Sunday, December 2, 2007

False Starts Audit: Playoff Push Edition

Predictions are tough; that’s what I’m learning this year. A combination of hubris and boredom led me to forecast the 2007 NFL season a few months ago, if you recall. Now that we’re coming down the home stretch, I thought this was a good time to check in with those picks, to see how stupid I really am. Come with me. . .

AFC East:

The prediction: Patriots, Jets, Bills, Dolphins
Currently: Patriots, Bills, Jets, Dolphins

It didn’t take a genius to pick New England out of the East. I can’t really pat myself on the back there. The question now is whether or not 19-0 is attainable; that will come down to the Pats’ running game. They’ve really gotten away from running Maroney; if they’re just saving him for the playoffs, I think they’ll be fine. If there’s something else going on there, New England is quite vulnerable.

I mixed around the Jets and Bills, although I wasn’t very high on either of them. The Bills might sneak into one of the Wild Card spots, but overall I’ll take this set of picks.

AFC North:

The prediction: Bengals, Ravens, Steelers, Browns
Currently: Steelers, Browns, Bengals, Ravens

This one. . . was not as pretty. Yeesh. I had some decent things to say about Cleveland, but thought things wouldn’t come together for them until at least 2008. I also didn’t see Derek Anderson coming at all. Whoops. I messed up on the Steelers as well; in the original preview, I said that the three top teams in this division were all good, but Ben Roethlisberger would hold them back. Wrong.

For some reason, I predicted that Steve McNair would regress, but the Ravens would finish second. Uh, dumb? And I really thought the Bengals would just score all over everybody. Rudi Johnson has been hurt, but still. This was an ugly division for me.

AFC South:

The Prediction: Jaguars, Colts, Titans, Texans
Currently: Colts, Jaguars, Titans, Texans

This one would have looked really good, if the Jags could have stolen Sunday’s game against Indy. D’oh. Of course, I was a major Byron Leftwich proponent, and we all know how that turned out (not well). Indy’s defense has not been the major weakness I thought it would be, and they’re sitting pretty at 10-2. Oh well. I was too harsh on the Texans, also. I ripped them hard, and they’ve actually been pretty decent. So, lesson learned.

AFC West:

The Prediction: Broncos, Chargers, Raiders, Chiefs
Currently: Chargers, Broncos, Raiders, Chiefs

Both of the bottom two teams here are pretty stinky overall. The Chiefs are especially bad; at least there’s a glimmer of a future in Oakland. Oh, and: surprise! Larry Johnson got hurt!

The Chargers are pretty junky. I blasted Norv Turner, and he’s largely lived up to his billing. I overestimated the Broncos, however. Especially on defense, where they look awful. This season has raised some questions re: Mike Shanahan’s general competency. Kick to Devin Hester much? Sigh. . . This one is probably over: the Broncos are reeling after a couple of ugly losses, so the Chargers should cruise to a nine- or ten-win season and the playoff spot.

NFC West:

The Prediction: 49ers, Seahawks, Rams, Cardinals
Currently: Seahawks, Cardinals, 49ers, Rams

Yee-ouch. That San Fran pick looks pretty nasty right now, doesn’t it. The lesson: never, ever think Alex Smith is competent. Frank Gore has not exactly been the difference-maker I said he’s be, either. The Seahawks are boring and mediocre, but that’s enough to get the job done in this horrendous division.

The Cardinals are making a little noise, especially after Sunday’s win against the Browns. Sitting at 6-6 now, they have a real shot at a Wild Card spot. We’ll see if Kurt Warner can keep all of his body parts attached. . .

NFC South:

The Prediction: Saints, Panthers, Bucs, Falcons
Currently: Bucs, Panthers, Saints, Falcons

Whither the Saints? They’re making me look pretty bad, here. I still think Tampa Bay sucks, but someone has to win this thing. The Saints occasionally show signs of life, then they do something stupid like losing to the Bucs on Sunday. That was a big loss, and probably put a fork in New Orleans. Carolina continues to be mediocre at best, and the Falcons are awful. At least I got a couple of these picks right.

NFC East:

The Prediction: Eagles, Redskins, Cowboys, Giants
Currently: Cowboys, Giants, Redskins, Eagles

I butchered this one about as badly as I did the AFC North. I ripped on Tony Romo, and declared Donovan McNabb would “play at a high level.” Oh. I pretty much screwed this whole thing up: the Giants haven’t collapsed (yet), the Redskins aren’t looking too hot for a Wild Card, the Cowboys are the class of the conference, and the Eagles suck. Just another day at the office.

NFC North:

The Prediction: Bears, Packers, Vikings, Lions
Currently: Packers, Lions, Vikings, Bears

This one should look a little better a few weeks from now. The Vikings and Bears should blow past Detroit; the Lions are going in the tank. I thought the Packers would be pretty good, but I didn’t expect 10-2. I thought Rex Grossman would blow Chicago’s season, but not until the playoffs. I thought Adrian Peterson would be the Purple Jesus, but the lack of a passing game would cost the Vikings. So, plenty of half-rights and almost-goods. Compared to some of my more brutal divisions, I won’t argue too much.

Super Bowl:

The Prediction: Patriots over Eagles
The New Prediction: Patriots over Packers

Ugh, that Eagles pick just keeps twisting the knife. I actually think that a Packers/Cowboys rematch could go to Green Bay; Favre put the Pack in an immediate hole on Thursday before getting hurt, and if a tidier first quarter that could have been a very different game. I really hope they meet in the playoffs, just to get another taste. And, like I said earlier, if the Pats can run the ball they’ll go to the Super Bowl. Homeboy.

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