Are you ready for some football? Somehow, someway, the NFL season is here. There was no preseason this year due to the ongoing pandemic, so it's tough to gauge which teams are regular-season-ready. But there's still plenty of intrigue this year — especially with Tom Brady leaving New England for Tampa Bay — even if the anticipation is a bit more subdued than usual due to everything going on in the world right now. That hasn't stopped our panel of musicians from making some bold predictions about the 2020 season. They're pretty psyched about what's to come, even in the face of uncertainty. From Super Bowl predictions to insight on their own team, our panel looks deep into the future on what this year has in store, with some more optimistic than others. Now that your fantasy team has been drafted — and ahead of Thursday night's AFC Divisional Round rematch between the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs — here's how musicians see the season shaking out. Mark Hoppus, Blink-182 Los Angeles Rams Courtesy of Mark Hoppus What's the prognosis for the team this year? I’m cautiously optimistic. They made a lot of bold moves during the offseason and it’ll be interesting to see how they pay off. Generally, they’ve been improving every year since coming back to L.A. and they lucked into the Super Bowl in 2019 but I feel like they have yet to fully coalesce. They’re on the edge of being great. Let’s go Rams! How do you feel about McVay? I like McVay. Very new school as a coach but I like his positivity and approach to the game. It was a super bum out when he used his introduction on Hard Knocks to take off his shirt and play basketball in the pool with his dog. What about Goff, is he still the man? Totally dig Goff and want him to be the man. Watched him live at a Cal homecoming game and was impressed even back then. If he can relax under pressure and make smart decisions without panicking in a collapsing pocket I think he’ll be solid. What are your reasonable hopes for the Rams? It’ll be strange in the time of COVID to see how the season plays out. Will star players get sick and sit out for weeks? Will coaches? It’s not inconceivable that a cluster of players and coaches on a team could be sidelined for a portion of the season. All things being equal, the Rams are poised for a good year. Good rookies, good veterans. Who is your player to watch this year on the Rams? Cam Akers. I’m interested to see how he fills that position. High hopes riding on his shoulders. Do they make the playoffs? We make the playoffs but lose in the first round. Record prediction? 10-6 because that’s the team I feel we are this year. Hopefully, I’m wrong and the team tightens up and goes the distance but at this point in the preseason, we’re a solid B. What's your Super Bowl matchup? Any matchup that doesn’t involve the Patriots. Nothing against the team but it’s getting boring. Alice Cooper Detroit Lions Dave Simpson/WireImage What's the prognosis for the team this year? I have been so busy doing other things that the Lions have not come into my focus yet, only because I'm not even sure if there's going to be a season. And if so, it will probably be a shortened season, which might be in their favor. They could get hot for five or six games. Of course, always excited to see them play and to see who the new guys are and see how they're doing. This is a rebuilding year for your team. What happens to Stafford and Patricia if things don't change in a positive fashion? I think it's always a rebuilding year for every team. I don't think there's such a thing as a rebuilding year — everybody's rebuilding at all times. Stafford and Patricia, you know how good they are. It's just a matter of, "Can you protect Stafford?" With Patricia, you have to deal with who your players are. If you get a team that gels together, you don't need a bunch of superstars. You need a team that plays together. And I would always take that team over a superstar team anytime. Because that's the team that's gonna win, guys that that click together. What are your reasonable hopes for the Lions? What's their ceiling/floor? I think the Lions could easily make the playoffs. They're used to being sort of in the middle. So if they just have a couple of games that they're not supposed to win that they do win — and that's usually the better teams; they beat the better teams. They have to worry about the teams that aren't as good that just step up and bite them. Who is your player to watch this year on the Lions? I think you always have to watch guys like Kenny Golladay, who's going to be a Pro Bowler. And, of course, Marvin Jones with the tragedy of his son. Do they make the playoffs? If everybody stays healthy, I think they make the playoffs. It's kind of a cliche, but I'm not talking about injuries — I'm talking about, you know, the virus. I will say they finish third in the division. The best games of the year are always against Green Bay. The two Lions-Green Bay games are always the highest-scoring games of the year. Those are the two most fun games to watch. I think if they can win one of those and beat Minnesota once — they never have a problem with the Bears. So all you have to have is a couple of games that you shouldn't win go your way and you're right there. But if San Francisco shows up this year, I could see that — I could see Kansas City and San Francisco again. What's your Super Bowl matchup? I still like Kansas City. I think Kansas City is going to be in there. Who's not watching Brady? Everybody's watching Brady with the Buccaneers to see what happens. Who knows? That might be a match that starts a fire down there. And all of a sudden you get this team that just shows up. A whole team can be sparked by just one player. One guy like that comes in and everybody steps up and goes, "We're tired of being losers; let's be winners." I'm not gonna say that the Buccaneers are gonna go the Super Bowl. I'm really interested in Tampa, but I could see Kansas City and somebody like Green Bay or Minnesota. How do you think COVID impacts the season? I think they should be taking their temperature every time. They should be getting a COVID test like once a day almost. But I mean, a team could be wiped out in one day. All it takes is one day for an entire team to be taken right out. So, you know, whoever's the healthiest out there may win the whole thing. Melissa Etheridge Kansas City Chiefs @melissa_etheridge/Instagram What's the prognosis for the team this year? We've got almost all of our starting players back, and we didn't lose any of the big playmakers. Then you have Travis and Tyreek and Patrick and then Chris Jones and the Honey Badger on the other side. And it goes even deeper than that, and Andy Reid and the feel of the whole team is just so delicious. And so you feel like they're all working together and that they had a great time and that they figured it out. They figured out how to not be defeated. Does it get any better than last year? How did it feel to win the Super Bowl? It was the biggest celebration of feeling when we finally won the AFC Championship. We had been knocking on the door a couple of times in the last, you know, 20 years. And the year before, I was actually there in Kansas City when we lost to the Patriots. That was like, "Okay, that's all the fuel to last year." So to actually win and win in Kansas City and know that we're going to the Super Bowl, that was the big celebration. The Super Bowl was just kind of surreal — it's this kind of show where these two teams play. I mean, it'd be great if and when they win. But if they don't win, I know we can at least make it back. We've broken that spell , you know, over the last 50 years and then them coming back and winning ... I was exhausted. The only big question is "Will Mahomes be the greatest player in Chiefs history and maybe NFL history?" Is that a fair expectation at this point? You want to just take it season by season. It's sort of like, you know, seeing a rock and roll star and you're like, "Oh my God, they're the greatest." Then they fade away and it's like, "Oh my God, where did they go? Do you know what happened to them?" I just don't think Patrick's like that. He feels very solid. His talent feels real. And there's a groundedness. It's like when you see Russell Wilson for the first time you're like, "Wow, he's that talented." He can make it happen. It's like when you see Tom Brady, when you see Aaron Rodgers — they just have that talent. They have that thing where you don't give up on him. You could be down by 10 in the fourth quarter or down by 20 or whatever, and you know that there's still a possibility. You feel that in him. I think, yeah, not only could he be the greatest who ever plays with the Chiefs, but certainly he's already up there in stats with some of the greatest. What are your reasonable hopes for the Chiefs? What's their ceiling/floor? I don't know what it's gonna be like playing with 20% capacity stadiums where the juice of the team was so much in Arrowhead and what it was like to be in front of the crowds. Hopefully, that won't be a factor. These are just unusual times all around, so hopefully, they can stick together as a team and find a way to play through all that. When you have great leadership like Andy and Patrick and Tyrann, you can get through the unusual. I don't think there's going to be any personality conflicts — they didn't build the team that way. I think it's just about playing and loving the playing and doing what they do and just one game at a time. Who is your player to watch this year on the Chiefs? Clyde Edwards-Helaire, the running back. He's got thighs that can crush you. I just want to see him tear loose because we have Damian Williams and he's amazing. It's just going to be a double threat with the running backs. When we drafted him, I thought that was genius. Do they make the playoffs? Oh absolutely, no doubt. Record prediction and why? 15-4 , with another Super Bowl. What's your Super Bowl matchup? Well, I want to say Green Bay Packers because my wife is a Green Bay Packer fan, so Packers-Chiefs. How do you think COVID impacts the season? I'm already watching the other practices, and I've been watching Hard Knocks because that's how we are over here. And you just see people trying to create a safe COVID-free bubble, you know? These teams can then meet each other, and it's just it's super hard. I don't think anybody's going to not play full-out. That's not the way these athletes were made. I think they're healthy individuals, and it's just — man, this is rough, but football is really healing to people like me. Especially the Midwest and stuff. So you know, I wish them all the best. Darius Rucker Miami Dolphins Courtesy of Darius Rucker What's the prognosis for the team this year? Happy with how things are shaping up with the new regime? I’m excited for the team this year! Last year was a strange one since we were trying to get the no. 1 pick. We ended up winning the games and didn’t get it, but we still got what we wanted – we got Tua. That’s the biggest change for our football team, and I think it’s going to be a really good thing, especially with our great wide receiver core and our running backs who are going to surprise people too. Is this a rebuilding year for your team? High hopes for Tua? Confidence in Flores? I wouldn’t say "rebuilding" – I like a lot of the new guys Flores has brought in, and I think he is going to have Tua on the field by game two or three, which will help us be competitive pretty quickly. I don’t want to come down on my man Fitzmagic, who’s about to move into ninth in all-time passing for the Dolphins, which is incredible, but he’s the perfect guy we could have there to pass the torch to Tua, so my hopes are definitely high. What are your reasonable hopes for the Dolphins? What's their ceiling/floor? Honestly, I think we have the best shot we’ve had in a while to win the division. Tom Brady has had the AFC East pretty locked down over the past decade, but with the Patriots in a rebuilding year and Tua leading the way for us, I think it’s between us and the Bills to take that title. We do still have some weaknesses, though. Even though we made a lot of moves at cornerback, we may still struggle there. Plus we still need to figure out our linebacking core. But if we can shore those up and make some plays, we'll be good. Who is your player to watch this year on the Dolphins? Why? It hurts my Gamecock soul to say this since he came out of Clemson, but I think Christian Wilkins is going to really break out and have a huge year. We got to see a little bit of what he’s capable of last year, so with that experience and a stronger team around him, I think we’re going to really see him step up and become a force on the defensive side of the ball. Do they make the playoffs? Absolutely. Record prediction and why? My prediction for the Dolphins is 9-7, heading into the playoffs and a Super Bowl win. OK, no Super Bowl win. But 9-7 and in the playoffs! What's your Super Bowl matchup? Packers-Chiefs. How do you think COVID impacts the season? We’ve already seen a lot of teams say they won’t play in front of fans this year, which is going to be an interesting dynamic since that energy and noise level can have such an impact on the game. The NFL has been able to watch a lot of the other leagues try to navigate these unknowns, so hopefully, they’ve been able to learn from that and we can still see the full season play out. Butch Vig, Garbage Green Bay Packers Courtesy of Butch Vig What's the prognosis for the team this year? I think the Pack will have a solid year. Their offense should be OK; hopefully, they can keep building the defense. Are the Pack back, or was last year a final hurrah? I believe Aaron still has three or four great years in him. If he has a supporting cast, he could have a stellar year. There will always be pressure on him to win games now as the clock is ticking, but I think he can take the heat. How do you feel about drafting a QB in the first round? Is the end near for Rodgers? It was a total diss. I’m not sure what the Packers strategy is when you have a QB who signed a deal through 2023...Are they going to trade him next year to save salary cap room? That seems insane! But who knows what goes on in the minds of NFL general managers! What are your reasonable hopes for the Packers? What's their ceiling/floor? I think they will go 10-6, maybe 11-5 with some luck! Who is your player to watch this year on the Packers? Why? I love Darnell Savage; he’s a playmaker. I think he could have a Pro Bowl year. Do they make the playoffs? Yes, they will have to beat the Vikings for first place in the NFC North. I think the Bears will be a close third. Record prediction? I think 11-5. What's your Super Bowl matchup? KC Chiefs vs Green Bay Packers. C'MON! How do you think COVID impacts the season? Well, with fewer fans (if any) at the stadiums, that will be a bummer. And we might see teams with COVID spikes, so games may get canceled or postponed. Everyone needs to stay safe and healthy. Bret Michaels, Poison Pittsburgh Steelers https://www.youtube.com/embed/ullslJ64d6w Rhett Miller, Old 97's Dallas Cowboys What's the prognosis for the team this year? I haven’t paid as much attention as in years past, because, you know, the pandemic? I have a hard time believing the season is really going to happen. The rosters are so enormous. And the lineman spend the whole game basically spitting in each other’s faces. That said, I don’t really know what to expect anymore, so I guess we could see a full 16-game season after all. If we do, I think the Cowboys have as good a chance as anyone to win it all. It’s too bad we lost Gerald McCoy on day one, and the defense will be our weak link, but maybe we can start piling up some points with our embarrassment of riches on offense. Thoughts on finally dumping Jason Garrett? Gonna miss him? Garrett should’ve gotten fired years ago. He kept doing just enough to hold onto his job. But he was the definition of mediocrity. I’m sure he’s an alright guy in real life, but his Cowboys were not an exciting team to root for. Does Dak make the jump and become a top-five QB? Is this the last year for Dallas with this core if they can't get to the NFC title game? I don’t know that Dak will ever be a top-five quarterback. I hope he becomes an elite QB because I like rooting for him. My impression is that he is a middle-of-the-pack QB, but I would rather have that than the Andy Daltons of the world. Oh yeah, I guess we have that guy too? As for whether or not he remains a Cowboy, I’d be amazed if they let him walk unless he really takes a step back. What are your reasonable hopes for the Cowboys? Zeke takes the rushing title, Cowboys beat the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. What's their ceiling/floor? Ceiling: Everybody balls out, and we go undefeated. Floor: 6-10, and they bring Jason Garrett back. Who is your player to watch this year on the Cowboys? CeeDee, baby! I’m stoked that we got the steal of this year’s draft, and I can’t wait to see him line up alongside Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Do they make the playoffs? Yes. Record prediction? Energized by their new coach, the Cowboys go 11-5 and ride their trio of big-time wide receivers to a Super Bowl championship. What's your Super Bowl matchup? Cowboys vs. Chiefs. How do you think COVID impacts the season? I predict eight or nine teams will have to shut everything down for two weeks each. This will create havoc with the schedules. But somehow the NFL will muddle through. Too much money rides on these games happening. Joey Santiago, Pixies New York Jets Courtesy of Joey Santiago What's the prognosis for the team this year? I don’t have high hopes for them. So, if they continue where they left off last season then they have a shot to not have a losing season. Thoughts on Gase? Ignore the press and grow the beard back. This is another rebuilding year? When is it not a rebuilding year?! They still need to build an offensive line. Rookie Mekhi Becton is a beast; hopefully he’ll settle in quickly. He’s the one protecting Darnold’s blindside. Does Darnold make the jump? If he gets the protection and more time from the line then yes. The line last year was very leaky. Are you going to miss Jamal Adams? Of course. He spoke out against Gase. Jets heard him, and now he’s out. That’s how it goes. Not saying Adams was wrong. What are your reasonable hopes for the Jets? What's their ceiling/floor? Not first and not last. Who is your player to watch this year on the Jets? Besides Darnold is Mekhi Becton. I like they chose a left tackle for their first draft. They need to protect their franchise player, Darnold. This is his blindside. Maybe he’ll get two more seconds in the pocket. Watching the Patriots line is frustrating. The time Brady had was ridiculous. Do they make the playoffs? My heart says yes. Record prediction? My brain thinks it’ll be 7-9. What's your Super Bowl matchup? I’d like to see Tampa Bay vs. New England. That would be crazy. Patriots fans deserve to suffer. This guarantees it. How do you think COVID impacts the season? Makes it worse for teams that are building. There’s limited fully-padded practices. That’s where the glue is made. So yeah, the Jets will not be in the Super Bowl. You heard it here first. Joey Belladonna, Anthrax Minnesota Vikings Courtesy Joey Belladonna What's the prognosis for the team this year? Are you sold on Cousins? Are you going to miss Diggs? My hopes, like any year, are pretty high. Being a fan, it’s in my nature to think that way. As for Cousins, he had great stats last year. We won a playoff game. There’s always room for improvement. I have faith and high hopes for him. Of course, we’re all going to miss Diggs. He was great. But at the same time, last year he wanted out, and that caused some confusion for the team and change to moral. We do wish him luck. We have some really talented WRs. Thielen’s great, and Cook — always have high hopes for him. Hope to get his contract signed. Are the Vikings finally going to breakthrough? Do you think the team has maxed out under this regime/with this roster? Vikes have just as much chance in the NFC North as anybody. We have some really good draft picks this year; I think a lot of them are going to fulfill the expectations of what the team was looking for. There’s plenty of room for this team to get better. There’s plenty of talent, and we have a great coaching staff. Can’t leave out the good defense we have. What are your reasonable hopes for the Vikings? What's their ceiling/floor? I think every year we can win the division. Who is your player to watch this year on the Vikings? I hesitate to pick just one player since there is no pre-season, only with the combine and college season to see the rookies. Jefferson and Gladney could be of some big help. All the film that we’ve seen so far makes me very optimistic these guys will produce and more than fulfill expectations. Thielen and Cook are going to be hot again this year — I have a good feeling. Do they make the playoffs? We’re a team that can make the playoffs once again for sure. Record prediction? Throwing it out there, I’ll predict 12-4. No exact science — just my gut from years of watching and knowing how they are with their record. What's your Super Bowl matchup? I try not to predict. It was almost Kansas City and Minnesota last year — that would have been fun! My wife’s a Kansas City fan; she grew up there, and she loves football just as much as I do. We go to battle every weekend. We have our own TVs. Hell, we even went on our honeymoon — her idea — to a Vikings game. Of course, the Chiefs won the Super Bowl, so I have to live with that all season! Even at the same time, I support her team when I can, and she supports mine, so it makes for a fun weekend. How do you think COVID impacts the season? It’s going to be an uphill battle keeping everybody healthy, keeping the season alive. The NFL seems to have enough time to put it together. A portion of teams are not going to have fans. None of us have seen games without fans or with limited fans, so it’s going to be a new experience for the fans and the players. I’ll certainly take that over no football! It’s a big part of life. I’ve sung several national anthems, including for the Vikings, Seahawks, Bills, Cubs, White Sox, Bulls, Syracuse. Obviously the NFL anthems are my favorites, getting to see other teams and stadiums, going on the field, getting behind the scenes and, of course, meeting all the passionate fans such as myself. I’ve been contacted by some teams for this year’s anthems, but as of right now it’s up in the air whether those will take place. Soup, Jurassic 5/Fullee Love Dallas Cowboys Courtesy of Soup Let me start this quick review off with some quick noise...DEM BOYS, DEM BOYS, DEM BOYS!! What's the prognosis for the team this year? Thoughts on finally dumping Jason Garrett? Gonna miss him? It’ll be the first time in a long time we go deep into the playoffs — no one and done this year. I feel the defense will be a step above from last year — we weren’t bad, but with the hiring of Mike McCarthy, that’ll bring a whole new attitude to what has been underachievement in the past few years. And I’m looking for Zeke to bounce back nicely as well. Talk about finally getting rid of the wicked wizard of the east!! I’m super glad Jason Garrett is gone! He’s been robbing Jerry for five years. I could lie and say I feel for the Giants. But nah, one man’s trash is the next man’s...trash. Does Dak make the jump and become a top-five QB? Is this the last year for Dallas with this core if they can't get to the NFC title game? Don’t know if Dak makes it into the top five conversation this year — I just need him to show he’s elite in his division. This will be his fifth year, and we’ve seen the potential. It’s time for the payout. He has a lot of weapons, so I need to see the STAR shine for real this year. If he’s smart, he’ll come in with a chip on his shoulder for not having a long term deal in place and show 'em. What are your reasonable hopes for the Cowboys? What's their ceiling/floor? If Jason Garrett woulda been head coach, I woulda said this is the last year to get to the NFC title game. But with all these new additions (Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky and Mike) plus Lamb, Diggs and hopefully Earl Thomas, we’ve been giving the Frankenstein treatment. Let’s hope it floats. (Remember when he throws the kid in the water to see if she’d float?) Don’t judge me. Do they make the playoffs? My hopes are always Super Bowl, but I’ll take finishing no. 1 in our division for starters, first-round bye (maybe), having the defense play solid to compliment the offense. We definitely make the playoffs! Record prediction? 11-5. What's your Super Bowl matchup? Us and who gives a fat rat’s ass, as long as we’re in attendance. How do you think COVID impacts the season? COVID impact will be weird as hell. I can’t wait to see what it looks like. I’ve gotten used to the basketball version of it (as much as possible), but I think football will look even weirder. We’ll see. And I will now end this the same way it started...DEM BOYS, DEM BOYS, DEM BOYS!!! Michael Franti San Francisco 49ers Courtesy of Michael Franti What's the prognosis for the team this year? Can you ever have as much fun/be as pleasantly surprised as last year? I live less than a mile from where Candlestick Park once stood: the home of the five-time champion 49ers. I have signed Ronnie Lott and Colin Kaepernick jerseys framed on the walls of my studio, so it should come as no surprise to you that I found the 49ers' loss in the last seven minutes of the 2020 Super Bowl more than a bit tough to chew on during the offseason. So like most of the players and Niner Nation around the world, I see the 20-21 season as only one thing – a revenge tour! I know it’s extremely difficult to for any team to get back to the final game, but I truly believe the best is yet to come for this young, selfless, unified team that is hungry to get there and avenge the sting of the 2020 Chiefs comeback during this season of COVID and the NFL finally getting woke as the movement for racial equity collides head-on at the 50-yard line of every field. As for the 49ers, most people will point to a few key players lost from last year as a reason why we won’t make it back – DT DeForest Buckner, WR Emmanuel Sanders, and OT Joe Staley being the major three. However, the front office addressed these losses before the NFL draft even ended. There was no way we could afford Buckner’s contract long term, so trading him to the Colts for the no. 13 draft pick and getting Javon Kinlaw was genius on GM John Lynch’s part. Kinlaw will take a year or two to develop, but he has the upside to be even better than Buckner, which is effing scary. Trading up to get WR Brandon Aiyuk could prove to be an even better move – he’s shined in training camp thus far, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he outplays Emmanuel Sanders over the course of his career. Finally, snagging a hungry OT Trent Williams might be the most important move of all. In practice, he’s been holding his own against Nick Bosa, who was the top pass rusher in the NFL as a rookie last season. I’m confident he’s going to uphold retired Joe Staley’s high level of play from the previous decade on our offensive line. Jimmy G: good or overhyped? Do you blame him for the Super Bowl loss? Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo finally has a complete season under his belt, and he’s another year removed from his ACL injury. He’ll be more confident, precise and mobile in the pocket. People will forget we didn’t have DJ Jones or Ronald Blair to sub in on the line in the Super Bowl, and Kwon and Dee Ford were dealing with injuries. Personally, I think we’d have won the Super Bowl if they were healthy. Even with the loss of Buckner, this defensive line will be better – Bosa will have over 11 sacks in his second year and DT Arik Armstead hopefully maintains the level of play he had from last year. What are your reasonable hopes for the 49ers? What's their ceiling/floor? Who is your player to watch this year on the 49ers? The RB crew continues to be a "three-headed monster" – Raheem Mostert still the star, Tevin Coleman in relief and Jerick McKinnon finally in the mix after injury and contract issues. McKinnon is an athletic beast and has apparently been impossible to guard on passing plays in practice — I expect him to add something new to the offense this year. At tight end, believe it or not, we get better – George Kittle is still the best in the league, and rookie Charlie Woerner will be a punishing blocker on running downs, and if DJ Reed can stay healthy for a chunk of the season, watch out. On the interior, look for Solomon Thomas to finally play to his first-round potential in a contract year — he’s put on muscle, will be at his natural three-technique position and is another year removed from his sister’s tragic suicide. At linebacker, Fred Warner might be one of the most underrated players in the NFL — he has quickly become one of the top five-to-10 LBs in the NFL and probably the best coverage LBs in the league. Last year we had the best defense in the league, and barring major injuries we should be even better. On the offensive line, the left side is one of the league’s best behind Trent and Laken. If there was one glaring weakness on offense, it is at the center and right guard positions — both are still up for grabs (after injuries). Hopefully, Weston Richburg is back by midseason at center; that would be huge. Another potential weak spot is our receiving corp, where the loss of Jalen Hurd for the season (again) hurts (ouch!) — I was really looking forward to seeing him. That said, we have just as much depth this year as last. Deebo Samuel should be back no later than Week four; Aiyuk will be productive from day one; Kendrick Bourne put in serious work this offseason and looks like a strong number three; Trent Taylor back and healthy will be exactly what Jimmy needs as a reliable target underneath to pick up third-down conversions. What's your Super Bowl matchup? How do you think COVID impacts the season? I truly believe this can be the year the 49ers bring home number six, but I’d like to close with this thought… It was 2013 when Colin Kaepernick took us within a foot of winning the Super Bowl and then got blacklisted from the league after the 2016 season for kneeling in support of black families suffering from police brutality. Since that time the country has been rocked by more killings of Black people while in police custody, and streets have been filled with protests and counter-protests. Kaepernick paid a career-ending price for his silent kneeling and was put on blast weekly by President Trump and the entire NFL hierarchy, only to have NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell apologize in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd a few weeks ago, saying, “I wish we would have listened to Colin sooner.” This season will be played under the spotlight of a revolution of awakening to racism in America, and no doubt every team and player will be feeling a great deal of pressure to best communicate the voices of their communities and their own hearts. As we approach the 2020 U.S. Presidential election at the start of the season, while games are played socially distanced due to the global COVID pandemic, and security higher than ever before due to the threat of domestic terrorism, the game of football will be seen by many as a thermometer for the temperature of the entire nation and used by others to fan the flames of hatred and fear for political gain. Every player will become an activist, whether they want to be or not, and sports reports once limited to stats and prognosticating about the week’s games will need to make room for nightly conversations on the social issues of the day. Important conversations about social progress have always found their way to the dinner table, through the on-field play of the likes of Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Kaepernick or the U.S. Women’s soccer team. This NFL season will be unlike any we’ve ever seen before, and while it stinks that we realistically won’t be in stadiums at all this year due to the COVID pandemic, let’s pray that the season can still go on, all the games can be played and that what Kaepernick started can help move the needle closer towards ending police brutality and bringing about much needed systemic change and racial healing. I’ll take that over a Super Bowl any time. Justin Foley, Killswitch Engage New York Giants Courtesy of Justin Foley What's the prognosis for the team this year? Thoughts on Gettleman? I don't anticipate them being any good again. They've wrestled the title of "worst NFL franchise" away from the Browns over the last few years, which is pretty upsetting. I guess I should blame Gettleman for that. That's sort of how this franchise is though: either very very good or awful, without much in between. This is another rebuilding year? Happy with Dimes? Thoughts on Joe Judge? Will the defense be bad again? Every excellent Giants team has had an excellent defense. That's what comes to mind when I think of the Super Bowl teams — their suffocating pass rush. This will not be an excellent Giants team. Jones will need about 400 yards a week just to keep them even. (I don't think he's earned a nickname yet; let's pump the brakes on that.) The Judge hire was kind of surprising, but most of what I've read about him has been positive thus far. It's hard to imagine he'll be worse than the last two clowns. It seems like there are only ever four or five competent coaches in the NFL, and all the rest of the jobs are taken up by the same collection of failures, just rotating in and out for each other. At least they didn't hire someone from the proven loser pool. What are your reasonable hopes for the Giants? What's their ceiling/floor? I'll guess four or five wins. Maybe seven if they catch a lot of breaks. If either Jones or Saquon gets hurt though...hello no. 1 pick! Who is your player to watch this year on the Giants? Why? Unless old footage of LT counts, definitely Saquon, the good player. I'd like to see him be a little less all or nothing, but he's the one guy on the team that can make something happen and potentially change a game. Do they make the playoffs? If they change the playoff format to "Everyone makes it," then yes. Otherwise, it's really tough to see it happening. Record prediction and why? 4-12. When you look at the schedule, it's difficult to find the games where you say, "Yeah, they should win that game." What's your Super Bowl matchup? I can't see the Chiefs not making it back, but just for fun, I'll pick the Bills! And maybe the Seahawks have one more good run in them if they can get past the Niners. I'd enjoy watching Seattle vs. Buffalo, and see which team can gift it to the other team the hardest. How do you think COVID impacts the season? I'm surprised the NFL is so confident in the season, but out of the four major sports it brings in by far the most money, so I'm sure that's the driving force behind all of it, not the health of players, staff, press, etc. The NHL and NBA are doing well in bubbles; MLB is struggling without one. I'll be stunned if there isn't a major incident during the season that will potentially bring it all down. And as a huge sports fan, I think we have a lot of important issues that need to be dealt with in this country before we are all distracted by football again. Before those other leagues restarted, it seemed like there was some real progress being made. We can certainly use more time to deal with reality and less time to set our fantasy rosters. U-God, Wu-Tang Clan New York Jets Courtesy of the artist What's the prognosis for the team this year? I think the defense will continue to do well but the offense still is lacking. I think they have two main wideouts and offensive linemen questionable for the first game of the season, so Darnold might get off to another slow start. I think the fact that there are no fans in the stands helps the younger QB focus on his job more, so we should see a more mature Darnold on the field this year. Thoughts on Gase? He’s a QB coach that should help Darnold a lot. We don’t need his help on the defensive side of the ball. The key to a successful season lies on Gase and his young QB being on the same page with a healthy offense intact. Is another rebuilding year? This depends on how healthy our offense is throughout the year as well as how well Gase and Darnold work together. Does Darnold make the jump? Only if Gase develops him and gives him a good offensive scheme to work with. If Gase taps into Darnold’s potential and gets the offense going, they’ll make the playoffs. Are you going to miss Jamal Adams? Yes, of course. The Seahawks got a great young strong safety with lots of talent but the defense should still be among the best in the league. What are your reasonable hopes for the Jets? If they can get the offense going which is why they hired Gase a former QB coach. We could make the playoffs and at least get a wild card spot. What's their ceiling/floor? At worse, Darnold takes the year to learn a new offense and the Jets go .500 on the season, If Gase/Darnold click, the offense kicks ass and we make the playoffs. Who is your player to watch this year on the Jets? Jets cut last year’s starting linebacker and center. On top of losing their starting safety, I’ll be keeping an eye on those key position replacements. Especially with COVID-19, you have to have players that can play multiple positions this year in case you lose guys to the virus. Do they make the playoffs? 50/50 depends on Gase/Darnold and the health of offense. Record prediction? 9-7. What's your Super Bowl matchup? Seattle vs. Baltimore. How do you think COVID impacts the season? Football is a big contact sport, they also have the biggest rosters this combined with the threat of a COVID-19 combined with influenza season is going to make it very difficult for the NFL to have a successful season, to say the least. Andy Biersack, Black Veil Brides Cincinnati Bengals Courtesy of Andy Biersack What's the prognosis for the team this year? You finally got your wish and a new QB! It’s really hard to know how to answer this because on one hand, I am eternally optimistic despite the ever-present reality of 30 years of Bengals mediocrity; but on the other, I am well aware of the circumstances with a rookie QB, a young squad and a bizarre pre-season situation. Having said that, I am genuinely excited to see how it all shakes out. Burrow seems to already be taking his role as a leader seriously, and the team seems to be really clicking in camp from what I have seen. I think with any first-year rookie starter it’s going to take some time, but it’s just nice to finally have something to look forward to as he develops his game over the next few years. I go into every season saying my realistic hope is seven to nine wins, but this year I have no idea what to expect, and that’s kinda thrilling! This is a rebuilding year obviously, but how do you feel about the coaching staff moving forward? Again, difficult to answer. I want to believe that Taylor knows what he’s doing, and with one year under his belt that was essentially a tank fest, it’s hard to know what we have in him. He says all the right things, and the players seem to really like him as a coach, so it’s one of those situations where we have to wait and see what he can do with a year of preparation and an upgraded roster. What are your reasonable hopes for the Bengals? What's their ceiling/floor? Like I said, during the Dalton/Lewis era I always said the floor was seven wins and the ceiling was nine wins, and that typically is how things would shake out, but everything with this team is so different and new that I have no idea how to predict the record. I just want to see some progress, get some wins and have a wave of positivity and excitement to ride into next year. A playoff run would be a dream, but right now I think all Bengals fans just want to see this team get some wins under their belt and something to build on moving forward. Who is your player to watch this year on the Bengals? Why? Well, obviously any time you have the no. 1 draft pick and it’s a record-breaking college QB, that's going to be your player to watch, but I am also really interested to see how Tee Higgins plays this year. As the 33rd overall pick and a standout playmaker at Clemson, he seems to have all the tools to be a real weapon for this offense. My hope is that he and Burrow develop a connection early and in some ways it can be what we had with the early Dalton/Green era. Do they make the playoffs? That’s going to depend on the rest of the division. Obviously Baltimore is going to be tough with Lamar and that roster in general. We never know how Cleveland is gonna be considering the talent they have, but they are a wild card because, despite their stacked roster, they never seem to be able to put it together. And Pittsburgh seems to be eternally lucky even with Ben entering into his 158th year in the NFL so I really don’t know. My heart wants to say yes, but my mind has huge reservations. Let’s go with yes because fuck it — it’s time for positivity. Record prediction? 9-7. Because I’m a die-hard fan who just wants something to believe in. What's your Super Bowl matchup? Last year, my prediction was Green Bay and KC, and that almost happened. Let’s run it back. Rodgers and Mahomes meet in the championship, and Rodgers caps off his time in GB with his second Lombardi trophy. How do you think COVID impacts the season? It’s going to be really interesting to see if the league is able to keep players safe and keep the season going. I think right now player safety is all that really should matter above all else, and my hope is that the league takes proper precautions to ensure that, yes, the games can happen but, more importantly, that the players aren’t being put at constant risk in order for the season to go down. It’s a crazy time, and I think we’d all love to see a football season — but not at the risk of the players' safety and health. Jerry DePizzo, O.A.R. Cleveland Browns Gregory Berg What's the prognosis for the team this year? Can they rebound from perhaps the most Browns season in Browns history? There’s only one way to find out! The only thing consistent for the Browns is the inconsistency that surrounds the team. Starting the preseason with another head coach is not ideal, but as always the Browns can rely on a fanbase full of loyal and abundantly optimistic devotees. Football is being played in Cleveland, and we are happy. It's a critical year for Cleveland. Does Odell rebound? Is Baker the real deal? They both have something to prove and need to make statements, yet they have to go about it in different ways. Baker needs to move the ball down the field with efficiency and reinforce he can execute, play after play, game after game. Odell needs to be that spark that ignites the offense but doesn’t scorch the locker room. What are your reasonable hopes for the Browns? What's their ceiling/floor? The most important quality of a Browns fan is to root with the heart, not the head. Being objective and reasonable are not familiar waters for people willing to paint their faces as dogs and bark at people. There’s plenty of experience with what the floor can be. I’m not sure about the ceiling. Who is your player to watch this year on the Browns? I think it’s Baker. This is an important year for him in his progression as a quarterback. Despite the amount of coaching and the front office transition he has experienced, which has been significant, we should see him start to come into his own and command this offense and team. Do they make the playoffs? I think anything is possible in 2020, including a Brownie playoff run. The talent is there on both sides of the ball. It comes down to if Stefanski can create a culture that can prepare and unite the team and put a W on the board every week. Record prediction and why? If the team can turn the noise down and do the little things, the football things, a 9-7 season while competing for the wild card would be a big step forward for the organization and fans. What's your Super Bowl matchup? I think the Chiefs have a good chance of repeating. Andy Reid is a top-tier coach, and Mahomes is still improving. It's remarkable he hasn’t hit the peak of his skill or athleticism. The NFC is wide open to me. All I know is it won’t be the Bears. How do you think COVID impacts the season? COVID adds a layer of unprecedented unpredictability. The league has never experienced something that can render roster spots, ranging from practice squad to star players, unavailable at a moment's notice. Too many positive tests could realistically sideline an entire team. Like the rest of the year, the NFL season is going to be a weird one. Brent Rambler, August Burns Red Philadelphia Eagles Courtesy of Brent Rambler What's the prognosis for the team this year? Does the QB have what it takes to make the jump with Foles leaving? My prognosis isn’t great for the Birds this year. I think they will have a middle-of-the-road season. Their acquisition of a downfield threat in Goodwin has decided to opt-out of the season, which is a big bummer, but understandable. I think you’ll see even more balls dumped off to the running backs and tight ends as the Eagles receiving corp still remains either lackluster or constantly injured. Are you getting typical Philly restless after a title? When does honeymoon wear off? I’m not too restless as the night of the Super Bowl still remains planted in my memory as one of the best nights of my life. We literally got to watch the Birds win the Bowl and then take the stage immediately after in Texas. Played the Eagles fight song as our intro to a crowd of 80-90% Cowboys fans. They took it with a grain of salt and no one threatened our safety. What are your reasonable hopes for the Eagles? What's their ceiling/floor? My hopes are firmly average. I think the ceiling is 10-6 and the floor is 4-12. I’ll actually say my hopes are that I’m wrong. Who is your player to watch this year on the Eagles? I’ll say Miles Sanders. I think he will continue to grow into a great running back and will catch an insane amount of balls this year. Do they make the playoffs? Sadly, no. Record prediction? 9-7. Once again, I think they will pan out to be an average team that gives you something to cheer for but lets you down a lot. What's your Super Bowl matchup? Ravens vs Saints — Brees gets it done and goes home. How do you think COVID impacts the season? I could see the NFL being the league that tries to just sweep it under the rug the most, but like everything else with this pandemic, a lot of things are probably a big question mark. They’ve had the most time to prepare, but I still expect the first few weeks to be a bit shaky. I think they will complete the season one way or another. Josh Klinghoffer, Pluralone New York Giants Courtesy of Josh Klinghoffer What's the prognosis for the team this year? Thoughts on Gettleman? Who’s he — the GM? How long has he been at it? They’ve been pretty embarrassing for a while now, so I’ve actually tuned them out. Of course, I’ve heard the name Gettleman, but I can’t bring myself to care yet. I’ll love him if they start playing well. This is another rebuilding year? Happy with Dimes? Thoughts on Joe Judge? Will the defense be bad again? Yeah, too early to tell about Danny Dimes. We’ll see. Joe Judge. He's the coach? This is all said in a mocking tone because I haven’t been able to pay too close attention to them in the past several years because it’s been too sad. What are your reasonable hopes for the Giants? What's their ceiling/floor? Well, how much lower could they get? Ceiling — I don’t know, five wins? Who is your player to watch this year on the Giants? Why? Looking over the roster, we got some great guys! Maybe we’ll make a little noise this year. I don’t know. Saquon is so much fun to watch. And now looking over the roster, I’m excited about whoever is called Sandro Platzgummer! Do they make the playoffs? Um…I guess I have to say no. But…MAYBE!!! (No.) Record prediction and why? 4-12. I think we lose a load of close ones in the middle of the season and then throw in the towel a bit toward the end. That’s a terrible thing to say. What's your Super Bowl matchup? I don’t know. For fun, let’s say Tampa Bay vs. New England! How do you think COVID impacts the season? Well, I thought for sure baseball would’ve been called by now, so, maybe it doesn’t at all. Are they letting fans in the stadiums? I heard at one point they were. If they let fans in, it’ll be a catastrophe. Matthew Ramsey, Old Dominion New England Patriots Guerin Blask What's the prognosis for the team this year? In Bill we trust? Bill Belichick has proven himself to be one of the greatest to ever do it. Absolutely in Bill we trust. What are your feelings on Brady leaving? Was it time? Is Cam Newton the right stopgap solution? As a sports fan, you never want to see a run like that come to an end. Manning to the Broncos. Favre to Minnesota. Now Brady to Tampa Bay. It just feels wrong at first. However, these guys are true competitors, and things like this tend to put a little extra chip on their shoulders that can make them even more exciting to watch. Did I want Brady to leave? No. But I am excited to see what he does next. It's the same with Cam. He’s got a brand new fire and huge shoes to fill. I think he’s got the right attitude, but it all will come down to his actions on the field. What are your reasonable hopes for the Pats? What's their ceiling/floor? People that love the Patriots love the patriots. Most others love to hate them. That's a great place to be. They need to hold on to that polarizing position. The worst thing that could happen is they slip in to the dreaded middle, where their fans lose interest and the haters become silent. Let's not forget, though: Cam Newton and Tom Brady aren’t the only ones with a new chip on their shoulders. You can bet Bill Belichick has something new to prove. Who is your player to watch this year on the Pats? Why? So many eyes are on Cam, but don’t sleep on Jarrett Stidham. You know he’s gunning for it. Do they make the playoffs? No doubt the Pats are in the playoffs. A year without the Pats in the playoffs would be like a year without live concerts…wait. Record prediction? I will not subject myself to an all-out Twitter assault from die-hard Patriot fans by pretending I know enough to make such a prediction! What's your Super Bowl matchup? I think its highly possible we have a rematch. KC vs. SF part two. How do you think COVID impacts the season? NFL games and live music need the fans. As a live performer, I soak up the crowd's energy and give it right back to them. It’s the same with football. Unfortunately, COVID has benched the 12th man. With the fans hushed like that, big third down or fourth down key plays are going to be drastically different. Marc LaBelle, Dirty Honey Tampa Bay Buccaneers Courtesy of Marc LaBelle What's the prognosis for the team this year? I mean, obviously the team's looking good with Brady and Gronk getting added to what was already a great offense. Is this the happiest you've been since the Super Bowl win? I'm not sure if "happy" is the right term, but I haven't been this excited to watch football since the Bucs went to the playoffs against the Giants and broke my heart. I like to think of the Bucs playoff loss as the catalyst for the Giants beating the Patriots that year. Thoughts on Brady/Gronk? Is it the same as the New England combo? How does the ball get to the great WRs as well? I'm obviously excited about Brady/Gronk being together again in Tampa. I think some time off will only help Gronk, and Brady's famous for taking care of himself and for being unbelievably competitive. Whether or not it's the "same" as the New England combo, only time will tell, but I certainly have high expectations. From everything I've been seeing on sports sites and social media, there's a real excitement in Tampa — not only for the fans but, perhaps more importantly, in the locker room. It's going to take some time for Brady and the receivers to get their timing just right and understand each other's nuances. Having a little stronger performance this season from the O-line will be important too. It doesn't matter who the QB is — if he doesn't have time to make good decisions with the ball, you'll never have success. What are your reasonable hopes for the Bucs? What's their ceiling/floor? I mean they better win the Super Bowl. Brady and Gronk have something to prove, and really there's no one in the NFC that's going to stop that offense. Who is your player to watch this year on the Bucs? Aside from Brady, I'd say Mike Evans. It'll be interesting to see how well he does since things should open up for him a bit with defenses having to worry about Gronk as well. Evans should have a big year. Do they make the playoffs? Yes. Record prediction and why? 16-0 with a ring, baby! What's your Super Bowl matchup? Bucs vs. Chiefs. How do you think COVID impacts the season? Obviously fans won't be in attendance, which is awful, but it'll be interesting to see what the NFL's plan is for travel. The traveling format has clearly not worked out too well for Major League Baseball, though I think the NBA and specifically the NHL have done an exceptional job not only keeping their players and staff healthy but also putting a great product on TV. The best day so far in quarantine for me, aside from playing virtual shows, was when the NHL came back. I was definitely a happy camper watching hockey for 12 hours straight, and I assume I'll feel the same when the NFL is back. Collin Walsh, Grayscale Philadelphia Eagles Jordan Mizrahi What's the prognosis for the team this year? Does the QB have what it takes to make the jump with Foles leaving? I believe in Wentz. Nick Foles had an incredible run here in Philly that this city will never forget, but Wentz is the future, and I'm behind him. Just have to get him some better weapons to get comfortable with. Are you getting typical Philly restless after a title? When does honeymoon wear off? Philly fans (myself included) are pretty relentless and insane. Although we are incredibly grateful and thankful for our 2017-2018 season, we're always looking for another ring. This city has such a funny commitment to both never letting things go and never smelling the roses. For better or for worse, it's just who we are. What are your reasonable hopes for the Eagles? What's their ceiling/floor? A lot of it comes down to how the receiving core (particularly the rookies) get up to speed. If the Eagles can stay healthy and some of the young talent materializes, we could be dangerous. I really don't see us having less than eight wins, and I think if all goes well, the Birds could get up to 12 or 13 on the season. Who is your player to watch this year on the Eagles? Why? I'm mostly fixated on the rookies this year. I was a huge fan of Jalen Hurts throughout his college career. He's an incredibly dynamic player and seems like an excellent teammate. Although him being selected in the second round was a bit controversial, I am really looking forward to watching how they implement him in the offense — both in unconventional packages/formations and as a straight backup. I also think our first-round pick Jalen Reagor is going to be so fun to watch. He is so quick and elusive and could really add an explosive element that we desperately need, especially with our aging veteran receivers. If he and the other speedy WRs can produce and spread the field, Wentz is going to have a ton of room underneath to attack defenses all year long. Wallace and Taylor were both notable defensive additions that I think can contribute a lot. Both of them can play multiple positions, which has always been super beneficial to NFL defenses in the past when implemented correctly. Do they make the playoffs? Yes, I think we have the NFC East locked down. Record prediction? I'm hoping for 11 or 12 wins. It's so hard to predict these kinds of things because football has so many variables. However, I think the weaknesses the team has had offensively over the last couple of years were addressed in the draft/through trades. While the team is getting older in many ways, the amount of young speed and talent on offense is going to allow the playbook to open up a bit and should in theory allow them to execute the offense better. Big off-season additions in the secondary like Darius Slay and Nickell Robey-Coleman should help tighten things up at corner as well. What's your Super Bowl matchup? I'm going to say Ravens vs Seahawks/Saints. Maybe the Bucs will get there — who knows? How do you think COVID impacts the season? So hard to say. I'm hoping the season is able to go on with few hiccups. I'm sure there are going to be some, but the NFL definitely has the advantage of being the last sport to begin throughout this whole pandemic. Hoping they take some notes from the other major sports leagues and make it as smooth as possible. Cody Carson, Set It Off Philadelphia Eagles Courtesy of Cody Carson/Instagram @codysio What's the prognosis for the team this year? Does the QB have what it takes to make the jump with Foles leaving? My Birds are being slept on, and to that, I said "good" because they perform even better when people count them out. They’ve proven it time and time again. Last year, they were plagued with the injury bug to an astronomical degree. Carson Wentz lost his WR1, WR2, WR3, TE1, RB1 and RB2 throughout the season and still willed his team to the playoffs. Fun fact: Carson Wentz is the first QB in NFL history to throw for 4,000 yards without a single WR hitting 500 yards. He finds a way to win. Are you getting typical Philly restless after a title? When does honeymoon wear off? Philly was just happy to finally get a ring. We were over the constant cliche insults, and that victory lap will never end. However, Philly doesn’t tolerate poor play. So sure we’re happy we got our championship, but we want a dynasty. But don’t get it twisted: I had a beer mug with “Philly Philly” engraved on it (until it broke), and I rock my Super Bowl 52 champions shirt around the house regularly. What are your reasonable hopes for the Eagles? What's their ceiling/floor? We’re making the playoffs. Carson Wentz is more equipped than he was last year, and our team has the most continuity in our division by a long shot. Add star RB going into his second year and a young WR core with insane speed to Wentz’s big arm and you get an even more dangerous team. Sure everyone talks about Wentz's injuries, but the only reason he went out last year in the playoffs was from a head-hunting hit by Clowney. Even if Wentz goes down this year, we have arguably the best backup in the NFL right now in Jalen Hurts. We are ready. Who is your player to watch this year on the Eagles? Why? Keep your eyes on Jalen Reagor. He may not be one of the young WRs that kept posting their workouts to IG or Twitter, but the dude is impressing literally everyone at camp. He’s our first-round pick, and he’s acting like one. I think he’s going to make some incredible plays for us this year. Do they make the playoffs? Yes, without question. Record prediction? I think we go 10-6. There’s going to be some injuries because there’s something in the water in Philly apparently, but I think we only give up six losses. What's your Super Bowl matchup? If it’s us, it’s Eagles vs. Ravens. If it’s not, it’s Saints vs. Ravens. How do you think COVID impacts the season? I honestly think the season will go on as usual — the NFL stands to lose too much money if they shut down the season. On top of that, retired players always end up talking about covered-up injuries; I would be surprised if some diagnoses were withheld from public knowledge. Worst case scenario they have a brief hold and then get right back to it. Chris Gaylord, Wage War Miami Dolphins Sabian Lynch What's the prognosis for the team this year? Happy with how things are shaping up with the new regime? For the first time in quite a few years, I’m hopeful we’ll have a good team. Our coach Brian Flores has been there for a year now, and I usually expect the first year for new coaches to be a time to build the team the way that they like it. This is a rebuilding year for your team? High hopes for Tua? Do you have confidence in Flores? I certainly expect the Dolphins to compete and try to win games this year. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ryan Fitzpatrick start the majority of the year unless we are losing games. Tua was injured his last year in college, and I’d expect them to have him sit on the sideline and learn the offense from a veteran like Fitzmagic. I’m very excited that we were able to draft him as, before the injury, he was projected to get drafted before Justin Herbert. I liked Ryan Tannehill — we shipped him to Tennessee, and he won. I’m hoping Tua is someone we hold onto for a while and give him a chance to develop into an NFL starter. I’m a fan of what I saw from the first year with Brian Flores, and the team seems to work hard and win for him. We’ve had so much adversity in the locker room over the last handful of years. I’m hoping that's behind us. What are your reasonable hopes for the Dolphins? What's their ceiling/floor? My optimistic guess would be 10-6 if they play well. Easily could be 6-10. We’ve always either been a team in the hunt for the playoffs or in last place. Rarely have we been a favorite. My expectations will always be low until they prove me wrong. Who is your player to watch this year on the Dolphins? Ryan Fitzpatrick. He’s not our franchise quarterback, but he may be able win games and help groom Tua into the starting role. Record prediction and why? 9-7. We can’t be bad forever. What's your Super Bowl matchup? Chiefs vs. Buccaneers. How do you think COVID impacts the season? I think the season will start, but I would be very surprised if they were able to finish without missing games. The NBA and NHL have been doing a good job with the bubble they’ve created for the players/coaches. The NFL doesn't seem to be adopting the same for their season. I could see them potentially working some type of bubble for the playoffs. It’s a sport built on contact. Every play. I think a lot of what happens will be out of their control. Serengeti Chicago Bears Courtesy of Serengeti What's the prognosis for the team this year? Hard to say, just a strange year in general, I expect football to follow that trend. All I can say is the 2020 Bears have a much easier schedule than most of the league. Seems like it's a critical year for this version of the Bears? Critical year for Gm Ryan Pace. If the Bears flop, he should be gone. Let the ghosts of drafting Kevin White and Trubisky follow him to his yachts. Excited about Foles? Not really. Wanted Cam. Some actual excitement. Bears organization seem to cater to a certain group when it comes to the QB position. Maybe they gave up after Kordell Stewart and Henry Burris didn’t work out. Does Trubisky have a future in Chicago? I think so, his option wasn’t picked up, he has nothing to lose this season. With no expectations, maybe this could be his Tommy Maddox Pittsburgh year? Or he’ll be in the XFL cutting promos against the Rock. Was the Mack trade worth it for that one season/can the D rebound this year? Worth it, the Bears were super bowl contenders in 2018 because of Mack. 2020 has Pagano in his second year, and now with Robert Quinn, the Bears front 7 is a tough bunch. I expect the D to carry the team. What are your reasonable hopes for the Bears? What's their ceiling/floor? The ceiling is the Defense dominates, the Bears are the first team to go 16-0 solely off safety points. The floor is losing a playoff game but this time with a triple doink. Who is your player to watch this year on the Bears? Eddie Jackson, I expect several picks, plus he has a perfect free safety name like Ronnie Lott or Mark Carrier. He also might be pulling double duty this year as a wide receiver. Do they make the playoffs? Sure, stranger things have happened. Record prediction? 10-6, managed to stay healthy and an easier schedule. What's your Super Bowl matchup? Bears vs Chiefs. Hypothetically at the Saturday media session, Patrick Mahomes makes an off-hand comment to Steve "Mongo" McMichael, said he didn’t know he played football, only knew him thru wrestling. How do you think COVID impacts the season? Makes everyone uncomfortable. Football can already be uncomfortable. COVID-19 x CTE sounds like the worst collab. Brian Burkheiser, I Prevail Detroit Lions Courtesy of Brian Burkheiser What's the prognosis for the team this year? Are you losing faith in the latest regime? This year is make it or break it. I’m a big fan of Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia in their respective roles, but after not making the playoffs the past two seasons, the pressure is on to make some noise. I’m feeling good, though, after an impressive draft and some key offseason moves. Is this a rebuilding year for your team? What happens to Stafford and Patricia if things don't change in a positive fashion? Was last year a blip due to injuries? Some may look at the Lions' 3-12-1 record in 2019 and say this team isn’t close to being playoff-bound, but I’m not of that opinion at all. The team was super hot to start the year, but when Stafford went down due to injury, they just couldn’t catch a break. They had a lead in the fourth quarter in nine of their 12 losses, but without Stafford, they just couldn’t close out games. What are your reasonable hopes for the Lions? What's their ceiling/floor? I think this year will provide a lot of crazy results. The optimist in me says this just could be the year we end up making a playoff run. The pessimist says our division is a gauntlet and it will be hard to even get a wild card spot competing with the Packers, Vikings and Bears. The ceiling is a division championship and playoff run, the floor is another top-five pick and most likely a coaching/GM change. Who is your player to watch this year on the Lions? TJ Hockenson. He has a chance to be the next great TE in a league where the Super Bowl just featured the two best in the game (Kittle, Kelce). If he can put it together this year, he has the potential to make a Pro Bowl and show why he was drafted in the Top 10 last year. Not only do I expect a big year in the passing game, but I also expect him to be a critical piece in blocking for our two-headed monster in Johnson and Swift. Do they make the playoffs? Yes. This is the year they get back. I think Patricia knows his job is on the line, and Stafford is ready to come out and show people he is healthy and ready to take the next big step in his career. Record prediction? 11-5, division champions. I think the NFC North is one of the most talented divisions in the NFL, so it will be tricky to win the division. However, I still think the Lions go on a big roll early this year and end up battling it out with the Vikings in week 17 for the division. What's your Super Bowl matchup? Call me crazy, but I’m riding with Detroit. Give me Lions vs. Ravens. Lions winning 34-30. How do you think COVID impacts the season? Fans impact football more than any other sport in my opinion. I think offenses will be putting up record numbers this year, and it bodes well for a Lions team that has so many dynamic pieces at multiple positions. Childish Major Carolina Panthers Albert Pham What's the prognosis for the team this year? How do you feel about the new regime? The new regime is good. They have another year to gain chemistry, so I’m looking forward to this year. This is a rebuilding year for your team? Sad about Cam? I’m super sad about Cam — he was the face of the franchise. But Christian McCaffrey is our guy now. What are your reasonable hopes for the Panthers? What's their ceiling/floor? I want them to at least make the wild card. Who is your player to watch this year on the Panthers? Cam has always been my player to watch, but since he left I haven’t figured out who’s going to be that player for us this year yet. Do they make the playoffs? I hope they make the playoffs! What's your Super Bowl matchup? I think the Super Bowl is going to be Chiefs vs. Tampa Bay. How do you think COVID impacts the season? COVID will have a huge impact because the fans played a big part of the home-field advantage in the playoffs and just the game period. I hope the NFL comes up with a plan similar to the NBA so I can watch the Panthers. Paul Bruens, The Vegabonds Kansas City Chiefs Courtesy of Paul Bruens What's the prognosis for the team this year? Does it get any better than last year? How did it feel to win the Super Bowl? It will be hard to beat last year, but I feel like the team has filled some weaknesses and at least has the same talent, if not more, this season. It was great to watch them win the first Super Bowl in 50 years and the first time for me to watch my team win the big game! The only big question is, "Will Mahomes be the greatest player in Chiefs history and maybe NFL history?" Is that a fair expectation at this point? He's off to a good start, but it's hard to determine that because he is still young and entering into his fourth NFL season. If he keeps playing at this level, there is no reason he couldn't be the best Chiefs player in history or potentially in the NFL. What are your reasonable hopes for the Chiefs? What's their ceiling/floor? The ceiling is another Super Bowl, and the floor would be a playoff appearance. Who is your player to watch this year on the Chiefs? There are really two new players to look out for this year. Mecole Hardman and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Hardman has the speed of Tyreek Hill, and in his rookie season last year, he was one of the top kick/punt returners in yards and caught six TD passes. You can expect to see more of the same this season. Edwards-Helaire is the 2020 first-round draft pick and has the making of being the next star running back in the NFL. Andy Reid has been known to use running backs well, and CEH is being compared to Brian Westbrook. Do they make the playoffs? Definitely. Record prediction? Based off the schedule and their previous season, I would say 12-4. What's your Super Bowl matchup? Chiefs vs. Buccaneers. How do you think COVID impacts the season? The biggest impact so far is starting players opting out for the 2020 season. There are already a few teams starting the season missing half their starting defense and a few offensive players. The game will also be played without crowd attendance in some stadiums and minimal crowds in others. There is also the chance for a COVID outbreak during the season, which could cause canceled games and players having to sit out some games for multiple weeks. There is already a temporary IR for NFL for COVID-19 related illnesses. Chase Wofford, Betcha Tennessee Titans Courtesy of Betcha What's your prognosis for this year? After last season's nail-biting playoff run, I think the Titans are gonna be going into the 2020 season with a lot of energy and look to prove themselves with a bolder statement than last year. They couldn't quite go the distance but were neck-and-neck with the best teams in the league, and I think we're gonna see a refreshed Titans team that wants their name on the Lombardi trophy. Can you top last year's surprising run to the AFC title game? It definitely won't be easy, but with weapons like Derrick Henry, who shows no signs of slowing down, and a strong pass rush and secondary on defense, the Titans will have to really lock in and minimize errors if they want to compete all the way through the playoffs. Thoughts on Tannehill/Henry? I don't think I'd call Tannehill a fluke, but that doesn't make him the answer, either. He stepped up when the team needed him and shined but can he be the guy long term? The Titans certainly think so, so hopefully that four-year/$118 million contract gives him the confidence to keep it going. Regarding Derrick Henry — that man is an absolute freight train who could power-through and outrun defenses even if he had lead cleats, a blindfold and ate an entire Maggiano's catering order for 20 right before the game. All that to say: no, he does not break down. Hopes for Titans? Playoffs? Reasonably speaking, there are some amazing teams and players in the NFL right now, and it's a tough undertaking for the Titans to try and take a championship. However, the sky is the limit, and 16 games is plenty of time for a team to turn themselves into a champion force. I think the Titans will have a strong playoff run at the least, and if they don't make it there then it's safe to assume something went wrong along the way. What's your record prediction? After going 9-7 in the 2019 season, I have faith the Titans are going to kick it up a notch this year and get 11 wins in the regular season. Barring any major injuries or flukes, there's no reason Tennessee can't be a force to be reckoned with in the AFC. What's your Super Bowl matchup? Chiefs vs. Cowboys. No one will agree but it doesn't matter. See y'all at LV. How do you think COVID impacts the season? It's tough to say. I think there's a worst-case scenario where we see an outbreak and they cancel the season, but for all our sake's let's hope that doesn't happen. It won't be the same without a packed stadium and relentless tailgating and sports bars packed wall-to-wall, but it is what it is. The NBA playoffs going on right now have been a thrill to watch, so I'm hoping that's a good sign for the NFL season, and hopefully, our country can turn a corner and get sports somewhere close to normal again! Ben Booth, Betcha New Orleans Saints What's the prognosis for the team this year? Is this it for this core? I grew up a Saints fan, so I tend to always be optimistic towards them, so I always think the new season will churn out well for them. It will likely be Brees’ last year, so I think he and the rest of the team have reason to end the Brees era the right way. Will this team finally get over the hump or is the Rams disappointment going to forever haunt them? It has been a tough road for the Saints in recent years in the playoffs. We show up in the regular season and show so much promise but then get heartbroken in the playoffs. The Vikings in 2018 and the Rams in 2019 — I can only hope that the streak doesn’t continue. What are your reasonable hopes for the Saints? What's their ceiling/floor? My hope is that Brees will be able to pass 80,000 passing yards before he retires. I also hope that Taysom Hill gets utilized as much as possible — he has become such a great utility player for our offense, and he is just fun to watch. I hope that our defense gets the work that it needed. The past few years our secondary has been disappointing, and I know it’s something Sean Peyton and the coaches recognize. Who is your player to watch this year on the Saints? I don’t think this is surprising, but my players to watch this season are Michael Thomas and Taysom Hill. I think the Saints will make it to the playoffs again. Their strength of schedule plays in their favor this season, and they just have a really talented team. What's your Super Bowl matchup? I’m going to go ahead and predict a Saints vs. Chiefs Super Bowl in 2020! How do you think COVID impacts the season? Tough to say how COVID will impact the season. I mean, the obvious things like a shortened schedule, no fans attending, and players having to stay in a pod are going to make this season much different than any season we have experienced. We just have to take it for what it is and be happy that we were able to have a season at all.