Revisiting my 2010 NFL predictions
Alex Smith was poised for breakout, but career in S.F. likely over now
Panthers entered the season without true No. 1 QB and it showed
More thoughts on Super Bowl teams, Bill Cowher and Brett Favre
Throughout the 2010 NFL season, SI.com's Nick Zaccardi has worked with Jerome Bettis to get the six-time Pro Bowl running back's observations about the latest happenings in the league. Bettis retired from the NFL in 2006 after a 13-year career and is a semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2011.
I was hit and miss with my preseason predictions:
Best team that won't make the playoffs: Dolphins. "They're going to be good, but they don't have enough offensive firepower yet to be on the elite stage. Unfortunately, they're stuck in the same division as the Jets and Patriots."
I was partially right here. They didn't have enough, and defensively they weren't very good, but the Dolphins did defeat the Packers and the Jets on the road before losing their last three games.
Team with the worst record: Panthers. "They don't have a quarterback. When you don't have a quarterback in the NFL, you're not going to be a really good football team."
Carolina did finish with the worst record (2-14). Rookie quarterbacks need time to develop, but so far it doesn't look like Jimmy Clausen is the answer.
Star who has a subpar season: Adrian Peterson, Vikings. "Because Sidney Rice is (injured), teams are going to force Brett Favre to beat them without his No. 1 target, which means Peterson is going to catch the brunt of defenses."
Peterson finished with 1,298 rushing yards, sixth in the league but still his lowest total as a pro. It wasn't close to the year he and the Vikings were capable of having.
Non-star who has breakout season: Alex Smith, 49ers. "The weapons around him are getting better, the offensive line is getting better, and I think he also has got a better understanding of what it takes to play quarterback in this league."
I missed on this one. Everything went wrong in San Francisco. The team underperformed. The coaching staff failed. It all fell apart. The former No. 1 pick's career may be salvageable, but not with the 49ers.
Coach who won't be back in 2011: John Fox, Panthers. "I don't care for Fox's quarterback situation. Instead of going for a veteran to be a backup, they went for a rookie. I like Clausen, but you've got to have somebody there in case (Matt) Moore isn't the guy at your most important position.
Sure enough, Fox won't be back in Carolina. He was a pretty good coach, going 71-57 before this year's debacle, with a Super Bowl appearance in his second season. He was never able to get over the hump and string together winning seasons though.
Player who won't be back in 2011: Derrick Mason, Ravens. "Football demands that it's No. 1 in your life. As you get older, football becomes less of a priority. I think Mason is at that stage."
Mason has entertained thoughts of retiring in the past, but he played like a receiver who has at least another good year left in him. Mason played every game for the eighth straight season and caught at least 60 passes for the 11th straight year.
Game I'm looking forward to most: Redskins at Eagles, Oct. 3. "How are the Philly fans going to receive Donovan McNabb? He rejuvenated that franchise and brought it to elite status."
The Week 4 matchup, a 17-12 Redskins win, was one of the more memorable games of the season. It marked the highlight of the Redskins' season as well. All facets of the game were really on point for that brief moment. Then we saw a complete team collapse and the head coach unfold as well.
I'd like to revise my playoff predictions. I correctly picked six playoff teams, and my Super Bowl prediction of Chargers over Packers is equally off target. I don't like the Packers' chances of winning multiple road playoff games, so I'll go with both top seeds, Atlanta and New England, to play in Super Bowl XLV.
Check back on Friday for my complete playoff picks, along with other SI.com NFL contributors.
A few more quick thoughts ...
-- I don't think Bill Cowher will be coaching next season. Looking at the openings, it is highly unlikely he would leave his broadcasting chair to take any of the jobs available.
-- I'm not as concerned with the Chiefs as most others are. The Charlie Weis situation shouldn't be a distraction. If the head coach were leaving, sure, that would be a major problem. But Weis, the offensive coordinator, isn't getting fired. He's not in any trouble at all. He's merely taking another job. And it's not even another NFL job. It shouldn't affect the players, and it shouldn't affect Weis' ability to call plays.
I'm not worried about the Chiefs' Week 17 loss, either. They already had the division wrapped up and had no shot at a first-round playoff bye. Playoff-bound teams that have little or nothing to gain usually don't prepare very well for their finale. If the Chiefs lose to the Ravens, it won't be because of Weis' move or what happened against the Raiders.
-- Now that Brett Favre's career is realistically over, I hope people will dwell on all his great achievements as opposed to the negatives from this year. Where does he fit among all-time NFL greats? I'd call him the No. 1 competitor; he came to play every single week. From a durability standpoint, he gets the nod as the best ever. His career didn't end the way it should have, but few players get to choose how their career ends, and the majority of the time no one really remembers how somebody's career ended anyway. For example, who remembers that Franco Harris' career ended with the Seahawks? Or Earl Campbell ended his career with the Saints? Or Tony Dorsett with the Broncos? What people remember is the greatness players achieved. With that said, Favre is always going to be remembered as a Green Bay Packer.