Thursday, September 1, 2011
Sifting through 2011 NFL predictions
By Mike Sando
Nine of 12 dentists recommend brushing with -- wait, wrong survey. Let's try this again.
Nine of 12 ESPN.com football reporters are picking the St. Louis Rams to win the NFC West this season. Three others are taking the Arizona Cardinals. And that is only a small sampling of results from our NFL predictions for the 2011 season.
NFL divisional bloggers joined John Clayton, Adam Schefter, Matt Williamson, Ashley Fox and Jeff Chadiha in voting for eight division winners, two wild-card teams per conference, AFC champion, NFC champ, Super Bowl champ, coach of the year, MVP, top offensive rookie and top defensive rookie.
A quick look at voting results:
- Super Bowl champ: Six of 12 votes, including mine, went for the New England Patriots. Chadiha and Seifert took Green Bay. Four other teams drew votes: New Orleans (Paul Kuharsky), San Diego (Dan Graziano), Pittsburgh (Fox) and the New York Jets (Bill Williamson).
- AFC champ: Nine votes for New England. One apiece for the Chargers, Steelers and Jets.
- NFC champ: Green Bay drew four votes, including mine. New Orleans and Philadelphia drew three votes apiece. Atlanta (Bill Williamson) and Dallas (Schefter) drew one apiece.
- NFC West: I was among nine picking the St. Louis Rams. Chadiha, Kevin Seifert joined Graziano in picking the Arizona Cardinals.
- NFC North: It was unanimous. Twelve votes for the Packers.
- NFC South: Six for New Orleans, six for Atlanta. I took the Falcons.
- NFC East: Eleven votes for the Eagles. Schefter took the Cowboys.
- NFC wild cards: The Saints and Cowboys were my picks, in part because Dallas plays the NFC West this season. There were six votes for Atlanta, five for New Orleans, four for Dallas, three for Detroit, three for Tampa Bay, one for Minnesota (Chadiha), one for Philadelphia (Schefter) and one for the New York Giants (Yasinskas).
- AFC West: Eleven votes for San Diego. Kuharsky took Kansas City.
- AFC North: Eight votes for Pittsburgh, including mine. Four for Baltimore.
- AFC South: Seven votes for Houston. Five votes for Indianapolis, including mine.
- AFC East: I was among 10 voting for the Patriots. Graziano and Bill Williamson picked the Jets.
- AFC wild cards: Baltimore and the Jets were my picks. There were eight votes for the Jets, five for the Ravens, four for the Steelers, three for the Colts, two for the Patriots, one for the Texans (Kuharsky) and one for the Chiefs (Bill Williamson).
- Coach of the year: Bill Belichick was my choice. There were three votes for Jim Schwartz, two for Jason Garrett, two for Belichick and one apiece for Steve Spagnuolo (Kuharsky), Sean Payton (James Walker), Mike McCarthy (Clayton), Andy Reid (Chadiha) and Gary Kubiak (Pat Yasinskas).
- MVP: I was among four voting for Aaron Rodgers. Philip Rivers drew three votes. Tom Brady and Michael Vick drew two apiece. Kuharsky cast the lone vote for Brees.
- Offensive rookie: I was among nine voting for Julio Jones. There were two votes for Mark Ingram (Clayton, Schefter) and one for Cam Newton (Bill Williamson).
- Defensive rookie: I was among nine voting for Von Miller. Adrian Clayborn (Kuharsky), Ryan Kerrigan (Graziano) and Jimmy Smith (Walker) drew one vote apiece.
Take these to the bank, but please do not try depositing them. I'm sure our perceptions will change -- "evolve" sounds better -- as these teams reveal more about themselves.
For me, the biggest challenge is following four teams so closely every day of the year, then trying to make sense of faraway teams that cross the radar screen far less frequently. I'm interested in your picks, too. Fire away.