The 2020-2021 NFL regular season is officially over. With that, it only makes sense to go back and look at what I wrote about the league all the way back in September. Yep, we are going to look and my marvelous (and horrible) proclamations from week one. Some will obviously be wrong; others will surprise you. Either way, I like doing this to hold myself accountable but also using it as a learning tool for future columns. Alright, rambling over, let’s take a gander, huh?
1. Buccaneers – My initial ‘take’ on the season starting focused on the Tom Brady led Bucs. Fitting as that was the HOT discussion topic all off season. my Week One stance was that them losing to the New Orleans Saints wouldn’t mean much. No shame in losing on the road to a great team. I had them pegged as a playoff team, regardless of a week one loss. My only bit of concern was ol’ Gronk out there. Yikes. I would call this prediction a success. Brady and the Bucs ended up doing fine. There was no major injury, no major controversy, no major string of losses or ugly performances, and guess what? Bucs are primed to make a playoff run and actually HOST the Tampa Bay Super Bowl. That has never happened before in the history of the NFL, so I think it would be kinda cool.
2. My second take was about all the ridiculous off season chatter on Aaron Rodgers being done. I said it was dumb then with hindsight, it was even more dumb. The dude just finished off an MVP caliber season and has the Green Bay Packers ranked as the number one team in the NFC. A bye week is big for them right now, figuring out the offensive line before A-Rodg starts up a run at another Lombardi trophy. I said they’d handle the NFC North with ease, and they did. Easy to look at now and laugh but rewind to September – your favorite ‘pundits’ were singing a different tune. Bias because I live in Wisconsin and all but still, Packers were always going to have a big season. The next year or two with the quarterback position will play itself out. For now, RIGHT NOW, Rodgers was ready to roll.
3. I praised the NFL for their handling of Covid-19. The MLB season was in a current flux three months ago, and the NBA was being praised for the Bubble idea. The NFL was determined to push forward with the season no matter what. Week one was great. As the season progressed though, things got worse. Players were busted NOT following protocol, coaches did NOT wear their masks correctly, fine were handed out, etc. That is just what we discovered via reports or leaked rumors. Imagine what all went down behind closed doors or in private. Either way, the NFL did indeed push through the season and minus a couple of delays and hiccups, it was fairly “normal” for 2020. I’m still waiting on reports on any fans that attended games as some teams did allow minimum capacity inside their stadiums…
4. I pegged the Washington Football team as a potential surprise playoff team. My exact headline was “Don’t Sleep On Washington.” That was my exact wording. No, I never outright predicted they would win the NFC East, but that was the gist of my column. With Ron Rivera at the helm, there was going to be a level of ‘respect’ there that hadn’t before. Thus, me poking fun at the Dalla Cowboys and mocking their “HOW BOUT DEM” catchphrase! I called it junk, and boom – it was junk. All pre-season hype and talking heads rallying behind the Cowboys as usual. Laughable. Somehow, someway Washington won the NFC East. My guess is their miracle run ends this weekend. Still, a cool story.
5. Now to my big miss: Browns are in the playoffs! Folks, Cleveland has something to celebrate. I can’t believe it either. I am sitting here with a Baker Mayfield jersey. I mentioned in week one that I was suckered into it LAST YEAR. Well, I may have been a year ahead. I bought the hype 12 months ago but didn’t in 2020-2021. Oops. Cleveland had their ups and downs, but none of that is relevant currently. The Cleveland Browns did it, and I think that is awesome. Good for them.
PATRIOTS: I wasn’t sold on the New England Patriots with Cam Newton. I kept saying ‘wait and see’ with them for a few weeks. Couldn’t call it. Turns out my pessimism was correct; they stunk, and Cam is likely headed out of town soon. Think Bill and company miss Tom yet?
SURPRISE PLAYOFF TEAM: Here is my week one quote: “Rams will be good this season. Make that prediction down.” Boom. Find me anybody else, ANYWHERE, who pumped up the Rams and Washington for the post-season back in September. Go ahead.
SUPER BOWL: I had the Seattle Seahawks as my Super Bowl favorites. Not a bad guess. Time will tell if that holds true. Gotta say the Kansas City Chiefs till look legitimate, the Green Bay Packers are scary right now, and the Tompa Bay Bucs would make the best story. Let’s go playoffs, let’s go!
By Justin Watry (TWITTER: @JustinWatry)