In just over a week, another NFL season will be upon us, but we are already inundated with the prognosticators, the wags, the people who tell us they are smarter than us and who “know” who is going to win this year. On July 6, before training camps even began, Forbes came out with its picks for division winners. USA Today at least had the decency to wait until training camps got underway, but as early as July 27, they informed us that the Pittsburgh Steelers will defeat the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl LI. Also popular in a league with a great deal of parity is the effort by some experts to try and outsmart other experts by picking unheralded teams; an August 12 Bleacher Report article proclaimed the Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, and Minnesota Vikings its “dark horse” picks to win the Super Bowl .
The first thing fans need to remember, though, heading into the season is not to listen to the experts. In September 2015, Sports Illustrated picked the Ravens to win Super Bowl 50 . Fresh off a near-upset of the New England Patriots in the 2014 playoffs, this seemed like a decent pick. Last year, however, the Ravens didn’t even make it to the playoffs, outpaced by the Bengals and Steelers in their own division. SI is historically notorious for making picks that don’t hold up, going back to the cover jinx. Their bad picks go farther than the magazine covers, though; “expert” Peter King, for example, predicted in 2007 that “Jon Kitna would be better than Brett Favre and J.P. Losman would be better than Eli Manning.” Kitna and Losman dropped off the face of the earth, and Favre and Manning met in the NFC Championship Game .