kick off the season, which means it’s a perfect time for some predictions. But
these aren’t just any predictions; these are BOLD predictions. By “BOLD
predictions”, I mean things that are unlikely to happen but could still
logically happen. If you’re expecting, Denver Broncos finish with
the best record in the NFL, well, that wouldn’t be very bold now would it? I make
these BOLD predictions so the people don’t have to. I am, of course, a man of
the people. This list is no particular order, so the boldness of each prediction is up to you.
Honorable Mention – New England Patriots miss the
After Danny Amendola (who has injury issues), the next best receiver on the
Patriots is Julian Edleman. After Edleman, there’s a 31-year-old Michael Jenkins
and then a plate of dudes I’ve never heard of. The defense always has it’s issues too,
though they were better with Aqib Talib. It remains to be seen if running back
Steven Ridley can take the next step and improve on last year.
But the Pats have Tom Brady and no one else in the AFC East does. Brady is
one of those quarterbacks who could make me into a Pro Bowl receiver. The Miami
Dolphins should pose the biggest threat to the Pats, but as long as Tom Brady is
under center, the Pats are a playoff team.
1) Rex Ryan is fired after Week 5
This isn’t bold in the sense of Rex Ryan getting the pink slip; the Jets are
going to be terrible and Ryan will probably end up fired. The boldness can be
found in the week number Ryan gets the boot – Week 5 is pretty early in the NFL
season for a coach to get canned. So why Week 5? My guess is the Jets start 0-4
before they travel to Atlanta in Week 5 to take on the Falcons on Monday
Night Football. Once the Jets get throttled on national television,
they’ll have no choice but to fire Rex Ryan. This may also be the time when they
change the pace of their offense and stick in Geno Smith.
Hey, if Rex is fired, at least he’ll have more time to run with the
2) Pittsburgh Steelers miss the playoffs for the second year in a
The Steelers haven’t missed the playoffs in consecutive years since 1998-2000
and it’s hard to imagine an organization like Pittsburgh missing the playoffs
again. But the Steelers aren’t as good as the Baltimore Ravens or Cincinnati
Bengals, which means they will be fighting for the wild card spot. Assuming the
Ravens or Bengals, Texans, Broncos and Patriots win their respective divisions,
here is the Steelers’ competition for a wild card spot: Ravens/Bengals, Miami,
Indianapolis, Tennessee, Kansas City and San Diego. That is a lot of teams to beat
out. Though Roesthlisburger is healthy, he, the offensive line and Troy Palumalu
have a recent history of being injured early and often. The Steelers will be
home on the couch eating Doritos Locos Tacos come playoff time.
3) Carolina Panthers make the playoffs
The Panthers haven’t made the playoffs since 2008, but they finished off 2012
on quite the roll. Cam Newton’s play improved and they won their last four games
of the season, including a win over Atlanta (they also played Atlanta well in
Week 4, losing 28-30). The NFC is stacked with potential wild card teams, and if
the Panthers make the playoffs, it’s likely because they beat out either New
Orleans or Atlanta – unless three NFC South teams make the playoffs. That’s
unlikely however given the strength of all the other teams in the
The Panthers have nice talent and if Cam Newton can put together a solid full
season the Panthers will be one of NFC wild card teams.
4) Tim Tebow scores as a tight end
Yes, I know that it’s been reported that the Pats will likely keep Tebow at
quarterback, but that just makes this all the more bold! With
Gronk hurt and Hernandez in the big house, the odds that Tebow takes a least one
snap at tight end have gone up. That one snap could be his touchdown. The
Patriots and Bill Bilichick have been creative before with versatile players.
You may recall a certain Mike Vrabel, the former linebacker for the New England
Patriots. During his time with the Pats, Vrabel caught eight
passes, all for goal-line touchdowns. I have a feeling Tebow could be Mike
Vrabel 2.0. The only problem with this is that Skip Bayless will somehow make
the argument that Tebow’s success at tight end means he can thrive as an NFL
quarterback. Won’t that be glorious?
5) St. Louis Rams finish top 10 in offensive
I’m a big believer in Sam Bradford and this is the year I believe he’s given
the chance thrive. Bradford has been stuck on a team with no weapons and no
offensive line. Receivers couldn’t get open, the offensive line couldn’t hold
back defenders to give Bradford time, and Bradford would end up on his back as a
result. In 2012, the Rams finished 23rd in yards per game and 25th in points per
game. But this year is going to be different. The Rams picked up left tackle
Jake Long to help strengthen the line and drafted playmakers Tavon Austin and
Stedmon Bailey. Austin is going to give Bradford a Percy Harvin type target and
Bailey should provide nice depth to a receiving corps that’s been lacking.
6) Dallas Cowboys win a playoff game
Take a look at the NFC East. Is there really one team significantly better
than the other? Not really. The NFC East is up in the air, and the Dallas
Cowboys may very well be the best team in the division. If they end up as a wild
card, I don’t see them winning a playoff game. If they win the NFC East however,
and play a wild card team (the Carolina Panthers!), the Cowboys may finally win
their first playoff game since 2009. As per usual, a lot of their success is dependent
on Tony Romo. They guy may be the most underrated or overrated player (depending
on your view) in the league, but there is no denying the guy has insane talent. In most
cases, it usually comes down to that one mistake Romo makes or that one play he
doesn’t make. With a full season from Demarrcoo Murray and limited mistakes from
Romo, the Cowboys’ will be in every game.
Their defense though, will have to make a jump if the ‘Boys want to win that
playoff game. Dallas’ gave up 25 points per game last season, good for 24th in
the league. If the Cowboys can improve to a more middle-of-the-pack type
defense, they’ll finally get that playoff win, and Skip Bayless can rejoice that
the Cowboys are playoff-relevant again.
7) Jacksonville Jaguars finish top 10 in
If you haven’t heard, the Jacksonville Jaguars may air the NFL RedZone
channel on their fancy new big screens. The RedZone channel shows
the most compelling moments of games being simultaneously played around the
league. It’s basically the best invention of all-time. This move by the Jags is
clearly to attract fans to the stadium. I mean, they don’t want to come watch
the Jags play, but if the RedZone channel were playing on super-new, high
definition screens, fans may flock to the stadium. The Jags ranked 20th in
average home attendance in 2012 and had to cover some seats with a tarp at a few
home games due to lack of fans.
Fans LOVE the RedZone channel and fans LOVE fantasy football. Being able to
watch your fantasy players at any possible scoring moment makes for the one of
the most exciting football-watching experiences. The only question here is if
fans will be willing to pay ticket prices for something that they can watch at
home and on the couch with unlimited nachos and cheese. Personally, I
think being at an NFL game is an unbeatable experience. To be surrounded by
70,000 of your closest friends is something that I will enjoy until the day I
die. But there are millions of people out there who prefer to watch games from
home. The improved TV experience and convenience factor are huge in
keeping people on their couches. But what the Jags are doing combines the TV
experience and the game experience. Fans can have their choice of watching a
terrible team or watch the RedZone channel and chat it up with surrounding fans.
Hey, if the Jags turn out to play some decent football, at least there could be
more fans in the stands to bear witness. I’m very much looking forward to how
this plays out.
8) Adrian Peterson rushes for 2,000 yards again
No NFL player has ever done this. Then again, no NFL player was ever as much
of a freak as Adrian Peterson. The guy tore his ACL and then ran for 2,097 yards
and came within eight yards of Eric Dickerson’s record of 2,105. If any guy is
going to rush for 2,000 yards in back-to-back seasons, it’s going to be Adrian
Peterson. Peterson also has his freakish year on a team with an average
quarterback and no receivers, meaning defenders could stack eight or nine guys
in the box. Yet Peterson still trucked and juked his way through bodies.
This year, the Vikings picked up Greg Jennings, so defenses will have to back
off at least a little to defend against the threat of Jennings. The offensive
line will have to have a repeat performance, but Peterson should have a little
more room to run that last year with Jennings in the picture.
The Vikings will face only three defenses in 2013 who ranked top 10 in
rushing yards per game in 2012 (Seahawks, Redskins and Steelers). Obviously that
could change, but it gives some indication of the defenses Peterson will be up
I’ll even make this a two part BOLD prediction: Adrian Peterson will break
Eric Dickerson’s record of 2,105 yards. BOOM!
9) Chicago Bears finish with the best record in the NFL
Yes, even better than the Packers, Broncos, Texans, Ravens, Falcons, 49ers
and Seahawks. This is contingent upon the Bears’ offensive line keeping Jay
Cutler on his feet rather than his back. But Cutler has a natural chemistry with
Brandon Marshall and has a stud running back in Matt Forte. Their defense is one
of the best in the league, but again, it all comes down to Cutler and the
offensive line. Cutler, often consider Brett Favre 2.0, throws way too many
interceptions, many due to his poor decision making and many due to him having
The Bears started 7-1 last season even with Cutler throwing interceptions
left and right. I just have this feeling that the Bears have been on the brink
for a few years now, and I think this is the year that Cutler and the offensive
line take the Bears to the next level. Chicago added left tackle Jermon Bushrod
and guard Matt Slauson via free agency and drafted guard Kyle Long, so the
offensive line should see an drastic improvement over past years.
Does this mean the Bears will make the Super Bowl? Not at all. But with the
dramatically improved offensive line and a limited-mistake Jay Cutler, the Bears
will finally take the next leap into one of the elite NFL teams.
10) Baltimore Ravens repeat as Super Bowl champions
Yeah, I said it! Joe Flacco has taken the leap into one of the top six or
seven quarterbacks in the league (Ron Jaworski even ranked Flacco fourth).
Flacco is coming of an historic NFL postseason, throwing 11 beautiful touchdowns
and zero interceptions, something only one other person – the great Joe Montana
– has accomplished. Flacco lead the Ravens to a Super Bowl win, taking
home Super Bowl MVP in the process. So I’d say the Ravens are all set at
One of the arguments against the Ravens repeat chances (or postseason chances
depending on the analyst) is all of the players they lost. On defense, the
Ravens lost six players: Ray Lewis (retirement), Ed Reed (Texans), Dannell
Ellerbee (Dolphins), Paul Kruger (Browns), Cary Williams (Eagles) and Bernard
Pollard (Titans). But the Ravens brought in a plethora of defenders to replace
those that were lost and arguably improved their defense from last year.
Baltimore added safety Michael Huff (Raiders), defensive end Marcus Spears
(Cowboys), defensive lineman Chris Canty (Giants), linebackers Elvis Dumervil
(Broncos) and Daryl Smith (Jaguars). They also drafted safety Matt Elam
(Florida) and linebacker Arthur Brown (Kansas State) who are both projected to
contribute right away. Oh, they also get Lardarius Webb back from injury, who’s
one of the best cornerbacks in the league when healthy. To top it off, the
Ravens resigned left tackle Bryant McKinnie who was integral in the Ravens
playoff success once he was inserted back into the starting lineup.
The only true question mark is at wide receive. The Ravens traded Anquan
Boldin to the 49ers so Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones will assume the one and two
receiver sports, respectively. But the third receiving spot is very up in the
air. Tandon Doss got a few chances last season but had too many drops for him to
be guaranteed the third receiver spot. The others that are expected to compete
for the third spot include Deonte Thompson, Laquan Williams, Tommy Streeter and
veteran David Reed.
The Ravens also lost veteran Matt Birk at center, but they signed A.Q.
Shipley to compete with Gino Gradkowski. They may struggle at center in the
first few weeks, but the experienced lineman around those two will help to ease
The receiver issue may prove to be significant, but the Ravens have one of
the best all-around teams in the NFL and are primed to get back to the Super
Bowl. The Baltimore Ravens will be making snow angels come February in New
Article By: Jared Kurtlander