Nothing is worse than a bold prediction that isn’t bold enough. Bold means to be courageous, daring and imaginative. There is a danger element to bold predictions. There should be some risk involved, which means every one of them should be outrageous to someone.
Week 1 is a great time for bold predictions because almost anything is possible. We don’t know that much about the teams, which makes for great drama. It also means a higher than average hit rate on bold proclamations.
To keep them from being totally insane predictions, they need to be possible— at least in the mind of the author. There is a first time for everything, but certain things are simply never going to happen on a football field. Every bold prediction should be improbable, but none of them should be so irrational that they can be disregarded entirely.
Tyrod Taylor will throw for 275 yards and rush for 100 yards in his first career start
Only three times in history has a quarterback thrown for 275 yards and rushed for 100 yards. It happened twice last season when Cam Newton and Russell Wilson accomplished the feat. Neither of their teams won those games and it’s certainly possible the Bills will still lose to the Colts on Sunday.
Since Taylor is still an unknown commodity, it’s going to take teams a while to figure him out. Plus, he earned the starting job with an impressive preseason. In limited playing time, Taylor rushed 11 times for 108 yards and threw 31 passes for 236 yards. That’s not far off Terrelle Pryor’s line in his Week 1 start against the Colts in 2013.
The Oakland Raiders lost 21-17 that day in Indianapolis. The Bills will play the Colts in Buffalo, which should give Taylor just the advantage he needs to have a big day. Newton was also the first to accomplish the feat in a 30-20 win in 2012, which is the only time a quarterback has done it at home.
If the Colts focus on stopping running back LeSean McCoy, Taylor should be able to take advantage. If the Colts offense is as good as advertised and scores at will even on Buffalo’s tough defense, Taylor could see the extra opportunities he needs to make this bold prediction come true.
Khalil Mack will sack Andy Dalton three times and the Raiders will win
Last season, Khalil Mack had just four sacks as a rookie for the Oakland Raiders. He’s hoping to have a much bigger total in 2015 and he can get 75 percent of his rookie total in one game if this prediction comes true.
If preseason is a guide for anything, it’s that Mack has improved his pass-rush skills to the point that he’s going to give opposing offenses fits. Add linebacker Aldon Smith to the current rotation of Justin Tuck, Dan Williams, Justin Ellis and rookie Mario Edwards Jr. and it’s going to be tough for opposing offenses to focus solely on stopping one guy.
Dalton has been sacked three times by one player five times in his career, but not since 2013. James Harrison, D’Qwell Jackson, Von Miller, Cameron Wake and Elvis Dumervil have done it. It’s unsurprising that the Bengals are 1-4 in those games with the only win coming in the random game in which an inside linebacker (Jackson) had three sacks.
Mack is a lot closer in talent to the other four guys. That fact is not lost on the Bengals.
“He’s fast, he’s sudden, he’s strong, he’s got spin moves, he’s got karate moves. The guy is a rolling ball of butcher knives,” Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said, via Coley Harvey of ESPN. “He can play.”
Bengals left tackle Andre Whitworth is nursing a back injury, which can make it even more difficult to block Mack. He’s probable for Sunday’s game, but it’s worth noting. The Raiders will also move Mack around to give him a chance to go against Andre Smith at right tackle and the occasionally tight end.
“He’s a guy if you go out there and get behind a bunch, you’re going to have a heck of a time trying to block him all day,” Whitworth said on the challenge of facing Mack, via Harvey.
Kirk Cousins will throw for 350 yards and three touchdowns in win over the Dolphins
It’s hard to expect much from Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins after a drama-filled preseason. One thing we know is that the team didn’t name Cousins the starter just because RG3 was concussed. The team named Cousins the starter for the season because they think he is better.
Aside from ill-timed interceptions, Cousins has done well for a young starter. Cousins completed 61.8 percent of his passes last season and threw 10 touchdowns in five starts with a reputable 8.4 yards per pass attempt last season.
Cousins was also a stud in the red zone with second highest adjusted net yards per pass attempt in the league behind Tony Romo. Cousins threw seven touchdowns and zero interceptions in the red zone with only one sack.
It’s not insane to think that Cousins could throw for 350 yards and three touchdowns because he’s done it twice in nine career starts. Both were road losses by a combined four points and one of those losses was to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Miami Dolphins run a similar offense to the Eagles because they poached offensive coordinator Bill Lazor from there last year.
Alex Smith will throw two touchdowns to wide receiver Jeremy Maclin
Last season, not a single Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver caught a touchdown pass. The drought dates back to December of 2013 when Dexter McCluster, a converted running back, caught a touchdown.
That drought will end Sunday when quarterback Alex Smith will throw not one, but two touchdown passes to wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. This probably shouldn’t be a bold prediction, but given Smith’s propensity to target tight ends and the lack of wide receiver touchdown catches in Kansas City over the last two seasons, it definitely is.
Smith has thrown 41 touchdowns with the Chiefs and only 11 have been to wide receivers. To put that in perspective, 28 wide receivers have 11 touchdowns passes over the last two seasons including players like Jerricho Cotchery and Riley Cooper.
Part of the problem has been Smith’s unwillingness to throw to his wide receivers and another part has been the lack of talent at the position. Maclin is talented and a perfect fit for the offense, so he should pull in a couple of scores off quick-hitting passes Sunday.