Here is what’s predictable about the NFL:
Winning your season opener matters. It’s quantifiable. Since the 1978 advent of the 16-game schedule, teams that start 1-0 have made the playoffs 52.4 percent of the time, while teams that are 0-1 are at 23.7% – less than half the likelihood. Going back even further, the 48 Super Bowl champions have been 39-8-1 in the opening game of their title season.
Here is what’s unpredictable about the NFL:
Everything else. There have been an average of 5.7 different playoff teams than the season before (never fewer than four) in the 24 years since the current 12-team postseason format took effect in 1990. And the past 10 seasons have seen 17 teams (at least one per year) go worst-to-first in their division.
Somewhere in between the predictable and the unpredictable, you’d find me in terms of my Friday Page NFL predictions and annual Super Bowl pick. It is predictable that I find getting the champion right so unpredictable.
In 23 previous seasons of forecasting a Super Bowl winner I have been right exactly twice: In 1994 (49ers) and in 2010 (Packers). Based on this chronology I’ll next be due in 2026, Lord willing.
Undeterred, I offer my 2014 NFL forecast, by division with (WC) indicating a wild-card playoff berth, followed by my doomed Super Bowl pick:
I went with the safe pick this time. Wait. This is the NFL. There are no safe picks, especially where I’m concerned.
I’m sorry, Denver. It’s nothing personal.