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March of the Season Preview Issues

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USA Today has published a composite of all 2006 NFL predictions from all the various season preview issues, such as Street & Smith and Athlon. Which is to say I just saved fifty bucks I would've blown at the Fremont Newsstand.

All five publishers pick the Carolina Panthers to make the Super Bowl, but disagree on their AFC counterparts:

Athlon: Indianapolis defeats Carolina
Lindy's: Carolina defeats Denver
ProFootball Weekly: Carolina defeats Indianapolis
Sporting News: Pittsburgh defeats Carolina
Street & Smith's: Carolina defeats Denver
I'm sure I don't have to tell you that the huge problem with these publications is that they go to press well before the start of summer camps, and therefore can't factor in crucial off-season developments. Case-in-freakin'-point: Ben Roethlisberger's recent traffic mishap which, fairly or not, might have affected some experts' predictions regarding Pittsburgh.

Plus... well, let's just take a look at those publications' 2005 predictions, shall we?

Athlon: Baltimore defeats Philadelphia
Lindy's: New England defeats Atlanta
ProFootball Weekly: Philadelphia defeats Indianapolis
Sporting News: Philadelphia defeats Indianapolis
Street & Smith's: Philadelphia defeats Indianapolis
Oh, what the hell, it's Friday. Here's 2004!
Athlon: New England defeats Philadelphia
Lindy's: Kansas City defeats St. Louis
ProFootball Weekly: Indianapolis defeats Philadelphia
Sporting News: Denver defeats Seattle
Street & Smith's: New England defeats Philadelphia
Well, Athlon did get it right in '04, as did Street & Smith's, who started in the publishing business by making pulp fiction books.

You can't take predictions seriously, of course; I don't think anybody who writes them expects you to. Pre-season predictions made in May aren't much good for anything except false hope or self-persecution. In that respect they're like religious tracts, except thicker.

I still love those preview issues, though. They're fairly useful for rosters, state-of-the-league analyses, and fantasy stuff. And big pictures for when I don't want to read anything. But, like someone commented on this board a couple days ago, despite these fine publications' predictions, we'll still have to play the games this season.