Training camps have opened up and fans have started filing into see their favorite players pass, catch and sprint. The regular season is drawing near and it is never too soon to speculate on what will unfold. Here are some bold predictions for you to debate.
Not all players, however, have graced their respective teams with their presence as they hold out for a bigger and longer contract. One such player is Jacksonville’s running back Maurice Jones-Drew. MJD led the league in rushing last season and is the main component of the Jaguars’ offense. He has two years and $9.4 million left on his current contract, but isn’t reporting to camp in hopes to get an extension. Neither side is talking right now, so here is the big question: How many games would the Jaguars win without MJD in 2012?
Prediction: The AFC South isn’t as strong as it was a few years ago, so I think the Jags can beat the Colts at least once. Without Jones-Drew leading the charge winning a game will be extremely difficult. Look for Jacksonville to go 1-15 this season – if Jones-Drew sits out.
Maurice Jones-Drew and the Jaguars aren’t talking about a contract extension. Without MJD the Jags would be hard pressed to be competitive in 2012.
It seems like professional athletes can’t stay out of the spotlight for the wrong reasons. In the NFL many players have had off-field issues this offseason. Four players for the Lions have been arrested seven times, which has led to the release of Aaron Berry by the team and coach Jim Schwartz to warn his players about their conduct. With training camps start up coaches are hoping players can stay out of trouble. But the truth of the matter is the media knows when players get into trouble and it always makes news. So with the regular season on the horizon, how many athletes in the NFL will face troubles off the field?
Prediction: Let’s make this one an over/under of 32. That’s one per team. It is almost a given that there will be more than 32 arrests or charges in the NFL this season.
There has been a lot of talk recently of the Patriots running the table during the regular season for a perfect 16-0 record. While they are one of two teams to complete such a feat, I don’t think winning all the regular season games is at the top of New England’s priority list. They know firsthand that winning every game doesn’t get them a Super Bowl ring. That is the reason they play all the games. Putting all the effort in the regular season and not bringing home a championship hurts. The Patriots will be hungry but will they enter the postseason with a flawless record and as the No. 1 seed in the AFC?
Prediction: Yes and no. They will likely be the top seed in the AFC as they have a very favorable schedule. But in terms of winning all of those games, I don’t see it happening. Bill Belichick has gone through this once before – dealing with all the media and hype about holding the same record as the 1972 Miami Dolphins. But the bottom line is I don’t think he cares about that record. Belichick wants to add another championship ring and cement his legacy as one of the best coaches in NFL history. I see the Patriots going either 14-2 or 15-1, and vying for another Super Bowl win in the Belichick-Tom Brady era.
It seems like every season there is one team that starts the year off hot and one that struggles out of the gate. At times the team that struggles is one that has high hopes. Here are the two teams that I believe will shock fans during the first half of the season.
Prediction: The Miami Dolphins made Ryan Tannehill the eighth pick in this year’s draft, hoping they have struck gold on a franchise quarterback. But with two veteran quarterbacks on the roster (David Garrard and Matt Moore) Tannehill will likely serve as the third stringer to start the season. Miami wants to be at the top of the AFC East, but I don’t see them earning their first win until Week 9 against the Colts. I’m not saying they won’t be competitive but I don’t think they’ll be a letdown being 1-7 entering the second half of the year.
Prediction: Now for the team that should get off to a fast start. The ‘self-proclaimed Dream Team’ last year – the Eagles – has a schedule that could get them to 8-0 entering Week 10 versus Dallas. Philadelphia does have some tough matchups in the first half, but they are all winnable games. Coach Andy Reid has come close to the Promised Land a few times in his career, but if the Eagles don’t get off on the right foot Reid will be on the hot seat.
The NFL has some new coaches in the fold this season, and I guarantee there will be a few on the hot seat if their respective teams don’t win in the first half of the year. But there is one coach that always seems to make headlines with either a hot start or sluggish start. There is also a coach that is probably already on the hot seat because of his team’s offseason issues. So of the 32 teams, I believe two coaches should be worried about their jobs already.
Norv Turner is still coaching in San Diego, but should be looking over his shoulder if the Chargers start off slow again.
Prediction: Jim Schwartz of the Lions has to get his team on the same page after an offseason filled with turmoil. Even though Detroit made it to the playoffs last year, the Lions have a lot of problems that need to be fixed. If Schwartz can’t do it look for management to clean house. The second coach that needs to win right out of the game is Norv Turner. He’s been criticized for not winning it all with a team filled with Pro Bowlers. It was speculated that Turner wouldn’t make it through the offseason, but he is still the coach: for now. The Chargers can’t seem to put a full season together as they either start off slow or stall out at the end of the year. If San Diego gets off on the wrong foot look for Turner to be shipped out.
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