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By Brien O’Donal
As the NFL offseason rolls on the only thing fans really have to get excited about are the myriad rankings and lists published by media outlets. While these are exciting, they serve only an entertainment purpose. And yet, I read in comment sections and hear on radio, fans expressing pleasure or dismay at where their team or player found themselves on said list. It’s June folks. All of these rankings and lists are based on teams that won’t look the same way in September.
My favorite one is the NFL Top 100 Players list put out by the NFL Network. The highlights and videography are pretty fun to watch. But that list is made of polling other players in the league. Just because Jordy Nelson came in at #48 and I think he should be higher, I won’t get worked up about it. I have seen writing from Packer fans expressing how bogus that ranking is and surely Jordy belongs in the top 10. In their mind the top 22 should all be the Packers’ starters. I’m sure there are Texans fans who think it should be their guys occupying all the top spots. I’m being a bit facetious, but not too much. These people do exist.
I know we all love our teams and believe they will go 16-0 next year and every ranking that doesn’t have them #1is bogus. Let’s be real about this folks. All these lists are based on prior year stats and perceptions. The NFL is not a crystal ball business where we can know the outcome before it happens. As entertaining as all this is, it has to remain as such. Right now every team is a paper tiger. Take the Jaguars, for example. It seems they have won the offseason the past few years now. They have added tons of talent and every offseason are predicted to be competitive in a weak division. It has yet to play out that way and everyone who thought as much in the offseason had to walk back their assessments.
I know analytics plays a large part in the offseason lists and I like how complicated they can be sometimes but once the games start it’s all a crapshoot. Even the most basic one such as strength of schedule changes week to week as the season goes on. About a month ago I wrote an article for this site about how I thought the season would play out just based on the schedule. That was done before the draft even happened. There’s no way what I said then holds true three months from now. I’m sure someone read that and agreed with me and thought that their team has a shot to win it all. In June, everyone has a shot to win it all, even the Browns.
I want everyone to enjoy this part of the NFL offseason as much as they can. I know; it’s boring. I know; lists and rankings are exciting. I know; you think your team is the best. Right now though; every team is the best. It’s about what happens on the gridiron. Enjoy the lists but don’t put too much stock in stats and predictions based on last season’s results.