1. Eddie Lacy will go over 1,000 yards for the third time in his career.
The 1,000 yard barrier isn’t what it used to be. Most teams are now utilizing multiple backs who specialize in specific areas of the game. Many are even being used as hybrids out of the slot position and are making their marks catching the ball out of the backfield.
Last year only seven running backs reached the 1,000 yard threshold, and out of all of those, only one was on a team that made it to the playoffs.
The Packers offense is still set up to rely on both, and Lacy is the main piece in that set up. What Green Bay has been doing is finding offensive lineman who specialize in certain situations.
With that being said its apparent that they haven’t given up on Lacy as a typical ground and pound kind of back. The fact that he spent the offseason busting his body back in to shape, makes me believe he hasn’t given up either.
I don’t see him getting all the way back to the numbers he had in his first two years, just because the current state of the NFL and the Packers scheme doesn’t call for it, but I am convinced he will have no problem reaching 1k.
2. Khalil Mack will fail to hit double digits in sacks in 2016.
It’s obvious that Oakland is a team on the rise and that Mack is their undisputed leader on the field.
The Raiders have put together a very solid squad on both sides of the ball, and took a massive leap forward last year, not only record wise, but in individual performances. None of them were more impressive than Mack’s 5 sack outburst against the rival Broncos.
The law of natural progression would say that this year should be an even bigger step forward for the team and individual players. The only problem is the Raiders reputation has massively outgrown their current talent and teams will be ready for them.
This is exactly the reason why rising teams usually have a disappointing season before reaching their full potential.
This year offensive coordinators will have their eyes set on Mack and will plan their schemes accordingly. You can bet their will be numerous blockers focusing their attention on making sure he doesn’t have another outburst like he did in week 14.
This isn’t to say he won’t be affective in other ways, but his numbers will suffer due to the success he garnered in 2015.
3. The Lions offense will be better without Calvin Johnson.
I know it doesn’t add up in the regular fan’s mind that an offense can improve by losing it best player. However, there are many factors to why it makes perfect sense.
Because he was an unstoppable force, and the star on an otherwise average offense, pressure was placed on Matthew Stafford to make sure that Megatron got the ball, no matter how deep the coverage was around him.
Sure Johnson was able to make highlight reel busting plays on occasion, with three d-backs hanging all over him, but he failed just as often.
Johnson’s knack for the spectacular led defense coordinators to build their schemes around stopping him, and when he failed to get open, Stafford had to settle for a less productive option.
Now with an arsenal full of weapons and the prowess of Offensive Coordinator, Jim Bob Cooter, Stafford will have the advantage of a more orthodox attack, and a broader arsenal of weapons.
The emergence of tall, athletic, tight end, Eric Ebron, gives Cooter a weapon he can utilizes in a similar way to Johnson while using his shorter and quicker receivers to spread the field, and the young stable running backs should enjoy his diversity as well.
4. Andrew Luck will not reach 3,000 yards or 30 touchdowns in 2016.
As I predicted last year, the Andre Johnson and Frank Gore signings were a negative for a team in desperate need of offensive live and overall defensive help.
Instead of allowing this team to move forward, it added pressure on a quarterback who is already worn down from having to carry the entire team on his tired back.
Luck who had an almost flawless injury history in college and at the beginning of his NFL career, suffered two injuries last season, after admitting he felt he had to play more aggressive than he would like to for his own safety.
His options this year are to either tone down his style of play a bit or watch his own and the team’s production suffer immensely.
Either option spells a step back for this once hopeful organization and possibly the decline of what could have been an amazing career for the young quarterback, unless the defense can step up in unprecedented fashion and give him some much needed help.
5. Chip Kelly and the 49ers will surprise us all.
After listening to Eagles fans whine for the last few years you would think Kelly was an absolute joke. However, Chip, the laughingstock that he was, led Philly to a 27 and 21 record, which was the best in the NFC East.
Make no bones about it. Kelly is a genius, and a great NFL coach. The only thing he requires is a bit of patience and understanding from his players.
He has already earned it in San Francisco, and even though the 49ers roster is a joke on paper, they will be successful because they believe in his system.
Kelly has a way of simplifying the offense to make it easy for his players to feel confident right away. The main player who should benefit from that is potential superstar, Carlos Hyde, who is fast becoming Kelly’s biggest fan.