100 Bold Predictions for the 2013 NFL Season

Bryn Swartz@eaglescentralSenior Writer IIISeptember 6, 2013

GREEN BAY, WI - AUGUST 09:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers participates in warm-ups before a game against the Arizona Cardinals at Lambeau Field on August 9, 2013 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

1. Top five breakout players from the 2011 draft class: Tyron Smith, Robert Quinn, Cameron Jordan, Andy Dalton, Brooks Reed.

2. Top five breakout players from the 2012 draft class: Morris Claiborne, Dre Kirkpatrick, Chandler Jones, David DeCastro, Harrison Smith.

3. Fourth-overall pick Lane Johnson sets a single-season record for offensive tackles by catching a pair of touchdown passes, the latest in Chip Kelly's new offense. 

4. Joe Flacco won't turn in a monster season. He'll have his usual year, which means he'll complete 60 percent of his passes for 3,800 yards, 25 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He won't play like a $25 million quarterback. But he really never has, other than four games last postseason.

5. People forget about Tim Tebow. No, seriously. They do. 

6. It'll be another annoying season for boom-or-bust running back Chris Johnson, despite the additions of Chance Warmack and Andy Levitre on the offensive line. Expect 1,300 yards and 4.5 yards per carry, as well as a couple of 180-yard games and a couple of 20-yard games. 

7. 5,000-yard passers: Drew Brees, Tony Romo, Matthew Stafford.

8. 4,000-yard passers: Drew Brees, Tony Romo, Matthew Stafford, Andrew Luck, Carson Palmer, Matt Ryan, Jay Cutler, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Ryan Tannehill, Eli Manning, Sam Bradford, Josh Freeman. Thirteen 4,000-yard quarterbacks? Yeah, that's a record. 

9. Adrian Peterson doesn't come close to his prediction of 2,500 rushing yards. He won't reach 2,000. He won't even reach 1,500. On par with his career average, expect around 1,400 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. Remember, 2012 was an incredible season and probably the best in history by a running back. But it's not on par with his career, and there's no reason to expect a repeat.

10. Luke Kuechly establishes himself as the second-best linebacker in the NFL, collecting 176 combined tackles, forcing four fumbles and scoring a pair of defensive touchdowns. 

11. Von Miller, even with a six-game suspension, is still the league's best linebacker. The third-year player collects 12 sacks, 43 hurries and six forced fumbles in just 10 games. 

12. "Greg the Leg" Zuerlein sets the NFL record by kicking a 65-yard field goal right before halftime in a game against the Seattle Seahawks. 

13. Danny Amendola plays in just nine games but nobody cares because Tom Brady doesn't need Danny Amendola to be an elite quarterback. Tom Brady makes receivers, not the other way around. 

14. Peyton Manning finally begins to decline. The 37-year-old still throws for 4,381 yards and 34 touchdowns. But he tosses 18 interceptions, his most since 2002, and (gasp) misses a game with a concussion. 

15. Eddie Lacy rushes for 1,200 yards on a solid 4.4 yards per carry. A solid rushing attack helps Rodgers throw for 4,400 yards, 41 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions. Or, in other words, just a typical season for Rodgers. 

16. Rex Ryan does not last the season. The Jets aren't quite as bad as most would have expected, but Ryan is relieved of his duties when the Jets are 5-8.

17. Cameron Wake spends most of the season challenging the single-season sack record but collects just one in the final four games to finish with 17 sacks, just behind Watt for the league lead. 

18. Marcell Dareus earns his first Pro Bowl selection, giving the 2011 draft class a ridiculous seven Pro Bowl selections with the first seven picks. Yes, Bill Barnwell. This is the best defensive draft class ever

19. Patrick Peterson continues his quest as this generation's Deion Sanders, collecting four interceptions (two for touchdowns), defensing 18 passes and returning a pair of punts for scores. He also catches 26 passes and scores four touchdowns on offense. Has any player ever scored multiple touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams in the same season? I don't think so. 

20. Sam Bradford finally takes the next step to becoming a legitimate NFL quarterback, throwing for 4,374 yards and 26 touchdowns. More importantly, he leads the Rams to 10 victories, including four in the fourth quarter. 

21. Ed Reed makes virtually no contribution in Houston, playing in just nine games and intercepting one pass. He retires two days after the end of the season. 

22. Playoffs included, Andy Dalton leads the NFL with seven game-winning touchdown drives in the fourth quarter.

23. Mike Wallace will be the biggest free-agent disappointment. How will Ryan Tannehill get the ball downfield when Jonathan Martin can't protect his blind side? Wallace will catch 44 passes for 613 yards and five scores. With the money they're paying him, he would need to double all three of those totals. 

24. Running backs who are in their last year as a starter: Frank Gore, Steven Jackson, Darren McFadden, Ryan Mathews, Rashard Mendenhall, DeAngelo Williams, Ahmad Bradshaw, Maurice Jones-Drew, Marshawn Lynch.

25. Jarvis Jones collects 8.5 sacks in his rookie season. Dion Jordan records 4.5. Ezekiel Ansah collects 2.

26. The Colts regress to the mean, as expected, but Andrew Luck takes another step to becoming the best quarterback in the game. He throws for 4,874 yards, 33 touchdowns and just 14 interceptions. But the criticism, whether valid or not, begins when he drops to 0-2 in the postseason. 

27. Arian Foster doesn't break down, but he's a far cry below the elite runner he was in 2010. He plays in 12 games, rushing for 954 yards and eight scores.

28. Wes Welker won't catch 100 passes. He'll have to settle for 93. 

29. Darrelle Revis reclaims his status as the best cornerback in the NFL, surrendering a 52.4 passer rating and intercepting five passes. 

30. But Richard Sherman is right on his tail. The third-year corner allows a 60.4 passer rating and intercepts four passes. 

31. Dez Bryant turns in the monster season that everyone is predicting. The fourth-year receiver catches 114 passes for 1,601 yards and 14 scores. But he won't even come close to the MVP. Sorry, Michael Irvin. 

32. Calvin Johnson is once again the league's most prolific receiver. He catches 113 passes for 1,655 yards and 16 scores. In doing so, he completes the best three-year stretch by any receiver in history.

33. Norv Turner works wonders on the Browns' offense, turning Brandon Weeden into a tremendous game manager (think Alex Smith over the last two years). Throw in one of the dangerous running backs in the game, a pair of solid receivers, a terrific offensive line and an underrated defense and you have a team on the rise. 

34. Gus Bradley works wonders on the Jaguars' defense. Their offense is a mess, but the (likely) addition of Jadeveon Clowney will make this one of the best defenses in the NFL. 

35. Chip Kelly's offense succeeds, at least in year one. Michael Vick plays well, the running game is dominant and the Eagles score 363 points. When you remember that they scored 280 last year, that's a significant improvement. 

36. London Fletcher finally starts to decline, missing eight games with an injury. Following the end of the season, the 38-year-old announces that he will return for one more season in a very underrated career.

37. No 60-year-old first-time coach has ever won more than six games in a season. Bruce Arians and the Cardinals continue that trend... for now. 

38. Vernon Davis finally turns in the breakout season that everybody seems to think he's already had. The former top-10 pick catches 83 passes for 1,116 yards and nine scores. He's the leading receiver on the Niners by more than 40 yards. 

39. Andy Lee breaks Sammy Baugh's 73-year-old record for highest single-season punting average. Lee averages 51.8 yards per punt. 

40. RGIII will be perfectly fine following his offseason knee reconstruction. He'll play in 15 games (concussion), throw for 24 touchdowns and eight picks, and add 515 yards and six scores on the ground. 

41. Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick will both take a slight step back this season. They'll still have excellent seasons but expect about 15 turnovers and a mid-90s passer rating for each. There's nothing wrong with that, people. 

42. Chris Long and Robert Quinn combine for 31 sacks: 17 by Long and 14 by Quinn. 

43. Alex Smith doesn't play as well as he did in 2011 and 2012. But Andy Reid tailors the West Coast offense to suit Smith's skills, and the former No. 1-overall pick throws for 23 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. 

44. Christian Ponder does nothing to suggest that he is a franchise quarterback. Neither does Jake Locker. 

45. The Oakland Raiders clinch the No. 1-overall pick and announce their intentions to draft Teddy Bridgewater. This is a pick so simple that even the Raiders can't screw it up. 

46. Michael Vick actually plays well in Chip Kelly's offense, at least for 11 games, before he suffers a season-ending broken leg. The Eagles do not re-sign him after the season, and another quarterback competition dominates training camp in 2014, this one between Nick Foles and Matt Barkley.

47. Minnesota Vikings second-year safety Harrison Smith will lead the NFL with nine interceptions. 

48. Who needs Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez when you have Kenbrell Thompkins and Zach Sudfeld? Tom Brady will throw for "only" 3,623 yards and 27 touchdowns, but he'll protect the ball to the extent of just six interceptions, the third time in four seasons he's led the league in interception percentage.

49. New Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman served as the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator in Oakland, where he turned veteran journeyman Rich Gannon into the league MVP in 2002. Expect Jay Cutler to turn in the best year of his somewhat-disappointing career.

50. The Baltimore Ravens are perfectly fine without Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. They have Arthur Brown and Matt Elam. Neither of those players is in his mid-30s. Both will have solid careers. 

51. Thirty-year-old Charlie Garner caught 91 passes in Trestman's offense in 2002. What will the new head coach do with Matt Forte? Let's go with 101 receptions to go with 1,218 yards on the ground. Only LaDainian Tomlinson (2003) has rushed for 1,000 yards to go with 100 catches.

52. The defensive lines for the Cincinnati Bengals and St. Louis Rams are as feared as any positional group in the NFL. 

53. The Giants will not start 5-2 for the ninth straight season. But they will collapse late, again, and it will cost the 67-year-old Coughlin his job. 

54. The Atlanta Falcons will not make the playoffs. That's what happens when you replace one 30-year-old running back with another 30-year-old running back, you lose Tyson Clabo and John Abraham and you count on rookies in the secondary. 

55. Trent Richardson just beats out C.J. Spiller for the rushing title. Richardson carries for 1,764 yards and 12 touchdowns, while Spiller collects 1,681 yards and 15 touchdowns. 

56. How's this for an encore for J.J. Watt? The third-year defensive end collects 17.5 sacks, a ridiculous 61 hurries and 13 batted passes. He also forces five fumbles and scores two touchdowns, one on each side of the ball. The 24-year-old collects his second straight Defensive Player of the Year award. Deacon Jones would be proud. 

57. Sean Payton and Drew Brees wreak havoc on the world. Despite a disastrous defense (which would be a typical coaching performance from Rob Ryan), the Saints win 10 games. Brees collects a league MVP to add to his resume. All he does is complete 434 of 641 passes for 5,364 yards, 45 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. That's a 106.3 passer rating. (Sound impossible? Check out what he did in 2011. And every year since 2008, for that matter.)

58. Blair Walsh's ridiculous rookie season, arguably the best in history by a kicker? A fluke. The second-year kicker connects on 5 of 10 field goals from above 50 yards and misses eight in all. 

59. Rob Ryan's streak of eight straight non-winning seasons as a defensive coordinator ends. It's not because of anything he does though, as the Saints still surrender over 400 points. It's Payton and Brees who lead the team back into the postseason. 

60. Carson Palmer is not successful in Arizona. He has no offensive line and a weak running game. Yes, he'll establish terrific chemistry with Larry Fitzgerald. I also wouldn't be surprised to see him push for 5,000 yards. (Totally serious.) But passing yards don't equal success. The Cardinals are going to spend most games trailing. They'll easily finish in last place. 

61. Rookie Kenny Stills gives the Saints a trio of 1,000-yard receivers, joining veteran Marques Colston and the game's best tight end, Jimmy Graham.

62. The injury bug finally catches up to Cam Newton, as a high ankle sprain sidelines the third-year player for six games. Ron Rivera is fired following the season. 

63. This will be the final season for Matt Schaub in Houston, as he is released following a third straight divisional playoff loss. 

64. But Josh Freeman saves his job, throwing for 4,307 yards and 31 touchdowns. His 17 interceptions suggest room for improvement, but it's enough for the Buccaneers to lock up the fifth-year veteran with the franchise tag. The pressure is still on in 2014.

65. By Week 4, it's evident that the Jaguars will be using their first-round draft pick in 2014 on a quarterback. Blaine Gabbert is benched for journeyman Chad Henne, who is benched for Ricky Stanzi, who is benched for previously retired Mark Brunell (kidding).

66. The Oakland Raiders are as bad as advertised. They manage to win two games, but their minus-286 point differential suggests one of the worst teams in the modern era. 

67. Top five fantasy QBs: Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick. 

68. Top five fantasy RBs: Matt Forte, LeSean McCoy, Trent Richardson, Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson.

69. Top five fantasy WRs: Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant, Larry Fitzgerald, Randall Cobb, A.J. Green.

70. Top five fantasy TEs: Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, Vernon Davis, Jason Witten, Martellus Bennett. 

71. Top five fantasy defenses: Seattle, Cincinnati, Baltimore, San Francisco, St. Louis. 

72. Head coaches fired: Rex Ryan, Ron Rivera, Jason Garrett, Jim Schwartz, Tom Coughlin, Mike Munchak

73. Most Valuable Player (top five): Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning

74. Offensive Player of the Year (top five): Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning (Why should the Offensive Player of the Year be any different from the MVP? I don't understand this. It's not rocket science, people. If Brees is the MVP, he is CLEARLY the best offensive player.)

75. Defensive Player of the Year (top five): J.J. Watt, Luke Kuechly, Cameron Wake, Darrelle Revis, Von Miller

76. Offensive Rookie of the Year (top three): Giovani Bernard, Eddie Lacy, E.J. Manuel

77. Defensive Rookie of the Year (top three): Jonathan Cyprien, Damontre Moore, Alec Ogletree

78. Comeback Player of the Year (top five): Darrelle Revis, Robert Griffin III, LeSean McCoy, Jason Peters, Terrell Suggs

79. Coach of the Year (top five): Marc Trestman, Rob Chudzinski, Bill Belichick, Jim Harbaugh, Sean Payton (You could give the award to Belichick every year and you would never be wrong.)

80. All-Pro First Team offense: Drew Brees (quarterback), Trent Richardson (running back), Vonta Leach (fullback), Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant (wide receivers), Jimmy Graham (tight end), Duane Brown, Jason Peters (offensive tackles), Evan Mathis, David DeCastro (offensive guards ), Mike Pouncey (center)

81. All-Pro First Team defense: J.J. Watt, Cameron Wake (defensive ends), Geno Atkins, Ndamukong Suh (defensive tackles), Von Miller, Justin Houston (outside linebackers), Luke Kuechly, Sean Lee (inside linebackers), Darrelle Revis, Patrick Peterson (cornerbacks), Earl Thomas, Harrison Smith (safeties)

82. AFC North: Cincinnati Bengals 10-6, Baltimore Ravens 10-6, Cleveland Browns 8-8, Pittsburgh Steelers 8-8

83. AFC West: Denver Broncos 11-5, San Diego Chargers 6-10, Kansas City Chiefs 6-10, Oakland Raiders 2-14

84. AFC East: New England Patriots 13-3, Miami Dolphins 7-9, New York Jets 6-10, Buffalo Bills 5-11

85. AFC South: Houston Texans 10-6, Indianapolis Colts 8-8, Tennessee Titans 5-11, Jacksonville Jaguars 4-12

86. NFC North: Green Bay Packers 12-4, Chicago Bears 10-6, Detroit Lions 7-9, Minnesota Vikings 5-11

87. NFC West: San Francisco 49ers 12-4, Seattle Seahawks 11-5, St. Louis Rams 10-6, Arizona Cardinals 5-11

88. NFC East: Washington Redskins 10-6, New York Giants 9-7, Dallas Cowboys 8-8, Philadelphia Eagles 6-10

89. NFC South: New Orleans Saints 10-6, Atlanta Falcons 9-7, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7-9, Carolina Panthers 6-10

90. AFC playoff seeds: 1 New England, 2 Denver, 3 Houston, 4 Cincinnati, 5 Baltimore, 6 Indianapolis

91. NFC playoff seeds: 1 Green Bay, 2 San Francisco, 3 New Orleans, 4 Washington, 5 Seattle, 6 Chicago

92. AFC Wild Card Round: Houston > Indianapolis, Cincinnati > Baltimore

93. NFC Wild Card Round: Chicago > New Orleans, Seattle > Washington

94. AFC divisional round: Cincinnati > New England, Denver > Houston

95. NFC divisional round: Green Bay > Chicago, Seattle > San Francisco

96. AFC Championship Game: Cincinnati > Denver

97. NFC Championship Game: Green Bay > Seattle

98. Super Bowl XLVIII: Green Bay > Cincinnati

99. Super Bowl MVP: Aaron Rodgers

100. This is the seventh straight Super Bowl to come down to the final minute. Andy Dalton hits A.J. Green for a go-ahead touchdown with just over three minutes remaining. But Rodgers engineers a brilliant drive, hitting Randall Cobb four times, including the game-winning score with eight seconds remaining. 


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