All the way back in August, I posted previews for every NFL team with an emphasis on the Las Vegas win totals that were posted for each. You can see all the divisions previews here, except for the AFC West, which I posted on Facebook.
Rather than rehash every single team, I decided to look back at several teams I had a lot of confidence in to see what I got right and what I got wrong. I’ve pulled a quote from each teams August write up that I felt best summed up my thought process for predicting their win total.
Afterwards, I’ll do a quick overview of the NFL Playoffs and give you my Super Bowl prediction. Remember, my picks are posted on our Facebook page. The record to date is 74-47-5.
First up, five teams that I got right:
Bills over 6.5:
“Jim Schwartz comes over after he was fired as the Lions coach to sit as Defensive Coordinator. He must be licking his chops with the talent he inherited. We absolutely love this defense and it’s the main reason we like Buffalo to go over 6.5 wins.”
This one was pretty easy, as Buffalo hit the over on the last day of November. Buffalo’s defense, as I expected, was a bear. They were 7th in yards allowed, 3rd in takeaways and 1st in sacks with 54. They also faced Peyton Maning and Aaron Rodgers on back to back weeks and gave up zero TD passes and picked each of them off twice. Some close losses really doomed this team, and if E.J. Manuel had been even a somewhat competent QB, Buffalo would be playing this weekend. Kyle Orton took the job from E.J. early, but wasn’t the answer behind center.
Steelers over 8.5:
“Last season Pittsburgh started winning shootouts, very un-Steeler like. However, they may have to take the same approach this year as the offense looks to be ahead of the defense.”
Pittsburgh was near the top of the league in most offensive categories, led by Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown, who both had career years. The Steelers hit the over in mid December, a month that they went 4-0 during. Their season wasn’t without some headscratchers, as they lost at home to the Bucs and Saints (more on both of those teams in the next section) and also on the road to the Jets and Browns. However, this was a team very few were talking about before the season started that easily hit the over for me.
Redskins under 7.5:
“You can find some bright spots (young depth at RB, the secondary looks solid), but overall, the grind of a 16 game season doesn’t look like it will sit with the Skins very well.”
Here’s a fun fact: the Redskins win total was 7.5, the same win total as the Cowboys before the season started. Seriously, who in their right mind took this over? In a division that looked wide open, I suppose people thought the Redskins had a chance but they showed this year they are one of the worst three teams in the league and are a long way from competing as long as the current front office they have is in place. Two of their four wins came against Jacksonville and Tennessee. If Washington had played any other AFC division you’d be looking at a 2-14 team. 2012 feels like a lifetime ago.
Texans over 7.5:
“First bold call of the season, Houston wins the South. This roster is stacked, forget about 2013. That two win season was a train wreck, with Gary Kubiak getting fired with three games left to go.”
I may have gotten a little too cute with the proclamation that Houston would win the South, but the Texans got me to the window with a 9 win season. Unanimous All-Pro J.J. Watt led the way for a very competitive team, whose biggest loss of the season was only 13 points. Houston feasted on the soft AFC South but also beat Buffalo and Baltimore. If they had a better QB situation this would be a definite playoff team. That’s the only thing separating them from Indianapolis right now, as Bill O’Brien had a great first year on the sidelines for Houston.
Panthers under 7.5:
“The schedule is a bear, with a particularly brutal stretch in October and November. Over a five week stretch, Carolina plays at Cincy, at Green Bay, Seattle, New Orleans (4 days later on a Thurs night) and at Philly. That is the stretch that will end this teams season, long before their week 12 bye rolls around.”
During that stretch I referenced, Carolina went 0-4-1, and yet they won the NFC South. Hopefully the NFL will fix the playoff format soon, because Carolina being in the playoffs is a joke. They clinched a losing record on November 30th and are now hosting a playoff game today versus the Cardinals. They are just the 2nd team in league history to make the playoffs the same season they had a six game losing streak. They were barely able to beat the Bucs and the Manziel led Browns at home to set up the NFC South play in game last week at Atlanta. Now they are laying 6.5 points to a team that won 11 games this year. It really is a testament to how badly Philly collapsed that people aren’t more outraged a 10 win team didn’t make the playoffs and Carolina did.
And now for the not so good:
Buccaneers over 7:
“This roster has a lot of talent; Tampa could be one of those teams that rises from the ashes and makes the playoffs.”
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are now on the clock. Yikes. I really liked this one too. If you look closer, this was actually a somewhat competitive team. They played in 10 games decided by 8 or less points and only won one of them. Mike Evans is going to be a stud. The defense played well down the stretch. Bottom line though, this team could not score. Tampa didn’t score more than 20 points in any game they played going back to October 5th. They didn’t win a division game (in the leagues worst division) and they didn’t win at home. I expected a lot more out of Lovie Smith’s team in his first year.
Cardinals under 7.5:
“This will be a one season blip for the Cardinals as that last stretch of the schedule will do them in. This is a team on the right path, just in the wrong division right now.”
Sugar coating my Tampa pick is probably an exercise is foolishness. Sugar coating my Arizona pick is a more worth while endeavor. As you can see from the quote above, I like this team but just thought this was not the season for them. In a league where running games are often abandoned and everything revolves around the QB, the Cardinals were 29th in the NFL in passing defense and still won 11 games. This number still stinks to me (7.5 wins after a 10 win season?) but the Cardinals somehow managed to win almost all of their close games. Arizona had the refs on their side as well this season, as they accepted the most penalty yardage in the league this season. The Cardinals may have won 11 games and do have a great coach, but this is a team that could have easily gone 7-9
Giants over 8:
“Besides Cruz, the Giants have a couple youngsters from LSU who could be stars.”
“A couple youngsters from LSU.” That’s cute. One of them is Rueben Randle, who is a fine WR. However it was Odell Beckham Jr. who blew the doors off of NFL secondaries this season. Beckham went for 91 grabs, 1305 yards and 12 TDs while playing only 12 games. However the Giants 3-2 start fell apart during a seven game losing streak against a tough slate of opponents. The Giants could move the ball, but they couldn’t stop anyone. The run defense was the biggest problem, as teams averaged 135 yards against them. Eli Manning actually had a good year, but if Tom Coughlin is to get this team back to the playoffs, they need to revamp the defense quickly.
Saints over 10.5:
“The NFC South looks like it may be pretty soft this year and there’s no reason the Saints shouldn’t run away with it.”
“Pretty soft” is being too kind when talking about the NFC South. It was horrific. But the Saints were a big part of that, as they went 3-5 in The Superdome and got swept by a pretty awful Falcons team. Teams scored 30+ points on the Saints seven times and while the Saints could still move the ball through the air, they really missed Darren Sproles. Brandin Cooks showed flashes of what he can be (10 yards a catch on 53 grabs) but he missed the last six weeks of the season with an injury. It has to be extremely disconcerting for the Saints that they were eliminated from playoff contention before week 17 in a season when 7-8-1 took the division crown.
Here’s a playoff preview and Super Bowl pick, quick and dirty.
Dallas will beat Detroit, setting up Dallas at Green Bay and the winner of today’s crap fest traveling out to Seattle. Dallas will go to Green Bay and win after Jim Harbaugh decides to drive up from Ann Arbor and share his secrets on how to beat the Pack. Seattle meanwhile will win a game against whoever they happen to play, 28-10. This game will be 6-3 at half and then go over the total on a late Lynch run and then a pick 6. Dallas will travel to Seattle, but leave Harbaugh behind since he has no clue how to win there. The Cowboys will be a 4 point underdog and enter their final drive down 6. Romo to Dez in the corner of the end zone will seal the one point win as Richard Sherman was already doing an interview with Erin Andrews before the game was even over. Dallas goes to their first Super Bowl since 1996.
In the AFC, Pittsburgh will win tonight even without Le’Veon Bell, setting up a rematch in Denver after the Tebow miracle a few years back. Remember Tebow? You can watch him on Good Morning America now. Cincinnati finally gets off the playoff snide by winning at Indianapolis. The AFC North was the best division in football and the AFC South was the 2nd worst, surely that counts for something. The following weekend is upset special as Pittsburgh and Cincy travel to Denver and New England and both pull off the shockers. Denver hasn’t looked right and Pittsburgh can really harass Manning. In Foxborough, the Bengals get a career day from Jeremy Hill in a game reminiscent of the past few playoff home losses for the Pats. Cincy travels to Pittsburgh for a 3rd meeting between the two. The narrative of the AFC North as the best division in football gets crammed down our throat for a week by, and Pittsburgh is the last one standing with a 42-28 win.
Pittsburgh and Dallas meet in the Super Bowl for the 3rd time ever. We get the most public matchup you could ever dream up, as Roger Goddell gets the two largest fan bases in the country together in Glendale for two weeks. In the end, it’s the Dallas Cowboys who win this epic matchup as they take home their 6th Lombardi Trophy and a whole new generation of bandwagon Cowboys fans is born.