We love the NFL because it seems like anything can happen. Any Given Sunday, and all that. But sometimes, you just know certain things are inevitably going to happen. And what better time to accept the inescapable than right before the season stats. Nick Dunkeyson investigates...
The Patriots Will Win
Come on. You know it, I know it. The Chiefs are a good team, coached well (as long as you don’t mention the time management), and with a well-built roster. But they’re going up against a fantastic team, deep and rich with talent in all areas but the pass rush. Look at that secondary! Those linebackers! So many wide receivers I genuinely thought Philip Dorsett wouldn’t make the team! Four very good running backs! Gronk, Brady, Belichick! Enough already, the Pats’ inexorable march to the Super Bowl starts here.
Someone Will Lay A Dirty Hit On Cam Newton…
…and several commenters will somehow blame him for it. We see this so often “oh, Cam Newton shouldn’t play like a linebacker”, “Newton’s a glory boy”, “too showy”. Coded messages, one and all. So why shouldn’t it continue? The Panthers do want Newton to pass more and run less, which makes sense – players get injured more when they’re active runners than in the (sometimes) snug pocket behind an offensive line. But when DeForest Buckner ploughs past an offensive tackle and straight for Newton’s knee, don’t blame Newton for it, and certainly don’t say that “Derek Anderson would be more reliable”. Seriously.
Antonio Brown Will Get Flagged For Excessive Celebration
The NFL have relaxed their touchdown celebration rules, but it’s not as if this is enough to make it the No Fun League. Antonio Brown has the best celebrations, don’t you think? Him charging at the goalposts and launching himself, legs akimbo to wrap round it is one of the most hilarious things I’ve ever seen on a football field. Can’t wait to see what hi-jinks he’s got lined up for his third touchdown against Cleveland in week 1. Interpretative dance? Impromptu tea party (no, not that kind)? Pulling out a Roger Goodell wig and doing his best Ginger Hammer impression?
Your Team’s Highly-Drafted Skill Position Player Will Play A Maximum Of 9 Snaps And Everyone Will Overreact
We all want our rookies to have Zeke Elliott/Anquan Boldin/Russell Wilson debut seasons in the league. After all, we’ve spent the last four months getting uninhibitedly excited about them with very little basis in reality. But Week 1’s going to come, and OJ Howard is going to be behind Cameron Brate; Corey Davis won’t be targeted like Eric Decker is; Jeremy Hill will get the start in Cincinnati. And it’s going to feel like the end of the world! Just remember:
this happens every year while the rookies get used to the NFL, learn the playbook, and it has absolutely zero bearing on your season, the rookie’s career, or anything. Relax.
One Of The Bills or Jets Will Actually Win
This feels like a very bold prediction, even if you remember these two teams are actually playing each other. Still, if there were ever two rosters built to grind out 0-0 draws, it’s these. Shame it’s the wrong version of football, really.
Look, team front offices (or back offices, I can never remember which) can build teams to tank. Head coaches and players don’t tank, because even if they know they’re to be sacked, it’s a good way to guarantee either a) no job in the future or b) if they get a job, less money than they want. Does it look like both these teams have constructed a roster to lose lots of games? Yes. Does that mean the playing staff will take plays off and not try? Hell no. Does it guarantee that other teams who look weak, or are suffering major injuries, will still be better? No way.
Don’t be too surprised when Buffalo or the Jets win games this season. Players are prideful. Coaches too.
Derek Carr Will Throw For 300+ Yards In A Loss
I nearly went for Drew Brees in this role, curse you preseason enthusiasm about the defense.
It is so so frustrating, I know, to root for a team with one side of the ball being excellent and the other atrocious. Outside of Khalil Mack (and maybe Bruce Irvin), Oakland’s defense is hopeless. Sure, Oakland spent their first three picks on defense, two in the secondary. But that’s not going to have anywhere near an immediate impact. In fact, neither of those secondary picks will see the field in Week 1, with Gareon Conley mysteriously absent and Obi Melifonwu on IR.
Meanwhile, Oakland go to a well-balanced, shrewdly improved Tennessee roster that looks set to run all over Oakland, before passing all over them. Oakland will be playing from behind, and that means yards, yards, yards. Even if it’s futile. Oakland are going to have to spend this season putting up loads and loads of points. They often will, and it’ll often be good enough to get them the win. Not against the better teams though, and the Titans are very much that.
Jared Goff Will Have A Breakout Party…
…as the Rams thump the Colts. This Colts roster has a long way to go before undoing the damage caused by Ryan “Matt Millen Mark 2” Grigson. But they still have Andrew Luck right? Eh? Oh.
I make it five good or better players on the Colts roster: Luck, TY Hilton, Jonathan Hankins, Vontae Davis and Adam Vinatieri. Luck and Davis are already out injured for “multiple weeks”, Luck with mystery surrounding his due back date. One of the others is a kicker. There are several players who are fine (Costanzo, Sheard, Moncrief etc) and some very promising rookies, but overall this roster looks to be in the early stages of a rebuild.
Meanwhile, the Rams and their trendy young head coach have acquired protection and weapons for Jared Goff, and even without Aaron Donald there’s a good defensive core here. Goff has looked decent in preseason, and going up against the Colts could be a really easy way for him to ease into the season. So don’t be surprised if he shines.
The Chargers Will Lose A Key Player To A Season-Ending Injury
Ducks in a barrel. It’s not big or clever to point out all Chargers players are made of balsa wood and held together with school-grade PVC glue, but here we are.
So which Chargers player will be injured Week 1? Well, it won’t be either of their first two draft picks – they’re already injured! Nor starting middle linebacker Denzel Perryman – same! Even I’m not cruel enough to doom Keenan Allen to a second successive season ended in Week 1. But it’ll be a big name, because life is cruel. So, sorry Melvin Ingram, but that’s it for you for 2017.
Fans Will Clamour For A Godawful Backup QB To Come In When The Starter Struggles
Sometimes, sports fans really get my goat with unthinking kneejerkery, and NFL fans are among the worst for that. Expect to see a QB having a bad game damned as the second coming of Ryan Leaf, and their backup to be considered Tom Brady without any of the flaws.
Prime candidates for this are Sam Bradford (has there ever been a more unfathomably unpopular long-time starter in the league?), Carson Palmer (old), and Tyrod Taylor (given those Kaepernick t-shirts in Buffalo last year, I can’t think of a good reason why the fans might want fifth-round rookie Nathan Peterman starting either).
Loads of Comments About Ed Hochuli’s Guns
People: why are you all obsessed with Ed Hochuli’s guns?