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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

NFL Prediction Final Report Card

The NFL regular season is over.  No more what-if scenarios.  No more scoreboard watching.  The playoff field is set.  It's time to hand out the final grades for Wild Banshee's preseason predictions.  And, this is not going to be pretty.

AFC East:  I picked the New England Patriots to win the AFC East.  Not only did the Pats accomplish that, they also clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs.  As I stated in the preview, Belichick's defense finally has the dynamic personnel to be worthy of sharing a locker room with their offensive counterparts.  In hindsight, this might look like an easy prediction, but predicting division winners, even when they have elite quarterbacks, is not automatic.  My misplaced faith in the Jets prevents a perfect A+ in this division, but I still give myself an A.     First Quarter Grade: A     Midterm Grade: A     Third Quarter Grade: A     Final Grade: A

AFC North:  In the preseason, I predicted that the AFC North would be an incredibly competitive division.  However, I thought that in the end only the Bengals would make the playoffs.  The Bengals did make the playoffs, but they were one of three playoff teams from this division.  In the end, the Pittsburgh Steelers posted eleven wins and won the division by beating the Bengals on the last night of the season.  The Raven also earned a wildcard.  Thanks to the faltering of the Bengals, my grade in this division took a serious nosedive in the last couple weeks of the season.  Kind of like my Spanish grade in the last few weeks of my senior year, but, I digress.  First Quarter Grade: A     Midterm Grade: A-     Third Quarter Grade: A     Final Grade:  B-

AFC South:  When I picked the Houston Texans to win the AFC South, I knew I was going out on a limb.  Turns out, the division race wasn't particularly close, despite some ugly outings, it was the Colts who cruised to a comfortable division championship.  Meanwhile, the Texans got to start their winter vacation before the new year.  Since I did correctly predict that the Colts would qualify for the postseason, I do not get a failing grade for the division.  If a few things had gone differently on the final Sunday of the regular season, the Texans would have made the playoffs and I would have smugly given myself a high grade.  But, when your pick for division champ fails to make the playoffs, you gotta take your medicine like a big girl.  First Quarter Grade: A-     Midterm Grade: C     Third Quarter Grade: C+     Final Grade: C-
(Abrams/USA Today)

AFC West:  At the start of the season, I predicted that the Denver Broncos would win the division and that the San Diego Chargers would earn a playoff spot as a wildcard.  Through the three-quarters mark of the season, I was feeling pretty proud of myself.  The Broncos did win the division by a wide margin, but the Chargers went into a late season swoon that left them on the outside looking in when the playoff spots were finalized.  I have nothing to be embarrassed about here, but I cannot get a full A if one of my playoff predictions fails to make the postseason.  First Quarter Grade: A-     Midterm Grade: A-     Third Quarter Grade: A+     Final Grade: A-

NFC East:  It is always hard to make predictions in your favorite team's division.  Although I picked the Eagles to win the division, I admit that I viewed things in the preseason through burgundy colored glasses.  In reality, the Cowboys won the division and they did it in convincing fashion.  The Cowboys' 12-4 record includes a road win at Seattle and a trouncing of Indianapolis in Week 16.  Meanwhile, the Eagles posted a respectable ten wins but failed to make the postseason.  And the Redskins ... well we shall never speak of this horror again.  First Quarter Grade: B     Midterm Grade: B+     Third Quarter Grade: B     Final Grade: F

NFC North:  Based on my predictions in this division, it is fair to wonder if I have ever watched a football game in my life.  On previous report cards, I tried to blame this predictions on delicious indulgence in Big Ron's Rum Punch.  However, as an adult, I know that I need to take responsibility for my actions regardless of how much Malibu may be involved.  I do not give myself a failing grade in this division because the Packers did make the playoffs.  However, since the Packers won the division and secured a first round bye, I certainly do not get any bonus points for this pick.  I have learned my lesson, though.  I will think long and hard before ever again predicting success for a Cutler-led team.  First Quarter Grade: B-     Midterm Grade: C     Third Quarter Grade: D     Final Grade: D

NFC South:  Writing this column has not good for my self esteem, and it's not getting any better as we move to the NFC South.  In the preseason, I predicted that the Saints and the Falcons would both make the playoffs.  Nope!  The Carolina Panthers "won" the division.  I put that in quotation marks because a team with a losing record didn't "win" much of anything.  However, the Panthers will be playing in the postseason.  No one else in this historically terrible division got even a sniff at a wildcard.  And, the Falcons fired their coach.  Never a sign of a successful season.  My predictions really are worthy of a suspension from this blog.  However, since Banshee Sports is a one person operation, the worst that I can do is give myself another F.  First Quarter Grade: C     Midterm Grade: C     Third Quarter Grade: C     Final Grade: F

NFC West:  In the preseason, I picked the Seahawks to win the division.  I also predicted that Seattle would be the only team to make the playoffs from the NFC West.  I elaborated on that prediction by stating that if a second team did qualify from the NFC West, it would be the Cardinals and not the Forty Niners.  When the dust settled, the Seahawks won the division and clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs, and the Cardinals won a wildcard berth.  I can't get too chippy and gloaty about this, though, since I didn't have the courage to actually declare that the Cards would win the wildcard.  But, as I've demonstrated in the rest of the NFC portion of this column, picking the correct order of finish in a division is not easy.  Perhaps self-pity from the rest of this column is weighing in here, but I am giving myself an A for foreseeing the demise of the Niners and the strength of the Cardinals.  First Quarter Grade: B+     Midterm Grade: B+     Third Quarter Grade: B+     Final Grade: A

Overall Grade:  After plugging in the numbers, my NFL Prediction GPA comes to a 2.13.  That is an ugly drop off from the rest of the season, but it's right back to where I was in 2013.  My lesson from this is that predictions are hard.  If they were not, we would all move to Vegas.  First Quarter Grade:  B+     Midterm Grade: B     Third Quarter Grade: B     Final Grade: C

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