Rest-of-season predictions for all 32 NFL teams

Rest-of-season predictions for all 32 NFL teams

Which players will eclipse career marks? Who will have a second-half breakout? NFL Nation make their predictions for the stretch run.

AFC East | AFC North| AFC South | AFC West
NFC East | NFC North | NFC South | NFC West


AFC EAST

Tyrod Taylor will remain the starting QB until the Bills are eliminated from playoff contention

Some fans in Buffalo have been clamoring to see rookie Nathan Peterman since he outplayed Taylor in the preseason, and they got their wish when Peterman replaced Taylor with five minutes remaining in Sunday’s 47-10 loss to the Saints. However, coach Sean McDermott reiterated after the game that Taylor remains the starter, and for good reason: The Bills have a tough upcoming schedule that includes road games against the Chargers and Chiefs before returning home to host the Patriots. At 5-4, the Bills are still in position to receive a playoff berth, and starting a rookie at quarterback could rock the boat. — Mike Rodak

Jarvis Landry will surpass 100 receptions

It’s a contract year for the two-time Pro Bowl receiver, and reaching this mark would mean he eventually prices himself out of Miami. The two sides didn’t come to terms before the season, and that was their best chance. Landry’s price will only go up in the offseason once other teams get involved with the pending unrestricted free agent. — James Walker

Martellus Bennett will have a second-half breakout in New England

The former Packer will surpass his total of 24 receptions and 233 yards he had in seven games for Green Bay now that he’s with the Patriots. Bennett didn’t have a touchdown in his seven games with the Packers, but he’ll finish with at least four by the end of the year. Tom Brady developed a trust with Bennett in 2016, and now that he’s back, the tight end immediately becomes the team’s second-best player at the position. — Mike Reiss

Quarterback Josh McCown will be replaced by Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenberg

But it’ll be later than you think. Coach Todd Bowles is in no hurry to see either of his young quarterbacks, but he’ll make the move for the final game or two if the Jets (4-6) hit nine losses. He made a similar move last season at 3-9, so there’s no reason to think he’ll do it sooner this year. There’s no sense of urgency to see Petty or Hackenberg, as neither is considered a future starter. — Rich Cimini

AFC NORTH

Joe Flacco will avoid setting a career low for touchdowns in a season (14)

Flacco, who has thrown for eight touchdowns in nine games, will face much softer defenses the rest of the way. Four of the final seven defenses on Baltimore’s schedule rank 20th or worse. Flacco will go against only two pass defenses ranked in the top half of the league (Pittsburgh and Cincinnati). This will help Flacco salvage what has been a tough and painful season. –Jamison Hensley

Jeremy Hill has played his last game for the Bengals

Hill will spend the rest of the season on IR and then become an unrestricted free agent. With Joe Mixon emerging, there’s no room for Hill in Cincinnati. — ESPN.com staff

Isaiah Crowell will not play his way onto the 2018 Browns

Crowell has run hard and well the past two or three games, but Crowell will not earn the long-term deal he has sought in Cleveland. He will head to free agency after the season. — Pat McManamon

JuJu Smith-Schuster will become the NFL’s only rookie with a 1,000-yard season

Smith-Schuster is averaging 72.1 yards per game since Week 3, a pace that would get him over the 1,000 mark. He has clearly become the Steelers’ 1A option after 17 targets, 290 yards and two scores in back-to-back road wins. Ben Roethlisberger‘s chemistry with him is growing. And he’s doing this damage with a passing game not at its peak. — Jeremy Fowler

AFC SOUTH

DeAndre Hopkins will finish with more than 1,400 receiving yards

Even after the injury to rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson, the Texans’ No. 1 receiver continues to put up big numbers. Quarterback Tom Savage has relied on him the past two weeks, targeting him 30 times in those games. A season after putting up 954 yards in 16 games with Brock Osweiler and Savage under center, Hopkins is already at 803 yards with seven games left to play. — Sarah Barshop

Quarterback Jacoby Brissett won’t start the final six games of the regular season

Brissett, who has thrown for 2,172 yards in nine starts, won’t last the season not because of his performance but due to the struggles of the Colts’ offensive line in protecting its quarterback. The Colts have given up an NFL-high 39 sacks and 82 quarterback hits this season. — Mike Wells

Wide receiver Marqise Lee will set career highs in receptions and receiving yards

Lee already leads the Jaguars in both categories (38 catches for 493 yards), but now that No. 2 receiver Allen Hurns is banged up after injuring his knee against the Chargers on Sunday, Lee is clearly the Jaguars’ best option in the pass game. Lee is on pace to surpass his career highs of 63 receptions and 851 yards (both set in 2016) at this point, and he’ll have to be even more productive because defenses are going to be concentrating on stopping Leonard Fournette even more and forcing quarterback Blake Bortles to win the game in the wake of what happened against the Chargers. Lee is the Jaguars’ second-best playmaker behind Fournette. — Mike DiRocco

Marcus Mariota will hit career highs in passing yards and completion percentage

Mariota will also make his first career Pro Bowl — as an original choice, not an alternate — and it’ll all come thanks to a strong second half of the season. Mariota got off to a sluggish 2017 start due to injuries and a lack of rhythm, but he should remain healthy enough to elevate his game over the final seven games. Mariota is two-tenths from surpassing his career high in completion percentage (62.2). He needs 1,644 passing yards over his final seven games (235 per game) to set a career high in that department. — Cameron Wolfe

AFC WEST

Quarterback Paxton Lynch could play before the end of the season

The question about whether Lynch will play at QB will be answered as soon as the Broncos are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. They’re hanging by a thread, carrying five losses over their past six games into Sunday night’s matchup with the Patriots, but they’re 2-2 in the division, with games still remaining against the Raiders and Chiefs. Lynch has practiced only sparingly since a preseason shoulder injury and is still rehabbing the injury, as well. Coach Vance Joseph has said it wouldn’t be “fair” to ask Lynch to play in a regular season game at this point, but that time will almost certainly come when the postseason is no longer an incentive. The Broncos will want to see more of Lynch before they go into another offseason. — Jeff Legwold

Kareem Hunt will eclipse 1,300 rushing yards

With the Chiefs schedule easing considerably over the final seven games, Hunt will snap out of his recent slump. And while he won’t finish as the NFL’s rushing leader, he will finish with more than 1,300 yards. That would be Kansas City’s best rushing season since Jamaal Charles ran for more than 1,500 yards in 2012. Three of the Chiefs’ remaining opponents entered Week 10 in the bottom 10 in the league in rushing yards per game allowed. — Adam Teicher

Denzel Perryman will lead the Chargers in tackles

Yes, Perryman will get only eight games if he manages to stay healthy. But he led the Chargers with nine tackles in his first game back from an ankle injury and should get plenty of opportunities to pad those numbers over the next seven games at middle linebacker. So it’s not out of the question. — Eric D. Williams

Gareon Conley will lead the Raiders in interceptions

Yeah, I realize the Raiders’ first-round draft pick has played in only two games and is in danger of being shut down after this bye week should his injured right shin not respond. But the Raiders defense has yet to pick off a pass this season, and it would only be right if the rookie cornerback were to be the guy to lead the Raiders out of their takeaway funk. He was in great position to pick off the Jets in Week 2 but decided to knock the ball down instead. — Paul Gutierrez

NFC EAST

Ezekiel Elliott will still rush for 1,000 yards

With Elliott missing the next three games, and in all likelihood the next five games, because of a suspension, he’ll still rush for 1,000 yards on the season. In the first eight games of the season, Elliott ran for 783 yards, including just eight in the Week 2 loss to the Broncos. He is set to return Dec. 24 against the Seahawks, in Week 16. The Cowboys close the season at the Eagles. Elliott will need 217 yards to reach 1,000 on the season. There could be some rust when he returns, but he’ll also be rested enough to reach 1,000 yards in just 10 games. — Todd Archer

Sterling Shepard will finish with close to 1,000 yards receiving

Shepard will be a top 15 receiver in the second half of the year despite missing almost three full games this season. He’s the Giants’ No. 1 receiver now with Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall out for the season. He had his second 100-yard receiving game of the season Sunday in San Francisco. With his targets increasing, so will his production. Greatly. — Jordan Raanan

Carson Wentz will claim the title of best QB in the NFC East

Wentz will outduel Dak Prescott. With 23 touchdowns to four interceptions and a 13-3 mark as a rookie, Prescott got the better of Wentz in 2016. But the burden is greater now with Ezekiel Elliott suspended. Wentz, meanwhile, has offensive weapons all around him and is enjoying an MVP-caliber season for the first-place Eagles. The two will square off twice over the second half: next Sunday night in Dallas and in the regular-season finale in Philly. Year two of what could be a decade-long rivalry will go to Wentz. — Tim McManus

No Washington wide receiver will surpass 700 yards

After producing two 1,000-yard receivers last season, the Redskins won’t have a wideout who surpasses 700 yards in 2017 — and only Jamison Crowder will come close. No other wideout will top 600, a function in some cases of youth, and in other cases of just not being good enough. So the ball gets spread around — and it also means quarterback Kirk Cousins will rely more on running back Chris Thompson and the tight ends. — John Keim

NFC NORTH

No Chicago wide receiver will finish with 50 passes

The leader in the clubhouse right now is veteran Kendall Wright, who has made 27 receptions through nine games. Josh Bellamy is the next-leading receiver, with 12 catches. Deonte Thompson, whom the Bears released weeks ago, is still third among Chicago’s wide receivers, with 11 receptions in a Bears uniform. Veteran Markus Wheaton barely played against the Packers. Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky actually targeted Dontrelle Inman at team-high eight times in Week 10, but Inman (six catches against Green Bay) just joined the team. — Jeff Dickerson

Detroit will have two 1,000-yard receivers in Golden Tate and Marvin Jones Jr.

Tate continued on pace for his third 1,000-yard year in four seasons with the Lions while Jones slipped off pace Sunday against Cleveland, but the two combined have enough firepower — and enough confidence from their quarterback, Matthew Stafford — that they should both hit that mark. For Jones, it would be a career high. Tate is on pace for 1,171 yards, which would be his best season since 2014. — Michael Rothstein

Brett Hundley will win enough games to keep the Packers in the playoff picture

The Packers will ultimately have a decision to make about whether to bring back Aaron Rodgers when he’s eligible to come off IR as early as Week 15 or stick with Hundley, who might need only to win another game or two to accomplish that. — Rob Demovsky

Adam Thielen will be the first Vikings receiver to 1,000 yards

There’s no question about it. Thielen is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL and the most valuable skill player for the Vikings. He has been targeted at least 10 times in each of his past four games and has two 150-yard receiving performances in the first 10 weeks. It seems like every game, he’s making some ridiculous catch, utilizing his body control and ability to get open to get the best of his defender. What’s more? He does this all the time and is consistently the most reliable target for Case Keenum. Thielen has 627 yards receiving this season and a touchdown in each of his past two games. An even bolder prediction? He surpasses the 1,000-yard mark before the last game of the regular season. — Courtney Cronin

NFC SOUTH

Dontari Poe will score a touchdown this season

The 330-plus-pound defensive tackle saw his first offensive snaps with the Falcons in Sunday’s win over the Cowboys and cleared a massive hole on Tevin Coleman‘s 1-yard touchdown. Poe had two rushing touchdowns and a passing touchdown while with the Chiefs, so the Falcons are sure to use his talents in goal-line situations. “Great change-up for us,” Julio Jones said of Poe on offense. “He’s a big fullback. He’s very athletic. He’s a great addition to the team.” — Vaughn McClure

Christian McCaffrey will break Reggie Bush’s NFL record for receptions (88) by a rookie running back

McCaffrey will surpass Bush’s 2016 record and lead the Panthers in rushing in the second half of the season. He needs 35 catches over the final seven games to break Bush’s record and he’s already off to a good start in the rushing department with a career-best 66-yards in his last outing. He’ll be pivotal to the offense if Carolina makes a run in the playoffs. — David Newton

The Saints will send at least six players to the Pro Bowl after being snubbed last season

Quarterback Drew Brees, running back Mark Ingram, wide receiver Michael Thomas, center Max Unger, defensive end Cameron Jordan, rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore and possibly safety Kenny Vaccaro, among others, could all represent New Orleans in the Pro Bowl. Ingram and Unger will get there because the Saints suddenly have the No. 3 rushing offense in the NFL after Sunday’s 298-yard outburst (Ingram is on pace for a career-high 1,195 rushing yards even while splitting time with rookie sensation Alvin Kamara). Thomas surprisingly has only two touchdowns this year — but those will finally come more often now that the run game has softened up defenses. And Thomas is already on pace for 105 catches and 1,177 yards. — Mike Triplett

Linebacker Lavonte David will finish the season leading the league in fumble recoveries and forced fumbles

David already has four of each in just seven games this year and has already tied the franchise’s single-season record in fumble recoveries and will break the Bucs’ franchise record in career fumble recoveries (he currently has 10, the record is 12). For those wondering, the single-season NFL record is nine, set by Don Hultz in 1963. — Jenna Laine

NFC WEST

Adrian Peterson will finish the season with 1,000 yards

Peterson is already sitting at 424 when you combine his production with the Cardinals and Saints. That leaves him with 576 yards for the rest of the season — an average of 82.3 per game. Even with his alternating big games and low output performances, he can accomplish it over seven more games. — Josh Weinfuss

Jared Goff will finish among the top 10 in Total QBR

The Rams’ second-year quarterback entered Sunday’s game ranked 10th in that all-encompassing statistic, then put together another spectacular performance against the Texans. Goff went 25-of-37 for 355 yards, three touchdowns and, for the sixth time in nine games, zero interceptions. The opponents get tougher now, with the Vikings, Saints, Seahawks, Titans and Eagles on the remaining schedule. But Goff seems to improve his decision-making and feel with each passing week. — Alden Gonzalez

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will start the final six games of the season

Sunday’s strong (and winning) performance from rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard notwithstanding, the Niners and their fans are eager to see what they have in Garoppolo after trading a second-round pick for him on Halloween. The Nov. 26 game against Seattle, which comes after the Niners’ much-needed bye this week, always seemed like the most logical time for Garoppolo to debut, and it would be a surprise if that’s not exactly how it happened. — Nick Wagoner

Russell Wilson will finish in the top three in MVP voting

In past seasons, Seattle’s balance on offense has precluded Wilson from putting up the kind of passing numbers needed to win the award. Things are different this season. Seattle’s inability to run the ball with any consistency has put more of the offense on Wilson’s shoulders, and he has delivered. Wilson is among the league leaders in several passing categories and is again making big plays with his feet, as well. Wilson has been especially efficient in the second halves of seasons over his career. Assuming that trend continues, he’ll make a serious run at his first career MVP. — Brady Henderson

Source: http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/page/32for32x171112/nfl-2017-rest-season-predictions-all-32-nfl-teams

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