Welcome to 2021.
So far, it looks and feels a lot like 2020, which isn’t a good thing. But fret not! Change is on the horizon, both in the real world and in terms of the sports landscape. You just need to keep pushing forward.
To begin our trek in the right direction, we decided to make some random sports predictions for the new year. Some are bolder than others, but all, we think, are realistic possibilities.
Since time is precious, let’s not waste any. We settled on 21 predictions, because, well, it seemed appropriate.
1. Los Angeles Clippers will win NBA Finals
It never came together for the Clippers last season, but they remain loaded with talent, headlined, of course, by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Their opening-night win over the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers was a sign of things to come.
2. Houston Rockets will trade James Harden to Toronto Raptors
Harden’s list of preferred destinations keeps evolving, and the Raptors have the pieces to assemble a compelling package, perhaps centered around Pascal Siakam. Plus, it feels like a shakeup might be needed in Toronto, where the Raptors could use an offensive jolt.
3. Detroit Pistons will select Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham with No. 1 pick in 2021 NBA Draft
But Detroit just drafted another point guard, Killian Hayes, with the No. 7 overall pick in 2020? Well, you can never have enough good players, and Cunningham is a tremendous two-way talent.
4. A Canadian team will win Stanley Cup for first time since 1993
If not now, when? The realigned “North” division consists entirely of teams based in Canada, and one is guaranteed to be among the final four clubs in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Toronto Maple Leafs will enter the season as the betting favorites to represent the division.
5. Jack Eichel will win NHL’s Hart Memorial Trophy
The Buffalo Sabres’ addition of Taylor Hall will boost Eichel’s stock, thrusting him into the MVP conversation.
6. T.J. Oshie will become first captain of Seattle Kraken
Makes too much sense. He’s a good, recognizable veteran who grew up just outside of Seattle. It’d be surprising if he doesn’t wind up with the Kraken in the upcoming expansion draft.
7. Los Angeles Dodgers will sign Trevor Bauer?
Which would be the perfect counterpunch to the San Diego Padres adding Blake Snell and Yu Darvish to their own rotation.
8. ?then repeat as World Series champions
Because they’re absolutely loaded and have the resources — money and prospect capital — to address any holes that open up.
9. Chicago Cubs will trade Kris Bryant to Toronto Blue Blue Jays
Speaking of Darvish, it certainly feels like the Cubs are entering a rebuild, in which case it’ll make little sense to keep Bryant unless they plan on re-signing him before or when he becomes a free agent next offseason.
10. Cleveland will trade Francisco Lindor to New York Mets
New name, new face of the franchise? All signs point toward Lindor’s days in Cleveland being numbered, as he’s set to become a free agent next winter. The Mets could look to build off the buzz accompanying new owner Steve Cohen.
11. Green Bay Packers will win Super Bowl LV
It’s about time Aaron Rodgers adds to his ring collection. Green Bay is playing excellent football to close out the regular season and has stud players at several key positions, including quarterback.
12. Drew Brees will retire
Appreciate the New Orleans Saints’ upcoming playoff run, because it could be the last we see of No. 9. It’s been a heck of a career, but it’s clear he’s lost some zip on his fastball at age 41.
13. Andrew Luck will come out of retirement
This would be a shocker, obviously, as Luck hasn’t played since the 2018 season and there’s really been no indication he wants to return. But hey, Philip Rivers only signed for one year, and the Indianapolis Colts have built a championship-caliber roster. Maybe Luck, 31, will get the itch?
14. Philadelphia Eagles will trade Carson Wentz to Denver Broncos?
Because it’s time for Philadelphia to move on and start fresh with Jalen Hurts, who’s provided a spark down the stretch. And Drew Lock isn’t the answer in Denver.
15. ?and hire Lincoln Riley as their next head coach
Doug Pederson won a Super Bowl title in Philly, but things are getting stale in the City of Brotherly Love. Maybe the Eagles can convince Riley to leave Oklahoma and finally join the NFL ranks, where he’d work alongside Hurts, a quarterback with whom he’s very familiar.
16. Ryan Fitzpatrick will be New England Patriots’ next starting quarterback
New England is pretty much the only team in the NFL that Fitzpatrick hasn’t played for, and the Patriots obviously are in desperate need of a quarterback with the Cam Newton experiment being a failure.
17. Rory McIlroy finally will win The Masters
It’s the only major victory missing from McIlroy’s résumé. We’ll assume he completes the career grand slam at some point. Why not in 2021?
18. Chase Elliott will repeat as NASCAR Cup Series champion
The current playoff format makes it difficult to repeat as champion, but why not? Elliott is among this year’s favorites to secure the crown.
19. Jon Jones will win UFC heavyweight title
Jones is focused on the heavyweight division after vacating the light heavyweight title. His career has been tumultuous, but he’s still one of the best mixed martial artists ever and can cement his status with a win over Stipe Miocic and/or Francis Ngannou.
20. CM Punk will debut in AEW
A little something for you wrestling fans. CM Punk’s rocky history with WWE is well-documented, and it sure seems like AEW is building a legitimate competitor to Vince McMahon’s brand.
21. No new names for Washington’s football team or Cleveland’s baseball club
We’ve gone through one season with the “Washington Football Team” in wake of the organization ditching its “Redskins” moniker. And it’s growing on us. We could see the same from Cleveland’s baseball club as it transitions away from the “Indians” nickname.