Dutch Lion’s 2020 Pro Football Spectacular
You’d think with all the free time we’ve had since March that we would publish a comprehensive NFL season preview with time to spare. However, with the amazing weather fulfilling every golfer’s dream, we’re actually running a bit behind. Also, the full slate of sports is overwhelming. Never before in American history have we had all sports playing at the same time. Being able to watch baseball, football, basketball, hockey, tennis, and golf concurrently is making our brains mushy and drowsy. The television is getting burned out lately, and what’s wrong with that?
Therefore, we need to make some big statements. We need to put some stuff down for the record. The Dutch Lion is big on records. He’s big on predictions. He’s down with sleep too, kinda like one of those lions you see on National Geographic who dozes off for hours, perhaps days after devouring a wildebeest. Here we go with our 2020 NFL Crystal Ball.
AFC East – When is the last time a team other than New England won the AFC East? I’m glad you asked. It was 2008. The Miami Dolphins went 11-5 behind HC Tony Sparano. Where were the Patriots? Well, they also went 11-5 but Miami won the tiebreaker. This was the year that Tom Brady tore his ACL in the first game. Since then the Jets, Bills, and Dolphins haven’t been able to knock the door down, until now. That’s because Brady moved down South, taking his talents to Tampa Bay. We’re picking Buffalo to take advantage of this situation but don’t count out HC Bill Belichick just yet. He has a new QB in Cam Newton and you just never know.
- * Buffalo Bills (11-5)
- * New England Patriots (10-6)
- New York Jets (5-11)
- Miami Dolphins (4-12)
AFC North – The AFC North is one of the best divisions this year. Baltimore is fantastic. Pittsburgh should be rejuvenated with Big Ben Roethlisberger back under center. What about Cleveland? They have so many weapons for Baker Mayfield. He should thrive! Cincinnati is rebuilding with Joe Burrow taking over for long-time starter Andy Dalton, who is now a backup in Dallas.
- * Baltimore Ravens (13-3)
- * Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6)
- Cleveland Browns (9-7)
- Cincinnati Bengals (4-12)
- * Tennessee Titans (11-5)
- Indianapolis Colts (8-8)
- Houston Texans (7-9)
- Jacksonville Jaguars (3-13)
- * Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)
- * Las Vegas Raiders (10-6)
- Denver Broncos (6-10)
- Los Angeles Chargers (3-13)
AFC Playoff Seeds – This year the NFL added an extra Wild Card to each Conference. Only one team per conference will get a bye. All other teams must play on Wild Card Weekend.
- Baltimore Ravens (bye)
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Buffalo Bills
- Tennessee Titans
- New England Patriots
- Las Vegas Raiders
- Pittsburgh Steelers
AFC Wild Card Playoffs
#2 Kansas City over #7 Pittsburgh
#3 Buffalo over #6 Las Vegas
#5 New England over #4 Tennessee
AFC Divisional Playoffs
#1 Baltimore over #5 New England
#2 Kansas City over #3 Buffalo
#1 Baltimore over #2 Kansas City
NFC East – Dallas should breeze through this division. Washington and New York are rebuilding and Philadelphia would be the only competitor to the Cowboys this year. Dallas is just too talented.
- * Dallas Cowboys (12-4)
- Philadelphia Eagles (9-7)
- Washington Football Team (6-10)
- New York Giants (5-11)
NFC North – Are the Packers good? It’s hard to say. Their HC Matt LaFleur seems to be trying to install a power running game like his old team the Tennessee Titans employed to high production …after he left. This year he convinced Packers GM Brian Gutekunst to draft RB A.J. Dillon (6’0″ 247 pound FB/RB) even though GB already has Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. Interesting for sure. Somehow Green Bay finished 13-3 last year, then won an NFC Playoff game. To me they didn’t seem very good though. Maybe it’s just my biased opinion but they weren’t that impressive. I’ve been more afraid of 9-7 teams before than I was with the ’19 Packers. Whenever they faced a hard team, they got wiped out, as they did both times in San Francisco (38-7 & 37-20). Sure the Pack won at Kansas City, the eventual Super Bowl Champions, but wait a second, MVP Patrick Mahomes didn’t play that week. My favorite source of football knowledge, Football Outsiders, tends to agree with me. They had Green Bay as the 10th best overall team last year with the 8th best offense and 15th best defense. They should have won 9.8 games according to their Pythagorean Wins projection. Given their easy schedule and breaks, they won 13. Sure, 9.8 wins is solid but it’s not bye week in the NFC Playoffs solid. Yeah, it happens. This year I’ll take them to win the Norris again, but in a much closer race with Chicago and Minnesota. The Bears should rebound to somewhere in between last year’s brutal 8-8 finish and 2018’s 12-4 North Title team. 10-6 sounds about right for the Bears. My biggest concern with Chicago is DC Chuck Pagano is no Vic Fangio. The Bears have lost some bite since Vic traded up to become HC in Denver. Yeah, that happens too. Maybe the Bears offense can pick up some of the defense’s slack. There’s definitely room for improvement. Chicago needs to run the ball more and throw to their Tight Ends more. Look for Jimmy Graham and Cole Kmet to become big weapons in the Windy City. Book it Johnny Red. The Bears are going back to the Playoffs!
- * Green Bay Packers (11-5)
- * Chicago Bears (10-6)
- Minnesota Vikings (9-7)
- Detroit Lions (5-11)
NFC South – The NFC South should be an interesting division. The Saints are clearly the cream of the crop. The Buccaneers are one of the most intriguing teams this side of Penn of Teller.
- * New Orleans Saints (13-3)
- * Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-6)
- Atlanta Falcons (5-11)
- Carolina Panthers (3-13)
NFC West – The best division in football. Even the Cardinals are good. They have four solid teams that might beat each other up to nab playoff spots. We almost put the Cards in second place but were too impressed by the Rams and Seahawks to move Arizona up in the standings.
- * San Francisco 49ers (11-5)
- * Los Angeles Rams (10-6)
- Seattle Seahawks (9-7)
- Arizona Cardinals (8-8)
NFC Playoff Seeds
- New Orleans (bye)
- San Francisco
- Green Bay
- Los Angeles
- Tampa Bay
NFC Wild Card Playoffs
#2 Dallas over #7 Tampa Bay
#3 San Francisco over #6 Chicago
#5 Los Angeles over #4 Green Bay
NFC Divisional Playoffs
#1 New Orleans over #5 Los Angeles
#2 Dallas over #3 San Francisco
#1 New Orleans over #2 Dallas
2020 NFL MVP : Drew Brees/QB/New Orleans – Brees is 41 years old. He has the most career passing yards and touchdowns in the history of the NFL. He’s incredibly likeable. So why has he never won the MVP Award? It’s surprising, almost shocking that he has never won league MVP. He has finished second four times (2006, ’09, ’11, ’18). Here’s betting that he overcomes this hurdle in what might be his swansong.
2020 NFL Comeback Player of the Year : Cam Newton/QB/New England – Did you know that Cam didn’t throw for a single touchdown last year? Now that Cam traded his Panthers gear for the Patriots uniform, Coach Belichick will likely get the best out of Newton.
2020 Offensive Rookie of the Year : Clyde Edwards-Helaire/RB/Kansas City
2020 Defensive Rookie of the Year : Patrick Queen/LB/Baltimore
Super Bowl LV (55) in Tampa, Florida on February 7, 2021
Baltimore Ravens over New Orleans Saints
Baltimore was 14-2 last year but then got wiped out in the AFC Playoffs at home by the Tennessee Titans 28-12. Derrick Henry ran over the Ravens, gaining 195 yards. So what did Baltimore’s GM Eric DeCosta and Vice President Ozzie Newsome do? They got better up front, improving their front seven. They traded for Calais Campbell, one of the NFL’s premier defensive lineman. They also added Broncos castoff Derek Wolfe, who is a solid interior lineman. Then they drafted LSU LB Patrick Queen in the 1st Round. These moves should help improve Baltimore’s defensive front. With those moves, along with grabbing more weapons for wunderkind QB Lamar Jackson, we’re picking the Baltimore Ravens to hoist the NFL’s Vince Lombardi Championship Trophy in Tampa Bay next February.