The NFL calendar year sees us spend seven months trying to preview and predict what will happen, but much of the analysis of what did happen takes place over the next five months. I tend to prefer the next five because I am no fortune teller.
However, that did not stop me from posting full 2013 predictions with team records (and some help from The Smiths) on my blog. Something I have respected about Football Outsiders is that they do not write win-loss predictions but instead offer a mean win projection. Frankly (Mr. Shankly), win-loss records are largely filled with error. If a baseball team has two fluky losses that swung on one play in a season, that only changes their winning percentage by 0.012. If it happens to a NFL team, making them 7-9 instead of 9-7, that's 0.125 or over 10 times larger of a difference.
Now imagine these two fluky results happen in a division series such as David Akers missing two game-winning field goals for the 49ers against the Rams last year. Suddenly the 49ers could be 13-3 and the Rams 6-10 (not 7-8-1). That big difference comes with a margin as small as two swings of the leg.
So my Super Bowl pick is the Denver Broncos ("Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want") over the Atlanta Falcons ("How Soon Is Now?"). The song selections are most fitting given Peyton Manning's luck in the playoffs, and the FOA 2013 was certainly not kind to the Falcons. "I am human and I need to be loved" works well for their response.
This is my third season covering the NFL on a weekly basis. How have my big preseason predictions turned out? Well in 2011 I first wrote about Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers being a front-runner extraordinaire and a potential dynasty in the making. The Packers went on a 19-game winning streak without trailing once in the fourth quarter (previous record: 13 games by 1942-43 Redskins). It was the greatest display of front-running in NFL history. It ended terribly in the playoffs, but I will take half credit here.
Last season I had Baltimore making the Super Bowl, but losing to Dallas. I did however tell Julie Buehler on the radio (9/6/2012) that "I really think this is going to be the year of Joe Flacco" and set out the path for Baltimore to overcome adversity and get the job done. Dallas aside, that did happen with Flacco cashing in this offseason (thanks, Rahim).
So this year I have crafted a detailed (too detailed?) story for how the Broncos are the next team to bounce back from a horrible playoff defeat, overcome rough patches to put it all together late in the year with a run to the Super Bowl, which will be an awful game outdoors in February in New Jersey.
Finally, there is no truth to the rumor I have written a rough draft for the America's Game for the 2013 Denver Broncos. They are just the team I see as being the story of this season and it all starts tonight against Baltimore. So here's to five months washing away most of the work done in the last seven, but I sure as hell will enjoy it anyway.