As a huge football nerd, there is no way I am waiting seven more months for some answers to the 2018 NFL season. So, I’ve made up a few. Please enjoy my extremely early and bold takes on what might happen in 2018.
*sidenote: Most of these will probably be wrong. If I nail any of them, I’m a god.
1 – Kirk Cousins signs with the Broncos
Denver, and John Elway in particular, believe they can reach Super Bowl LIII with the help of a poised QB. There is a chance that the Broncos draft a QB, but Elway’s pitch to Cousins is too good for him to reject. Elway’s ability to relate to Cousins as a veteran quarterback is enough to convince Kirk that Denver is best place for him to succeed.
2 – Browns take Saquon Barkley with the #1 pick
Scot McCloughan will have a major influence on this pick. McCloughan believes in taking the best player available, and will argue that Barkley’s skillset is that of a NFL hall of famer. The Browns will take huge criticism for this pick, but the reality is they still get their preferred quarterback, Josh Allen, with the fourth overall pick. If the Browns take a quarterback at number one, Barkley will get taken by the Giants or Colts. This ensures that the Penn State phenom will suit up for Cleveland.
3 – Le’Veon Bell gets franchise tagged, and sits out two games
Pittsburgh ignores Bell’s warnings of sitting out 2018, and tags him anyway. In response to the situation Bell sits out all of training camp and the first two games of the Steelers’ season. When the Steelers start the season 0-2, Bell comes back to give Pittsburgh life. It ends up being a genius move as Bell proves to be the spark for Pittsburgh’s offense. As a result, Bell’s price tag rises by the end of 2018.
4 – Amongst injuries, the Packers once again struggle to reach their potential
When healthy, Green Bay shows that they are a league powerhouse, but when dealing with injuries they’re inconsistent. The Packers front office once again fails to bring depth in talent to Green Bay, and the starters are the only players that can win games. Without that depth, Green Bay will lose games that they shouldn’t.
5 – Jimmy Garoppolo leads the 49ers to a NFC West title
Garroppolo proves to be a premier passer in the NFL. San Francisco is the last undefeated team remaining in 2018 after a big September win streak. The Rams-49ers rivalry is renewed as the game’s viewership rises. The McVay-Shanahan aspect brings all sorts of storylines about the success of young coaches, and eventually San Francisco beats out Los Angeles for the division title.
6 – All first-round bye teams from 2017 regress in 2018
They still have a great chance to make the playoffs, but they will all regress by at least a game in 2018. The Eagles success came in their first year as a powerhouse, and just like Dallas this year, the league will catch up a bit, but not to the same degree. The Vikings are an inconsistent franchise, the Patriots lost both of their coordinators, and the Steelers will have controversy among controversy between Bell’s contract situation and Mike Tomlin’s coaching issues.
7 – Matt Patricia leads the Lions back to postseason
Patricia will immediately get consistent play out of a talented Lions defense that never played its best under Jim Caldwell. This combined with the excellent play of Matthew Stafford and his receivers leads to a one game improvement in 2018. After back to back 9-7 seasons, a 10-6 record is enough for a wild card spot.
8 – Five head coaches move on after 2018
The Bengals’ Marvin Lewis and the Seahawks’ Pete Carroll retire, and the Buccaneers and Dolphins fire their head coaches after continuous poor seasons. But, most shocking is Vance Joseph’s firing by the Broncos after Denver fails to win eight games despite great play from quarterback Kirk Cousins. The aging Denver defense regresses making it hard for the Broncos to get back to the playoffs.
9 – Tyrod Taylor takes over for Ben Roethlisberger, and saves Pittsburgh’s season
During the offseason, many will speculate that Pittsburgh will draft a future replacement for Ben Roethlisberger. Perhaps they’ll draft Lamar Jackson and use him similarly to Kordell “Slash” Stewart, who played receiver for one year before becoming the starting quarterback. Instead they sign Tyrod Taylor in free agency to become the future QB. When Big Ben goes down to an injury in week 8, Taylor takes over and leads Pittsburgh to the playoffs. Unfortunately, he once again fails to win on wild card weekend.
10 – The Texans take down Carson Wentz’s Eagles in Super Bowl LIII
Deshaun Watson proves to be the real deal at quarterback for Houston, who upset New England on the road in the AFC Championship Game. The Eagles get back to the Super Bowl behind Carson Wentz’s MVP season, and are favorites as justified by their home win over the Texans back in October. Watson crushes Steve McNair’s Super Bowl QB rushing record of 64 yards with 110 of his own. He also throws for over 260 yards and accounts for three touchdowns as Houston rolls 31-20. Watson, of course, is the game’s MVP.
Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
All Rights Reserved – Nick Merriam – 2018