With roughly one month left in the 2021 NFL season, we look back at the few things we got right, and the manyyyy things we got wrong in our preseason predictions!
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It’s been about a month since our last check-in, and a lot has changed in the NFL landscape. From a sleeping giant awakening in the northeast, to an MVP race that seemingly no one wants to win, let’s look at three things I got right and five things I got very wrong before the season.
Three Things I was Big RIGHT On:
1- The Saints would struggle in the post-Brees era
It didn’t seem like it when they were 5-2, but that was five games ago… Now they’re 5-7 and look like they’ll be watching the playoffs on television. Granted Jameis has missed a lot of the season, but I’m not convinced he could have prevented this. With Drew Brees now in the NBC booth, the Saints are simply an average team.
2- Jalen Hurts is not the future of the Eagles
I said Hurts was a great backup before the season, and now it seems like he will live up to that with Minshew starting in Philadelphia. They’ll eclipse my win total for them, but I still don’t think this team is very good. Which is hard to admit, since they’re my team. But I was right about this one!
3- The Packers would dominate the NFC North
Jesus this division is horrific. The Lions have as many ties as wins, which is never a good thing. The Bears can’t wait to fire their coach, and the Vikings actually lost to the Lions. I get that Aaron Rodgers feels like the Packers take him for granted, but isn’t he taking for granted the fact that he is guaranteed to win the division every season? It is damn cold there though.
Now for the fun part! Five Things I was Big WRONG On:
1- The Bengals wouldn’t be good
Forgive me for thinking the Bengals were still the Bengals. This team has stunk for years, but it turns out all they needed to do was draft the 2019 LSU Tigers and they would be all set. This team looks good, and could finally win a playoff game (sorry Marvin Lewis).
2- The Browns were Super Bowl contenders
I really whiffed on the AFC North. I thought the Ravens and Bengals would be bad, not the two best teams in the division. I thought the Steelers would be really good and they’re really average. And I thought Cleveland would be a true contender, but they look like anything but. Baker appears to be on borrowed time in Cleveland, and this team is proving talent does not equate to wins.
3- The Cardinals would be the worst NFC West team
Turns out they’re actually the best. Granted, had you told me Russell Wilson was going to miss two months I probably would have picked Arizona to be better than Seattle, but I certainly didn’t expect them to be outpacing the Rams. This team looks really good, and they are true contenders.
4- The Lions would be bad
I thought Detroit would be bad. I predicted 4-13, which is bad. But this team isn’t bad; they’re dreadful! I used to believe in Jared Goff. Now I do not. Somehow this team is worse than Houston, which I didn’t think was possible.
5- The Giants would win the NFC East
This team just isn’t very good. I love Barkley, I think Judge could be a really good coach, and I like a lot of their skill players. But this team is simply not winning, and it starts at quarterback. If I’m the Giants I’m trading the farm to Seattle to get Russell Wilson in there next season and hopefully that can finally get you past a Washington team that doesn’t have a name, but has a better record than you.
Now let’s take our final predictions at who will be bringing home some hardware in awards season:
MVP: Kyler Murray (Arizona Cardinals)
I thought missing a couple games would knock Murray out, but it turns out no one actually wants to win this award. Mahomes has struggled mightily. Josh Allen just forfeited last night losing to the Patriots who threw exactly three more passes than I have in the NFL. No one wants to vote for Rodgers, and Derrick Henry is going to miss 70% of the season. Murray missed a couple games, but he’s the engine of the best team in the league, so he will win.
Defensive Player of the Year: Myles Garrett (Cleveland Browns)
Diggs and Garrett are neck and neck, but Diggs has cooled off the last month. Garrett is one of the only reasons the Browns are still in the playoff hunt, and his dominance and consistency will earn him this award.
Coach of the Year: Bill Belichick (New England Patriots)
God I hate this team. I was hoping that they would be bad for even five years after Brady left, but it turns out all Bill needed was a rookie quarterback who can throw three times per game. What he’s doing is incredible, and he has this team poised to make another run at a championship.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Jamarr Chase (Cincinnati Bengals)
Mac Jones is closing fast, but Chase has helped Cincinnati go from dreadful to contending, which is harder in my opinion than Jones leading New England from playoff contention to division leaders. If the Patriots win out, Jones will win, but if not Chase will hold him off.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Micah Parsons (Dallas Cowboys)
He’s been great, and has propelled Dallas to a much better defense than most expected. Parsons will win this award with relative ease.
Jim Tomsula Worst Coaching Award: Dan Campbell (Detroit Lions)
Wow. Calling back-to-back timeouts on Thanksgiving is the stuff of legend. This dude has a lot of energy and a lot of heart, but not a whole lot of talent. He is the worst coach in the league, and will be lucky to be the Lions coach in 2023.
Tim Tebow Award: Mac Jones (New England Patriots)
I nailed this one. See my preseason predictions column for my reasoning!
Mark Sanchez Butt Fumble Award: Tua Tagovaiola (Miami Dolphins)
Tua came into the league with a lot of promise, and the way Miami played last season had many thinking the Dolphins would be stealth contenders this season. Instead, they’re towards the bottom of the AFC and almost no one believes Tua is a franchise quarterback. He had a great opportunity this season, and has completely blown it.
Cousins You Like That!? Award: Taylor Heinicke (Washington)
Heinicke went from fourth-string to four-straight wins real quick. They might not catch Dallas for the NFC East, but they are in a great position to make the playoffs, and Heinicke is a huge reason for that.
Randy Moss Transaction Award: Carson Wentz (Indianapolis Colts)
The Colts look one of the most dangerous AFC teams, yet they might miss the playoffs. But regardless, Wentz has inspired confidence in Indianapolis and has given them the stability they have lacked since Luck left them at the altar (or in couples therapy I guess? Altar would be at the draft… This is a poor analogy but you get it).
Now let’s make some revised playoff predictions!
1 New England Patriots (bye)
2 Kansas City Chiefs def 7 Cincinnati Bengals
6 Los Angeles Chargers def 3 Tennessee Titans
4 Baltimore Ravens def 5 Buffalo Bills
1 Arizona Cardinals (bye)
2 Green Bay Packers def 7 San Francisco 49ers
3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers def 6 Washington Football Team
5 Los Angeles Rams def 1 Dallas Cowboys
1 New England Patriots def 6 Los Angeles Chargers
4 Baltimore Ravens def 2 Kansas City Chiefs
1 Arizona Cardinals def 5 Los Angeles Rams
3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers def 2 Green Bay Packers
1 New England Patriots def 4 Baltimore Ravens
3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers def 1 Arizona Cardinals
3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers def 1 New England Patriots (MVP: Tom Brady)
No. It can’t happen. Can it??? This would be the most anticipated football game ever, and Brady will once and for all prove he is better than Bill.
There you have it! All of my 3rd quarter poll observations from the 2021 NFL season. Make sure to check back in at the end of the regular season for my playoff predictions once the field is set!