16 Bold Predictions for the 2016 NFL Season (#8 through #5)

Photo Credit: Today’s Pigskin (featured image), ESPN (team logos)

8. IND HOUJAC  The AFC South will have three of its teams in the postseason.

  • Even though the AFC South was arguably the worst in the NFL last season, this season’s AFC South looks like it could erupt as a divisional powerhouse. With Andrew Luck back and healthy as the quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts, Brock Osweiler and Lamar Miller as upgrades to the Houston Texans’ offense at quarterback and running back, respectively, and a Jacksonville Jaguars team loaded at potential on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, do not overlook the AFC South as the potential division of one if not both AFC Wild Card teams this season.

7. CLE The Cleveland Browns will finish the season with a single digit loss total.

  • On paper, the Browns really are not as bad as they look. Robert Griffin III, who was one of the best running quarterbacks in the NFL back in 2012 when he won the Rookie of the Year award as a member of the Washington Redskins, seeks a career revival in Cleveland, and he has plenty of weapons to do it with. The Browns have two running backs at their disposal that can also catch the ball in Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell, and they also have receivers Josh Gordon, who led the NFL in receiving yards in 2013, and Corey Coleman, who was the first receiver drafted in this year’s NFL draft. If their defense steps up like they were supposed to last season, the Browns may not be all that bad.

6. NEThe New England Patriots will fail to make their first postseason since the 2008 season.

  • The last time the Patriots failed to make the playoffs was because future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady missed 15 games due to a torn ACL. This season, Brady will open the season on the bench for the first four games due to a suspension, and future Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski will join him for at least one of those games. Many people think Brady’s suspension will only motivate him to come and clobber every team that the Patriots face, but I think it is the beginning of the end of the Brady-Belichick dynasty in Foxborough. Brady is now 39 years old, and we saw the huge drop-off in skill that legendary quarterback Peyton Manning suffered once he hit that age.

5. ATL Matt Ryan will continue to make history by becoming just the 2nd quarterback in NFL history to throw for 4,500 or more yards in five or more consecutive seasons.

  • Matt Ryan is never in the discussion as being an elite quarterback, but as we speak, he is one of only two quarterbacks in NFL history to have thrown for 4,500 or more passing yards in four or more consecutive seasons. The other is New Orleans’ Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who has done so for the past six seasons. This is something that legends like Joe Montana, Troy Aikman, Dan Marino, Tom Brady, and Peyton Manning cannot say that they have done. Despite the Atlanta Falcons’ overall outlook on the season being a mediocre one, Ryan will again work his relatively unnoticed and underappreciated passing magic and extend his amazing and historical active streak with a young receiving corps led by Julio Jones and a fantastic pass catching running back in Devonta Freeman at his disposal.

 

-Asher Fair