With the start of the NFL season coming this week, that means it's time for everyone's favorite thing: PREDICTIONS.
Sure, most people only love reading predictions so that they can throw them back in your face down the road after you end up being wrong about something, but I'm OK with that. I live with a 17-month-old so I have things thrown in my face all the time.
Before we get to my predictions, let me explain how things are going to work here: I'm going to go through each division and predict each team's final record. After that, I'll be making a bold prediction for each division. Once you roll through the divisional portion of these predictions, you'll see my playoff picks and eventually, my Super Bowl champion. In four of the past six years, I've correctly picked the AFC team that ended up in the Super Bowl, and in two of the past six years, my preseason Super Bowl pick has ended up winning it all, so you might want to scroll down and check out my prediction for the Super Bowl to see if I'm picking your favorite team.
Also, since we all know that making fun of someone's predictions is half the fun of reading predictions, you can send all your hate tweets to me on Twitter by clicking here, and just so you know, Ravens fans, I'm already mentally preparing for your hate tweets.
Finally, if you're wondering how I did last season, I predicted the exact win total of five different teams. I also correctly predicted that the Buccaneers would make it to the NFC title game and that the Chiefs would lose the Super Bowl. On the other hand, I completely whiffed on Dallas. I had the Cowboys going 11-5 last season and if you watched any football in 2020, then you already know the Cowboys didn't go 11-5. I blame Mike McCarthy.
You don't care about last year though, so let's get to the 2021 predictions.
AFC East bold prediction: Josh Allen wins MVP
Allen finished second in the MVP voting last year in a season where he was just starting to scratch the surface of what he can do in the NFL and I think he's only going to be better this year. In 2020, he finished in the top five in both passing yards and touchdown passes. One unique part of Allen's game is how well he runs the ball. Last season, he finished the year with eight touchdown runs, which was more than Lamar Jackson and tied for the third-most of any quarterback in the NFL. With added weapons like Emmanuel Sanders, I think Allen is going to be even better in 2021 and the only way you can be better than second place in the MVP vote is to finish in first place. The prediction here is that Allen becomes the first Bills MVP since Thurman Thomas in 1991.
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1. *Steelers: 10-7
2. *Browns: 10-7
3. Ravens: 10-7
4. Bengals: 7-10
AFC North bold prediction: Ravens miss the playoffs
The AFC is so loaded this year that I think we're going to see a 10-win team miss the playoffs and unfortunately for everyone in Baltimore, I think it's going to be the Ravens. Although the AFC North sent three teams to the playoffs last season, I don't think that's going to happen again in 2021 and that's because I think everyone in the division is going to take a small step back. On the Ravens' end, they struggled against good teams last year: They went 3-4 against teams that finished above .500 and I won't be surprised if that trend continues. I don't think the Ravens are going to fall off a cliff, but I do think they're going to be the odd-man out in a multi-way tie for the final wild-card spot in the AFC. Also, we saw a 10-win team miss the playoffs in the AFC last year (the Dolphins) and there's no reason to think it won't happen again in 2021.
AFC South bold prediction: Trevor Lawrence sets single-season rookie record for most TD passes
This prediction probably doesn't technically qualify as bold and that's because Trevor Lawrence is going to get 17 games to try and break the record, which is currently held by Justin Herbert. Last year, Herbert threw 31 touchdown passes, which smashed the record of 27 that had previously been set by Baker Mayfield in 2018.
Lawrence is actually going to have a two huge advantages over Herbert when it comes to going for this record: Not only does he get to play 17 games, but he's also going to be Jacksonville's starter from Day 1, which means -- barring injury -- he'll get to play an entire season (Herbert only started 15 games for the Chargers last year).
The Jaguars might not be a great team, but Lawrence does have some decent receiving talent to work with thanks to guys like Laviska Shenault, D.J. Chark and Marvin Jones, plus running back James Robinson. To break the record, all Lawrence has to do is average 1.78 touchdown passes per game and I think he can do that.
AFC West bold prediction: Chiefs finish with the best record in the NFL, but don't win the Super Bowl
Although this might seem like a lazy prediction, finishing with the best record in the NFL isn't something that comes easy. Since Patrick Mahomes took over as the team's full-time starter in 2018, the Chiefs have only finished with the NFL's best record one time and that came last year.
When they won the Super Bowl in 2019, the Chiefs finished with the fifth-best record in the NFL, which tells you that finishing with the best record doesn't guarantee you a Lombardi Trophy. The Chiefs will find that out the hard way this year, because I have them finishing with the NFL's best record, but I don't think they're going to win the Super Bowl.
NFC East bold prediction: Washington repeats as division champion
This might not seem like a bold prediction, but trust me, it is, and that's because this prediction involves a team repeating as champion in the NFC East, which is something that hasn't happened in nearly two decades. The iPhone didn't even exist the last time this division saw a repeat champion, which came in 2004 when the Eagles were putting the finishing touches on their fourth straight division title. Since then, no team has repeated as champion. The one big thing holding Washington back last year was a disastrous quarterback situation and despite the fact that they used four different starters, they were still able to win the division. If Ryan Fitzpatrick can play just slightly above average football, then I love the Football Team to take home the division title.
NFC North bold prediction: Packers make it to the Super Bowl
The Aaron Rodgers revenge tour has started. I'm not even sure who he's trying to get revenge on at this point, but I can assure you that no one is safe. Rodgers seems to play better when there's drama and there was a lot of drama surrounding him this offseason, which I'm pretty sure is going to translate into a Packers Super Bowl appearance. This team has been on the doorstep of the Super Bowl in each of the past two seasons and I think this is the year where they finally knock down the door, set the house on fire and actually make it to the NFL's final game.
NFC South bold prediction: Jameis Winston sets single-season record for most passing yards
if Sean Payton has proven one thing over the course of his career, it's this: His offense produces big numbers. In five of the past 10 years, Drew Brees ended up leading the NFL in passing yards, and now, he's handing the job over to Jameis Winston, who actually led the NFL in passing yards in 2019. Winston's 5,109 yards that year still stands as the eighth-highest single-season total in NFL history. With an offensive genius now calling the plays -- plus an extra game to work with -- I won't be surprised if Winston tops Peyton Manning's record of 5,477 passing yards that was set in 2013.
1. *49ers: 12-5
2. *Rams: 11-6
3. *Seahawks: 10-7
4. Cardinals: 8-9
NFC West bold prediction: 49ers go from worst-to-first
In 13 of the past 15 years, there's been at least one NFL team that has gone from worst-to-first and this year, it feels like the 49ers are going to be that team. Although the 49ers appeared to be hit with a Super Bowl hangover in 2020, going just 6-10, it's hard to judge them by that finish and that's because their roster got decimated by injuries last year. As long as they can stay healthy, I think they can win the division.
(2) Packers 34-24 over (7) Saints
(3) 49ers 30-23 over (6) Seahawks
(5) Rams 27-20 over (4) Washington
(5) Rams 26-23 over (1) Buccaneers
(2) Packers 31-24 over (3) 49ers
(2) Packers 23-20 over (5) Rams
(2) Bills 38-31 over (7) Chargers
(6) Browns 33-30 over (3) Titans
(4) Steelers 24-17 over (5) Patriots
(1) Chiefs 34-24 over (6) Browns
(2) Bills 27-20 over (4) Steelers
(2) Bills 30-27 over (1) Chiefs
Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles (NBC)
Packers 34-31 over Bills
Playoffs bold prediction: Packers end 11-year Super Bowl drought
No one in Green Bay is going to remember all the offseason drama between Aaron Rodgers and the Packers and that's because they're going to be too busy celebrating a Super Bowl win after Rodgers leads the Packers to their fifth Lombardi Trophy in franchise history. The prediction here is that Rodgers is going to out-duel Josh Allen in a wild showdown that's not going to be sealed for the Packers until the Bills miss a field goal on the final play. OK. Sorry for that Bills fans. Still too soon. You don't need to lose another Super Bowl like that. Instead of a missed field goal, I'm going to say the Packers win it on a kick from Mason Crosby in the final minute.
The Packers winning a Super Bowl in Los Angeles would almost be fitting since their first Super Bowl win came 55 years ago in Super Bowl I, which was played in, you guessed it, Los Angeles.
Will Aaron Rodgers return to Green Bay in 2022 if the Packers win it all? I have no idea, but I highly doubt he would leave the team without trying to defend the title.
Finally, if my season predictions all pan out -- and I'm sure they will -- here's what the top of the NFL Draft order will look like next April.
Order of first five picks for 2021 NFL Draft
Last year, I correctly predicted that the Jaguars would get No. 1 overall pick, so at least you have that going for you, Lions fans.