Last September before any NFL team snapped a ball in anger, I predicted how all of the teams would do and who would be in the playoffs. Now that the season is over, it is time for me to “face the music” and open my report card for the year. In no way do I remember all of the picks that I made back then – but I do recall one disastrously incorrect pick. I thought that the Houston Texans would run away and win the AFC South. I have no idea what else I picked for that division but it could not be any worse than that prediction – - could it?
In the AFC West, I liked Denver to win the division with KC second, San Diego third and the Raiders trailing the field. The good news:
I had the order of finish exactly right.
The bad news:
I had KC in second place with only a 7-9 record and did not have San Diego anywhere near the playoffs.
Just because I had the complete order of finish right, I’ll give myself a “B” for the AFC West.
In the AFC South, I did indeed have the Houston Texans winning it all with a record of 11-6. It will not take you long to do the research necessary to see that I was only off by 9 games. Looking on the bright side, I did have the order of finish for the other three teams exactly right. I had Indy ahead of Tennessee ahead of Jax. I even hit the record for the Titans on the head.
However, the reality of my pre-season analysis was that I completely misread how the teams would perform in 2013. For example, I had Indy finishing 2nd in the division with a record of 8-8 but the Colts actually went 11-5.
If I were in a bad mood, I would give myself a D – for the AFC South based on how insufferably wrong I was on the Texans. However, I am feeling an unusual spasm of generosity of spirit right about now, so I’ll give myself a “D+” for the AFC West.
In the AFC North, I had Cincy winning the division – and they did – while I had Cleveland looking up at everyone else in the division – and they did. I thought the Ravens would finish second with the Steelers third. Actually, they had the same record but the Steelers finished second in the division on the basis of a better record against teams in the division. I had Cincy’s record exactly right (11-5) and I had Cleveland’s record exactly right (4-12).
I’ll give myself a “B+” for the AFC North on the basis of hitting two teams records exactly right plus having the order of finish almost right.
In the AFC East, I had New England as the division winner. My guess is that among all of the people who made such prognostications back in September, a mere 92% of them had New England winning there. I can pat myself on the back and point out that I said New England would finish at 12-4 which is exactly what they did. However, the wheels come off the wagon at this point…
I thought Miami would finish second in the AFC East at 7-9. Actually, they finished third based on a tiebreaker with an 8-8 record. It was the other two teams in the division where I was just a bit off base.
I had the Jets finishing 4-12. They finished 8-8. Not good at all.
I had Buffalo finishing 3-13. They finished 6-10. Not good at all.
Getting the division winner’s record exactly right and getting another team in the division within a game of their actual record would normally indicate a good grade. However, when I miss two teams in the division so badly that each one doubles the number of wins I projected for them, there is no way to hide that ineptitude. I will give myself a “C –“ for the AFC East; if anyone wants to argue that it really ought to be a “D +”, I do not think I would have an easy time defending my selection of a grade here.
I had the AFC playoff field as:
Denver and New England would have the byes. They did.
Cincy and Houston would be the other two division winners. Cincy actually did that and I would rather not talk about the “Houston pick” any more.
Baltimore and Pittsburgh would be the wild card teams. Neither one made it to the playoffs; KC and San Diego did.
In the NFC West, I had SF and Seattle each finishing at 12-4 with SF winning the division on a tiebreaker. SF did indeed finish 12-4; that earned them 2nd place in the division because Seattle finished 13-3. I had St. Louis finishing ahead of Arizona by 2 games. Instead, Arizona beat out St. Louis by 3 games.
There was some good analysis here and some dog-breath bad analysis here. I’ll give myself a “C” for the NFC West.
My call for the NFC South was not good at all. I had New Orleans and Atlanta finishing atop the division each with a 12-4 record. New Orleans finished 11-5; that close to my prediction. Atlanta finished 4-12; I only missed their performance by 8 games… Actually, Carolina won the division with a 12-4 record but I only had them at 9-7. The only solid news in the division is that I had Tampa finishing last with a record south of .500.
There is not much there to justify a passing grade for the division so I’ll give myself an “F” for the NFC South.
In the NFC North, I had Green Bay as the division winner – except I thought their record would be 12-4 and not 8-7-1. I also had Chicago finishing second in the division at 9-7; in actuality, Chicago would up at 8-8. I had Minnesota in third at 7-9 but they turned in a 5-10-1 season. I had the Lions last in the division at 5-11 but the Lions won 7 games.
If a professor were to give me a “Gentleman’s C” for this division, I would accept it with gratitude. Actually, those predictions are not worth anything more than a “D +”
For the NFC East, I had Washington winning and they finished dead last. I had the Giants finishing second and they finished third. I had Dallas finishing third but they finished second. I had Philly finishing last and they were the division winner. That is correct; I had the division exactly upside-down.
There is no need for discussion here, for the NFC East, my grade is an “F”.
I had the NFC playoff field as:
Green Bay and SF having the byes. Both made the playoffs; neither one got a bye week.
Washington and New Orleans would be the other two division winners. Neither of those prognostications came to pass.
Seattle and Atlanta would be the wild card teams. Seattle surely did make it to the playoffs while Atlanta will have a very high pick in the draft come May.
So, the grades come down to this:
No matter how you try to make that look anything less than awful, it still stinks. If we were in college and calculating a grade point average here, the answer would be 1.6. That would not keep me eligible to play an NCAA sport because that GPA would make a lie of the concept of the “scholar-athlete”.
Not to worry, I am only temporarily discouraged and my embarrassment will become a dim memory once the end of August rolls around when it will be time for me to do this again. I shall take some solace in the words of several famous folks:
“We learn from failure, not from success.” Bram Stoker
“Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.” Truman Capote
And most of all…
“There are three kinds of men. The ones that learn by readin’. The few that learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.” Will Rogers.
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………