NFC West Writer
Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs brought an entertaining end to the NFL season by becoming the first repeat Super Bowl champions since the New England Patriots accomplished that feat two decades ago. The Kansas City QB is now firmly in the conversation as one of the greatest quarterbacks in league history with three Super Bowl rings already at 28 years old.
Of course, the NFL keeps rolling. The 2024 Scouting Combine begins in two weeks and free agency follows it in March. Eight new head coaches hired this year have already begun the process of building for the 2024 season.
With that in mind, we take a shot at some bold predictions for 2024.
1. Bill Belichick headed to the Big Apple
Left without a job during the last head-coaching cycle, the most successful coach in NFL history will be relegated to a TV booth come September. But there will be more vacancies after the season, and if Belichick still wants to coach, he should get one of them.
How about a return to the team where he worked as a defensive coordinator — the New York Giants, replacing his former protégé Brian Daboll? The Giants regressed last season, ownership knows him well and the NFC East is a winnable division, with no team repeating as division champs since the Philadelphia Eagles in 2004. The Giants have quite a few holes, but Belichick may relish the challenge.
2. Chargers reach AFC title game in first season under Jim Harbaugh
The hiring of Jim Harbaugh has created new excitement and energy for the Bolts, with the former Michigan head coach predicting multiple Super Bowl titles for the struggling franchise. Harbaugh has succeeded wherever he’s coached, knows how to build a winning culture and already has a talented quarterback on the roster in Justin Herbert. It would not be a surprise for the Chargers to not only make the postseason in Harbaugh’s first year, but for Herbert to win his first playoff game.
Jim Harbaugh wants ‘multiple championships’ for Chargers
3. Mike Vrabel to the Eagles
Nick Sirianni had to move on from his offensive and defensive coordinators, so there are no lifelines left if the Eagles struggle again in 2024. Vrabel can right the ship and restore confidence among players while bringing back a chippy attitude in Philadelphia. He already has a relationship with receiver A.J. Brown from their time with the Tennessee Titans, and he joins Belichick in the NFC East.
4. More grass fields in NFL stadiums
NFL players continue to raise concerns about the playing surface in NFL stadiums, preferring natural grass over artificial turf. According to the NFL Players Association, 92% of players prefer to play on grass fields.
NFLPA executive director Lloyd Howell noted during Super Bowl week a certain “hypocrisy” with some NFL stadiums agreeing to install grass according to FIFA regulation for the upcoming 2026 World Cup — then moving back to fake grass for football games. If owners are truly focused on doing what’s best for players and their product, switching to grass for all NFL stadiums seems like the right thing to do. Currently, 13 NFL stadiums have grass fields.
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5. Russell Wilson goes to Washington (D.C.)
With the 35-year-old sitting out the end of the regular season due to the Broncos’ concerns about injury guarantees on his contract, it appears time for Denver head coach Sean Payton and Wilson to part ways.
Washington showed interest in securing Wilson’s services before his trade from Seattle to Denver. Wilson grew up in nearby Virginia, and Commanders head coach Dan Quinn is familiar with the quarterback from his time working as a defensive line coach and defensive coordinator with the Seahawks. Offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury worked with a small quarterback in Kyler Murray while serving as the head coach for the Arizona Cardinals.
Bringing in Wilson would give the Commanders a bridge quarterback as they contemplate adding their QB of the future with the No. 2 pick in April’s draft.
6. The Bears keep the top pick, and select…
Caleb Williams is a generational prospect who allows the Bears to restart the clock on paying a QB. While Justin Fields has shown progress in Chicago, it would be hard to pass on a rare talent like Williams.
Drafting Williams also buys time for head coach Matt Eberflus and GM Ryan Poles to develop the team around him.
Should the Commanders go all-in on Caleb Williams?
7. Justin Fields gets traded to the Steelers
With Chicago selecting Williams, Fields is available. Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said he still likes Kenny Pickett but will create a competitive environment in the quarterback room. Tomlin likes quarterbacks who can move, and Fields is a big, strong athlete who can run and would fit what the Steelers want to do on offense.
The Steelers could play out the final year of his contract and see how Fields fits in their offensive system and culture.
8. Patriots pick their next QB: Drake Maye
Four seasons have passed since Tom Brady suited up for the Patriots, and the Mac Jones era appears to have run its course. What better way to begin the Jerod Mayo era than grooming a rookie quarterback?
With New England picking at No. 3, the Patriots might have to trade up to get Maye. But despite his inexperience at North Carolina (just 26 starts in college) Drake Maye checks a lot of boxes as a big, strong, cerebral athlete who can throw it and develop into a new face of the franchise.
9. Can Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs three-peat?
It’s hard to believe Vegas installed the San Francisco 49ers, and not Kansas City, as the favorites to win the Super Bowl next year. Yes, we understand that no team has ever won the Super Bowl three years in a row, but haven’t we learned from doubting Mahomes after this postseason?
If anyone can make it happen, it’s Mahomes. However, I tend to agree with Vegas on this one — a lot must go right again for the Chiefs to raise the Lombardi at the end of a third straight season. I’ll go with the Baltimore Ravens and Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl next year.
What can NFL teams do to overcome Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs’ greatness?
10. Wedding bells in store for power couple Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift?
The NFL and entertainment worlds merged with Kansas City’s All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce dating the world’s biggest pop star, Taylor Swift. NFL viewers were treated to regular cutaways of Swift rooting for Kelce in a stadium suite. That included the Super Bowl in Las Vegas, which culminated with the two sharing a kiss on the field while showered in confetti after the Chiefs won the big game. Swift traveled to Las Vegas after the Tokyo leg of her Eras Tour ended on Saturday in time to watch Kelce.
Swift’s impact is real. Super Bowl LVIII was the most watched telecast ever according to the league, with more than 123.4 million people on average watching the game. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell applauded the couple as good for the game, and the two partied in a Vegas nightclub afterward. What encore can follow that? A wedding, of course, televised for all the world to see. According to reports, the couple have discussed marriage, with a possible engagement this summer.
Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at @eric_d_williams.
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