Derek J. Hernandez

New Year, New Takes: Bold Sports Predictions for 2017

Now that we’re all done reminiscing about the year that was, let’s take a look at what we think will go down in sports in 2017.

Who will be crowned Super Bowl champion? How will technology affect sports in the new year? Will the Nationals ever win a playoff series?

Some of brightest minds in sports media and technology answer those questions and more in their bold predictions for 2017. Enjoy.


College Football

“The SEC’s dominance of college football will finally fall. After a disastrous bowl season, the conference will see its worst combined recruiting finish this decade and writers will start to sway away from giving the conference the benefit of the doubt. Power and ‘media bias’ will shift north for the first time in a decade.” – Matt Reynoldson, HuskerOnline

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“Notre Dame will go 10-2 next year under head coach Brian Kelly, with his new & improved coaching staff, and new QB Brandon Wimbush; losing only to Georgia and USC.” – Lisa Kelly, Her Loyal Sons

h/t: Five Foot Nothing Sports

Sports Tech

“This past year, we’ve seen a massive rise in the number of investment funds, accelerators, and co-working spaces that are dedicated entirely to startups working on sports technology. Pro sports teams and organizations are increasingly looking to early stage tech startups to build and implement new and innovative technology into their organizations. This will happen very quickly, and we can expect by the end of the year that a majority of pro teams and leagues will have a hand in technology through an accelerator program, pitch-off, or fund.

My other prediction for 2017 is that we will begin to see many of the emerging technologies that have impacted other industries like AI and Mobile AR, to find application in sports. The ease of access to these technologies and advanced api’s will allow more makers and entrepreneurs to build exciting tech for the sports world.” – Troy Ruediger, Starters HQ

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“Pro athletes will become an integral part of the sports tech ecosystem, contributing far more than capital. Last year we saw big names like Kobe and Carmelo launch funds that brought that athlete-tech relationship mainstream. Although we’re sure to see more A-listers join the party, 2017 is the year of the sleeper picks. The biggest winners will be the athletes who are not household names, but have a passion for the solutions sports tech companies are building. It’s about more than who can write the biggest check in 2017.” – John Potter, Starters HQ

“All four major American sports leagues will social media-stream (on Twitter or Facebook) at least one game by the end of 2017.” – Jeffrey Eisenband, ThePostGame

h/t: GeekWire

NFL

“Everyone’s talking about the Packers, and the Patriots, and the Cowboys as the Super Bowl favorites in February. Yours truly, even picked the NFC’s second seed in the Falcons. But given the context of history and how everyone seems to be ignoring their complete existence, the Chiefs will win Super Bowl LI – their first since Super Bowl IV.

They have the defensive superstars (Eric Berry, Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, Marcus Peters, etc.) to take over games. Alex Smith is an effective game manager at quarterback to keep the offense moving with quality facilitation. And Tyreek Hill may be the playoff field’s biggest X-factor as punt and kick returner, as well as whenever he touches the ball on offense.

The Chiefs do have their offensive flaws with Smith possessing throwing limitations as a quarterback, and inside linebacker Derrick Johnson’s achilles injury earlier this season leaves Kansas City more susceptible to being gashed in the run game.

But it doesn’t matter.

A first round bye and home playoff game at the loudest stadium in the NFL will have this team who has all the pieces readily in place to make franchise history in February.” – Robert Żegliński, The Rock River Times

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“After a wild and crazy 2016, I think it’s only fitting for the Cowboys to win the Super Bowl. But as for the 2017 season, Oakland wins it all.” – Richard White, Fox Nashville

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“The NFL will find another way to further eliminate kickers.” – John Potter

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“Tony Romo joins the New York Jets, leads team to AFC East title.

It might sound a bit absurd on the surface. The New York Jets were an absolute dumpster fire for the vast majority of the 2016 season. The three quarterbacks who actually suited up, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bryce Petty and Geno Smith, combined for 16 touchdowns compared to 25 interceptions.

Heck, the team didn’t even have the confidence in rookie second-round pick Christian Hackenberg for him to see the field at all in his first season. Add in regression from a previously stout defense, and the Jets saw their win total drop in half, from 10 in 2015 to five this past regular season.

So why in the world would I predict the Jets to win the AFC East over a New England Patrots team that ended this regular season 14-2? That’s what bold predictions are for. You either throw them out there in a blind manner akin to the new administration set to take over the White House or you give concrete reasons. Here are the reasons.

First off, it must be noted that the Jets won 10 games with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center in 2015. That’s an amazing realization to come to. It also suggests that Todd Bowles simply didn’t forget to coach in the matter of just a few short months. The Jets have made it clear Bowles will return. And in reality, he does deserve another chance. No coach could overcome the issues New York had at quarterback and come close to a .500 record. We’re willing to give Bowles a mulligan for 2016.

If the Jets are able to find a decent starting quarterback, there’s no reason to believe this team won’t be able to contend for a playoff spot next season. It has a decent offensive line and a pretty darn good wide receiver group, one that was made better in 2016 with youngsters stepping up after Eric Decker’s injury.

Enter into the equation a quarterback in Tony Romo that has proven himself to be a top-10 player at his position. Of course, that’s all been dependent on his ability to stay healthy. Unfortunately, Romo himself has played in a total of one regular season game since Thanksgiving of 2015. This led to Dak Prescott being given the opportunity to start for the Dallas Cowboys. He responded by leading the team to a 13-3 record and the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC. Needless to say, Romo will be looking for work come March.

Here’s a quarterback that’s averaged 30 touchdowns and 10 interceptions to go with 4,100 yards in each of his past three full seasons. Even at the advanced age of 36, Romo himself has a lot left in the tank. Should he go to a good situation and remain healthy, there’s no reason to believe he won’t be back among the top quarterbacks in the game.

Despite the turnover-proneness of Jets quarterbacks this season, the team still remained somewhat competitive. Five of its 11 losses came by one score. Add in someone of Romo’s ilk to go with a high first-round pick, and improvement would be the name of the game across the board here.” – Vincent Frank, eDraft

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“Kirk Cousins cashes in with a contract similar to Brock Osweiler’s because Cousins is the only reliable available QB in free agency. Second best is Ryan Fitzpatrick. Cousins and his agent have some leverage and they’ll demand a lot of money. NFL QBs get ridiculous money these days, and it’ll continue. 5 years/$75 million.” – Farzin Vousoughian, The Chiefs Zone Podcast

h/t: TMZ

College Basketball

“We’re overdue for a true Cinderella team, and I think this is the year that it happens. Don’t know who it’ll be, but I’m sure it’ll be fun to watch.” – Richard White

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“The ACC will get at least 10 teams into the NCAA Tournament.” – Greg Peterson, 750 The Game

h/t: carolinablitz.com

NBA

“So in 2016, we actually saw a buzzer-beater in the NCAA Basketball Men’s Final when Villanova won. The WNBA Finals also had a buzzer-beater. It didn’t happen in the final game but it did happen in Game 1.

So I think this year, the NBA Finals will have a game-winning buzzer-beater in Game 7. It’ll probably be a Stephen Curry three to end the Warriors/Cavs trilogy.” – Rey Moralde, The No Look Pass

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“Russell Westbrook will win MVP, and the Warriors will win the NBA title.” – Richard White

h/t: NBALEAD

MLB

“The Nationals FINALLY get out of the first round of playoffs, and play the Astros in the World Series. Astros win, 4-2.” – Richard White

h/t: USA TODAY


Think some of these predictions are absurd? Have a prediction of your own? Sound off in the comments section.

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