First of all, thanks and good luck to all those who participated in both our college and pro pick ‘em contests. We should be in for a great season.
On July 2nd, I asked you all to pick your choice for this year’s national champion. Naturally, the lot of us would have picked Alabama, LSU or USC which is why I decided to a) only allow one school per participant and b) reward my regular readers. Those who responded to the e-mail, Facebook or Twitter posts first, such as Zbignu, Heavy D and SpeedBeagle chimed in early with the favorites.
Here are your picks. To the victor go the spoils.
SportsChump – Florida (Pre-season AP ranking 23, current AP ranking 4 – Hooray for me!)
Zbignu – LSU (Pre-season AP ranking 2, current AP ranking 9)
Heavy D – USC (Pre-season AP ranking 1, current AP ranking 11)
SpeedBeagle – Alabama (Pre-season AP ranking 2, current AP ranking 1)
Phil Fowler – South Carolina (Pre-season AP ranking 9, current AP ranking 3)
Yaz – Oregon (Pre-season AP ranking 5, current AP ranking 2)
Coach Reese – Michigan (Pre-season AP ranking 8, current AP ranking 25)
G Mony – Oklahoma State (Pre-season AP ranking 19, currently unranked)
Hanahan – Georgia (Pre-season AP ranking 6, current AP ranking 14)
Daybreak – Ohio State (Pre-season AP ranking 18, current AP ranking 8 )
Blog Surface – Texas (Pre-season AP ranking 15, current AP ranking 15)
Sieve – Oklahoma (Pre-season AP ranking 4, current AP ranking 13)
SportsAttitudes – FSU (Pre-season AP ranking 7, current AP ranking 14)
Snake – Boise State (Pre-season AP ranking 24, current AP ranking 24)
KP – Wisconsin (Pre-season AP ranking 12, currently unranked)
Mac –Arkansas (Pre-season AP ranking 10, currently unranked)
Jed Sports Glutton – Wyoming (unranked in both pre-season and current AP polls)
Rocky Top -Virginia Tech (Pre-season AP ranking 16, currently unranked)
Jamie DSR – TCU (Pre-season AP ranking 20, currently unranked)
Currently ranked teams that nobody selected: Oregon State, Clemson, Stanford, Kansas State, Notre Dame, Mississippi State, Louisville and um…. WEST VIRGINIA
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on to our NFL Futures Contest.
After analyzing all our picks, I’ve come up with a few divisions in which to categorize the 30 teams in the league.
THE “YOU SUCK, OR AT LEAST EVERYONE THINKS YOU SUCK AND MOST LIKELY BOTH” DIVISION
No picks over, seven under. Kurt Warner is not walking through that door any time soon. But that might be a good thing. They’re off to a 4-1 start, surprising every single one of us who picked them under. Interestingly enough, Arizona’s over/under was also seven last year and they ended up 8-8. None of us were convinced they could contend in a difficult NFC, either this year or last, but they’re starting to prove they’re for real, including the early shocker of the season, beating the Patriots in Foxboro Week Two. It looks like some of us are about to lose some points.
Cleveland Browns (O/U 5 ½)
It must suck to be a Browns fan. Not only have they been irrelevant since Bernie Kosar was in the league, their starting (rookie) quarterback has already been smothered by the rolling out of the American flag, their team owner is an admitted Steelers fan and they have yet to win a game (0-5). That’s probably why, even with an over/under of 5 ½ wins, eight of us in the pool took them under. Only one of us, Speedbeagle, took them over. Considering she also nabbed Alabama in the college pool, she must be a real Trent Richardson fan.
All of us cashed in on the Dolphins last year. Their over/under was eight wins; they finished 6-10. That was like giving away money at Christmastime. Even though we’ve seen some marked improvement with the Fish (2-3) in 2012, none of us saw a reason to believe they’d finish above seven wins, which is why not a single one of us picked them to finish over for a second year in a row.
St. Louis Rams (O/U 6)
Most of us have been waiting for Sam Bradford to step up and be that guy, but he and Stephen Jackson alone cannot carry this team. While this year’s consensus for the Rams to fail wasn’t all that overwhelming considering they went 2-14 last year, four of us picked them under while nary a soul thought they’d finish with six wins or more. This just in, people. At 3-2, they’re already half way there.
Tennessee Titans (O/U 7 ½)
Who knows what to make of the Tennessee Titans? I don’t think it would surprise anyone if they turned out to be decent. It also wouldn’t surprise anyone if they absolutely sucked, which they appear well on their way to be doing at 1-4. That’s probably why four of us took them under and only one of us, Dwindy, took them over.
It doesn’t seem all that long ago when we regularly expected the Chargers to compete for a Super Bowl, or maybe it does to Chargers fans. Their projected win total is only nine in a division that would still stink out loud if it weren’t for the arrival of Peyton Manning. Despite Manning’s Indianapolexodus, the Chargers are still favorites to win the AFC West by a hair. Nobody in this pool, however, thinks that will happen and nobody, somewhat surprisingly, picked them over. Maybe we’re finally on to something.
Kansas City Chiefs (O/U 8 )
Despite Jamaal Charles running amok, the Chiefs are still 1-4. Their fans have resorted to booing their quarterback Matt Cassel after he was knocked out of last week’s game. We’ll see how they treat Brady Quinn. Five of us wisely picked the Chiefs to finish under eight wins, a mark they appear well on their way to achieving. One of us, Dubsism, picked them over, but at this point, we’ve grown accustomed to him picking incorrectly in these contests.
THE “WE THINK YOU’RE GOING TO BE GOOD PROBABLY BECAUSE OF YOUR QUARTERBACK” DIVISION
How many times this pre-season did you hear pundits use the phrase “sophomore slump” in regards to Cam Newton? So far, it looks like they might have been right. The wide-smiling, Heisman Trophy winner exceeded all expectations in 2011 on his way to winning Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. He threw for more than 4,000 yards and rushed for over 700 more. This year, they’re 1-4 and he’s shouldering the burden. Those of us here didn’t believe in any slump with five of us going over and only Christian from Blog Surface predicting the slump would come to fruition.
Denver Broncos (O/U 8 ½)
We must be some Peyton-loving fools up in here because not a single one of us thought Manning’s Broncos would finish under 8 ½ wins. After tossing for 250 yards and leading Denver to a win in his first week, the Broncos have struggled as of late, currently standing at 2-3. Stay tuned as this one should come down to the wire.
Green Bay Packers (O/U 11 ½)
Last year, it only took twelve weeks for those of us who took the Packers over to collect, which is pretty impressive considering their over/under, just like this year, was 11 ½ wins. We all know what happened after that. They went 15-1 in the regular season but lost their first playoff game at home to the Giants. Most of us still believe in the Cheeseheads with seven of us picking them over 11 ½ and only one doubter, Aero, who’s not even a Giants fan. After a 2-3 start, it seems the Pack will make us wait a little longer to collect on that 11 ½.
New York Giants (O/U 9)
Now that we have officially christened Eli Manning an elite quarterback, most of us are ready to presume the Giants are contenders once again, or at least project that they’ll finish with over nine wins. Five of us did so. If the Giants have taught us anything lately, it’s that they’ll keep us waiting until season’s end to see how good they can be.
Welcome to the big time, RGIII! An impressive start to the season has us paying attention, even though at 2-3, most of us still don’t know what to think about Washington’s win total. The six of us who chose the ‘Skins over will be watching with bated breath as you wow the crowd, as long as you return healthy from that concussion.
THE “WE STILL DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TO THINK” DIVISION
Atlanta Falcons (O/U 9 ½)
The Falcons play in a division with a team with no coach, another with a rookie head coach and yet another with a second year quarterback. In retrospect, picking the Falcons over should have been the biggest no-brainer in the history of sports. They’ve been competitive for years now yet for some reason many of us still didn’t consider them serious contenders. Uh… we were wrong. Their over/under was only 9 ½ yet nobody here wanted to touch them. Only two of us took them over and two of us took them under. Newsflash: After a torrid 5-0 start, they’re already over half the way there.
Buffalo Bills (O/U 8 )
The Bills started off last season 4-1 leading everyone to forget for a split second that they’re actually the Buffalo Bills. They finished the season at 6-10, reminding everyone that they were still the Buffalo Bills. Their over/under this year is eight, largely based on what this team COULD be, yet once again we’re still not sure. We were nearly evenly split on the Bills, two of us taking them over and three of us taking them under.
At least early on, it looks like whoever doubted the 49ers could repeat last season’s success is going to be sorry they did so. Even with a pretty high over/under, only three of us chose them over and two took them under. For anyone who’s seen the Niners play this season, that over ten is looking like a safe bet.
Jacksonville Jaguars (O/U 5 ½)
Most of us still don’t know what to make of the Jags. I mean, we know they’re bad, we just don’t know how bad. Could they be absolutely horrible or will they eke out a few games? After a 1-4 start, the five of us who chose them under probably made the right choice and the three of us who didn’t, well, they’re probably wishing they hadn’t put so much faith in Blaine Gabbert.
Minnesota Vikings (6)
Sure they have arguably the best running back in the NFL. He just doesn’t show it consistently enough, which is why five of us picked the Vikes to finish under six wins. Guess what. They’re 4-1 and sit atop NFC North. None of us actually think they’ll end the season there, but that matters not for this contest. Props to Yaz and Heavy D of the Friday Night Gainesville poker crew for being the only two in this pool to have faith in Christian Ponder.
THE “YOU’RE PROBABLY PRETTY GOOD BUT YOUR NUMBER’S TOO HIGH” DIVISION
Philadelphia Eagles (O/U 10)
The Eagles finished last season strong even though they missed the playoffs. Big things were expected this year, but not from any of us. Five of us in the pool thought the birds would finish under ten wins, while only one of us, Tophatal, had any faith in Michael Vick to get it done. The Eagles are currently 3-2.
Okay, so we don’t think they’ll suck but we also think 12 wins might be a little too high. After back-to-back losses to Arizona and Baltimore, it looked like most of us were correct. Amazingly, we showed no faith in the Pats this year. Seven of us in the pool picked them to finish under twelve wins. Perhaps our love affair with Tom Brady has come to a screeching halt. Perhaps we’re expecting Rob Gronkowski to experience a Newton-like, sophomore slump. Perhaps we think their run is over. After watching them score 83 points their last two games, it looks like we were wrong.
Houston Texans (10 ½)
We were all surprisingly torn on the Texans, three picking over and three picking under. It’s not that we didn’t think they’d be good. They’re the class of the AFC South. We just didn’t think they’d be that good. To the three of you who went under, Han, Yaz and Aero, gentlemen, I hate to break this to you but the Houston Texans are 5-0.
Detroit Lions (O/U 9)
I’m not going to spend too much time talking about the Lions since only one of us, Heavy D, picked them at all. FYI, he picked them to finish over. Although they’re off to a disappointing 1-3 start, one can’t help but think they’ll turn that around. But will they do it in time to reach nine wins?
The only constant in the universe is that Las Vegas will set the Steelers win total at or around ten and the team will finish right around that number. It’s why anyone who bets a Steelers future has to have his head examined. Why not just flip a coin and save yourself the trouble? As a whole, we were undecided on the Steelers, three of us picking them over and two picking them under. Even after a shaky 2-2 start, we likely won’t know how this will turn out until December.
New Orleans Saints (O/U 9 ½)
What else can we say about the Saints that hasn’t already been said? Usually their over/under is in double digits but with all the off-season drama, Vegas adjusted that number down, which is probably why three of us here, Speedbeagle, Aero and Snake took them under. After a 1-4 start, it’s looking like those three will collect.
THE “IT’S ABOUT THAT TIME” DIVISION
Baltimore Ravens (O/U 9 ½)
There’s very few of us that don’t consider the Ravens legitimate Super Bowl contenders. Accordingly, you wouldn’t think picking them over nine-and-a-half was all that much of a stretch. Three of us in the pool felt confident they’d hit that number and not a single one of us felt they wouldn’t. They’re currently 4-1 and well on their way.
The majority of us think this Bears team should be pretty good. But are they great? We love Jay Cutler one week and call for his head the next. Nine-and-a-half was probably a pretty good number for this team which is why most of us stayed away, only two of us picking them over and one picking them under. And once again, we wait.
Seattle Seahawks (O/U 7 ½)
Nice job by Ravenous, Blog Surface and Zbignu who had enough faith in Pete Carroll and Marshawn Lynch to choose them over. At least early on, it looks like that might happen… thanks to the replacement refs. Most of us were undecided on the ‘Hawks but those three felt they were above a .500 team. So far, they are, at 3-2 in a surprising NFC West division where EVERY team is over .500. That can’t last, can it?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (O/U 6)
Admitted homer picks here as a number of my readers live in Florida, however, I also sense a little “Schiano might be able to get this thing done” sentiment. After alienating Tom Coughlin in the early going, it remains to be seen whether the Bucs can win six games but enough of us (five overall) think the Buccaneers will, while only two are non-believers. The Bucs need to start playing some football though before those non-believers turn out to be right.
Indianapolis Colts (O/U 5)
Shouldn’t the promise of Andrew Luck alone be enough to get over five wins? An impressive home win over the struggling Packers is a pretty good start. Four of us think the Colts will finish over five wins while three of us have them finishing under. At 2-2, they’re off to a good enough start to leave those that bet against them feeling a little uneasy.