<
>

100 NFL predictions that will frame 2016 season

play
3 Packers predictions (0:50)

Packers reporter Rob Demovsky delivers 3 predictions that will shape the team's 2016 season. (0:50)

Tuesday marks 100 days from the start of the 2016 NFL season. What better way to celebrate than with 100 predictions from our crew of NFL reporters? Have at 'em.

1. QB Jimmy Garoppolo will lead the Patriots to a 3-1 record should Tom Brady serve a four-game suspension (at Arizona, vs. Miami, vs. Houston, vs. Buffalo). Garoppolo has shown obvious growth on the practice field and is ready to prove he is a capable NFL starter. -- Mike Reiss

2. I'll do you one better, Mike: Garoppolo's services won't be needed. Tom Brady will not miss the first four games of the season. I'm banking on Brady's legal dream team finding a way to drag out the process again. -- Mike Sando

3. Free-agent QB Ryan Fitzpatrick will re-sign with the Jets shortly before training camp. Fitzpatrick needs a team, and the Jets need a starting quarterback. The staring contest will last until late July, with the urgency of training camp finally forcing both sides to the bargaining table. Tough luck, Geno Smith. -- Rich Cimini

4. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll will sign a contract extension worth more than $10 million per year before the start of the season. Carroll is in the final year of his contract, but he wants to stay in Seattle until at least 2018. -- John Clayton

5. Questions about Eddie Lacy's weight won't cease. Even though the Packers' RB is slightly slimmer than last season, he'll always be a big running back whose weight will be blamed when he has a poor performance. -- Rob Demovsky

6. The Texans will play it safe with J.J. Watt, keeping him on the shelf during the preseason. Watt is recovering from significant surgery after tearing five different core muscles. -- Tania Ganguli

7. The NFL will develop a weekly half-hour sitcom featuring vice president of officiating Dean Blandino. The pitch: "A man and his friends laugh, cry and find meaning in the inexplicable (catch) rules of life." -- Kevin Seifert

8. Darren McFadden will be trade bait by the end of the summer. With Ezekiel Elliott and Alfred Morris, the Cowboys will hear from a RB-needy team willing to give up a draft pick for McFadden, who rushed for 1,089 yards last year. -- Todd Archer

9. Better wrap your head around the idea: Mark Sanchez will be the quarterback who opens the regular season for the defending Super Bowl champs unless injury gets in the way. And the Broncos are just fine with that because, frankly, they like him more than you'd think. -- Jeff Legwold

10. Even with the presence of Alshon Jeffery, 6-foot-3 Bears WR Kevin White will play a significant role near the goal line. Consider that Brandon Marshall and Jeffery ranked one-two in the NFL in end zone targets while with Chicago during the 2013-14 seasons. -- Mike Clay

11. Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins will play under the franchise tag this season. Both sides want a long-term deal, but unless Washington meets Cousins' asking price by the July 15 deadline, there's little incentive for him to sign now. The Redskins want to see more; Cousins is willing to bet that he'll show them what they want and cash in next offseason. -- John Keim

12. The Seahawks have not heard the last from Marshawn Lynch. Able-bodied players generally don't walk away from good money. Seattle would have to activate or cut Lynch if he chose to return, an awkward situation after the team drafted three running backs. -- Mike Sando

13. Carolina's Kawann Short will sign a long-term deal that makes the 2015 Pro Bowl selection among the five highest paid defensive tackles in the NFL. -- David Newton

14. Blaine Gabbert will take first-team reps at quarterback for the 49ers through most of training camp. Coming off three surgeries, Colin Kaepernick isn't getting the chance to pick up the pace of Chip Kelly's offense. Gabbert looks in control of the offense at the moment, running plays every 20 seconds. -- John Clayton

15. But this is far from a settled QB situation in San Fran, so I'm betting the 49ers will start three different quarterbacks at some point this season. Gabbert, Kaepernick and Jeff Driskel will all get time for Chip Kelly. -- Field Yates

16. RB Le'Veon Bell won't play much in the preseason. The Steelers will be cautious with Bell's knee, as the star back tries to have his first NFL season without injury. -- Jeremy Fowler

17. Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul will be the talk of training camp. He's focused, healthy and already being hyped about by teammates as looking much different than he did a year ago. -- Dan Graziano

18. LB Vontaze Burfict's three-game suspension at the start of the season will have a minimal impact on the Bengals' defense. If anything, his Week 4 return will serve as jolt for the Bengals as they work through a tough early season stretch. -- Coley Harvey

19. Sam Bradford will remain the Eagles' No. 1 quarterback through the preseason. First-year head coach Doug Pederson will not want to flip-flop on his first major (and very public) decision. -- Phil Sheridan

20. Chiefs LB Justin Houston won't begin the regular season on the active roster. Despite the optimism that he can be ready when the season starts, Houston had ACL surgery in February and such a speedy return is unlikely. -- Adam Teicher

21. Robert Griffin III's name will be No. 25 on that jersey of Browns' QB starters since 1999; he'll start the opener against Philadelphia. But don't be surprised if, for the fifth season in a row, the Browns start their No. 3 QB in the season finale. That could be rookie Cody Kessler, who's expected to make the roster either as the No. 2 or No. 3 QB. -- Pat McManamon

22. Dolphins coach Adam Gase isn't spilling the beans on how he plans to use first-rounder Laremy Tunsil, but look for the Ole Miss product to find a home at guard -- not offensive tackle -- in Year 1. That's where he's needed most for this team. -- James Walker

23. Colts QB Andrew Luck will sign a contract extension worth between $23 million to $23.5 million per year sometime before the start of training camp. Luck is the franchise and the team needs to lock him up sooner than later. -- John Clayton

24. If Luck doesn't beat him to it first, Saints QB Drew Brees will sign the richest annual salary deal for a QB in NFL history -- for the second time in five years. Look for Brees and the Saints to agree to a four-year extension worth more than $90 million on the eve of training camp. -- Mike Triplett

25. Falcons RB Tevin Coleman will get ample opportunity to show he can split reps with Devonta Freeman, despite Freeman's coming off a 1,000-yard, Pro Bowl season. -- Vaughn McClure

26. At some point during training camp, you will hear the following question asked on sports-talk radio: How will Russell Wilson's engagement to Ciara affect his play? I promise to do everything in my power to stop this, but I'm only one man. -- Sheil Kapadia

27. The Ravens will run significantly more pass plays with three-plus wide receivers on the field after ranking 27th in the category last season. This will allow intriguing breakout player Breshad Perriman, who has 4.24 40 speed, plenty of opportunities to produce. -- Mike Clay

28. Although the Rams will say all the right things about remaining patient, No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff will start at quarterback on opening night against the San Francisco 49ers. The investment to get him was too big and the alternatives so uninspiring that the Rams will ride with their rookie. -- Nick Wagoner

29. Harrison Smith will have a new contract by the start of the regular season. The Vikings know they need to get a deal done with the Pro Bowler, who has become one of the NFL's best at his position. General manager Rick Spielman took the somewhat unprecedented step (for him, at least) of admitting as much after last season. -- Ben Goessling

30. In maybe the easiest prediction of the year, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will not attend a Patriots home game in 2016. Relations between the team's fans and the commissioner are still frosty as Deflategate lingers. -- Mike Reiss

31. Brock Osweiler will have some growing pains in his first month as a member of the Texans, but he will ultimately break the franchise record for touchdowns in a season (29). -- Tania Ganguli

32. Even though Cardinals coach Bruce Arians has said RB David Johnson will be the team's bell cow, veteran Chris Johnson will claim the starting job. They'll continue to pair together for a dynamic "thunder and lightning" backfield, but CJ2K's experience will win him the job. -- Josh Weinfuss

33. One more veteran quarterback -- perhaps Nick Foles or Josh McCown -- will be traded before the regular season. -- Field Yates

34. Tony Romo will get hurt (again), giving Bucs QB Mike Glennon a lot of trade value. A desperate Jerry Jones will make Tampa GM Jason Licht an offer can't refuse for the fourth-year QB. -- Mike DiRocco

35. As RB Melvin Gordon continues to rehab from microfracture knee surgery, don't be surprised if the Chargers take their time getting him back on the field in training camp and the preseason. San Diego needs its 2015 first-rounder healthy for the regular season. -- Eric D. Williams

36. The first time Raiders QB Derek Carr has a rough stretch in a preseason game, a certain segment of fans will call for rookie Connor Cook to supplant Carr. Hey, the backup QB is usually the most popular guy on the team, right? -- Paul Gutierrez

37. Colts offensive line coach Joe Philbin is back in his comfort zone and will produce immediate results in Indy, revamping what has been the team's weakest link. -- Mike Wells

38. The biggest concern the Jaguars will have about No. 5 overall pick Jalen Ramsey is which number he'll wear. He had already made enough strides in the defense before his knee injury that the Jaguars were re-considering using him at only one CB spot. -- Mike DiRocco

39. Rest easy, Baltimore: QB Joe Flacco will be ready for the start of training camp. His knee injury will keep him out of spring practices, but Flacco is driven to prove he's an elite healer. -- Jamison Hensley

40. Titans rookie RB Derrick Henry will be the team's starter by Week 5. He'll show he's more valuable than DeMarco Murray, who the team traded for this offseason. -- Tania Ganguli

41. The Broncos will write the biggest check in franchise history and give Von Miller that mega-deal he has been wanting. And Miller will show exactly why when he keeps the momentum of last season's Super Bowl run right into the 2016 season. -- Jeff Legwold

42. I'll go one step further, Jeff: Von Miller will become the highest paid defensive player in league history. -- Field Yates

43. Redskins LB Junior Galette will recapture his pre-injury form. He looked so good last summer before tearing his Achilles, and the early reports from coaches and teammates have been positive. Galette had double-digit sacks in both 2013 and 2014. -- John Keim

44. Fifth-round pick Jordan Howard will prove to be the Bears' top RB. It won't take long for the 230-pound bruiser out of Indiana to overtake the underwhelming Jeremy Langford. -- Mike Clay

45. Agree to disagree, Mike: Jeremy Langford will the Bears' featured rusher, even though John Fox likes the RB-by-committee approach. Eclipsing 1,000 all-purpose yards isn't out of the question for Langford. -- Jeff Dickerson

46. Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson won't get a long-term contract. Don't be surprised if Wilkerson, who has yet to sign his $15.7 million franchise tender, skips the entire offseason program, including training camp. That would be a spite move; the deadline for franchise players to sign long-term deals is July 15. -- Rich Cimini

47. The return of Kelvin Benjamin will propel Cam Newton to even greater heights. A year after winning the MVP while Benjamin was sidelined (ACL), Newton will look to his favorite target early and often. -- David Newton

48. Lions first-rounder Taylor Decker will be the starter from day one at left tackle, pushing Riley Reiff to the right side. It might not always go well, but he'll build a foundation for the future. -- Michael Rothstein

49. With Randy Gregory suspended the first four games of the season, Benson Mayowa will win the Cowboys' right DE job coming out of training camp. He has started three games in his career and has two career sacks. -- Todd Archer

50. Shaq Lawson will start the season on PUP, missing at least the first six games. The Bills' first-round pick underwent shoulder surgery three weeks after being drafted. -- Mike Rodak

51. Rookie Sterling Shepard will open as the Giants' No. 2 wide receiver. Victor Cruz is still a long way off, and there remains a chance he never makes it back. -- Dan Graziano

52. We're in agreement here with Sterling Shepard, Dan. In fact, I'll go so far to say that the second-rounder will be on the field for nearly every pass play run by the Giants this season. New York has ranked second in the league in three-plus WR sets during each of Ben McAdoo's two seasons with the team. -- Mike Clay

53. The Ravens will trade Eugene Monroe to the first team that loses a starting left tackle to an injury. No. 6 overall pick Ronnie Stanley is the future at left tackle, and the Ravens drafted him because of their questions about Monroe's ability to protect the quarterback's blind side. -- John Clayton

54. Mike McCarthy isn't thrilled that the Packers have to play five preseason games this year, so don't expect to see much of WR Jordy Nelson until it counts after he blew out his knee in an exhibition game last summer. -- Rob Demovsky

55. First-round rookie CB Artie Burns will not be a Week 1 starter for Pittsburgh. He'll be a good player, but Burns is fairly raw and the Steelers will ride with their veterans early. -- Jeremy Fowler

56. The Vikings will again try to get Adrian Peterson involved in the passing game, especially as they try to use him in the shotgun more effectively than they did last year. The running back said he wanted to be a better receiver after last season, and he has been working to improve there in the offseason. -- Ben Goessling

57. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will cater the offense more to Matt Ryan's strength as a pocket passer. The addition of Pro Bowl center Alex Mack certainly will help the cause -- Vaughn McClure

58. Neither TE Jimmy Graham nor RB Thomas Rawls will play in the preseason for Seattle. Both players are coming off season-ending injuries -- ruptured patellar tendon for Graham, fractured ankle for Rawls -- and the team will be patient as they get back to full strength. -- Sheil Kapadia

59. Joe Thomas will open the season in Philly -- as a member of the visiting Browns. Cleveland's new regime has unloaded veteran players almost as a matter of policy, but none was a truly elite talent. Thomas is, which should keep him in Cleveland. -- Mike Sando

60. No player has ever had to explain why 105 catches and 1,304 yards receiving were a "step back" like Demaryius Thomas has this offseason. But book it, Thomas' offseason work showed he's poised to be a problem for opposing defenses. -- Jeff Legwold

61. Cardinals first-round DT Robert Nkemdiche will make some veterans and incumbent starters sweat in training camp. He's a top-five talent whose skill will drop jaws the more he's on the field. Limiting Nkemdiche to 30 plays a game, as is planned, will allow him to harness his energy and explode onto the scene. -- Josh Weinfuss

62. The Ravens, who have pushed the NFL to overhaul and expand replay review, will win a game on an unreviewable bad call. Next year: Abolish replay for everyone! -- Kevin Seifert

63. Kelvin Beachum will win the left tackle job in Jacksonville. Luke Joeckel, the No. 2 overall pick in 2013, will move inside to left guard. -- Mike DiRocco

64. Eagles DE Fletcher Cox will torment offensive linemen in training camp. After skipping OTAs in pursuit of a new contract, Cox will be highly motivated to prove his worth. -- Phil Sheridan

65. Even though the Bills are "encouraged" with the progress of QB Tyrod Taylor, he won't get a contract extension before the regular season. If Taylor turns into a stud this upcoming season, the Bills should have the cap space to assign him the franchise tag next spring. -- Mike Rodak

66. 49ers RB Carlos Hyde will be put in protective bubble wrap this preseason and see little, if any, of the field. After all, the 49ers went into a tailspin after Hyde suffered a stress fracture in his left foot last season. -- Paul Gutierrez

67. The Chiefs will eventually release running back Knile Davis. He fell from favor and dropped down the depth chart last season, and other teams won't relinquish a draft pick for a player they know the Chiefs will cut. -- Adam Teicher

68. CB James Bradberry will quickly make Carolina fans forget Josh Norman, as the rookie out of Samford will win the starting corner spot opposite Bene Benwikere. -- David Newton

69. A year after failing to top 1,000 yards for the first time since 2010, Frank Gore will surprise some with his play. He's trying to become the first 33-plus-year-old RB to rush for 1,000 yards since 1984. The Colts will scream "Finally!" if Gore does because he'd be their first rusher to eclipse that mark since 2007. -- Mike Wells

70. Colts rookie RB Josh Ferguson will be drafted in nearly every fantasy league that takes place in August. Indianapolis made little effort to add depth behind Gore, opening the door for the undersized but explosive scat back out of Illinois to emerge as a coveted handcuff. -- Mike Clay

71. Rams DE William Hayes will have HBO subscribers believing in mermaids and rejecting the notion that dinosaurs ever existed after five weeks of watching "Hard Knocks." OK, maybe we shouldn't go that far, but Hayes will be the show's breakout star. -- Nick Wagoner

72. RB Lamar Miller will gain 300 yards in the first month of the season. The Texans will use him more than the Dolphins ever did and he'll reward them. -- Tania Ganguli

73. As the Bengals look for a complement to top receiver A.J. Green, expect 2015 practice squad WR Jake Kumerow to get a lot of action this summer. He and rookie Tyler Boyd will be heavily used in the preseason. -- Coley Harvey

74. Undrafted rookie RB D.J. Foster (Arizona State) and first-year WR DeAndre Carter (Sacramento State) are two dark-horse candidates who will make a surprise run at roster spots. Foster's quickness and dual-threat skills as a rusher/pass-catcher give him a chance, and Carter is a spark plug slot receiver. -- Mike Reiss

75. The Cowboys won't trade G Ronald Leary, who's an unrestricted free agent after this season. The Cowboys know the importance of offensive line depth and are willing to pay him $2.553 million this year and hope for a potential compensatory pick in 2018 when Leary leaves as an unrestricted free agent. -- Todd Archer

76. Steelers free-agent TE Ladarius Green will become a breakout star in this offense. He was under-used in San Diego, and Ben Roethlisberger will take advantage of Green's unique skill set. -- Jeremy Fowler

77. Jay Cutler will be caught on camera in-game yelling at offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. Cutler had zero known outbursts with Adam Gase, but Loggains' temper is more volatile. It's the perfect storm. -- Jeff Dickerson

78. Expect at least one "wow" play from No. 3 overall pick Joey Bosa in the preseason. Bosa is too talented, and Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano will find ways to free up the Ohio State product as a pass-rusher. -- Eric D. Williams

79. The Giants will, for the second year in a row, wake up in August and realize they need to sign a veteran safety off the offseason scrap heap. It won't be Brandon Meriweather again. -- Dan Graziano

80. Vikings first-round WR Laquon Treadwell will start from day one. No one on the roster fills Minnesota's need for a split end like Treadwell, who's the kind of physical presence the receiver group has been missing. -- Ben Goessling

81. Rob Ryan will be a surprise replacement for Rex Ryan at a news conference. You know this will happen at some point. The twin brothers haven't worked together since 1995, and before the season ends, they'll find a way to have some fun with the media. -- Mike Rodak

82. Who needs a baseball instructor to teach you how to slide? Not QB Andrew Luck. Luck will finally stop being stubborn and realize it's OK to slide instead of taking unnecessary hits (see early fourth quarter of Week 9 last season). -- Mike Wells

83. Seahawks WR Doug Baldwin will sign a contract extension before the start of the season. He's entering the final year of his deal, and it makes sense for both sides to keep the partnership going after Baldwin enjoyed a breakout performance in 2015. -- Sheil Kapadia

84. Terrelle Pryor will make the Browns' roster as a receiver, and will run, catch and throw the ball for Hue Jackson this season. -- Pat McManamon

85. Even with Jared Goff and new passing game coordinator Mike Groh in place, the Rams' offense will still revolve around RB Todd Gurley. So long as Gurley remains healthy, he'll average 20-plus touches per game. -- Nick Wagoner

86. Detroit will end up with the best combination of facial hair in the league. The Lions already had DeAndre Levy, who has one of the best beards in the league, and they added rookie A'Shawn Robinson's plush chinstrap in the draft. -- Michael Rothstein

87. Speaking of facial hair: Mike McCarthy will shave his beard -- again. The Packers' coach grew one last offseason too, but then shaved it right before the season opener. Look for him in the razor aisle of a Jacksonville area Walgreens in September. -- Rob Demovsky

88. Raiders CB D.J. Hayden will respond to the challenge and solidify his standing as the starter ... in the slot. Not exactly a first-rounder's standing, but it's progress, yes? -- Paul Gutierrez

89. Don't expect TE Coby Fleener to replicate Jimmy Graham's ridiculous 2011 season. But now that he's in New Orleans, Fleener will be drafted ahead of Graham in your fantasy league. -- Mike Triplett

90. The albino tiger will become a common sight. Jaguars WR Marqise Lee, who was given that nickname by OC Greg Olson, will make it through the entire offseason, training camp, and preseason completely healthy. -- Mike DiRocco

91. The Cardinals will sign veterans at cornerback and offensive tackle before the starting of training camp. General manager Steve Keim knows those are two areas where Arizona needs more depth, and Keim does a great job of find one-year solutions. -- John Clayton

92. Eagles WR Nelson Agholor will open eyes in his second training camp. After a disappointing rookie season, the 2015 first-round pick bought his own JUGS machine so he could catch passes at home. That's dedication. -- Phil Sheridan

93. Jets DE Sheldon Richardson will be suspended by the NFL. In January, he pleaded guilty to resisting arrest, stemming from a high-speed car chase last July -- an apparent violation of the league's personal-conduct policy. It will mark the second straight year that he begins the season on the suspended list. A year ago, it was a substance-abuse violation. -- Rich Cimini

94. Dolphins S Reshad Jones will end his holdout soon. The Pro Bowler wants a new contract and is missing voluntary work to prove his point. But don't expect Jones to risk a fine by missing mandatory minicamp next month or training camp in July. -- James Walker

95. Tyler Bray will win the Chiefs' backup quarterback job over Aaron Murray and rookie Kevin Hogan. He's the most talented of the bunch, and the fact that he began offseason practice in that role indicates the Chiefs would like him to win this position battle. -- Adam Teicher

96. Ben Jones will eat at least one roach by the end of training camp. The Titans' center has been known for his antics. -- Tania Ganguli

97. Ravens will reach an extension with franchise player Justin Tucker. The sides have until July 15 to strike a deal, and it was a good sign that Tucker was at voluntary OTAs. Plus, where else are the Ravens going to find an opera-singing, Matthew McConaughey-impersonating kicker? -- Jamison Hensley

98. Jameis Winston's offseason fitness work will pay off, as the Bucs QB will lead the NFL in passer rating and TD passes in the preseason. -- Mike DiRocco

99. No media access policy, be it from the Bills or another team, will contribute to a single win or loss. Nor will it be responsible for raising a single dollar of revenue. -- Kevin Seifert

100. Cam Newton will come up with a touchdown celebration that will make the "dab'' look drab. -- David Newton