2021 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class Predictions

On Tuesday, the Pro Football Hall of Fame released the list of 25 modern-era semifinalists for the 2021 class. The list includes four players eligible for the first time and four older players making their first semifinalist list:

Eric Allen (first-time semifinalist)
Jared Allen (first-year eligible)
Willie Anderson (first-time semifinalist)
Ronde Barber
Cornelius Bennett (first-time semifinalist)
Tony Boselli
LeRoy Butler
Alan Faneca
Rodney Harrison (first-time semifinalist)
Torry Holt
Calvin Johnson (first-year eligible)
John Lynch
Peyton Manning (first-year eligible)
Clay Matthews (final year of eligibility)
Sam Mills
Richard Seymour
Steve Tasker
Fred Taylor
Zach Thomas
Hines Ward
Reggie Wayne
Patrick Willis
Charles Woodson (first-year eligible)
Darren Woodson
Bryant Young

The first-ballot choices are interesting, because there has never been a HOF class with more than three of them. I think that trend will continue as voters will wait on Calvin Johnson because of an early retirement, and Jared Allen isn’t a lock to go right in either. Remember, Michael Strahan had to wait until his second year. But I do believe all four will be in soon enough.

Clay Matthews (Sr.) is in his final year of eligibility, but much like Carl Banks a year ago, I do not see a strong push for him. He’ll get added to the senior list next year.

I’m not convinced any of the four first-time semifinalists are going much further in the process. In fact, I don’t see Willie Anderson, Rodney Harrison, Cornelius Bennett, or Eric Allen making the Hall of Fame at all. Maybe as senior selections some day. Harrison, despite an indisputable reputation as a dirty cheater, has the best shot of the four due to his postseason success with New England. He should have been the MVP of Super Bowl XXXIX against Philadelphia.

Here are my predictions for the 15 finalists:

  • Ronde Barber
  • Tony Boselli
  • LeRoy Butler
  • Alan Faneca
  • Torry Holt
  • Calvin Johnson
  • John Lynch
  • Peyton Manning
  • Sam Mills
  • Richard Seymour
  • Zach Thomas
  • Reggie Wayne
  • Patrick Willis
  • Charles Woodson
  • Bryant Young

Finally, these are the five players I predict to make up the 2021 modern-era class:

  • Tony Boselli
  • Alan Faneca
  • John Lynch
  • Peyton Manning
  • Charles Woodson

Now if only we could get a ceremony next year as we already didn’t have an oversized one in 2020 for the centennial class. Manning deserves a big audience to close the night, or the end of a long week after the Hall of Fame will have 28 people to induct in 2021.

NFL Week 16 Predictions

I have to be brief today for personal reasons, but I’ll have an epic-sized game preview for Broncos-Bengals on Football Outsiders on Sunday.

Ravens at Texans

While I’m picking the Ravens to win, this is a game I’d stay far away from in betting on or investing in for fantasy football. Everyone expects the Baltimore defense to dominate because it’s likely Case Keenum at quarterback, and he just signed with the team this week. But that’s exactly why this game is dangerous. Keenum, albeit under different coaches (one fittingly the OC of the Ravens now, Gary Kubiak), was a mad bomber at times last season and the Texans have talent on offense. Sure, I bet he’ll turn it over and take some bad sacks, but I think he can hit some big plays too and keep this one interesting. You also can’t fully trust Joe Flacco and the offense on the road against J.J. Watt and company. Ravens barely squeaked by the Jaguars at home last week, so this one could be far more interesting than it looks on paper.

Patriots at Jets

This is Rex Ryan’s “Last Stand” as coach of the Jets. This game has only two possible outcomes: 3-point upset or the Patriots blow them out by 35. I’m going with the latter. Thursday games are bad predictors and Chris Ivory’s 100-yard game certainly looks like an outlier for the season. I think the Patriots shut down the run and cruise in this one.

Chiefs at Steelers

I’ve been saying all week Alex Smith will finally throw a touchdown pass to a wide receiver. That’s just how the Steelers have been playing in the secondary. I’m a little worried with some of the Dwayne Bowe reports, but he’s still the best candidate. This could be a high-scoring game. Chiefs have allowed 21 passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns (both to Latavius Murray), so I think this is a game where Ben Roethlisberger will have to throw a few scores, perhaps long passes to avoid the red-zone struggles. From 1999-2013, Andy Reid was 3-23 against AFC playoff teams, including 0-6 last year with the Chiefs. He’s at least 1-2 this year with a win over NE and two losses to Denver. I like the Steelers to get the win and clinch a playoff spot at home.

Bills at Raiders

Buffalo wins but I’m predicting Charles Woodson registers his 60th career interception. Enjoy it, because it could be a long time before we see another player hit that mark.

Seahawks at Cardinals

Seattle’s led in 51 consecutive games, which I think is the all-time NFL record. That’s the entire Russell Wilson era. He might be able to go up 3-0 and win this game on Sunday night. Sure, we’re bashing the Cardinals so hard because they have Ryan Lindley at quarterback, so maybe they shock us and actually score 13 points. I just can’t see how they’re going to get things done against this defense, which is also good against the run.

How bad is Lindley? Well, let’s put his 2012 rookie season in context. I did a study this past summer on FO on how pressure impacts a quarterback. When a quarterback’s not pressured, he usually plays efficiently. Only the absolute worst quarterbacks have a poor DVOA when they’re not pressured. Lindley? Well he had the absolute worst DVOA without pressure of any quarterback from 2010-13.

Worst DVOA Without Pressure, 2010-13

NOPRES

When you’re behind Caleb f’n Hanie, you know you suck. Maybe Lindley won’t be as poor under Arians as he was in Arizona two years ago, but the Seahawks are not the defense to get better against.

NFL Week 16 Predictions

I had the Jaguars on TNF and the game wasn’t as bad as expected. Let’s see how the first Saturday NFL double-header since New Year’s Eve 2005 works out. Four pretty disappointing teams going at it.

Winners in bold:

  • Eagles at Redskins
  • Chargers at 49ers
  • Lions at Bears
  • Browns at Panthers
  • Falcons at Saints
  • Packers at Buccaneers
  • Ravens at Texans
  • Vikings at Dolphins
  • Patriots at Jets
  • Chiefs at Steelers
  • Giants at Rams
  • Colts at Cowboys
  • Bills at Raiders
  • Seahawks at Cardinals
  • Broncos at Bengals

Season Results

  • Week 1: 8-8
  • Week 2: 9-7
  • Week 3: 11-5
  • Week 4: 8-5
  • Week 5: 11-4
  • Week 6: 9-5-1
  • Week 7: 10-5
  • Week 8: 10-5
  • Week 9: 11-2
  • Week 10: 10-3
  • Week 11: 8-6
  • Week 12: 12-3
  • Week 13: 9-7
  • Week 14: 11-5
  • Week 15: 14-2
  • Total: 151-72-1