The New Year is fast approaching and now is a good time to gaze into our crystal ball and make some bold predictions for the world of sports in 2017. Who will win the Super Bowl? Who’s on tap to be named Most Valuable Player in their respective sports? And which sports legends will retire in the coming 12 months? We break it all down right here, right now. And while we can’t guarantee these predictions will come true, we can assure you readers that a lot of thought, consideration and debate went into making these bold picks. Enjoy!
10. The New England Patriots Win the Super Bowl
You can make this prediction most years, and there’s nothing new about the Patriots running over the competition in the NFL, as they’re currently doing. But the question heading into Super Bowl 51 is: Who can stop the Patriots this season? The interesting thing season is not how good the Patriots are, but how bad the teams expected to challenge them are. And with Tom Brady out for revenge after his four game suspension at the start of the season, would anyone bet against the Pats and Brady to win it all?
9. Russell Westbrook Named NBA MVP
The NBA season is long and a lot can happen between October and June. But right now, is there any single player in the NBA who is doing more to help his team win than Russell Westbrook? In the first week of the NBA season, Russell scored a career high 51 points in a game against the Phoenix Suns, while also racking up 13 rebounds and 10 assists. He also took 44 shots in that game. Sports writers are now wondering, out loud, if Westbrook can be the first player since Oscar Robertson in 1961-62 to average a triple-double for the entire season. So far, he’s on track. It’s still early, but no player means more to his team in the NBA than Russell Westbrook means to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
8. Milos Raonic Wins A Tennis Grand Slam
Milos Raonic is currently the fourt ranked tennis player in the world, despite the fact that he’s never won a Grand Slam title. The 25-year old Canadian, who stands 6’5”, has been consistently ranked in the top ten since he turned pro in 2008. In 2016 he had a career year, reaching the Wimbledon Finals, where he lost to current World No. 1 Andy Murray. And if you look at the current top five players in the world, Raonic is the youngest and the one who seems poised to breakout and start winning slams. He also added John McEnroe as coach, someone who knows something about getting over the hump. If Djokovic starts to fade in 2017, look to Raonic to move in for the kill.
7. The Cleveland Cavaliers Repeat as NBA Champions
LeBron James isn’t going anywhere. If he and the Cleveland Cavaliers can overcome the 3-1 hole they were in last season, and rally to beat the heavily favored Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, then anything is possible. And having delivered the first professional sports title to the City of Cleveland in more than 50 years, LeBron’s confidence seems to have only grown. Fun fact: if LeBron James makes the NBA Finals in 2017, it will mark his seventh consecutive finals appearance – a record that is crazy to even contemplate. King James looks poised to rule the NBA kingdom for years to come. Get used to it.
6. Connor McDavid Wins NHL Scoring Title
Right now all the focus in the National Hockey League seems to be on rookie sensation Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs (or maybe that’s just a geographical bias on our part). But let’s not forget about the previous rookie sensation that took the league by storm – Connor McDavid. Fully healthy and with his skates firmly under his feet, McDavid looks ready to become the first sophomore to lead the NHL in scoring since Sidney Crosby did it with 120 points in the 2006-07 season. The key will be for Connor McDavid to stay healthy. He missed 45 games last season with a broken clavical, he’ll need to work hard (and get a bit lucky) to stay on the ice and keep firing the puck into the net.
5. Arsenal Finish Atop Premier League Standings
Perennial soccer powerhouse Manchester United have been struggling for a few seasons now and many sports writers see an opportunity for rivals Manchester City or Chelsea to finish on top of the English Premier League standings in 2017. But don’t count out Arsenal. For the first few months of the season, they have kept within a few points of the league lead and look set to make a serious championship run. If top scorers Alexis Sánchez and Theo Walcott can continue to add to their totals, then Arsenal can be a true contender in 2017. Manchester City and Chelsea will be there too, but our money is on Arsenal to finish on top in the new year.
4. Dustin Johnson Wins The Masters
There’s no tournament in golf more coveted than the Masters, and in 2017, we expect to see Dustin Johnson slip into the famous green jacket. Having gotten the monkey off his back with a win at the 2016 U.S. Open, Dustin Johnson seems more relaxed and confident than at any time in his career. We expect to see Johnson in the lead at all the major golf tournaments in 2017, but we also expect him to win the biggest prize out there at Augusta. His famous athlete father-in-law, Wayne Gretzky, will be proud.
3. Tom Brady Will Become The Oldest MVP in NFL History
Some people are betting on Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan to win the MVP award in the NFL in 2017. But is anyone having a more impressive season than Tom Brady? Never mind that Brady has stormed back from a four game suspension to lead his New England Patriots to glory – he’s doing it all at age 39. If Brady hangs on to win the MVP this year, he’d become the oldest Most Valuable Player in NFL history, an honor that currently belongs to Rich Gannon (2002) and Peyton Manning (2013), who were each 37-years old when they won the award. At this point, Brady seems like a lock for the 2017 honor.
2. Golfer Phil Mickelson Retires
He’s turning 47-years old in 2017 and averages more than $50 million a year in earnings and endorsements, so the time looks right for golfer Phil Mickelson to call it a career and ride his golf cart off into the sunset. Plus, the popular golfer has been musing about retirement since 2013 – saying a combination of ailments and higher federal and state taxes make it difficult for him to continue playing golf and raking in all that money he earns. Add to these issues the fact that his wife Amy had battled cancer in recent years and we see Mickelson as the most likely top sports star to call it a career in 2017.
1. The Cleveland Indians Win the World Series
You heard it here first, folks. The Cleveland Indians will get back to the World Series in 2017, and this time they’ll win it all. The first thing the team did the day after they lost in a classic Game Seven showdown with the Chicago Cubs was re-sign team manager Terry Francona and star players such as Carlos Santana – ensuring that the core of the team remains in place. With the Cleveland bullpen still strong and the bats cracking, we expect to see the Cleveland Indians win their first World Series since 1948. Place your bets early…