About this time of year, every sports site worth its salt does their predictions piece.
They will tell you who is going to win each conference, who’s going to be a Wildcard, who’s going to Super Bowl L and who will win the various post-season awards. We at Fantasy JAM will get you all of that info too, but we will do it when we are live on Opening Day, with former Patriots and Saints fullback Heath Evans.
Of course every one of those sites might as well be castrated. Not a single one of them is going to go out on a limb and tell us how they really feel, or what they really think. No, what they will do instead is make comments that leave you with the “no duh” taste in your mouth.
So we at INSCMagazine thought it was about time someone had some real guts and make some real picks.
1) Todd Gurley and Amir Abdullah will be the best running backs out of this rookie draft class. Sorry Melvin Gordon, TJ Yeldon and Jeremy Langford. Abdullah will start the season looking great and will end with over 1,200 yards and about 7-10 scores. It will look like he is by far the best rookie, that is until Gurley gets healthy. In I would say four fewer games than Abdullah, Gurley will not only match his production but surpass it. Gurley is a once-in-a-generation talent who, if he stays healthy, will match the production of an Adrian Peterson.
2) Tom Brady will not win the AFC East this season. That’s right, you heard me. This Patriots team will not be the one that wins the division this year. If they are to make the playoffs (which we will get to later in this column), it will be as a wild card. I know people say Brady will play this year with a chip on his shoulder and will tear it up because of Deflategate and the fall out.
I say, it will be the other way round. The talent on offense is almost barren other than Gronk, and the defense is missing the two incredible corners it had last year. So it may surprise you to see where I have the Patriots, but I will they will not be in FIRST place at the end of the season.
3) Eli will be the Manning with the best statistics this season. For years, he had been simply known as Peyton’s younger brother, even though he has more rings. But this season Eli steps out from his older brother’s shadow and outperforms him. It is easy to see why, with weapons like Victor Cruz, Odell Beckham Jr and Rueben Randle around him, and yet another year in this offense, Eli will be the one close to 5,000 yards this year, not Peyton.
4) CJ Anderson will prove Gary Kubiak is the RB Whisperer. When he was head coach in Houston, Arian Foster became one of the best running backs in the NFL, despite having Matt Schaub as his QB.
Last season, Kubiak was the offensive coordinator in Baltimore and Justin Forsett busted out and became a back the everyone mistakenly thinks will be a beast this year. No, that title will go to Broncos RB CJ Anderson, who will have close to 1,500 yards and double digits touchdowns, proving that Kubiak and not the backs themselves are responsible.
5) Fred Jackson will outgain and outscore Marshawn Lynch. You heard me correctly, I said the new ex-Bill will outgain and outscore the old ex-Bill. How is that possible? Well with Christian Michael now in Dallas and Robert Turbin out with a high ankle sprain, basically the carries will come down to Lynch and Jackson.
Even though Fred Jackson is older, Lynch not only has more miles on his body, but harder miles. Jackson can at least make guys miss, not so with Lynch who welcomes contact. With Max Unger gone (part of the Jimmy Graham trade), a back who can make guys miss will be more valuable in the Seahawks offense.
6) RG III will return as the starter for the Redskins and do better than Cousins. Look, nobody doubts that Cousins is a better pocket passer than RGIII. But with a team built like the Redskins with speed burners DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon on the outside, you need a QB who can improvise and keep the play alive, that is NOT Cousins. RGIII is the perfect QB for this team and its personnel, and by week 5 or 6, he will be the starter and the team will turn things around a bit.
7) Adrian Peterson will set the single season rushing mark. This one was an easy predication to make. Last time he missed a season due to injury; he came back and ran for over 2,000 yards.
This year, there is no rehab, no adjustment period to see if the knee will respond, he has a chip on his shoulder based on a suspension he didn’t think was just, and oh yes, did I forget to mention that the Vikings have their best QB since Daunte Culpepper and the weapon surrounding Teddy Bridgewater will give Peterson some holes he has never seen before on offense.
8) Derek Carr to Amari Cooper will be the best Bay Area combo since Montana to Rice. I know most of you will find that sacrilegious, but take those Jerry Rice goggles off for a moment and think about it. Carr will prove to be the BEST QB in the 2014 draft, Cooper will be the best wideout in the 2015 draft, and you add in a few other weapons like Michael Crabtree and an improved offensive line, and the sky is the limit for this duo. So while this year Carr to Cooper may not invoke thoughts of Montana to Rice, give them a couple of years to gel and they will be one of the best combos in the game.
9) Doug Martin will run more like his rookie season than the 2 injury plagued ones. The Muscle Hamster (but don’t ever call him that) had an incredible rookie season and looked like he was the next big thing. Then the injury bug caught up to him and people started the “bust” whispers. Not quite as loud as those being heaped on Trent Richardson, but still he was hardly the same player.
This season he enters with no pressure on him at all (thank you Jameis Winston), an improved offensive line, a QB that people will have to respect, who has weapons on the outside. All that adds up to Martin getting back into form, and having one of the better seasons in the NFL, especially as a workhorse back.
10) Tyrod Taylor will enter the discussion when the league MVP is discussed. When the Bills decided to have an open competition for QB, I think people thought that EJ Manuel would have a leg up on everyone because of what they gave up to get him. But it turns out, it was a true open competition, and Manual, Matt Cassell and Tyrod Taylor all showed what they could do. In the end, it was Taylor that won out, and as a Bills fan, I could not be happier.
With all the great weapons he has (Lesean McCoy, Sammy Watkins, Charles Clay, Percy Harvin) Taylor has a chance to have a very special season, especially as he can also get it done with his legs. When the Bills break that 15-year drought this year, Taylor will be a big reason for it, and should and will be part of the NFL MVP discussion.
There you have it folks! Ten bold outside-the-box predictions that take some balls to make. The question is, when the season is over will I still have them or will they have been handed to me by my boldness.