It doesn’t matter if it’s from magazines, television, or the internet, if you have ever seen NFL predictions for the upcoming year, you know they all have one thing in common: they have zero to very little variations from the previous season’s results. For the life of me, I do not understand why. Why do we want to hear, year after year, that the upcoming season is going the mirror the results of the previous season, despite the fact that we know that rarely happens. Every pundit feels compelled to state the conventional wisdom – even the “sleeper” team predictions consists of two or three teams max. This is the league that prides itself of parity folks! This is the league where a tiny hamlet like Green Bay, WI is on equal footing with big cities such as New York, Chicago, Dallas, and San Francisco.
I understand why publishers are afraid to go out on a limb and make bold predictions. What I don’t understand is why football fans keep buying it. Most fans hope and want the new season to be different from the previous season. (How many? Off the top of my head, I’d say fans of 31 of the 32 teams. Hint: the 31 teams are the ones that didn’t win the Super Bowl.) I’m too lazy to do this research (which means I’m now ready to be hired by Grantland), but I believe the rate that teams that made the playoffs one year, but not the following years is between 50% – 60%. However, the pre-season prediction rate for last year’s playoff teams making the post-season is around 80%. The worst part is the reasoning behind these predictions. They can pretty much summarized as: “we expect more of the same”, or “there will be slight improvement,” or “there will be a slight decline.” There is no going out on a limb. There are no last place-to-first place finishes. Nor are there first-to-last finishes. You’d be hard pressed to find even a first place-to-third place, or second-to-fourth place prediction. Admittedly, there are times where there is a potential dynasty out there. There are ways to make boring, conventional safe picks with dynamic, unconventional reasoning. For example, instead of citing the All-Pro QB, or the genius of the coaching staff, one could cite factors such as: the advent of draft picks and second stringers to the forefront; a potential favorable schedule; or good old-fashioned luck. (And let’s face it, potential Hall of Fame QBs and coaches tend to get the benefit of the doubt more often than not – and sports pundits tend to call those instances “luck”.)
With that said, there is one site I want to endorse. Not only are they not afraid to make outside-the-box predictions, they tend the be right more often than the others. The site is Draftsharks. When I used to play fantasy football, I always relied on Draftsharks. And every year I was involved in a ffb league, my teams finished no worse than fourth place. I will share my wisdom and team names on a future post. I gave them a testimonial years ago, and I give them my endorsement now. Granted there is a difference between projecting an individual player’s and a team’s final record, but there are enough similarities where my critiques can apply to both. Bottom line: I’d rather have a pundit admit that his predictions were based on pure randomness than regurgitate the same old garbage recycled from mainstream media and sports talk radio. (*hack*ESPN*cough*)