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Sunday, November 11, 2012

NFL Prediction Report Card: Midterm Grades

I am writing this on a Sunday afternoon during Week 10.  That means that every team has completed at least eight games.  Some have completed as many as ten games.  That also means that it is time for Wild Banshee to take another look at her preseason predictions and hand out some grades.

AFC East:  I predicted that the New England Patriots would win the division and compete for the best record in the AFC.  I also predicted that no other team from this division would make the playoffs.  Early on, that prediction looked a little a little shaky.  After six weeks, all four teams were tied with identical 3-3 records.  But, since that time, the New England Patriots have righted the ship.  The Patriots are now 6-3, and no other team in the division has a winning record.  The Wild Banshee's prediction is looking a little wiser than it did when the first report cards came out.  First Quarter Grade: B+  Midterm Grade: A-

AFC North:  I predicted that this would be a good division and that the Baltimore Ravens would come out on top.  I also predicted that the Bengals would make the playoffs as a wild card.  The boldest part of the prediction was that the Steelers would not make the playoffs.  The Ravens have played some Jekyll and Hyde football this season, but they still seems like a solid pick to win the division.  However, I may have been a bit premature with shoveling dirt on the aging Steelers.  At the end of this week, the Steelers are likely to be 6-3.  That would put the Steelers just one game behind the Ravens for the division lead.  It would also give the Steelers a two-game lead for the wild card.  Due to the developments with the Bengals and Steelers, my grade has slipped a bit in this division.  First Quarter Grade: A  Midterm Grade: B  

AFC South:  Like every other sports writer in the world, I predicted that the Houston Texans would be an excellent team.  The Texans have made all of us look good on that one.  At this moment, they sit on top of the division with a record of 7-1.  Even if the Texans lose in Chicago tonight, they will still be tied with the Ravens for the best record in the AFC.  But the surprise of the division is the excellent performance of the Indianapolis Colts through the first half of the season.  After a Thursday night win against the Jaguars, the Colts are tied with the Steelers for a wild card berth at 6-3.  I certainly did not see that coming.  Missing that badly on the Colts results in a little slip in Wild Banshee's grade.  First Quarter Grade: A+  Midterm Grade: A

AFC West:  I have to admit that I just flat out missed the mark on this entire division.  I predicted that the Raiders would win the division and that the Chiefs would be a wild card team.  Even on my first quarter report card, I wasn't entirely ready to give up on my optimism for the Raiders.  Well, I'm ready to give up now.  The Raiders and the Chiefs don't just have terrible records.  They are truly terrible teams.  More importantly, the Denver Broncos are a good team.  Maybe even a really good team.  Once again, the Wild Banshee's grades slip.  They've now hit rock bottom for this division.  First Quarter Grade: D-  Midterm Grade: F

NFC East:  I predicted that the Eagles would win this division and that they would be the only team to make the playoffs from this division.  That prediction looked pretty solid after the first four games of the year.  At that point, the Eagles were 3-1.  But things have been flat out ugly in Philly since then.  The Eagles have lost five straight games and are in complete disarray.  At this point, the Giants have shown themselves to be the lesser of four evils.  The G-Men sit at the top of the division with a mediocre 6-4 record.  No one else has a winning record.  My faith in the Eagles probably deserves an F, but the truth about the mediocrity of the rest of the division saves me just a bit.  First Quarter Grade: A  Midterm Grade: C

NFC North:  In the preseason, I predicted that this division would be the best division in the NFL.  I also predicted that the Packers and the Bears would both have excellent seasons and would both make the playoffs.  Although I might have the order of finish flip-flopped, those predictions are both looking good at the halfway point.  In addition, the Vikings and the Lions are both solid teams that are a tough match-up every weekend.  I think the first quarter grade was a bit low.  The midterm grade might be a bit high.  First Quarter Grade: B  Midterm Grade: A-

NFC South:  I predicted that the Falcons would win this division, but I predicted that it would be a nip and tuck battle with the Saints right down to the end.  The Falcons have been strong right out of the gate.  The Saints were flat out horrendous at the start of the year.  But, after starting off 0-4, the Saints have clawed their way back to 4-5.  While the 8-1 Falcons still have a strangle hold on the division, the Saints have at least re-entered the discussion for a wild card berth.  The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are also in the thick of the playoff race with a record of 5-4.  Thanks the the Saints getting off the mat, Wild Banshee's grades improved just a bit in this division.  First Quarter Grade: C  Midterm Grade:  B-

NFC West:  It did not take a genius to see that the San Francisco 49ers would be the class of the division.  The 49ers have lived up to expectations and are perched at the top of the division standings.  But, I also predicted that the division would be much improved ... with the exception of the Cardinals.  After four games, I had to apologize for my disparaging preseason remarks about the Cards.  But after getting off to a 4-0 start, the Cardinals have returned to the terrible team that I thought they were.  The Rams are not setting the world on fire, but they are competitive each week.  And, the Seattle Seahawks are a strong contender for a wild card berth.  Wild Banshee's improved grade is largely due to the Cardinal's regression.  First Quarter Grade: B  Midterm Grade: A

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