It was late April, and the NFL schedule had come out and even with the draft approaching, there were hours to fill at the NFL Network.
So various analysts would break down the game-by-game schedule of teams around the league, and former running back Heath Evans was asked to run down the schedule of the Arizona Cardinals.
"It's funny, if you talk to a couple of my producers at the network, they have to make me do that stuff, because I hate being wrong," Evans said.
In this case, that wasn't a problem.
As Evans ticked off his choices one by one, the victories – on the board – piled up. He had the Cardinals finishing 11-5 for the season, but at the time that meant little. In hindsight, it's been incredible.
Through 15 games, Evans' picks in April have been correct every single week. Evans said the Cardinals would start 3-0, would win in
Dallas, would slip in both their late November road games before righting the ship. To say the Cardinals would have a good season is one thing. To correctly predict every win and loss is much more impressive.
"If you give me a team like Seattle, a physically and mentally tough team like the Cardinals or the Patriots or the 2006-07 Pittsburgh Steelers, I would probably get 13 or 14 of those games right every year," Evans said. "This Cardinals team, I just fell in love with last year.
"They just had guys who played through injuries and played different positions and those are the type of characteristics that make up championship teams. For the Cardinals' sake and for Bruce Arians' sake, I hope Week 17 I am wrong."
The Cardinals still have one game left, in San Francisco. Evans picked the Cards to lose that game, and with rookie Logan Thomas at quarterback, the Cardinals will be the underdog in that one – although Evans said he isn't assuming that pick will turn out to be correct.
"This team could have made me wrong if this team was healthy," Evans said. "Sunday night (against Seattle) would've been a different story and this Sunday (against San Francisco) would be a different story, although I think there's still that chance for the Cardinals to win with Logan Thomas. I would've started Logan against the Seahawks against that fast defense, but I am nowhere near the genius B.A. is. I trust him."
Evans said he got to know the Cardinals well last season, when he was a color analyst for Fox. Evans did three straight Cardinals'
games early in the season – against the Lions, Saints and Buccaneers – and was able to meet with Arians and players before each game.
"I got the sense B.A. was building something special," Evans said.
Flash forward to the offseason, when Evans did his segment on the NFL Network. Having somehow matched the Cardinals' season-long march win by win by loss exactly – predicting the Cards would be 9-1? – is even more impressive when you factor in who the Cardinals still had at that point.
Evans said it's just been in the last couple of weeks when he was reminded of what he had picked -- and just how accurate he has been.
When Evans did his schedule rundown, linebacker Daryl Washington had yet to be suspended, much less have the injuries take down players like Darnell Dockett, John Abraham, Carson Palmer and Andre Ellington, or lose Jonathan Dwyer from an arrest.
Evans said if he had known at the time Dockett and Washington were gone, he might've adjusted the win total down a game or two.
"But then you tell me you're going to lose Carson and all the quarterbacks and the running backs?" Evans said. "Look, what Bruce has pulled off this year is spectacular. Hands down, Coach of the Year, again. It's crazy awesome what he's done."
It's fairly crazy awesome Evans has been able to be spot on with his predictions, too.
"I appreciate (the Cardinals) making me right," Evans said.