Preseason predictions don’t mean a whole lot. Really, no predictions mean all that much, because ultimately whatever happens, happens. But midseason predictions presumably have somewhat more validity than those made in the preseason.
We just so happen to be at midseason, and recently the league’s website polled several of their analysts to get their Super Bowl predictions. I suppose it’s not terribly surprising, but a number of them had the Pittsburgh Steelers winning it all.
In fact, of the 13 analysts sought for their opinion, seven—that’s more than half, for the math-challenged—had them at least going to the Super Bowl, with five of them believing that they would claim their seventh Lombardi Trophy.
They were the most popular pick to win it all, in fact, and by a wide margin. No other team was even picked by more than two to win. Both the Chiefs and the Patriots were chosen twice from the AFC, while the Seahawks were the only NFC team to have two backers. The Eagles and Rams each were chosen once.
Among those who picked the Steeler to win was—shockingly—Ike Taylor, a former longtime Steelers cornerback. He sees them unseating the Seahawks, again, as he helped them do back in 2005. “By February, the Steelers’ defense and offense will be in prime form”, he wrote.
One analyst I’ve long respected—though don’t always agree with—is Gil Brandt, and he chose the same matchup, with the same victor, as Taylor. His explanation: “the Steelers will have more fans at the game, plus the highest-rated offense and defense, yardage-wise. The Seahawks will have the higher-rated quarterback, but they’ll fall short, 27-24”.
Both Reggie Wayne and Charley Casserly believe it will be the Saints on the losing end of the Steelers’ triumph. Wayne wrote that the Saints of Drew Brees, but Pittsburgh has the triplets of Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell. Casserly cited the Steelers’ balance on offense and defense.
Judy Battista sees a Steagles Super Bowl. “The difference here is the Steelers’ vastly-improved defense”, she wrote, “which harasses Carson Wentz to produce turnovers and fuel a Steelers scoring explosion — and the franchise’s seventh Super Bowl championship”.
Meanwhile, both Dave Dameshek—an unabashed Steelers fan—and Steve Wyche both predicted the Steelers-Seahawks matchup, only they see Seattle getting their revenge. For Dameshek, it was just a matter of sticking with his previous prediction. For Wyche, he believes that Russell Wilson will have a big game, and that Richard Sherman will be able to handle Brown and limit his impact.
It certainly seems as though the Steelers are a popular pick to win this year, which is always comforting. It helps that the league overall seems to be weaker and without dominant teams this year. Which is a good thing, because one can’t help but wonder when Pittsburgh’s current window will close.