My Top Five Bold NFL Predictions
At last we have football! Time for bells to ring, fans to cheer, and predictions to ensue. I know it may be a little late for this one but as they say, "better late than never" as I will now give my top five bold NFL predictions for the rest of this 2015 NFL season. Now without further adieu here we go.
5) T.J Yeldon Will Have The Best Season Of All Rookie Running Backs
Starting off with an interesting one here. You can go ahead and call me crazy but hear me out here. Jacksonville is an up and coming team with rising talent on the offensive line. Think of Yeldon as a long lost cousin of former Jaguar Maurice-Jones-Drew. He's a quick back that can squeeze into the smallest of gaps. He's proven his versatility by catching balls out of the backfield and is amazing in the open field. The Jags have slowly built up that offensive line and while it may not be perfect by any means, guys like Luke Joeckel create gaps just wide enough for the slippery Yeldon.
It's not like the Jags are looking to become the next great passing attack any time soon. Their big off-season pick up in Julius Thomas was brought in to help revamp the passing attack only to be set back with injury. Their wide receiver situation seems all but doomed, as they let go of their best passing threat (Cecil Shorts) and still haven't rid themselves of the cursed Justin Blackmon so they are pretty much limited to a heavy run offense.
4.) James Jones Will Become Green Bay's Number One Receiver
Despite the fact that the Packers have notified James Jones that he will have to play behind the likes of Randell Cobb and Davante Adams, Jones will have the better season of any Packers receivers. If you truly think about it this statement isn't as crazy as it sounds. After just one game back with the Packers, Jones came away with 51 yards and two touchdowns on only four targets.
What more could you ask for from a receiver who came on just before the season started? Jones is a receiver with good size and a good knowledge of the Green Bay offense. Plus, the trust between Jones and Aaron Rodgers is something that Adams just doesn't have. While Jones won't put up Nelson like numbers, he is the best substitute for the void left by Jordy.
3.) Cincinnati Will Make The Playoffs And Will Actually Win!
Over the past three years I have been a major anti-Andy Dalton fan and I have been quite vocal about it. It's not like I've been hating on the prodigal son of the NFL, that's hardly the case, but over the past three years I've viewed Dalton as the new aged Tony Romo. Just like the choke artist Romo had been through three years, Andy Dalton has been doing the same when it counts the most. Can you really blame me on this one? After four straight playoff appearances that yielded a 0-4 record with six interceptions compared to only one touchdown along with 55.7% playoff completion percentage, I'd say it's not an out of the box comment.
I have a feeling that this year will be different from years past. This isn't the false hope that has blindly led Bengals fans to four straight post season disappointments, instead it's the feeling that Dalton will finally live up to his potential. I'm not stamping the Bengals as Super Bowl champs, I'm simply stating that Dalton and the Bengals will end the four year drought and win a playoff game. Just like my Uncle used to say, even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while.
2.) Calvin Johnson Will Have An Un-Mega-tron-Like Season
This has nothing to do with Calvin Johnson's ability as a dominating receiver. This prediction has more to do with unfortunate circumstance than anything else. Johnson's ascension to greatness has actually started to turn against him. All-star receivers will undoubtedly garner more attention than the rest of the field which will result in forced throws by the quarterbacks. When you combine that with Matt Stafford's gunslinger mentality at times negative results can peruse.
Over the past two seasons Stafford has a 57% completion percentage, 20 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions when throwing to Johnson. Taking a look at the rest of Detroit's receiving core reveals Stafford's completion percentage to be at 60% with 31 touchdowns and just 18 interceptions. That's definitely forcing the ball to your best target. Now with the improved receiving core around Johnson, Stafford will be less inclined to force the ball to Mega-tron and more inclined to spread the production
1.) The Oakland Raiders Will Do No Worse Than A One Under .500 Record
Here's the granddaddy of all my bold predictions. You can call me crazy on this one, call me insane, whatever suits your fancy, but I truly believe that this will be the big improvement year for the Raiders. I'm not saying they're playoff bound by any means, I'm saying they will finally take that elusive right step towards improvement. I believe that despite only drafting two offensive linemen in the first two rounds of the previous ten drafts the Raiders will overcome their biggest issue to a slight degree and have an improved season.
They finally have a non-bust, worth while quarterback that can lead them to multiple victories. Then when you add in the fact that Oakland has a pretty substantial secondary and improved overall defense, the Raiders will no longer be the easy team to beat. Last year we saw flashes of what the Raiders are capable of becoming, this year I believe those flashes will start to become more consistent and Oakland will slowly make its way back to dominance.