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1. The Cleveland Browns will actually be decent.
The Browns had a very underrated offseason. They were very quiet in free agency, but one pick that I really liked was the Kevin Zeitler signing. I’m a sucker for Wisconsin linemen, and adding another Badger to the Browns offensive line will be a big help. Where the Browns made a big splash was the draft. With 4 of the first 64 picks in the draft, Cleveland drafted Myles Garrett (DE, Texas A&M, 1st Overall), Jabrill Peppers (S, Michigan, 25th Overall), David Njoku (TE, Miami FL, 28th Overall), and Deshone Kizer (QB, Notre Dame, 52nd Overall). I really like a lot of these picks, especially Kizer, who I believe was the third best quarterback in this draft, third only to Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes, who went 10th Overall to Kansas City and 12th Overall to Houston, repectively. I expect all 4 of these rookies to have a big impact on the Browns, and I can definitely seeing them winning at least 6 or 7 games if this team plays as good as it looks on paper. Give it a few years and, dare I say, the Cleveland Browns could actually become a playoff contender.
2. The Patriots will lead the NFL in scoring
Let’s take a quick look at this offense:
QB: Tom Brady
RB: Mike Gillislee, James White, Dion Lewis
WR: Brandin Cooks, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, Danny Amendola
TE: Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen
I promise, this has nothing to do with my pro-Patriots bias. I legitimately think that this Patriots offense can easily average at least 30 Points per game (See my Overview of the Patriots’ Offense ). Following a 2016 season where the Patriots averaged 27.6 Points Per Game, and an offseason with the acquisition of key offensive players such as Brandin Cooks, Dwayne Allen, and Mike Gillislee, I don’t see a reason why this team couldn’t average 30 points per game. While this entire Patriots team is very solid, this offense is terrifying.
3. Dak and Zeke won’t match their 2016 numbers
Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot will not match their 2016 numbers, but they will still put up solid numbers. It will be difficult for the pair to match their rookie seasons, and with the NFC East vastly improving, I don’t see the Cowboys having the same season as before, but they will still win the NFC East.
Dak and Zeke had an incredible rookie campaign together, but I expect the numbers to regress a bit just because the division has improved a good deal.
4. NFL Honors- Watson, Garrett win ROY Honors
It is way too early to make any of these predictions, but that’s why this is an article about bold predictions, right?
Most Valuable Player/Offensive Player of the Year: Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
The Greatest of all Time has a career season with one of the top offenses in the NFL, need I say more?
Also possible candidates: Aaron Rodgers, Ezekiel Elliot, Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Antonio Brown
Defensive Player of the Year: Landon Collins, SS, New York Giants
Collins is an integral part of one of the best up and coming secondaries in the NFL. I expect 2017 to be his best season yet, and he will become one of the best defensive backs in the NFL, culminating in him being named Defensive Player of the Year.
Also possible candidates: Von Miller, Khalil Mack, JJ Watt, Deion Jones, Joey Bosa
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans
Deshaun Watson was put in a good situation with Houston. All the pieces in the offense were there, but all that was lacking was a good quarterback. Watson was a solid quarterback in college, and with some weapons at his disposal in Houston, he will be dangerous as a rookie.
Also possible candidates: Patrick Mahomes II, Leonard Fournette, Corey Davis
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Myles Garrett, DE, Cleveland Browns
Being the first overall draft pick, Garrett has a lot of hype and a lot of expectations. He was a dominant pass rusher at Texas A&M, and he should put up big numbers in his NFL career. If he doesn’t miss a step after college, he will be a solid rookie pass rusher.
Also possible candidates: Soloman Thomas, Malik Hooker, Reuben Foster
Comeback Player of the Year: JJ Watt, DE, Houston Texans
Some time ago, JJ Watt was without a doubt, the best player in the NFL. Now, he is still among the best and is for sure one of the top defensive players of all time. Early in 2016, Watt aggravated his back shortly after coming back from surgery for a hernia earlier in the year. If he returns to his former self after a disappointing 2016, he should be a clear winner for this award.
Also possible candidates: Rob Gronkowski, Adrian Peterson, Keenan Allen
Coach of the Year: Bill Belichick, New England Patriots
The greatest head coach of all time, with one of the best teams in the NFL. If he can continue the Patriots’ dominance in 2017, he is an easy candidate for coach of the year. Although, this award can go to just about any coach and I can see a number of coaches winning this, especially a coach of a team that improves drastically in 2017.
Also possible candidates: Jack Del Rio (Oakland), Dan Quinn (Atlanta), Dirk Koetter (Tampa Bay), Jason Garrett (Dallas)
5. Brady wins his sixth
I swear, I’m not trying to seem like I’m basing this on bias. With the additions of many key players such as Brandin Cooks, Stephon Gilmore, and Mike Gillislee, the Patriots are already favorites to win the Super Bowl. It seems a given that Brady will win the AFC East, and make it to the AFC Championship without much of an issue. With the team that has been built for Brady and company, I see no reason that the Patriots won’t repeat.
What are your predictions for the 2017 season? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @Ian_Cusick