First, there were 12 Big Game contenders. Wild Card Weekend whittled it down to eight, and after the divisional round, only four NFL teams remained. Now that the AFC and NFC championships were last weekend, we’re down to two teams to duke it out on the field on Sunday.
Again, we put our experts (this includes professional experts as well as other humans, plus actual animals, and a coin for good measure) to pick the winners of the championships. As evidenced after last week and the week before, some of our experts are pulling away from the pack, while others are content to twitch their tails and beg for treats.
As our experts sharpen their pencils (or claws) to choose this year’s Big Game winner, let’s take a look to see how they all fared after last weekend’s games.
It may come as no surprise that Kylo Ren, the pup, and Mike Golic, the human expert, are still leading the pack; both now sport a 9-1 record after they picked Atlanta and New England to advance to Sunday.
Directly behind this fearsome pair is NFL expert Dieter Kurtenbach, who is holding steady with an 8-2 record. Kurtenbach went astray when he picked Seattle and KC to advance to the championship round. Right behind him is amateur fan Matt, who rocks a 7-3 record. He erred when he chose the Chiefs and Cowboys to do the same and picked the Steelers to advance to the final showdown. Still not bad, considering they’re about as accurate as many of our animal pals!
Speaking of which, here are a handful of awesome critters who also hold a strong 7-3 record: Korra the cat, Dibs the bearded dragon, Chester the dog, and Polly the dog. We also have to mention former NFL great Michael Irvin, who’s picking as well as a beardie, and the FiveThirtyEight Data Lab, which is doing the same.
Coiney, our completely impartial and totally random pick picker, is doing about the same as it did last week, currently holding a .500 record.
Of course, we have a few mentions at the opposite end. Baby Leo edged up a spot with a 4-6 record, and our fave half-blind doggie Riggins is finally not in the last place, as he thought the Patriots were on their way to their ninth championship ring. This means the little cat Artemisia has dropped behind ol’ Riggins and holds steady at two correct picks and eight incorrect choices.
Big Game Picks
Now, most of our humans and animals have made their picks for the Big Game on Sunday, Feb. 5. Kylo, our top playoff pickin’ hound, thinks New England will be taking home their fifth Vince Lombardi Trophy. Ella the cat, standing strong at 8-2, thinks it’ll be Atlanta taking home their first instead.
Other picks for New England include Dibs the bearded dragon, Margie the human non-fan, Matt’s Grandma, Roofus the cat, and Bentley the dog.
Those gunning for Atlanta include Ella the cat, Tyler the amateur fan, Drake the dog, Coiney the coin, and Riggins the dog.
Who will come out on top Sunday night? Will Kylo still be the top dog, or will Ella the cat join him as the best picking critters out there?
Our “animal experts” were pets submitted by members of the Fanatics.com 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.