Greg Cote

Dolphins won't make playoffs; Super Bowl pick dooms Steelers

According to our expert, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will win his third Super Bowl in 2016.
According to our expert, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will win his third Super Bowl in 2016. AP

In 25 previous seasons of NFL predictions I have accurately forecast the Super Bowl winner twice: the 49ers in 1994 and the Packers in 2010. I ain't braggin'. That's an 8 percent incidence of being right. That would put my odds of being right this time at roughly 12-to-1.

But being a glass-half-full guy I can tell you my chances this time are exponentially better than, for example, the 500-1 odds against someone being born with 11 fingers or toes. Also, I give myself a better shot than the Dolphins have of winning in Seattle Sunday. There's that law of averages thing, too.

So, unbroken and only slightly bowed, I give you my 2016 NFL divisional forecast. (Do not be fooled by others' lame attempts at this. Ours is the real lame attempt!)

Wild-card teams are indicated (by WC), and division picks are followed by my doomed Super Bowl prediction:

▪ AFC East: Patriots 12-4, Jets 8-8, Dolphins 7-9, Bills 7-9 – This division continues as Snow White & the Three Dwarfs, and Patriots missing Tom Brady for four games won't dent that narrative. The upside? Tight three-way battle for second place! But, alas, an eighth straight year with no postseason for Miami.

▪ AFC North: Steelers 12-4, Bengals 9-7 (WC), Ravens 8-8, Browns 2-14 – Pittsburgh, when at full strength, has chance to be Super, and Cincy should make playoffs again (uh oh). Meanwhile: “Cleveland: Making the Dolphins Look Good Since 1999.”

▪ AFC South: Jaguars 10-6, Texans 9-7, Colts 7-9, Titans 3-13 – Indy is division's betting fave, but, sorry, I don't trust overrated (and overpaid) Andrew Luck or his Colts. I said Jacksonville was my AFC “it” team on the rise and I'm stickin' with it.

▪ AFC West: Broncos 10-6, Chiefs 9-7 (WC), Raiders 9-7, Chargers 4-12 – Denver, K-City and ascending Oakland could make this league's most interesting three-dog divisional fight. And Raiders in playoffs for first time since 2002 wouldn't shock.

▪ NFC East: Cowboys 9-7, Giants 8-8, Redskins 7-9, Eagles 3-13 – Winner of New York-Dallas opener will set tone here, with a Washington falloff expected and Philly rebooting. Do not write off 'Boys because Tony Romo is out. In Dak We Trust!

▪ NFC North: Packers 13-3, Vikings 9-7 (WC), Lions 5-11, Bears 4-12 – Lots of money going on Green Bay to win it all, and hard to argue. Minny survives loss of Teddy Bridgewater. Detroit and Chicago aspire to make climb to medicority.

▪ NFC South: Panthers 12-4, Buccaneers 8-8, Falcons 7-9, Saints 6-10 –No serious challenger here to Cam Newton's Carolina, but Tampa will be better than most believe. Wouldn't Drew Brees with a defense be an interesting concept?

▪ NFC West: Seahawks 12-4, Cardinals 11-5 (WC), Rams 7-9, 49ers 4-12 – You could argue Seattle and 'Zona give this division the two best teams in NFL. Mark this, though: Los Angeles will be good, fast, if Jared Goff, when he plays, is what they hope he is.

▪ Super Bowl: Steelers over Packers. There. I said it. Those are two of only about six teams with a real shot, and I'm hunching Big Ben is due to add a third ring to the ones he won in 2005 and '08 and narrowly missed in '10. Truly sorry, Pittsburgh. That's just the way I feel.

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