Predicting the NFL Playoff & Big Game Winners
We here at Fanatics gathered together a motley crew of NFL football experts to opine on the outcome of the 2016 NFL postseason and Big Game. As we’ve watched the teams drop off little by little each week, we’ve kept close tabs on our experts and their picks to see who’s fared the best and who hasn’t.
Have we mentioned our “experts” aren’t just humans? For starters, we’ve checked the picks of professional NFL experts, such as former pros and real sports journalists – who are all human. We also nabbed a few non-pro humans, including amateur fans and people who don’t really care who wins. Also thrown in for good measure are a coin (for flipping) and the FiveThirtyEight DataLab.
However, the charmers of our expert panel may be the critters. Yes, we’re totally working with pets to see who they’re picking to win it all. From a dog named Kylo that is running neck-and-neck with pro expert Mike Golic to a cat that likes to hang out with the neighborhood kitty gang to a fish that promises to be impartial, we’ve got a whole pet store up in here.
Here’s how they measured up.
The best of the best are made up of a pretty wild blend of experts, regular folks, and animals. Kylo the pup and Mike Golic have both exceeded expectations by correctly predicting the winners 90 percent of the time up through the conference championships. Ella the cat and Dieter Kurtenbach, who is a professional sports journalist, follow this dynamic front-running duo. Both clock in at 80 percent.
There is a massive six-way tie directly behind these folks, though, with Dibs the bearded dragon, Korra the cat, Polly the dog, Matt the amateur fan, former NFL player Michael Irvin, and the FiveThirtyEight DataLab all tied up at 70 percent.
Cats and Dogs and Experts, Oh My!
Breaking down the predictions, there is a pretty notable gap between those in the expert category (including former pros and sports journalists) and the rest of the pack. Experts have picked right 74 percent of the time, and everyone else, including cats and lizards, sit between 50 and 60 percent.
Random objects (ahem, our coin) and non-professional people are running the highest percentage (56 percent) of the non-experts, followed closely by dogs (54 percent), pets with scales (53 percent), and cats (50 percent).
Top and Bottom Picks
The most popular team pick throughout the playoffs has been the New England Patriots.
In fact, cats picked the Pats 75 percent of the time, while the scaly critters put their money on the team 67 percent of the time. Dogs preferred a combo of New England and Green Bay 64 percent of the time, while random objects and people had a three-way tie between New England, Green Bay, and Pittsburgh 57 percent of the time.
Interestingly, the least popular pick throughout the playoffs for three of these groups happens to be one of the teams headed to the Big Game. Cats only picked the Falcons 25 percent of the time, while random objects and people chose them 50 percent of the time. Pets with scales sided with Atlanta only 33 percent of the time. Dogs, however, picked Pittsburgh the least at a rate of 40 percent, and the football experts tagged Green Bay the least amount of time at 33 percent.
Pets and People Pick the Big Game
Overall, our panel of experts has pegged Atlanta to grab their first Vince Lombardi Trophy. They have a slight lead over the Patriots going into the match, with 52 percent picking the Falcons and 48 percent choosing the Patriots.
Breaking them down by category, cats, dogs, and random objects and people favored the Atlanta Falcons, with cats giving them the biggest edge at 62 percent (compared to 38 percent going to the New England Patriots).
Pets with scales, though, are staying cool across the board, with 100 percent of our scaly friends choosing Tom Brady and his merry band of football players to add another trophy to their current collection of four.
Go With Your Gut
The Big Game has come and gone, and the record-breaking event was not only one of the wildest games in NFL history, it also helped propel our top dog to the number one spot. Yes, you guessed it – Kylo, our number one animal expert, nimbly leaped over the most accurate human expert, Dieter Kurtenbach, and finished off this postseason with a 10 and 1 record. Nice work, Kylo!
Kurtenbach and Golic, both humans, wound up in 2nd and 3rd. These experts thought the Falcons were going to grab their first Lombardi. The FiveThirtyEight Data Lab also ended up the postseason tied for 3rd, picking the Patriots and finishing up at a respectable 8 and 3 – a record matched by former player Michael Irvin, Ella the cat, and Dibs the bearded dragon. Mike Florio, who picked New England, rounds up our top spots with a 7 and 4 record.
No matter who you’ve picked to win it all, check out the wide selection of NFL gear at Fanatics for your Big Game party.
Our “animal experts” were pets submitted by members of the Fanatics team. Pet owners were given cutouts of the logos for each playoff team and asked to record their furry (or scaly) friends’ choices. Some owners chose to put the logos on the ground, while others put them in a bowl. There were no hard rules for how the choices had to be made, except that owners were not allowed to influence the choices.
The real experts included in this study were selected at random from a pool of former NFL players and sports journalists who currently cover the NFL across a variety of networks and mediums.
No real playoff prediction would be complete without a “wild-card” element, hence our inclusion of random people and inanimate objects, like our beloved Coiney.
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