Fearless predictions? Hardly. Only the bravest (or most foolish) of souls doesn't get a little rattled when trying to forecast what will happen in an upcoming National Football League season.
Everything — the small-sample 16-game schedule, the gameplan-destroying injuries, even the erratic way an inflated leather spheroid bounces when it hits the ground — is set up to make you look like a moron. The NFL: Randomness lives here.
Still, with the 2013 season about to kick off, three of our biggest NFL fans couldn't resist calling the playoff teams, the clubs most likely to rise and fall, and the Super Bowl champion. Plus, each guy offers some commentary on his picks below.
For a few laughs, check out our 2012 prognostications. We nailed a few and missed badly on others.
Here's what we see happening in 2013:
|Prediction||Jesse Campigotto||Tony Care||Chris Iorfida|
|AFC East||New England||New England||New England|
|AFC wild cards||Cincinnati, Pittsburgh||Baltimore, Houston||Baltimore, Miami|
|AFC riser||Kansas City||Kansas City||Kansas City|
|AFC faller||Indianapolis||Pittsburgh||NY Jets|
|AFC Championship||New England over Denver||Denver over Cincinnati||Baltimore over Cincinnati|
|NFC North||Green Bay||Green Bay||Chicago|
|NFC South||Tampa Bay||Atlanta||Tampa Bay|
|NFC West||San Francisco||Seattle||Seattle|
|NFC wild cards||Seattle, Carolina||San Francisco, Dallas||Atlanta, San Francisco|
|NFC Championship||San Francisco over Seattle||Seattle over San Francisco||Atlanta over Seattle|
|Super Bowl XLVIII||New England over San Francisco||Seattle over Denver||Atlanta over Baltimore|
Campigotto: I hate that five of my six AFC playoff teams are the same as last year (boring!), with only Indy dropping out. I agree with the analysts who say the Colts were very lucky to win 11 games in 2013, but a great leap forward by Andrew Luck in his second year could mitigate the expected regression. In the NFC, I wish I was allowed to make more "riser" and "faller" picks. Philly really interests me with offensive mad scientist Chip Kelly at the helm now, but he may need time to install his system. I waffled between New Orleans and Carolina for my second wild card, eventually giving the Panthers the edge with QB Cam Newton entering his third year and last year's tough luck in close games likely to reverse unless coach Ron Rivera keeps botching things. But the Saints should get a boost from the return of coach Sean Payton, and the defence can't be as bad as last year's. Right?
Care: Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson are getting all the press, but the Colts’ Andrew Luck will be the transcendent quarterback of his era. Indy’s defence is also improved, which will give the Colts enough power to supplant Houston in the AFC South. In the end, Denver will survive the loss of linebacker/pass rusher Von Miller for the first six games on its way to a Super Bowl appearance. The NFC is simply a battle between the Seahawks and 49ers, and I like Seattle by a hair.
Iorfida: Yes, I know the Jets only won six games last year, so they don't have far to fall, but I think three wins is their ceiling in 2013. These exercises aren't fun if you make zero bold picks, hence the absences of Green Bay and Houston (who I still think will be about 9-7). I think Aaron Rodgers's health hangs in the balance behind Green Bay's subpar line — a Week 3 road game vs. super-aggressive Cincy will be a chore — and it never ends well for a Dom Capers-led defence. On the Bears: I've seen a couple of their exhibitions, and Matt Forte and rookie LB Jon Bostic look in fine form.