Predictions for the NFL season


Dominic DiTommaso

Buckle up for this armchair analyst’s biggest predictions (and perhaps overreactions) for this upcoming NFL season.

– It’s only fitting we start with the team that has been making the most noise this offseason, the new Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who soon will be making the most noise in the regular season. After getting to a 13-3 mark with a division title, the Tom Brady-led Bucs will make their way through the tough NFC and be the first team to play the Super Bowl in their home stadium. And following a season where he will win the MVP and Comeback Player of the Year, Brady will finish off his 43-year-old heroics by winning his seventh Super Bowl.

– Brady’s former team, the New England Patriots, and his former head coach, Bill Belichick, don’t look much different than they did at the end of last season —  a team with the worst group of “receivers” in the NFL, no running game to speak of and an overrated defense that has lost most of its good players.

This disastrous season in waiting was saved when Belichick signed Cam Newton. That moved helped save Belichick four wins this year and maybe his legacy. Facing the hardest schedule in football, Newton and Belichick will be able to go 8-8.

That will not be enough to win the division, as Buffalo’s playoff appearance last year was no fluke. The Bills will be able to claim the AFC East, almost with ease, as an offense that was built for Josh Allen will be able to succeed and win the division for the first time since 1995. The Bills will give Belichick a problem and send him on his way with a .500 record.

– Speaking of problems, Houston … you have one.

Bill O’Brien has made sure that the Texans, who should be Super Bowl contenders with one of the best quarterbacks in the league, are anything but that. He cost the Texans their first franchise AFC Championship Game appearance by watching his team lose a 24-0 lead at Kansas City.

O’Brien then made his case for Worst General Manager of the Year by allowing the Arizona Cardinals to steal DeAndre Hopkins, easily a top-five wide receiver in pro football, for the equivalent of two dimes and four quarters — the latter of which O’Brien just can’t seem to win in football.

I love Watson, and I am happy that he got his money with his new contract. I’m just not sure if he can overcome his head coach. Despite being in the easiest division in sports and with a real possibility of making the playoffs, even winning the division, I’m not sure the Texans will ever be in the AFC Championship Game, and certainly not the Super Bowl.

– The Cardinals were certainly happy to take Hopkins, however. Pair him with quarterback Kyler Murray, who has the quickest feet we’ve seen in football since Michael Vick (maybe ever) and an effortless, lightning release, Kliff Kingsbury will make himself look like the anti-Bill O’Brien by heating up an already oven-hot Arizona. The Cardinals are making the playoffs this year.

– Another team hoping to make the playoffs this year is the Cleveland Browns. I’m not the most objective person talking about my Cleveland Browns, but this team will not be the disappointment it was last season, and has been for the better part of two decades. With the best one-two combo at wide receiver, a couple more dangerous combinations at running back and tight end, Cleveland, playing in maybe the best division in football, will go 10-6. My heart tells me 13-3, but I’ll listen to my head and conservatively say 10-6.

This season, Baker Mayfield will no longer be forcing the ball to Odell Beckham the way he did last year. He will no longer care about getting Beckham his touches and his yards and his touchdowns — he will just be getting him wins.

Mayfield will no longer have Freddie Kitchens as his head coach, and despite no longer having Gregg Williams on his sideline, Mayfield will have Kevin Stefanski, who I’m still not sold on yet as a HEAD coach, but that won’t stop him from giving this team a double-digit win season (as long as Mayfield stops making so many Progressive commercials).

– The Ravens also reside in that division, and as much as it pains me to say, Baltimore should (and will) win the AFC the way they should have for the past two seasons. For the sake of my reputation, I hope Lamar Jackson’s team doesn’t fall flat on its face in the playoffs, the way they have the past two seasons. Jackson, 0-2 in the postseason, will take his team to the Super Bowl and prove that he is the best quarterback in his conference.

– Someone who is no longer the best quarterback in his conference is Aaron Rodgers, who, in the past three years, has had his stats continually decline. The truth is, Rodgers and his Packers were a 9-7 team, but masqueraded as a 13-3 team, mostly because they had one of the easiest schedules in football. Green Bay will regress to go 10-6 this season and lose the division to Minnesota.

So, in advance: congrats, Cards, on your playoff berth. Congrats Ravens on your Super Bowl appearance. And congratulations Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and especially Tom Brady (league MVP and Comeback Player of the Year) on your Super Bowl ring.

That’s it for this year. See you in 2021.