I know. Another NFL season is upon us.
That means it’s time for predictions.
Time to reveal who will succeed and who won’t?
Who wins the division races?
Who makes the playoffs?
Who gets to the Super Bowl?
Who wins the Super Bowl?
It’s September and we’re supposed to take out our crystal ball from the moth balls and show how smart we are.
If you know so much, buddy, tell me how the upcoming season will go.
Well, as many of you know, I think predictions are ridiculous.
I believe it’s a total waste of time to forecast the future on anything.
How wrong are meteorologists?
You know the answer to that.
How can you say what will happen in the NFL, for instance, when there are significant factors, such as injuries to key personnel, especially quarterbacks.
Another important issue will be players sidelined due to COVID. For example, the Cowboys won’t have their most important offensive lineman available for their opener against the Super Bowl champion Bucs because of COVID.
Then, there are other factors, such as teams suffering a letdown on a given week and getting upset.
There are so many reasons why predicting an NFL season, and any athletic event or full season, for that matter, makes absolutely no sense at all.
Okay…….. so here are my predictions for the NFL this year.
I will divide my thoughts this way.
Things I KNOW are likely to happen.
Things I THINK will occur.
I KNOW the AFC is the stronger conference. The best youthful quarterbacks are in the AFC. For the most part, the best quarterbacks in the NFC are seasoned vets.
You know who they are.
The absolute great Tom Brady, 44, and still going strong, will lead Tampa Bay to a division title. Remember, they won the Super Bowl as a wild-card, finishing second to the Saints in the NFC South. Drew Brees has retired, Jameis Winston gets his second chance to start for an NFL team, but New Orleans falls.
Aaron Rodgers, who is 37, will guide the Packers to the NFC North crown once again.
Neither Brady and the Bucs, nor Rodgers and the Pack will be seriously challenged in their respective divisions.
The South and the North are not particularly strong and that is putting it mildly.
But they’re a lot better than the NFC East.
Not one of the four teams in that division played .500 ball last year. They all lost more than they won.
I keep picking the Cowboys to not only take it all in their division I even tabbed them to win the Super Bowl in recent years.
They won’t do that in 2021, but they really should run away with the NFC East.
That goes under the I THINK column.
The strength in the NFC is in the West, and that’s where I believe the Conference’s Super Bowl entry will come.
I KNOW the Los Angeles Rams are the best team in that division.
In 2018, they exhibited a phenomenal attack, with a young and promising quarterback, Jared Goff, at the helm.
Their defense was solid, and they made it all the way to the Super Bowl, only to get crushed by the Patriots.
The Rams dropped to third the following season, came back to make the playoffs last year, but now appear ready to roll again.
The chief factor is the acquisition of veteran QB Matthew Stafford, picked up in a trade with the Detroit Lions for Goff, who failed to progress after that Super Bowl season.
For Stafford, a talented, smart, and clutch commander, it is a chance to finally achieve the best in a career blunted by performing for sub-par Detroit teams for 12 years.
The 49ers were a Super Bowl entry two years ago behind the brilliant coaching of Kyle Shanahan and the unbeat quarterbacking of Jimmy Garoppolo.
But the Niners, seeing the limits of the former Patriot, drafted Trey Lance number one in the draft, and while Lance is likely to assume the reins sometime this season, it won’t be enough for San Francisco. But it’ll be close.
The Seahawks with Russell Wilson, one of the best, leading the way, are always a contender.
Perhaps the Arizona Cardinals will be as well.
It’s a crucial third year for both QB Kyler Murray, and head coach Cliff Kingsbury.
It wouldn’t surprise anyone for the Cards to emerge in 2021.
That makes the West the BEST, in the NFC.
But I THINK the Rams, who also sport the premier defensive unit in the league, remain the class of the Conference, and will get to the Super Bowl, which will be played on their home field.
Onto the AFC, which I KNOW will be truly spectacular this season.
How about Patrick Mahomes and the powerful Chiefs.
We know what the Super Bowl-winning quarterback can do.
Will this be the year Baker Mayfield finally is consistent enough to lead a loaded Browns outfit to a division title. And a lot more?
Can Lamar Jackson pass in accurate fashion to combine with his nearly-unstoppable running game to bring the Ravens back to be a challenging force?
Can Tua Tagovailoa be what the Dolphins hope he is?
The story of the young quarterbacks, all capable to becoming major stars in the NFL dominate the AFC.
Not all of them scamper for their success.
Old school Ryan Tannehill, combined with running back Derrick Henry, who reminds you how tough it was to bring Jim Brown down to the ground, has vaulted the Titans from also-ran to Super Bowl contender.
And what franchise more than the Pittsburgh Steelers draws more attention and respect…..for decades. I realize the Patriots have been the most recent kings, but the Steelers have matched the Pats with six Super Bowl championships, and boast a tradition dating back to the mid-70’s .
They always are in the conversation. This year is no different, especially if the old man, now a slimmer old man, Ben Roethlisberger has one more year left in him.
The Bengals will become a factor in a hurry if QB Joe Burrow bounces back successfully from his serious left knee injury in Week 11 last season.
Many “experts” feel second-year Justin Herbert of the Chargers may develop into a QB as good as any of the young bunch out there.
Right now that guy is Josh Allen, who has turned the Buffalo Bills from a weak link into a prime championship threat.
The Bills are as good a choice to not only reach the Big Game, but win it as well.
Their one missing piece has been a fearsome pass rush.
If they find it, I THINK they will represent the AFC in Los Angeles next February.
In fact, the AFC East has quietly become that conference’s powerhouse. This I KNOW.
The quarterbacks alone indicate why.
Allen of the Bills heads a group that includes three signal-callers who will either shine brightly, muddle through, or fail miserably.
The jury is obviously out for the Dolphins and Tua.
With one of the best young coaches, which I KNOW to be the case with Brian Flores in charge, Miami will be a league threat for years. But they must have Tua comes through.
Believe it or not, the Jets may rise from the ashes on the arm of Zack Wilson. I like their new head man, Robert Saleh, and I THINK the Jets will finally come alive.
Last but not least, we turn to the Patriots, the team we always began discussing first.
After a non-playoff campaign, Bill Belichick’s crew will significantly rebound. At least I THINK they will.
When New England drafted Mack Jones, I went on record that if Alabama’s Nick Saban apparently told Belichick, his long-time friend that Jones was the real deal at quarterback, the Pats would flourish. And I feel they will.
Belichick and Saban
Time to wrap-up.
What we all KNOW, injuries can change the picture in dramatically.
I KNOW the AFC is the power conference.
I THINK the Bills are the best of the best in a group of division winners. I KNOW that includes the Chiefs, and the Titans, and I THINK that includes the Browns.
Wild-cards? Let’s say I THINK it’ll be the Steelers, Chargers, and Patriots.
In the NFC, I THINK the Rams will go all the way, and I KNOW the Bucs and the Packers will wind up in first place. I THINK the Cowboys will too. But I’ve been there before.
I KNOW the 49ers will be in the playoffs. And I THINK they’ll be joined by the Saints, and, are you ready?, the Bears.
Buffalo wins the Super Bowl.
But remember, I don’t KNOW so much!