In this sports media industry, the reality is that no one is perfect, especially not me. I’m typically one of the more outlandish analysts here at The Wrightway Sports Network, which tends to place me on a throne when I’m right, and on a metal dart board when I’m wrong.
As we’re now midway through the NFL season, now is a perfect time to look back on some of my incredibly accurate predictions as well as the horrific misses I had in the offseason.
Feel free to shoot me a message or tweet at me via Twitter @danielalameda11
Where I Was Right:
Derek Carr Returns as an MVP Candidate
The Raiders spent the past two offseasons creating the ideal situation for Carr by giving him a stable coaching staff and a diverse set of weapons. “Derek Carr’s success in 2020 will not come as a surprise to me given the fact that past behavior is the best predictor of future success. The last time Carr was afforded a top offensive line and a plethora of receiving talent, he was an MVP Candidate.” (June 27th, 2020).
The Las Vegas Raiders headed into the 2020 offseason with a top tier offensive line and a budding star in Josh Jacobs in the backfield. The new team in Las Vegas then proceeded to add two talented rookie receivers that gave Derek Carr five different weapons that all are able to contribute differently to the offense. Derek Carr was quietly productive in 2019 as well, but the coaching stability and additional weapons took his production to a whole new level.
Kyler Murray and the Cardinals continue the 2nd Year Quarterback Trend
Heading into the 2020 season, everyone was looking for the “Next Patrick Mahomes” but many were skeptical on if the Kyler & Kliff duo was effective enough to compete with an “incomplete roster”. I predicted that the Cardinals would win the NFC West at 12-4 and have a major improvement in the win column and I was right.
While the Cardinals haven’t won the division, yet, they still have fielded the league’s best offense in regards to total yards, and their defense has somewhat outperformed expectations. The “holes” on the offensive line have subsided due to their unique horizontal passing game, and Kingsbury’s ability to constantly adjust their scheme. Kyler Murray displayed his ability as a complete passer as well as a dynamic runner outside of the pocket, which made a major improvement expected.
The Minnesota Vikings Will Regress
For some reason, I can read the Minnesota Vikings better than I can my own handwriting. In 2019, I predicted that Minnesota would surprise the NFL by making the playoffs and now I predicted that they would face a major regression. This past offseason they lost their offensive coordinator, number one receiver, and five defensive starters, all of whom played a role in their success in 2019.
Along with this, the Vikings offense was unsustainably efficient last season, and the sheer losses in personnel meant that a regression was incoming, and a system quarterback like Kirk Cousins couldn’t change this fact.
The Buffalo Bills Will Win the AFC East
Throughout this past offseason, I kept echoing the phrase that the 2020 Buffalo Bills resembled the 2019 San Francisco 49ers, and while this isn’t exactly true, both teams saw major success. Heading into this season, the Buffalo Bills had a veteran coaching staff, returning talent on defense, and an improved supporting cast around their young 3rd year quarterback. While Josh Allen is a much flawed quarterback, the organization has put him in a terrific position to win because of the receivers and running backs around him.
Buffalo’s defense has been widely disappointing thus far, but the offense has carried them to a 1.5 game lead in the AFC East over the Dolphins, and not the Patriots. The Patriots faced a multitude of personnel losses due to free agency and COVID holdouts, which made them an obvious candidate for regression. The Jets have been in shambles ever since their postseason runs with Mark Sanchez, and the Miami Dolphins have a talented roster, but not enough time to mesh all-together. The Bills came into this season with a well-rounded team and will become the AFC East champions for the first time in 20 years.
Where I Was Wrong:
The Packers Will Face Major Regression
The Packers facing regression was as sure a thing as the sun coming up in my book. Last year they were the most overachieving 13-3 team to ever step foot on a football field, and all signs pointed to a major regression. Green Bay possessed a putrid rush defense as evidenced in the NFC championship game, an offense without a punch, and extreme luck in one score games (8-1). Heading into this season I expected their luck to run out, and their inability to acquire additional talent to reflect on their record but I forgot about one thing, Aaron Rodgers.
Aaron Rodgers in his second year with Matt LaFluer has protected the football, attacked defenses vertically, and hasn’t aged one bit. The Packers have fielded the most balanced offense in the NFL, 9th in rushing and 9th in passing, and this balance has taken this team to 6-2 and atop the NFC North once again.
The Steelers MIGHT Scrape into the Playoffs
This was definitely one of the most putrid takes I made, and it was especially rough because I knew this was coming. Heading into 2020, the Steelers had all the signs of a major improvement: A top tier defense, a veteran quarterback, and a variety of key pieces returning from injury. Even with all these signs handed to me on a silver platter, I chose to underestimate them and put them at 9-7.
The fact that the Steelers were 8-8 with the quarterback play of Duck Hodges and Mason Rudolph was screaming for a major Pittsburgh resurgence, but I just didn’t listen. Despite having the reigning MVP, the 2020 1st overall pick, and America’s most over-discussed team (Browns) in their division, the ever-consistent Steelers have taken the AFC North by storm and are the only true challengers to the Chiefs throne.
The Panthers Will Be a Bottom Feeder
The Carolina Panthers headed into the season with eight new defensive starters, a new quarterback, and a new coaching staff, so there was no realistic path to being relevant in 2020.
Or so I thought.
This Carolina team frightened me as an avid sports bettor because there was no way I could ever bet on a team that experienced as much roster turnover as they did. I was positive that this coaching staff would take a year minimum to gel, which allowed me to confidently project this team as a bottom-five team. This year, their offense, along with their youthful defense has been surprisingly efficient, and has the Panthers sitting at 3-5. I was under the impression that Carolina would put up offensive stats and be terrific for fantasy purposes, but it has translated better than I expected.
Chase Claypool Wouldn’t Live Up to Expectations
Heading into the draft, there was a massive amount of buzz around the TE/WR out of Notre Dame, but I didn’t buy in. I saw an athlete who produced at a high level in college but wouldn’t be able to translate due to a lack of separation and pure receiver skills, and man was I wrong.
His pure height/speed combination, ability to win 50/50 balls, and pure play strength have made his transition to the NFL smooth as silk. I dove heavily into his inconsistent hands and separation issues when in reality, I should’ve put his pure strength and straight line speed on a pedestal.