Incarnate Word didn’t make a Sweet 16 run, Tom Schaar didn’t get his own TV show and the NFL didn’t initiate a two-hand touch rule. Unfortunately most of
my 2014 sports predictions were a little too bold. At least they were hopefully mildly entertaining.
This year, for my 2015 predictions, I’m going a little more realistic. Believe it or not, below are what I consider to be perfectly, objectionably, realistic yet slightly bold conclusions on what to expect the next 365 days in sports.
Tell me I’m wrong…
Josh Helmuth is the editor of CraveOnline Sports.
Photo Credit: Getty
2015 Bold Sports Predictions
Adam Silver will fix something
He's only been NBA commissioner since February, yet he's made a huge impact on a thriving basketball league that needed someone new at the helm. Ban former Clippers owner Donald Sterling for being racist? Done. Complete a new mega TV deal with ESPN and Turner worth $24 billion? Done. Now he's talking about legalizing sports betting on Association games.
If 2015 is anything like the previous year, Silver is just getting warmed up.
Anthony Davis will win NBA MVP
Hard to believe a 21-year-old in just his second year could win MVP (only Derrick Rose and Wes Unseld were MVPs at age 22), but LeBron James can't quite get the Cavs rolling and Kevin Durant is too banged up to be as dominant as last year.
Davis is averaging a ridiculous 24 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks per game, leading the NBA in PIE (Player Impact Estimate). As if the unibrow weren't enough to fear this 6-10 behemoth...
Jameis Winston will not go 1st Round
The accused rape. The crab legs. The obscene language shouted amongst coeds... Take your pick from the
smorgasbord of Winston egregious tomfoolery from the past 18 months. What you get is a giant character assessment that would be relevant for any employer, including the NFL.
When you're an NFL quarterback, you are the face of the franchise. That face has to earn its keep by spending countless hours watching film and reading playbooks. Can you see Winston giving that kind of commitment?
Although it's very possible Winston will still be drafted in the first round for his talent alone, it's hard to guarantee such a future with so many questions surrounding his basic juvenile nature. Especially in an era when the NFL is cracking down on domestic cases such as Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson.
A team drafting Winston high this spring is rolling the dice.
Johnny Manziel will prove to be a bust
Did Johnny "Football" throw a party prefacing the last game of the year just one week after one of the worst NFL QB performances of all-time (27.3 QBR)? Was he really rolling up dollar bills to snort coke inside that night club bathroom?
Although listed at 6-feet, Manziel is a a 5-foot-10 quicker than snot very good college football player who is getting a rude awakening in the NFL -- a player who lacks the maturity, focus and commitment to lead an NFL franchise.
He was already a risky pick, now stores already have his jersey on
clearance. What does that tell you?
Kentucky will continue to dominate
It's nearly impossible to go undefeated in college basketball. There are just too many games this day in age. The last team to do it was the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers (32-0). For Kentucky to be the first team in nearly 40 years to accomplish the feat, they'll likely need to win 40 games. But if any team can do it, it's this formidable lineup.
This John Calipari team is likely the best college basketball team we've seen in two decades. Constantly rotating two fresh teams of 5 at a time, these Wildcats likely have 9-to-10 pros on the roster. Simply unheralded.
Aaron Harrison appears to be the true star leader on this team that -- if they can avoid a trap game or two in conference play -- will go undefeated. No one has given them a close game yet.
Odell Beckham Jr. will be the No. 1 WR in fantasy
He missed one-fourth of the season but he's already a household name. But still, why should a rookie receiver be touted as the No. 1 WR in all of fantasy? Even with Eli Manning as his quarterback?!
Here are just a few fun-filled stats:
1st rookie WR with two 12 catch games. 1st NFL rookie with four consecutive games with at least 130 receiving yards and a touchdown. 2nd player in NFL history (along Michael Irvin) with at least 90 receiving yards in nine consecutive games. 1st rookie WR since Houston's Bill Groman (1960) to roll out seven 100-yard games. Beckham’s 91 receptions are tied with Denver’s Eddie Royal (2008) for the second-highest total in NFL history for a rookie. The last WR to have such an immediate impact was Randy Moss, who in 1998, had 1,313 yards and 17 TDs on 69 catches. Beckham, again who missed the first four games of the season, was on pace for 121 receptions, 1,740 yards and 16 TDs.
The Padres and Cubs will compete for the NL pennant
We've seen teams load up on talent and fall flat on their faces many times before (think the 2012 Miami Marlins), but Chicago and San Diego have both made huge moves this off-season to solidify themselves as contenders going into 2015.
The Cubbies not only added tremendously successful manager Joe Madden to the dugout, but also added All-Star pitcher Jon Lester to a lineup that includes the best young talent in possibly all of baseball.
Jorge Soler, Javy Baez, Anthony Rizzo -- they're all superstars in the making. Likely joining them this year will be huge impact prospects Kris Bryant and Addison Russell.
The Padres have a new GM in A.J. Preller and all he's done is load up on talent, adding Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, Justin Upton and Will Middlebrooks to an already formidable rotation.
Can the Cubbies prospects adjust to Major League pitching? Can the Padres new roster actually stay healthy? If both of those answers include anywhere close to a 'yes,' we could see these two teams in the NLCS come October. Not bad for two teams who finished near the bottom of the barrel in 2014.
The Cowboys will win a playoff game
I know, this sounds like a joke. After all, the Cowboys went 12-4 and are the No. 3 seed in the NFL playoffs this year. But we all know how crazy Tony Romo gets in clutch situations. And the Lions are no joke. AND the boys of Big D have only won one playoff game since 1996!
Still, the Cowboys have been much better on defense this year than people thought, they have the best running back in football in DeMarco Murray and Romo had possibly the best year of his career, holding a 34/9 TD/INT ratio and a 113.2 QBR.
"America's team" could make a serious run for the Super Bowl in a wide open NFC conference.
The Bulls and Warriors will meet in the NBA Finals
How great would a San Francisco-Chicago NBA Finals be? It would certainly be a first. The Bulls haven't been since they had a guy named Michael Jordan in 1998 and Golden State hasn't reached the Finals since they were called the 'San Francisco Warriors' in 1967.
The Bulls have four All-Star caliber players in Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose, Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah. Their only real competition are LeBron and the Cavs, who still can't seem to gel. And can you really imagine the Raptors, Hawks or Wizards in the Finals?
And in case you haven't been watching, the Warriors currently have the best record in basketball (25-5) and sport the NBA's best backcourt in decades in Stephen Curry (22.8 PPG) and Klay Thompson (21.1 PPG) -- all of this in a wide open west.
Whether I'm optimistic or realistic here, this would be the most exciting NBA Finals in years.