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Monday, January 4, 2016

NFL Prediction Final Report Card

In years past, I have done a report card after every quarter of the season.  I skipped the third quarter report card this year.  Why?  Honestly, it was depressing and embarrassing.  Some kids hide bad report cards from their parents.  Since I'm the sole operator of this blog, I simply chose not to generate anything that I had to explain to my parents.  But, I am not a complete coward, so I have prepared a final report card.  It's ugly.  So, read at your own peril.

AFC East:  The AFC East is one of the lone bright spots on this report card.  But, I couldn't earn a A even in this division.  In the preseason, I predicted that the New England Patriots would win the division.  I wasn't sure how or why, but I was sure that Bill Belichick and Tom Brady would find a way to succeed.  That is the good part of my prediction.  I also predicted that the Jets would be terrible.  In reality, the Jets almost made the playoffs.  Meanwhile, my wild card prediction of the Bills making the playoffs died a midseason death.  Normally, picking the correct division winner would earn some form of an A, but the disparaging remarks I made about the very respectable Jets knock me down to the next level.  First Quarter Grade: A     Midterm Grade: A     Final Grade: B+

AFC North:  Before the season stared, I went out on a limb and predicted that the Bengals would not win the division and would not make the playoffs at all.  I was clearly wrong about that.  I was also very wrong when I declared that the Ravens would be an elite team.  However, I was not wrong about the Steelers making the playoffs as a wild card.  So, it's kind of a mixed bag for me in this division.  Predicting correct playoff teams is hard, so the Steelers pick keeps me from getting a failing grade.  First Quarter Grade: D     Midterm Grade: D+     Final Grade: C-

AFC South:  I wish I had made this pick with my heart instead of my head.  My heart believed that Bill O'Brien would will his team to the playoffs this season.  But, I let my head make the pick, and my head picked the Colts.  Bad choice.  Unlike many other "experts," I did not predict that the Colts would actually be a good team.  For that reason, I do not get a truly dismal grade.  First Quarter Grade: A     Midterm Grade: A     Final Grade: C

AFC West:  My thinking was a little outside the dos when I predicted that the Chiefs would win the division and that the Broncos would miss the playoffs.  Halfway through the season, I looked like a moron.  But then all the reasoning behind my picks started coming together.  The Chiefs closed the season on a ten-game winning streak.  The Broncos finished the season with all kinds of health questions surrounding Peyton Manning.  The Broncos ended up earning the top seed in the AFC playoffs, but this bold prediction came within a few plays in the final weeks of the season from coming true.  For those reasons, I'm giving myself a pretty good grade.  First Quarter Grade: F     Midterm Grade: F     Final Grade: B+

NFC East:  In the preseason, I predicted that the Cowboys would win the NFC East.  No one can predict injuries, and if Romo and Bryant had been healthy this season, who knows what would have happened?  The reason I get a failing grade is not because of the Cowboys' injuries.  No.  I get a failing grade for predicting that the division champion Washington Redskins were "poised to be truly horrible."  The Redskins are not a great team, but any time you say that about a division winner, you have to eat a little crow.  First Quarter Grade: B     Midterm Grade: C     Final Grade: F

NFC North:  Before the season started, I predicted there would be three playoff teams coming out of this division.  Turns out there were only two teams.  But, I predicted the correct two teams, and two out of three ain't bad.  Even now that it is a historic fact, I still can't really believe that the Packers did not win the division.  That fact keeps me from getting any sort of an A, but I still give myself a pretty good mark in this division.  First Quarter Grade: B     Midterm Grade: B+     Final Grade: B+

NFC South:  In the preseason, I believed that the Atlanta Falcons were poised to do great things.  Turns out, I backed the wrong horse.  The Falcons are not good, but the Carolina Panthers are a really, really good team.  I have never been a Cam criticizer, but with the receiving corps he had this year, I did not see anything like this season coming.  Meanwhile, the Atlanta Falcons squandered early season success and failed to make the playoffs as even a wild card.  This is very different than the AFC West situation because none of my preseason narrative came true, so this is a failing grade.  First Quarter Grade: B+     Midterm Grade: C+     Final Grade: F

NFC West:  In the preseason, I predicted that the Seahawks would win the division.  That did not happen.  But, my real error was not in predicting that Seattle would finish on top.  My real error was in predicting that only one team in this division would make the playoffs.  The Arizona Cardinals proved over the course of sixteen games that they are a really solid team on both sides of the ball.  Not only did they win the division, they earned a first round bye in the playoffs.  The Seahawks did not start the season the way I thought they would, but they did finish the season on a hot streak.  Therefore, I get a mediocre grade.  First Quarter Grade: C+     Midterm Grade: B-     Final Grade: C+

Overall Grade:  I am not very proud of myself.  This was not a great set of predictions.  Turns out, since I started these picks before the 2012 season, a C grade is pretty normal for me.  I'm not sure if that means I'm a tough grader or a terrible prognosticator.  Regardless, it is clear that my column is not the best source for advice before making futures bets in Vegas.  First Quarter Grade:  B-     Midterm Grade: C+     Final Grade: C

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