The 2020 NFL season is almost here and this year with the NFL Kickoff Game just around the corner as we get set to begin another year of football. While this season will certainly feel different for fans and players, we’re expecting some wild things to happen that will make it entertaining.
We saw plenty of changes this offseason that will surely impact the NFL standings and how the upcoming season plays out. From Tom Brady leaving the New England Patriots for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the big changes made by the Dallas Cowboys, big moves defined an unforgettable offseason.
Of course, the Kansas City Chiefs will head into this season as the favorites to win Super Bowl LV and could become the NFL’s next dynasty. But every NFL season is unpredictable, just as we saw in 2019 when Lamar Jackson won NFL MVP unanimously and the San Francisco 49ers made it to the Super Bowl. As a result, we’re expecting plenty of surprises this year.
Let’s take a look at our bold predictions for the 2020 NFL season.
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Joe Burrow shatters NFL records in rookie season
We’ve been fortunate to witness some incredible performances by rookie quarterbacks in recent years. In the past decade alone, we saw Andrew Luck set the single-season rookie record for passing yards (4,374) and Baker Mayfield set the mark for most passing touchdowns by a rookie. Even this past season, Daniel Jones became just the third rookie quarterback in NFL history to have three games with four-plus touchdowns. Seeing one of those historic marks taken down is impressive, Burrow might do both.
Cincinnati’s offense will be one of the biggest surprises this season. The receiving corps of A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, John Ross III and Tee Higgins is an outstanding group, with Pro Bowl talent and complementary players. Meanwhile, Joe Mixon is one of the NFL’s best all-purpose backs and will look to prove it in a contract year. Cincinnati’s offensive line could also be significantly better than it was in 2019. Even without the benefit of preseason games, Burrow is walking into a great system with even better surrounding talent. We wouldn’t be surprised if Burrow finishes with 30-plus touchdowns and 4,500 passing yards when his rookie year ends.
Green Bay Packers miss the playoffs
It’s hard to believe a team that made it to the NFC Championship Game with a future Hall of Famer at quarterback dedicated their 2020 draft class to preparing for the future. Green Bay’s Super Bowl window was still open, especially if they added impact talent at linebacker and receiver. Instead, the Packers traded up to spend a first-round pick on a third-string quarterback and used their second-round pick on a No. 3 running back.
A team that failed to improve this offseason is coming off a 13-3 record, that includes an 8-1 mark in one-score games. Regression is inevitable, especially with Aaron Rodgers in visible decline and this defense unlikely to stay healthy over a full season. The Detroit Lions got Matthew Stafford back and Green Bay’s 2020 schedule will be much tougher than what they faced in 2019. With the improvements their rivals made, the Packers might just miss the playoffs this year.
New York Jets fire Adam Gase before Thanksgiving
It’s only a matter of time before Gase is shown the door and kicked out of New York. After all, the season hasn’t even started and some inside the organization don’t believe the team can win with Gase. The seat is already hot and while he survived one disastrous season, it’s unlikely he makes it through another.
Unfortunately for Gase, the Jets’ 2020 schedule starts rough. They open the season against the Buffalo Bills, San Francisco Giants, Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos. All four of those could be playoffs teams this year. After that, New York faces the Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Chargers and the Bills for a second time.
New York could realistically win just two of those games and losing all seven isn’t out of the question. If Gase’s squad is 0-7, he might not make it to November. Even if he survives that, a 3-7 record entering the bye week could sink him. We’re betting on Gase being the first head coach fired this season.
Aaron Donald breaks the single-season sack record
There’s a reason we ranked Donald as the best defensive player in the NFL. Since coming into the league, this 6-foot-1 defensive tackle has terrorized opponents and caused nightmares for quarterbacks. Named to a first-team All-Pro five times and twice the winner of the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award, we think the 29-year-old could write his name in the record books this season.
Currently, Michael Strahan holds the single-season sack record (22.5) and Donald (20.5) came near that mark in 2018. Entering an NFL season where offensive linemen had less time to prepare and may struggle early, Donald comes in stronger than ever. We’re ready to see him shatter the NFL record and it would only be fitting if Los Angeles’ biggest NFL star finished the year with 24 sacks.
Kyler Murray wins NFL MVP
During a time of social distancing, Murray learned from Tom Brady despite the two quarterbacks being hundreds of miles apart. Arizona’s 23-year-old quarterback defied the NFL Players’ Association by holding group workouts with his teammates early this summer. Of course, it’s hard to blame him for his excitement entering his second year in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense with All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins set to take this group to another stratosphere.
Murray impressed as a rookie, racking up 3,722 passing yards, 544 rushing yards and recording 24 total touchdowns. He made the typical rookie mistakes and still put up good stats despite an underwhelming supporting cast. With Hopkins out wide and Christian Kirk further along in his development, it will be a different story in 2020. If Murray can carry this team to the playoffs, while racking up 40-plus total touchdowns along with 4,000 passing yards, he might just win NFL MVP.
Los Angeles Chargers play in AFC Championship Game
While the Packers enjoyed incredible fortune in one-score games last season, the Chargers were on the opposite end of the spectrum. Between Philip Rivers constantly throwing interceptions and Melvin Gordon fumbling wins away, Los Angeles went 2-9 in one-score contests during the 2019 season.
While Tyrod Taylor might not be as good as Rivers, he will put the football in the hands of his playmakers and he will limit the turnovers. Los Angeles upgraded its offensive line this offseason by signing Bryan Bulaga and acquiring Trai Turner, big moves that will help the running game and keep Taylor upright. If the offense is efficient, that gels perfectly with one of the best defenses in the NFL.
The Chargers can absolutely make the playoffs this year, especially with the expanded playoff field. A team with the athletes and talent to contain the Baltimore Ravens, without making their own costly turnovers, could pull off the wild-card upset. After that, a matchup against the Buffalo Bills or Indianapolis Colts could be all that stands in the way of a trip to the AFC Championship Game.
Seattle Seahawks sign Antonio Brown, win Super Bowl LV
It’s only a matter of time before an NFL team signs Antonio Brown. He is generating interest from several contenders, but the Seahawks have always seemed like the likely landing spot for the All-Pro receiver. While he will need to serve an eight-game suspension and faces the risk for more discipline, he might be the piece that puts the Seahawks over the top.
We’ve already seen Russell Wilson play at an MVP-caliber level, even when he didn’t have a strong supporting cast. A receiving corps with Brown, star Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf would be unstoppable, especially when paired with Wilson and this running game.
The icing on the cake is the defense. We’re concerned about the pass rush, but trades for All-Pro safety Jamal Adams and lockdown cornerback Quinton Dunbar make this one of the NFL’s best secondaries. Seattle can beat any team in the NFC and with the secondary to match up with the Kansas City Chiefs and a quarterback who can match Mahomes in a shootout, the Seahawks can win Super Bowl LV.