The NFL season is winding down, and before we know it we'll be on the verge of the playoffs. The post-season picture is getting clearer every week, and teams are slowly but surely beginning to be eliminated from contention. We're not quite at the finish line yet, but by now we have a pretty good idea of how the season is shaking out.
And that means we have a great idea of just how wrong some of the popular predictions heading into the year were—as they always are! So just for fun as we head toward Week 14, here are five regular predictions and assumptions we had in the fall that have been proven drastically wrong.
Great Tight Ends Are Great Everywhere
One of the biggest stories of the offseason was the migration of Tight Ends around the league. Most notably, Jimmy Graham moved from New Orleans to Seattle and Julius Thomas moved from Denver to Jacksonville. But we also saw Owen Daniels—always a decent, though not great player—move to Denver. Expectations were pretty high for all three, and the preseason fantasy football rankings even showed that Graham was expected to remain the second-most-productive player at the position behind Rob Gronkowski. As it turns out, you can't just move a great Tight End to a new team and expect the same results as none of these three is in the top-six in yardage for the position (though in fairness Thomas spent much of the season injured).
The Panthers Needed Wide Receivers
When Kelvin Benjamin went down before the start of the season and the Panthers elected not to draft a Wide Receiver in the first round, the expectation was that the Carolina offense would struggle mightily and that Cam Newton wouldn't be able to get much done. So much for that whole outlook. Newton has driven the Panthers to a 12-0 record through 13 weeks, and his best receiver (not counting Tight End Greg Olsen) has been Ted Ginn, Jr., who habitually drops certain touchdown passes. Rookie Devin Funchess has come on of late, but the truth is this Panthers team has gone undefeated with a receiving corps of guys who wouldn't play on other teams.
Andrew Luck Could Be MVP
This was supposed to be a big, big year for the Indianapolis Colts. Andrew Luck was a preseason MVP candidate, and he was even the odds-on favorite to accumulate the most passing yards in the league. So how has it worked out? Well, lately Luck has had injury concerns, so that explains some of the poor numbers. But here's the big picture: 29 Quarterbacks have thrown for more yards than Luck; 20 have scored more touchdowns; and 39 quarterbacks who have seen some degree of regular playing time have higher completion percentages (all per ESPN's passer ratings).
The Eagles Would Be Good
This one's pretty straightforward: we all thought the Eagles were going to be pretty great in 2015, and they've been pretty terrible. Sure, they just knocked off the Patriots (who were basically playing with Tom Brady plus their second string), but most of the year has been depressing in Philadelphia. Amazingly, the birds could still make the playoffs purely due to the ineptitude of the NFC East, but it hasn't been a successful season by any stretch of the imagination.
Adrian Peterson Would Regress
Adrian Peterson was bizarrely forgotten in much of the preseason coverage. He was 30 years old, coming off a year in which he was unable to play due to off-field issues, and playing for a team showcasing a youth movement everywhere but his position. We overlooked Peterson and looked instead to the likes of Le'Veon Bell and DeMarco Murray, to say nothing of rookies Melvin Gordon and Todd Gurley and players like Joseph Randle and Carlos Hyde getting their first shots to start. Well, back in September Peterson told us he was still the best Running Back in the league, and as it turns out he was right. He's not quite what he was in his prime, but man, he is still good. Let's go ahead and assume it stays that way until we see differently.
Plenty more predictions went awry, but these were five popular opinions that the season so far has utterly squashed. Now we'll just have to see how the playoff predictions go in a few weeks.
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