Confidence is a necessity for professional athletes. If someone is lucky enough to make it to the professional level, they will need to have some amount of confidence in what they can do. If they don’t, it can be easy to get inside their heads and screw up their game; sometimes beyond repair.
Overconfidence can be both good and bad. It can be good in the sense that you believe in yourself so much that you refuse to quit when things get rough. However, at the same time, it can be bad if you end up talking too much and start writing checks you and/or your team can’t cash.
Combine overconfidence with the kind of bravado and ego that infects many NFL player once they start cashing multi-million dollar checks at the bank, and you lay the ground work for some crazy predictions for the coming season.
And there have been some real doozies this year. To be fair, some were crazier than others, and some were not the least bit crazy.
Let’s review some of the recent predictions players have made (from not crazy at all to absolutely freaking nuts).
Dak Prescott: Dallas Cowboys will win the division again
Prescott’s is easily the least crazy of all the predictions made by players in recent weeks. Dallas won the division last year with a 13-3 record, two games better than the second place New York Giants. While the Dallas defense may not have gotten any better, the offense certainly didn’t get any worse. If anything, with a year of experience under his belt, Dak Prescott will be even better this season.
Prescott should feel confident about the Cowboys this season. It would be more alarming if he didn’t.
As for the rest of the division, the Giants offense is still terrible, Carson Wentz is not nearly as good as most people seem to think, and Washington is counting on inexperienced wide receivers to step up (or fail, so they have an excuse to undercut Kirk Cousins’ salary demands).
Foster: 19-0 for the Steelers?
To be fair to Ramon Foster, he didn’t exactly predict the Pittsburgh Steelers would go 19-0, but he did allude to the possibility.
“We just have to make it happen,” Foster said. “We say all of this stuff about what we can and should do. Making it happen is going to be the biggest proponent of it. We can say we are going to go 19-0, but until that happens, until everybody is on the same page, none of that happens. That is what camp is for.”
Could the Steelers go undefeated? Yes, it is possible. But it can also be said that it’s possible for the Browns to go undefeated. Pittsburgh has the talent on offense to get the job done. But the defense has a ways to go before it is good enough for anyone to make that claim about the Steelers.
Malik Jackson: Jacksonville Jaguars? Winning the Super Bowl?
Next to the Cleveland Browns, there is one other team in the NFL that has excelled at losing—the Jacksonville Jaguars. So, when defensive tackle Malik Jackson said he feels the Jaguars can not only make the Super Bowl but they can win it, the reaction was what you’d expect.
People laughed. They laughed long, and they laughed hard. But, to be fair, there is something to be said for his logic.
“That’s what I believe and, until we lose, that’s when I’ll believe different,” Jackson told The Simms and Lefkoe Podcast. “The Panthers did it. If the Panthers can do it after the season they had (going from 7-8-1 in 2014 to the Super Bowl in 2015) … But we’re going to win the Super Bowl. If they can do it, why can’t we?”
It’s a fair statement. But there is a big difference in going from 7-8-1 to 15-1 and going from 3-13 to the Super Bowl. Jacksonville has the talent on the roster to get it done, but they’ve had the talent for years. They just don’t have a clue how to use it.
As crazy as his prediction is, it isn’t the craziest. That honor belongs to either New York Jets defensive lineman Leonard Williams or New York Giants defensive lineman Jason Pierre-Paul.
Williams: The Jets are a team that can win the Super Bowl
To be fair, he didn’t say the Jets are going to win the Super Bowl this season. He simply stated he believes in the talent that the team has and that it has the potential to win one sooner rather than later.
Umm…has he seen his team? With the talent flush the team had during the offseason it is hard to imagine the Jets winning eight games anytime soon, let alone enough to make it to the Super Bowl. The quarterback situation is horrific, the offensive line is mediocre on a good day, as is the running game, and they don’t have a true No. 1 wide receiver (or even a No. 2). The defense isn’t very good either.
But he isn’t basing his logic off the team’s talent.
“I know how much talent we have on our team. I think at this level it’s not about who’s the most talented. It’s about who’s the most together as a team and who’s going to play well with each other and have the least amount of mistakes,” Williams said, per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News.
He makes a good point, but he forgets about the talented teams that play well with each other. Their chances of winning are going to be substantially higher.
Pierre-Paul: Giants can do undefeated, if…
The New York Giants are a good team, but are they good enough to go undefeated? Defensive lineman Jason Pierre-Paul seems to think so. That is, as long as the team does one thing.
“I feel like no spot is weak,” he told Newsday recently. “I feel like with the players that we have, as long as we all work together, we’ll be undefeated. Nobody can defeat you when you all are working together.”
Working together is important. But it will take a lot more than that to save the Giants offense. The offensive line is not very good. The running game is terrible, and Odell Beckham Jr. may need some help understanding the concept of ‘working together.’
The Giants will win games because of their defense, but they will not have a perfect September, let alone a perfect season.