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Revisiting My NFL Preseason Predictions

We’re now less than a week from the Patriots and Giants meeting the in the Super Bowl for the second time in four years.  I thought I’d take a little time to revisit my preseason NFL predictions with the benefit of hindsight.

I had predicted the Jets would finish 11-5 and make the playoff. The were a disappointing 8-8. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

Let’s start with the AFC East.  I had the Patriots winning the division at 13-3.  I was spot on with that fearless prediction.  I had the Jets finishing second at 11-5.  They were 8-8 and missed the playoffs.  I had Miami at 7-9 and Buffalo at 6-10.  I was dead on with the Bills and Miami finished 6-10 as well.

Moving to the AFC North, I had the Steelers winning the division at 12-4.  Pittsburgh did finish 12-4 but so did Baltimore.  Baltimore won the division on a tiebreaker.  I had Baltimore at 10-6.  I whiffed a bit on the Ohio teams.  I thought Andy Dalton would struggle and the Bengals would finish at 3-13.  Dalton and fellow rookie A.J. Green played out of their minds and Cincinnati finished 9-7 to qualify for the playoffs.  I thought Colt McCoy would have a strong sophomore campaign and the Browns would finish 8-8.  Cleveland lost some tough games to finish 4-12.

Like a lot of people, when Peyton Manning announced his neck wasn’t healing, I figured the AFC South was Houston’s for the taking.  I had them winning the division at 10-6 which is exactly what they did.  I also thought Tennessee would surprise people and be better than expected.  The Titans were 9-7, I had them at 8-8.  I had no idea how truly awful the Colts would be and picked them to finish 7-9 (boy was I wrong).  I nailed Jacksonville at 5-11.

Nobody could have predicted the run Tim Tebow had in 2011 with the Broncos. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The AFC West was tricky because I doubt anyone saw Tebowmania coming.  I had Denver at 6-10, but in my mind I was thinking Kyle Orton would play all 16 games.  I predicted the Chargers to win the division at 10-6, but the did what San Diego does best, UNDERACHIEVE!!!  I nailed Oakland and Kansas City at 8-8 and 7-9 respectively.

Recapping the AFC, I correctly predicted two of four division winners, four of six playoff teams, and the Super Bowl representative.

I bought the Eagle preseason hype and predicted them to go 12-4 and win the NFC East.  They finished 8-8, but could have easily won 11 or 12 games.  I had Dallas at 11-5, which was very reasonable with all their late losses.  I figured the Giants would have their usual up and down season and wind up at 8-8 (they were indeed up and down but got hot late and won the division at 9-7).  I was pretty close with Washington at 5-11 (they were 6-10).

I was pretty spot on with the NFC North.  I had Green Bay winning the division at 12-4 (they were 15-1).  I was dead on with the Lions finishing second at 10-6.  I thought the Bears would finish 9-7 (they were 8-8 but really struggled when Jay Cutler went down in November).  Minnesota did worse than I expected at 3-13 (I had them pegged for 7-9).

I wasn’t as close in the NFC South.  I had Atlanta winning the division at 13-3 (they were a wild card team at 10-6).  I had New Orleans being the wild card team at 11-5 (they won the division at 13-3).  Like the Bengals, I thought Carolina would struggle mightily with a rookie quarterback and finish 3-13.  (Cam Newton had an electric rookie year and the Panthers were 6-10 and highly competitive).  I thought Tampa Bay would regress some and finish 8-8 (they were awful and finished 4-12).

Our friends at Football Outsiders are the only people I know who predicted the 49ers to win the NFC West.  I had them at a lowly 6-10. (we all know how their season ended).  I bought in to the Rams hype and thought Sam Bradford would lead St. Louis to a division title at 9-7 (Bradford was hurt most of the season and the Rams were 2-14).  I nailed the Cardinals at 8-8, because I thought Kevin Kolb would make a difference (turns out El Paso’s John Skelton accounted for most of their wins).  Seattle overachieved to finish 7-9 (I had them at 4-12).

Recapping the NFC, I correctly predicted 1 of 4 division winners, 3 of 6 playoff teams, and I didn’t even have the Giants in the playoffs.

It turns out with a little bit of insight and luck the NFL is quite predictable!




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