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Thursday, November 6, 2014

NFL Prediction Midterm Report Card

Week 9 in the NFL is in the books.  Every team has played at least eight games.  That means that we've had half a season to judge teams.  It also means we've had plenty of time to judge Wild Banshee's preseason predictions for each division.  It's time for the Midterm Report Card.

AFC East:  In the preseason, I picked the Patriots to win the division.  Despite getting off to a rough start, the Patriots have never slipped out of first place.  Right now, the Patriots are in the midst of a five-game win streak that includes absolute demolitions of the Bengals and the Broncos.  The Patriots are firing on all cylinders on both sides of the ball as they head into the bye week.  I would give myself an A+ for this prediction if I hadn't also predicted that the Jets would be the Patriots' primary challengers.  First Quarter Grade: A     Midterm Grade: A

AFC North:  I predicted that the AFC North would be a tough division.  I expected the Bengals to win the division and thought that every team would be competitive.  After nine weeks, all four teams are locked in a virtual dead heat.  The Bengals are technically on top of the division with a record of 5-2-1.  The Ravens are technically in last place with a record of 5-4.  Pretty good predicting, but right now the Bengals are trending the wrong way while the Steelers are one of the hottest teams in the league.  (This column was written before the Thursday night game between Cleveland and Cincinnati.  That game will be reflected on my next report card.)  First Quarter Grade: A     Midterm Grade: A-

AFC South:  Before the season started, I predicted that the Houston Texans would return to their winning ways and steal the division back from the Colts.  I also predicted that the Jaguars would make great strides forward this year.  In other words, I was a moron.  I gave myself a lot of leniency in the first report card because I believed so strongly in the savior of Penn State and new Texans head coach Bill O'Brien.  But, honesty is important to me.  I did at least predict that the Colts would be a playoff team, so I do not get a failing grade.  First Quarter Grade: A-     Midterm Grade: C

AFC West:  Before the season, I predicted that the Broncos would win the division and that the Chargers would win the wildcard.  At quarter pole of the season, the Chargers sat atop the division while the Broncos were also playing solid ball.  At the halfway point, the Broncos have reclaimed the top spot in the division, but they are coming off a miserable performance in New England.  The Chargers are still in the hunt for a wildcard, but they have slipped behind the Chiefs in the division standings and are in the middle of the pack in the AFC overall.  First Quarter Grade: A-     Midterm Grade: A-

Probably safe to throw this ticket away.
NFC East:  The Eagles were my preseason pick to win the NFC East, but I didn't expect any of these teams to be great.  At the halfway point of the year, Philly holds a narrow lead over Dallas, but the Cowboys are trending in the wrong direction with a quarterback who is nursing a broken back.  Yes, a broken back.  The Redskins and the Giants continue to be Jekyll and Hyde teams leaning heavily in the Hyde direction.  I expect my grade to continue to improve as the season progresses, but for right now, this is not A quality work.  First Quarter Grade: B     Midterm Grade: B+

NFC North:  I was in Virginia Beach when I wrote the prediction column, and it appears that Big Ron's Rum Punch got the better of me when it came time to write the NFC North portion.  I predicted that the Bears would win this division.  Instead, the Bears are one of the worse teams in the NFC.  The Packers are in the thick of the wild card race, as I predicted, but it is the Lions who are on top of the division at the halfway point of the season.  First Quarter Grade: B-     Midterm Grade: C

NFC South:  I predicted that the Saints would win the NFC South, but I did not predict that this would be the worst division in football.  Turns out, this might be the worst division in the  history of football.  New Orleans leads the division with a 4-4 record.  At this point it seems inconceivable that any of the other teams could challenge for a wild card.  It certainly will not be the Falcons, a team I picked to make the playoffs.  First Quarter Grade: C     Midterm Grade: C

NFC West:  Before the season started, I predicted that only one playoff team would come out of this division.  If two teams did make the playoffs, I believed that they would be Seattle and Arizona.  At the midpoint of the season, this scenario seems very likely, but it is the Cardinals and not the Seahawks who have the best record in the division.  The Cardinals actually have the best record in the entire NFL after eight games.  I give myself credit for predicting the decline of San Francisco, but I cannot get an A if I didn't pick the correct division winner.  First Quarter Grade: B+     Midterm Grade: B+

Overall Grade:  After consulting my trusty calculator, it looks like my grades have slipped a bit, but they are still, not an embarrassment.  First Quarter Grade:  B+     Midterm Grade: B

Think I was 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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