By: Elias McMillan
10. The COVID-19 pandemic will affect the season.
Look. These teams have been testing for it up and down and 24/7. But they are going to get a positive back, eventually. Someone will make a mistake and the fact that it hasn’t happened yet is nothing short of amazing. But I think that there will be positive tests and it will happen to some big names. And the media will loose their minds about it and call for the season to end. You know it. I know it. Just be prepared for it. The NFL KNOWS this. But that’s why they are prepared. There are protocols in place. Hopefully, they will be able to catch a positive and isolate it in a timely matter to prevent spread. I know that there are no guarantees with this thing. I thought we would be done with it by the summer! What happened with that?!?! But anyways, I think that once the opening week goes off smoothly, this league will never look back. Americans NEED their football and the dealers/owners aren’t taking a “L”. And that’s what I am counting on. Because I don’t need football but I would like to have it so very much.
9. The messages for Social Justice are NOT going away.
I think I can say this as a black man and as someone who has been around black people during this summer, “No one is asking for this.” It is not like the racist people in this world will see the “End Racism” stenciled in the back of the end zone and will react like, “End Racism? I didn’t know I had that option.” This pandemic time has been real tough for anybody who wants to see the police not kill unarmed black people because the police are…..killing unarmed black people. That’s what this is all about. Not kneeling. Not the flag. Not the anthem. Its always been about the police killing unarmed black people and having no justice done. That’s it. So, for those who are MAD online about the messages and the protests that are upcoming, sorry, I cant help you. And this will only be for this season. Those who run this league are just now being forced to take their first baby steps away from racism (looking at you, Mr. Snyder), which are going to lead to some cringe fest displays. I’m horrified and I also can’t wait. Are they really going to play “Lift Every Voice and Sing” before the anthem each week? I heard a rumor that the officials are going to wear “Kente cloth” in October. Just kidding. But see what happens?! Y’all just couldn’t let Colin Kaepernick protest peacefully and finish his playing career. So, now, here we are.
8. Both New York teams will total 5 wins or less.
It’s going to be a rough season for the teams that call Metropolis home. The Giants might have a brighter outlook look thanks to Saquon Barkley. QB Daniel Jones will have to prove himself early because so far, he has done nothing. He won a road game in Tampa last year and the media was so fast to crown him. The Jets are ready to crown QB Sam Darnold but that’s going to be hard to do with no weapons around. Excuse me, he does have one weapon in RB Le’Veon Bell but it should be tough sledding for him to even get on the field. Can you believe that head coach Adam Gase has given 87-year-old Frank Gore more reps with the first team offense in training camp? It would be amazing if the Jets could win more than 4 games.
7. The Buffalo Bills will win the AFC East and break the Patriots curse.
The team from upstate NY will do quite fine this year. The Bills play tough defensively and I like the upgrades they’ve added on offense with WR Stefon Diggs and rookie RB Zach Moss. The race in the AFC East will be a dogfight though. Its going to be interesting to see Cam Newton attempt to lift New England’s lack luster offense and if Miami can get all their young talent in accord and shock some people. But Buffalo’s recent post-season experiences will serve them well, I think.
6. The hype with Tampa Bay is real.
Earlier in the off season, I was dead set on thinking that this 2020 Buccaneers team is just a supped up version of the 2019 Cleveland Browns. I mean, they’re certainly the offseason champs, but I don’t see it being a letdown or fluke. There is a reason why all of this talent is gathering there: Tom Brady is ready to win and he’s ready to win now. The Bucs were already a team with a lot of weapons offensively. But you add Tom Brady, who only has to worry about health and not throwing picks, Rob Gronkowski, LeSean McCoy, and now Leonard Fournette? And people don’t give this defense enough credit. They’ll have a dangerous front 7 this year that will hopefully make up for the secondary. New Orleans has a talented roster also but Tampa will be racing them to the top all the way to Week 17.
5. The “Big Ben Revenge” Tour isn’t happening.
I think the Pittsburgh defense doesn’t get enough credit for what they accomplished in 2019. 8-8? With that offense and those QBs? Definitely impressive. But what if they had a good QB? What would happen? Would 8-8 turn into 14-2? These are the thoughts and questions swirling around the heads of yinzers during the pandemic. Did you see the hype workout videos? Did you see him talk about winning championships? Did you see him apologize to his wife? Listen, its all great and everything. But I’m just not buying any of it. Can Steeler fans just hope that Roethlisberger can stay healthy long enough to get them back to the playoffs? They say that he just needs to stay conscious and standing to be better than backup Mason Rudolph. But if that’s true, what is Rudolph still doing on the roster? You mean to tell me that this well ran organization failed to upgrade the position that doomed them a year ago? But the yinzers are soooo comfortable leaving their championship aspirations up to one man who is 38 and coming off of a serious injury. The NFL is a season-to-season league and father time is undefeated.
4. The MVP race is going to be TIGHT.
So, we’re going to have the usual suspects for this award because like the Heisman, it’s just going to go to the best QB. Lamar Jackson. Patrick Mahomes. Russell Wilson. But this year, another will breakout and it will come from the NFC. I’m not sure why but I think the Arizona Cardinals are going to win a lot of games this year or at least be favored in many games. Either way, I can see QB Kyler Murray really start to settle in as a play maker with his arm and legs and playing with WR DeAndre Hopkins will help those stat sheet numbers. Another QB from that conference who I also think will win a lot of games in 2020 is Dak Prescott. Prescott showed great improvement last year as a deep ball passer, while suffering under the coaching of Jason Garrett and being let down by a few huge drops in season altering games. With new coaching and new playmakers, Prescott is going to thrive and I think the entire league will take notice. In fact, I think it will be him. He is my pick. Dak Prescott is going to have a MVP season. Write it down.
3. Baltimore will win the AFC.
Here’s how I see the AFC playing out:
- Baltimore – North (Bye)
- Kansas City – West
- Houston – South
- Buffalo – East
- Tennessee – Wild
- Denver – Wild
- Pittsburgh or Cleveland or New England
Man, the playoffs are going to be fun this year. Maybe there won’t be that many surprises but I’m feeling okay about putting Denver in especially with the Chargers losing Derwin James. I’m sure Pittsburgh will make it with a healthy Big Ben but if not, why not Cleveland?! New England wouldn’t surprise me either but I’m worried that Cam won’t be enough to save that offense.
Wild-card Weekend: Chiefs over Steelers, Broncos over Texans, Titans over Bills
Divisional: Ravens over Broncos, Chiefs over Titans
Conference: Ravens over Chiefs
2. For the first time in 25 years, the Dallas Cowboys will win the NFC.
Here’s how I see the NFC playing out:
- Arizona – West (Bye)
- Dallas – East
- New Orleans – South
- Minnesota – North
- Tampa Bay – Wild
- Green Bay – Wild
- San Francisco or Philadelphia
So, let me explain my NFC West pick. I think Arizona, San Fran, and Seattle will win 10 plus games. The division champ will only be separated by one game. I like San Fran’s defense the best but I have questions about their offense. I think Arizona’s defense is going to be good enough to have them in the conversation for the Super Bowl and Kyler Murray will have a breakout campaign. The Cowboys return the number one offense in the league. But imagine if they had a defense that occasionally stopped someone and created short fields for that offense. Imagine if Dak Prescott had new and younger targets (CeeDee Lamb, Blake Jarwin) and not old retreads (Jason Witten, Randall Cobb). New head coach Mike McCarthy came to win and to win now.
Wild-card Weekend: Cowboys over 49ers, Saints over Packers, Buccaneers over Vikings
Divisional: Saints over Cardinals, Cowboys over Buccaneers
Conference: Cowboys over Saints
1. My Super Bowl LV Prediction: The Ravens will win the Super Bowl
Baltimore and Dallas would be a matchup of two teams that love to run the ball. Man, there would be so much spice if Earl Thomas ends up in Dallas. I would imagine that this would be the game where the Dallas run defense doesn’t show up and Lamar Jackson has his Super Bowl moment. If this were to happen, as a fan, I would just be thrilled to be apart of it. Prediction: Ravens 38, Cowboys 34