The NFL, known for its thrilling unpredictability, draws fans and pundits into the world of bold predictions every year. In the spirit of this tradition, we offer eight scenarios, ranging from breakout performances to unprecedented feats, that might (or might not!) unfold during the upcoming NFL season:
- AFC East: Bills Break Defensive TD Record
While the Bills’ offense, led by Josh Allen, often steals the spotlight, their defense is a force to reckon with. With all defensive units ranking in the top 10, Buffalo’s defense aims to surpass last year’s 27 takeaways and challenge the 1998 Seahawks’ record of 10 defensive scores. Coach Sean McDermott takes charge of defensive play-calling, focusing on disrupting passes, forcing fumbles, and converting turnovers into points.
- AFC North: T.J. Watt Claims MVP
T.J. Watt, the Steelers’ defensive powerhouse, could break the mold by winning the MVP award typically dominated by quarterbacks. Watt’s remarkable 2021 season with 22.5 sacks positions him as a strong contender. New metrics emphasizing defensive play may make this dream a reality, as sacks, forced fumbles, and interceptions significantly impact games.
- AFC South: Calvin Ridley Tops Receiving Yards
After a tumultuous period, Calvin Ridley joins the Jaguars and establishes himself as a key target for quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Ridley’s chemistry with Lawrence and favorable matchups against below-average secondaries could propel him to lead the league in receiving yards.
- AFC West: Justin Herbert Sets Passing TD Record
Justin Herbert aims to break Peyton Manning’s single-season passing touchdown record of 55. With a healthy supporting cast, including Mike Williams, Keenan Allen, and newcomer Quentin Johnston, and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore’s downfield passing approach, Herbert has a shot at the record.
- NFC East: Tony Pollard Leads in TDs
Tony Pollard becomes the undisputed starter for the Cowboys after Ezekiel Elliott’s departure. With increased opportunities, Pollard has the potential to score 15 or more touchdowns, possibly tying or leading the league.
- NFC North: Jahmyr Gibbs Leads in Rushing Yards
The Lions’ running game, revitalized in 2022, could see Jahmyr Gibbs take the lead in rushing yards. With a strong offensive line and the potential for increased carries, Gibbs could follow the footsteps of Elliott and James as a rookie rushing leader.
- NFC South: Falcons Rise from Worst to First
The Falcons, coming off a 7-10 season, have revamped their defense and made significant signings. The key to their resurgence lies in the performance of quarterback Desmond Ridder. With a weakened division, a strong showing from Ridder could see the Falcons make a remarkable turnaround.
- NFC West: 49ers Miss the Playoffs
Despite their recent NFC championship appearances and elite defense, the 49ers face uncertainty at quarterback. With Brock Purdy and Sam Darnold as the leading options, the 49ers need a dependable starter to secure a playoff spot, especially with competition from the Seahawks in the NFC West.
The NFL season promises surprises, and while some of these predictions may seem far-fetched, the beauty of the sport lies in its ability to confound expectations. As fans eagerly await the season’s kickoff, these scenarios serve as tantalizing possibilities in the ever-evolving landscape of professional football.