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.
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.
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!