1. RGIII is going to be better than Andrew Luck.
I've thought this for the past year or two. RGIII fits the mold of the new-style NFL QB a little better than Luck, and with Griffin's amazing ability to throw the deep ball he will finish the year as Rookie of the Year, not Luck.
2. Alshon Jeffery is the next Calvin Johnson.
Again, I've been thinking this for the last few years while Jeffery played at the University of South Carolina. Jeffery has the size, the speed, and the hands/concentration to be the next Megatron. Jeffery's impact will be on par with last year's Julio Jones/A.G. Green and he will ultimately prove to be the NFL's best receiver at some point in his career.
3. Gronkowski and Graham won't match last year's production.
Not much of a stretch here. They were so good last year it'd be tough to replicate anyway, and it's not going to happen. Last year was the year of the Tight End; this year teams will be more prepared in their defensive schemes. Expect these two TE's combined production to finish at about 60% of their numbers from last year.
4. Matt Ryan is going to lead the NFL in passing and win the MVP.
Michael Turner is old and washed up; Ryan, Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez are all going to put up huge years. Ryan will go over 5,000 yards passing and win the MVP this year, although JJ Watt will give him a run for his money.
5. Aaron Rodgers is going to take a small step back.
This is just common sense. He's been playing at such a high level there has to be some dropoff eventually. We'll see that dropoff this season.
6. The Saints will miss the playoffs.
The Falcons will win the NFC South and the Saints will finish 8-8; on the outside looking in. They're going to miss Sean Payton more than most people think.
7. The replacement refs are going to be a non-issue.
Fans have been crying lately about how the NFL needs to bring back the regular refs. I don't see the rush. Apart from a few nerves-fueled blunders in the preseason, the replacement refs have done a good job and to be honest I feel like they're actually more fair with the whistle than the regular refs. There won't be any horrible, game-changing bad calls by the replacement refs.
8. The 49ers, Falcons and Cowboys will be the NFC's best.
I'm expecting the Packers, Giants and Saints to all come back to earth a little bit which will open the door for the 49ers, Falcons and Cowboys to battle it out for NFC supremacy.
9. The Patriots, Ravens and Steelers will be the AFC's best.
No surprises here, except maybe the ommision of some fans' trendy SB pick, the Texans. Expect the Patriots to run to a 13-3 record and for the Steelers and Ravens to be in the mix, as always.
10. SB prediction: Cowboys 21, Ravens 17.
I'm probably being a homer. Oh well. The Cowboys have unlimited offensive talent and between their excellent pass rush and improved pass defense I believe Tony Romo will finally cement his place among the NFL's "elite" with a SB victory over the Ravens. The Ravens are also uber-talented on offense, and I think they'll squeeze just enough out of their aging defense for one final SB appearance in the Ray Lewis era.
11. The Redskins will be the surprise team this year.
RGIII is going to make the Skins a competitor. Every team to face Washington this year is going to be in for a tough, tough battle. RGIII's impact may no translate into double-digit wins just yet, but the Skins will play EVERYBODY hard and will have a fearsome offense, and an inspired defense to boot.
12. Miami and Cleveland will go back to the QB-drawing board.
Tannehill and Weeden aren't the answer. If that's not already clear it will be by mid-season. Weeden, in particular, is horribly overmatched and his teammates aren't going to do anything to make his job easier. Count on Trent Richardson to be a non-factor, as well.
13. The Jaguars will be semi-competitive.
They're still going to be a semi-bad team, but they'll play everyone tough because of their defense and running game, and by season's end Blaine Gabbert and Justin Blackmon will have a nice rapport with each other.
14. The Rams are better than you think.
The Rams will be a solid team and by the year's end it will be clear that although Sam Bradford is somewhat talented, the Rams would've been an even better team in 2012 if Bradford hadn't held them back. He's too injury prone and therefore hasn't made the expected leaps you'd expect from a veteran QB, especially a former number one pick.
15. Randy Moss is going to have a really good year.
Alex Smith isn't outrageously gifted but he is a smart QB and he can run a fairly mistake-free offense. Moss gives him an added threat; an outside presence with great size, hands and speed. Moss will be what Vernon Davis was last year, SF's best receiver and a potential game-changer. Expect Moss to finish with 90+ receptions and over 1,000 yards receiving and double-digit TDs.
16. Tim Tebow will have an exceptionally quiet season.
Mark Sanchez isn't great but he'll be good enough to start all year, barring injury. Tebow will run a play here and there but for the most part it will be a Tebow-free season in New York, and in the NFL world in general.
17. Cam Newton is going to experience a sophomore slump.
He'll still have a relatively good year but in comparison to his shocking rookie season, 2012 will be a down year for Newton. Not a sign of things to come, as he'll be a stud for a LONG time. But he's going to experience some growing pains this year as opposing defenses learn to stop him.
18. Lesser-known Wide Receivers will break out in a big way.
The afore-mentioned Alshon Jeffery in Chicago, Kevin Ogletree in Dallas, Torrey Smith in Baltimore, Stephen Hill in New York, Kendall Wright in Tennessee, Doug Baldwin in Seattle, Jerome Simpson in Minnesota, David Nelson in Buffalo, Dezmon Briscoe in Washington... they're all going to break out in a big way this year.
19. Arian Foster and Ray Rice will take a back seat to LeSean McCoy.
Shady is going to lead the NFL in rushing this year. Expect McCoy to finish with over 1,500 yards rushing and 18 TDs, along with over 500 receiving yards and another 7 or 8 TDs receiving.
20. Peyton Manning and the Broncos are going to suck.
Expectations in Denver are sky-high. After all, Tebow won a playoff game against Pittsburgh and Timmy can't hold Peyton's jock, right? Well, right, but the Broncos are still going to fall back to earth. Denver overachieved last year and they will be exposed this season. The defense is poor and the running game is questionable. Peyton is an old man and the Broncos wideouts are unproven. Expect Denver to finish with a losing record.
More to come as I have more free time become available.
Ok, I have something to add here. It's Sunday, September 26th, and Week 2 of the NFL season is mostly in the books. With the knowledge of how (most of) the first 2 weeks of the NFL season have gone, I'm changing my Super Bowl prediction. I am now picking the Eagles and Ravens to play in the Super Bowl.
BTW, apologies to the 49ers. They're clearly the best team in the NFC right now, possibly the best in the entire NFL. Matter of fact they are the best team in the NFL.
But at the same time I look at how the Eagles won in weeks 1 and 2, and I find myself thinking, "Every year there's an NFL team that catches lucky breaks. Every year there's a team that exceeds expectations and always seems to have the ball bounce their way". This year that team is the Eagles (so far) and so despite the fact that SF looks like a better team, I am no longer predicting the Cowboys to represent the NFC in the SB; I'm now going with the hated Eagles.
And I actually think they're going to win it.
In summary, my new prediction for this season's Super Bowl is:
Eagles 24, Ravens 21.