My Pre-Season NFL picks. Where it all went right (or wrong)

Back in September, before the start of the NFL season. I decided to put a series of bets on (which can be found here). I predicted the winners of each division, plus threw in 4 over/under picks. Today I review how accurate these predictions were (prepare for smugness).

First of all I rather predictably went for the New England Patriots to win the AFC East. Absolute no brainer. As the season proved. The Pats dominated the division (3 wins seperated them from the 2nd placed Bills) and ended up taking the Lombardi trophy back to Foxborough once more. Admittedly Buffalo were an awful lot better than I anticipated and the Dolphins didn’t provide as much of a challenge as I expected (how is Joe Philbin still Head Coach?). The less said about the Jets, the better.

AFC EAST
MY PICK: NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
ACTUAL: NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Next up we head to the AFC North. This proved to be the best division in the league this past season. With 3 out of the 4 teams making the playoffs (poor Cleveland, poor Johnny). In the end the Steelers won the division by half a game from my pick, the Bengals. I don’t like to point fingers (yes I do) but if Mike Nugent had made a 36 yard field goal as time expired against the Panthers in Week 6 then I’d have been correct.

AFC NORTH
MY PICK: CINCINNATI BENGALS
ACTUAL: PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Again with the AFC South it was pretty much a no brainer to go with the Colts, with Andrew Luck at the helm they could dominate this division for years to come. The Titans and Jags were as dreadful as everyone expected, the Texans got a little frisky towards the end but came up short. Also, J.J. Watt should have won MVP, that guy is an absolute monster.

AFC SOUTH
MY PICK: INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
ACTUAL: INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

The AFC West was also rather easy to pick a winner, the Denver Broncos. The Raiders were terrible. The Chiefs didn’t throw a single touchdown pass to a wide receiver (unbelievable stat). The Chargers looked great to begin with but slowly faded out of contention in no small part due to the revolving door of Centers they were forced to employ.

AFC WEST
MY PICK: DENVER BRONCOS
ACTUAL: DENVER BRONCOS

The NFC East is a division I got quite wrong. Or more specifically I underestimated the Cowboys at a catastrophic level. I may have described Dallas as being “lucky to finish 8-8” (they ended up 12-4). I didn’t factor for just how good Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray would be (did anyone?). Something I was right about was that the Giants and Redskins would be bad (hardly ground-breaking I know). I wasn’t too far off with the Eagles, maybe if Foles stayed healthy they could have won the division, but alas it wasn’t to be.

NFC EAST
MY PICK: PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
ACTUAL: DALLAS COWBOYS

A happier division from my point of view is the NFC North. I picked the Packers and they duly delivered. Despite a nail biting final game against the Lions for the division title. Green Bay should have made the Super Bowl but somehow blew their Conference Championship against Seattle. Detroit were very good, particularly their defense, despite the flaws in game management exhibited by Jim Caldwell. The Bears were worse than I or anyone expected. The Vikings showed some signs of life, watch out for them next season.

NFC NORTH
MY PICK: GREEN BAY PACKERS
ACTUAL: GREEN BAY PACKERS

Next up comes the NFC South. A full on dumpster fire of a division. I was very wrong about the Bucs (call it homer bias), however they now have a chance to get Winston or Mariota who could be game changers for the beleaguered franchise. The Falcons only won 1 game outside the division and were historically bad on defense. The Saints and Panthers seemed to be desperate for each other to win the division. Before Carolina eventually pulled clear and amazingly won a playoff game as well (against the injury ravaged Cardinals).

NFC SOUTH
MY PICK: NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
ACTUAL: CAROLINA PANTHERS

Even though I correctly picked Seattle to win the NFC West, I still got quite a lot wrong in my analysis. Granted I was right about the Rams struggling and also about the Niners having some trouble living up to their past glories (side note: is Kaepernick good? Probably not). However I predicted the Cardinals to “take a step backwards” they actually improved their record over the previous season (10-6 to 11-5) and looked like a Super Bowl outsider until injuries took their toll. I also asked “Does Marshawn Lynch have too many miles and hits on the clock?”, that would be a resounding no. Beast Mode had an incredible season which arguably should have ended with my gloriously stepping into the end zone with 30 seconds left in the Super Bowl (Pete Carroll, Darrell Bevell and Malcolm Butler had other ideas). However I did say the Seahawks would win the division and they delivered, just.

NFC WEST
MY PICK: SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
ACTUAL: SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

So I ended up going 5-3 with my division picks. Not great, even worse when you consider that 3 of the divisions were extremely easy to predict. So how about my over/under bets. I correctly picked the Jets and Titans to win under 7 games (they won 4 and 2 respectively). I still think this was some kind of mistake, how did anyone think those teams would win 7 games? Astounding. I suggested the Eagles would find it relatively easy to win over 9 games, and it certainly looked that way as they stood at 9-3 with 4 games left. However, Philly then lost 3 games in a row which lost them the division and their chance at the playoffs. They did manage to squeeze past the Giants in Week 17 though, to get to the 10 win mark. Back in September I described myself as “uber confident” that the Bills wouldn’t win over 6.5 games. I was very wrong. They passed that mark in Week 13 and went on to go 9-7. This meant I went 3-1 on my over/under picks and 8-4 overall. Pretty good if I do say so myself.

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