Unlike a panel of experts at a certain outfit in Bristol, Connecticut, I go back to my pre-season predictions and own up to them.
And like all 16 panelists over at ESPN, I did not pick the Washington Redskins to make the NFL playoffs.
I also did not have the Minnesota Vikings going anywhere near post-season.
But I did pick the Indianapolis Colts for the playoff!
As a one-time Indy coach would say…PLAYOFFS!!!???
To recap my pre-season won-loss predictions on each team…
- I picked the correct won-loss records for four teams, and within a half-game on a fifth.
- I was within one game on 12 other teams, meaning I was only within one win/loss on 17 of 32 teams in all.
- I correctly picked five of the six AFC playoff participants, including all four division winners, which were the same as last year. I also picked two of the NFC Division champs, only missing on the NFC East and the NFC West, where I picked a bit of an upset that didn’t quite happen. In all I got nine of the 12 playoff teams right.
- I had the correct finishing order in two of the eight divisions.
All in all, not a bad body of work – now for the capsule reviews…
New England 13-3 (predicted 12-4)
As I said pre-season, the Patriots would not have a difficult time keeping things on cruise control without much competition in the AFC East. And they wound up with the #2 seed in the playoffs.
Miami 7-9 (predicted 3-13)
I had the Dolphins with an awful record not knowing how quickly Ryan Tannehill would develop, among other factors. Next year will be key in determining whether Miami can make the next step to contender.
NY Jets 6-10 (predicted 6-10)
Turns out I had the record right on easily the most overhyped team in the NFL. In the aftermath, GM Mike Tannenbaum ended up going down on New Year’s Eve along with the Christmas ornaments.
Buffalo 6-10 (predicted 7-9)
The Bills were a Wild Card pick by some prognosticators, I was not among them. If Ken Whisenhunt indeed takes over in Orchard Park, he will have the same deal he had to deal with last few years in Arizona, finding an upgrade at quarterback.
Baltimore 11-5 (predicted 10-6)
The Ravens have a tall order (Denver/New England on road if they can beat Indianapolis) if they are to make my pre-season pick of winning it all come true. The team had little momentum in December, but the Ray Lewis retirement announcement suddenly makes things interesting
Cincinnati 10-6 (predicted 7-9)
The Bengals make the playoffs for third time in four years, but you can tell the team still isn’t getting respect with early Saturday Wild Card slot – which has a ‘First Four’ feel to it. The Bengals are sick of seeing Mike Mayock, I’m sure, so they would like to get past first round this time around.
Pittsburgh 8-8 (predicted 10-6)
Slowly unraveled throughout the year, and 2013 will be key in seeing if Mike Tomlin’s team can turn it around. Ben Roethlisberger and Troy Polamalu are among those now on the back-nine of their careers.
If things get worse Behind the Steel Curtain, they can always give homie Mike McCarthy a call.
Cleveland 5-11 (predicted 6-10)
Winning a pre-season game in Green Bay remains one of the most significant victories in recent Browns history. Now under new management, the Browns will be starting over yet again in ’13.
Houston 12-4 (predicted 11-5)
For much of the season it appeared the Texans had taken the next step to elite, but after limping to the regular season finishing line they have the exact same #3 seed as last year. Houston won in Denver early in the year, but if they get past the WC round next stop would be New England, where they were routed in December.
Indianapolis 11-5 (predicted 8-8)
Not one of the 17 teams that I came within a game of predicting the correct record. How could I possibly be three games off? But almost no one had Blue Horseshoe anywhere close to 8-8, and there were a lot of 2-14/3-13 predictions back in August. That was before the Chuck Pagano health situation occurred, which turned out to be one of NFL stories of this year and any recent year.
Tennessee 6-10 (predicted 7-9)
Going even back to his U-Dub Huskies days, I have never been sold on Jake Locker. This organization has to make a decision soon on whether he is a long-term answer.
Jacksonville 2-14 (predicted 5-11)
I did not predict the Jaguars to do much, and they didn’t even match that expectation. At least if they could repeat 2-14 next year they can be in the Jadeveon Clowney Sweepstakes.
Denver 13-3 (predicted 10-6)
I hedged my bets with the Broncos pre-season not knowing how far back Peyton Manning would be able to make it. If you believe the Vegas books, the Broncos are now slight favorites to win it all – but Brady/Belichick will likely be in the way in the Conference Championship.
If they get past that – a possible Super Bowl re-dux w/Green Bay 15 years later??
San Diego 7-9 (predicted 7-9)
I usually have the Chargers pegged for around the right record, and at least it was bad enough to finally chase Norv Turner/A.J. Smith out. The record is especially bad considering the other garbage in the division.
Oakland 4-12 (predicted 6-10)
Remember when Al Davis proclaimed his team as the “most successful team in pro sports history.” Somewhere Mike Shanahan is LHAO.
Kansas City 2-14 (predicted 8-8)
The team I was farthest off on. Some people had the Chiefs sneaking into the Wild Card. But to put things into perspective, KC had five players selected to the Pro Bowl (including punter Dustin Colquitt, who got lot of practice). By comparison the Green Bay Packers had three Pro Bowl invites. At least there is talent in KC. It can be turned around if they find a QB and the proper front office people.
Washington 10-6 (predicted 6-10)
I thought going in the Redskins had potential but that there would be too much competition in the NFC East, even if RG3 was good out of the box. The Skins proved me wrong, I own up to it.
NY Giants 9-7 (predicted 11-5)
Always hard to figure out this team. There were weeks (routing Niners and Packers) where they looked every bit ready to repeat as champions, and other weeks where they proved not even playoff worthy, which is where NYG wound up.
Dallas 8-8 (predicted 7-9)
It’s hard to believe that the Tony Romo era is now 6 ½ years old, but there are other problems on the team besides him. The Cowboys were losing at some juncture in every one of their 16 league games.
Philadelphia 4-12 (predicted 8-8)
Unbelievable how many people were still drinking the “Dream Team Kool-Aid” before the season. One of the 16 ESPN writers even picked the Eagles to win it all. At least Andy Reid gets to land on his feet. Michael Vick? Not nearly as sure.
Green Bay 11-5 (predicted 11-5)
If I’m not mistaken, I also correctly predicted the exact won-loss record of the Milwaukee Brewers this year. I pretty much know how teams in my neck of the woods are going to wind up. The Packers are good, but not Super Bowl good – and they proved it again last Sunday in Minneapolis. Incredibly, nine of the 16 ESPN writers picked GB to win it all pre-season.
And Greg Jennings? Enjoy next year in Miami. His career will slowly go the Javon Walker route.
Minnesota 10-6 (predicted 5-11)
Remember back in August Adrian Peterson was questionable for Week 1 and was going to split carries with Toby Gerhart early on? I write this while pounding my head for not drafting AP in Round 1 or even Round 2 of fantasy drafts. I just though there was too much talent in the division for the Purple to make this type of quantum-leap.
Chicago 10-6 (predicted 9-7)
Jay Cutler dominates, but I’m not sure exactly what he dominates. Actually, despite the second half slide the Bears were not bad, and they were the only 10-win team to miss the post-season. But not making the playoffs in five of the last six seasons cost Lovie Smith his job. Also, while no teams would dare use injuries as an excuse, Cutler and Brian Urlacher both got hurt at the wrong times down the stretch.
Could Mike Holmgren actually be an option at this late date in his coaching career??
Detroit 4-12 (predicted 7-9)
I predicted a regression with the Lions this year, but they even exceeded my expectations of making stupid mistakes and not being able to close games. Matthew Stafford wound up throwing a league-record 700+ times. That can’t continue. The team has to find a running game somewhere.
Atlanta 13-3 (predicted 12-4)
My pre-season NFC champ pick does have the #1 seed on the NFC bracket. Now they can look forward to their next playoff game on 1/13/13 at 1300 hours. Sounds like a better time to hold a wedding than a NFC Divisional playoff.
Carolina 7-9 (predicted 9-7)
It was a three-way tie for second, six games behind the A-T-L. A four-game winning streak made the Panthers’ final won-loss record respectable, but it might not be enough to save HC Ron Rivera’s job.
New Orleans 7-9 (predicted 6-10)
A roving MSF correspondent reported seeing billboards in the New Orleans market proclaiming commissioner Roger Goodell as Scrooge during the holiday season. The sanctions and distractions before the season did not help – neither did one of the worst run defenses in recent memory.
Tampa Bay 7-9 (predicted 6-10)
The Bucs had their moments this year, and they hit the jackpot selecting RB Doug Martin. Quarterback remains a question mark though. Josh Freeman (54.8% completion) is another whom the jury is very much still out on.
San Francisco 11-4-1 (predicted 11-5)
OK – so I was a half-game off, but if I could somehow predict tie games then I would get in the psychic business. I’m just geeked about Luck/RG3/Russell Wilson/Kaepernick all being in the tournament.
Now if the Niners can only fix their kicking game. Billy Cundiff has been brought in as “competition” for David Akers. Please – don’t have a game come down to a last minute kick, for everyone’s sake.
Seattle 11-5 (predicted 11-5)
The Seahawks were my bold pick to win the NFC West, and it turns out I wasn’t that far off. A probable trip to Atlanta awaits if they can win in Washington in Round 1 of the playoffs. And I actually like Russell Wilson over a banged-up RGIII this weekend.
St. Louis 7-8-1 (predicted 6-10)
The Rams came on this year and progressed a bit faster than I was expecting. The days of the NFC West being a weak division are fast coming to an end.
Arizona 5-11 (predicted 6-10)
The possible hiring of Andy Reid would be a step in the right direction. If he could somehow get Alex Smith to come over as a QB that would even be better – but I have a feeling the 49ers will find a team outside their division to trade him too. There is talent on the Arizona roster though, and still don’t think they’re far off.
“REVISED” SUPER BOWL PREDICTION
I originally had Baltimore beating Atlanta. Maybe I had Primitive Radion Gods too much on my mind, as in…‘Plane takes off from Baltimore, lands on Bourbon Street…’
Actually the Ravens and Falcons are birds of prey still in play – but not many Talking Heads (another great retro band) like their chances.
The Broncos are now a trendy pick along with the Patriots, as everyone has bailed on the Texans.
On the NFC side, everyone is assuming the A-T-L will be one and done at home, with many liking the 49ers and others suddenly jumping on the Seahawks bandwagon.
But don’t you think the entire Ravens franchise will rally around Ray Ray now? As for the Falcons, maybe not getting respect will prove to be the best thing.
I’ll confess I was half-ready to switch to say, a Denver/San Francisco prediction, but what the heck…
I’ll stick with Ravens over Falcons. It’s already been proven that going with the rest of the mainstream media does not always pays dividends…