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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

NFL Prediction Midterm Report Card

The best thing about sports is that there is an empirical stat that tells if you have succeeded or failed.  The worst thing about sports writers is that they get to run their mouths with no guide to judge their knowledge.  Well, I'm a prosecutor in my day job.  So, I believe in accountability.  Therefore, I put out a quarterly report card on my NFL predictions.

The NFL regular season is seventeen weeks long.  That makes it tough to decide when to publish a midterm report card.  I decided to wait until all the teams had played at least eight games.  After the first quarter, I gave my preseason predictions a grade of B-.  Mid term marks weren't so hot, either.

AFC East:  My preseason prediction for the AFC East was perhaps my boldest pick of the year.    Before the season started, I dove in head first to swim with the fishes.  I predicted that the Dolphins would win the division and that the Patriots wouldn't make the playoffs.  After four games, the Dolphins portion of the pick was looking pretty solid.  But, after starting off 3-1, Miami lost 3 straight games.  The Dolphins might have saved their season by beating the Bengals in Week 9 to move to 4-4, but they are now totally embroiled in the ugly Incognito/Martin mess.  The Patriots have also slowed down after a 4-0 start.  They are now 7-2 and are solidly on top of the division.  I didn't predict that, but I am not really surprised.  It's Brady and Belichick.  Winning is what they do.  The real shocker in this division is that the New York Jets are 5-4 and gaining momentum heading into their bye week.  I thought the Jets would be one of the worst teams in the league.  First Quarter Grade: B+  Midterm Grade C+

(David KohlAP)
AFC North:  As I predicted, the Bengals are on top of the the division, but mounting injuries making are making them look like less and less of a legit threat to make a deep playoff run.  The rest of the division is a muddled mess of mediocrity.  But, mediocrity might be all that it takes to get that final wild card in the AFC.  At 4-5, the Browns are still right there in the hunt.  Since the Browns were such a bold pick, I give myself some extra credit for having them still in the conversation at the halfway point of the season.  First Quarter Grade: A  Midterm Grade: A-

AFC South:  I started writing this column on Sunday night during the Indianapolis-Houston game.  At that point, the Texans were putting a beating on the Colts, and I had convinced myself that my preseason picks were actually reasonable and had written as much.  Then I fell asleep at the half.  When I woke up, I learned that Andrew the Giant led the Colts to second half comeback and basically cemented their strangle hold on the division.  So, I deleted everything I had written.  The Colts are a good team.  The Texans are a terrible team.  And my picks for this division are an embarrassment.  I gave myself an "F" for the first quarter of the season., and I certainly don't deserve anything better than that at the midterm report card.
First Quarter Grade: F  Midterm Grade: F

AFC West:  I take the blame when blame is due.  But, I also toot my own horn when it's appropriate.  And, it's appropriate in this division.  Like everyone else, I predicted that the Broncos would win the AFC West.  Unlike everyone else, I picked the Chiefs as a wild card.  Well, at the halfway point of the season, it seems to be a forgone conclusion that both of these teams will make the playoffs.  The Chiefs are 9-0 and actually lead the division.  But, they have had the benefit of a soft schedule thus far.  Therefore, the 7-1 Broncos are still in a good position to win the division.  These picks might have been a fluke after just 4 games.  But, after half the season, I feel that "prescient" is a better description.  If there was a grade higher than an A+, I'd give myself that.  First Quarter Grade: A+  Midterm Grade: A+

NFC East:  I don't know what to say about this division.  I'm pretty sure that my predictions haven't been very good so far.  The Redskins certainly aren't looking like they are poised to repeat as division champs.  But, RG3 is looking much better lately, and after winning two of their last three games, Washington still has a pulse.  The Cowboys are on top of the division, but they aren't doing anything to dispel my proclamation that they consistently find a way to ruin a good season.  Meanwhile, the Eagles are hanging in there.  Surprisingly, it's the Giants who are lifeless and hopeless at the bottom of the division.  So, while my predictions don't look solid right now, I'm not prepared to issue any written apologies to my readers just yet.  First Quarter Grade: B  Midterm Grade: B-

Injured QBs shaking hands (Morry Gash/AP)
NFC North:  Before the season started, I picked the Bears to win the division, and I predicted that the Lions would be the team that pushed the Bears.  I prognosticated that the Packers would miss the playoffs.  At the halfway point in the season, the whole division is at 5-3.  Well, the whole division besides the Vikings.  The Bears have already endured and survived a couple weeks without their starting quarterback.  The Packers are just heading into what could be a lengthy stretch without Aaron Rogers.  I dropped my grade a bit at the midterm due to the Bears lack of separation, but, because of those factors, I think this pick is poised to end improve as the year progresses.  First Quarter Grade: A  Midterm Grade: A-

NFC South:  Okay, if you read my preseason predictions for this division please avert thine eyes.  It's a horror show.  I though the Falcons were the class of the division.  And I thought that the Buccaneers would be a solid wild card team.  I could not have been more wrong.  Even though the Saints lost to the Jets in week 9, they have shown themselves to be the class of the division.  And, the Panthers at 5-3 have proven to be the only legit challenger to the Saints in this division.  First Quarter Grade: F  Midterm Grade: F

NFC West:  I picked San Francisco to win this division.  But, that had more to do with my analysis of the schedules than it did to do with my belief if he two teams.  I thought those teams were basically even, and, after nine weeks that appears to be true.  Frankly, I'm not sure why I graded myself so low in the last quarter.  With all the craziness in the NFL, even a predictable pick that comes to fruition deserves some credit.  First Quarter Grade: B  Midterm Grade: A

Overall Grade:  I did a little math, and it looks like my GPA would be a little under 3.0 at the halfway point of the season.  That's a C+ at best.  Not good.  I'll grant you that.  And not a good trend, eider.  But, There is a long way to go in this season.  My fate lies in the hands of the Redskins in the NFC East and the Bears in the NFC North.  If those two teams exert some dominance to close the year, I could still claim some bragging rights.  First Quarter Grade: B-  Midterm Grade: C+

Think I was too harsh or too lenient?  Want to make some predictions of your own?  Then, by all means, leave a comment and let me know.

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