Every year, the seemingly unpredictable things happen. Whether it be the Houston Astros winning the World Series or the Falcons dropping a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl, these type of things seem to happen every year and happened in 2017. While those things happen, there are those that try to set the tone and predict what could or could not happen as well. With that being said, here are The Sports Awakening's 18 Predictions for 2018.
1) The Chicago Bulls will make the NBA playoffs
I know. People will think I have lost my mind with this prediction, but let's examine their last twelve games. With Niko Mirotic back, the Bulls have gone 10-3 and have made significant progress in catching up in the playoff race. Given that they keep the pieces they have and given that Zack LaVine is back up to his old tricks once he returns from injury, it is plausible that Chicago could catch up to the rest of the Eastern Conference. As of right now, they are only 5.5 games back of the Miami Heat, who hold the eighth spot and are currently sputtering. Making up that amount of games when we have not even reached the All-Star break is definitely achievable for this young team that seems to be playing better with each game.
2) The Oklahoma City Thunder will face the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs
This was the matchup that a lot of people wanted to see last year in the playoffs. Russell Westbrook versus Kevin Durant when it counts the most. That did not happen last season, but this year it actually would be a better matchup because of the help Westbrook has with him. The Thunder still have some offensive issues to figure out, but their defense is still at the top of the NBA despite adding a guy that isn't exactly touted for his defense in Carmelo Anthony. As far as Golden State, well we know what they are made of and we know they will be there towards the end in some way or fashion. The star power, emotion and energy in that matchup with the stage that it would be on would be something that many would be glued to. Sports networks are probably crossing everything they can to see this because of the built-in storylines.
3) James Harden will win the MVP Award
LeBron James is having a great season and so is Kevin Durant, but The Beard is balling once again in Houston and it is going to be hard to deny him of that trophy this year. The team is right in the race for the best record in the NBA and he is the key to all of it. Harden's currently averaging 32.1 points, nine assists and five rebounds. Those type of numbers are great and he should be rewarded for it and the success of his team.
4) The Cleveland Cavaliers will win the East yet again
I know. This one is a little anticlimactic but it is the truth. Even with trading away Kyrie Irving, the Cavs are still the best team in the Eastern Conference. LeBron and his crew may get challenged down the stretch of the playoffs potentially by a team like Toronto or Boston, but they will ultimately raise their level of play and take care of business on their way to a fourth straight NBA Finals and a chance to win another title.
5) Georgia will win the National Title this season
There's Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia and Clemson in the Final Four of college football this year. Plenty have went with Georgia or Clemson to win the title. Not many are giving Oklahoma a chance to win it either. Along with Oklahoma, the Georgia Bulldogs have not got much love when it comes to their title aspirations. People may be sleeping on them, but not me. Their defense is very stingy when they are on top of their game and their running game can bludgeon you to death. Couple that with the heady play of their quarterback and the smarts of their head coach, Kirby Smart, and the Bulldogs could be dancing in the streets in Athens, Georgia while celebrating their college football title this season.
6) Tennessee running back John Kelly will make some team very happy at the next level
Plenty people were surprised at the ability that Alvin Kamara showed when he hit the pros for New Orleans. He always had that ability, it just was not on the field enough in many people's opinions. Well, one guy that starred alongside of him at the University of Tennessee when star running back Jalen Hurd was dismissed was John Kelly. The junior has decided to forgo his senior season and head to the draft and one team will be lucky to get him. His balance, speed and power are something that you don't expect for a guy his size. And if you were amazed by the play of Kamara, Kelly can do a lot of the same things along with having great balance from his days riding a skateboard in Michigan growing up.
7) Josh Allen will not be the star quarterback many think he will be
All the talk amongst those getting ready for the 2018 NFL Draft was of quarterback Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen and Wyoming's Josh Allen. Darnold had a rough bowl game if that is his last game at USC (he is a redshirt sophomore and has yet to declare whether he is leaving school) and Josh Rosen has had his moments as well at UCLA, but no one really got to see Josh Allen. For a guy with a lot of hype surrounding him, it seemed like he was not able to live up to that hype and it seems like he may be a solid quarterback but not a star at the next level. So while we may not have our prediction solved quickly for this one, the feeling is that he will not be that star quarterback everyone will be mad they missed on.
8) The New England Patriots will not win the Super Bowl this season
Plenty will not agree with me, but there is some logic behind my thinking. Offensively, the Patriots have been good. Their best weapon is their tight end but other than that, the most consistent guy they had at wide receiver, Julian Edelman, is not available. With that happening, others have to step up and with some of these wide receivers not used to these moments, that could be bad for them. As far as defensively, the Patriots are solid there but they still don't have a consistent pass rush. Against a team that is able to threaten them through the air, that could be trouble. All these things combined, the Patriots may could be watching the Super Bowl at home this year.
9) Some coach will ask Lamar Jackson to switch from quarterback at the NFL Combine
Lamar Jackson has been Mr. Excitement at the University of Louisville. Assuming he comes out and enters the NFL Draft, you can expect the question to be ask of him. For those that don't know what question I am talking about, here it is: "Are you willing to switch positions to wide receiver in the NFL?" Honestly, he has made strides this season as a quarterback and he has skills that you cannot teach at that position. He still needs some refining, but he is a quarterback and no way should he be asked to switch positions.
10) Tyrod Taylor will not be back in Buffalo next season
The writing was on the wall before the season quite honestly. It was almost as if they were trying to give the job away. And after the Nathan Peterman fiasco, I think that was the last straw. He will more than likely be released this offseason and some other team will benefit from his steady play. Hopefully that team will take advantage of his abilities more than Buffalo.
11) Wade Davis will be on the trading block this summer
I know Wade Davis just agreed to a huge deal to become a relief pitcher for the Colorado Rockies (three years and $52 million), but this may not end up well out there for him. First, there's the thin air that allows the baseball to travel further and fly out of the stadium. Then, the pressure of the deal in a market that isn't that big could get to him. With those factors and the potential for the Rockies to not be as good as they think, some contender may reach out to them to get Davis on their team and help bolster their bullpen. After being in the postseason with the Cubs and experiencing success with the Royals, I am sure Davis will want to experience it again as quick as possible.
12) The Los Angeles Dodgers will not make the postseason next year
After their run to the World Series this season, the thought by many is that Los Angeles will be making that march again this year. Well, not so fast my friend. The Dodgers will need some things to go their way again and get some hot play out of key players yet again. That along with pitching excellence are inexact sciences in itself and those don't bode well for them coming into this upcoming season.
13) Patrick Mahomes will be the starting quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs when the regular season starts in 2018
There have been rumors all season long about Alex Smith and his return to Kansas City next season. Some think that he will be back while others think that he is gone. Well, to those that think he will be back, Andy Reid did not draft Mahomes in the first round to jus sit the bench. The young quarterback has an arm and can make things happen on the move as well. That kind of talent could be too much to leave him sitting on the bench next year, as Alex Smith moves forward in his career.
14) Eric Reid will be on an NFL roster next season
Colin Kaepernick is not on an NFL roster right now and a lot of us know why (and some others will but won't acknowledge the real reason). He was the first to kneel for the anthem but he was not the only player to do and certainly was not the only one to do so on his former team, the San Francisco 49ers. Safety Eric Reid was one teammate in San Francisco that joined Kaepernick in kneeling and now he is getting ready to enter free agency. There are rumblings that he could get the same treatment as Colin Kaepernick, but I think that will not happen. The PR hit is something the NFL does not want and he is a talented player, so someone will give him an opportunity to play and start for them. If no one does, then look for another firestorm to happen when it comes to the NFL and fans.
15) Paul George and DeMarcus Cousins will not be Lakers next year
The Los Angeles Lakers rumors have been everywhere this season and all of the offseason. One prominent name that was mentioned with them has been Paul George. While he currently is a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, he has not made a commitment to the team long-term and everyone thinks he is going to the Lakers. Well, to be honest, I cannot see him coming there because that team already has Kuzma and Ingram there, unless they plan on moving PG13 to shooting guard. As far as Cousins, I do not see them even offering him a contract to be honest. Not sure the Lakers are equipped to deal with Boogie.
16) Sports and life will continue to mix even more
As much as some people don't want to recognize it, athletes are human beings and they are affected by some of the things that happen in this world. We saw Colin address social injustice. We have seen athletes like LeBron James address those issues as well. So with that being said, don't expect the conversation to go anywhere and there is only but so long those that want to ignore can continue to do so.
17) One of the original remaining Legion Of Boom members (Cam Chancellor, Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas) will be released or traded this offseason
The run this team has had over the years has been great to watch. That run was keyed by their defense and more specifically, the Legion of Boom. Well, injuries have happened and so have escalating salaries. That coupled with Earl Thomas going up to the Cowboys coach and talking to him about coming to get him if he is available leads me to believe the Legion of Boom era is over and Seattle will end it. After all, all good things must come to an end and their effectiveness is not the same as it once was.
18) North Carolina, Kentucky and Duke will not make the Final Four this season
I know everyone is familiar with these three teams that have their imprint all over college basketball, but there is something not quite right with two of them this season. Kentucky is not as strong as they were last season and they also don't have the experience. North Carolina seems to be trying to find itself a little bit after winning the title and there is no assurances that they will find themselves before the season is over. As far as Duke, they are young and have some veteran leadership there, but they also are a team that is always susceptible to an upset. With that much young talent, it can happen and Boston College showed us that to start the season versus the Blue Devils. Many will disagree with me, but I can see Duke missing out on the Final Four this year.
2018 brings us 18 predictions for the year. It will be interesting to see what happens and what doesn't, but you better believe that The Sports Awakening will be right there watching it all go down.