Expert Predictions: The Art of Guesstimation

I'm wearing number 21 and Vernon Davis and Colin Kaepernick are all, like, "Well done, Aaron" and " Nice table" - Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sport

After staring at various national media pundit's predictions for the 2013 season until my eyes crossed and my creyes ossed, I was able to put together the following table, showing what each and every 'expert' had to say about the upcoming campaign. I hope you enjoy it.

Predicting the outcome of an NFL season is not exactly an exact science. Yet every year, countless among us attempt to do just that. You could go the easy route by predicting the favorites, then shake your head in disbelief when Lady Luck (no relation to Andrew) turns her back on you. Or you can do what Mike Ditka did and select your ex-team, 'Da Bears', to win it all. Who's going to question Ditka? In the internet age, everything is instantly preserved for posterity and there's guaranteed to be someone (or 10 million someones) willing to rub your face in it. I'm taking the easy way out and picking the 49ers over the Broncos.

Included below is a table with 69 members from various national media sites with their picks for each of the division winners, the wild card teams, conference champs and eventual Super Bowl winners. There's a wide range of selections, but with such a large sample size, some clear patterns emerge, as well as the occasional anomaly.

Some highlights:

  • The 49ers were chosen 9 times out of 69 to win the Super Bowl. That's 13% of the time, for those keeping score.
  • Our 49ers were tabbed 32 times to win the NFC West. The Seahawks were selected the other 37 times.
  • Only two experts did not pick the 49ers to make the playoffs, Darren Woodson of ESPN and Ryan Wilson of Fox Sports. Their Twitter handles are: @darrenwoodson28 & @ryanwilson_07.
  • 13 different teams are selected to win the Super Bowl. That's 2/5 of all teams in the NFL being selected by at least one person to win the big one. Parity?
  • The Seattle Seahawks were chosen a colossal 17 times to win the Super Bowl with Denver coming in second at 14. Green Bay had 8 'titles' and Atlanta finished with 7.
  • The most wide-open division was the NFC East. Dallas, Washington and New York were all chosen with near-equal frequency to win the division. Even Philadelphia saw glory on one ballot. It was one of two divisions to see all 4 teams tabbed to win it (the NFC South being the other).
  • The most secure division is the NFC East. The Patriots were selected by every single expert except Ron Jaworski, who chose the Dolphins. Jaws is the same genius who recently made headlines by claiming our very own Colin Kaepernick could become the greatest quarterback of all-time.
  • The AFC West was nearly as unanimous, with the Broncos coming out on top of all but three ballots. The Chiefs, led by Alex Smith, were the team chosen to steal the division from them.
  • The AFC South and NFC North were close to being runaways, with the Texans and Packers both maintaining a WWE-style sleeper hold on the rest of the competition.
  • The AFC would appear to hold little drama. The same 6 teams from last year figure prominently throughout the expert's picks. That's Denver, New England, Houston, Baltimore, Indianapolis and Cincinnati. The non-playoff teams from '12 that figure most-prominently in the table are Pittsburgh, Miami and Kansas City. A return of the same six teams would not be out of the question. I personally have Pittsburgh replacing Indy, but that's the only change.
  • The Minnesota Vikings are the lone playoff team from last year to not appear on a single ballot.
  • In the NFC, the only three teams not picked to win their division at least once are St. Louis, Arizona and Minnesota. Only the Cardinals and Vikings fail to reach the playoffs on a single card. Parity?
  • Ray Lewis' list, according to ESPN's own info, has Seattle winning the NFC, though they don't win their division, nor do they earn a wild card. Joe Flacco recently stated that Lewis' famous pre-game speeches made no sense at all. His predictions live up to that standard. Either that or an ESPN data-nerd goofed up, but I like to pretend it's the former.
  • Finally, Mike Florio from Pro Football Talk is the only guy to be referred to by a singular name. Florio appears in their database as Florio, like a Brazilian soccer player. Malone is amused.
NAME ORG NFC WEST NFC EAST NFC SOUTH NFC NORTH AFC WEST AFC EAST AFC SOUTH AFC NORTH NFC WILD CARD NFC WILD CARD AFC WILD CARD AFC WILD CARD NFC CHAMP AFC CHAMP SB CHAMP
Eric Allen ESPN SEA WAS ATL DET DEN NE HOU CIN SF NO PIT IND SEA NE SEA
Jarett Bell ESPN SF DAL ATL GB DEN NE IND BAL NO SEA HOU PIT SF DEN DEN
Chris Berman ESPN SF NYG ATL CHI DEN NE HOU BAL GB SEA KC CIN SF BAL BAL
Tedy Bruschi ESPN SF WAS NO GB DEN NE IND BAL ATL SEA CIN HOU SF NE NE
Adam Caplan ESPN SF NYG ATL GB DEN NE IND CIN SEA NO BAL HOU ATL NE ATL
John Clayton ESPN SEA WAS ATL GB DEN NE HOU CIN NO SF BAL KC ATL DEN DEN
Brian Dawkins ESPN SF DAL NO GB DEN NE HOU BAL ATL SEA PIT CIN SF DEN DEN
Bill Devaney ESPN SF NYG ATL GB DEN NE HOU BAL SEA NO IND CIN SF DEN SF
Mike Ditka ESPN SF WAS NO CHI KC NE HOU BAL GB ATL CIN IND CHI BAL CHI
Herm Edwards ESPN SEA DAL ATL GB DEN NE HOU CIN SF WAS KC MIA SEA DEN SEA
Ashley Fox ESPN SEA WAS ATL GB DEN NE HOU BAL SF NO KC IND ATL DEN ATL
Mike Golic ESPN SF NYG ATL GB DEN NE HOU CIN SEA NO PIT BAL SF DEN SF
Dan Graziano ESPN SF DAL ATL GB DEN NE HOU CIN NYG SEA BAL KC ATL HOU ATL
Jon Gruden ESPN SF DAL TB GB DEN NE HOU BAL ATL SEA CIN MIA SF DEN SF
Tim Hasselbeck ESPN SF DAL ATL GB DEN NE HOU CIN SEA NYG IND KC ATL HOU HOU
Merril Hoge ESPN SEA WAS ATL CHI DEN NE HOU CIN SF GB PIT SD CHI DEN DEN
Tom Jackson ESPN SEA DAL NO GB DEN NE HOU BAL ATL SF CIN PIT SEA DEN DEN
Ron Jaworski ESPN SF DAL NO GB DEN MIA HOU BAL SEA DEN NE ATL GB DEN GB
Keyshawn Johnson ESPN SEA DAL NO GB KC NE HOU BAL SF ATL DEN CIN SEA KC SEA
Mel Kiper Jr ESPN SF NYG ATL GB DEN NE HOU BAL SEA CHI CIN MIA NYG DEN NYG
Ray Lewis ESPN SF WAS ATL GB DEN NE HOU BAL CAR NO CIN PIT SEA BAL BAL
Todd McShay ESPN SF DAL ATL GB DEN NE HOU BAL SEA PHI MIA CIN ATL DEN ATL
Antonio Pierce ESPN SEA WAS ATL GB DEN NE HOU BAL SF CHI CIN IND SEA HOU SEA
Louis Riddick ESPN SEA WAS NO CHI DEN NE HOU CIN SF DAL BAL IND SEA CIN SEA
Jeff Saturday ESPN SEA DAL ATL GB DEN NE IND BAL NO SF CIN HOU SEA DEN DEN
Phil Savage ESPN SF NYG ATL GB DEN NE HOU CIN NO SEA BAL IND SF CIN SF
Adam Schefter ESPN SEA DAL ATL GB DEN NE HOU CIN NO SF IND PIT SEA NE SEA
Mark Schlereth ESPN SF WAS ATL GB DEN NE HOU CIN SEA NO BAL KC SF DEN DEN
Mike Tirico ESPN SEA NYG ATL GB DEN NE HOU CIN SF DET BAL IND ATL CIN ATL
Trey Wingo ESPN SEA DAL ATL GB DEN NE HOU CIN NYG SF BAL PIT SEA DEN DEN
Darren Woodson ESPN SEA DAL ATL GB DEN NE HOU CIN WAS NO BAL KC SEA DEN SEA
Damien Woody ESPN SEA WAS ATL CHI DEN NE HOU CIN GB SF KC CLE SEA CIN SEA
Field Yates ESPN SF DAL ATL GB DEN NE HOU BAL SEA NO CIN IND ATL NE ATL
Steve Young ESPN SF DAL ATL GB DEN NE HOU CIN SEA WAS IND BAL SF NE ?
Don Banks SI.com SEA DAL ATL GB DEN NE HOU CIN SF NO BAL KC GB CIN GB
Chris Burke SI.com SEA NYG ATL GB DEN NE HOU BAL SF DAL PIT CIN SEA DEN SEA
Ben Eagle SI.com SEA DAL ATL GB DEN NE HOU CIN SF CHI BAL KC GB HOU GB
Doug Farrar SI.com SEA WAS NO GB DEN NE HOU CIN ATL SF BAL IND GB HOU GB
Tom Mantzouranis SI.com SEA DAL ATL GB DEN NE HOU CIN SF NO BAL KC GB CIN GB
Austin Murphy SI.com SEA DAL ATL CHI DEN NE HOU CIN SF NO PIT KC SEA DEN DEN
Jim Trotter SI.com SEA WAS TB GB DEN NE HOU CIN SF ATL IND PIT SEA DEN SEA
Peter King MMQB SF NYG ATL GB DEN NE IND CIN SEA NO BAL HOU SEA NE NE
Greg Bedard MMQB SEA NYG TB GB KC NE HOU PIT SF ATL DEN BAL SF PIT SF
Jenny Ventra MMQB SF NYG NO GB DEN NE HOU BAL ATL SEA PIT KC GB DEN GB
Robert Klemko MMQB SEA NYG ATL DET DEN NE HOU BAL SF WAS IND CIN SEA IND SEA
Peter Schrager Fox SF DAL ATL GB DEN NE HOU BAL STL PHI CIN PIT ATL HOU ATL
Mike Garafolo Fox SEA DAL ATL GB DEN NE IND CIN SF NYG HOU PIT GB DEN GB
Brendon Ayanbadejo Fox SF WAS ATL GB DEN NE HOU BAL SEA NO IND CIN SF DEN SF
Scott Fujita Fox SEA DAL ATL GB DEN NE HOU CIN SF NO KC BAL SEA NE SEA
Andy Nesbitt Fox SF NYG ATL GB DEN NE HOU BAL SEA CHI CIN IND GB DEN DEN
Sid Saraf Fox SF DAL ATL GB DEN NE HOU CIN SEA CHI BAL IND SEA DEN DEN
Ross Jones Fox SF DAL ATL GB DEN NE HOU BAL STL CHI IND CIN DAL HOU DAL
Joseph Alper PFT SEA DAL ATL GB DEN NE IND BAL SF NO KC CIN SEA DEN SEA
Curtis Crabtree PFT SEA WAS ATL GB DEN NE HOU CIN SF STL BAL KC SEA CIN SEA
Darin Gantt PFT SEA NYG ATL GB DEN NE HOU BAL SF WAS CIN IND ATL DEN ATL
Mike Wilkening PFT SF PHI ATL GB DEN NE IND BAL SEA NO HOU PIT SF BAL SF
Michael David Smith PFT SF NYG NO GB DEN NE HOU PIT ATL SEA CIN BAL SF DEN SF
Florio PFT SF WAS ATL GB DEN NE IND BAL SEA DET CIN HOU GB DEN DEN
Jason La Canfora CBS SEA DAL NO GB DEN NE IND CIN ATL SF BAL PIT SEA CIN SEA
Pete Prisco CBS SF NYG ATL GB DEN NE HOU CIN NO SEA PIT BAL ATL CIN CIN
Pat Kirwan CBS SEA WAS ATL GB DEN NE HOU BAL NO SF CIN PIT SEA DEN DEN
Will Brinson CBS SEA NYG NO GB DEN NE HOU CIN ATL SF PIT IND ATL NE NE
Josh Katzowitz CBS SEA WAS ATL GB DEN NE IND CIN NO SF HOU BAL ATL DEN DEN
Ryan Wilson CBS SEA NYG NO GB DEN NE HOU BAL ATL STL KC CIN SEA NE SEA
John Breech CBS SEA NYG NO GB DEN NE IND CIN ATL SF KC PIT SF CIN SF
Frank Schwab Yahoo! SEA NYG CAR CHI DEN NE HOU CIN SF GB BAL KC SEA NE SEA
Jay Busbee Yahoo! SEA WAS ATL GB DEN NE IND CIN SF NYG HOU PIT SEA DEN DEN
Eric Edholm Yahoo! SF DAL ATL GB DEN NE HOU CIN SEA DET PIT IND GB HOU GB
Anwar Richardson Yahoo! SF DAL NO GB DEN NE IND BAL ATL SEA CIN KC NO HOU NO

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