With 2020 behind us and a covid-19 vaccine in our sights we can all start to look forward to the new year with optimism that some form of normal will return. The world of professional sport is no different. Here we make our five predictions for the NFL in 2021.
5 NFL predictions for 2021
Chiefs to win the Super Bowl
Alright, so we’re far from alone in our view that the Kansas City Chiefs are the team to beat ahead of the season finale and as far as NFL predictions for 2021 go, it’s not the most shocking. It’s also not something that can just be ignored though.
Despite posting a 14-2 record, which is their best ever regular season performance, Andy Reid’s men have not been the runaway train many thought they might. Plenty of their 14 wins have been narrow victories. They simply haven’t shown the same ruthlessness as last year and that’s reflected by the fact eight of their winning margins have been by less than a solitary touchdown score. Last year, that was only the case in three games with their average winning margin down by over four points in 2020.
That said, it often feels like they’ve got another gear they could easily kick into if and when needed. Coasting isn’t something they’ll be able to do in the post season though and complacency in their ranks is arguably the biggest challenge they’ll face until the Vince Lombardi trophy is on the line. We expect them to face the Packers at the Raymond James Stadium. If that prediction comes to fruition then it will mean they’ll almost definitely be up against the league MVP, Aaron Rodgers. Thankfully for the Chiefs, they have Patrick Mahomes and, for our money, he’ll be the difference because MVP award or not, he’s still the best QB in the business.
Tua Tagovailoa will lead Miami to the playoffs
There has been a lot of talk about last year’s fifth overall pick, Tua Tagovailoa, being a bust. We think those making such claims are going to be eating their words in 2021. Whatever your take on his displays, Brian Flores has already backed Tagovailoa as his starting quarterback next year. That’s got to be a huge confidence boost for the player. It’s deserved too; the Alabama graduate had a sparkling record in the NCAA and, actually, his rookie year hasn’t been too bad when you start to break things down.
His 2020 stats read as over 1,800 passing yards, 11 touchdowns and a 64% completion ratio from 290 attempts. Don’t get us wrong the figures don’t make for amazing reading. They’re hardly so bad that he should be written off though. For one thing, there have been worse debut campaigns from players who have gone on to achieve big things. The other factor you need to consider is who surrounds him in the offense. Come the start of next season, that’s something the Dolphins will surely have addressed. Assuming that’s the case then it could be a good year for Tagovailoa and we’re backing the Dolphins to make the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
The Patriots will falter again
One of the big talking points of last year’s off season was how the Patriots and Tom Brady would get on without one another. Brady has hardly hit the heights we know he’s capable of in Tampa; although he’s still led them to their first post season for well over a decade. His former side, however, recorded their first losing season since 2000. That was Bill Belichick’s first season in charge.
We’re not suggesting Belichick has simply been riding the Brady wave all these years but this is arguably his biggest challenge yet. A 7-9 record simply isn’t good enough for a team like the Patriots. The current squad lacks balance between youth and experience and a thorough roster rebuild is needed. There are question marks over pretty much all areas of the team. Belichick rightly has lots of credit in the bank but we see another disappointing season on the horizon and, to be bold, we think it might be Belichick’s last at the helm.
Trevor Lawrence is heading to Jacksonville
Right, let’s cut to the chase. There is no way you can dress the Jaguars season up as anything other than an absolute disaster. They had a losing streak of 15 games after beating the Indianapolis Colts in the opening game; it ultimately cost David Caldwell his job. Jacksonville rolled over and had their tummies tickled on a few occasions in the season, which is completely unacceptable but there were fixtures that were in the balance. Of course, their record shows those games went against them but the first round draft pick finds them at a good time. Why? Well, it’s arguably going to give them access to the brightest draft prospect for years.
Clemson’s marketing major Trevor Lawrence is nailed on as the first overall pick. His three year spell in the NCAA has been sensational. He carried his team to an undefeated season in his freshman year whilst he’s only tasted defeat twice in his 36 starts across his entire college career. His 2020 stats of 3,153 yards and 24 touchdowns read as his poorest year (even then it’s quite good) but it’s only because he missed a chunk of the season due to Covid-19. A look at his game averages suggest he would probably have recorded his best ever figures without that disruption. It’s too much to expect a rookie to spearhead a run to the post season but 2021 will unquestionably see more wins.
Drew Brees will give it one more year
Speculation has been rife over the future of Drew Brees for years. Retirement talk has intensified over the past 12 months though with plenty of smoke in the air that he could call it a day at the end of the 2020 season. We don’t sing from that hymn sheet though. Brees has carried the New Orleans Saints for an age now and he’s unlikely to drop his teammates in it by leaving a decision to the last minute. The only thing that might alter that decision is if the Saints spring a surprise and go on to lift the Super Bowl; then Brees could feasibly opt to go out on a high.
We’ve already touched on our Super Bowl picks though and the Saints don’t feature. With no crowning moment and no big send off from the fans who have worshipped him since his arrival in 2006 we expect him to do one more year. Yes, that extension wouldn’t guarantee Brees could go out with another Vince Lombardi in his pocket. It might, however, see him cement his place as the leagues all time leading scorer, which is something he’d likely lose to Brady if he retired now and he’ll almost certainly get to play in front of a full house again with the coronavirus vaccines now being rolled out, which rounds out our NFL predictions for 2021.