I’ll stick to my belief that you can’t predict anything. But hell, you can take a guess.
Here’s one for every team and/or game the LA Rams play this season.
Week 1 - Dallas Cowboys
Teams combine for over 80 points in Week 1, Rams win
Last season, the Rams and Cowboys combined for eight touchdowns and 65 points as Dallas won 44-21. This guess isn’t far above that but 65 points is a lot and 15 more points than that would be a hell of a lot. LA had a 54-51 win over the Chiefs in 2018 and this might be more like 44-41, but I could see these teams scoring a lot of points on both offense and defense.
The Cowboys could have the best offense in the NFL with Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, Tyron Smith and Zack Martin all receiving all-pro level consideration, but also having Michael Gallup, CeeDee Lamb and La’El Collins. Dallas could also be stacked in their front-seven on defense (Demarcus Lawrence, Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, Everson Griffen, Dontari Poe, Tyrone Crawford, Sean Lee) but the secondary doesn’t inspire as much confidence. Not yet at least.
We know that the Rams are capable of giving up points to the Cowboys and we know that a Sean McVay offense is capable of keeping pace. I’ll make a guess that LA has an exciting and victorious win on primetime to debut SoFi Stadium, which the NFL would absolutely love to see.
Week 2 - Philadelphia Eagles
Eagles use Jalen Hurts for at least one play
Lamar Jackson played in all 16 games as a rookie, including four passes in Week 1, even though the Ravens started Joe Flacco for most of the year. Taysom Hill is a “regular” for the Saints. Will other teams follow that trend and blend in their developmental quarterbacks? Doug Pederson would be a coach I’d expect to be unafraid of following that trend and he could still have Nate Sudfeld as his backup to Carson Wentz. This is maybe a snap or two for Hurts.
Week 3 - Buffalo Bills
Josh Allen is on an early hot seat
I like Allen fine — he’s interesting — but a Top 100 player? Allen was superb at protecting the football last season, especially for a running quarterback, and in the final 12 games he had 17 touchdowns, three interceptions, six rushing touchdowns and only two fumbles lost. But his yards per attempt of 6.62 and his completion percentage of 58.2 are both well below average.
In Allen’s last four starts, including playoffs, he completed 47.7-percent of his passes for 5.48 yards per attempt. Even if Buffalo’s secondary options are Matt Barkley and Jake Fromm, I think Allen is closer to the hot seat than most would admit.
look,,,— seth galina (@pff_seth) August 18, 2020
I wrote about Josh Allen.
He's not that good HOWEVER there is a way the Bills can insulate him and not waste their very good defense againhttps://t.co/ByhtyBJsUC
The Bills acquired Stefon Diggs in an effort to test if personnel was the issue but that’s a lot of pressure on a receiver who only two seasons ago was targeted 149 times and only finished with 1,021 yards. In 2018, Diggs caught a career-high 102 passes but averaged 10 yards per catch and 6.9 per target. Then last season those numbers jumped to 17.9 and 12, both well above his career averages.
Which Diggs will the Bills get this year? And what will that mean for him against one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks when these teams meet in Week 3?
Week 4 - New York Giants
Jason Garrett has an offense that will get him a head coaching job in 2021
Garrett is the quintessential example of a head coach who quickly transitions from one organization to another, even if he never won the big one. Garrett has 9.5 seasons of head coaching experience with only one losing record but the Cowboys went an underwhelming 2-3 in the postseason.
In nine years with the Panthers, Ron Rivera had six losing seasons and went 3-4 in the playoffs and Washington is so excited to have him. He replaced John Fox, who also had nine years in Carolina, went 5-3 in the playoffs, and posted four losing records, including 2-14. He instantly went to the Broncos.
My guess: Garrett spends only one season as an offensive coordinator and New York’s naturally expected improvement of young players, additions, and regression will make him look like a wizard. Daniel Jones was better as a rookie than an many realize (18th in QBR) and did so with a supporting cast that honestly wasn’t that much better than the much-publicized issues for the Eagles.
Saquon Barkley and Dion Lewis could be one of the league’s best backfields and there is a high ceiling for an offensive line with Andrew Thomas, Will Hernandez and Kevin Zeitler, though they’ll miss Nate Solder. I think that the Rams should be favored in this game but the Giants offense could be more potent than expected.
Week 5 - Washington Football Team
Alex Smith plays
This seems to be what everyone is hoping to see, so why not? Dwayne Haskins and Kyle Allen were two of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL last season and of most seasons. I actually have optimism remaining for Haskins but the universe is willing Smith back to the field — and soon.
Week 6 - San Francisco 49ers
Dante Pettis is leading their receivers in receiving yards at this point
George Kittle may be leading all players on the team and who knows, maybe Jerick McKinnon is second, because Kyle Shanahan may have no choice but to spread the ball around — even more than he’s used to.
Leading receiver Deebo Samuel is on the non-football injury list and will miss the start of the season while recovering from a broken foot. Brandon Aiyuk is a first rounder and probably who most would peg as their next-best threat, but as a rookie I will reserve those expectations for now. And the Niners just lot Jalen Hurd for the whole season.
#49ers just wrapped their fourth practice. A bounceback day for the offense. Big runs from Jerick McKinnon and Raheem Mostert. Dante Pettis made a handful of catches and was the most productive WR.— Chris Biderman (@ChrisBiderman) August 18, 2020
Worth noting: Richard Sherman rested during most of the team drills.
Pettis was one of the Niners biggest disappointments in 2019. He may be their number one receiver to start 2020.
Week 7 - Chicago Bears
Matt Nagy switched back to Mitchell Trubisky
Again, these are just guesses ...
I guess Nagy picks Trubisky to start the year.
Then benches Trusbisky for Nick Foles.
Who then gives Nagy reason to second guess his previous second guessing, thereby making it a third guess.
And all within the first six weeks of the season, as the Bears open 2-4.
Week 8 - Miami Dolphins
Dolphins have made the switch to ... Josh Rosen
Rosen is on his third offensive coordinator in three years, this time it’s Chan Gailey. Reports in camp have actually been positive for him. I think Tua Tagovailoa will be the number three quarterback and when Ryan Fitzpatrick inevitably struggles after one really impressive win, the Dolphins will give Rosen his third NFL opportunity. Why shouldn’t they? If Tua pans out, then fine, but they already expected that. He’s their future.
If Rosen pans out, then they have Tua and Rosen — which is either insurance or trade compensation. There’s no real downside to starting Rosen unless you expect the Dolphins to win the division. Which doesn’t seem impossible this year but Miami as an actual championship contender certainly does.
Week 10 - Seattle Seahawks
They haven’t quite figured out how to use Jamal Adams yet
It would be easy to project Adams as a valuable addition to the Seahawks defense in 2020 because Adams has proven to be an exceptionally talented safety. However, Seattle has been as active on the “big name acquisition” market as the Rams have and almost none of those moves worked out immediately. Some never did.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll’s response to Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams saying Jamal Adams “might get bored” playing in Seattle’s scheme.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) August 13, 2020
“We don’t make as many mistakes as he does.”
The list would be much more exceptional if not for these players often or always struggling with the Seahawks: Percy Harvin, Jimmy Graham, Jadeveon Clowney, Sheldon Richardson, Sidney Rice, Pete Carroll even once signed Jahri Evans, cut him during training camp, and then watched Evans have a pretty good season for the Packers while Seattle missed the playoffs.
Something is clearly off with how the Seahawks have evaluated the fit between them and high-profile external options, including their first round draft picks.
Week 11 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The player to actually be concerned about: O.J. Howard
The Buccaneers added Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and LeSean McCoy to an offense that already had Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, but they didn’t trade Howard at a time when tight ends are pretty valuable. If Hayden Hurst is worth a second, what do the Bucs get for Howard? He gets labeled as a “disappointment” because of his draft expectations but it’s not hard to imagine a GM who notices that Howard is a 25-year-old freak athlete who was still fairly productive with Jameis Winston as his quarterback and splitting focus between Evans and Godwin.
OJ Howard wide open down the middle and hauls in 70-yard score on deep post.— PewterReport (@PewterReport) August 21, 2020
Winston may allow for volume, but Brady should give Howard real opportunities. The Bucs reportedly had a high asking price for Howard and to me that means they weren’t accepting a second rounder in return, which tells me they still like Howard as a first rounder. He may not outpace Evans and Godwin in targets but Howard could end up being the go-to player in big moments.
Week 12 - San Francisco 49ers
They’re not in first place
This would be a “bold guess” for me because I do think the 49ers are the most talented team in the division, if not the conference. What does that really mean? “The most talented”? It’s pretty vague, isn’t it?
I think defensively, San Francisco has good reason to be confident not only in their starting players, the ones who will be in on the majority of snaps, but also with regards to their depth. It’s rare to say that a defense doesn’t need an obvious upgrade at any positions and the 49ers may only have a few you could quibble about (Solomon Thomas, Ahkello Witherspoon) and even then they have players like Dee Ford and Jason Verrett rotating in and out.
San Francisco also has a a couple of tier one players on offense but that’s also where things get dicey in regards to the 49ers getting back to the Super Bowl. Though they have George Kittle and Trent Williams, the Niners may have banked their season on the belief that Jimmy Garoppolo is still the right quarterback for the team.
And that’s much more debatable than whether or not they have a talented defense.
Now knowing that the 49ers will enter the season with depleted options at receiver, potentially relying on a rookie and several disappointments to start for them, it’s easier to imagine Garoppolo struggling early and potentially putting them at a disadvantage with costly turnovers. The Niners could be closer to the middle of the conference than expected.
Week 13 - Arizona Cardinals
The pass defense gets even worse than 31st
The Cards ranked 31st in passing yards allowed last season. They were 28th in points allowed, 32nd in total yards allowed, 32nd in first downs allowed, and 27th in net yards per pass attempt at DVOA. Lucky for them they addressed this issue by ...
Trading for DeAndre Hopkins.
Arizona signed Jordan Phillips, De’Vondre Campbell, but if those are “upgrades” they seem minimal. They drafted Isaiah Simmons in the top-10 but I would be surprised if he has a notable impact right away, even though I do think he will have a lot of impacts down the line. Everything I said about the Niners defense except the opposite almost. They’ve got a couple players they may feel great about but then quite a few positions where you would think they could do better.
Plus the addition of Hopkins, if it makes their passing offense that much better in Kyler Murray’s second season, the defense could be getting more reps and shorter breaks than they’re used to.
It may not seem bold to say the Cardinals will have a bad pass defense but look at my margin for error. It’s only one!
Week 14 - New England Patriots
Brian Hoyer starts the most games at quarterback for New England
If the Patriots even win two games this year it might be Bill Belichick’s masterpiece.
This roster looks so bad. Of course, as luck would have it, the rest of the AFC East also looks pretty bad and it seems like New England should always be as capable as the Jets, Dolphins or Bills at winning the division. It still kinda boggles the mind that those three teams are all in one division. That seems to fly in the face of parity.
#Patriots QB Jarrett Stidham is dealing with a hip injury and it will be several weeks before he's back to 100%, per @MikeGiardi. Cam Newton and Brian Hoyer have been taking all the reps at practice today.— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) August 21, 2020
Not only do the Patriots look bad in general, but they don’t even look like what we’ve come to understand as a Patriots team. Cam Newton at quarterback? Is he a comparable quarterback to Tom Brady? Not that he should be, it just really drives home the point that things are different in New England.
With all that being said, I am not sure that Newton can prove healthy or accurate enough to run this offense throughout the season. I think it is more bold to say that I have Hoyer at some point beating out Jarrett Stidham and oddly enough, maybe being half-decent.
Week 15 - New York Jets
Fourth round rookie James Morgan starts at quarterback this week
It’s the Jets, I’m fine with this guess.
Week 16 - Seattle Seahawks
Carlos Hyde leads the team in rushing
The Seahawks will be waiting for Rashaad Penny’s services until at least Week 7 probably, but the amount of time he misses from a torn ACL last season is still a mystery. Even so, Penny had started to pull ahead of Carson in the middle of the 2019 campaign up until that injury and much of that was due to Carson’s fumbling problems but Carson has also has a hard time staying healthy and he fractured his hip in Week 17.
We're limited by what we can report during camp but one thing that stood out today during the open portion was running back DeeJay Dallas' route-running and pass-catching. The fourth-round pick has a wide receiver background and it showed during one-on-one drills vs. linebackers.— Brady Henderson (@BradyHenderson) August 18, 2020
The team signed Hyde in the offseason and even though running back acquisitions are often overlooked these days, Hyde topped 1,000 yards with the Texans last season and has played in all but two games over the last three years.
Week 17 - Arizona Cardinals
Despite good Kyler Murray season, Cards miss playoffs
My first thought at the end of last season was that Murray could be 2020’s Lamar Jackson. And then I noticed that I was not alone in that thinking. Plenty are connecting those dots. If Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson can win MVP in their second season, if Russell Wilson and Carson Wentz can win the Super Bowl in their second seasons, then why not Murray? He had all the tools to be the number one pick, his rookie campaign was all-in-all, really good. And now he has Hopkins.
This is a bit of a continuation of the last Cards bold guess, but let’s say Murray makes the Pro Bowl and contends for the MVP but ultimately Arizona doesn’t win enough games because of defense, special teams, and losing a few close ones.