Oh, it’s time for reflection. Sometimes reflection can be a good thing: it can validate that you know what you’re talking about.
Or, reflection can be a bad thing: and make you look like a complete fool!
When making picks in September for an entire NFL season, you generally look more like the latter! With Super Bowl LIII right around the corner, let’s look back at our good (and bad) picks, as well as some quotes from our contributors, all made while looking into a murky crystal ball.
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As no surprise to anyone, our contributors were united in picking the Steelers to win the AFC and appear in the Super Bowl. Here are some of the other thoughts from the preseason which stood out:
The Patriots are the still the best in the East... The Steelers are built to beat anyone... John Harbaugh will be in the hot seat after failing to post a better record than the Browns. Each of those teams will have plenty of controversy surrounding their quarterbacks, something that will cause them to lose more games than they win, despite having solid defenses.
The Chargers are going to surprise everyone by taking this division. I firmly believe Jon Gruden isn’t an evil genius: he’s just evil. This team will tank. Badly.
As much as it makes me want to hurl, the Patriots still are the team to beat in the East. In the North, it's the Steelers division to lose. In fact, I am projecting this to be a truly awful season for 2 of the four teams (it would be three of the four teams, but winning 5 games has to feel like a great season for the Browns at this point). The Browns managed to come in second, followed by the Ravens and the Bengals collapse into the cellar as Marvin Lewis finally is asked to leave the building.
In the West, it's the Chargers year I think. A potentially great pass rush and solid defense and Phillip Rivers trying to validate his entire career.
Unlike some, I feel like the Browns had a shot at the second spot in AFC North until Hue & Company went crazy after their preseason games. Even though the Ravens don't offer much excitement, the AFC North will be Pittsburgh's to run.
I think Rivers and the Chargers grab the top of the division. Denver is struggling and I'm not sure what Gruden is doing with the Raiders unless he's thinking he'll pull a Tecmo Super Bowl playbook out (are you okay upstairs, Jon?)
Our staff was better prepared with predicting the NFC than the AFC... well, except for those champions.
No one got either Super Bowl entrant correct, but at least they picked some teams that actually made the playoffs! Here's what we thought heading into the season.
The Eagles made some changes but should still be the class of their division. I think Dallas can be competitive and a fringe playoff team, but losing leadership with Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, plus the health of Travis Frederick could be hard to overcome.
The Minnesota Vikings are loaded this year. They will be a juggernaut to contend with and were ready to be the first Super Bowl host city to have its team play in the big game. They’ll correct that this year. Aaron Rodgers’ return puts the Packers in the conversation automatically. Flip a coin on the Lions or Bears for this division’s basement.
The Eagles, barring injuries should still be the team to beat in the NFC North. I am not a Kurt Cousins truther so I like a Rogers-led Packers team to take the North, with the Vikings nabbing a wild card spot.
The Rams certainly should distance themselves in the West, but I am not sold on the Jimmy G Niners just yet, so have the Seahawks managing to slip into second into the division but not into the playoffs.
The Saints may be the best team in the NFC with a young and improving defense that surprised me last season. But it's the Saints year grabbing the number one seed and managing to get all the way to the Super Bowl.
With a healthy Carson Wentz, the Eagles look to be ready to make another run. If you aren't on board with the Vikings, you should probably start paying attention. The resurgence of the Purple People Eaters? Maybe not, but I expect explosive play from the pillagers in the North.
This could be the year for Drew Brees to take the Saints deep into the post-season if he can get a young roster to bond and win critical matchups. It feels like he's "due".
I've lost my faith in Atlanta and see the Panthers being competitive unless they get so thin on the offensive line that they allow Cam Newton to get pounded by opposing defenses. The Rams are clicking on a ton of cylinders and should force the Seahawks and 49ers to try to keep pace.
In the postseason, the NFC should get a bit crazy with the division leaders all utilizing momentum for the championship spot. My gut says the Vikings get off to the biggest start and can't quite get all the way while the Saints allow Brees to use his veteran pedigree for the win.