With training camps opening up in earnest across the land, NFL experts are getting in their predictions while they can.
Over at ESPN, Dan Graziano takes it to another level by forecasting the next three professional football seasons. It’s hard enough to look into the near future and predict this season, but Graziano rolls the dice on looking beyond 2019 and venture a bit further into the future. Frankly, I admire his gumption.
Graziano doesn’t have any Bears-specific predictions, but he has one that could shape how Chicago’s football fans watch the next few seasons.
The Packers won’t win a division title in the next three years, Graziano writes. Again, Green Bay will not win the NFC North in the 2019, 2020, or 2021 seasons. That’s … certainly one take to stash away for future reference. Because even though the Packers have missed the postseason the last two years, this is one heck of a guess. After all, their organization went through a wave of changes in the front office and coaching staff, invested a ton of money in free agency, and still has Aaron Rodgers lurking and waiting to dismantle the hopes and dreams of Bears, Vikings, and Lions fans alike. But Graziano has his reasons, so let’s hear him out.
“Part of this is that I just think the Vikings (this season) and the Bears (this season and long term) look too strong, and I don’t think the Lions are a team to be overlooked,” Graziano writes. “But other than Davante Adams, the skill-position group around Aaron Rodgers hasn’t proved much, and Rodgers hasn’t shown a lot of patience lately when things haven’t gone well around him. He’s not a quarterback to underestimate; I just think Minnesota and Chicago are in better places right now.”
Maybe the big takeaway here isn’t that the Packers aren’t viewed as a team that is going to win the division in the near future. Instead, the big nugget here is that the Bears are considered to be “too strong” now and in the long term. That’s quite a testament to the squad GM Ryan Pace has built that is well-rounded to be considered a team that could keep an all-time great quarterback from lifting his team to being the best in the division.
Among Graziano’s other bold predictions include Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes becoming the league’s first $40 million-a-year player, Giants quarterback Eli Manning wearing a different team’s uniform before hanging ’em up, a postseason appearance for the Las Vegas Raiders, Tom Brady’s Patriots winning one more Super Bowl, and the league avoiding a work stoppage. There is plenty to look forward to if Graziano’s predictions come true, especially the one that’s near-and-dear to Bears fans.