The NFL season is upon us, yet again. It’s that time of year when analysts and fans alike take their best bets at how the next 18 weeks will unravel. Now that the NFL kickoff in Tampa Bay is done and over, here are my season predictions.
The Good: Let’s start with the two clear favorites in the league this year, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their Super Bowl rivals, the Kansas City Chiefs. Both of these teams have great weapons, lock down defences and last but not least, two of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes, leading the way. These teams have both won championships in the last two years, which makes them automatic contenders. Next comes the first of three teams from the NFC west, the Los Angeles Rams. “The Ram’s addition of veteran quarterback, Matthew Stafford, has made them Super Bowl favorites,” states avid football fan and player for Cleveland High School Daniel Suhr, grade 12. The Los Angeles Rams have one of the best defenses in the NFL, led by former first team all pro players Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey. This team had commanding wins against the Bears, Colts, and Buccaneers in weeks 1-3, proving how good they really are. The Arizona Cardinals will be in a massive amount of high scoring battles this year, with their quarterback Kyler Murray leading them to an impressive 2-0 record while averaging a league high of 36 points a game. If they can improve their defensive efforts, this team is a real title contender. The Seattle Seahawks are a very odd team. Led by superstar quarterback Russell Wilson and big play linebacker Bobby Wagner, the rest of this team is solidly inconsistent. Their best deep threat, Tyler Lockett, switches from 100 yards and a touchdown two weeks in a row to being invisible with 8 games under 50 total yards and no scores. And their best defensive back Jamal Adams has more Pro bowl appearances than interceptions (2); this leaves a ton of room for other teams to make big plays with very little consequence. This is a team with huge potential that hasn’t yet put the puzzle together. The Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers, Cleveland Browns, and Tennessee Titans are pretty much in the same situation. All of these teams have potential to be contenders, but are just missing something, whether it be a coach, a receiver or a lineman. All of them are one player away from a championship run.
The Mediocre: These teams are all playoff hopefuls this year, but just don’t make the cut. However, there are a couple of teams that have a ton of potential. First is the Los Angeles Chargers, led by sophomore quarterback Justin Herbert. This team is extremely young, with rising stars Rashawn Slater at offensive tackle, and corner back Asante Samuel Jr. They have an extremely promising future but they just aren’t mature enough yet. All of their great players are in their first five seasons in the league. The Chargers are as good physically as any other team, but their turnover ratio of +2 is right outside of the elite bubble. Next is the Washington Football Team. This roster is loaded with talent at all positions except the most important one: quarterback. Depending on their quarterback play from an unproven ex XFL player, Taylor Heinicke, they could really make a run for the number one spot in the NFC east. Heinicke has shown that he can be a true leader but the only win he has posted so far is against a depleted Giants roster. Very similarly to Washington, the San Francisco 49ers have all of the pieces, except for the quarterback, but that doesn’t seem to matter due to the genius of head coach Kyle Shannahan. No matter the severity of the injury plague that is always smashing the 49ers, Coach Shannahan always figures out a way to win. The 49ers are a run first, stop you later kind of team, but at the moment they aren’t capable of making the big plays that will carry them to the next level.
Official Predictions: After a season of battle, on February 13 the Los Angeles Rams will face off against The Kansas City Chiefs. In their third straight trip to the Superbowl, the Chiefs will once again be atop the NFL mountain. Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray will win league MVP after one of the best statistical seasons ever. Aaron Donald will once again be named Defensive Player of the Year, cementing his place in history. But the greatest shock of the year will be when Tom Brady retires and changes the NFL forever.