2020 NFL Predictions: Division Winners, Breakout Players, Postseason surprises, and much more

FINALLY! The NFL season is here and that means meaningless NFL predictions make their way onto the timeline.

Right here, right now, I’ve got predictions for:

·      Team records

·      Postseason predictions

·      Awards

·      Breakout players

·      Disappointing players

·      BOLD predictions

·      Which head coaches get fired

So let’s get started…

TEAM RECORDS

NFC EAST

Eagles: 10-6 (3)

Cowboys: 8-8

Giants: 5-11

Washington: 3-13

NFC SOUTH

Buccaneers: 12-4 (1)

Saints: 11-5 (5)

Panthers: 6-10

Falcons: 6-10

NFC WEST

Cardinals: 12-4 (2)

Seahawks: 11-5 (6)

49ers: 8-8 (7)

Rams: 7-9

NFC NORTH

Packers: 10-6 (4)

Vikings: 8-8

Lions: 7-9

Bears: 5-11

AFC EAST

Dolphins: 10-6 (3)

Bills: 9-7 (6)

Patriots: 6-10

Jets: 3-13

AFC SOUTH

Colts: 10-6 (4)

Texans: 8-8

Titans: 8-8

Jaguars: 1-15

AFC WEST

Chiefs: 12-4 (1)

Broncos: 9-7

Chargers: 7-9

Raiders: 4-12

AFC NORTH

Ravens: 11-5 (2)

Steelers: 11-5 (5)

Browns: 9-7 (7)

Bengals: 5-11

NFC PLAYOFFS

Wild Card:

Saints (5) @ Packers (4) = Packers win

Seahawks (6) @ Eagles (3) = Eagles win

49ers (7) @ Cardinals (2) = Cardinals win

Divisional Round:

Packers (4) @ Buccaneers (1) = Buccaneers win

Eagles (3) @ Cardinals (2) = Cardinals win 

NFC Championship:

Cardinals (2) @ Buccaneers (1) = Buccaneers win

AFC PLAYOFFS

Wild Card:

Steelers (5) @ Colts (4) = Steelers win

Bills (6) @ Dolphins (3) = Dolphins win

Browns (7) @ Ravens (2) = Browns win

Divisional Round:

Browns (7) @ Chiefs (1) = Chiefs win

Steelers (5) @ Dolphins (3) = Steelers win

AFC Championship:

Steelers (5) @ Chiefs (1) = Chiefs win

Super Bowl 55:

Chiefs (1) @ Buccaneers (1) = Chiefs win

AWARDS

MVP: Kyler Murray

OPOY: Russell Wilson

DPOY: Darius Leonard

OROY: Tua Tagovailoa

DROY: Isaiah Simmons

Comeback: Ben Roethlisberger

Coach: Brian Flores

BREAKOUT PLAYERS

Kyler Murray, Miles Sanders, Marquise “Hollywood” Brown

Kyler Murray: DeAndre Hopkins will be a big reason why, but I believe Murray has the best opportunity to make the biggest second-year-jump we’ve seen with quarterbacks over the years.

Miles Sanders: Eagles are going to ride Miles Sanders all season long, especially with the offensive line in flux.

Marquise “Hollywood” Brown: He has the swagger teams wish they had in all of their players. Brown said he’s gained a lot of muscle this offseason and still didn’t lose any speed. Watchout!

DISAPPOINTING PLAYERS

Cam Newton, Derek Carr, Ryan Tannehill

Cam Newton: I don’t see a player as free-spirited as Newton gelling with a coach like Belichick who seems to be the “my way or the highway” type. Newton’s best days are behind him and his body can no longer last a full season.

Derek Carr: This is the year where Jon Gruden gets fed up with Derek Carr, who seems to always try to impress his coach, but gets no love in return.

Ryan Tannehill: He’s a backup quarterback at best. Teams will be a lot more prepared for him this year and he got paid– he’s got nothing to worry about anymore. Tannehill will go back to his old self sooner rather than later.

BOLD PREDICTIONS

  1. Tua takes over for Ryan Fitzpatrick and leads the Dolphins to the division crown and a playoff win
  2. Cardinals clinch the No. 2 seed in the NFC
  3. Mike Mayock will be flushed out as GM after he and Jon Gruden “mutually part ways over the disagreement of the team’s direction.”
  4. Philip Rivers gets benched in favor of Jacoby Brissett who leads the Colts to the playoffs
  5. Zero games get postponed or cancelled due to the pandemic
  6. Drew Lock solidifies himself as a franchise quarterback
  7. Jets clean house, trade Sam Darnold to Tennessee, and draft quarterback Trey Lance from North Dakota State University.
  8. Dak Prescott requests a trade, lands in Pittsburgh, after Big Ben finally retires.
  9. Cam Newton retires
  10. Nick Chubb will win the rushing title

FIRED HEAD COACHES

  • Doug Marrone
  • Matt Patricia
  • Matt Nagy
  • Adam Gase
  • Dan Quinn’

NFL First 32 Mock Draft 2.0 – Chargers trade up, Kinlaw falls, Vikings replace Diggs, trades, and more

We’re almost there, folks. The 2020 NFL Draft is this week and we have surely seen our fair share of mock drafts. We released a previous mock draft by analyst Gianfranco Illiano and you can check that out here:

While preparing this NFL Mock Draft, I tried to avoid a lot of trades because it usually takes away from one of my favorite purposes of a first round mock draft, identifying team needs and best players. I enjoy trades with multiple trades, however, because it’s pure chaos.

There’s just so many questions with the NFL Draft this year. Not even counting the fact this is the first virtual draft in NFL history, this draft is uncrackable. I believe I saw a report that a GM said most mock drafts were completely wrong. I’m fairly confident in mine.

1. Cincinnati Bengals – LSU QB Joe Burrow

The 2019 Heisman winner and National Champion brings his superstardom to Cincy to help save the Bengals.

2. Washington Redskins – Ohio State DE Chase Young

Young is a generational talent going to a Washington squad that needs an influx of talent.

3. Chargers (via Lions) – Alabama QB Tua Tagliova

Tua has had just about the most up and down college career ever for a highly touted QB prospect. He’ll be expected to replace long time starter Phillip Rivers.

4. Miami Dolphins (via Giants) – Oregon QB Justin Herbert

The gunslinger from Oregon gets to go save Miami’s offense.

5. Giants (via Dolphins) – Iowa OT Tristan Wirfs

Offensive line has been a problem for the Giants for years now. And with a second year Daniel Jones at QB, it’s a good time to start protecting the pocket.

6. Lions (via Chargers) – Ohio State CB Jeff Okudah

Okudah is the best CB in the draft going to the worst secondary in the NFL.

7. Panthers – Clemons LB Isaiah Simmons

Simmons is just a human highlight tape. He doesn’t even have a position because he plays everything. Panthers have to somehow try and replace the playmaking abilities of recently retired LB Luke Keuchly.

8. Cardinals – Oklahoma WR CeeDee Lamb

Kyler Murray gets his wish to pair up with former college teammate CeeDee Lamb. Coach Kliff will certainly be pleased.

9. Jaguars – Florida CB CJ Henderson

The Jaguars need help at a lot of positions in the Front office. But they also need help at cornerback. Henderson adds to the first round talent at CB in this draft.

10. Browns – Louisville OT Mekhi Becton

Becton has the best name in the draft. And he was also the best tackle in the ACC last season. Baker needs protection. This should work.

11. Jets – Georgia OT Andrew Thomas

Tackles continue to fall. And notice the young QB trend. Jets QB Sam Darnold got beat up last season by DL’s and desperately needs help up front.

12. Raiders – Alabama WR Henry Ruggs

Who even knows who’s the best WR on that Alabama roster last season? They’re all good. Ruggs has tremendous feet and great hands. Good pick for the Raiders to help Carr/Mariota. Also, Las Vegas desperately needs stars and Ruggs has tons of star potential.

13. 49ers – LSU EDGE K’Lavon Chaisson

Chaisson is one of my favorite players in the draft. He is quick but tough as nails. I’m excited to see how he can help the 49ers replace DeForest Buckner.

14. Buccaneers – Alabama OT Jedrick Wills

Brady gets some added protection.

15. Broncos – Oklahoma LB Kenneth Murray

Murray is the best LB in the draft. The Broncos shouldn’t even blink with this pick.

16. Falcons – Auburn DT Derrick Brown

Brown is a unit. He also has NFL quickness. Should be fun to watch him develop in Atlanta.

17. Cowboys – Clemson CB A.J Terrell

Jerry Jones replaces Byron Jones with a far cheaper option.

18. Dolphins – Alabama EDGE Terrell Lewis

Lewis is a prototypical Alabama EDGE defender. I love this pick for the Dolphins who need upgrades on defense.

19. Eagles (via Raiders) – Alabama WR Jerry Jeudy

Jeudy provides speed and fine route running to an Eagles offense that desperately needs more of it.

20. Jaguars – Penn State EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos

Matos was really solid for Penn State all season. And with the Jag’s possibly trading Yannick Ngakoue, this is a no brainer.

21. Raiders (via Eagles) – Utah CB Jaylon Johnson

Johnson is such a solid CB. I know the Raiders will excited at his potential.

22. Vikings (via Bills) – LSU WR Justin Jefferson

Jefferson is a great receiver to put next to Adam Thielen. Give Kirk Cousins more weapons and see what happens.

23. Patriots – Wisconsin LB Zack Baun

Baun is a bull and the Patriots defense could be looking to add some youth.

24. Saints – Utah QB Jordan Love

Love might be an option to replace QB Drew Brees in a few years.

25. Vikings – TCU CB Jeff Gladney

Gladney will hopefully fill the shoes of CB Xavier Rhodes, who was released this offseason.

26. Dolphins (via Texans) – Baylor WR Denzel Mims

Mims has continued to shoot up draft boards since his impressive performance at the NFL Draft Combine. The Dolphins will look to add around Herbert.

27. Seahawks – South Carolina DT Javon Kinlaw

I value Kinlaw much higher than this. But the Seahawks get a huge talent at DT if this happens.

28. Ravens – LSU LB Patrick Queen

Ravens added Derrick Wolfe and franchise tagged Matthew Judon, so I expect the Ravens to add to the defense even more and bring on Queen.

29. Titans – LSU CB Kristian Fulton

One of the many bright spots of LSU’s 2019 Championship team, Fulton gets added to an already elite Titans defense.

30. Packers – Arizona State WR Brandon Aiyuk

The loaded WR class continues to show in the first round.

31. 49ers – TCU DT Ross Blacklock

The 49ers will look to add to their already elite front seven.

32. Chiefs – Michigan C Cesar Ruiz

Ruiz is the best interior OL in the draft and Chiefs C Austin Reiter is 28 years old.

2020 NFL Mock Draft – First 32

*Editors Note: Part of my social distancing fun the last week has been watching draft film so it was fun to look through and study a new Mock Draft from TFC’s Gianfranco Illiano below. Read it and let us know what you think! The draft is upon us. – VC http://twitter.com/cenzoNF

  1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow – QB – LSU
Image result for burrow

The Bengals have a ton of holes on the roster but it’s time to restart the franchise with the kid who is from Ohio and who had the best single season performance college football has ever seen.

  1. Washington Redskins: Tua Tagovailoa – QB – Alabama

Ron Rivera runs the entire operation now. He will be making the final decision on draft day and I think he decides to roll with his own quarterback. He saw what a franchise QB can do for a team when he drafted Cam Newton in 2011. Haskins will be traded down the road. 

  1. Detroit Lions: Chase Young – DE – Ohio State

The Lions front office lands the best player in the draft at third overall. If Matt Patricia doesn’t screw up this cornerstone prospect, he’ll be even better than what Ndamukong Suh was for Detroit. 

  1. TRADE! Giants to Dolphins. NYG receives: 1st round pick (5th overall), 2nd round pick (39th overall), 5th round pick (148th overall). MIA receives: 1st round pick (4th overall).

Miami Dolphins: Jordan Love – QB – Utah State

Image result for jordan love

The Dolphins were hoping for Joe Burrow, they thought they would be able to snag Tua Tagovailoa, but they missed out on both! To avoid being leap-frogged by the Chargers or some other team, they trade up one spot to draft Jordan Love, a guy the Dolphins are very high on, according to the Miami Herald.

  1. New York Giants: Mekhi Becton – OT – Louisville

The Giants drafting Mekhi Becton will help their previous two first-round picks in Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley. It’s a win-win for everyone.

  1. Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert – QB – Oregon

The west coast kid stays in the west coast and he couldn’t be happier. Justin Herbert just looks like a Chargers quarterback. 

  1. Carolina Panthers: Isaiah Simmons – LB – Clemson
Image result for isaiah simmons

The loss of Luke Kuechly will be paramount to the Panthers because there aren’t too many guys that can replace that production. Simmons can play anywhere on defense and comes from a winning culture– something Matt Rhule is trying to build first and foremost.

*Editors Note: Simmons is easily my favorite player in the draft. His speed at his size is going to translate well to the NFL. This would be a great pick for Carolina, who’s defense was among the worst in the league last season. – VC

  1. Arizona Cardinals: Jeffrey Okudah – CB – Ohio State

The Cardinals land the best defensive back in the draft and they didn’t have to trade up. Who better to learn the techniques on how to be a great cornerback than Patrick Peterson?

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Derrick Brown – DT – Auburn
Image result for derrick brown

The Jaguars need to regain their defensive identity. Derrick Brown will serve as a good replacement for Calais Campbell. Some scouts believe Brown is the best prospect in the draft. 

*Editors Note: Love this pick for the Jags. They are desperate for talent up front on the DL. – VC

  1. Cleveland Browns: Andrew Thomas – OT – Georgia

Andrew Thomas was a three-year starter at left tackle for Georgia, a position the Browns desperately need. Newly signed OT Jack Conklin will take care of the right side. 

  1. New York Jets: CeeDee Lamb – WR – Oklahoma

The Jets need to give Sam Darnold some help, which they have in free agency by adding five offensive lineman. Joe Douglas’ next step is to find Darnold a new weapon. Lamb is fantastic after the catch and is elite at tracking the ball in the air. 

  1.  Las Vegas Raiders: Henry Ruggs III – WR – Alabama

The Raiders need speed on the perimeter and Ruggs is the fastest receiver in the draft. He should be a nice fit in Jon Gruden’s offense.

  1. San Francisco 49ers: Jerry Jeudy – WR – Alabama
Image result for jerry jeudy

With the loss of Emmanuel Sanders, the 49ers need a WR to develop a rapport with Jimmy Garoppolo. Jeudy is an elite route runner and creates excellent separation.

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jedrick Wills – OT – Alabama

Quarterbacks in Bruce Arians’ system get sacked a lot and Tom Brady is at an age where he needs to take the least amount of hits as he can. Maybe Tampa will install a similar system Brady had in New England, but Coach Arians will definitely want to sling the ball down the field, which means Brady will have to be in the pocket a little longer than he’s used to.

  1.  Denver Broncos: Tristian Wirfs – OT – Iowa

Looks like the Broncos have finally found their quarterback in Drew Lock. Now it’s time to protect him.

  1.  Atlanta Falcons: K’Lavon Chaisson – DE – LSU

It seems like every year the Falcons are in the market for a pass rusher. Even with the addition of Dante Fowler, Atlanta should draft a pass rusher in round one.

  1.  Dallas Cowboys: C.J. Henderson – CB – Florida

The Cowboys need to find a replacement for Byron Jones. Henderson should be a day 1 starter for Dallas.

  1.  Miami Dolphins: D’Andre Swift – RB – Georgia
Image result for d'andre swift

Yes the Dolphins signed Jordan Howard, but he is not a bell-cow running back. Swift will be a star in Miami. This move will pay major dividends down the road.

*Editors Note: Thought the Dolphins might go DB here, but I don’t totally hate this pick because I’m high on all Georgia RB’s. Sony Michel, Todd Gurley, Nick Chubb, and the list will continue. – VC

  1. TRADE! Raiders to Vikings: LV receives: 1st round pick (22nd overall), 3rd round pick (89th overall). MIN receives: 1st round pick (19th overall).

Minnesota Vikings: Kristian Fulton – CB – LSU

Mike Zimmer loves drafting CBs. Xavier Rhodes, Mackensie Alexander, and Trae Waynes are gone. Kristian Fulton will be a starter right away.

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Xavier McKinney – Safety – Alabama

Jacksonville needs everything. Plain and simple.

  1. TRADE! Eagles to Seahawks: Eagles receive: 1st round pick (27th overall), 3rd round pick (101st overall). Seahawks receive: 1st round pick (21st overall).

    Seattle Seahawks: Yetur Gross-Matos – DE – Penn State

    Both teams love making trades and aren’t afraid to go up and down draft boards. Jadeveon Clowney hasn’t been signed yet, which means Seattle needs a pass rusher. Gross-Matos is an underrated player in this draft. He’s raw, but filled with a ton of potential.
  2. Las Vegas Raiders: Jalen Hurts – QB – Oklahoma
Image result for jalen hurts

Don’t be surprised to see Jalen Hurts go in the first round. He’s rising up draft boards, Raiders aren’t sold on Derek Carr, and Mike Mayock isn’t afraid to draft a player early.

*Editors Note: Not sure about this one with the Mariota signing. But having 3 starting QB’s on the roster sure sounds good to Gruden.

  1. New England Patriots: A.J. Epenesa – DE – Iowa

With the loss of Kyle Van Noy, the Patriots need a starting pass rusher. Epenesa will likely go earlier than this, but this is how the board fell. Another lucky break Bill Belichick.

  1. New Orleans Saints: Justin Jefferson – WR – LSU

Drew Brees needs all the help he can get. The Emmanuel Sanders signing was a great one, but drafting the kid who is from Louisiana and can play in the slot would be a nice complement to Michael Thomas.

  1.  Minnesota Vikings: Javon Kinlaw – DT – South Carolina
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Minnesota’s defense was a huge disappointment last season. Chris Spielman will be psyched to see this physical freak still on the board.

*Editor’s note: This is a dream 1st round for the Vikings. Man, they loaded up on defensive talent. And still a ton of receivers to take in later rounds. – VC

  1.  Miami Dolphins: Josh Jones – Tackle – Houston

Dolphins have to protect their new franchise quarterback.

  1.  Philadelphia Eagles: K.J. Hamler – WR – Penn State
Image result for hamler

The Eagles need speed, speed, and more speed. K.J. Hamler is an excellent route runner. He is dynamic with the ball in his hands and he can make an entire defense miss. Carson Wentz needs a young weapon to rely on. 

*Editors Note: Would have preferred Mims, but I can’t ignore the wheels on Hamler. He was so impressive vs. Michigan last season. Have to figure he’ll produce. VC

  1.  Baltimore Ravens: Patrick Queen – LB – LSU

The Ravens are stacked on the defensive line. Now it’s time to find the next signal caller on the defense.

  1.  Tennessee Titans: Jeff Gladney – CB – TCU

The Titans secondary is missing two key pieces in Logan Ryan and Tramaine Brock. They don’t have much money to sign a corner, insert Jeff Gladney.

  1.  Green Bay Packers: Denzil Mims – WR – Baylor
Image result for DENZEL MIMS

Davante Adams can’t continue to carry the load for the Packers. Denzil Mims is a big receiver who is excellent on fade routes and we all know how much Aaron Rodgers loves running those types of plays.

*Editor’s Note: Mims and Adams?! HOW MUCH HELP DOES RODGERS NEED?! Great pick for the Pack – VC

  1.  San Francisco 49ers: Neville Gallimore – DL – Oklahoma

Shocking move by the 49ers to ship away DeForest Buckner, but it always comes down to money. Neville Gallimore is certainly a cheaper option than Buckner. 

  1.  Kansas City Chiefs: Cesar Ruiz – Center – Michigan

Andy Reid loves drafting lineman in the first round and the offensive line in Kansas City could use some youth. Ruiz could step in on day 1 and be the starting center.

Super Bowl LIV Pick, Analysis

Super Bowl Sunday has arrived. The storyline’s are few, but the drama is certainly high. The 49ers and Chiefs get ready to kick off on Sunday night in Miami.

Pick: Chiefs ML

I’ve had high praises for the 49ers all season long. Their defense is lethal and constantly makes big plays, especially the front 7. But the Chiefs have just been so damn good offensively in the playoffs. Simply put, this Chiefs team is doing things offensively that will be talked about for years.

I don’t think the Chiefs defense getting enough love. Since their November 10th loss to the Titans, the defense hasn’t been talked about much at all, which is probably a good thing considering the only time we ever talked about Kansas City’s defense was when they were getting thrashed.

A few things to watch:

This is really interesting. I talked a little bit about the pre snap motion that San Francisco uses in my post last week. PSM can confuse defenses and offer something they possibly haven’t seen on film. Expect the 49ers to use a ton of PSM to confuse Kansas City on Sunday night.

The 49ers have got to run the ball well on first and second down. If they want to be run-oriented, it has to work more than 50% of the time if they want to win the Super Bowl. We haven’t seen Jimmy Garrappolo have to throw the ball while the 49ers are down and I’m interested to see what happens if the Chiefs get ahead early.

My post-game post will have much more analytical breakdowns and game film.

Film Study: How the San Francisco 49ers use a zone-run offense to dominate the NFL

The 49ers have had a dream season, and they will surely look to cap it off with a championship as they get ready for Super Bowl LIV.

Particularly, San Francisco does a really nice job on the zone-run. They were averaging 145.0 yards a game on the ground at one point in the 2019 season. They have a stout o-line that has a lot of athleticism and a TE named George Kittle who not only can block, but he was also the highest rated play in the NFL this season by Pro Football Focus.

Let’s start this film session with a play from the NFC Championship game. Mostert finds a hole and nearly takes it to the endzone.

This rep was won by the 49ers before the ball was even snapped. Kittle moves in motion to confuse the Defense. The 49ers run a lot of play action out of I-form (QB under center in front of fullback and running back for those who don’t know), so you can’t cheat. You have to be disciplined in the run game to have a shot at beating them.

Every offensive lineman defeats their man and gets to the second level. Kittle makes his block on the outside and Mostert can choose his lane.

One thing I love about the zone-scheme is the lanes it forms. On one-dimensional plays like the HB Dive, where the HB has a predetermined hole to run through, it makes for a lot of blown up and predictable plays. With the Zone-Run plays, however, two or three lanes can form and it allows elusive HB’s, like Mostert here, to find space.

Another play I’ve been studying is from the 49ers Week 14 thriller against the Saints.

This play was all thanks to incredible play design by HC Kyle Shanahan and the rest of the offensive staff. As soon as the ball was snapped, you could already see the lane the offensive line provided.

Naturally, LB’s fill gaps and read the QB as soon as he turns to hand the ball off. This time, the LB’s correctly flowed right, but left a huge zone on the other side of the field for Mostert to read. He just needs to wait a second for it to open and…

This scheme is predicated on staying on blocks and getting to the second level. How about #17 Emmanuel Sanders blocking downfield? That’s part of the culture that Kyle Shanahan has brought to the 49ers and it’s clearly paid off.

The zone-run scheme puts a lot of responsibility on every player on the offensive line. In order for it to work, every player must find their guy. The 49ers GM John Lynch has put together a formidable offensive line that can move in space and it allows Mostert and Coleman to choose their holes.