Ah, the opening stretch of training camp. So great to see football again!
And of course, with all the excitement that accompanies a return to the gridiron, 'tis the season for hyperbole! Nothing like some bold remarks, unreachable goals, camp heroes and tone setters to get the juices flowing.
To celebrate, we will play a game of Boom or Bust? -- Schein Nine style -- to separate fact from fiction ...
1) A team other than the Broncos will lead the league in total yards.
The Saints are going to sizzle. Talking to Mickey Loomis earlier this week on my SiriusXM Radio show, "Schein on Sports," the New Orleans general manager is very pleased with how first-round pick Brandin Cooks is looking. The electric wide receiver brings quite a blend of speed, power and hands, plus he has a knack for scoring. Jimmy Graham is in a good place mentally after resolving a contract stalemate -- and as scary as it sounds, the tight end is still young enough (27) where he is only going to get better. Don't overlook the Saints' ground attack, either. New Orleans has three capable backs in Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson. Keep an eye on the 24-year-old Robinson in particular, as he surprised everyone as an undrafted rookie last season, gaining some tough, clutch yards.
2) Eli Manning will complete 70 percent of his passes.
Eli's completion percentage is the hot topic at Giants training camp. I love the Ben McAdoo hire, but New York's new offensive coordinator can't just wave a magic wand and boost his quarterback's precision. New quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf is actually the guy who brought up the goal of a 70 percent completion rate. That's crazy talk. It's an absolute bust.
Heck, I don't think he even hits 63 percent! When Eli is great, he isn't particularly accurate. He has won two Super Bowls because of his amazing knack for simply winning. Eli can be spotty at certain points of a game, but he often makes up for it with stellar, clutch plays in the fourth quarter.
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Rookie receiver Odell Beckham Jr. -- drafted with the No. 12 overall pick to be an instant-impact, home run hitter -- will miss the first preseason game with a lingering hamstring injury that has sidelined him early in training camp. That's a setback for the start of the season. And the Giants still have major holes at running back -- especially if David Wilson truly "needs a miracle" to return, as one report indicates -- and along the offensive line. Not to mention, Eli is coming off the worst year of his career.
3) Jay Cutler will win the MVP award.
I think Cutler will enjoy much success in 2014, but I can't see him in the MVP mix. He's not even the most valuable quarterback in the NFC North! Yes, I'm going bust here.
4) John Brown will be a breakout star this season.
BOOM! You should totally buy this training camp hype, because it's legit. The Cardinals' outstanding defensive backs cannot cover this stick of dynamite, and I don't think it is exaggeration when people compare him to Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton. (Remember: Cards head coach Bruce Arians helped Hilton make an instant impact as a rookie in 2012, when both men were together in Indianapolis.)
5) The Lions are right to hold off on an Ndamukong Suh extension.
This is a boom. He's an enigma. At times, Suh is brilliant and cannot be blocked. But there are other times when he's out of control and hurts his team. Forcing him to play another season -- while continuing to figure out his value -- is a savvy play for the Lions.
6) Marshawn Lynch will hold out all training camp.
He's a different kind of cat, so you have to acknowledge the possibility, but I say bust. Or, as one NFL general manager said via text Wednesday night, "(GM John) Schneider isn't going to budge. And the fine money is going to add up!"
UPDATE: Hours after this column was published, news broke that Marshawn Lynch would end his holdout.
7) The Cowboys can bank on Tony Romo's health.
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8) Emmanuel Sanders will outplay Antonio Brown in 2014.
Sanders' numbers are going to shoot up in the Mile High City with Peyton Manning, but at times he'll get lost in the galaxy of weapons. I'm gonna quickly pump the breaks here and deem this a bust. Brown is a legit No. 1 for Big Ben, fresh off a monster season where he hauled in 110 catches for 1,499 yards.
9) The Jets have the best defense in the NFL.
Busted. And pretty comical right now. The Jets' hyperbolic ways are a training camp tradition in the Rex Ryan era, with zany statements coming fast and furious. (Hello, Dee Milliner!) I laughed pretty hard when Calvin Pace declared Gang Green's D the NFL's finest. Maybe he's never heard of the Seahawks and 49ers. Perhaps he doesn't watch the Bengals and Panthers. Could it be that he thinks the Cardinals play in another football league?