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Which ‘can’t miss’ 2017 NFL predictions were we laughably wrong about?

It’s time to revisit what we thought would happen before the season began.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at New England Patriots Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Back in August, the SB Nation NFL writers labeled our projections for the season preview as “can’t-miss predictions.” We’re obviously experts in our field and are rarely, if ever, wrong.

OK — I barely got through writing that sentence without laughing. Trying to project what could happen in a sport as unpredictable as the NFL is a fool’s game. But it’s still fun to take a look back at what we said then now that we’re more than halfway through the season.

So without further ado, let’s revisit our predictions and see how they look heading into Week 10.


It was impossible to know going into this that Aaron Rodgers would end up on injured reserve with a broken collarbone. He’s usually a safe bet to be considered for this award every season. The other two are still in the running, though Brady has a much better shot.

Harry Lyles Jr.: Aaron Rodgers

I was feeling so good about my pick, especially after he ripped the hearts out of the Dallas Cowboys in early October. I should get half of a win here, honestly.

Jeanna Thomas: Tom Brady

He’s a perpetual candidate. He got off to a shaky start in Week 1, but he’s playing like Tom Brady now.

Adam Stites: Dak Prescott

The thought at the time of the prediction was that he’d have to lead the Cowboys through the suspension of Ezekiel Elliott. So, uh, here we go. It’d be a surprise if he got in the mix with his efficient, but just decent numbers, though.

Most improved player of the year

Adam certainly came the closest here. What a difference a year — and a new head coach and offensive coordinator, as well as a resurgent Todd Gurley — can make.

Harry: Austin Hooper

Welp, this one hasn’t gone well. Hooper has been the least of the Falcons’ worries in an offense that has been nothing like it was in 2016.

Jeanna: Grady Jarrett

Jarrett has played well for the Falcons this season. But he doesn’t hold a candle to the magic Jared Goff is making behind center for the Rams.

Adam: Jared Goff

This pick is worth a victory lap. I thought he’d take a step forward, but it was tough to imagine he’d go from bustville to offensive juggernaut like that.

Hoss of the year

At this point, it’s got to be Joey Bosa. Von Miller is just one-half of a sack behind him, but the second-year Chargers defensive end is the only player in NFL history to record 19 sacks in his first 20 games.

Harry: Von Miller

Miller has had a good season with eight sacks. He’s three behind league leader Calais Campbell, and could catch fire and make a second-half push.

Jeanna: Khalil Mack

Mack is still the best player on that side of the ball for the Raiders. His contributions just aren’t showing up on the stat sheet this season.

Adam: Joey Bosa

Through eight games, Bosa has 8.5 sacks. That’s pretty damn good. It still feels like his season is flying under the radar, though. Maybe that’s because of the Chargers’ 3-5 record and struggling run defense.

Most disrespectful blocker of the year

This one was harder to project. Trent Williams did get the nod in Week 1. And the Cowboys offensive line is gelling at just the right time for Tyron Smith’s crew to get a mention after Week 9.

Harry: Tyron Smith

Smith is still one of the best left tackles in the game, but he’s dealt with back soreness for most of the season and will miss his first game of the season in Week 10.

Jeanna: Ryan Schraeder

He hasn’t landed in Geoff Schwartz’s Disrespectful Blockers of the Week roundup yet. But his absence was felt when he was sidelined with a concussion during the Falcons’ narrow win over the Lions and their loss to Buffalo.

Adam: Trent Williams

It’s been a good, not great year for Trent Williams who has dealt with knee problems for much of the year. A decent year for the Washington left tackle is better than most people’s best years, but 2017 has been forgettable by his standards.

Rookie who will make the biggest impact

Another category swayed by injury. Dalvin Cook was off to a promising start, but his rookie season was cut short by a torn ACL. The Panthers haven’t used McCaffrey to his full potential, and an injury delayed the start of Myles Garrett’s rookie season. Deshaun Watson would have been a shoo-in over every candidate listed here, but he’s out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL, too.

Harry: Dalvin Cook

I would like to take this time to personally apologize to Dalvin Cook and Aaron Rodgers. Clearly I jinxed you both.

Jeanna: Myles Garrett

I still think Garrett can live up to his first overall pick billing. He has four sacks through three games, which is a pretty great start.

Adam: Christian McCaffrey

He’s near the league lead in receptions so he’s making some kind of impact in Carolina. But 2.9 yards per carry and just three touchdowns is pretty underwhelming. Meh.

First coach to be fired

Remember when we all thought the Jets were definitely tanking? Well, they’re not. They’re 4-5. Bowles is not likely to go, but another coach in New York State may want to watch his back. Looking at you, Ben McAdoo. Adam may be right here by default. The Colts are a disaster.

Harry: Todd Bowles

If anything, I would argue Bowles has pretty much secured at least one more year with the team. Nobody saw them being as good as they’ve been. It will be interesting to see how much better they can be when they get long-term pieces in place.

Jeanna: Todd Bowles

The Jets are actually not bad, and Bowles has been able to coax a 4-5 performance out of his guys despite not having a ton of talent to work with.

Adam: Chuck Pagano

It’s actually kind of shocking the Colts have three wins considering they’re bad at, well, everything. Kudos to Pagano for that, I guess. It’s hard to imagine he’s the team’s coach in 2018, though.

The Dak Prescott Award for a rookie who came out of nowhere

Kareem Hunt. JuJu Smith-Schuster. Tarik Cohen. There are plenty of guys we should have named instead of the players we chose. But the whole point of a rookie who comes out of nowhere is that it’s almost impossible to project. None of the choices we made are getting a ton of opportunities.

Harry: Samaje Perine

Perine has had an up-and-down rookie year. When Rob Kelley was sidelined with an injury, Perine got his chance to be the lead back, but he didn’t make a huge impact. Chris Thompson’s breakout season has also taken away some of Perine’s opportunities.

Jeanna: Chris Godwin

Godwin hasn’t done much this season, though he hasn’t really gotten a shot. Maybe that will change in Week 10, when Mike Evans has to serve his one-game suspension for a fight with the Saints’ Marshawn Lattimore. Godwin will have Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing to him, but he still has a chance to make an impression.

Adam: Chris Carson

I should’ve known better than to pick a Seahawks running back. He looked good for about four games until the Seattle curse claimed him and he went on IR, because they’re not allowed to have good running backs, apparently.

Team that will most regret not signing Colin Kaepernick

Look: We weren’t wrong. It’s just that there are a lot of teams that should regret not signing the most experienced, talented free agent quarterback available. The Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans, Miami Dolphins, and Arizona Cardinals all come to mind. But the Jaguars are still an accurate and perfectly acceptable answer.

Harry: Jacksonville Jaguars

While they could have certainly benefitted from Kaepernick through the first half of the season, I think it’s safe to say the Broncos are the team regretting it the most at this point. The Texans will be a strong contender moving forward with Deshaun Watson out.

Jeanna: Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars’ defense is good enough to overcome Blake Bortles at quarterback to an extent. But this team might be unstoppable with a good signal caller.

Adam: Jacksonville Jaguars

There are bad teams that need Kaepernick more right now, but this prediction will 100 percent ring true if Bortles looks terrible in the playoffs and the Jaguars get bounced right away. That scenario is very realistic.

Playoff team nobody predicted

The Lions kept themselves in the mix for the postseason with a Week 9 win over the Packers, and the Eagles are the best team in the dang league right now. The other team is the Browns.

Harry: Philadelphia Eagles

Well now, I didn’t see them being the best team in the NFL through the first half of the season, but I’ll take all the credit. After all, not all my predictions have to be bad news for the selected, right?

Jeanna: Cleveland Browns

Sigh. Wishful thinking. Maybe next year, Browns fans.

Adam: Detroit Lions

I thought the Lions would be better than last year. They’re not. But they’re 4-4, navigated a tough schedule early, and have to get through Case Keenum, Brett Hundley and Mitchell Trubisky now. Things could be much worse.

Team that didn’t come close to meeting high expectations

The Raiders are 4-5, while the Falcons are 4-4. The Cowboys are 5-3, and Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension will finally start in Week 10. That makes this a much tougher road for Dallas. We’re all pretty much correct.

Harry: Oakland Raiders

I didn’t expect the Raiders to be as poor as they’ve been this season, but this holds up. Adam certainly appears to have this one locked up at this point, but things could always change.

Jeanna: Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys have been good, but not as good as last season. And they trail the Eagles by 2.5 games in the division.

Adam: Atlanta Falcons

Losing in the Super Bowl has a knack for bringing teams back down to Earth. Being 4-4 really isn’t that bad.

Most overrated player

Jeanna: Drew Brees

Brees ranks fifth in the league for passing yards this season and the Saints may not finish 7-9 for the first time in recent memory. I was wrong.

Adam: Derrick Henry

It doesn’t feel like anyone is talking about the Titans running back, so I don’t think overrated would be an appropriate label. Also, he’s been pretty good. Swing and a miss on this one.

Who will stop the Patriots?

As usual, it’s looking like nobody and nothing can stop the Patriots. Maybe the Eagles, if they both get to the Super Bowl. But it sure wasn’t the Falcons, and age isn’t slowing Brady down, either.

Harry: Pittsburgh Steelers

After all this drama they’ve gone through this season, the Steelers are genuinely one of the most fun teams to watch in the NFL. I’m feeling good about this one.

Jeanna: Atlanta Falcons

Yeah, the Patriots beat Atlanta 23-7. This didn’t work out.

Adam: Father Time vs. Tom Brady

Nope. Father Time lost this battle so bad that the Patriots traded away a 26-year-old quarterback just to rub it in.

Which player will be first to get fined for celebrating?

Wrong, wrong, and wrong. It was Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree, who was fined for a sack celebration involving hip thrusting. Three pumps still gets you a fine, Bud.

Harry: DeSean Jackson

I tried!

Jeanna: Josh Norman

Nobody would have guessed Dupree. I was torn between Norman and Odell Beckham Jr., and I would have been closer with OBJ.

Adam: Josh Norman

In a year that’s had fights and trash talk, who would’ve guessed that Norman would be on his best behavior?

MVP, Most Valued Punter

Both good choices. You can’t go wrong with two of the most entertaining punters in the league.

Harry: Marquette King

Marquette’s been pretty busy this season with the Raiders not as sharp as they were last season. But Johnny Hekker is clearly a generational talent at the position.

Jeanna: Marquette King

The Falcons’ Matt Bosher is a close second for the way he lays people out on the field. But Marquette King is always going to have my vote for this.

Adam: Johnny Hekker

He now has 36 punts downed inside the 20 and just two touchbacks since the beginning of 2016, but who’s counting? If you really aren’t convinced Johnny Hekker is a Madden cheat code at punter, look at his trick shot called “The Banana.”