star this season, Gase is out, and likely the first coach to get the boot too. The AFC East is up for grabs this season so it really is now or never for Gase.
The Lions will fire Matt Patricia
The curse of the Belichick assistant will strike yet again as Matt Patricia will be sent packing after another year of disappointing Lions football. We can almost write the script from here. Matt Stafford will throw for thousands of yards but the hapless Lions will creep to a 5-6 win season, again.
It’s just what they do, and Patricia is not the man to single handily pull the franchise out of mediocrity. The coach who does should be immediately put in the Hall of Fame because they will have done something incredible.
Saquan Barkley Will Lead the League in Offensive Yards
Saquon Barkley is an offensive juggernaut. In two NFL seasons he already totaled 2300 yards and 17 touchdowns. Those numbers will continue to rise because he’s pretty much the only weapon the Giants have on the offensive side of the ball.
Quarterback Daniel Jones is not ready to be counted on to lead the offense so that burden will yet again fall to Barkley. This is why he will lead the league in total yards. Chances are he will lead the league in rushing yards too.
This is Finally the Year That Dan Quinn Gets the Boot in Atlanta
Dan Quinn has been circling the drain since they blew the lead in the Super Bowl to the Patriots a few years ago. Every year since the Falcons have struggled with the hangover from the collapse and we’ve heard rumors that Quinn’s head was on the block.
This is finally the year he gets canned. The NFC South may not be very good, but neither are the Falcons. Finishing near the bottom of that scrap heap of a division will spell the end for Quinn, finally.
The San Francisco 49ers Will Miss the Playoffs
This is more about the strength of the NFC West than the weaknesses of the San Francisco 49ers. They’re a good team who’s just locked down star tight end George Kittle to a long-term deal. But the rest of the division is charging.
There’s no way the 49ers go 13-3 in that division again this year. Every team, bar the Rams is better. And they have tough non-division games against the Cowboys, Bills, Saints and Eagles. It’s a tough road for San Francisco this year and one that will find them at home in January.
Tyrod Taylor Will Still Be the Chargers Starting Quarterback at the End of the Season
Poor Tyrod Taylor. That guy has never gotten his due. Despite displaying his competence as an NFL quarterback nearly everywhere he’s played he’s never given the respect he deserves. Lately, he’s been the placeholder for the next guy. Buffalo, Cleveland, and now Los Angeles.
But this time is different. Tyrod Taylor is going to lock down the starting job and play well enough to keep first-round pick Justin Herbert on the bench. Why? He’s reunited with Anthony Lynn who was his offensive coordinator in Buffalo when he was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2017.
The Patriots Will Finish Under .500
What a difference a year makes, right? The Patriots had to go through an offseason where they watched their two best players of the last decade take up residence in a different city. Meanwhile, the replacement they got for the greatest quarterback of all-time could be great but most likely will spend just as much time on the sidelines injured as he will in the game playing.
Buckle up Pats fans because it’s not going to be pretty. Hopefully, all the winning over the last two decades will help soften the blow. You won’t find many fans around the league sympathetic to your plight.
The Washington Football Team Will Sneak Into the Playoffs
The Washington Football Team has been a leaderless mess in the last few years. Jay Gruden may have had a good offensive mind but it takes more than that to lead a football team. Enter Ron Rivera. The man commands respect when he enters a room.
Rivera will get Washington playing better and more disciplined, but what remains to be seen is if they actually have any talent on the roster. If Rivera can make something out of second-year quarterback Dwyane Haskins they’ve got a shot at the playoffs.
Phillip Rivers Will be a Man Reborn
Phillip Rivers has to be pinching himself and wondering how he got so lucky. He got to spend the first 16 seasons of his NFL career on the sunny beaches of Southern California, and now in his professional swansong, he gets to play indoors. What could be better for an aging quarterback than playing half your games inside?
Actually, it does get better for Rivers as he gets to play behind that incredible offensive line that was built to protect Andrew Luck. Luck is retired though and Rivers gets to reap the rewards. He’ll no doubt be excellent, and upright, this season in Indy.
The Houston Texans Will Miss the Playoffs
The Houston Texans have not had a good offseason. First of all, head coach Bill O’Brien was given the additional duty of general manager and immediately traded away their best player, DeAndre Hopkins. That’s a move that would not have gone down well in a locker room that he already was having a difficult side getting to like him.
Winning cures all issues, but unfortunately, the Texans won’t be doing a lot of that. They have too much talent to be a bad football team, but they won’t make the playoffs. They will be one of the first teams in the league to quit on the field too.
Russell Wilson Will Win the NFL MVP Award
Russell Wilson knows it too. He was quoted this preseason as saying “I’m just hitting the beginning of my prime.” That should terrify the rest of the league. What will be interesting to see is how much Pete Carroll and his staff allow Wilson to do his thing.
No longer is the Seahawks offense more of a mosaic with each piece doing its small part for the greater good. No, Russell Wilson is the star. They need to let him air it out, be the offensive weapon that he can be. Watch out, because this is Russell’s year.
The Jaguars Will Be Looking for a Quarterback in Next Year’s Draft
The Gardner Minshew experiment was one heck of a ride last season but reality will bring the mustachioed gunslinger back to Earth. We’ve seen it a hundred times before. A rookie with virtually no tape on him comes into the league and lights it up. Inevitably the league catches up, and the sophomore slump happens.
Only with Minshew, it will turn out that the sophomore slump is his real level. He was drafted in the 6th round for a reason; because he just isn’t that good. It was a fun ride, but the Jaguars will be getting off soon. Look for them to pick a quarterback early int eh first round of next year’s draft.
Drew Lock is Finally the Quarterback John Elway has Been Looking For
By now everyone knows the story. The all-time great quarterback takes management role in search of the next version of himself but keeps choosing the wrong guy. Well, finally John Elway has found his quarterback.
No, Drew Lock is not exactly like John Elway. In fact, he’s a bit bigger. Lock had a solid rookie season last year throwing for over 1,000 yards with a 7-1 TD to INT ratio. Those numbers will continue to get better with more playing time.
The Ravens Will Break the Single Season Rushing Record…Again
The Ravens rode the legs of Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram to the NFL record for team rushing yard last year, with 3,296 rushing yards. Gus Edwards and Justice Hill also contributed significant yardage to the cause.
Always in need of legs, the Raves drafted former Ohio State standout J.K. Dobbins in the second round of the 2020 Draft. Dobbins spent his entire Ohio State career running out of the shotgun formation so he’s a natural fit for the way the Ravens run their offense. Look for them to break their own rushing record this season.
The Buffalo Bills Will Win a Playoff Game
The Buffalo Bills will win a playoff game this season for the first time since 1995. Incredibly it has been that long since the Bills Mafia witnessed a January or February win. They’ve made the playoffs two of the last three seasons but this is the year they finally get a win.
The Bills should be challenging for a division title and therefore, a home playoff game. There isn’t a team in the league that wants to play a playoff game in Buffalo, on the banks of Lake Erie, in January. If the Bills snag home-field advantage, watch out.
Christian McCaffrey’s Rushing Yards Will Decline
If there’s one thing that we know about new Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady it’s that he likes to spread the wealth. Meaning McCaffrey won’t be the only Panther getting touches this season. Besides, with teddy Bridgewater under center McCaffrey won’t be called upon to do it all.
That’s not to say that Run CMC won’t be putting up monster numbers this year. He’ll likely set career highs in receiving yard with Brady calling the plays for Bridgewater. It should be an exciting offense in Charlotte.
The Vikings Will Earn a Top 10 Draft Pick
While that might sound like a good thing, it’s not. In order to earn that high of a pick the Vikings will have to have a bad season. And looking at the numbers it’s not too far out of the realm of possibility.
The offense took a step back last year and then lost star wideout Stefon Diggs. Kirk Cousins hasn’t lived up to the contract the Vikings gave him and needs weapons to be successful. If the defense drops off at all the Vikings will be picking early in next year’s draft.
The Tennessee Titans Will Finish .500 or Worse
The Tennessee Titans were one of the surprises of last season. They rode their throwback smashmouth brand of football all the way to the AFC Championship game last season. Remember the Titans were just 9-7 in the regular season last year so a drop to .500 is not too farfetched.
For the last few years NFL offenses have been built around throwing the ball as much as possible. The Titans bucked that trend last year, but don’t expect any teams to follow them. Their success last year was a fluke.