Merry Football Day!
We'll celebrate by offering up every kind of prediction you'd want for the upcoming season.
To start, our Top5Thursday was Bold NFL Predictions: predictions that are at least somewhat viable but beyond your standard boiler plate predictions. Without further ado, here are mine:
5 - Earl Thomas will win the DPOY. He'd be the first DB since Troy Polamalu to win the awards which has been dominated in recent years by Aaron Donald and JJ Watt. But Thomas has something that every awards voter loves: a great narrative. He hasn't played a full season since 2015 but after joining Baltimore, Thomas could be a big part of a revamped Ravens defense and reminder voters of Ed Reed.
4 - Ron Rivera will be the first NFL coach fired. He's the 7th longest tenured NFL Head Coach entering his 9th year but the Panthers have also missed the playoffs in two out of the last three seasons. The memories of the 15-1 2015 season and Super Bowl appearance are long gone and if as I expect Carolina struggles again, new owner David Tepper will be looking for a fresh start.
3 - Bears RB David Montgomery will win ROY and the league rushing title. The last rookie rushing champion was in 2016 with Ezekiel Elliot. But the Bears need to hide Mitchell Trubisky and after Jordan Howard underwhelmed last year, I'd expect head coach Matt Nagy to feed the rookie RB.
2 - Jerry Jones will replace Jason Garrett with Urban Meyer. Garrett is a lame duck head coach for a team that just lavished three players with long term deals (Jaylon Smith, La'el Collins, Ezekiel Elliot) and could still do the same with Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper. In other words, he's gotta win the division and a playoff game or two or he's gone. He gone. And in typical Jerr-uh fashion, he'll go for a big, expensive splash by luring the current Fox CFB analyst and 3 time national champion to Dallas.
1 - Jacksonville will win the AFC. Jacksonville has a very talented roster and they made a major upgrade at QB in Nick Foles. Reuniting Foles with his OC from the Eagles Super Bowl run, John DeFillippo, should be enough to get Jacksonville in the playoff picture. From there, this team is built for January with a ferocious pass rush, a shutdown corner and a savvy quarterback aided by a rejuvenated Leonard Fournette. Two years ago they came within a whisker of toppling Brady and Belichick and this year I think they get the job done.