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Andy Reid finally won his first Super Bowl when the Kansas City Chiefs made a late comeback against the San Francisco 49ers to secure a victory in SB LIV. The Chiefs did have some ups and downs all-season-long, but they found ways in the playoffs to secure wins, even when down big. Now that the NFL’s 100th season is over, it is time to analyze who over performed and who under performed. For my analysis, I compared my predictions before week one to each team’s final results after the Super Bowl. Here are my three biggest winners and losers from this past season:
- Baltimore Ravens [My prediction: (7-9), Actual: (14-2)]: I thought that the NFL would find a way to slow down Lamar Jackson, but that idea was shot down as early as week one. Lamar Jackson continued to elevate his play all-season-long, and the Ravens were formidable both offensively and defensively. They consistently were the best team in the NFL, until they were stopped by the Tennessee Titans. I predicted the Ravens to narrowly miss the playoffs; instead, they were dynamic and explosive, and they emerged as a potential long-term dynasty, if Lamar keeps his play at this level.
- San Francisco 49ers [My prediction: (7-9), Actual: (13-3)]: I didn’t believe in Jimmy Garoppolo, and the 49ers showed down the stretch that they really didn’t need him. Yes, George Kittle had another tremendous year, but it was the run game that really got the 49ers to the Super Bowl. Oh, and did I mention that their defense turned out to be one of the best that I’ve ever seen? I projected this team to finish 3rd in the NFC North behind the Rams and Seahawks. I doubted them all year, and they continually made me pay.
- Green Bay Packers [My prediction: (9-7), Actual: (13-3)]: I didn’t trust the combination of a new coach and Aaron Rodgers. I thought that Rodgers would be too much for Matt LaFleur, and I thought the two would clash. The Packers were potent offensively not because of Aaron Rodgers, but rather the emergence of Aaron Jones. Rodgers played well, which we expected, but it was Jones stepping up that made a difference. I predicted them to finish in a tie for second in the NFC North, but the Packers found a way to win the division and a playoff game before they were eliminated by the 49ers.
- Los Angeles Chargers [My prediction: (12-4), Actual: (5-11)]: The Chargers were my pick to lose in the Super Bowl during the preseason. I liked their combination of offense and defense, but they wildly underperformed this season. Even with Melvin Gordon, the Chargers didn’t do enough, and their defense definitely slipped. The AFC West isn’t an easy division, but it’s a division that gave them the possibility at a playoffs spot. I don’t know how this team will turn out next season, but I wouldn’t bet too highly on them.
- Atlanta Falcons [My prediction: (10-6), Actual: (7-9)]: I thought that the Falcons would emerge as an elite team due to their potent offense, but they fell apart early in the season, and they didn’t recover until it was too late. Their defense wasn’t much to write home about, and Matt Ryan didn’t have nearly as good of a season as I expected. With top weapons like Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones, the Falcons should have averaged around 25+ points a game. They need to figure out how to score in the red zone.
- Carolina Panthers [My prediction: (8-8), Actual: (5-11)]: Stop me if you have heard this before. The Carolina Panthers have a great start to the season, then they fall apart and miss the playoffs. The Panthers will hopefully be moving on from Cam Newton, and they need to figure out how to get back to the Super Bowl. They can’t continue to waste Christian McCaffrey’s potential. I don’t care how many yards he gets if they miss the playoffs. They have a solid defense and okay offense, but they need to get better… and fast.