There really is no hard and fast method to predicting a winner. No magic formula that you plug a few parameters into and — voila — a prognostication you can write cheques to.
Since we’re gluttons for punishment here — and no sports journalistic entity should be so smug to think they get it right even half the time — we’re dusting off the old crystal ball for the upcoming NFL season.
Not to forecast team’s records, mind you, but to foretell just who might have a shot at the Lombardi Trophy.
Last year’s entrants, the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers, may have been easy picks early in the season. No one, however, could have accurately seen that inglorious outcome for Cam Newton and the Cats.
Starting next Thursday, 32 teams will start duking it out for division, conference and ultimately league supremacy.
Here are 10 teams we believe will make the playoffs and have a shot at shouting “We’re going to Disneyland!” in February at NRG Stadium in Houston. We’ve ordered them least likely to most likely.
Stifle your guffaws, folks. While many NFL editorial glitterati have picked the usual suspects, like perennial chokers Cincinnati, to do well, we’re going off the board with a couple of our picks. The Raiders, too long the laughingstock of the AFC (much less the West Division), have made strides to legitimacy lately and should be ready to take the next step to the playoffs at the very least. Derek Carr is ready to take his place among the top 10-15 QBs in the league and has good to great weapons at his disposal, including wide receivers Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper and running back Latavius Murray. And how could you not respect a defence that features a guy named Jihad (Ward)? The Illinois rookie joins an improving defence spearheaded by Khalil Mack (15 sacks), Malcolm Smith (122 tackles) and David Amerson (4 INT).