With every sport I predict in full, I always like to look back on the predictions I made preseason to see how wrong (or right) I was. Normally it's far more wrong than right, but usually one or two decent predictions I make turn out to make me look good for a moment or two. With the 2016 NFL Predictions, I highly doubt I'm going to look that smart. But I have to eat crow publicly for my bad predictions, so that's what I'm going to do.
In the preseason, I said that the NFC East would be "mediocrity personified". Nope. The Giants still ended up making the playoffs, but Dallas surprised everyone courtesy Dak and Zeke. I said Washington would be 7-9, they were 8-7-1. I said Philadelphia would be 5-11, they finished 7-9. In the NFC North, Green Bay did end up winning the division with a slightly less flashy record than 12-4, and Minnesota didn't make the playoffs, though their record was only one game off from where I thought they'd be. Very few thought Carolina and Arizona would fall off the way they did, which is why most of everyone's predictions for those two teams looks really bad. Atlanta stepped up with a ton of great offense, and the Lions ability to pull close games out earlier in the season gave them enough to make the dance.
Over in the AFC, I nailed all of the division winners to a tee, which doesn't make me look all that smart because the AFC was pretty predictable. The Bengals fell off with their injuries and coaching changes, and in stepped the Miami Dolphins, who even without Ryan Tannehill, still found a way to win enough to get into the playoffs, and that's a great accomplishment for Adam Gase and company. The biggest teams I over-estimated were, not surprisingly, the Jaguars and Jets, and we did underrate the Titans to a degree. You read it here first: Tennessee will be the runaway AFC South favorites for years to come.
Before the season, I predicted that Super Bowl 51 would be the Packers and Steelers. While that can still happen, I don't expect it to. Buried in this post, here are my playoff predictions:
Wild Card Round: Houston over Oakland
Pittsburgh over Miami
Divisional Round: New England over Houston
Pittsburgh over Kansas City
AFC Championship Game: New England over Pittsburgh
Wild Card Round: Seahawks over Lions
Giants over Packers
Divisional Round: Falcons over Seahawks
Giants over Cowboys
NFC Championship Game: Giants over Falcons
Super Bowl 51: Patriots over Giants
Before we finish, let's take a look at some of my preseason award predictions and see how right or wrong they'll be. My preseason predictions are in italics.
MVP: There will be quite the debate for this award this year. Derek Carr, Ezekiel Elliot, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers are all candidates, and any one of them could win. I personally think it's Ryan's to lose, but I'm probably wrong. My preseason prediction of Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) is wrong, though.
OPOY: I said it would be Odell Beckham (NYG) before the season. He's obviously a candidate, but with Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, the Dallas Duo, David Johnson and others, he's probably not going to win, even though he could.
DPOY: Khalil Mack (OAK) could of course win this award, but he has competition from Von Miller, Eric Berry and others. Because of Oakland's season, he'll probably win it.
OROY: Either Zeke, who I thought would win it before the season, or Dak. Take your pick, neither are wrong, but it probably will be Zeke.
DROY: Jalen Ramsey (JAX) was the best player for the Jaguars on defense this season, and while it doesn't show up in the stats, he was a lockdown corner even as he was misused by the now departing coaching staff. Though that doesn't ensure he'll win the award, because Joey Bosa had better stats and played fewer games. He may even have competition from Yannick Ngakoue on his own team.
Coach: Bill Belichick could win it because his team despite controversy and injury ran through the NFL again with little trouble, but Jack Del Rio should win it because the Raiders were moribund and now aren't, which usually is the automatic qualifier for the award. I said it would be Del Rio before the season, and he can win this award, though he has competition.
Comeback: It won't be Kelvin Benjamin, who I thought would be amazing for a very good Panthers team. It could be Jordy Nelson, who was amazing off his blown out knee last season, or Le'Veon Bell, or a host of others. Upshot: it won't be my guy.
Anyway, hope you enjoyed the 2016 NFL Regular Season (I didn't), and the playoffs to come.