2016 really was an interesting year. Now that it is officially behind us, we have a new year full of possibilities in the world of sports to look forward to. Who would have predicted prior to 2016 that the Cavs and the Cubs would be champions of the world? Perhaps that is the mystical wonder of sports, the reason we keep watching. The possibility of a what could happen and the unlikely probality of what actually does. With that spirit here are nine sporting predictions for 2017.
1. America’s biggest game, the Super Bowl is just a couple of months away, and the playoffs are almost upon us. We’ve seen a lot of surprise this season. Neither of the teams that participated in last season’s title game will even be participating in the post season, but we’ve seen consistency out of a top-notch Patriot team. Brady is back. Blount and Lewis are playing at a level that greatly compliments the passing game. The defense is clicking. A lot of teams are capable of getting in the way, but with home field advantage, the Patriots are the team to beat.
2. Of course, that is about the post season. We have a regular season to predict too. It’s tough to predict NFL free agency with franchise tags, but one thing we do know, is that the top pick will go to the quarterback desperate Browns or 49ers. Despite Myles Garrett being atop a lot of mock drafts, I cannot see either team passing on passer if they get the first overall pick. When you have a quarterback that hasn’t entered a room without being laughed at since 2014, it’s probably the safest choice.
3. The draft won’t do enough for either of those teams, but there is a great chance some teams turn around their fortunes from this season. Luke Kuechly will be healthy, and Cam will return to elite form. An early pick will do wonders for either their o-line or secondary. With so many variables over the next 13 months, I will not go so far to say that the Carolina Panthers will be Super Bowl 52 champs, but right now, they are my favorites to win the NFC. It’ll be a Pats-Panthers showdown.
4. A lot of people get excited for the World Cup. Come the Olympics, international basketball and hockey are some of the most watched events. However, only the most passionate of fans tune into the World Baseball Classic. As we’ve heard on Psycho Sports, I am one of those people. We’re still waiting on most roster spots to be released, but with stars already stating that they’ll represent their countries, the fourth WBC should be exciting, with Japan winning, while exposing America to the next superstar.
5. The latest MLB CBA restricts international free agents under the age of 25 a lot. We will probably never see an international youngster given more money than Moncada was by the Red Sox. But we will see a talent that is amongst the best in the world. After the 2017 season, Shohei Otani should be posted and allowed to play in the majors. Right now, Otani is just 21 years old, but had his second straight season as a starter with an ERA under 2.3, and a WHIP below 1. He’s averaged over ten strikeouts per nine innings over his four-year career. How could he get any better? He could be a pitcher who hits over twenty homeruns and bats .322 in the world’s second best league (again he’s only 21). Every team will be after him, but I’m expecting him to go to the Yankees. While he won’t play in the majors until 2018, a once in a generation type player will be available.
6. It’s old news that the Cubs won last season, but they were and still are tremendous. Kyle Schwarber is healthy again, guys like Kris Bryant and Addison Russel are a year older, and a reshaped bullpen have the Cubs better than any other team. Call it a bandwagon if you will, but I can argue for the Cubs with even 990’s least knowledgeable sports minds. You’re going to see a Chicago team that continues to dominate, wins 100 games, and defeats the Boston Red Sox in six games.
7. So far none of my predictions have been completely outrageous. So far everything has been kind of predictable. So far, things aren’t unthinkable. Things will continue that way for a few more lines. LeBron. Steph. Finals rematch. Durant leads the Warriors to a title. The prediction might be boring, but that’s once again a matchup for the ages.
8. Predictions are about the future, but we base them off of the past. Well the biggest players, from the past’s biggest sport, are up over twenty percent with one third of the ballots accounted for. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are gaining traction in hall of fame voting, and with so many reasons to support their inductions, I’d certainly allow the two in. Early polling has the legendary players just a few votes short of making it, but I think with Piazza making his way in last year, 2017 is the year.
9. Maybe if I think that last one is possible, you think I’m nuts. Maybe other predictions I’ve made have you thinking I’m tripping. The only person doing any tripping is Grayson Allen, who is currently facing suspension for his poor sportsmanship. His absence caused the Duke Blue Devils to suffer their first loss of the college basketball season just a few days ago. This means that Duke is learning to play without one of their key players. This is only going to help them down the stretch, as Coach Krzyzewski leads Duke to another national title.
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