With the NFL season heading into Week 9, that means we've officially hit the midway point of the year, which can only mean one thing here at CBSSports.com: It's time for our "NFL Midseason Bonanza."
OK, so no one here actually calls it that, but I decided that I'm going to go ahead and roll with that name, because no one celebrates the middle of the NFL season like us. Not only are you getting these 10 bold predictions, but iffor awards like MVP, rookie of the year and comeback player of the year.
If you don't care about midseason awards and you just want to know whether or not your favorite team is going to make the playoffs, then youfor who's going to end up in the postseason and eventually make it to the Super Bowl.
Week 9 is here, so who's going to win and cover every game? Pete Prisco and R.J. White join Will Brinson on the Pick Six Podcast to break down their best bets, gambling and advice and more. Listen below, and be sure to subscribe here for daily NFL goodness fired into your eardrums.
Alright, that's enough asking you guys to click on things, let's get to these bold predictions. Actually, before we get to the predictions, let me explain real quick how things are going to work here: The 10 predictions will be broken down into three sections. There will be four AFC predictions, four NFC predictions and then, at the very end, I decided to tack on two depressing predictions, because who doesn't love a good depressing prediction.
OK, now let's do this.
10 bold predictions for the second half of the NFL season
1. Browns make the playoffs
Could the Browns actually make the playoffs? These are bold predictions, so it only makes sense to start off with the boldest one of all: The Browns are going to rebound from their ugly start to make the playoffs. Yes, I know the Browns are 2-5 and that they've looked totally inept at times this year, but the good news for the Browns is that they have one of the easiest schedules in the NFL over the second half of the season. The Browns' final nine opponents have a combined winning percentage of .305, which ranks as the second easiest in the NFL, behind only the Jets (.286). A big reason the Browns' schedule is so easy is because three of their final nine games are against teams that are currently winless (They play the Bengals twice and the Dolphins once). The Browns also have a Week 16 game against Baltimore, and if the Ravens have the AFC North wrapped up by then, it wouldn't be surprising to see them rest their starters.
So could the Browns actually end up in the postseason?
Geez, Baker, I was trying to make an argument for why your team might actually be good down the stretch.
Anyway, there's a strong chance that a 9-7 record is going to be good enough to earn the final wild card spot in the AFC and the Browns have a schedule that will certainly help them get there.
2. Patrick Mahomes leads the NFL in TD passes
How is an injured quarterback going to lead the NFL in touchdown passes? That's a great question and I'm glad you asked. Although Mahomes has already missed one game due to injury, he's still in the thick of this race. With 15 touchdown passes, Mahomes is currently tied for the third-highest total in the NFL (Russell Wilson leads the league with 17). Although Wilson has been on fire this year, the Seahawks have the toughest remaining schedule of any team in the NFL, so it won't be surprising if his pace slows down considerably. As for Mahomes, whenever he ends up returning to the field, he's going to have a completely healthy offense, which is something he hasn't really had this season -- remember, Mahomes has only played one FULL game with Tyreek Hill this season -- and the guess here is that once he's back, he's going to go on a torrid pace and finishes the season with between 30 and 33 touchdown passes, which will be enough to lead the league.
3. Nick Chubb leads the NFL in rushing
Through eight weeks, Chubb currently ranks third in the NFL with 738 yards, and although he's behind Dalvin Cook and Leonard Fournette, Chubb will close the season by playing against a schedule that most running backs could only fantasize about. When it comes to stopping the run, the two worst teams are the Bengals and Dolphins, and Chubb will play a total of three games against those two teams. Chubb also has games against the Colts, Broncos, Bills and Cardinals, who are all surrendering more than 109 yards per game on the ground. Basically, if Chubb is on your fantasy roster, he might single-handedly carry you to a championship down the stretch.... as long as he doesn't keep fumbling.
4. Lamar Jackson wins NFL MVP
There's nothing MVP voters love more than a quarterback on a great team, which means if Jackson is going to win this award, the Ravens are likely going to have finish with one of the top two records in the AFC. Although Baltimore got off to a slow 2-2 start, they're now tied for the second best record in the AFC thanks to their current three-game winning streak. A big reason Jackson will have a good chance to win this award is because he's going to have multiple chances to impress voters. Over the final nine weeks of the season, the Ravens will play the two best defenses in the NFL (Patriots, 49ers) and the defending NFC champs (Rams) and if he wins all three of those games, it's going almost impossible not to vote for him. It also helps that Jackson is doing things that no quarterback has ever done before. Not only is he on pace to break Michael Vick's all-time rushing record for quarterbacks, but he's also the only quarterback in NFL history who has passed for at least 1,600 yards and rushed for at least 500 yards through the first seven games of a season. Right now, Jackson's biggest competition for the award is probably Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson, and it's definitely worth noting that Jackson has already beaten Wilson in a head-to-head matchup.
I have a feeling I'm no longer going to be welcome in Dallas after making this prediction. Look, I know the Cowboys are in first place and that they've already beaten the Eagles once, but after spending 72 straight hours studying the remaining schedule for both teams, I've decided that Philadelphia seems like the safer bet in the NFC East. Not only do the Eagles play four of their next five games at home, but they also still have three games left against the two bottom teams in the NFC East (They play the Giants twice and the Redskins once). Oh, and they also play the Dolphins, which is the closest thing you can get to a free win in the NFL.
As for the Cowboys, they have a brutal final stretch. Of the Cowboys final nine games, six of them will come against teams that are currently .500 or above (the Eagles have three). Although both teams have to play the Patriots and Bears, the Cowboys also have four tough games that the Eagles don't have to worry about (Vikings, Rams, Bills and Lions). Basically, it feels like the Eagles are set up to steal the division title over the second half of the season.
6. Rams miss the playoffs
The Cowboys won't be the only ones unexpectedly sitting out the postseason, the prediction here is that the defending NFC champion Rams also miss out on the playoffs. At 5-3, the Rams are definitely in the thick of the playoff race heading into the second half of the season, but the 2019 version of the Rams has looked like a shell of the team that made it to the Super Bowl last season. Of course, the biggest problem for the Rams is that they play in the toughest division in football. With the way the NFC playoff race is going, there's almost no way that the NFC West is going to be sending three teams to the playoffs, which means there's going to have to be an odd man out between the 49ers, Seahawks and Rams. Unfortunately for the Rams, there aren't really any tiebreakers working in their favor as their currently 0-2 in the division and 3-3 in the conference (The 49ers are 2-0 and 4-0 while the Seahawks are 2-0 and 3-1).
7. Michael Thomas breaks single-season receptions record
Former Colts receiver Marvin Harrison has held this record since 2002 when he caught 143 passes, and although a few receivers have come close to breaking the record over the past few years, no one has been able to top it (Julio Jones and Antonio Brown came closest in 2015, when they both finished with 136 catches). Thomas has 73 receptions, which means he just has to catch 71 passes over the final half of the season to break the record. Although Thomas is on pace to top Harrison, breaking the record won't be easy. The Saints receiver is going to have to close out the season by averaging 8.8 receptions, which is a big number, especially when you consider that Thomas has never finished a season at better than 7.8 per game. The reason the record could fall this year is because the Saints still have two games left against a bad Falcons defense and one game left to play against a Buccaneers defense that's currently ranked 31st against the pass. The one thing that could hurt Thomas' chances of breaking the record is if the Saints have nothing to play for in Week 17, which could lead to Sean Payton leaving him on the bench.
8. Nick Bosa sweeps defensive awards (Rookie of the year and player of the year)
The 49ers have been a surprise team through the first half of the season, and a big part of that is due to the play of their defense. Bosa has helped revitalize a unit that had mostly struggled over the past two years. If you need an idea of how dominant Bosa has been this year, just pop some film from the 49ers' 51-13 win over the Panthers in Week 8. In that game, Bosa racked up three sacks while also picking off a pass. Through eight weeks, Bosa has totaled seven sacks, which is tied for the most of any rookie and is also tied as the seventh-highest number in the NFL overall. If Bosa does manage to win both awards, he'd become just the second player in NFL history to accomplish that, joining Lawrence Taylor, who pulled off the feat back in 1981.
Two depressing predictions
9. Two more coaches gets fired
We've already seen one coach get axed this season when the Redskins decided to dump Jay Gruden, and the prediction here is that we're going to see at least two more. The most likely candidate to lose his job before the season ends is probably Dan Quinn. As a matter of fact, with the Falcons on a bye right now, it will be a minor miracle if Quinn is even on the field for the team's next game in Week 10. Quinn's seat is currently hotter than a piece of lava being shot to the sun. If Quinn does somehow survive the bye week, things aren't going to get any easier for him, and that's because the Falcons will play the Saints twice in four weeks starting in Week 10. As for who else could be fired? Make sure toto find out who could be given a pink slip before the end of the year.
10. Bengals go 0-16
If you're wondering how badly the Bengals season is going, here's a quick refresher: They haven't won a game, they've already benched their starting quarterback, they decided to pretend the trade deadline didn't exist and now they're having their rebuilding strategy openly questioned on Twitter by a former boy band member, who based on the tweet below, would arguably make a better general manager than whoever is currently in charge in Cincinnati.
If you’re going to bench Andy Dalton anyway, why not trade him? Why keep AJ Green in his free agent year when you can get rebuilding draft picks? What the hell is our strategy? Our plan? We once again look like Incompetent idiots. Different era, same story and result. #bengals— Nick Lachey (@NickLachey) October 30, 2019
With Andy Dalton now benched, the Bengals definitely seem like the team that has the best shot of going 0-16 this year. If you look at their schedule, it seems like there's only two winnable games over the second half of the season (vs. Jets in Week 13, at Dolphins in Week 16), but you can't really call anything winnable when you have the worst defense in the NFL and you're starting your backup quarterback (Ryan Finley). If the Bengals do go 0-16, it would be rock bottom for this franchise, which is saying a lot, when you consider they once let an entire decade waste away (1990s) and also when you consider that they haven't won a playoff game in nearly 29 years.