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Saturday, December 7, 2013

NFL Prediction Third Quarter Report Card

It's time for my third quarter prediction report card.  But perhaps a better description of this column would be:  Wild Banshee eats crow ... and chokes on it ... and dies of embarrassment.  Before writing this column, I checked the laws of the Internet to see if you actually get your blog privileges revoked for making preseason predictions as terrible as mine were.  Turns out there are no laws of the Internet and that the cyberspace is actually built upon the principle that any moron has a right to publish their opinions in a public forum.  And so, I will carry on and analyze my lack of preseason analysis.

AFC East:  I started off my preseason predictions with a bold pick in the AFC East.  At first, it looked like I might have been on to something when I picked the Dolphins to unseat the Patriots at the top of the division.  But the Patriots are just too good to be denied.  At 9-3, the Pats just about have the division wrapped up.  But, despite the bullying mess swirling around their locker room, the Dolphins have continued to remain in the thick of the playoff hunt.  Right now, the Dolphins are tied with the Ravens for the final wildcard spot in the AFC.  Meanwhile, the Jets are starting to look like the truly terrible team I thought they'd be.  Although I was way off in predicting the Patriots' demise, I do get some credit for seeing the Dolphins as a potential playoff team.  First Quarter Grade: B+  Midterm Grade: C+  Third Quarter Grade: B-

AFC North:  Like most folks, I picked the Bengals to repeat as winners of the AFC North.  Despite a rash of significant injuries, the Bengals are at 8-4 and have a two game lead in the division.   The Browns are not living up to my preseason admiration.  They hung in the wildcard race for a while, but at 4-8, Cleveland is virtually eliminated from playoff contention.  Meanwhile, the Ravens are clinging to the sixth and final seed in the AFC.  If the Ravens prove me wrong and earn a spot in the playoffs then I'll have to downgrade myself a little more.  But for now, I think my AFC North predictions deserve a B+.  First Quarter Grade: A  Midterm Grade: A-  Third Quarter Grade: B+

AFC South:  It's at this division where I have to start serving myself up a heaping helping of crow.  My preseason picks for this division are nothing short of horrific.  I thought the Houston Texans would be one of the best teams in the league.  Instead, they are one of the worst teams I've ever seen.    I still think I was right that the Colts are a very mediocre team ... especially without Reggie Wayne for the rest of the season.  But, I was clearly wrong when I said that Indy would miss the playoffs.  At 8-4, the Colts are virtually assured of taking home the division crown.
First Quarter Grade: F  Midterm Grade: F  Third Quarter Grade: F

AFC West:  The AFC West is one of the lone bright spots in my preseason predictions.  It didn't take the foresight of Nostradamus to pick the Broncos to win the division.  But, picking the Chiefs to rebound from last year's 2-14 record to make the playoffs did take a little bit of nerve.  With twelve games in the books, it looks like things are going to shake out just the way I predicted in this division.  The Broncos are 10-2 and have beaten the Chiefs twice this season.  Kansas City has a strangle hold on the fifth seed with a record of 9-3.  So yeah ... I'm gonna pat myself on the back a bit here.  First Quarter Grade: A+  Midterm Grade: A+  Third Quarter Grade: A+

NFC East:  At the midterm mark, I stated that I was not ready to issue any apologies yet for my predictions in this division.  Well, I'm ready now.  I don't hide the fact that I am a Redskins fan.  But, I really was making my preseason picks with my head and not my heart when I said that Washington was poised to improve upon last year's mark of 10-6.  Regardless of where the picks came from, they turned out to be terrible.  The Redskins are 3-9 and in the midst of the heated battle for the top draft pick in 2014 ... a pick which belongs to the Rams due to the RG3 draft trade.  As I predicted in the preseason column, the Cowboys are doing Cowboy things by playing great one week and then playing lousy the next.  But the Cowboys are currently tied for the top spot in the division.  The real surprise in this division is the Philadelphia Eagles.  Not only are they are tied for the division lead at 7-5, but they are getting better every week.  That's a far cry from the dismal outlook I predicted at the start of the year.   First Quarter Grade: B  Midterm Grade: B-  Third Quarter Grade: D+

(Al Bello/Getty Images)
NFC North:  Before the first snap of the season, I picked the Bears to win the division, and I predicted that the Lions would be the team that pushed the Bears the most.  I also predicted that the Packers would miss the playoffs.  After 12 games, the Lions are on top of the division at 7-5.  The Bears, despite a significant injury to their starting QB are just one game back of the division lead at 6-6.  Unlike the AFC, a .500 record probably will not secure a playoff berth in the NFC, so it looks like I will be correct in picking that only one team from the Black and Blue division will make the postseason.  Since my pick to win the division is no longer in the lead, I have to downgrade myself just a bit.  But, I still have high hopes to end the season with a solid A in the NFC North.  First Quarter Grade: A  Midterm Grade: A-  Third Quarter Grade: B+

NFC South:  If you wanted to make a lot of money in Vegas this fall, the best thing you could have done was read my preseason predictions for the NFC South ... and then picked the total opposite.  Holy smokes, my picks were horrendous!  I really thought the Falcons would be among the league's elite teams this year.  Instead, the 3-9 Falcons are in line to get one of the league's elite draft picks in April.  And, Atlanta is joined in that dubious distinction by Tampa Bay ... a team I picked to make the playoffs as a wild card.  In contrast, the Saints and Panthers have both proven themselves to be legitimate Super Bowl contenders, regardless of who ultimately wins the division.  First Quarter Grade: F  Midterm Grade: F  Third Quarter Grade: F

(Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
NFC West:  Based on a comparison of the two teams schedules, I predicted that the San Francisco 49ers would edge out the Seattle Seahawks for top spot in the division.  Turns out, I might have underestimated the Seahawks' regular season prowess.  At 11-1, Seattle has a three game lead in the division and is the only team in the NFC to have already clinched a playoff spot.  The Niners are still in good shape to make the playoffs at 8-4.  And, in my defense, I did predict that Seattle would win the Super Bowl, so their performance does not shock me at all.  In light of the harsh grades I've handed out so far, I am going to give myself a pretty solid mark in this division.  First Quarter Grade: B  Midterm Grade: A  Third Quarter Grade: B+ 

Overall Grade:  Not surprisingly, my overall grade dropped a bit more again this report card period. Even with a couple of miracles to end the season, I don't think I'll make the prognosticator's dean's list.  But, I'm reminding myself that D stands for "diploma."  And right now, I have a solid C.  First Quarter Grade: B-  Midterm Grade: C+  Third Quarter Grade: C

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

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