10 Bold Predictions For The 2017 NFL Season

10 Bold Predictions For The 2017 NFL Season

One game is already done - an upset, of course - but with this weekend fully kicking off the 2017 NFL season, it's time for some predictions.

I'm rarely 100 percent accurate, but it's worth putting out there for comment and judgement my predictions for the coming professional football season.

Let me know if you agree or where I'm completely full of it!

1. Jameis Winston will win the MVP.

Winston threw for over 4,000 yards last year without much of a running game to support him and Mike Evans as his biggest/best target. In the offseason, the Bucs added veteran receiver Desean Jackson and drafted tight end OJ Howard and receiver Chris Godwin to bolster their offensive attack. I drafted Winston on all of my fantasy teams this year because I fully expect the Bucs to have a massive offensive season in 2017.

2. Evan Engram will win the Offensive Rookie of the Year.

There is a lot of talent entering the league this year, and we got an early front-runner in this race on Thursday night when Kareem Hunt went off against the Patriots. I already mentioned Howard in Tampa and running backs Christian McCaffery in Carolina and Leonard Fournette in Jacksonville will also get a lot of run, but I really like Engram as a solid red zone option for Eli Manning in New York. Playing in a big market helps, and Engram has terrific ability.

3. Eddie Jackson will win the Defensive Rookie of the Year.

The Bears picked the safety out of Alabama in the fourth round and surprised me by getting such good value that late. He's slated to start at free safety for Chicago and is a really good ball hawk; he'll learn a lot from Quentin Demps this season as well. Jackson will get some attention for his return ability as well this season, but this is a really strong addition at a position that's been a desperate need in Chicago for some time.

4. The Oakland Raiders will finish with the best record in the AFC.

We saw the Patriots' defensive issues on Thursday night, but the Raiders were my pick all along. Their offense is going to be strong again this year; David Carr probably would have been the MVP last year if not for a late season injury. Amari Cooper could lead the league in receiving this year, and their defense will get after the quarterback as well as any in the league.

5. The Carolina Panthers will finish with the best record in the NFC. 

Dallas will have their issues with Ezekiel Elliott's suspension hanging out there, and the improved play in other divisions will level much of the playing field in the NFC. If Cam Newton can stay healthy, he has more weapons around him now than he's ever had during his NFL career, and their defense should be strong once again.

6. The New Orleans Saints will finish with the worst record in the NFC. 

I used the Vegas odds to create my first mock draft earlier this week, so I didn't have the Saints at the bottom of the league (most feel San Francisco will be the worst in the NFC). But looking at the improvements in Carolina and Tampa and the continued strength of Atlanta, the NFC South might be the toughest division in the NFL... and the Saints aren't very good. Trading away Brandin Cooks leaves Michael Thomas as their best receiver, and a run-first team hasn't been the story for the Drew Brees-led Saints.

7. The New York Jets won't win a game. 

They're awful. This might not qualify as a "bold" prediciton.

8. Jay Cutler will be a Pro Bowl quarterback. 

I'll admit that this is a bit of a hedge. I don't think Ben Roethlisberger has any desire to play in an all-star game, and I expect Derek Carr to be playing well into January. Looking around the AFC this year, behind Tom Brady there is a void of depth at the position and Cutler could have a nice season with Adam Gase in Miami. My guess is the AFC has Alex Smith and Cutler under center for the Pro Bowl in 2018.

9. One of the Bears or Browns will finish .500 this year.

I think both teams have a shot at surprising people this season, and both will likely do it with a rookie quarterback taking the majority of their snaps. Cleveland has a good, young nucleus developing and the Bears defense could be the strongest in the NFC North this year (if they can stay healthy). I'm not saying either of these teams is a playoff contender, but I think they'll do much better than Vegas has them projected.

10. Seattle will beat New England in the Super Bowl. 

One of my big fantasy sleepers for this year is CJ Prosise in Seattle, who showed some flashes last year before getting hurt. I like Seattle in a bad division with a strong defense and improved offense to perform well this year. The Patriots know that it's more about how you finish than how you start, and few coaches in history have adapted to his personnel as well as Bill Belichik. The Raiders, Chiefs and Steelers could push the Patriots down the stretch, but I think we all know better than to bet against Tom Brady.

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