It's time for a tradition unlike any other: reviewing preseason predictions of mine that went haywire almost immediately. In the NFL, even when we think we have a good idea of how things are going to go, we don't. More than any other sport, the NFL makes us look like fools, particularly the owner of this humble blog. So how bad did it go? Let's see.
AFC Playoff Predictions (with actual order following):
1. Kansas City 13-3 (Baltimore 14-2)
2. New England 12-4 (Kansas City 12-4)
3. Pittsburgh 10-6 (New England 12-4)
4. Houston 9-7 (Houston 10-6)
5. LA Chargers 11-5 (Buffalo 10-6)
6. Cleveland 9-7 (Tennessee 9-7)
A good healthy does of being wrong here. I, like many, bought into the Cleveland hype, but hedged on them winning the division. They happened to be the Browns again with shinier toys, and the Steelers were decimated by injuries at the skill positions, causing them both to miss the playoffs. Lamar Jackson absolutely did show improvement as a passer, leading the NFL in touchdown passes while his team ran for the most yards in NFL history. No doubting Lamar again. The Chargers also lost many games in typical Chargers fashion as that roster aged and suffered more and more bad luck by the week. It might be the end of an era for that team.
Buffalo turned out to have just enough offense to complement their fantastic defense, and they feasted on a bad enough schedule to get into the dance. Predicting the Titans would make the playoffs wouldn't have been a bold decision, but getting there with Ryan Tannehill emerging would be. The other three in the AFC were about as lock solid picks as you can get.
NFC Playoff Predictions (with actual order following):
1. New Orleans 12-4 (San Francisco 13-3)
2. Philadelphia 12-4 (Green Bay 13-3)
3. LA Rams 11-5 (New Orleans 13-3)
4. Green Bay 11-5 (Philadelphia 9-7)
5. Atlanta 10-6 (Seattle 11-5)
6. Minnesota 10-6 (Minnesota 10-6)
Two whiffs in the NFC to talk about. San Francisco had the potential to emerge after last season, and most certainly did with a dominant defense and a versatile, varied and creative offense from Kyle Shanahan. They're the NFC's favorite to head to the Super Bowl, which is impressive after they spent half a decade in the wilderness. The LA Rams started to fall apart around the edges after their contract situation got messy, and it's only going to get messier while they have no first round pick until 2022. They also have Kyler Murray and Arizona sneaking up behind them.
I'm also mildly embarrassed about buying into the Falcons hype, well not so much hype as believing last season was derailed solely because of injuries. They finished strong, but that doesn't say much, because they did last year to some degree as well. They're also bringing back their entire brain trust, which also doesn't make much sense. Seattle was on the outside looking in for me preseason, and they did get in, but they are too thin at too many positions and had just enough luck to win just enough games to get in.
Award Predictions (with comments following);
MVP: Patrick Mahomes (never a bad guess, but Lamar Jackson locked this up in November)
OPOY: Julio Jones (it won't be him. It could be absolutely anyone though, plenty of choices)
DPOY: Aaron Donald (another solid guess, but it's looking like Chandler Jones of Arizona)
OROY: Miles Sanders (solid, but AJ Brown of Tennessee, Josh Jacobs of Oakland have good shouts)
DROY: Josh Allen (he would win it if he didn't play for a bad team. It will be Nick Bosa)
Comeback: Jimmy Garoppolo (Another QB who made a great comeback will win it, Ryan Tannehill)
Coach; Freddie Kitchens (the less said about this, the better)
My preseason Super Bowl pick was the Andy Reid Bowl, Kansas City and Philadelphia. Both teams at least made the playoffs, but it doesn't look like this is a likely outcome. What do I think will happen now?
3) New England over 6) Tennessee
4) Houston over 5) Buffalo
1) Baltimore over 4) Houston
2) Kansas City over 3) New England
2) Kansas City over 1) Baltimore
3) New Orleans over 6) Minnesota
4) Philadelphia over 5) Seattle
1) San Francisco over 4) Philadelphia
3) New Orleans over 2) Green Bay
3) New Orleans over 1) San Francisco
Super Bowl 54:
Kansas City over New Orleans
So I didn't change my pick all that much. You can call that hedging. I call it trying to retroactively make myself look good.