Every year, 12 football teams vie for the ultimate victory at the end of the NFL season – the Vince Lombardi Trophy. The days leading up to each playoff weekend are rife with analysis and predictions from former players and experts. Predicting the outcome, however, isn’t an easy task, as games can go in either direction at the drop of a hat.
Here at Fanatics.com, we decided to turn to some experts of our own. In addition to random football fans and professionals who know a thing or two about the game, we checked in with some furry experts … and yes, we do indeed mean pets. Super cute and adorable pets.
Who Are the Experts?
We had a wide variety of experts on hand to pick the winners of each playoff game. In addition to Coiney, our trusted flip coin, and the data lab from FiveThirtyEight, we checked in with the “real” experts. This includes former player Mike Golic, who now opines for ESPN, and Michael Irvin, former wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys, who spends time roaming the desks at NFL Network.
We also put the expertise of a few sports journalists to task. FOX Sports writer Dieter Kurtenbach’s picks are here on display, as are Mike Florio’s (he’s a writer for and creator of Pro Football talk).
We also talked to a few amateur fans. Tyler is a huge Saints fan whose picks might be more from the heart than from strong statistical analysis. We also have 5-month-old Leo and a grandmother from the U.K. There are also a few non-fans, like Margie, who picked on a whim.
The pets, though, may be stealing the show. Dogs, cats, fish, a gecko, and a bearded dragon made playoff picks. Obviously, these are no ordinary pets.
For example, 10-year-old Albert is a Yorkie who also answers to “Sir Snuggles,” and he’s just fine with that. Shorty, a miniature dachshund, may just be a bandwagon fan, but we’re not telling anyone. Another dog, named Kylo, is a very spoiled only child, much like his namesake. And Charley, who was rescued when he was 2 years old, spends his time trashing his owner’s bed and barking a whole bunch.
As far as cats go, Molly is a catnip freak, and Roofus tends to fixate on laser pointers. Basil spent his youth chasing footballs and hockey pucks … on the TV screen (which obviously makes him an expert in NFL picks), and Korra spends her days perfecting her litter box skills.
Finally, Dibs – the bearded dragon – spends his days stressing out about his reflection, and Tunachi, the fish, is the perfect impartial picker.
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 placed them in bowls. There were no hard rules for how the choices had to be made, except that owners were not allowed to influence the choices.
Ranking the Contenders After Wild Card Weekend
The Wild Card Weekend has come and gone. How did our experts fare?
It seems our coin toss got them all – that’s right, the most random expert on the board was four for four. Check out amateur fan Matt, who avoided picking with his Southern Florida heart and was 100 percent on his picks last weekend. Former defensive lineman Mike Golic was also in the top spot.
We even had a few adorable animals bat 1.000. Korra, the cat, along with Kylo and Vinny, the dogs, were on fire with their picks. How did they complete this amazing feat? What are they eating that’s giving them all this brainpower? Most importantly, will they keep this trend going?
However, not every animal pal did well this past weekend. A couple of dogs failed pretty hard. Riggins, the pooch, chose all the losers in the contests, as did poor little Albert (a.k.a. “Sir Snuggles”). We can’t blame them, though, because they’re canines (also, Riggins can’t see out of one eye, so cut him some slack).
On the human side, one of our non-fan “experts” also put up a huge zero, so picking ’em wrong is not just limited to four-legged creatures. Even professional sports writer Mike Florio only correctly picked two out of four times.
While Wild Card Weekend was a snoozefest and lacked a ton of drama (all four home teams and higher seeds won their respective contests), there were a few big moments as the winning teams all hit their stride while bowling over their opponents. On the AFC side, Le’Veon Bell certainly turned heads with his unique and super patient rushing attack, and Jadeveon Clowney demonstrated a circus-like acrobatic interception that defensive players dream of. For NFC teams, Aaron Rodgers threw a Hail Mary – again – that was caught for a touchdown – again. We also can’t overlook Doug Baldwin’s fantastic catch … with his butt.
This Weekend’s Games
This weekend is the divisional round when the winners of each of the four games will head to their respective conference championship. Houston rolls into Foxborough as a huge underdog, making New England an easy pick for most of our experts, but not everyone has Tom Brady fever – Vinny, the dog, threw caution to the wind, picking Houston to shock the world with a win in the Northeast.
The rest of the games are more evenly matched (at least, according to Vegas), and the picks coming in reflect that, with some going toward Kansas City. However, Shorty, one of the pups finding himself in the pick ’em pound this week, picked Pittsburgh instead.
Who do you think is going to come out of this weekend with a win?
Cuteness Overload in the NFL
No matter what picks these pets make, they are all super cute (even the fish). Above all, they are loved very much by their humans, who are going to completely overlook their totally wrong NFL playoff picks and instead give them more smooches, catnip, crickets, or dog treats – because that’s what they deserve.
Our pets aren’t the only ones who deserve a treat. Did your team make the playoffs? Celebrate the occasion by buying some gear from Fanatics.com. Even if your team missed out, it’s never too early to start dreaming about next year.
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.