They're still sweeping up the confetti at NRG Stadium in Houston after the New England Patriots' thrilling comeback win, but the NFL season is over. Kaput. In the rearview mirror. Nothing is gained by looking backward. Our aim today is to look forward -- to the NEXT NFL season, which will be here before you know it.
So with that in mind, we present our list of 10 rock-solid, ironclad predictions for the 2017 NFL season. I personally promise that each of these is thoroughly researched, unassailable and 100 percent guaranteed to come true. Just go back and look at last year's file.
(Editor's note: Please don't do that.)
1. Tony Romo stays in state and signs with the Houston Texans
The Cowboys are likely going to have to release Romo because no team will trade for his contract. Once he's free to sign anywhere, Romo will look for a contender that needs a quarterback, and there aren't many of those. He also should go to a place where they have another option in case he gets hurt. And no, Brock Osweiler isn't a great option (or else why would Houston be messing around with Romo?). But another year of development maybe helps, and adding a veteran like Romo to the mix could make the Texans a title contender if they can somehow get a dozen games out of him and he's healthy in January.
2. In other quarterback relocation news, Colin Kaepernick ends up in Cleveland and Jay Cutler in San Francisco
No, I didn't just throw darts. Kaepernick is this year's Robert Griffin III -- a formerly successful, athletic quarterback whom Hue Jackson thinks he can work with. You know the Browns are going to decide that none of the quarterbacks in April's draft are worth more than the picks they can acquire in a trade for their first-rounders. So while (bonus prediction!) they'll improve to 4-12, they still won't have their long-term solution at quarterback. As for Cutler? Well, unless new 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan can swing a trade for Jimmy Garoppolo, he'll have to go with a secondary solution. He's on record saying he's looking for a "pure thrower," and whatever else Cutler may or may not be, he's that. Cutler isn't the long-term answer in San Francisco, but Shanahan and general manager John Lynch are getting six-year contracts. Their long-term quarterback solution could still be in high school.
3. The (for-now) Oakland Raiders start floating any relocation idea you can think of
San Antonio? Portland? Elon Musk kicks in a few hundred million toward a stadium on Mars? Nothing's too far-fetched for owner Mark Davis in his search to find a place that will either build him a stadium or scare Oakland into building him one he likes. Las Vegas isn't out of the picture, but as a proposed new home for the Raiders, it's on life support. Still, Davis needs somewhere to go. Get ready for the rumors to flow.
4. The Los Angeles Rams win at least 10 games
The arrivals of coaching wunderkind Sean McVay and venerable defensive coordinator Wade Phillips propel the Rams to their first winning season since 2003. Jared Goff struggles at the beginning but steadies himself as the year goes on. Aaron Donald anchors a defense that leads the league in fewest yards allowed. Todd Gurley finishes in the top three in rushing.
5. As usual, six teams change head coaches after the season
This time, they will be the Bengals, Cardinals, Jets, Bears, Saints and Redskins. The first two of those will be retirements. Three others will be firings, while the Saints job will come open because Sean Payton likes and lands one of the other openings. Let's just say it's Washington that decides to trade something to the Saints for him. That sounds like a Dan Snyder move, no?
6. Russell Wilson leads the league in QBR and wins MVP
All the stories will be about Wilson's improved health and the work the Seahawks finally did in the offseason to upgrade the offensive line. Richard Sherman will be listed on the injury report every single week, even when he feels fine -- Belichick-style.
7. The most successful of the new coaches will be the Los Angeles Chargers' Anthony Lynn
Because he has an established quarterback in Philip Rivers and because teams are going to find it very weird to play in the 30,000-seat StubHub Stadium or whatever that thing is. Some of these guys will have played in front of crowds that size in high school. The Chargers are one of the top bounce-back teams to keep an eye on, along with the Bengals, Panthers and the two teams mentioned below in No. 10.
8. Leonard Fournette of the Carolina Panthers will be this year's Ezekiel Elliott
The Panthers select Fournette with the No. 8 pick in the draft (or trade up to take him), and he finishes in the top five in rushing. Rejuvenated by the relieved pressure, Cam Newton rebounds and contends for the MVP award he won in 2015. The Panthers reclaim the NFC South after one year out of the running. Everybody forgets about the ugly 2016 season in which all the stories were about how many more hits Newton could take.
9. Antonio Brown stirs controversy by Facebook Live-streaming an entire game with a GoPro camera
Much head-wagging about proper focus and respect for the game ensues. Mike Tomlin makes stern remarks. Meanwhile, Brown (and Facebook) continues to rake in the cash. And some are left to wonder whether this is the wave of the game-watching future.
10. The Minnesota Vikings become the first team to play the Super Bowl in their home stadium
Their opponent is the Indianapolis Colts, who win a 41-38 thriller after Andrew Luck throws a go-ahead touchdown with 1:45 left and Sam Bradford checks it down to a running back with time expiring at the Colts' 15-yard line. Two months later, Bradford signs with the Texans. Circle of life.