The 2020-2021 NFL season kicked off last week and I am aware that I’m a little late on this preseason football article. I will be sharing my 5 bold predictions that will happen this NFL season and I will also share my division winners along with everyone’s records in their divisions. The limited fans in the stands and guys like Phillip Rivers and Tom Brady wearing different jerseys will be odd, but I can’t wait for what this season holds. So with that being said let us jump into my 5 picks that will for sure happen this year. Before I preview my predictions this year, just a disclaimer that nothing that happened in Week 1 will be taken into consideration of my opinions expressed in this article.
Lamar Jackson is going to win his 2nd straight MVP
Lamar Jackson has been on a tear ever since losing in the divisional round to the Chargers on January 6th, 2019. After that day, Lamar has made it a mission as the new face for the Ravens franchise to make every other team regret passing up on him after he got drafted with the 32nd pick by the Baltimore Ravens. After winning 2016 Heisman Trophy, he added another one just 3 years later winning his 1st and more than likely not his last MVP of the 2019-2020 NFL Season. This is coming up on his 3rd year in the NFL and the young stud is still looking to improve his career by some playoff success and maybe a trip to the Super Bowl coming up in a couple months. His prolific sophomore season ended with 36 passing touchdowns and 3,127 yards. He lead the league in touchdown passes that year with only throwing 6 INT. Only 4 quarterbacks threw more turnovers, those are household names like Mahomes, Brees, Wilson, and Rodgers. Jackson also has proved he can break defenses down by tucking the ball and running it logging 1,206 yards and 7 touchdowns on the ground. He was 6th as the Rushing Yards leader, covering more yards than guys like Dalvin Cook, Saquon Barkley, Aaron Jones who had 16 touchdowns last season, and Jackson even ran more than his own teammate Mark Ingram the III. Jackson is due for yet another big year in 2020-2021 as defenses still can’t figure out how to stop the dual threat that he is and I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a couple more trophy’s in his showcase after this season is over.
Baker’s Time is Ticking
Baker Mayfield, the Cleveland Browns first overall pick in the 2018 draft hasn’t played as well in the NFL as the whole city of Cleveland has wished. The Oklahoma Sooner alum won a Heisman trophy in 2017 and went into the NFL with high hopes of turning a Browns team with some dysfunction into a playoff football team. Entering the 2020 season after the Sophomore Slump, the Browns and Baker have big plans to compete in the AFC North and hopefully get a wildcard spot seeing the they can’t get over the hump of beating the Ravens and winning their division. Baker threw for 3,827 yards having 22 TD’s and 21 INT’s. With a new head coach Kevin Stefanski, an offense heavy coach with deadly weapons like Odell Beckham Jr., Kareem Hunt, Jarvis Landry, and a top 3 running back in the league as Nick Chubb in the backfield, the Browns can’t wait any longer. This year is the year where Cleveland has to decide if Baker Mayfield is the guy for the future or if they need to move on to someone new in the draft or go after a QB who has already created a name for himself. If Baker makes a turn for the worse, Browns should look for a quarterback to get via trade like a Jamies Winston who led the league last year in passing yards or pass the starting position to Case Keenum who led the Minnesota Vikings to the playoffs. Keenum knows how to deal with wide receivers with personalities but star potential like Beckham Jr and Landry. Stefanski and the city of Cleveland have to decide do they trust Baker under center for the next couple years and extend him past his rookie deal or look to move on from the 3 year starter.
NFC South is the best division in the National Football League…and it isn’t close
The NFC South consists of the following teams the Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Carolina Panthers. They all have A to B+ Quarterbacks and the guys under center keep those offenses rolling. Drew Brees and Tom Brady are elites that are previous Super Bowl champions and Matt Ryan has won an MVP along with Tom Brady. Teddy Bridgewater, who was the backup of Brees for the start of his career, has proven he is a top 15 Quarterback in this talented league and will keep the Carolina Panthers in the race as they compete in this stacked division. Outside of Carolina, all the other quarterbacks have elite weapons to give the ball to so they can make plays themselves. Saints signed Alvin Kamara to an extension to give them a run game. The NFC South also has debatably 4 of the top 5 receivers in the league with New Orleans Michael Thomas, Atlanta’s Julio Jones whose astounding height and speed makes him a deep all threat for Matt Ryan. Tampa Bay has the dynamic duo for the wideouts in Chris Godwin and Mike Evans sharing the catches, with Leonard Fournette taking the touches in the backfield finishing 6th amongst running backs in yards last year. The NFC South has potentially 3 serious playoff teams this year and that doesn’t include what Bridgewater could do.
Cowboys win the NFC East and are the NFL’s underdog this year
With the division this year, the East isn’t a very tough one but it is going to be a tough season for Dallas. The Cowboys having the weapons that they do, Dak Prescott has to win 11 games this year to make a statement and put everyone in the NFC on notice that they are in for a trip. Carson Wentz and the Eagles could be in striking distance to secure a wildcard spot. Wentz has been injured and not playing up to his Pro Bowl potential and if he has a bad stretch of games, Dallas can take that to their advantage and get a good winning streak going. Dak Prescott is looking for a max contract that Jerry Jones has seemed to hold out, only giving him franchise tags. If Prescott wins the division and I think with offensive weapons like Ezekiel Elliott with Amari Cooper and rookie CeeDee Lamb, the Cowboys true ceiling is representing the NFC in the Super Bowl. The New York Giants and Washington Football Team aren’t going to make a lot of noise in the NFC East and this division is really the Cowboys to lose.
Out with the Old, In with the New
As a kid who grew up on football it kills me to say it, but this is the last year that a lot of quarterbacks have elite seasons and any chance at a last run at a Super Bowl Ring. Some quarterbacks that I grew up on who have retired already like Eli and Peyton Manning, a Creveling household favorite. Some guys in the league who haven’t officially retired but know that this year isn’t going to be the season they win are guys like Joe Flacco, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Schaub, Phillip Rivers, and Big Ben Roethlisberger. The end of the road is near and I don’t see these guys being the same dude to put a team on their back and take them to compete for a championship. For some veterans like Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, and yes, even Aaron Rodgers, these guys have one more year to have a legit chance at holding that Lombardi trophy up and prove that they still got it. These new guys are coming in and taking the league by storm. Some of the flashiest quarterbacks the league has ever seen, making the position not a pocket passing league with dudes like Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson who willingly leave a pocket to make something work on the ground. Then the tremendous arm’s of guys who will stay in the pocket like Josh Allen, Dak Prescott, Carson Wentz, and Patrick Mahomes. The new veterans of the position in this league that the crowds come to watch every Sunday. Don’t underestimate the kids coming into the league like Drew Locke, Kyler Murray, Sam Darnold, and the rookie soon to be phenom Joe Burrow that the city of Cincinnati will have something to finally look forward too. As a 20 year old looking back, I am blessed to say I watched Tom Brady, the best quarterback to ever play, in his prime along side some of the greats like Brees and Rodgers. Some goodbyes are just harder than others.
Here are my predictions on the records for everybody this year:
Ravens 13-3, Browns 8-8, Bengals 5-11, Steelers 5-11
Chiefs 14-2, Broncos 9-7, Raiders 6-10, Chargers 4-12
Bills 10-6, Patriots 9-7, Jets 7-9, Dolphins 5-12
Colts 11-5, Titans 10-6, Texans 8-8, Jaguars 3-13
Seahawks 11-5, 49ers 9-7, Cardinals 9-7, Rams 7-9
Buccaneers 12-4, Saints 12-4, Falcons 10-6, Carolina 3-13
Packers 11-5, Vikings 9-7, Bears 5-11, Lions 3-13
Cowboys 10-6, Eagles 8-8, Washington Football Team 5-11, Giants 4-12