Revisitng my NFL Predictions

Back in July (aka before this blog existed), I posted this lengthy preview of the NFL season on my Tumblr and I thought it would be a fun idea to see how well I predicted things. I was bold on some picks and it payed off on a few…others not so much. Let’s go in the order it shows up on the page.

AFC West

Prediction:
1. San Diego (finished 2nd)

So, I was off on the Chargers winning the division again but who really saw the Chiefs being so good this year? I didn’t. I was right about Philip Rivers not losing his touch without Vincent Jackson, though. He was playing some of the best football of his career for awhile. The Chargers main flaw came on special teams, something I kind of neglected in my preview. As for my breakout candidate (Antoine Cason), he had 4 INT’s. Not sure if that’s a breakout season or not, though. I also said their defense would be fine without Merriman and they had the best defense in the league.

2. Oakland (finished 3rd)

Hey, I said they wouldn’t have double digit losses and they finished 8-8! Only thing is they fired Tom Cable because he’s basically an asshole. Oh well. I should have predicted that Darren McFadden would have a breakout season instead of Rolando McClain. It’s always cliche to go with the rookie but this was Run DMC’s last year to prove he’s not a bust and he was incredible this season. He could be the team’s MVP too but Nnamdi Asomugha is still one of the best cover corners in the league. Too bad he’s leaving next year.

3. Kansas City (finished 1st)

“The Chiefs are a long way away from being a playoff team again.” Oops. I did say they would start to improve, at least and that Jamaal Charles would be their MVP. You could argue that honor goes to Matt Cassel, though or Dwayne Bowe, who I said would be replaced by Chris Chambers. Oops. I did a slightly better job predicting the defense since I got Glenn Dorsey being a breakout candidate right. Wish I had said something about Tamba Hali or Eric Berry being in that category too.

4. Denver (finished 4th)

Saw them taking a huge step back and I was right. Wrong big time about Kyle Orton not being a QB who couldn’t win games, though. Also wrong about no one on the team being able to replace Brandon Marshall’s catches because Brandon Lloyd did that just fine. Then there’s the defense which I said would be one of the worst in the league since Elvis Dummervil didn’t play and they were definitely a wreck defensively. When you need to enlist Ty Law for help at corner, that says a lot.

AFC North

1. Baltimore (finished 2nd)

I should really talk about how much coaching plays into effect for some teams because Cam Cameron’s playcalling doomed the Ravens in a few games this year and they could have won the division if it wasn’t for that. There’s also their defense which sort of took a step back, at least in the secondary like I predicted. There was also my prediction of Ed Dickson being the team’s new #1 tight end. That didn’t happen. Instead, Todd Heap had his best season in awhile. I suppose me saying that Joe Flacco improves every season was wrong too since he really seems to be stuck on the same level in big game situations.

2. Pittsburgh (finished 1st)

Well, I focused a lot of this feature on what the Steelers would do without Ben Roehtlisberger and said “they would rely on Rashard Mendenhall and their defense to win games for them” which is basically how they beat the Jets yesterday. Calling Troy Polamalu the MVP of the team might have been a stretch too since James Harrison was back to his DPOY form this year but both were outstanding this season. Speaking of which, I also said the Steelers D would be dominant if they stay healthy and both remain true. Although, Hines Ward really isn’t the best receiver on the team anymore with the emergence of Mike Wallace, my breakout candidate.

3. Cincinnati (finished 4th)

I bought into the TOcho hype and picked them to be a 9-7 team. LOL, was I wrong there. Not even close. I still think that the Bengals have a good linebacking corps and one of the best cornerback tandems in the league but I didn’t take into account that Carson Palmer is basically overpaid and close to being at the end of the line. Also, it was a dumb thing to say that Antwaan Odom was their MVP.

4. Cleveland (finished 3rd)

“Colt McCoy won’t see playing time until next year.” Yeah, bad call there. Should have figured that Delhomme and Wallace would be replaced sooner rather than later. I definitely overrated James Harrison and didn’t speak much of Peyton Hillis here, either. Harrison ended up being traded while Hillis was most of their offense and one of the few things that made them watchable this season. I guess calling Josh Cribbs their MVP isn’t true anymore with Hillis either but I still consider him a big game-breaker in special teams. Their secondary improved like I thought, as well but it was the rookies Joe Haden and TJ Ward stepping up instead of Eric Wright and Sheldon Brown.

AFC South

1. Indianapolis (finished 1st)

“The Colts remain the team to beat in this division until proven otherwise.” Yep. Almost wasn’t the case this year with all of the injuries and Peyton Manning’s INT problems but they got the job done at the end of the year by beating their divisional foe in consecutive games. Manning keeps that team a competitor no matter what and you saw that this year with him making the most of a depleted receiving corps and joke of a running game. Then there’s their run defense which was gashed on a lot of games.

2. Houston (finished 3rd)

I’ve been picking the Texans to make the playoffs for the past couple of years and it never happens. They even found a running game this year and it still didn’t happen because they had one of the worst defenses in the history of the NFL. I was being nice when I said their defense “isn’t anything dominant” but I really thought Brian Cushing would have a better season. Kubiak was also retained after another season out of the playoffs, yeah I don’t get it.

3. Tennessee (4th)

Can’t believe I said that they would be “in good shape” offensively when I should have figured Vince Young would blow it sooner or later. Yeah, Chris Johnson is still there but with that QB situation and their best WR being Kenny Britt, that isn’t exactly a sign of a great offense. Neither is having Rusty Smith start a game at QB for your team. I also said that their playoff hopes rest on their defenses shoulders because I thought it was a suspect unit. While it wasn’t anything great, it was the offense that kept them out of the playoffs.

4. Jacksonville (finished 2nd)

I really thought the Jags would pull the plug on both Garrard and Del Rio at the end of the year since they had a perfect opportunity to make the playoffs but alas. Garrard played better than I thought he would, though and MJD is still their best player. Anyway, most of my predictions on the Jags were kind of rights since I said they wouldn’t be in the playoffs but I thought they would finish last, not 2nd.

AFC East

1. Miami (finished 3rd)

This was probably my worst prediction… I should have known that Chad Henne wouldn’t be the right answer in Miami even with Brandon Marshall to throw to. Mind telling me why they kept relying on Henne so much to win games instead of their running game? Ronnie Brown didn’t exactly show too many signs of slowing down and Ricky Williams didn’t have a bad season either. Yeesh, I don’t get Dan Henning. Dolphins defense did improve like I predicted, though.

2. New York (finished 2nd)

I said they were a bit overrated since everyone had them winning the division this year and they were the wild card team again. My prediction about Shonn Greene being a break-out player was wrong, though. In fact, LT was relied on more than Greene in a lot of games this year, mainly in the beginning of the season. In the playoffs, Greene outperformed Tomlinson. However, Sanchez was limited in a lot of games and continued to make the same mistakes he did last year. I guess, as a whole, I was right about the Jets. “The team can only go so far.”

3. New England (finished 1st)

Brady is still an elite QB like I said and he used all of his receivers effectively, too but I was wrong about the Pats being one-dimensional. BenJarvis Green-Ellis and Dany Woodhead helped their running game out a lot even if the two alone aren’t anything amazing. I assumed they would be afterthoughts given how many running backs they have on the roster. The Pats D did struggle, though. It didn’t get thought about because their offense was scoring so much.

4. Buffalo (finished 4th)

I was such a dick to the Bills before the season started, haha. I said they wouldn’t win 3 games and would be the worst team in the league. They were winless for awhile but they didn’t look like one of the worst teams at all. I still think that Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t the answer for the team even if he didn’t play well but I definitely underestimated Chan Gailey’s ability to get the most out of his players. Also, saying Fred Jackson was their best player is kind of debatable but he had a great season. One more thing, “Trent Edwards would be a backup on a winning team.” He’s a back-up on a losing team too! I was one of the many people on the CJ Spiller hype-wagon too but that didn’t go as planned…

NFC West

1. San Francisco (finished 3rd)

Didn’t everyone pick SF to finish first in this division because they were the least crappy team? I did question Alex Smith’s ability to lead a team but I was completely wrong about their defense being able to lead a team to the playoffs. That secondary is pretty damn bad even if Patrick Willis is a stud.

2. Arizona (finished 4th)

Derek Anderson played worse than I thought he would and I think I wrote this when Leinart was still on the team. LOL. I thought the Cards would be more of a run-based team with their running backs and QB situation but injuries to Beanie Wells prevented that from happening. Not even playing in a weak division could help their playoff hopes this season.

3. Seattle (finished 1st)

“They have enough talent to contend in a weak division” is what I said and that’s pretty true. A 7-9 team winning a division and getting a home playoff game is proof of that alone. Hasselbeck didn’t play that well when healthy and he still has injury problems but the Hawks want him to stay for another season. I still think they should go after another QB soon because he’s not getting any younger and Charlie Whitehurst sure as hell isn’t the answer. Also, Justin Forsett didn’t play nearly as well as I projected him to and calling Lofa Tatupu their MVP because I couldn’t think of anyone else was silly.

4. St. Louis (finished 2nd)

The Rams may not be “a long way from being good again” since they had their best season in awhile this year and might be in the hunt very soon. Sam Bradford definitely played well for a rookie but he (along with the rest of the team) had a lot of growing pains, which I thought would happen. Predicting him for the team’s breakout player instead of Laurent Robinson would have been a smarter decision.

NFC North

1. Green Bay (finished 2nd)

So they didn’t win the division but they’re on their way to the Super Bowl so that has to count for something, right?!!?! I did say that they would get past the Vikings and they beat them twice but it wasn’t enough to off-set bad losses to the Redskins, Lions and Dolphins. For the most part, I was right about the team being a big contender in the NFC but I could have made some better predictions. Like saying Clay Matthews would be the break-out player and not Jordy Nelson.

2. Minnesota (finished 4th)

I said Favre wouldn’t duplicate his last season and while I was right, I didn’t see him being this awful and I was wrong about them being a contender with him on the team. Not even Randy Moss could save them. I should have just predicted them to be out of the playoffs instead of saying they would be one of the best teams in the NFC but other teams will find ways to slow them down.

3. Chicago (finished 1st)

Clearly I underestimated Mike Martz since he did well with Cutler and that offense this year. Made the plyaoffs despite having one of the worst offensive lines in the league. I don’t think I even mentioned Isreal Idonije in my preview either. I just said that teams would double-up on Julius Peppers. That was probably a dumb prediction. Devin Aromashadu was also nowhere close to being a break-out player like I predicted.

4. Detroit (finished 3rd)

“They might see some positive results this season” and 6-10 is pretty good for a team who probably didn’t win 6 games over the last three seasons. I was right about the addition of Shaun Hill being a good move, them having a good pass rush and Jahvid Best giving them some life in the running game but I was way wrong about their secondary getting a little better. Basically, I was trying to be nice and say that it couldn’t get any worse than last season and somehow, it did. Also, “The Lions need to address other needs before thinking of the playoffs.” When was the last time they even thought about the playoffs? Did I write that at 1 AM or something?

NFC South

1. Atlanta (finished 1st)

I knew they would be a huge threat in the NFC with a healthy Matt Ryan and Michael Turner, and they were. However, thinking that Brian Williams would be their #2 corner over Brent Grimes was dumb, so was thinking that Dunta Robinson would make their pass defense stable when it wasn’t. Also, Harry Douglas the break-out player? I don’t think so.

2. New Orleans (finished 2nd)

Hey, I was right about this too! Guess that’s what I get from knowing this division well. However, I didn’t really say anything about the Saints regressing, just the rest of the division getting better. Drew Brees was turnover prone and they suffered a lot of injuries to their running game. I think I overrated their secondary, too.

3. Carolina (finished 4th)

How a team I had little expectations for could disappoint me so much is amazing. I was right about Matt Moore regressing now that teams had some more tape on him but I thought Jimmy Clausen would play better. A lot better. I also said the defensive line was the main concern, and while the pass rush was the problem, there were about 100 other things wrong. I don’t think Jonathan Stewart is the MVP of the team anymore, that might be Jon Beason now. Sherrod Martin had a good season but ‘break-out” is a stretch since I had big expectations from him. James Anderson or David Gettis is a better break-out candidate. I think we can cross off Steve Smith as one of the “top 10 playmakers” in the league now.

4. Tampa Bay (finished 3rd)

It definitely was a season to remember for the Bucs as they surprised everyone. I said that there was no rush for Josh Freeman to be spectacular and while that’s true, he was indeed spectacular this year for the Bucs. I think opposing QB’s don’t fear Aqib Talib as much as I do because they kept throwing is way. I also think that I overrate Barrett Ruud because Bucs fans seem to hate him and I saw why this season. Then there was my prediction of Cadillac Williams being their MVP but that was before LaGerrette Blount was even added to the team so I’m giving myself a pass there.

NFC East

1. Dallas (finished 3rd)

Really, who didn’t see Dallas as the team to beat in the East at the beginning of the year? Granted, they’re a team who always seems to find a way to screw up no matter what but I didn’t see a 1-5 start coming at all. Most of the flaws I pointed out were there only magnified by 100. The secondary got burned and the offensive line struggled with penalties. Then there was me calling Tony Romo an elite QB. I’ll wait another season before I amend that statement. Saying that Felix Jones would be a break-out player was kind of iffy too since Tashard Choice is a better candidate for that.

2. New York (finished 2nd)

I was right on the placing but I thought the Giants would be a playoff team and that wasn’t the case even if they were close again. I also said that the running game wouldn’t be that good when Brandon Jacobs got better after a slow start and Ahmad Bradshaw had a pretty good season, too. Eli Manning played worse than I thought, though. I did say that their defense would improve and they did, I think. Antrelle Rolle isn’t their MVP though and that’s who I listed in that category. Oops.

3. Washington (finished 4th)

I live in the Metro area so I thought the new coaching staff and Donovan McNabb would make the Redskins a better team. They were a better team but not by much, really. Still a lot of drama and controversy in the nation’s capital. Brian Orakpo needs to learn how to break out of offensive linemen’s holds if he wants me to call him one of the best pass-rushers in the league again. I was stupid for thinking Devin Thomas would finally turn it around in their receiving corps too and neglecting the wonder that is Anthony Armstrong. The defense did a pretty okay job at limiting big plays with Haslett’s system, that Eagles game not withstanding. I do think the Redskins improved this year and that they will get better next season as soon as they can bring some better talent there. Shanahan inherited a mess and is still trying to clean it up.

4. Philadelphia (finished 1st)

I thought Philly’s offense would be fine even with Kolb at QB but I picked them in last because their defense is still really young and inexperienced. Thankfully for them, the offense put on a show this season with Mike Vick leading the way. The only prediction I made regarding him was that the Eagles would give him a chance if Kolb got hurt, they did and he made the most of it. I guess you could say I overblew the Eagles defensive problems off-setting their offensive talent but I just saw them as only an 8-win team compared to the rest of the division.

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