Seven bold football predictions for 2018

Johnny Manziel, pictured above with the Cleveland Browns. (Ed Zurga/AP)

The last 365 days in football has been full of politics, protests and pending lawsuits. The next year in football will have some off-field decisions that impact the future of the sport on field for years to come. Here are my bold predictions based alone on educated guesses of what will transpire in the world of football in 2018.

1. The CFL will move up the Grey Cup date
This year’s Grey Cup was a great scene in the snow, but a blizzard isn’t conducive to good business around the game. Many CFL teams look at hosting a Grey Cup as a revenue generator, and revenues would be significantly bigger if more than the hard-core football fan could enjoy it without braving the elements.

Don’t be surprised if the league announces a plan to move up both the regular-season start date and the Grey Cup in future seasons. More games in the summer months in general would mean more walk-up ticket revenue and more television content. It also would mean fewer games head to head with the NFL, which is good for both Canadian broadcasters and the NFL Network, which has struck up a deal to broadcast the league’s games.

2. The NFL will cancel the Pro Bowl
When is the last time you watched one? Who was the last team to win one? My point exactly. Nobody watches it. Nobody even gambles on it. At a time when we want to expose football players to less unnecessary contact it is hard to justify playing an added exhibition game nobody cares about. There is no benefit, so any cost is too much to bare.

3. Johnny Manziel will play for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats
You love who you love. June Jones and the Tiger-Cats have been infatuated with Money Manziel for quite some time. Despite the way Jeremiah Masoli played to end the year, the job will be Manziel’s to lose in camp. That is, assuming Manziel stays out of trouble. The CFL said on Thursday that it would approve a Manziel signing should the Tiger-Cats make their move.

4. Atlantic Canada will be granted a CFL team
Atlantic Canada has long been desirous of a professional football team and next year they’ll get one. Initially it will be on a conditional basis pending a stadium, but there is too much momentum for this not to get completed.

Evidence of that momentum include: An ownership group with both deep pockets and the Atlantic Schooners trademark has been rubber stamped by the CFL board of governors; politicians from the region traveled to the Grey Cup to do due diligence; and the fan base has already been coming to the Grey Cup year after year.

There will be football in Atlantic Canada before there is hockey in Seattle.

5. A record number of quarterbacks will be taken in the first round of the NFL draft
The Browns, Giants, Cardinals, Broncos, Jets and Bills are all in desperate need of a quarterback, and other teams may be looking at succession plans for aging veterans. Meanwhile, this draft is shaping up as one of the stronger QB classes in recent memory — Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield and Mason Rudolph all look like franchise quarterbacks. If all choose to enter, a good chunk of them could get snapped up in the first 32 picks.

6. The Toronto Argonauts will break even
The sale of the Argonauts to MLSE is the biggest news for the CFL in recent memory. It will take deep investment to reverse the erosion of the double-blue brand, but right off the bat the new organizational structure will save them money. Synergies in marketing and sponsorships will help the team leverage MLSE’s other entities. They’ll also benefit immediately from their newly preferred status at BMO Field as all but two of their home games will be on Saturdays.

This is the boldest of predictions since most CFL teams lose money, but most teams don’t have two telecom giants backing them.

7. U Sports will reform its bowl games
Anyone who watched the Uteck Bowl knows U Sports football suffers from a lack of parity even at the conference-championship level. Western’s domination of Acadia, along with everyone else they played, will be the straw that broke the camel’s back — this issue already had a ton of momentum among coaches, but was bogged down at the Athletic Director level. Now a holistic look at the playoffs will promote discussion and change in the playoff structure. With that will come a discussion on how to revamp the Vanier Cup, which very well might be paired with the Grey Cup sooner than later.

Agree? Disagree? Got predictions of your own? Let us know in the comments below.

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