As preseason football in underway, it’s never too early to predict what will happen come February. With that, a group here at The Athletes Hub elected to get together, and answer some of the most riveting debates around the NFL. The topics include who will win Rookie of the Year, MVP, a ticket to the Super Bowl, and of course, who will hold the Lombardi trophy up at the end of it all. On top of that, we decided to come up with one bold prediction regarding the 2017-18 campaign. Here is how we went about each question.
Who do you believe will win the Rookie of the Year (offensive and defensive)?
My pick for Defensive ROTY is San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Solomon Thomas. Every team in the NFC West was in the top ten in terms of most sacks allowed last season, with the Rams allowing 49, the Seahawks giving up 42, and the Cardinals suffering 41. The Rams were the only team to address their offensive line situation this summer, as they signed Andrew Whitworth in free agency. The Cardinals selected linemen in the fourth and fifth rounds of the NFL Draft, but I doubt they will start any games this year. Thomas should get a lot sacks this year, and will shut down the outside run.
I’ve got Christian McCaffrey winning the offensive ROTY honor this year. He’s a very versatile player, and will likely lead the rookies in all purpose yards. Cam Newton typically doesn’t target his running backs, but reports are indicating that he’s working on that in camp, and it seems to be something they are adding to their offense. I expect good things for this kid, and it helps playing in a division full of weak defenses.
On the defensive side of the ball, I see the Washington Redskins defensive end Jonathan Allen being viewed as the steal of the draft, and greatly improving the defense of an NFC East team that struggled to get to the quarterback last season. The Alabama standout could set a new NFL record for number of sacks for a rookie, and will likely be a contender for the leading tackler on the Redskins front line. These two factors should be more than enough to crown Allen as the defensive ROTY.
The Offensive Rookie of the Year can be found by looking no further than the Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. This dynamic rookie from Clemson should have a stellar rookie campaign, similar to the year that Cam Newton took the league by storm in his debut. Watson, who has a very reliable target in wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, will showcase his unique skill set and may break Texans records for both completion percentage and total yards from scrimmage.
It should be noted that since 2013, three of the last four defensive Rookie of the Year awards have been handed out to pass rushers. With that, why not stick with the obvious, and bet on Cleveland Browns defensive lineman Myles Garrett? Selected with the first overall pick, Garrett has the stage set for him when it comes to first-team reps in the 2017 campaign. While his talent reminds me of the likes of Joey Bosa, Garrett has the potential to surpass him in terms of raw potential.
On the offensive side, I don’t see a quarterback taking this award home. The only rookie quarterback that really stood out in 2016 happened to be Dak Prescott, and he wasn’t selected until the fourth round. With that, I’ll roll with Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette. While he has high expectations, considering what Ezekiel Elliot proved what rookie running backs are capable of, I don’t see any reason in which Fournette won’t be able to surpass 1,100+ rushing yards. While 1,000 yards on the ground doesn’t sound like much, keep in mind that only twelve running backs were able to surpass that amount in 2016.
Who will finish as the MVP of the regular season?
I pick Derek Carr to win league MVP. We saw it last year, as the Oakland Raiders were rolling until Derek Carr got injured. All the pieces are in place in 2017, with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree set as the wide outs, as well as Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch in the backfield. The Raiders went all in with Carr as the man for the future, so now that he got paid, the next stop is league MVP. After he wins it, we’ll be talking about a potential Super Bowl ring for him.
Next, the most important individual trophy in the NFL will be awarded to a quarterback you may have heard of: Tom Brady. With the recent acquisition of former New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks, reliable wide receiver Julian Edelman, all paired with a currently healthy tight end in Rob Gronkowski, Brady will have a campaign very similar to the 16-0 season when he found Hall of Fame wide receiver, Randy Moss, in the end zone more often than not. Brady will do nothing less than solidify his reign as the “GOAT”, and collect yet another trophy for the showroom floor. Yes, even at 40 years old.
Of course Tom Brady would be the obvious answer here, but it should also be taken into consideration that no one over the age of 38 has secured themselves an MVP award. Do I doubt Brady can do it? Of course not. On the other hand, look out for Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. While 2016 wasn’t the best in his career, with the addition of tight end Martellus Bennett, Rodgers could be poised for an amazing 2017 campaign.
What teams will square off in the Super Bowl?
I think it will be the New England Patriots against the Dallas Cowboys. The Patriots improved even more somehow this offseason. They may have lost running back LeGarrette Blount, but the are pretty deep at the running back position, not to mention they have arguably the best quarterback in NFL history under center. The Cowboys on the other hand had the chance to achieve glory last year, but the stage seemed too big for the two rookies leading the franchise. They’ve been there and done that before, but now is the time to prove that they can finish when it matters.
If all goes according to plan, which rarely ever happens in the crazy world of the NFL, the Super Bowl match-up will be the New England Patriots defending their Lombardi trophy against the Green Bay Packers. Green Bay looked poised to run away with the 2017 NFL playoffs last year, after unseating the dominant Dallas Cowboys in the divisional round, only to be upended by the dynamic Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game.
Anyone not betting on the New England Patriots is likely unaware of just how good this franchise is within the postseason. The Patriots should feel confident about their chances, but the Pittsburgh Steelers are dangerous as well. Overall, I have the Patriots going up against my Dallas Cowboys. Although the Cowboys have an unreliable defense to say the least, as long as they can keep the offensive unit on the field to run out the clock, “America’s Team” should be poised for success.
Who will go on to win the Super Bowl?
I think the Patriots win it all and once again take back-to-back titles. I realize I’m not making a bold prediction here (that’ll come later in this piece), but it’s what all the signs are pointing too. I just don’t see anyone beating these guys at home, or even on a neutral field. I think Dallas is too young to go on the biggest stage and defeat Tom Brady. If my Super Bowl matchup prediction is right, Tom Brady will have played in more postseason games than Dak or Zeke have played in their career (in regards to the regular season).
As much as we have grown tired of seeing Tom Brady hoist the Lombardi trophy, Bill Belichick and his dynamic roster have too much firepower this season to be derailed from anything less than a Super Bowl title. While the Super Bowl will be just as competitive as last year’s match-up, a more evenly paced match-up against the Packers will solidify two of the greatest quarterbacks to ever take the field in a championship for the ages.
No one seems to want to give the Dallas Cowboys a chance against the Patriots, but how many teams have we witnessed in the past look great on paper, but not follow through? Didn’t the same thing happen back in 2007? If the Cowboys defense can quit it with the suspensions, the franchise can handily derail any opponent this upcoming season. Yes, Brady and Patriots should be considered the overwhelming favorite to win it all, but if the Cowboys make it to the Super Bowl, watch out.
What’s one bold prediction you have for the 2017 season?
My bold prediction has two parts to it. First off, I’m predicting that Blake Bortles will win comeback player of the year, enroute to giving a playoff berth to the Jacksonville Jaguars. It’s a long shot, but that’s we call them bold predictions, right? I expect for the Jaguars offense to be balanced enough to sneak into the playoffs, and Leonard Fournette will be enough of a threat to take some pressure off of Bortles. I know people are tired of hearing it, but the Jaguars could possibly take a big leap this year.
Marvin Lewis will be the first head coach fired during the 2017-2018 NFL season. Hard to believe, right? Lewis has made the Cincinnati Bengals, at the very least, relevant from when he took the reins from the previously dysfunctional franchise, but he will be exposed this coming season. Fully expect for the wheels to come off this season, as the franchise contains a horrid offensive line, no help within the running game, and a fully regressed defense. All of this mixed together spells the end of the Marvin Lewis era in Cincy.
Mark my words, this will be Drew Brees’ worst season as a member of the New Orleans Saints. Since joining the franchise in 2006, Brees has never thrown for under 4,300 passing yards, or 26 touchdowns. Without Brandin Cooks to rely on, this is the first time in Brees’ career that he needs to rely on mediocre wide outs for support. With the addition of Adrian Peterson in the backfield, I fully expect the Saints to slowly transform into a run-first offense.
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