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CBSSports.com Senior Writer

Power Rankings: Reflecting on misses, hits as playoffs loom


Updated Jan. 4

It's always funny at the end of the season to look back and see how wrong we all were about our NFL predictions.

Jason Garrett led the sinking Cowboys to a 3-3 finish. (Getty Images)  
Jason Garrett led the sinking Cowboys to a 3-3 finish. (Getty Images)  
The CBSSports.com Power Rankings are a good barometer to see how much I messed up in September.

In comparing my first batch of Power Rankings, which I did right before the regular season, to the final rankings, the differences are plenty.

Among the highlights -- or lowlights, in my case -- are:

 I had the Cincinnati Bengals at No. 8 in my first rankings. They finished 29th mainly because Carson Palmer struggled and a defense I thought would be dominant wasn't very good.

 The Dallas Cowboys, a team I had in the second spot to open the season, finished 21st. They stumbled out of the gate and fired their coach. Even though they had success with Jason Garrett they failed to get to .500.

 I had the Kansas City Chiefs 27th in my first rankings. They ended up winning the AFC West and earning a playoff spot. I wrote that Matt Cassel had to show me more. He did. They finish at No. 10.

 The Chicago Bears were 22nd in my preseason rankings. I asked at the time if the Mike Martz-Jay Cutler relationship would be a disaster for Lovie Smith. Uh, I guess not.

NFL -- Week 17
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Of my top 10 teams to open the season, six made the playoffs. Aside from Dallas, the Chargers, Bengals and Vikings also missed the postseason after being ranked among the elite to start the season.

I do have to pat myself on the back for a few I got right. I had Atlanta in the third spot to open, a selection that drew criticism but they lived up to it. I also had the Patriots in the top 10 at No. 7 when most were saying they were ready for a fall. Atlanta and New England are the top seeds entering the playoffs in their respective conferences.

So there was good and bad. That's the unpredictability of the NFL.

The next Power Rankings will come out after the Super Bowl. There will be more after free agency and following the draft. Until then, enjoy the playoffs and remember we can never really predict what will happen in this wild league.


Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and is the self-anointed star of CBS Sports' show, Eye on Football. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.

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