The NFL is an unpredictable beast, and thats why we love it. On the cusp of the season the @NinetynineYards team share with you their bold predictions for the NFL 2020 season.
Jameis starts in 2020, but not in New Orleans – Stuart Taylor @stuie17
Hot off a 30 interception season, Jameis Winston is laying low down in New Orleans, evaluating his game and hoping to learn under Drew Brees and Sean Peyton.
What people forget is that Jameis Winston is a former overall number 1 pick, threw for over 5000 yards and 33 touchdowns last season, has 5 years’ experience as an NFL starter and is still just 26 years of age. He is not done just yet.
If Drew Lock struggles in year 2, and with only Jeff Driskel and Brett Rypien behind him on the depth chart, then who better to step in and utilise the Broncos receiving threat and guide them through the rest of the season than Jameis. Imagine his gung-ho attitude with the likes of Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, KJ Hamler as well as TE duo Noah Fant and Albert Okwuegbunam.
For minimal compensation, he could be available and would probably be the best option available midseason should the Broncos move on from yet another unsuccessful QB hire by John Elway.
Jacob Eason to become Colts starter – Duncan Terry @DuncanJTerry
The bolder prediction here might be ‘Phillip Rivers is all but done’. He’s been a fantastic quarterback since being drafted in the same draft as Roethlisberger and Manning, but as with his co-draftees we have seen a gradual decline.
There is a reason the Chargers have moved on and that was his quite average play pre-injury, while displaying a weaker arm. He is however a superb mentor to a young and very talented rookie quarterback from the Washington Huskies.
Jacob Eason looked a superb player at Georgia before sitting out for a year in order to transfer. He has all the skills needed to be a starter in the NFL but very little experience. I would argue that the Colts will not have much success in early 2020 and decide to give the rookie a try, they know what they have already in Brissett so why not see what the new guy has to offer.
Tompa no more – Adam Barton @abarton93
All good things must come to an end. And while Tom Brady may be the GOAT, father time is undefeated. The Bucs haven’t got a backup knocking on the door, although they do have someone with starting experience in Blaine Gabbert. This isn’t an indictment on Brady as much a realisation that Tom Brady is 43. Even Brady’s contemporary Peyton Manning – who retired 5 years ago – suffered the ignominy of being dropped for Brock Osweiler.
Brady’s yards per game have dropped each of the last four seasons, from 298.1 to 253.6, his completion percentage has dropped the last three seasons and total pass yards & touchdowns the last two. Perhaps the most damning stat is the former Patriot averaged 6.6 yards per attempt in 2019, down from 8.2 in 2016. It’s not all bad news, Brady had just 8 interceptions last year but can this Bruce Arians offence afford a cautious signal caller? What’s more, can Brady make the deep ball throws to open up this offence?
For me the jury is still out.
The number 1 pick…
The Carolina Panthers will have the 1st Pick in the 2021 NFL Draft – Dale Jones @DaleJones14
When Roger Goodell announces the start of the 2021 NFL Draft, he will be proclaiming the Carolina Panthers as On the Clock. This may seem like a strange prediction for a team who have one of the best dual threat players in the league in Christian McCaffrey; but scratch beneath the surface and the Panthers could be diving towards the bottom of the pack.
The Panthers look set to have one of the worst defences in the league, coming off a season where they finished 25th in DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average). They have a promising new head coach, but one that lacks any pro experience. They play in one of the strongest divisions in the entire league in the NFC South, where it’s hard to see too many wins.
Perhaps the biggest risk factor of all is that whilst the offence looks to have some good playmakers, especially in CMC and DJ Moore; their productivity on offence hinges entirely on the health of QB Teddy Bridgewater. The former Vikings & Saints signal caller has shown that he has the talent to lead a team. However, devastating injuries have seen him limited to just 15 games across the last three seasons. It feels very much a case of “when” Teddy misses time, not “if”. And when that happens? It’s Will Grier and/or PJ Walker. This feels like a recipe for disaster.
With all this said, maybe this isn’t a bold prediction after all…but if they can somehow remain healthy there’s enough playmakers on this team to rack up a few wins. Add to that the fact that only one team in the last 20 years has gone from a Superbowl appearance to the 1st overall pick within 5-6 years, and even that was the Indianapolis Colts during the infamous “suck for Luck” season.
This would be quite a fall from grace, but hey at least they’ll be able to get Trevor Lawrence at the end of it all
Bold MVP Candidates
Kyler Murray for MVP – Duncan Terry @DuncanJTerry
Mahomes in 2018, Jackson last year, its next man up right?
Chronology to one side, and the fact we know it’s frustratingly going to be a quarterback again, Kyler Murray is just really good and has an awesome cast of players and coaches around him. The addition of Hopkins adds to a crowded wide receiving group, they have talented youngsters such and Kirk and Isabella, and the living legend that is Larry Fitzgerald, when you add one of the best receivers in the league Murray has everything he needs to succeed.
Don’t get me wrong, they have a tough year ahead of them in one of the toughest and hardest to predict divisions going, but won’t that just make him all the more impressive when they are everyone’s most entertaining team to watch come the end of the year?
Dak Prescott 2020 MVP – Stuart Taylor @stuie17
Once again I go back to the well, having predicted exactly the same thing 1 year ago. Team wise, 2019 saw the worst record since Dak inherited the starting job in 2016, with the Cowboys going 8-8. However, Dak could hardly be blamed for this (*coughJasoncoughGarretcough*). Pitching for nearly 5000 yards and 33 TDs with a modest 11 interceptions, Prescott showed he belongs amongst the upper echelons of the NFL Quarterback rankings.
Playing on the franchise tag, Dak knows that a stellar 2020 is going to see him get paid big time in 2021 – whether that’s with the Cowboys or someone else. With a plethora of weapons including Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, CeeDee Lamb and Ezekiel Elliot at his disposal, a solid O-line and a returning offensive co-ordinator in Kellen Moore, Rayne Dakota Prescott may just be your 2020 MVP
Stafford to snare individual honours – Chris Lawton @CFLfanUK
Matthew Stafford will be the 2020/21 NFL MVP. Bear with me on this one. I know the younger generation, especially quarterbacks, are coming to the fore. You can see this in Mahomes taking the MVP title in 2018 and Jakson in 2019.
But sentiment sill matters.
If Matthew Stafford gets through the upcoming season, he would be a candidate for comeback player of the year. In any other year that didn’t contain Alex Smith making a comeback that is! So this year if Stafford wants some recognition it’ll have to be as MVP.
Sounds far-fetched? Especially on a Lions team that has gone 9-22-1 over the past two seasons. Stay with me here. Stafford knows this playbook. He has a settled receiving corps who he is comfortable with. Heck the Lions don’t even have to shoot for the moon for him to be considered here. Just put up good numbers, make them reasonably competitive and have a shot at the playoffs and Stafford could be considered for this award.
Going from a broken bone in your back, to putting up great numbers (which Stafford is more than capable of) and leading the Lions to the playoffs. Just the sort of narrative NFL voters love!
Bold Contenders and also rans
The Dolphins are making the playoffs – Bryan Dickie @I_Am_Beej
The ‘Fins weren’t great last year but finished strong winning 5 of their last 9. They’ve added serious free-agent talent to the D: star corner Byron Jones, experienced linebacker Kyle Van Noy and end Shaq Barret.
Head Coach Brian Flores will be hoping the Defense continues to shine in what will be a transitional year for the offence (Tua Tagovailoa probably takes over from Ryan Fitzpatrick at some point). With an improved defence and division rivals the Patriots short on talent for once, pencil Miami in for that new 7th playoff spot.
Tampa Bay don’t make the Play-offs – Owain Jones @Owain_Jones_
You wanted a Bold Prediction. This is a Bold Prediction
Tampa Bay are loaded. Yes, they have Gronk. Yes, they have Brady. And Yes, they have a top receiving core and a top defense. But, do we really trust Leonard Fournette? What happens if Brady gets injured? Remember, The Bucs are a team that have finished bottom of the NFC South 8 of the last 11 seasons. Covid-19 will be the talking point of the 2020 season, but with extremely limited time are we sure Tom Brady can instantly pick up a new Bruce Arians’ offense so easily?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have gone all out in the search to win another SuperBowl. Are we sure this won’t fall flat on its face? With there being so many competitive teams in the NFC some of the contenders will have to miss out.
The Bengals make the post-season – Adam Barton @abarton93
Sounds ludicrous right? It’s more feasible than you think.
And no I’m not necessarily saying that Cincinnati wins their first playoff game since 1990. The Bengals had the number one pick in 2020 but they weren’t expected to struggle to that extent last season. AJ Green missed the season, and is back this season. Rookie Tackle Jonah Williams also missed the season and will be like a second first round pick in 2020. Tyler Boyd can now fall back into his preferred role as a Y receiver and there is Tee Higgins to add to the offensive fire power.
And then there is Joe Exotic, the tiger king. National champion Joe Burrow showed his potential in college and has a lot of options to help him as a rookie. In reality, it’s one of the better situations for a first overall pick to land with.
On defence, Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins welcome DJ Reader to the line and provide experience to the unit but the true talent is in the secondary. Mackensie Alexander and Trae Waynes arrive from Minnesota to support the physical William Jackson. This team was too good to have the first overall pick, now they can challenge for a wildcard, helped by the addition of the seventh playoff seed, albeit in a tough AFC North.
Yet another Bold Bengals prediction – Johnny Cumbleton @Cumbleton
Bold predictions about the strength of the Bengals don’t come along often so brace yourselves. The Bengals will be a top 15 offence this season. Last year the Bengals offence struggled as a result of inconsistent quarterback play. How did they remedy that? With the number 1 overall pick in the draft they selected LSU’s college phenom; Joe Burrow. Burrow offers an athletic quarterback who makes good decisions and reads the field well. In a Covid 19 world his development will no doubt be different but he will be a huge factor.
It’s the offensive weapons that Cincinnati possess that will allow their offence to explode in 2020. The team will see the return of A.J. Green at receiver. He’ll join last year’s standout, Tyler Boyd, who had over 1,000 yards receiving and the lightning quick John Ross, who flashed breakout potential in 2019. The team also added a potential star when they selected Clemson’s Tee Higgins in the second round. At running back, star Joe Mixon returns and should take advantage of extra space afforded by teams no longer being able to focus on the run. Tight end will see veteran C.J. Uzomah start as Drew Sample, who lost time as rookie last year, gets up to speed. Throw in 2019 first-round left tackle Jonah Williams, returning from last year’s season ending injury, to protect Burrow and it’s clear Bengals offence will have the eye of the tiger in 2020!
Arizona Cardinals win the NFC West – Owen Widdowson @WiddowsonOwen
In a loaded NFC West division, with not only last year’s conference champions but also the best defender in the league at the Rams and an MVP frontrunner with the Seahawks, I have the Arizona Cardinals taking the top spot in 2020.
As well as Kliff Kingsbury looking more comfortable in his second year as head coach, I also predict that Kyler Murray will take a huge leap next year, not only in his production but his leadership too. Six of Arizona’s ten losses were one score games in 2019 so if Murray takes the next step he could turn some of those close L’s into hard-fought W’s and may even enter the MVP conversation.
It helps that the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year now has a top three receiving core in the league with Larry Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk and the newly-acquired DeAndre Hopkins running routes for him. Combine that with a dynamic running back room, I’d say that Arizona has the potential to put up a whole lotta points in 2020 (even if their offensive line is still a worry).
On defence the Cards have formidable linebacker Chandler Jones, who missed out on first place in the 2019 sack leaderboards by half a sack, lining-up alongside the versatile Isaiah Simmons, who was one of the most exciting prospects from the 2020 draft. Veteran talent Patrick Peterson along with underrated safety Budda Baker and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick provide Arizona with a decent secondary. Although their defence isn’t as loaded as their offence, it still has the potential to step up and be a real unit this season.
Vikings to the Super Bowl – Jamie Edwards @jamieedwards009
This might seem bold, but look at the facts. The D-Line is nasty, Ngakoue and Hunter are beasts, they both rank in the top 5 for QB pressures since 2016.
They dumped stock on their slow, old DB group and reports are saying their CB draft picks and showing out in camp. Harrison Smith is elite at safety and Eric Kendricks isn’t too far behind him at LB.
They got rid of ‘Diva Diggs’ and replaced him with possibly the steal of the draft in Justin Jefferson. Add him to a healthy Theilen, Kyle Rudolph at TE and Dalvin Cook at RB (who is a flat out baller).
Where’s the weak link? Cousins? He maybe, possibly, might be the most underrated QB in the league. If he can show up in big games like he did against the Saints last year, they will shock everyone and make it to the big game. You can take that to the bank
Bill Belichick is human after all! – Bryan Dickie @I_Am_Beej
Yes believe it or not, the most successful coach of ALL TIME is actually a human being. His record of 17 straight playoff appearances is coming to an end this year, sorry Pats fans!
Belichick is used to a rebuild but the playoffs is too much of an ask this year. They lost Tom Brady (in case you didn’t know… he and Belichick were a good duo) and key line backer Kyle Van Noy in free agency. They also lost defensive leaders Patrick Chung and Dont’a Hightower to COVID opt-outs. Leaving their roster seriously short on talent, not even the great Belichick can save them this year.
Enjoy your extra few months holiday this winter Bill, you deserve it.
So there you have it, our bold predictions. We hope you enjoyed it and look forward to you joining us for the 2020 NFL season. As always, we welcome your feedback (too bold? Not bold enough?) on our twitter feed @NinetynineYards