From now until February, football will be played each week and the 2021 season looks to be one of the most exciting in recent history.
Here are four bold predictions for the upcoming NFL season.
1. The Titans will face the Packers in the Super Bowl
While all eyes in the NFC will be on reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay to make a repeat run, as the core of the team returns in 2021, there perhaps is an even more intriguing team poised to make a run at the Lombardi Trophy in February—and that team is the Green Bay Packers.
After a tumultuous preseason that left Packers fans everywhere wondering where Aaron Rodgers would play, or even if he would suit up again, the gunslinger made it official and reworked his contract that essentially is shaping up to be his final year with Green Bay.
The Packers already sport one of the top receivers in the league in Davante Adams.
Throw in thefact the Packers put plans in place to return Randall Cobb at Rodgers' request and the fact the Packer signal caller is hot off his MVP season in arguably the best season of his career, and Green Bay could have all the tools, plus a little added motivation of “one last go-around” to go all in for the first title since 2011.
Sure, there is plenty of reason to think Tampa Bay will make another deep postseason run with Tom Brady at the help, but for some reason, the Packers have this intangible feeling that something special is in store for this season.
But it won't be an easy task as the Tennessee Titans prove to be no pushover with what's being called the best offense in franchise history.
Ryan Tannehill returns as one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the league with the best between-the-tackles running back in the league and now two of the top receivers in the game.
There's a bevy of offensive weapons at the Titans' disposal with Julio Jones and A.J. Brown on the edge and Derrick Henry primed for a repeat rushing champion title.
On paper, the Titans have the best offense in either the NFC or AFC, but the biggest question surrounds the Titans defense, which must improve in order to survive the gauntlet of Kansas City, Buffalo, Baltimore and Cleveland.
With an improved defense and a “pick your poison” offense, the Titans will make a run at the Super Bowl for the first time since 1999.
In the end, Rodgers will nearly mirror Peyton Manning's farewell with a that added “it factor” that lets him go out a champion.
2. Derrick Henry wins NFL MVP
Simply put, Derrick Henry has the build of a tight end with elite running back speed. Henry remains the key to the Titans' offense with his punishing running style that carried him to a 2,000-yard season in 2020.
His rise to stardom really caught fire in the 2018 season when he eclipsed the 1,000-yard barrier for the first time in his career and followed by hitting 1,500 yards in 2019.
In the last three seasons, he's combined for 45 touchdowns—a number which will only grow in 2021.
With two true No. 1 talents at receiver in Jones and Brown, it's nearly impossible for defenses to decide to back out of the tackle box and cover receivers or load the box and try to stop the run.
Sure, stars like Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers and Lamar Jackson may post MVP caliber seasons in 2021, but for the first time since Adrian Peterson won in 2012, the MVP will go to the league's top running back.
3. Tampa Bay loses to Green Bay in NFC championship
Tampa Bay gets the luxury of playing in the NFC South, which consists of three teams in a rebuild mode.
Carolina has moved on from Cam Newton and is hanging its hat on Sam Darnold, Drew Brees has retired and questions surround who the Saints will go with at quarterback and the Falcons are adjusting to a new coaching staff and franchise that was in sell mode a season ago.
As stated in the first bold prediction, the Packers are a team of destiny to send Aaron Rodgers out on a high note and not even the reigning Super Bowl champs who return the bulk of their roster can derail it.
While Brady is undoubtedly the best quarterback to ever play, he's far from the most efficient or top quarterback in the league, let alone the NFC.
The Bucs have survived off the talent around Brady and a solid defense.
But there is no derailing Rodgers' destiny of hoisting the Lombardi one more time.
4. Chiefs lose in first round
There's no doubt that Patrick Mahomes is the best quarterback talent playing today and potentially to ever step on a football field.
He posts video game-caliber stats every season and makes near impossible plays that a normal person just isn't capable of.
But the AFC is absolutely loaded in 2021 at a level we've really not seen in years.
The Titans have been busy building what could be a historic offense.
The Browns have very quietly been digging themselves out of football purgatory with a star-studded roster led by Baker Mayfield.
The Bills field perhaps the most underrated roster in all of the NFL and look poised to make another postseason run in 2021.
With all this talent building around the league, it will be an absolute dogfight come playoff time.
In this day and age, the notions of running the ball to control the clock and play good defense have gone out the window.
The NFL has changed much like college football has and teams are posting more points each game.
The team that can spread the field and score at will in multiple ways, however, will be the one that survives the AFC gauntlet—and right now that looks to be the Titans.
If Brown and Jones can deliver downfield, the Titans can play clock control with Henry out of the backfield, there's not an offense in the AFC that can match what the Titans are capable of.
Because of this, should the Chiefs meet the Titans early in the playoffs, it will be an early exit for Mahomes and the Chiefs.