Predicting NFL stat leaders for 2020 season

Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The countdown to the 2020 NFL season is on with players just weeks away from reporting for training camp. As the days tick down until the NFL’s opening kickoff, excitement is building for an exciting season that will feature some incredible games and some gaudy stats.

While NFL teams have less time to practice this summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we know teams will be ready when it’s time to take the field. Coming off a 2019 season that saw some incredible stats posted by stars and even unheralded players, NFL fans can count on the same this year.

After projecting every NFL team’s 2020 record, let’s dive into our predictions for the NFL stat leaders in the 2020 season.

Passing Touchdowns – 52 – Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

Patrick Mahomes came close to breaking the NFL’s single-season touchdown record in his first full season as an NFL starter. Unfortunately, he didn’t get another shot at it this past season due to his patella dislocation. The 24-year-old will be healthy heading into the 2020 season and we think he could take his game to another level this year.

Keep in mind, Mahomes just learned to read NFL defenses. That means he won the NFL MVP award playing almost entirely on his natural ability and he wasn’t as comfortable with Andy Reid’s offense. The duo will open this offense up even more in 2020, especially with Tyreek Hill healthy and following the addition of Clyde Edwards-Helaire. It would be wise for the Chiefs to sign Mahomes to that record-breaking extension this summer, because he’ll have a great shot at the NFL’s single-season touchdown mark this year.

Passing Yards – 5,104 – Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

We saw Dak Prescott enjoy a breakout campaign last year, proving he is one of the top, young quarterbacks in the NFL. The 26-year-old gunslinger threw for a career-high 30 touchdowns with a 99.7 quarterback rating, he also eclipsed 4,900 passing yards. After missing the playoffs and following short of the 5,000-yard mark, expect Prescott to come into the 2020 season with something to prove.

He also will want to demonstrate why the Cowboys might have missed out by not signing him to an extension earlier. Playing on the franchise tag will drive him to accomplish even more this year and he’s now supported by a greater supporting cast. The addition of CeeDee Lamb puts this offense into elite company and Mike McCarthy should help Prescott take that next step. In the end, we expect Prescott to throw for 5,000 yards, take this team to the playoffs and drive his contract demands even higher.

Rushing Touchdowns – 14 – Saquon Barkley, New York Giants

While the Giants might have reached for Saquon Barkley with the No. 2 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, that is no knock on this young runner. He exploded onto the NFL scene as a rookie, racking up 2,028 scrimmage yards on 352 touches. Sadly, a high ankle sprain sidelined him for three games this past year and we didn’t see the same explosive ability. Expect that All-Pro talent to emerge this year.

New York’s offense should depend on Barkley, taking advantage of his incredible skills as an all-purpose back. He won’t lead the NFL in rushing yards, but that’s because plenty of his damage will come as a receiver. The improvements along the offensive line should help Barkley where it counts, getting those extra yards near the goal line. The Giants might not be a playoff team in 2020, but this team will improve as long as Barkley carries them.

Rushing Yards – 1,356 – Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals

Many thought Mixon might deliver a breakout season in 2019, but things unraveled quickly. Once the injuries piled up on offense, there was no way this great talent could thrive. We did see flashes of greatness late in the year once Mixon’s ankle injury healed. Notably, he averaged 4.6 yards per rush in his final eight games and averaged 107.6 rushing yards over the last five contests.

The addition of Joe Burrow is an obvious benefit for Mixon. Opposing defenses will respect Burrow’s incredible talent, the offense will become more functional and that will make finding holes easier for Mixon. Another benefit, left tackle Jonah Williams will finally see the field and Cincinnati signed guard Xavier Su’a-Filo. This is the year when Mixon becomes an NFL star and no one should be surprised if he leads the NFL in rushing.

Receiving Touchdowns – 14 – Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers

A turf toe injury derailed what could have been an incredible season from Adams. He missed four games and it clearly bothered him even after his return, turning an All-Pro talent into just merely a great player. While Adams’ stats this past year are nothing to sleep on, 83 receptions for 997 yards, the numbers could have been better.

Since the Packers didn’t go out and land a great No. 2 receiver this offseason, the 27-year-old will keep dominating the share of targets. He saw the second-most targets in the NFL (169) during the 2018 season and we wouldn’t be surprised if he drew 160-plus again this season. Adams could be poised for a monster year, benefitting from Aaron Rodgers looking to prove himself and more consistency from the entire offense.

Receiving Yards – 1,519 – Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Godwin finished third in receiving yards (1,333) this past season despite catching passes from a quarterback who threw 30 interceptions and made even more bad throws. He exploded in his third NFL season, taking the leap from a big-play threat into a Pro Bowl selection. Now that the Buccaneers have Tom Brady, things are going to get crazy.

Defenses will naturally focus their attention on Mike Evans, while Rob Gronkowski will require linebackers and safeties to pay close attention. This will create countless opportunities for Godwin to blow past his man in one-on-one coverage, catch a quick pass from Brady then take off for a huge play. When the 2020 season is over, Godwin will be firmly in the conversation as one of the NFL’s elite receivers.

Sacks – 20 – Chandler Jones, Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals seem to commit a trade robbery every few years. The blockbuster deal for DeAndre Hopkins was a steal for this organization, but it still might not be as good as the trade for Chandler Jones. Since trading guard Jonathan Cooper and a second-round pick for Jones in 2016, the Cardinals have watched him become an unstoppable force off the edge.

Just look at Chandler Jones’ stats over the past three seasons. Despite not having a ton of help around him on the defensive front, he racked up 49 sacks, 52 tackles for loss and 77 quarterback hits in his past 48 games. Arizona upgraded its defense this offseason, signing De’Vondre Campbell, Devon Kennard, Jordan Phillips and drafting Isaiah Simmons. Getting to the quarterback might be even easier for Jones this year, especially since offensive linemen will have less practice time. Jones will enter the season with 96 career sacks and he might finish the year with 116.

Interceptions – 7 – Marcus Peters, Baltimore Ravens

Being traded to the Ravens during the 2019 season changed everything for Peters. The young, talented cornerback just wasn’t a fit for the Rams and clearly needed a change of scenery. It didn’t take long before the former All-Pro cornerback rediscovered his greatness and started making big plays.

Peters recorded three interceptions and 10 pass deflections across 10 games with the Ravens, all while learning their system. The organization rewarded him with a huge contract this offseason, they then went out and added even more talent to the defense. Opposing quarterbacks will be under even more pressure this year when they face Baltimore, leading to bad decisions and poor throws. Look for Peters to take advantage with one of the best seasons in his career.