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Bold predictions for the 2020 NFL season


The 2020 NFL season is here, and our NFL Nation reporters have bold predictions for all 32 teams to set up the slate ahead of Super Bowl LV. Here’s a sampling:

Miles Sanders will lead the NFL in all-purpose yards. Le’Veon Bell will be traded by the midseason deadline. The Chiefs will repeat as Super Bowl champions.


We also have predictions for the 2020 NFL MVP, the league leader in sacks and rushing yards and more. Read each prediction below.

Jump to:
ARI | ATL | BAL | BUF | CAR | CHI | CIN
CLE | DAL | DEN | DET | GB | HOU | IND
JAX | KC | LAC | LAR | LV | MIA | MIN
NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF
SEA | TB | TEN | WSH

NFC EAST

The Cowboys will have three 1,000-yard pass-catchers.


The Cowboys will become the sixth team to accomplish the feat. Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup had more than 1,000 yards a year ago and last season’s No. 3 receiver, Randall Cobb, had 828 yards. Insert CeeDee Lamb, the Cowboys’ first-round pick, into the mix and Dak Prescott will eclipse 5,000 yards passing. Don’t worry about Ezekiel Elliott’s rushing totals, either. This offense will be like the 2004 Colts who had three 1,000-yard receivers, and Edgerrin James still ran for more than 1,500 yards. — Todd Archer

Read the full Cowboys season preview.


Saquon Barkley will break the NFL record for yards from scrimmage in a season.

Retired running back Chris Johnson holds the mark at 2,509 yards. Barkley overtakes him this season with more than 1,700 yards rushing and another 800 receiving. He’s going to have that big a year in coordinator Jason Garrett’s running back-friendly offense. And it should bode well for the Giants’ overall outlook. — Jordan Raanan

Read the full Giants season preview.


Miles Sanders will lead the NFL in all-purpose yards.

Sanders wants to be a dual-threat running back in the mold of Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey. He showed he has the tools his rookie season, racking up 50 catches for 509 yards to go with 818 yards rushing while playing a touch over 50% of the snaps. Sanders’ playing time should skyrocket now that he has established himself as the feature back, and the numbers will go along with it. — Tim McManus

Read the full Eagles season preview.


Chase Young will set the NFL’s rookie sack record.

That mark belongs to Jevon Kearse, who recorded 14.5 sacks with Tennessee in 1999. Coaches have mentioned players such as Julius Peppers and Denver’s Von Miller when discussing the 2020 first-round pick’s ability; they had 12 and 11.5 sacks as rookies, respectively. Denver’s Bradley Chubb had 12 two years ago. Young enters with more promise. He is gifted, a worker and surrounded by good talent — inside and on the opposite edge. Because of the pandemic, offensive lines won’t have much time working together, which could affect how they handle line stunts. The combination of all those factors will help Young. He doesn’t just rely on his burst and length; both are impressive. He also knows how to study and has a plan. It should add up to quite a first season. — John Keim

Read the full Washington season preview.

NFC NORTH

Jimmy Graham will catch 80 passes for more than 1,000 yards.

This is supposed to be bold, right? Graham appeared finished last season in Green Bay, but the former All-Pro looked born again in Bears camp. Most importantly, Graham still appears to be a lethal threat in the red zone. And for those who claim Graham can no longer run, the Bears only need him to run 10 yards and box out a defender to win contested catches. Graham also is surrounded by a talented group of tight ends, including rookie Cole Kmet and Demetrius Harris. I smell a comeback. — Jeff Dickerson

Read the full Bears season preview.


Behind Jeff Okudah winning Defensive Rookie of the Year, the Lions win their first division title since 1993.

Looking around the NFC North, there are four teams each with significant questions (Green Bay’s receivers, Chicago’s offense, Minnesota’s retooled defense, Detroit’s pass rush), and it feels like any team could really win it. The Lions have four of their final six games at home, which could be an edge, especially since it’s unclear what travel protocols will look like. Plus, the offense has the talent and there’s potential on the defense if rookies Okudah and Julian Okwara progress well early. And in a year unlike any other, something that hasn’t happened for more than 25 years would seem about right. — Michael Rothstein

Read the full Lions season preview.


Aaron Rodgers will win his third MVP.

He might not be willing to say that the Packers’ decision to draft Jordan Love will light a fire under him, but there are those who know him who think it will — or that it already has. Rodgers was especially sharp in the abbreviated training camp this summer and will be out to prove that his unimpressive numbers from last season (26 touchdowns, four interceptions and one of the lowest passer ratings of his career) were simply a product of changing to a new offensive system and not a decline in talent given his age (36). — Rob Demovsky

Read the full Packers season preview.

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0:54

Greg McElroy takes issue with where Aaron Rodgers is ranked in ESPN’s top 100 NFL players for the 2020 season.

Justin Jefferson will have as close to a Randy Moss-level rookie season as any receiver has had.

A scorching-hot prediction would have Jefferson surpassing Moss’ 69 receptions for 1,317 yards and 17 touchdowns as a rookie in 1998. But given how often the Vikings execute two-receiver sets and that Jefferson is behind Bisi Johnson as the No. 2 receiver, it’s likely that he’ll gradually come along before being worked into the game plan regularly. By midseason, the former LSU star will hover around the 35-catch mark. By season’s end, he’ll cross the 1,000-yard threshold and cement one of the best rookie receiver seasons in recent memory. — Courtney Cronin

Read the full Vikings season preview.

NFC SOUTH

Both Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley will surpass 1,500 receiving yards.

As much as the Falcons talk about running the ball, Jones and Ridley are too talented not to throw to constantly. Matt Ryan knows that, and he’s going to let his top two receivers make plays, maybe even more down the field or with more chances for yards after the catch. — Vaughn McClure

Read the full Falcons season preview.


Teddy Bridgewater will pass for 5,000 yards.

Bridgewater will complete his amazing comeback from his horrific 2016 knee injury by passing for more than 5,000 yards and 40 touchdowns in Joe Brady’s offense that produced Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow last year at LSU. — David Newton

Read the full Panthers season preview.


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The Saints will have the NFL’s best cornerback duo.

We didn’t talk enough this offseason about how big of an impact veteran CB Janoris Jenkins could have as a “newcomer” in New Orleans since he actually arrived as a waiver claim last December. But so far in camp, he and two-time Pro Bowler Marshon Lattimore have had a commanding presence. And that’s vital, considering the Saints have to face dynamic NFC South duos such as Mike Evans/Chris Godwin and Julio Jones/Calvin Ridley. If Lattimore lives up to his potential this year, then next summer’s bold prediction will be him becoming the NFL’s highest-paid corner. — Mike Triplett

Read the full Saints season preview.


The Bucs will reach the postseason for the first time since 2007.

The Bucs seem more dialed in with Tom Brady, who will throw for 4,800 regular-season passing yards, which he hasn’t done since 2012. — Jenna Laine

Read the full Bucs season preview.

NFC WEST

Kyler Murray will win MVP.

Coming off a season in which he was named Offensive Rookie of the Year, Murray will continue to shine in his second season, especially with the addition of a receiver like DeAndre Hopkins. Murray will show off an improved understanding of the NFL game, specifically in how he handles running the ball versus getting rid of it. With a stable running game led by Kenyan Drake and a trio of receivers including Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk, Murray will be able to showcase his skills and throw for 5,000 yards while leading Arizona to the playoffs. — Josh Weinfuss

Read the full Cardinals season preview.


The Rams will win the NFC West again.

With three new coordinators, a reenergized Sean McVay and a group eager to prove that missing the playoffs at 9-7 last season was a fluke, the Rams will rebound and win a third division title in four seasons. They’ll need a few things to fall their way for this to happen. Jared Goff must return to 2018 form and first-year coordinator Brandon Staley’s defense needs to perform as he envisioned — with Aaron Donald in more one-on-one situations and Jalen Ramsey not only locking down his receiver but perhaps making plays across the entire field. — Lindsey Thiry

Read the full Rams season preview.

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0:49

Matthew Berry analyzes Van Jefferson’s fantasy prospects this season, saying the WR has turned a lot of heads in Rams camp.

Nick Bosa takes the next step, jumping from nine sacks as a rookie to 16 in Year 2.

A full offseason training with his brother Joey, a chance to start the season healthy and a training camp spent squaring off with Trent Williams have Bosa primed for the leap to superstardom. The breakthrough season vaults Bosa to a top-five finish in NFL Defensive Player of the Year voting. — Nick Wagoner

Read the full 49ers season preview.


Russell Wilson will win his first MVP award.

Wilson has been in the mix the past few years, and he’ll get over the hump this season with the help of a strong cast of weapons and an adjusted offensive approach. Knowing how badly Wilson wants to be unleashed, the Seahawks will put the ball in his hands earlier in games as opposed to waiting until the fourth quarter. That will help Wilson compete with Patrick Mahomes in the volume stats that determine MVP votes. — Brady Henderson

Read the full Seahawks season preview.

AFC EAST

Stefon Diggs and John Brown will each have 1,000 receiving yards.

Brown (1,060 yards) and Diggs (1,130) are coming off career highs in receiving yards in 2019 and should complement each other nicely as the Bills roll out their most prolific passing offense since 2002. Diggs will also make his first Pro Bowl and will finish in the top 10 in the NFL in receiving touchdowns. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

Read the full Bills season preview.


DeVante Parker and Preston Williams will each eclipse 1,000 receiving yards.

They will be the first Dolphins duo to each eclipse 1,000 receiving yards since Mark Duper and Mark Clayton did it in 1991. The Dolphins got a taste of what Williams and Parker could do together through eight games last season, as they totaled 428 and 400 yards, respectively, before the rookie Williams tore his ACL. Parker, who heated up in the second half of the 2019 season, had 1,202 yards. With a better offensive line and Ryan Fitzpatrick or Tua Tagovailoa at QB, a healthy season by Parker and Williams could push them to join a pair of Dolphins greats in the record books. — Cameron Wolfe

Read the full Dolphins season preview.


Cam Newton will win NFL Comeback Player of the Year.

Everything you need this week:
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Newton’s shoulder and foot have responded well in camp, and his energy and efforts to connect with teammates have created a spark in team headquarters. One thing is for sure: The Patriots’ offense will look a lot different in certain areas than it did under former quarterback Tom Brady. — Mike Reiss

Read the full Patriots season preview.


Le’Veon Bell will be traded by the midseason deadline.

This won’t be an easy task for the Jets, because he will still have about $4 million remaining in guaranteed 2020 salary, but they will eat some of it to pave the way for rookie La’Mical Perine to get more carries alongside Frank Gore. Look, Bell is a talented player, but he will be of no use to the Jets if they’re out of contention. They will cut him after the season to avoid a $13.5 million salary-cap hit in ’21; this way, they can recoup a late-round draft pick. — Rich Cimini

Read the full Jets season preview.

AFC NORTH

Lamar Jackson will lead the Ravens to a Super Bowl title.

Just like Patrick Mahomes a year earlier, Jackson follows up an NFL MVP season by spearheading his team to the Lombardi trophy. After Jackson has gone one-and-done in the playoffs the past two years, winning the Super Bowl has become “an obsession” for him, according to quarterbacks coach James Urban. Last year, Jackson quieted the critics who said he couldn’t become a legitimate NFL quarterback. This time, he silences those who don’t believe he can win when it matters the most. — Jamison Hensley

Read the full Ravens season preview.


Joe Burrow will throw 30 touchdown passes … and 20 interceptions.

Burrow will be as good as advertised and break Baker Mayfield’s record for passing touchdowns in a rookie season (27 in 2018). Burrow’s accuracy and ability to thrive under pressure should allow him to gain an early command of the offense and find different ways to be successful. But if camp is any indicator, Burrow will also have his share of setbacks as he adjusts to NFL passing windows. Other notable rookies have had a lot of interceptions in their first season. Burrow could experience both ends of the spectrum. — Ben Baby

Read the full Bengals season preview.


Nick Chubb will win the rushing title.

Not only that, Chubb will best Ezekiel Elliott, Christian McCaffrey and 2019 rushing champ Derrick Henry by more than 100 yards on the way to his first All-Pro season. — Jake Trotter

Read the full Browns season preview.

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0:35

Jake Trotter reports on Kareem Hunt’s two-year contract extension and explains how it gives the Browns some insurance when it comes to Nick Chubb.

Ben Roethlisberger will throw for more than 4,500 yards.

The last time the quarterback played a full season, in 2018, he led the NFL with 5,129 yards. Playing with a pain-free elbow for the first time in years, it’s entirely possible Roethlisberger rebounds for a strong year — even without Antonio Brown. The Steelers added two big targets for Roethlisberger in tight end Eric Ebron and rookie receiver Chase Claypool, who join JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson and James Washington. Roethlisberger will get the most out of those weapons. — Brooke Pryor

Read the full Steelers season preview.

AFC SOUTH

Deshaun Watson will be sacked fewer than 35 times.

Two seasons ago, the Texans led the league with 62 sacks allowed, and last season Watson was sacked 44 times, which was the sixth most in the NFL. Now, with all five starters on the offensive line returning, including Pro Bowl left tackle Laremy Tunsil, the group should take a big step forward in protecting the team’s mobile quarterback. — Sarah Barshop

Read the full Texans season preview.


Philip Rivers will set a career high in completion percentage.

He’ll be able to do it because he’s playing behind the best offensive line he’s had in his 17-year NFL career and the Colts aren’t relying on Rivers to carry them strictly with his right arm. Coach Frank Reich has made running the ball a premium. The Colts were seventh in the league in rushing in 2019, and they added back-to-back 2,000-yard rusher Jonathan Taylor in the draft to go with Marlon Mack, Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins. Defenses might be forced to stack the box to stop the run, which will set up the passing game perfectly for Rivers, whose career high in completion percentage is 69.5, set in 2013. — Mike Wells

Read the full Colts season preview.


Josh Allen will lead the NFL in sacks.

Allen will not only shatter the franchise’s single-season sack record but will threaten 20 — which means he’ll lead the league, too. Calais Campbell holds the record (14.5, set in 2017), and Allen recorded 10.5 last season as a rookie despite playing only 60% of the defensive snaps. He came back to camp leaner and stronger, and he’s been hard to handle during training camp. The Jaguars have had just one player in their history record double-digit sacks in back-to-back seasons (Campbell in 2017-18), and Allen will become the second before November. — Mike DiRocco

Read the full Jaguars season preview.


The Titans will finish with two 1,000-yard receivers.

A second 1,000-yard season for A.J. Brown is a basic expectation after a strong rookie year in which he posted 52 receptions for 1,051 yards and eight touchdowns. The bold part of this prediction is a 1,000-yard receiving season from Corey Davis. A four-year, $118 million contract for Ryan Tannehill should lead to more passing plays this year. That means more opportunities for Brown and Davis, whom Tannehill admitted he needs to find more. After dealing with turf toe and having an offseason procedure, Davis is focused on 2020. “I’m trying to do numbers this year,” Davis said. — Turron Davenport

Read the full Titans season preview.

AFC WEST

Drew Lock will flirt with 4,000 passing yards.

The Broncos have drafted just three previous quarterbacks who have moved into the starting job by their second seasons — Brian Griese, Jay Cutler and Trevor Siemian (remember that John Elway was drafted by the Baltimore Colts). Of that group, Cutler had the best statistical Year 2 (3,497 yards passing, 20 touchdowns), but Lock has far more help at running back and far more depth at wide receiver and tight end than Cutler had in 2007, and the results will show. The Broncos will run the ball plenty early in the season to get Lock settled in, but Lock will push the ball down the field enough to flirt with the seventh 4,000-yard passing season in the franchise’s history. — Jeff Legwold

Read the full Broncos season preview.


The Chiefs will repeat as Super Bowl champions.

They won’t get complacent like some other recent title-winning teams. Strong locker room leaders such as Mahomes and Tyrann Mathieu showed in training camp that they’re still hungry. Many of their best players are still young, including Mahomes (24), Tyreek Hill (26), Chris Jones (26), Frank Clark (27) and Mathieu (28). So there should be no drop-off from any of those players. — Adam Teicher

Read the full Chiefs season preview.

Derek Carr will lead the Raiders to the playoffs.

Carr, the most polarizing figure in recent Raiders lore, will excel in his third season in Jon Gruden’s offense and — with more weapons and a stout offensive line — pass for 4,500 yards and 30 TDs to lead the team to a wild-card berth. Continuity is key for Carr, and he will convert his detractors with every long score to Henry Ruggs III and every play he extends on the way to playing in the Pro Bowl in his home stadium. That is, of course, unless the Raiders are in the Super Bowl. What, you wanted bold, right? — Paul Gutierrez

Read the full Raiders season preview.


The Chargers will finish among the NFL’s five best rushing teams.

Doesn’t sound bold? We’re talking about a team that ranked 28th in rushing yards per game last season, then lost one of the greatest running backs in franchise history. No one man can truly replace Melvin Gordon, but the combination of Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson will produce, Tyrod Taylor will give the Chargers rushing ability out of the quarterback position that they haven’t had in, well, a really long time, and here’s the kicker: That offensive line will greatly benefit from a healthy Mike Pouncey at center and the additions of Trai Turner and Bryan Bulaga on the right side. — Alden Gonzalez

Read the full Chargers season preview.


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