2018 NFL Mild, Hot, and ¡Muy Caliente! Takes and Bold Predictions!

Training Camps are open, and that means it’s the perfect time for completely accurate pre-pre-season predictions! I will categorize them from mild (just to get things rolling) to ¡Muy Caliente! (Predictions so bold, you’ll have to be crazy to be on my side). Some you may agree with, some you’ll be so angry that you’ll be talking to coworkers about with no context, other than declaring my statements as faker news than Trump’s tweets. Whichever side of the fence you’re on at the end of the day, it’s time to get back to football. Real football. Not Canadian football, you get a point for kicking the ball really hard and missing the goalposts. There should never be a game that’s 19-1. That’s just an eyesore. Anyway, onto the takes!

Mild

Hue Jackson will keep his job

To some people, this is a hot take. Why would this be a Mild take you ask? Because Cleveland is good at two things: Losing and stalking LeBron James. With the latter taking his talents to Laguna Beach, they’ll have to resort to what they do best. At this point, if the Browns wanted to fire Jackson they would’ve by now. There’s no conceivable reason a coach with 1 entire win over two seasons should keep his job. Let alone be trusted with ANOTHER first round QB. Because it worked so well with Kizer, the Browns have no outs now to get rid of Jackson. He is going to win 4 or 5 games this year, Browns fans will be content with that for another few years. You’re welcome Cleveland, enjoy being bad instead of the worst.

Tom Brady is near the end

Tom Brady isn’t a vampire, or a wizard, or whatever Voldemort is. He’s a man. Now, the Patriots just recently got rid of his personal wizard and fountain of youth discoverer Alex Guerrero. Brady has made it apparent that he is incredibly unhappy about this, and even Chancellor Belichick banned any other Pats from seeing Guerrero’s private practice. Gronk has been surrounded with retirement and trade rumors, it just seems that whatever chemistry and/or voodoo magic that held this team together is starting to fade. Brady has begun to show off his dad bod in public too. That’s really the biggest evidence he’s close to hanging it up.

The Colts will cut ties with Andrew Luck

This man is stealing money from Indianapolis. The most recent footage of him doing anything football related we have of this guy is him throwing a NERF ball to a toddler. It’s been two calendar years since he’s THROWN and NFL sized football. Not completed a pass, not practiced, not playing in a game. No, I mean just literally the act of throwing a football is something he’s been unable to do for two years. Last time I checked, a NFL quarterback needs to be pretty decent at throwing that oblong spheroid (about 35-40 times a game) to a teammate so said teammate can catch it. Andrew Luck cannot THROW A FOOTBALL. Why he’s still being lugged around I have no idea, but this year, Colts management will finally let him go and try to get whatever value they can for him and develop Jacoby Brissett. There’s no reason to keep Luck around if he’s “healthy” anyway. Best case scenario, he plays two more seasons, then gets hurt again, and they’re left with no plan for the future and no value. It’s time. Stop giving him Oxys Jim Irsay. Seriously, we know that’s why you have so many.

Hot

Rashaad Penny will have 1000 yards

Who? You may be asking yourself what team he plays for, and I’ll give you bonus points if you guess the school he was drafted out of! Most of you already broke and googled it as soon as you read 1000 yards. It may surprise you, but Mr. Penny will soon be making big bucks in the NFL (I just couldn’t resist, I hear you groaning). The San Diego State grad piled up 2248 yards and 26 total touchdowns. Pair that with a renewed vow from Seattle to get back to running the football (I can’t imagine why they’d have to reaffirm for their fans that they will run the ball, especially at the 3 yard line), and it sets up nicely for a rookie back to surprise NFL defenses this season. Seattle’s home field advantage, second best in the league, and stout defense will keep opponents playing catch up most of the time. This means more carries and touches overall for Penny. His only competition is Chris Carson. You don’t draft this kind of running back to sit him behind Chris Carson.

The 49ers will ALMOST win the NFC West

Hold on to your butts, Jimmy Garoppolo has arrived. Not only that, but he’s got a pretty decent offense and a revamped defense behind him too. Garçon will provide veteran leadership with a backfield duo of Jerick McKinnon and Matt Breida. Fantasy sleeper George Kittle will serve as a great security blanket for Jimmy G, and of course, there’s cult hero and sports scrabble winning fullback Kyle Juszczyk. Now, about that defense. It’s going to be pretty good. To refresh everyone’s memory, Richard Sherman is there now. He’s teamed up with DeForest Buckner and Reuben Foster. Pair that with a schedule of opponents who all combined went .500 last year (128-128 for you nerds) the 49ers have a chance to mess around and make the playoffs. They still have to beat the Rams, but we will get to that here in a bit.

Jimmy Graham will lead TEs in TDs

Remember him? It seems like forever ago that Jimmy Graham was pulling in more TDs than Jeff Goldblum at Mardi Gras down in New Orleans. Since then, it’s been a confusing (and for fantasy owners, frustrating) hiatus up in the tight end wasteland that is Seattle. Graham for some reason was used to block more often than anything. The entire thing was a disaster, but he’s moved on to the perfect place, a pass first offense with an elite quarterback in Aaron Rodgers. Nobody is better at finding the open man in the red zone than Rodgers, and nobody is better at being a red zone target as a tight end than Graham. From 2012 to 2014 in New Orleans, Graham had 35 touchdowns. In that same span, Gronk had 27. In the next three seasons following that, Gronk has 22. You know who’s in second with 20? Kyle Rudolph. With Jimmy Graham barely being used to his potential (he had 18 in these previous three seasons), a Vikings tight end was able to rack up touchdowns. I expect Graham to haul in at LEAST a bakers dozen this season, if not more, and lead whoever drafts him as their fantasy tight end to the playoffs.

¡Muy Caliente!

WARNING

The following takes are extra spicy, interpret them at your own risk. Possible side effects may include: rage-induced disagreement, loud scoffing noises, or a sudden craving to flame me on social media and/or in comments. If you experience one or more of these, please consult a friend or relative who will validate your incorrect views.

DeShaun Watson will be Fantasy QB1

That’s right. Not Aaron Rodgers, not Drew Brees, not Phyllis Rivers, and not Tom Brady. Nor will it be Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, Matt Stafford, or Carson Wentz. DeShaun Watson is going to light up defenses across the entire league all season long. Let’s recap. Before a fluke season-ending (and fantasy season dooming injury for many, including me) ACL tear, Watson was on one of the best runs in NFL history. In 7 games last year, he had 1,700 passing yards, 270 rushing yards, and 21 total touchdowns. That’s more touchdowns than the following players who played a (mostly) full season of football: Eli Manning, Todd Gurley, and Jameis Winston. Matt Ryan only had 22. The ENTIRE Cleveland Browns organization had 27 touchdowns last season. DeShaun Watson played 7 GAMES!!! If I do some entirely warranted and guaranteed accurate hypothetical math, and project that over a 16 game season (which in this case would be multiplying all his stats by 2.2857 Yes, I know 7 multiplied by that number leaves you at 15.999999 but CLOSE ENOUGH GEEKS) that would leave Watson at the following stat line: 3,883 passing yards with 43 touchdowns, AND 615 rushing yards with 5 touchdowns (I rounded up from 4.58 sue me). That would be one of the greatest fantasy seasons of all time. Do I expect that insane of a total? No. Is he going to be the top fantasy quarterback this year? Absolutely.

The Rams won’t win a playoff game

Training camp has just started, and the volatile Rams locker room has already started to unravel. Aaron Donald is holding out. He’s holding out and hasn’t even had to deal with one practice of the toxic mix of personalities on this years Los Angeles squad. The Rams have talent, a lot of it, there’s no doubting that. However, they have some of the NFL’s most explosive and team dividing personalities on one team. Ndamukong Suh, Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, and Donald all under one roof is going to spell disaster whenever adversity strikes. Not only have these players received multiple 15 yard penalties in their careers, they’ve also all been suspended for various things. The Suh Stomp for instance. Holding all of this together is the youngest head coach to be hired in the league history, 32 year old Sean McVay. There’s players coaches, and then there’s your coach is younger than you. Suh is 31 and Talib is OLDER THAN HIS COACH. I cannot imagine how disciplining is supposed to go when things go awry if/when “team rules” are violated. The offense is talented, but defenses will stack the box to stop the run and in close games, I’m not sure if Goff or McVay have the experience to survive that kind of pressure within the team and the intense media circus that’s sure to occur. They’ll fend of San Francisco for the division title, but then collapse in spectacular fashion when the playoffs arrive.

Your 2018 Super Bowl is: Vikings vs. Chiefs

If everything falls into place for these teams, there’s no reason at all for this to be the 53rd edition of Lamar Hunt’s creation. The Vikings have finally come to their senses and upgraded the offense with a big arm in Kirk Cousins. They overpaid for him, sure, but they needed an overhaul at the quarterback position to help the offense score more points. The offense has the weapons to score in the top half of the league. That doesn’t sound impressive, but with the leagues returning number one ranked defense, they won’t need a stupid amount of points to win on a consistent basis. They’re a much more cohesive unit than most in the NFC, and don’t have to deal with the personality conflicts of the Rams, absence of defense like the Packers, and playoff chokery of the Falcons. They’ll be en route to Atlanta in February. Onto the AFC. Yeah, yeah. I hear you. All of you. I can assure you this isn’t a total homer pick. It’s just partially a homer pick. I HAVE EVIDENCE THOUGH. Just think about it, the defense is the issue, and the signing of Bashaud Breeland seems like a certainty at this point. All of the off-season has been spent on building up the defense. Everyone in training camp has shown up healthy. Eric Berry is back. Justin Houston is still here. Anthony Hitchens is a huge addition. The defense will be solid. They don’t need to be top ten, Hell, they don’t need to be top half. As long as Bob Sutton (Why is he still here? Please fire him.) doesn’t completely butcher it, they can be top 20 at minimum. The offense is going to be the best in the NFL. I’m talking most points and most yards. Write it down, screenshot it, whatever you gotta do, you heard it here first. Mahomes is well taken care of. Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins as the top three receiving options. Kareem Hunt is returning, and did everyone forget about Spencer Ware? He’s back, and he will be a great spell back to Hunt. Dave Tobe is the best special teams coordinator in the league and has been in discussions to be a head coach soon. The stage is set for Kansas City to outscore every opponent this year. The Lamar Hunt trophy is coming home!!!

Go get your milk now everyone. Or just flame me on social media. Whatever you gotta do. I’m going to be right. If I’m not, then Goodell rigged it. Have at it, and enjoy the build up to the season everyone!

–Relli

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