25 Bold Sports Predictions for 2013
2012 gave us some great moments in sports.
The Giants once again bursting Tom Brady's Super Bowl dreams.
Bron finally winning his first title.
And the West's version of the Giants (MLB's), winning their second World Series in three seasons.
But like every year, it's time to toss out the records and memories, and get ready to see what happens in 2013.
We don't claim to be Nostradamus, but we're tipping our hand to see what might happen in the world of sports next year with these bold predictions.
Some of them have to happen, right? Let the debate begin...
Honorable Mention: Phil Jackson Returns to Coaching
Reasoning: His 11 NBA coaching titles has something to do with it.
Why It Will Happen: We know he at least showed some interest in the Lakers job, so while we're hesitant to put him in any place but L.A. (sorry, Nets fans), who's to say the Mike D'Antoni experiment lasts longer than just this season?
Mike Brown got axed after just a lockout-shortened season, so why is it unfathomable to see Jackson back on the sidelines in Tinseltown (or elsewhere?) sometime next year?
January: Notre Dame Upsets Alabama in the National Title Game
Reasoning: The Luck of the Irish.
Why It Will Happen: Besides the fact that Notre Dame ranked No. 1 in total defense during the regular season—holding opponents to just 10 ppg—there's something about this team that reminds everyone of the 2002 Ohio State team that upset "powerhouse" Miami for the title.
Same type of leadership with Manti Te'o and Tyler Eifert, and a coach in Brian Kelly who isn't shy when it comes to knocking off prestigious programs—just ask Oklahoma and Southern Cal how they fared at home against ND.
January: The Seahawks Make It to the NFC Title Game
Reasoning: Everything seems to be going right.
Why It Will Happen: Is there something in the (many bodies of) water in the Pacific Northwest?
First, the Hawks land the steal of last year's draft in quarterback Russell Wilson.
Next, they've averaged 50 ppg over their last three games against the Cardinals, Bills and Niners.
Lastly, they just got word that their impact corner, Richard Sherman, won his appeal against the league and won't be suspended four games for testing positive for Adderall.
With a team firing on all cylinders at the right time, Seattle might be the most dangerous team once the playoffs start in a couple weeks, so why not have them make it to the NFC Championship Game?
February: NHL Loses Its Full Season
Reasoning: Gary Bettman. Plain and simple.
Why It Will Happen: It's not as if we're hoping this happens, we just think at this point in the conversations, the writing's on the wall.
What fans ever wants to get a condensed season, much less one that starts following the New Year and is reduced to some 50-plus games (if that)?
With Bettman calling the shots, we have a bad feeling we'll be hockey-less for the second time in less than 10 years.
February: Broncos Defeat Packers in the Super Bowl
Reasoning: Peyton Manning has reestablished himself as the best quarterback in the NFL.
Why It Will Happen: When the season started, no one knew what the Great Manning would be able to give the Broncos.
Some questioned his arm strength.
Others worried about how he'd handle his first hit.
After a season where he's led Denver to a mile-long winning streak (OK, just 10 games), while proving to be balanced on both offense and defense, we bet fans will be tapping the Rockies to celebrate the franchise's first Super Bowl since the Elway days.
March: Kentucky Fails to Reach the Sweet 16
Reasoning: No answers to their many questions.
Why It Will Happen: Though hyped (again) as one of the greater teams in college basketball thanks to another top recruiting class, Cal's never had a team with so many holes as this year's young Cats.
As a UK alum, we're expecting hell for this prediction, but with bracketologist Joe Lunardi currently having the Blue and White playing in the dreaded 12-5 matchup in his current NCAA tourney projections, it's not far-fetched to think the lack of a point guard and understanding of Cal's expectations just didn't get through with this year's squad.
March: Indiana Defeats Michigan in National Championship
Reasoning: The Big Ten's the nation's best conference.
Why It Will Happen: Forget the fact both Michigan and IU could potentially play as many as four times (two regular season, one Big Ten tourney and one NCAA tourney), as a college basketball fan, we should actually all hope this happens!
Did IU show it's susceptible by its loss to Butler a couple weeks back? Maybe. But Butler's always tough, especially in a neutral site like Indy.
Does Michigan still have a lot to prove in a stacked Big Ten that boasts six teams currently ranked in the Top 25 (including five in the Top 12)? Obviously.
But thanks to their level of competition and mix of young and experience talent, we say the Hoosiers bring the trophy back to the Hoosier state.
April: Tiger Wins a Major
Reasoning: He has to win at least one more major in his career, why not be the Masters?
Why It Will Happen: Tiger was on the prowl once again this past season, and looks like he's finally getting that killer instinct back that he showed during his incredible years from 2000-06 (where he won 10 of his 14 majors).
Though he may never regain the form that frankly intimidated opponents when he showed up wearing red on a Sunday at August, he's still the No. 3-ranked player in the world, and he found himself in the hunt heading into the weekend in three of the four big boy tourneys this past year, with a third-place finish at the Open Championship being his best.
April: Geno Smith Is the No. 1 Overall Pick in the NFL Draft
Reasoning: It's a quarterback-driven league, and he's the best one coming out.
Why It Will Happen: If you've watched any Chiefs games this year, you know they aren't exactly the Patriots—though the franchise tried duplicating New England's success by hiring its former front office exec (GM Scott Pioli), a former coordinator (head coach Romeo Crennel) and traded for and signed its former backup quarterback (Matt Cassel).
Though the team hasn't announced anything regarding Crennel and Pioli yet, one would imagine a new regime will be brought in, and that usually means a new face of the franchise, more often than not being a quarterback.
May: David Beckham Retires
Reasoning: He wants to spend time with family.
Why It Will Happen: Becks will turn 38 next May 2, so what better way to announce he's hanging them up than by announcing it on his birthday, within a couple days of determining the two finalists for the Champions League title—which will be by May 1?
May: Barça Wins the Champions League
Reasoning: They are club soccer's most dominating and deep team.
Why It Will Happen: Go ahead and call us homers, but besides being a huge fan of the Spanish club, we'll give you some facts to back our testament.
One—and the most obvious—they have Lionel Messi. He's arguably soccer's best, leading the Spanish La Liga in goals, and currently sitting tied at No. 2 in the Champions League.
Two, the squad has lost one game this season. Yeah, that's a combined 20-2-1 (Wins-Draws-Losses) in La Liga and the Champions League.
And three, with the emotions of their manager Tito Vilanova having a relapse to his cancer just several weeks ago, the squad has reason to stay focused and "win one for the gipper" so to speak.
With so much world-class talent on the pitch, they're more than capable of staying focused, no matter how difficult the situation.
June: Kevin Durant Wins the NBA's MVP
Reasoning: Voters get sick of writing LeBron's name.
Why It Will Happen: Don't get us wrong, LeBron's having his ordinary unbelievable season.
But due to him winning the MVP in three of the past four years, he's gotten to the Michael Jordan point of his career, where voters will start to look at his numbers and actually appreciate them less because he's set the bar so high for himself.
Coming off a Finals loss to James' Heat, finding himself in the top three in PER and league scoring, while leading his team to one of the best records in the league will help Durantula capture his first league MVP honor.
June: A Team Other Than the Heat Wins the NBA Title
Reasoning: It takes everything to align for a team to repeat.
Why It Will Happen: The Heat may be the most talented team in the league. With a roster featuring regular All-Stars (and potentially Hall of Famers) James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, it's not much of a stretch to say that.
But for whatever reason, the one component that got them the title last year (defense), has taken a major step back this year.
With teams like the Thunder, Clippers and Knicks hungrier and talented as ever, and the Heat needing the best out of their role players (again) in the playoffs, it's tough for us to crown them back-to-back champs.
We're not saying they won't make it back to the title round for the third straight year—they very well could—we're saying they won't hoist the hardware.
July: Dwight Howard Signs Elsewhere
Reasoning: The Lakers don't bring him back.
Why It Will Happen: Though D12 is the preemptive big man in the league, he's also widely-considered one of the biggest headcases too.
With everything the Lakers have endured already this season—lack of depth, firing/hiring of head coaches, injuries and (gasp) falling behind the Clippers—our gut feeling is the Lakers actually make the call to spend money elsewhere next offseason (considering they even have any left), and try again without Dwight.
July: The Ravens Open Training Camp Without Ed Reed
Reasoning: He's fed up and worn out.
Why It Will Happen: Reed toyed with the idea this past offseason, and this upcoming year will unfortunately give us the end of one of the premier and versatile defensive backs to ever play on the gridiron.
Thanks to his contract expiring at season's end, along with some harsh penalties he's received over the course of the year for blows on opposing players, the all-world safety will walk away from the game for good, becoming the first of the key cogs on the Ravens vaunted D to call it quits.
August: Someone Not Old Enough to Drive Will Win Gold at the X Games
Reasoning: They've all got bigger balls than any of us.
Why It Will Happen: With action sports only expanding over the past 15-20 years thanks to regular weekend tours and the X Games, and after an insane amount of youngsters competed in last year's competition, look for the suddenly seasoned vets to put something together and take home a gold medal.
As guys like Bob Burnquist and Jamie Bestwick see kids that are young enough to be their own compete against them, one of these little guys will knock the old men off the pedestal next summer.
Ryan Sheckler is the current record holder as the youngest to win a gold—winning skateboard streetpark in 2003—but with so many kids competing at such a young age, it's bound to be broken.
August: Andy Murray Repeats as U.S. Open Champ
Reasoning: There's quietly a changing of the guard in tennis.
Why It Will Happen: Roger Federer may be one of the best players to ever hold a racquet in his hands, but now that he's 31, there's one thing he cares about: majors.
With Federer limiting himself to just a few tourneys, it's only natural the extra rest impacts his stamina when it comes time for a grueling, four-hour marathon match.
The other dominant player of the past decade, Rafa Nadal, hasn't been healthy since WImbledon last year, pulling out of the Olympics and U.S. Open.
Though Novak Djokovic is shares Murray's age of 25, we think the Brit will defend his title on U.S. soil, while also challenging hard for Wimbledon—much to the delight of the royal box.
September: Mark Sanchez and Mike Vick Are Starting Quarterbacks
Reasoning: Experience. Experience. Experience.
Why It Will Happen: Many think these two are on their last legs. And based off their 2012 struggles, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone say otherwise.
But as we've mentioned before, it's a quarterback-driven league, and Vick is a brand name that, for better or worse, will bring fans to the stadium.
It may not be in Philly (highly unlikely in fact), but as long as he's healthy, he'll get the nod as the leader of the huddle.
Same goes for Sanchez. Why?
Guys who take their team to consecutive conference championship games don't just grow on trees—if they did, us Browns fans would really like to pluck a couple—and though he hasn't developed into the franchise-leader many had hoped, he's still a viable option for many of the team's in the league.
September: A Top-10 College Football Team Will Get Upset in Week 1
Reasoning: We just have a weird feeling.
Why It Will Happen: Of all the predictions we've given on this list, this is the one that truly has no support other than the fact our gut says so.
While we haven't seen a major upset since the 2007 season when Appalachian State went into the Big House and beat the No. 5 Wolverines, we see the same type of thing happening to a team sitting in the Top 10 of next year's preseason rankings.
So teams sitting on this "way too early" Top 25, beware.
October: San Francisco Giants Repeat as World Series Champs
Reasoning: They return all their key guys.
Why It Will Happen: Last season's Giants team may not have been the best thing since sliced bread, but given the fact it was well-balanced between its pitching staff, lineup, bullpen and defense, we think it'll be celebrating on the pier once again next year.
When other teams made a big splash in free agency, the Giants stayed the course, took care of their own guys and those who meshed well with the other guys.
With no major subtractions from last year's team (excluding Melky Cabrera who didn't play in the '12 postseason because of his steroids suspension), and anticipating Lincecum gets back to being his old self, this team will be tough to knock off the mountain.
There hasn't been a back-to-back champ since the Yanks won three straight from 1998-2000, but look for it to happen again next October.
October: The NBA Season Kicks off with a Star Being Injured
Reasoning: Too much basketball, not enough rest.
Why It Will Happen: Between the grueling 82-game schedule, the intensity of the playoffs and all of the summer pickup games guys play these days, it's only a matter of time before one of these guys goes down with a major injury.
We never want to see a guy get hurt, but as D-Rose's injury proved last year, the most routine play can set your career back, and with more games comes more opportunities to bust an ankle or rip out a shoulder.
Rose's impact has been felt around the league as the Bulls went from last year's No. 1 seed in the East to barely a playoff team right now, and we think some unfortunate team will have the same fate before the tip of the ball next season too.
November: Albert Pujols Wins the AL MVP Award
Why It Will Happen: They might not be "Murderer's Row" from the 1927 Yankees (yet), but if their past seasons are any indication, Albert will have plenty of opportunities to pick his perfect pitch.
With the addition of Hamilton this past offseason paired with breakout rookie Mike Trout last year, there's going to be plenty of pitchers sweating and losing sleep over who to actually pitch to.
Though we'd typically give the nod to Trout as the beneficiary of all those pitches (assuming he hits in front of Big Al), Pujols is too good and selective of a hitter to pitch around, so No. 5 is who takes home the hardware this time next year thanks to being blanketed by these two All-Stars.
November: There Will Be an Undefeated NFL Team on Thanksgiving
Reasoning: It's happened four times in the past 10 seasons.
Why It Will Happen: Though we typically wouldn't take odds on most things at 40 percent, when it comes to undefeated teams by T-Day we're pretty certain it will happen.
In fact, looking at the stats, most last undefeated team's don't even lose until sometime in November, so there's a good chance they can hold out till the turkey and stuffing's on the table.
Assuming there's no major offseason moves or key injuries during next season, look for teams like the Broncos, Patriots, Packers and this year's last unbeaten team, the Falcons, to potentially carry an O-fer into Turkey Day.
December: Ohio State's Braxton Miller Wins the Heisman Trophy
Reasoning: His 2012 audition.
Why It Will Happen: Under his first season in Urban Meyer's spread offense, Miller became the all-everything quarterback the Bucks had expected him to be when the recruited the QB.
We're not so sure that people in Columbus thought he'd accomplish that in just his sophomore season though?
After leading the Buckeyes to an undefeated record, the team will undoubtedly return and sign a bunch of talented guys to challenge for a national title next year.
With team success comes individual recognition, which is why having another offseason and regular season with Meyer's playbook will only show off Miller's talents even more in 2013, subsequently earning him the 25-pound golden statue.
December: Jon Gruden Finally Decides to Return to Coaching
Reasoning: Chucky needs to be Chucky.
Why It Will Happen: Though Gruden's stated that he loves his job working with ESPN's Monday Night Football, that doesn't mean he's not a football coach at heart.
Want to know why Brett Favre or Michael Jordan could never stay away and went back on their retirement speeches? Because they love to compete and win.
Like those guys, Gruden will get an offer he just can't refuse to take him back to the sidelines.
Whether college or pros, he'll be given a fat salary and wide control of decisions that will appeal to the Super Bowl-winning coach.
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