Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to this year’s edition of Bold Predictions for every AFC team. Opinions are my own. Enjoy!
New England Patriots:
Bold Prediction: Chase Winovich will record 11+ Sacks in 2020
A third-round pick by New England back in 2019, Chase Winovich opened some eyes in his rookie season. Despite only playing 29% of defensive snaps for the Patriots, Winovich had a productive rookie season with 5.5 sacks and 26 total tackles. Heading into year two, he’s set to see more playing time, hence my prediction that he will record 11 or more sacks in 2020.
Bold Prediction: Devin Singletary will be top 5 in rushing yards in 2020
Now I know what you’re thinking here. “Danny, the Bills just drafted Zack Moss.” That’s a valid point. However, looking at Singletary’s production in 2019, he should project to be the full-time starter going forward. While splitting carries with Frank Gore, Singletary ran for 775 yards (5.1 YPC) and peaked at the end of the season. I’m predicting that In his second season, Singletary will break out and be top five in the NFL in rushing yards.
Bold Prediction: Ryan Fitzpatrick starts 16 games and leads the Dolphins to a Playoff Spot
Man, this is a hot one. Tua Tagovailoa is the Dolphins’ starting quarterback of the future. That much is clear. However, for now, Ryan Fitzpatrick is their starter. After an abysmal start to the season, the Dolphins played much better towards the end of the season, winning five of their final nine games. Fitzpatrick played great in their last five games of the season as he threw for ten touchdowns and 325.6 passing yards per game. Helped by a much-improved defense, the Dolphins will earn a playoff spot in 2020, led by Ryan Fitzpatrick, in a much weaker AFC East division.
New York Jets:
Bold Prediction: No Jets Running Back Rushes for 600+ Yards
In his first year with the team, Le’Veon Bell was an absolute disaster. After sitting out a year, he looked like a shell of his former self as he only managed to average 3.2 YPC in 2019. The team went out and signed the ageless Frank Gore, who will take some of his carries. New York also has La’Mical Perine, a fourth-round pick out of Florida. Behind a horrendous offensive line, Le’Veon Bell will continue to struggle in 2020, and no Jets running back will rush for over 600 yards.
Bold Prediction: Marquise Brown finishes top 10 in receiving yards
Hollywood Marquise Brown had an excellent rookie season as he caught 46 passes for 584 yards and seven touchdowns. Now in his second season, Brown is expected to be Baltimore’s clear number one target. As long as he can stay on the field, Brown should be in for a breakout season that sees him finishing in the top ten in receiving yards.
Bold Prediction: Big Ben wins Comeback Player of the Year
At age 38, how much does Ben Roethlisberger have left in the tank? Finally healthy after missing much of 2019, Big Ben is back and ready to be the Steelers’ week one starter. Throughout his career, Roethlisberger has been able to rebound from injury. With a solid receiving core in Juju Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson, Roethlisberger will have a strong season, earning comeback player of the year.
Bold Prediction: Jessie Bates III finishes top five in defensive interceptions
Jessie Bates III has been a bright spot on an otherwise weak defense through the first two seasons of his career. In two seasons as the Bengals starting free safety, he’s already picked off six passes along with 16 other pass deflections. At age 23, Bates III is due for a breakout year, establishing himself as a top NFL safety.
Bold Prediction: Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt each record 1500+ scrimmage yards
In 2017, the New Orleans Saints had a two-headed monster in the backfield as Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram both recorded over 1,500 yards from scrimmage. With Kareem Hunt able to play an entire season, this Browns’ tandem will do the same. Hunt and Chubb are each electric and super challenging to bring down in open space. Health is the only issue holding this prediction back.
Bold Prediction: James Robinson finishes top four among rookies in rushing yards
There were 18 running backs taken in the 2020 NFL draft. James Robinson from Illinois State was not one of them. However, after the team cut Leonard Fournette and placed Ryquell Armstead on the COVID-19 list, Robinson projects to be the Jaguars’ lead back. Despite being undersized at 5’9”, Robinson is tough to tackle and will make teams regret passing on him in the draft this season.
Bold Prediction: Darius Leonard wins Defensive Player of the Year
Through the first two seasons of his career, Darius Leonard has already established himself as one of the best linebackers in the NFL. Now at age 25, he looks poised to take yet another step forward. Leonard is one of the best open-field tacklers in the entire NFL and also has 12 career sacks. I’m predicting he’ll put it all together in 2020 and become the first linebacker since Luke Kuechly to win DPOY.
Bold Prediction: Will Fuller V will finish top five in receiving yards
Will Fuller V is someone whom I’ve always been very high on. Now, with Deandre Hopkins gone, the stage is set for him to become a number one receiver. The only thing that will hold him back is injuries. Since 2017 he has missed 20 of 48 games due to hamstring and knee issues. He started off on the right foot as he caught eight passes for 112 yards on Thursday night.
Bold Prediction: The Titans finish with a top three seed in the AFC
The Titans surprised many fans last season after making it to the AFC Championship game despite being a six seed. With Ryan Tannehill now locked in on a long-term deal, the Titans should be in line for another great season. The team recently added Jadeveon Clowney to an already fantastic defense. With every other AFC South team getting worse in the offseason, the Titans can win their division and lock up a top-three seed in 2020.
Kansas City Chiefs:
Bold Prediction: MeCole Hardman becomes a reliable number two receiver
Now, I’ll admit this prediction isn’t looking great after Thursday night’s game. However, as we saw all of last season, the Chiefs like to give different receivers playing time. As a rookie, Hardman caught 26 passes for 538 yards and six touchdowns. Despite only seeing one pass on Thursday, I expect him to take a big step forward in year two and become a reliable second receiver next to Tyreek Hill.
Bold Prediction: Noah Fant finishes top 4 among tight ends in receiving yards
In 2018, George Kittle took a massive leap in his second season after a decent rookie year. Noah Fant of the Broncos could be next to do the same. As a rookie, he had 40 catches for 562 yards and three touchdowns. With a full-time quarterback in Drew Lock, Fant should be in line for a breakout season in year two.
Las Vegas Raiders:
Bold Prediction: The Raiders finish last in the AFC West
Derek Carr has shown little to no progression since hurting his leg in 2016. Marcus Mariota was recently placed on the injured reserve. Las Vegas made very few moves to improve their defense from last season. While the Chargers should be last on paper, I think the Raiders will struggle mightily in 2020 and finish last in the AFC West.
Los Angeles Chargers:
Bold Prediction: Kenneth Murray wins Defensive Rookie of the Year
With the 23rd pick in the draft, Los Angeles took standout linebacker, Kenneth Murray, from Oklahoma. Murray is an exceptional open-field tackler and can also hold his own in pass coverage. While Chase Young of the Washington Football Team is a heavy favorite to win the award, Kenneth Murray will surprise a lot of people and take it away from him in 2020.
Come back soon for my 2020 NFC Bold Predictions!
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