16 Bold Predictions for the 2016 NFL Season (#4 through #1)

Photo Credit: SB Nation (featured image), ESPN (team logos)

4. DAL Ezekiel Elliott will lead the NFL in rushing yards.

  • The rookie out of Ohio State was the highest running back selected in the NFL draft since 2012 this past April, and his stellar play throughout his career at Ohio State showed why the Cowboys spent the 4th overall pick of this year’s draft on him. Not all running backs can translate what they did in college to the NFL and play on a professional level right away, but I am convinced that Elliott will be able to do so given the fact that he is the starting running back behind the best offensive line in the NFL, and one that played a key role in helping DeMarco Murray lead the NFL in rushing yards just two seasons ago.

3. WAS Kirk Cousins will lead the NFL with over 5,000 passing yards.

  • Cousins had a breakout season last year, throwing for over 4,100 yards, and that was without a wide receiver or tight end who totaled over 1,000 receiving yards.  With the addition of rookie wide receiver Josh Doctson to the Washington Redskins’ receiving corps that contains rising star Jamison Crowder, star tight end Jordan Reed, and NFL veterans DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon looking to rebound from subpar seasons last year, Cousins should be able to improve this offense as a whole, thus improving his passing numbers.

2. PIT ATL Both Antonio Brown and Julio Jones will both break the single season receptions record set by Marvin Harrison in the 2002 season and the single season receiving yards record set by Calvin Johnson in the 2012 season.

  • Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons are both the go-to wide receivers in offenses that lack a proven number 2 target. They may draw more double teams because of this, but these two guys are consistently among the best wide receivers in the NFL, so more targets for them can only mean more receptions despite the coverages defenses give them. Both players finished last season tied for the league lead in receptions with 136, which is only 7 receptions shy of Marvin Harrison’s record of 143, and both players finished last season within only 130 receiving yards of Calvin Johnson’s record of 1,964.

1. JAC The Jacksonville Jaguars’ defense will be the best defense in the NFL in multiple major statistical defensive categories.

  • The Jaguars had an extremely productive offseason, one in which they added former Denver Broncos’ defensive tackle Malik Jackson in free agency, former Florida State Seminoles’ cornerback Jalen Ramsey with the 5th overall pick in the NFL draft, and former UCLA Bruins’ linebacker Myles Jack, a projected top 5 pick, in the 2nd round of the NFL draft. Don’t forget they should have Dante Fowler, the former Florida Gator who was the 3rd overall pick from the 2015 NFL draft, back after his ACL injury kept him sidelined all of last season. These four players add to a defense that already contains Paul Posluszny, a linebacker who has never finished a full NFL season with under 110 tackles, and rising star linebacker Telvin Smith, who has already recorded 232 tackles after only 2 season in the NFL.

 

-Asher Fair

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