100 Bold Predictions for the 2024 NFL Season

“Big whoop, this guy makes like 100 predictions and like four of them come true,” wrote one commenter on Twitter/X underneath one of my recent posts. 

This is another huge example of how rife misinformation can be in today’s society. The truth is that I make more than 400 predictions before the start of every season—counting the 272 games I predict each preseason (coming soon), 32 predictions I make immediately after the Super Bowl (done) and the 100 predictions I’m making today—and a way, way smaller percentage of them come true. This post alone is being touted as “100 predictions” but if you read carefully there are at least 115! So, plenty of opportunities to mess it up. 

In last year’s version of this post, we had some hits! The San Francisco 49ers did, indeed, lose in the Super Bowl (just not to whom I predicted). Kliff Kingsbury did, indeed, have an impact on the 2024 NFL draft (though not as the offensive coordinator of the team that ended up selecting Caleb Williams). The Philadelphia Eagles did not win the NFC East, Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos broke up, Jared Goff set the table for a big contract extension and, sure as heck, I forgot to cancel Peacock after the Kansas City Chiefs’ playoff game and lost three consecutive months of $5.99 before I figured it out. 

On the flip side, I was oddly high on Desmond Ridder, Kenny Pickett and Kadarius Toney, so … some mistakes were made. It’s a little bit like looking back at your high school yearbook. There are highs and lows. 

Anyway, the purpose of all this is obviously to yell at the top of my lungs when I’m right and to reposition the exercise as something high-minded, academic and exploratory when I’m wrong. That’s really the spirit of what we’re trying to accomplish here, and I hope that you enjoy the 2024 version as much as I enjoyed writing it. 

1. The Detroit Lions will defeat the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LIX

My most recent set of predictions—one bold one for all 32 teams the day after Super Bowl LVIII—had the Bengals edging the Lions, but I am slightly altering my pick based on a Lions team that is absolutely stacked and powered by the best of vibes. I have seen first-hand (as a Rex Ryan era New York Jets beat writer) what making it to a conference title game can do for a team, and there’s a difference between an accidental tightening disguised as confidence and real, true confidence. I think this Lions team could not only claw its way to the Super Bowl, but romp in the process. 

2. There will be seven head coaching vacancies at the end of the season

O.K., so there are an average of seven each season. But this year will be particularly worth watching given that Mike Vrabel and Bill Belichick are on the market. Once we get a step removed from the haze that was Belichick’s ouster from the New England Patriots and we sort through the inevitable sea of finger pointing that led to his not being hired in 2024, I think we will have a small but prominent group of teams vying for his services. Including competitive teams, perhaps one that finishes this upcoming season with a winning record. That’s what will push the vacancy total to seven. 

3. The New York Giants will finish the season with their quarterback of the near future and his name is …

Drew Lock. Many times, I have felt something with utmost certainty (see: last year’s prediction about the Arizona Cardinals stumbling into the No. 1 pick) only to have that prediction not come anywhere close to being true. However, this season seems set up for Lock to take the job from Daniel Jones at some point, should Jones struggle. And, it seems set up for Jones and Brian Daboll to cook up an offense that feeds Malik Nabers and steals a few wins in the process. I think the Giants are a sneaky second-place team in the NFC East, with Lock starting a majority of the games. 

4. The Patriots will not be selecting No. 1 in the 2025 NFL draft

While there is a bit of prediction-making trickery at work here—the Patriots took a QB this year, and so even if they are the worst team in the NFL they would likely trade the No. 1 pick absent a clear, franchise-altering nonquarterback atop the board —I do think that the Patriots will eke out a few games with Jacoby Brissett as a starter before the ball is permanently handed off to Drake Maye.

5. Jayden Daniels will win Offensive Rookie of the Year

The Washington Commanders’ quarterback has a veteran offensive line and receiving corps, plus a veteran running back to get him out of trouble. Schematically, I would hand the rookie QB advantage to Caleb Williams in Chicago, where the Shane Waldron offense will scheme up a lot of open looks for him. However, Daniels is going to make a lot of plays with his legs and fare well against a schedule that is not too difficult when it comes to defensive opponents. 

6. Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce will not get engaged

Swift is deep into a creative streak that has endless possibilities. The last thing she needs is to be held back by the minutiae of wedding planning. She and Kelce will remain connected at least through the Netflix airing of Kansas City’s Christmas Day game. 

7. Bryce Young will throw for 20 touchdowns and fewer than 10 interceptions

You might say yawn. But any time a quarterback nearly doubles his touchdown output from the year before and keeps interceptions down, it’s a big deal. I was not particularly excited by any of the Carolina Panthers’ skill-position additions individually, but the Panthers’ offense as a whole has been upgraded enough that I think it can function around league average. This team has a very, very long way to go, and it may not be until the end of Young’s rookie contract that we have a firm idea of whether the Panthers hit on the 2023 No. 1 pick. For now, though, we will see a step in the right direction. 

8. Caleb Williams will throw for the same number of touchdown passes as another rookie who wore No. 18 …

Peyton Manning threw 26 during his rookie season in 1998 (along with, many forget, 28 interceptions). Should Williams throw 28 picks, I would imagine the entirety of the Chicago Bears’ building would be cleaned out. How times have changed. Anyway, Williams has a great weapon set at his disposal and an offensive coordinator in Shane Waldron who really came into his own after the departure of Russell Wilson from Seattle. 

9. The Sanders family will generate numerous headlines for the NFL throughout the 2024 season and into the ’25 draft

Will Deion Sanders coach the Dallas Cowboys? Will the Cowboys draft his son Shedeur? Will the Colorado QB go in the first round at all? Will Shedeur appeal the NFL’s still draconian jersey number policy and demand to wear No. 21? I think of Shedeur with the same kind of appreciation as I do Bronny James. They were born into some kind of beautiful chaos and are simply making the best of it. Watching as the sports media landscape prepares to devour these kids’ appetites for their profession has been disappointing. Here’s hoping Shedeur comes away with a career and a ride he’s happy with. 

10. Justin Fields will score at least five touchdowns as a nonquarterback, as Mike Tomlin artfully deploys a true two-QB system

The old axiom has long been that if your team claims to have two quarterbacks, it really has none. I think this year’s Pittsburgh Steelers could legitimately buck that trend. I love the idea of keeping an opponent in suspense much the way the Jets tried to do with Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow (though they failed horribly). There really and truly is a finite amount of time a team has to prepare for its opponents, and not knowing which quarterback will walk out onto the field at any given moment could be a disaster for defenses. We saw this when the 49ers started introducing Colin Kaepernick into their offensive scheme during the Jim Harbaugh era. All that said, I think one of the Steelers’ more successful packages will be with Fields and Wilson on the field at the same time. 

11. The Houston Texans will not increase their win total (10) from 2023

This is my first truly hot take of this piece. I am very excited to argue with a still-nascent fan base that just logged onto football for the first time in four years in 2024 to fight about how I don’t understand the game (true, I’ll admit it), or that I’m irrelevant and my predictions don’t matter (also true!) or that I’m the same clown who loudly projected the Patriots would win the AFC East last year (how am I still working?). I love the Texans, but their schedule rips this year and it’s going to be hard to replicate previous success even through the clear and obvious upgrades they made this offseason. This is not an anti–C.J. Stroud or DeMeco Ryans take. It is a pro-parity take, though, and when a team upshifts into a schedule that, after Week 7, becomes a bit of a minefield, there’s no telling what might happen. 

12. The Cleveland Browns will be absolutely cursed by their failure to respect the Greatest Generation

After this lovely woman smacked a hit that scored a runner during a charity softball game involving players from the team, she was callously stomped out at first base by tight end David Njokou, prompting most of the fan base to revel in the players’ no-holds-barred attitudes. Of course, as we’ve seen with the now 104-year-old Sister Jean of the Loyola Ramblers, there is a distinct power to be harnessed from aging superfans. Cleveland has clearly chosen the path of chaos instead. 

13. Deshaun Watson will throw for 32 touchdowns and run for another 10

Speaking of the Browns, this is the year we’ll get the on-field season we’ve expected from Deshaun Watson since his arrival in Cleveland. Despite the team bolstering its roster with two veteran quarterbacks who both have a heap of starting experience (Jameis Winston and Tyler Huntley), and jettisoning Joe Flacco to prevent fan sentiment from railroading Watson’s comeback, Watson will be able to piece himself together after offseason shoulder surgery and have the season that some who still root for the team have hoped for.

14. Drake Maye, not Michael Penix Jr., will make the fewest starts among all rookie first-round quarterbacks 

The Patriots could—and should—shield Maye from their in-repair roster and allow him to learn from Jacoby Brissett, though Penix will be forced into the mix for at least two starts. (I am not saying Kirk Cousins will have a serious injury, because that’s very uncool to predict and is against the Code of the Orracle. Maybe, like Aaron Rodgers, he’ll require some time off during work hours for a vision quest. Or maybe he’s just like the rest of us banged-up, 36-year-old dads, prone to aches and pains.) Penix will go 1–1 in his two starts, throwing four touchdowns, three interceptions and one very cool broken-play off-balance throw that sets up a game-winning field goal. 

15. The NFL will start getting serious about load management

I wrote a little bit already about the necessary efforts the Jets will have to go through this season in order to keep an aging roster healthy through 17 games, mostly on artificial turf and through a brutal schedule. I don’t think they will be alone. As the NFL shifts toward reality show programming, teams will inevitably fight back by sitting high-profile players or manipulating the injury report to suit the betterment of themselves. Smart teams, at least until the NFL polices the matter, can make up for some of the massive discrepancies in net rest days that we saw from the release of this year’s schedule


The referee system is in need of an overhaul / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

16. The referee crisis will come to a head

Following some great reporting from former teammate Kalyn Kahler on the plight of referees, I think it’s time we had a discussion about the NFL’s treatment of officials and how the brokenness of the system is a clear benefit for the league. By having what amounts to a clown car reputation, the NFL can use that general aloofness and inconsistency to shield the league from accusations that these calls which impact games from a gambling perspective and are in some way purposeful. Last year, more than a handful of games were legitimately steered by and ruined because of poor officiating. Referees only manage to succeed when they completely back themselves out of a game and allow for a majority of penalties to go uncalled. My prediction is that, by year’s end, the NFL will have a more authoritative head of officiating, with at least some level of finesse, who can handle the public perception and better communicate otherwise befuddling calls. 

17. A coach will be traded after the season

It’s fun to sing the words COACH TRADE to the tune of Will Ferrell’s “Bat Fight”. You should do it, too. Anyway, as we mentioned before, the presence of Bill Belichick and Mike Vrabel on the open market will cause a few franchises to consider a premature move and, with that move, the ability to gain some potential compensation for their aggression. Not feeling my reasoning? O.K. More and more, owners are eschewing truly powerful coaches for the kinds of guys they like to hang out with, and who let them into meetings and let their kids make suggestions based on what they read on MySportsUpdate. So, the next time a coach of the Vrabel and Belichick school wears out his welcome, you’d better believe a team is going to get some compensation before kicking them to the curb.

18. Rashaad Penny will nearly set an NFL rushing record 

I remember vividly a season-ending 2003 Browns game in which Lee Suggs had an incredibly random 186 yards and two touchdowns—only to be upstaged in ’09 by Jerome Harrison, who had an equally random 286-yard game toward the end of the season (he actually rushed for 561 yards and five touchdowns over the course of three weeks). This year, our random incredible rushing performance is going to come from Panthers rotational back Rashaad Penny, who will eclipse Jamaal Charles’s 259-yard performance against the Broncos in ’10 and place himself eighth all time on the single-game rushing record list

19. Tom Brady will accidentally say the word “s—s” while broadcasting an NFL game

One of my favorite announcer errors—along the same lines as the perilous “herniated disc”—is when they try to say “shifts” and hit the end of the word a little too quickly, uttering a cuss word. The hashtag #BradyS—s will be trending (but, you know, with the word spelled out that we would never publish at Sports Illustrated), and he will handle it with the grace of someone who is clearly annoyed by life outside of the NFL bubble.

20. T.J. Watt will win the Defensive Player of the Year award

With more stability at the quarterback position, the Steelers will be playing ahead more often than not, despite an absolutely absurd and rigorous back-end schedule that has them taking on all of their division rivals in the final weeks of the year. The AFC North remains the best division in football because of its stockpile of finalists for the award. 

21. This will be the season of Sam Darnold 

The 2018 No. 3 pick of the Jets will have a short runway as the Minnesota Vikings’ starter before he gets traded before the Nov. 5 deadline to a contender that has an injured starter, paving the way for the J.J. McCarthy era to begin in Minnesota. Darnold will head back to the AFC and start in a critical late-season game against the Jets, a team that will be teetering on the brink of playoff contention. After playing well in a thrashing of the Jets, the New York Post back page headline will be GHOST STORY. 

22. A semi-credible, but somewhat suspicious, Tom Brady unretirement rumor will attach itself to one of the four teams playing on Christmas Day on Netflix

If Brady were to come back, how spicy would it be for him to join the Chiefs, the ascendant Texans (with former Patriots higher-up Nick Caserio running the show) or the Baltimore Ravens (led by one-time Patriot foil John Harbaugh)? I would include the Steelers, but Mike Tomlin has had a lot of time to beg Brady to come to Pittsburgh and has continued rolling with Mitch Trubisky and Kenny Pickett. Anyway, Netflix will start feeling the crunch of fewer ad dollars while extreme football fatigue sets in and will need to find a way to juke subscriptions and make its money back. So, after another round of security measures that prevent normal folks from siphoning a Netflix account from their sister-in-law (hypothetically), we will begin hearing rumblings of Brady making a return to football just in time for the arrival of Saint Nicholas.

23. Jason Kelce will join the Eagles’ coaching staff by the end of the year

Despite a budding broadcasting career and an incredible personality that would be perfect for television (not to mention insight into the offensive line position that we rarely get from the quarterback- and skill-position-heavy group of former player analysts in the booth), Kelce will affirm his marriage to the grind and rejoin the organization that meant so much to him during his playing career. As a bonus prediction, defensive end Brandon Graham will also join the team’s front office in some capacity. 

24. Three receivers will top 1,800 yards

Puka Nacua, Amon-Ra St. Brown and Tyreek Hill will all approach or slightly best Justin Jefferson’s career high from 2022 (1,809 yards) as a handful of pass-happy offenses (and beleaguered secondaries) come to define the season. Of course, this is contingent on Hill signing a new or reworked deal with the Miami Dolphins and getting into camp on time. 

25. Joe Burrow will win the MVP award

The Bengals’ quarterback will finally, officially be back. Amid Cincinnati’s Super Bowl run, Burrow will post 4,700 passing yards and 35 touchdowns en route to an AFC North title. I predicted a Super Bowl run and brilliance from Burrow last year, before the preseason calf injury (which I am still assuming was much worse than we’ve been led to believe) and the torn wrist ligaments sidetracked any attempt to make it through a full season. I am now simply taking my position and bringing it into the new season like an investor who will not let go of his once darling stock in the portfolio. 

26. The Jets will win the AFC East

This season is not always going to be beautiful. It’s not always going to be perfect. But, by gosh, the Jets will climb the mountain and win the division for the first time since 2002 (!). The division will be decided amid a snowy Week 17 affair in Buffalo where head coach Robert Saleh and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich will come up with a plan to bottle a scramble-happy Josh Allen and slightly edge the Buffalo Bills 20–18. A field goal with one minute remaining in the fourth quarter will seal the deal. 

27. Jim Harbaugh will win the Coach of the Year award

Slightly edging out Brian Daboll’s work with the stunning second-place Giants, Harbaugh will be rewarded for capping a massive turnaround for the Los Angeles Chargers and ushering in a new era of toughness and grit. Sending the Chargers to the playoffs a little more than a year after the team was waxed 63–21 by the Las Vegas Raiders in prime time, leading to the firing of Brandon Staley, is enough to earn the award despite some spirited performances around the league. Harbaugh will go 1–1 against the Chiefs in his first year, with both games ending within a field goal. 

28. Bijan Robinson will top 2,000 total yards on offense

While I’m less optimistic about seeing the Kyle Pitts train rolling, I don’t think it’s an accident that Raheem Morris brought an offensive coordinator with him from the Los Angeles Rams. The Atlanta Falcons’ run game is going to be exotic, and it’s going to be created specifically to get Robinson the most opportunities humanly possible. I wouldn’t rule out a vintage 2017–18 Todd Gurley–type performance.

29. Khalil Shakir will lead all Bills wideouts in receptions

Former coworker and current blood rival at The Athletic Gary Gramling was first on the Shakir train back when Buffalo selected the Boise State product in the fifth round. After the Bills cleared out their wide receiver room, they made way for a pass catcher who gives off serious Cooper Kupp vibes.

30. The unshackled Patriots social media team will have its most fun yet at work

It’s going to be a long season in New England, but Jerod Mayo and Eliot Wolf will get to enjoy fun stepdad vibes all fall and winter after replacing Bill Belichick. The real winners, of course, are the members of the social media team who get to arrive at work free of the bone-chilling horror that must have accompanied every single post that could, in some way, be deemed by Belichick to aid the opponent in the upcoming week, reveal some snippet of the sacred game plan or inadvertently provide bulletin board material. So, fire up SnapFace, everyone. It’s your world, now. 

31. De’Von Achane will have four rushing touchdowns of 50 yards or longer

The Dolphins’ running back was absolutely electric last year when healthy, and his 76-yard touchdown run against a flummoxed Giants defense was just the beginning. While I focus a lot on the health and happiness of Tyreek Hill, I’ll admit that I forget about all the other wildly explosive players in this offense. Mike McDaniel is going to have to work the ground game all season to maximize this offense, and Achane is his home run hitter. 

32. The combination of the Broncos’ John Franklin-Myers and the Eagles’ Bryce Huff will nearly triple Haason Reddick’s sack total

This is a fun one. The Jets are all in on 2024, which is why a team would get rid of two really good rotational defensive ends for one who, when all components are right, is one of the 10 best speed rushers in the NFL. The Jets had a lot of bodies devoted to their pass-rush rotation, but given the current state of uneasy vibes around Reddick, one has to wonder whether they let go of the wrong QB hunters.

33. The Cardinals will post an eight-game winning streak 

After a mixed-bag start out of the gate, the Cardinals will go undefeated from the end of October all the way through mid-December. The back end of this team’s schedule is sneakily favorable and one has to wonder what Jonathan Gannon may be able to accomplish after a spunky first season on the headset. 

34. Jake Bobo will have at least five touchdown catches

You wanted more Bobo? Well, you got it. Despite a loaded receiving corps, the Seattle Seahawks’ new offensive staff will fall for Bobo, who logged one of the most memorable touchdown grabs of the season last year. The 25-year-old is primed to take off in his second season and will start stealing some on-field time from the stalwarts in Seattle. 

35. Kobie Turner will have another nine-sack season 

This isn’t just an Aaron Donald thing. Even without the greatest defensive tackle in NFL history at his side, Turner will get to the quarterback with regularity and post a second consecutive top-10 season at the position. Speaking of Donald … 


What would Donald do if Sean McVay came calling? / Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

36. Aaron Donald will unretire and join the Rams for a playoff run

Have you ever seen that guy? Do you think for a moment he’s not going to remain incredibly ripped? Or that he’d unregister his hands as lethal weapons? Donald has put together a Hall of Fame career, but when his coach calls around Halloween and pitches him on a sweetheart deal that allows Donald to practice sparingly but still come in and absolutely destroy game plans on the weekend, he won’t say no.

37. Brandon Aiyuk will be traded to the New Orleans Saints at the deadline

After a strong showing by rookie first-round pick Ricky Pearsall, the 49ers will deem the contractless Aiyuk expendable and find a willing suitor in the surprisingly feisty Saints, who will have a winning record at the deadline and one of Aiyuk’s former offensive coaches, Klint Kubiak, calling the plays. 

38. The Panthers will finish with a top-10 defense in terms of EPA per play allowed

Keeping Ejiro Evero may have been the biggest score of the season for the Panthers, who know better than anyone else how many suitors the defensive coordinator had. Dave Canales starts his tenure with the ability to hand one side of the ball off to a coach who received overtures for head jobs despite coaching on the worst team in football. Don’t sleep on Evero, who has been overperforming in back-to-back gigs with two woefully underperforming rosters in Denver and Carolina. 

39. Alvin Kamara will rush for more than 900 yards

The factor back has been forgotten a bit in New Orleans, but he will post his best year since 2020 in a new offense that hammers home the importance of the running game. Kubiak is fresh off a spell with Christian McCaffrey, having a front row seat to seeing the best way to feed a versatile back with elite vision. 

40. Baker Mayfield will top 4,000 yards for a second consecutive season

While I have always counted myself as pro-Mayfield in terms of liking him and believing in him as a long-term answer, I recognize that picking the Tampa Bay Buccaneers not to win very many games last season could be interpreted as an anti-Mayfield take. While my final verdict on the Bucs’ 2024 record is still a few weeks away, I would like to plant my Mayfield flag despite the coordinator change in Tampa.

41. The Falcons will be leading the NFC South at Thanksgiving, and the division will have three different leaders at various points this season

The NFC South will play out a bit like one of those jumbotron taco races, where each taco—chicken, steak, mahi mahi—has a time in the lead before the eventual champion pulls away and a select row of fans receives $4 off a new set of windshield wipers at WIPER VIPER™. The Saints, Falcons and Buccaneers will all spend time in first place, though the all-important Thanksgiving quarter pole will have everyone high on Kirk Cousins and Raheem Morris. 

42. Derek Carr will arrive at training camp with a tight new haircut

Super tight. You’re honestly not going to believe it. Beard, too. 

43. Caleb Williams will put up the following numbers during his rookie season:

A 65% completion rate, 24 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and 3,727 yards. Williams will finish a very close second in Offensive Rookie of the Year voting and win at least seven games. The hallmark of his rookie season will be a few critical throws he makes under duress, taking hard hits as he releases the ball and dispelling some of the predraft narratives on the No. 1 pick.

44. Jason Kelce will lead a televised Monday Night Football crusade for more offensive line consideration in Offensive Rookie of the Year awards

O.K., so this is in a prediction column of mine once every year, but with two offensive tackles taken in the top seven, three in the top 11, four in the top 14, and eight total in the first round, there is both a need at the position and a good chance that one of these players will end up being incredibly valuable to his team. Even though I’ve projected Jayden Daniels as Offensive Rookie of the Year, there is a chance we’ll see a 2021-style slump and all the quarterbacks selected atop the draft board struggle. For reference, dating back to 1967, only quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers have won the award. 

45. Speaking of offensive linemen, the Jets will sit Olu Fashanu for at least the first quarter of the season

I get the sense that Gang Green does not want to monkey around with Fashanu’s development and force him to play guard while Tyron Smith and Morgan Moses hold down the anchor positions. I don’t remember Moses getting any guard starts and did not see any listed on Pro Football Reference, but it’s possible that Fashanu could excel enough in camp to win the position outright and force a conversation. That said, I think the prudent course will be to allow Fashanu to rise organically. 

46. The Vikings (6.5), Cardinals (6.5) and Giants (6.5) will easily hit the over on their projected DraftKings win totals

This is easy money, folks. The Vikings are going to start Sam Darnold and have some soft pockets on their schedule. Kevin O’Connell is a swashbuckler of a coach and this offense can move mountains. The Cardinals, as we noted above, have a very advantageous back half of their schedule. The Giants and their rebuilt pass rush have two cracks at rookie Jayden Daniels on the schedule, as well as the NFC South. 

47. Meanwhile, the Cowboys (10.5), 49ers (11.5) and Dolphins (9.5) will struggle to, and likely miss, the over on their projected win totals at DraftKings

Dallas didn’t make any meaningful upgrades this offseason, while the 49ers will save their run for playoff time and the Dolphins struggle to find consistent answers in a division that is down to just one pushover opponent this year (although the Patriots, under Mayo and Bill Belichick, kind of wrote the book on how to delay certain coverage looks in order to stall Tua Tagovailoa and prevent him from making easy reads). 

48. The upcoming presidential election will not result in widespread player protests or demonstrations

As with all posts that lean into political territory, I feel I should note that this has nothing to do with what I hope will happen or my personal leanings. I’ve made efforts over the past few years to remove such breadcrumbs from my writing and podcasting unless it’s asked for. All that said, there’s no denying that previous election cycles have seen the culture war battleground arrive on the NFL’s doorstep. I don’t know whether the NFL is more prepared for the fallout, should that occur again, but I do think that there is a better blueprint to simply move on past having any meaningful discussion about thoughts, hopes, fears and core beliefs in the name of cash and content. 

49. The Rams will win the NFC West

Sean McVay & Co. laid the foundation for a divisional run last year. With the 49ers reeling from a stinging overtime Super Bowl loss, the Rams can capitalize on a bit of vulnerability and ride their two-headed passing attack to a 12-win season and at least one win in the playoffs. The Rams believed last year and, I think, felt like they could do some serious damage if they’d gotten past the Lions in the wild-card round. Alas, this is a year for unfinished business and to show how quickly general manager Les Snead turned over a roster after going all in for Super Bowl LVI. 

50. Roquan Smith will lead the league in tackles 

The Ravens’ linebacker finished about 20 behind Bobby Wagner last season, but also missed a game. Smith, 27, is just coming into his prime as the NFL’s great off-ball linebacker. In addition, he’ll force two fumbles and recover one for a Baltimore defense that’ll finish eighth in terms of EPA per play allowed. 

51. Riley Dixon will lead the league in punts

Dixon, the Broncos’ punter, will boot the ball 97 times in 2024. 

52. Kyren Williams will lead the NFL in rushing

After finishing in third place last year, the Rams’ third-year back will edge Christian McCaffrey, James Cook and Bijan Robinson, who will finish second, third and fourth, respectively. Williams will have 1,323 yards, on top of 11 rushing touchdowns and 64 accumulated first downs. 

53. Indianapolis Colts DE Laiatu Latu will win the Defensive Rookie of the Year award

The super athletic top prospect out of UCLA has DeForest Buckner on his side to clear out some space, as well as Kwity Paye and Grover Stewart to work with. GM Chris Ballard loves traitsy players and Latu, despite a potential health issue red-flagged by many teams before the draft, could be one of the great steals of this class. 

54. The new NFL kickoff return rules will be awesome

The single-season record of four kickoff returns for a touchdown (shared by Cecil Turner and Travis Williams) will not be broken, but it’ll be seriously challenged as a handful of NFL players get two and the Green Bay Packers’ Keisean Nixon logs three. After a kickoff return for a touchdown that dramatically swings a critical late-season game, a friend of yours who just lost $370 on FanDuel and is wearing a Huk fishing T-shirt and sunglasses in his Instagram profile picture—the shirt where all of the fish are also little American flags—will comment on the league’s official highlight post: “Pathetic. Let’s just call the league what it is. FLAG FOOTBALL.” 


Could Lance take over for Dak Prescott in 2025? / Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports

55. Trey Lance will not be dealt at the deadline, fueling speculation that the Cowboys are going to let Dak Prescott walk at season’s end

Jerry Jones loves a show. We don’t know how far Lance, the No. 3 pick in 2021, has come since the 49ers traded up and drafted him out of North Dakota State. But we do know that he could be special, given time and seasoning. Lance is in the final year of his rookie contract, with the fifth-year option having been voided.

56. Saquon Barkley will rush for 1,100 yards and net 700 receiving yards

The Eagles’ new running back will have a stellar year, prompting Giants fans to continue one of the league’s most pathetic martyr acts. Giants fans will fail to realize that a troika of their own backs, making a fraction of Barkley’s 2024 salary, will have also accumulated the same amount of total yardage. 

57. It will be revealed that a superteam of former Belichick assistants has come together for a common goal 

Matt Patricia, Josh McDaniels and others are stuck with the unfavorable distinction of having a Wikipedia page that simply says, “[Person] is known for their tenure as an NFL football coach.” Behind closed doors, like a meeting of Winston Churchill’s influential and clandestine Other Club, the former Belichick coordinators will share old secrets of the craft and help build up Bill O’Brien’s Boston College program, or maybe even the long-maligned (by Belichick) Foxborough High School. 

58. Nick Sirianni will survive in Philadelphia beyond 2024

The Eagles’ coach, who reached the Super Bowl in his second season, before laughably taking the brunt of the criticism when his veteran team struggled down the stretch a year ago, will have a resurgent (enough) season to dispel doubts about his ability to coach. 

59. The Giants will have two vastly improved young offensive linemen

An oddity from a year ago: According to Pro Football Focus, The Giants had the worst every-down center in the NFL in John Michael Schmitz Jr. and the second-worst every-down tackle in Evan Neal. While some of that was circumstantial and related to a few certain glaringly bad performances, Brian Daboll did make a change at offensive line coach in an attempt to fix it. Carmen Bricillo comes to the Giants from Las Vegas, where he made a fine patchwork job of the Raiders’ front. 

60. Jerry Jones will say something memorably stupid about not paying his young star players

Remember, we got a T-shirt out of the whole “Zeke Who?” debacle. Jones is a businessman first, showman second, owner third and general manager fourth. The team has a long history of trying to get its players to take less as a kind of tax for the privilege of playing for a franchise that is famous because it tried hard back when the current wealthier generations of American citizens were young and now hang onto that nostalgia like a dying breath. Anyhoo, Dallas is about to find out how difficult it usually is to procure a top-10 quarterback, after having hilariously stumbled into the franchise’s last two by accident in the fourth round (Dak Prescott) and through undrafted free agency (Tony Romo). The Cowboys will also learn the downside of pissing off a generational pass rusher, who, as it turns out, has plenty of better options than sitting around and waiting for Jones to write him a paycheck. 

61. Terrion Arnold will lead rookie cornerbacks in interceptions

The Lions’ first-round pick will nab four for the amoebic Detroit secondary, which will have a fun, fast and loose look in 2024. As coach Dan Campbell said, this unit is no longer reading off a teleprompter Ron Burgundy style. 

62. Aaron Rodgers will not win the Comeback Player of the Year award

As of now, he appears to be the favorite, with Joe Burrow considered a close second. However, Joe Flacco’s magic destroyed the heartwarming conclusion of the Damar Hamlin saga. So, truly, anything is possible. 

63. The Colts will make the playoffs

People forget that Indianapolis was only narrowly out of the conversation a year ago, despite having lost starting quarterback Anthony Richardson early in the season. Now, a combination of Richardson and Joe Flacco will reload for 2024 with a slightly improved defense. If internal opinion matters, the Colts are higher on themselves than a mid-level politician. 

64. The charcuterie board will make a roaring comeback ahead of tailgate season

Dining fads come and go, but an assortment of jams, hard cheeses, cured meats, olives and nuts is truly hard to beat, especially when paired with thinly sliced pieces of toast instead of crackers. 

65. Will Levis will be incredibly fun in 2024

I did not say amazing. I did not say bad. Picture: a frattier, less-introspective version of Gardner Minshew II absolutely Sonic the Hedgehogging his way through games this year, creating some of the most memorable, high-velocity moments of the season. 

66. Serious beef will remain from the Tom Brady roast

Hot beef, y’all.

67. The Packers will finish with the third-most Pro Bowl nominees among all NFC teams

After receiving just two nominations a year ago, America will fall in love with Jordan Love, as well as his versatile cast of skill-position players and a young, developing defense we’ve been waiting to see materialize. 

68. The Week 17 Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars game will determine last place in the AFC South

We like the Colts. We like the Texans. We see the Titans getting slightly better and the Jaguars getting slightly worse. All of it will come to a head in a game that will not matter to very many people, but will still be watched more than any presidential debate by a three-fold margin. 

69. A playoff game will be moved because of bad weather

After the NFL insisted on freezing thousands of people at Arrowhead Stadium in order to pacify Peacock and sell subscriptions a year ago, the league will learn its lesson and move a game due to either a violent rain or snow storm. The deeper I got into writing this, the less and less likely I actually believed it to be true.

70. The Raiders will not finish last in the AFC West

Surprisingly scrappy but without a defined answer at quarterback, this team will be fun, inconsistent and decidedly old school. As a subprediction, assistant head coach Marvin Lewis will reenergize his candidacy for both head coaching jobs and general manager jobs, for which I had always thought he’d be wonderfully suited.

71. It will be revealed that Roger Goodell has written a well-received novel under a pen name 

In a sympathetic profile placed in the Wall Street Journal about Goodell’s efforts to tamp down another surge in suspicious player gambling activity and atrocious officiating, the reporter will place the NFL’s commissioner at the heart of the action. Goodell will have to remove himself from his basement creative space, where he’s been hard at work on another steamy Western, to swiftly arrive at 345 Park Ave. and save the day. Goodell’s characters will receive critical acclaim, especially among female readers who sympathize with his complex and sympathetic portrait of the female protagonist.

72. Ben Johnson will win Assistant Coach of the Year, then choose to remain in Detroit again

After two consecutive runner-up campaigns in which he finished second to DeMeco Ryans and Jim Schwartz, respectively, the Lions’ offensive coordinator will take home the title of best assistant coach. He’ll then remain with a Lions staff hoping to repeat as Super Bowl champions. 

73. A high-profile head coach who has had success within the past five years will be shockingly fired (or dismissed at his request as part of a ridiculously transparent power play) at the end of the season … but it won’t be Mike McCarthy.

Well, it might be McCarthy. But I put him in a completely different category than all the other jobs in the NFL given the ever-present spotlight in Dallas. Sean McDermott, Sean Payton … other people named Sean? Doug Pederson? Something weird is going to happen.

74. Joshua Karty will break the NFL’s rookie record for most points scored in a season

The Rams’ kicker, drafted in the sixth round out of Stanford, seems to have a hold on the gig, barring a disastrous summer or early fall. L.A. should also score a lot of points this year. Down goes Brandon Aubrey’s record of 157 points set last season. It’s a Karty Party all up in here. 

75. After a slow start, the use of Guardian Caps will pick up

This is the first year NFL players are allowed to wear Guardian Caps during games. The padding is said to reduce impact and, with the long-term effects of repeated head trauma being the chief concern among post-career players, an initially hesitant Guardian Cap contingent will rise up in the NFL. I don’t understand the objection to wearing these, personally, but I know there is going to be some sort of dig-your-heels-in, football-is-war crowd trying to rationalize against common sense safety measures. At some point, though, everyone will realize the true value of a healthy brain.

76. The NFL will finally have a season in which the absolute dumbest public sports discourse has nothing to do with professional football

WNBA, the ball is in your court! As an aside, I think this is the year significantly more football fans will grow genuinely interested in real conversation and not conversation that is plotted in a network boardroom and scripted to be interesting and packaged to us, sort of like a “real ingredients protein bar” version of real conversation. But the pendulum of attention will swing back to a group of people not vying for air time or trying to be any more famous or popular than they currently are, simply discussing how they feel about sports. 

77. Five general manager vacancies will come open in 2025

After a long stretch of coaches being fired with far more regularity, we’ll see only two fewer general manager firings than head coach firings, reshaping some divisions and putting a few teams on vastly different trajectories. 

78. Specialty Netflix events will start chipping away at the NFL’s monopoly on football entertainment

A Mike Tyson–Jake Paul fight and a Kobayashi–Joey Chestnut battle are already lined up on Netflix. What’s next? Where’s the limit? Offseason sprint races between Tyreek Hill and DK Metcalf? Distance throwing competitions between Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen? A flag football game between both Super Bowl teams slated for mid-June with a cool $10 million to each participant in the 7-on-7 format? We’re not going to stop at sports of combat and gluttony. The ingenious idea of simply showing people what they’d want to see is going to shape the future of sports entertainment. Can the NFL monopolize? 

79. Rex Ryan will get back into the coaching conversation

Though he missed out on the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator job this past offseason, the book will be rewritten on the bombastic former coach of the Jets. The truth is that Ryan is an incredibly solid human being and a football savant who was running a lot of concepts 10 years ago that are popular now. A DC-needy team will either turn to Ryan as a consultant this season or in a full-time role in 2025. 

80. The Bengals will absolutely hammer teams in short yardage with an Amarius Mims–Trent Brown jumbo package

Brown is where he belongs, lining up as a bonus tight end alongside the team’s first-round tackle from Georgia. Together, the pair will help running backs average more than six yards per carry when running to their side not in the red zone. And, they will be responsible for at least 10 Bengals touchdowns on the season. 

81. Your family cat will die peacefully of old age during the third quarter of a Week 13 game between the Titans and Commanders

Technically labeled renal failure by the veterinarian, in a solemn postmortem that will be relayed to you by your parents, Smokey, the 19-year-old Manx, will meet its creator shortly after a failed third-down conversion by the Seahawks’ offense, as a Will Levis pass is batted down by Commanders defensive back Benjamin St-Juste. Washington’s 2021 third-round pick will have nearly hauled in an interception as Smokey fades in and out of consciousness, starting to see its life flicker before its eyes in a series of short, cinematic bursts as it transcends worldly pains and fears. 

82. Ezekiel Elliott will log 42 first downs for the Cowboys

Elliott will resume a kind of workhorse role for the undermanned Cowboys, who’ll depend heavily on the No. 4 pick in the 2016 draft deep into his age-29 season. Elliott will receive a lion’s share of the carries, despite the fact that he is back after Dallas allowed him to leave in free agency to play for the Patriots in 2023. 

83. Bill Belichick will be linked to so many amazingly ironic opportunities this season, but he will not end up as the head coach of the Giants or the Eagles

We currently project Belichick as a Mike McCarthy replacement in Dallas, but there is a long season ahead of us. What if he follows Tom Brady’s blueprint and goes to Tampa Bay? What if he winds up replacing a coach in the AFC East and coaches against the Patriots twice a year? Belichick will be working somewhere as a head coach in 2025. 

84. The Super Bowl halftime show will come down to a choice between Pitbull and Miley Cyrus

Talk about a dilemma. Super Bowl LIX will be held in New Orleans, and the NFL will continue a rich tradition of hosting a tentpole event in a city steeped in musical culture and not incorporating any of it in the halftime show. I know that Big Boi ended up showing up at the Atlanta halftime show, but Maroon 5 was so incredibly tone deaf. I’m absolutely still sore about it. 

I saw on Reddit that someone theorized a Miley Cyrus–Dolly Parton team up, and I’d truly be down for that. 

As an aside, I was looking at previous halftime shows that I’ve attended and could not believe that in February 2016, we had Coldplay, Beyonce and Bruno Mars at the same show. That’s wild. I’m not particularly obsessed with any of the acts individually, but the fact that they are all now among the most expensive and revered acts in show business and the event split time between the three is pretty mind blowing. 

85. The Chiefs’ quest for a three-peat will be thwarted by a hotly debated call in a clutch moment of the AFC championship game 

Just like when Patriots fans went full tin foil hat as other owners began to lean on the commissioner to even the playing field during the run of Belichick and Brady, conspiracy theorists will abound when a phantom holding flag is tossed late in the fourth quarter of a Chiefs-Bengals rematch that knocks Kansas City out of field goal range. 

86. Multiple track athletes and rugby sevens players will get NFL tryouts after the Paris Olympics

With kick returns at the center of everyone’s thought process right now, and practice squad rosters that have more room than during the last Olympiad, some teams will go deep in an attempt to find the next great speedster who can weave through traffic and make an impact on special teams.  

87. Detroit will finally get props as one of America’s barbecue destinations

Slows is one of the best barbecue restaurants in the country. Period. Full stop. Behind Joe’s in Kansas City, it is my second favorite barbecue stop in the NFL. Period. Full stop. Now that the Lions will be on a ton of nationally televised games, TV producers will have to stop leaning on the, “Hey, Eminem is here!” story line and discover the true gems of the city. 

88. None of the Titans’ big new additions will lead their teams in critical categories

Tony Pollard won’t end up leading Tennessee in rushing yards; neither Calvin Ridley nor Tyler Boyd will lead the team in receiving yards; and L’Jarius Snead won’t lead the team in interceptions. A fun oddity for Brian Callahan’s team in his first season, which, as we noted above, will be more fun than expected. 


Prepare to be devoured by the Manning family / Peter Ackerman / USA TODAY NETWORK

89. We will be devoured alive by the Eli Manning first-ballot Hall of Fame discourse

The third son of America’s favorite football family is up for the Hall of Fame. It’s a fun class of first-time-eligible players, including Luke Kuechly, Marshawn Lynch, Marshall Yanda and Terrell Suggs. Honestly, Yanda should be the centerpiece of this class, but I understand how hard it is to sell offensive line play. 

Anyway, Manning is going to get in. There’s just no way that he’ll be kept out. It’s like a member of the Bush family losing an election after securing the nomination (not a hanging chad joke, I promise). He will be there because it’s good for business. Because Giants fans travel well, as they did for Michael Strahan’s induction. And, because he played really well in two of the biggest games of his life, Super Bowls XLII and XLVI.

Nothing else matters, but that won’t stop an absolutely tireless brigade of clowns, both overstating Manning’s career and denouncing it, from trying to get some air time. 

90. Justin Watson will lead the Chiefs in receiving touchdowns

The 28-year-old has been a silent favorite of Patrick Mahomes for years. With the Chiefs breaking in another new suite of wide receivers, their experience together will pay dividends in a handful of critical spots.

91. Speaking of Chiefs wideouts, Kansas City will not finish among the top 10 in total drops

After a season of high-profile flubbings that ultimately didn’t matter, the Chiefs will tidy up their fundamentals. Less reliant on Kadarius Toney, the newly formed group will have a better overall yards per route run average and far fewer drops. 

92. Four of the first seven players you pick in this year’s fantasy football draft will be on injured reserve by Oct. 1

I don’t even know why I play anymore. 

93. A football-centric pup will join the PAW Patrol ahead of a Nickelodeon NFL broadcast

First, the NFL came for Christmas. Next will be Labor Day and President’s Day. What is sacred anymore? Certainly not Ryder, the leader of the PAW Patrol, or any of his adopted pups. Over the years, the PAW Patrol has grown on merit and merit alone, be it Liberty proving herself in the first PAW Patrol movie by deliberately getting herself captured in order to help save Chase; or Everest, who saved Jake the snowboarder in a daring ice rescue mission; or when Tracker distracted a massive rattlesnake and prevented the serpent from attacking Carlos, who was stuck at the bottom of a hole; or when Tuck and Ella helped repair the bridge. The pup tag is obviously a badge of honor, but the NFL’s deep desire to indoctrinate a fan base as early as possible will infiltrate the children’s program and lead to the discovery of Duke, an oval-shaped frenchie with a passion for contact sports and an aversion to wearing protective headgear. Like Rex, who joined the pups without a formal rescue, Duke will immediately be handed a coveted pup tag and access to the lookout tower as part of the preamble to the NFL’s cartoon-themed broadcast. 

94. The Ravens’ Week 9 home game against the Broncos on Nov. 3 will be held amid massive preparations for a World Series parade in their city

Let’s. Go. O’s. #BirdGang

95. Aaron Jones will catch more than 35 passes for the Vikings

The former Packers running back will excel in Kevin O’Connell’s offense, serving as a trusty safety valve for both Sam Darnold and J.J. McCarthy, whenever McCarthy assumes the full-time starting role. 

96. Frankie Luvu will make the Pro Bowl

The Commanders’ linebacker was awesome for equally terrible Jets and Panthers teams in recent years, posting massive tackle numbers and serving as an apt pass rusher situationally. Now with Dan Quinn and working alongside a block-gobbling Bobby Wagner, Luvu can excel and get the notoriety he deserves. 

97. Bo Nix will win the Broncos’ starting QB job outright

Sean Payton staked his reputation on the NCAA’s all-time single-season completion percentage leader. Nix is smart, mature and can process at a fast clip. Payton will want to get him through the rigors of the NFL learning curve as soon as possible. 

98. Derrick Henry will score at least 14 rushing touchdowns

Enjoy the ultimate frustration of having Lamar Jackson on your fantasy team: rushing touchdowns being sniped at the goal line by design. Jackson won’t have to put his body at risk in crunch situations anymore, thanks to Baltimore’s inking of the massive running back. 

99. Cooper DeJean will become the new quintessential Philly athlete 

Through no particular efforts of his own, the mild-mannered Iowa defensive back will see his jersey become one of the most popular among the irony-loving fan base as he adjusts to life in the NFL and new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. DeJean will finish the season with two interceptions. 

100. You will make someone’s life better this football season simply by being yourself 

A great conversation at a tailgate; a get-together of friends for a fantasy football draft; a text thread with family members, high school pals, coworkers, etc., related to your knockout pool. Football is not a lot of things, but it is a forum by which we can plan important social events or establish and maintain connections with one another. I cannot overemphasize how important you are to the daily flow of life, and in making a potentially difficult time better for someone else, or a great time for someone else even better, and all you have to do … is be you. Please remember this in 2024 and beyond. Tell people this regularly. Plan things together. Do things together. Love people. Hug your pets and kids. Read deeply to yourself and out loud to those who cannot. Bet the under on total points scored in the Super Bowl.

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem and wants help, call 1-800-GAMBLER.

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