While 2030 is in the future, there is never a bad time to make some outlandish predictions for the future. Today, we look at what could change over the next eight NFL seasons.
Prediction 1: At least two new teams will win a Super Bowl.
About one-quarter of NFL teams are eligible to make this prediction come true. A lot can change in eight seasons, but the obvious teams to watch here are the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals. The Bills have Josh Allen locked up on a long-term deal, and the Bengals should secure Joe Burrow’s services for the rest of the decade soon. Buffalo has made the divisional round in three straight seasons, and Cincinnati has advanced to the AFC title game in each of the last two.
Other notable teams to watch are the Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions – two teams who have never made the Super Bowl. The Jaguars made a big jump from having the top pick in the draft to being one of the last eight teams standing in 2022. Similarly, Detroit made a jump from the second pick in the draft to missing the playoffs on the final day of the regular season.
Looking at the last 10 Super Bowl winners, two were new champions – the 2013 Seattle Seahawks and the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles. Other teams including the 2015 Carolina Panthers, 2016 Atlanta Falcons, and 2021 Bengals were one game away from winning their first championship.
Prediction 2: The NFL will be 36 teams.
The NFL might not need 36 teams, but the NFL certainly wants 36 teams (and the countless billions of dollars it would add to the sport. The NFL most recently expanded to 31 teams in 1999 and 32 teams in 2002. With other leagues such as the XFL and USFL testing more football markets, the NFL could bounce and begin expansion.
To get to 33, St. Louis seems like the obvious location for the next expansion team. Texas markets such as San Antonio and Austin could result in team No. 34. California could draw a team – although San Diego and Oakland might not be the options.
In the case of a 36-team NFL, the league could adjust to six divisions of six teams, similar to MLB’s six divisions of five teams. The schedule – which might be 18 games by then – would need some tinkering, but the NFL would have years to work out the nuances.
Prediction 3: There will be a foreign NFL team.
The wild card of the expansion scenario is a potential foreign team. While the NFL has played games in Europe in recent years, the most logistically sound options are in Canada or Mexico. Mexico City has hosted several NFL games over the last few years. Canada is a less likely destination given the existence of Canadian football, but the NFL would not turn down an opportunity to make more money.
Filling out a 36-team NFL with new teams in St. Louis, Texas, California, and Mexico City seems logical enough. This would expand (or re-expand) into growing markets and likely give the NFL the fuel to grow even larger in the coming decades.
Prediction 4: A player will win back-to-back MVPs.
Back-to-back MVPs have happened occasionally in NFL history. Since 1995, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning (twice), and Aaron Rodgers successfully climbed the mountain in consecutive seasons.
The easiest way this prediction hits is Patrick Mahomes sustaining his 2022 level of play into 2023. However, the NFL seems to be getting deeper at the quarterback position, so it’s probably harder than ever before to repeat as MVP.
Narratives often play a major role in who wins the MVP. One player will need the right blend of seasons, likely improving marginally from his first MVP season to his second, to secure the back-to-back. For example, Manning was a co-MVP in 2003 before elevating his game to post perhaps the best quarterback season in NFL history at that point. Could Mahomes do that in 2023?
Prediction 5: At least two players will crack 2,000 receiving yards.
Both Justin Jefferson and Tyreek Hill were within striking distance to break the record in 2022, and Cooper Kupp came eerily close in 2021. With the 17th game as a permanent addition and the potential for an 18th game down the line, the 2,000-yard mark seems much more in play.
It still would take the perfect blend of team, quarterback, receiver, and coach/style for a 2,000-yard season, but each year it seems a new hotshot (from the Sean McVay tree) ascends to a head coach role and an offense pops. Every season the draft seems to get deeper and deeper with wide receiver talent. The position is growing more and more specialized.
In terms of predictions, Jefferson and Hill are two of the most likely players. Ja’Marr Chase could be the most likely given his quarterback situation in Cincinnati, incredible talent, and potential for Tee Higgins to leave for financial reasons.
Prediction 6: A yet-to-be-drafted quarterback will win an MVP and have multiple passing yards titles.
As with wide receivers, it seems quarterbacks are getting better over time as they become more specialized. This prediction covers players who are currently in high school and college, but the next few draft classes appear to be spectacular from a quarterback perspective. Even before the world learns of breakout stars similar to Burrow, quarterbacks such as Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, and Arch Manning will enter the fray.
It would be impossible to pick which one makes the prediction come true, but the two benchmarks are within the realm of possibility given the specialization quarterbacks spent their whole lives in.
Prediction 7: The Cowboys will still be on their NFC Championship Game drought.
The Cowboys last advanced that far in the 1995 playoffs. In the last 25-plus years, they have often fielded competitive teams, but they have fumbled in key spots. With Dak Prescott, they will likely remain a good team, but they might not be able to be a great team – one of the top four teams in the NFL or the top two in the NFC.
Dynamics can change, but owner Jerry Jones seems to love mediocrity. Even as the Cowboys go on 30 years without a Super Bowl, they are one of the biggest brands in sports.
Prediction 8: A quarterback will throw for 600 yards in a game.
The record still stands at 554 from Norm Van Brocklin in 1951. While no player in nearly 75 years has matched the record, a few have come close. Tom Brady threw for 500 yards in a Super Bowl, and Joe Burrow tossed for 525 yards in a 2021 regular-season game.
As NFL rules continue to favor offenses and receiver talent explodes, the days are counting down to a supernova of passing yards once only dreamed of in the Big 12.
The ingredients to a huge performance include (generally) a deficit, a strong supporting cast – outside of a run game, and a porous defense. Multi-score comebacks have been a fixture of the contemporary NFL with a 33-point comeback (Vikings over Colts) and 27-point comeback (Jaguars over Chargers) within weeks of each other. With a perfect storm of big plays and a crazy comeback effort, 600 yards could happen.
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