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CBSSports.com Senior NFL Columnist

Power Rankings: Playoff-bound Bengals, Niners make me look bad

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Updated Jan. 3

There's nothing more humbling than at the end of every NFL season when I look back to the first batch of CBSSports.com Power Rankings, the set I did before the games kicked off for real.

It's even more stinging than looking at my picks record for the season.

Each year, the differences between the rankings from the open of the season to those at the end are drastic.

None has ever been as drastic as the Cincinnati Bengals this year. They opened at No. 32 in the first Power Rankings.

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Now they're going to the playoffs.

How wrong could I be?

Even though I liked quarterback Andy Dalton coming out of TCU, I wasn't sure he could make the transition so quickly. Now here he is as a starter for a playoff team.

Of the 10 teams that opened the season in my top 10, four failed to make the playoffs. They were the Chargers, Cowboys, Eagles and Jets. Hey, the first four all made it.

Some more bad: I had the Rams 15th and the Lions 20th. Not good. The Rams fired their coach, while the Lions are in the playoffs.

The worst of all involves the 49ers. I had them 26th to open the season and here they are as the second seed in the NFC. At the time, I was unsure about their offense -- kind of still am -- and didn't know how Jim Harbaugh would adjust to the NFL. I was so wrong.

It's so tough to pick weekly winners, let alone stacking the teams before the season. I did have the Packers and Patriots 1-2 atop the rankings to open the season. They both earned the top seed in their respective conferences, but didn't most of you think they were the best to open the season?

Hey, give me a break. I have to point out some good. It wasn't all bad. But boy, did I whiff on the Bengals and 49ers.

RANK TEAM MOVE (LW)

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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