In 2017, we saw a variety of events occur in the sports world that either made us all happy, miserable, or just downright laugh. We saw Conor McGregor fight Floyd Mayweather in the boxing ring, Chelsea win the English Premier League, the Houston Astros win the World Series, and witnessed Australia batter England in the ashes to claim the Urn back inside three tests.
There has been unpredictable results, extraordinary claims, and some downright stupid ideas come and go in 2017, and we definitely think that 2018 will be no different. In saying that, there is so much that could happen in 2018 that while my ten predictions may not be enough, it’ll suffice to give an indicator as to what will happen in the upcoming year. Without further ado, with predictions from all over the sports world, here are ten events that will occur in 2018:
1. Pittsburgh Steelers Win the Super Bowl
You heard it here first, Mike Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger will see off Bill Belichick and Tom Brady prior to Super Bowl LII to bring the Steelers their first AFC Conference title since 2009. Depending on your point of view, the Steelers should have beaten the Patriots in week fifteen, but the referees had something to say about that.
Pittsburgh should be able to get through the preliminary playoff rounds with ease, which then leaves the Patriots and Steelers to fight it out for the AFC Championship. If that takes place, the Steelers could make it to the Super Bowl and win off the back of some Big Ben magic, along with key plays from Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell.
I believe it will be at the expense of Case Keenum and the Minnesota Vikings, who thoroughly deserve to add to their trophy cabinet, but in the end, Pittsburgh will be too strong.
2. Manny Machado Hits Free Agency
If you go back to a recent podcast from The Athletes Hub in 2017 (click here to go to it), you’ll notice that during the segment on Manny Machado, I noted that the Orioles should trade the third baseman if possible. If given the option, Machado will walk during free agency.
I am still standing by that statement and believe that at the end of the 2018 MLB season, Machado gets picked up by an outside franchise for an absurd amount of money. Unless the Baltimore Orioles overpay the third basemen, there is a very slim chance that Machado stays.
It has been rumored that Machado desires to go to a team that will allow him to play at shortstop as well, so a team such as the White Sox may go for him. No matter what happens at the end of the 2018 season, Machado will want to end up with as much money on the table as possible.
3. Ben Simmons Secures NBA Rookie of the Year
At the time of writing, there are two absolute studs that could take the title this year. Ben Simmons has been incredible for the Philadelphia 76ers since debuting at the start of the season, averaging 16.8 points, as well as 7.6 assists and 8.8 rebounds per game. Simmons and Joel Embiid have been a lethal combination while on court at the same time, which has further proven that “trusting the process” can indeed work.
In saying that, the Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma has been the outstanding rookie for the franchise this year, instead of projected star Lonzo Ball. Kuzma currently averages more points per game than Simmons, but lacks the upper-hand on both assists and rebounds. He has been incredibly productive, while Simmons has gone through inconsistency as of late. In the end, Simmons will keep up his great start and win the Rookie of the Year award.
4. Todd Bowles Gets the Sack
I brought this up within the final podcast in 2017 because this is one of my guarantees heading into 2018. It is difficult to imagine that a coach with just ten wins in his last two seasons is granted any sense of security within his position. As for who would come in as the “savior” for the Jets, your guess is as good as mine. There are still a few other coaches that are on the chopping block, however, Bowles is one that will get the sack.
5. The NBA Goes International
This might be a far-fetched one, but I am intentionally leaving it open-ended so that things may just come into fruition. The NFL, NHL and MLB have all gone somewhat international in recent years. The NFL often visits Mexico and the UK, the MLB takes some of their best players down to Australia for games during the break, and the NHL has spoken about going outside of the US as well.
Even in the college setting, University of West Virginia went to Germany to open up their basketball season, while the kickoff for the college football season has been to Australia twice now.
The NBA has to play catch up here, and they have started when one of the Australian NBL teams played the Thunder for a pre-season game. The league needs to do more, and in 2018, they will either play in another country or announce the blueprint to do so.
6. Rugby League Will Grow in Americas
Australia and Tonga want to play an international rugby league game in Hawaii, as Fiji and Samoa have already done so. The 2025 Rugby League World Cup is being held in the United States and Canada. Toronto will have a team in the second division of the English Rugby League. The United States are looking at expanding their domestic competition and getting television rights for the event. Jamaica now has a sponsor in Rugby League: Around The Grounds that is providing them with what is now almost a quarter of their entire budget, with three competitions in the country as well.
South American teams are starting to grow in popularity and move up the world rankings, not to mention that the USA were in the last World Cup. The sport is growing rapidly in the Americas, and it will continue to grow with the inclusion of another domestic competition, and their own format of the Rugby 7’s concept.
7. Yankees Reel in the World Series
The New York Yankees should sweep the floor and win the World Series in 2018. Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge are both going in the starting lineup the start of the season, which only sets their standards to an all-time high.
While there is plenty of time for other teams to make progress and sign big names (Machado to White Sox, anyone?), you can’t help but think that there will be a Yankees path to the end. In the ALCS picture, look for the AL East rivalry to be refueled, as I have the Bronx Bombers over the Boston Red Sox in a six-game set.
8. Tom Brady Ultimately Retires
He might be going on 40-years old and playing some of the best football in his career, but 2018 will be the year that Brady retires from the NFL. The supposed rift now with Bill Belichick won’t help the cause, with reports coming out just a few days ago that Belichick actually wanted to trade Brady, but was denied the request.
In saying that, Jimmy Garropolo was then traded, and we all know how San Francisco have looked since they received the quarterback. Brady will announce it during the middle of the next season, have his farewell tour, and cap it off with one final win in Super Bowl 53.
9. The Cavs Take Home the NBA Championship
Cleveland will win it again this year, mark my words. They have not had the best start to the year, having to rely on Lebron James to pull the Cavs up with Isaiah Thomas still recovering. The minute that Thomas is on the court and playing an efficient amount of minutes, it is just going to free up James entirely.
We all know from what Thomas did with the Celtics that he can be a massive threat in the paint, as well as around the arc when he gets ignored, so he will be defended pretty tightly. Guess who that leaves free to drive in or shoot from the field? Yep, the king.
It would not surprise me if we see someone a team like San Antonio or Minnesota in the in the finals, which may cause a few familiarity issues. In the end, Cleveland will be the kings of the NBA once again.
10. Presidential politics plague the NFL yet again
This is one of the easier ones, just because it seems like politicians can’t stay off of social media for the most part. Free agent and activist Colin Kaepernick will find his way back into the NFL, either as a quarterback or as an owner. As a result, certain political figures will call for a “tougher NFL”.
Allow me to ask this: What happens if the NFL Champions, whoever they may be, elect to not visit the White House? What if a franchise such as the Patriots or Steelers pull a Golden State and don’t go? I’m not sure I want to know in all honesty, but it very well could happen.
What are your predictions for the 2018 year? Voice your opinion and let us know!
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