Back on September 8, 2015, I crawled out on a limb and predicted the outcome of the NFL regular season. After previous attempts to do just that, you would have thought that I had learned my lesson. Obviously, I had not. Everything seemed so clear back then. But now, as is the tradition here when I do not have a computer crash and a website hacking to destroy the previous record, I present the post mortem on those predictions.
Here is a link to the original predictions in case you want to verify my comments here:
I will go along division-by-division and assign myself a grade for each one. At the end, I will calculate my “Grade Point Average” and hope that it is good enough to figuratively keep me eligible if I were an NCAA “student-athlete”.
I should also mention here that unlike a lot of millennials who do not recognize the possibility that one might get a grade below an “A-minus” for anything, I went to school at a time where grades of “A” through “F” were in play and were used accordingly. Just a foreshadowing here, there will be a “full spectrum” of grades included here.
At the outset of my predictions, I mentioned 5 coaches that I thought were on a hot-seat prior to the kickoff in the first game. With regard to that prognostication:
Two of the five were fired in mid-season (Joe Philbin and Ken Whisenhunt)
One of the five was fired in January. (Lovie Smith)
Two of the five are still in their positions. (Gus Bradley and Jay Gruden)
I also said that there were 2 coaches who would feel plenty of fan pressure and/or media pressure should their teams under-perform regarding expectations. With regard to that prognostication:
Both teams under-performed and both coaches were fired. (Tom Coughlin and Chip Kelly).
With regard to the identification of coaches who might be looking forward to “job insecurity”, I noted 7 coaches. Of the seven, five were fired and one (Jay Gruden) surely will continue on as the Skins’ coach since the Skins are the reigning NFC East champions. I will call the Coaching Hot Seat Grade a “B-plus”.
In the AFC East, I had the Patriots winning the division (not exactly a bold pick). However, in addition, I predicted the Pats would have a 12-4 record which is exactly how they ended the season. After that, my crystal ball needed a bit of Windex to provide clearer vision.
I thought the Dolphins would finish second at 10-6; they finished last at 6-10. In my defense, I did say then that the Dolphins’ OL would have to improve significantly in 2015 from its sorry performance in 2014 to achieve the 10-6 record I foresaw. The Dolphins’ OL in 2015 was not improved much if at all.
I had the Bills in 3rd place at 9-7; they finished in 3rd place at 8-8. Not bad…
I had the Jets last with a 4-12 record; they finished 2nd at 10-6. Not so good.
Overall, the AFC East Grade is a “C”.
In the AFC North, two teams finished exactly where I predicted they would. If that sounds like a weak endorsement, it is. Here are how the predictions turned out:
I picked the Ravens to win the division with a record of 11-5; the Ravens finished 5-11. Ravens’ fans can point to a plethora of season-ending injuries to explain the team’s under-achievement. All I can point to is a hugely incorrect prediction here.
I picked the Steelers to finish second in the division with a record of 8-8; the Steelers did finish second with a record of 10-6. I did say that the Steelers would need to win with offense this year (they did) and that the presence of Antonio Brown would be a major factor in their success (he most definitely was).
I picked the Bengals to finish third in the division with a record of 8-8; the Bengals won the division with a record of 12-4. Ooops… I thought the Bengals’ defense would not be up to the task of getting the team into the playoffs. Mea culpa…
I picked the Browns to finish last in the division with a record of 5-11 (another bold prediction on my part); the Browns did finish last with a sorry-assed 3-13 record. I did point out that in 2014 the Browns’ weakness was their run defense; it was the worst in the NFL. Well, in 2015, the improvement was only minimal; the Browns run defense was ranked 30th in the NFL.
Overall the AFC North Grade is a “C-minus”.
In the AFC South, I predicted the final record for 3 of the 4 teams exactly.
I picked the Colts to win the division with an 11-5 record; the Colts finished second at 8-8. In my defense, I did note that the Colts’ OL allowed too many hits on Andrew Luck and indeed it cost Luck the ability to play for almost half the season. Moreover, I did say that the Colts DL had to find a way to get pressure on the QB; that was hardly a strength of the team this year.
I picked the Texans to finish second with a 9-7 record; the Texans finished at 9-7 but that was good enough to win the division.
I picked the Jags to finish third in the division with a 5-11 record; indeed, the Jags finished third with a 5-11 record.
I picked the Titans to finish last in the division with a 3-13 record; indeed, the Titans finished last with a 3-13 record.
Overall the AFC South Grade is an “A“.
In the AFC West, I only missed badly on one team and came within one game of the actual records on the other three. Here are how the predictions turned out:
I picked the Broncos to win the division with an 11-5 record; the Broncos won the division with a 12-4 record.
I picked the Chiefs to finish second in the division with a 10-6 record; the Chiefs finished second with an 11-5 record.
I picked the Chargers to finish third in the division with an 8-8 record; the Chargers folded like a cheap lawn chair, finished last with a 4-12 record.
I picked the Raiders to finish last in the division with a 6-10 record; the Raiders finished third with a 7-9 record.
Overall, The AFC West Grade is a “B-plus”.
I must say that as I begin to look at the NFC predictions, I have a sense that my overall “Grade Point Average” this year might grant me symbolic NCAA eligibility. However, one should never assume that past performance is any indicator of future performance…
In the NFC West, there must have been a lot of static on my “Psychic Hotline” back in September 2015. If I were to be very generous here, I would say that not many of my predictions were spot-on; if I were to be more critical, I would say that all of these predictions were pretty bad.
I picked the Seahawks to win the division with a 12-4 record; the Seahawks finished second with a 10-6 record. Compounding the error, I cited the addition of Jimmy Graham as a big deal; Graham was mediocre at best for the Seahawks. On the bright side, I specifically said that rookie Tyler Lockett was “a steal in the draft” for the Seahawks. I suspect that every team would want their third-round pick to play so well as a rookie.
I picked the Rams to finish second in the division with a 10-6 record; the Rams finished third with a 7-9 record.
I picked the Niners to finish third in the division with a 7-9 record; the Niners finished last with a 5-11 record.
I picked the Cardinals to finish last in the division with a 7-9 record; the Cards won the division with a 13-3 record. Here is what I said about this prediction at the time:
“The Cards won 11 games last year but only outscored opponents by 11 points. That is called getting a whole lot of lucky bounces of the ball – and footballs are of a shape where the results of bounces can be very random.
“So, I have to decide if the Cards are going to win 13 games this year because they have their #1 QB back and that will lead to more points and more wins – OR – will the Cards regress to the mean in terms of having the ball bounce their way.
“I choose the latter outcome here.”
Overall the NFC West Grade is an “F”.
In the NFC South, disaster struck my predictions once again. Let me urge you to hold your nose as you read through the predictions:
I picked the Saints to win the division with 9-7 record; the Saints finished third with a 7-9 record. In my “analysis”, I thought that the Saints’ pass defense would be improved in 2015. That was hardly the case; the Saints finished 31st in the NFL in pass defense giving up 397.2 yards per game. Yuck…
I picked the Panthers to finish second in the division with the same 9-7 record; the Panthers won the division handily with a 15-1 record. ‘Nuff said…
I picked the Falcons to finish third in the division with a 7-9 record; the Falcons finished second with an 8-8 record.
I picked the Bucs to finish last in the division with a 4-12 record; the Bucs finished last with a 6-10 record.
Overall the NFC South Grade is an “F”.
In the NFC North, the predictions were a lot better than they were in the last two divisions. I recognize that I did not set the bar very high here; in fact, an amoeba might have difficulty doing the limbo beneath that bar. Here are how the predictions turned out:
I picked the Packers to win the division with an 11-5 record; the Packers finished second with a 10-6 record. On the plus side here, I began my comments on the Packers by saying that the loss of Jordy Nelson was a “big deal” and that any other injuries to WRs would result in Aaron Rodgers throwing to a bunch of “JV players”. That kinda/sorta happened…
I picked the Vikings to finish second in the division with a 10-6 record; the Vikes finished first with an 11-5 record. I attributed the improvement in the Vikings to improved play from Teddy Bridgewater and the return of Adrian Peterson. That kinda/sorta happened too…
I picked the Lions to finish third in the division with a 6-10 record; the Lions finished third with a 7-9 record. I predicted a calamitous drop for the Lions from 11-5 in 2014 based on star defensive players going elsewhere. The drop happened and the Lions’ defense was not nearly as good in 2015…
I picked the Bears to finish last in the division with a 4-12 record; the Bears finished last with a 6-10 record. I just thought the Bears were going to be worse than they were last year…
Overall the NFC North Grade is a “B-plus”.
In the NFC East my predictions came directly from Bizarro World where everything is backwards including the name of the planet, Htrae. Earlier, I suggested you hold your nose while reading the predictions; here I would urge you to stifle your giggle response:
I picked the Cowboys to win the division with a 12-4 record; the Cowboys – to use Jerry Jones’ metaphor – wound up looking up and seeing nothing but ass; their record was 4-12. The record is exactly the opposite of my prediction. Yes, I could claim that injuries to the starting QB and the lead WR led to the horrible season. However, I will not do that because injuries are part of the game and if it happened to the Cowboys, then that should not affect my predictions with regard to the rest of the division. Hah!
I picked the Eagles to finish second in the division with a 10-6 record; the Eagles finished second but with a 7-9 record. In my defense, I did say that what the Eagles needed to do was to improve on defense; they did not; the Eagles ranked 30th in the NFL in yards allowed and 28th in the NFL in passing yards allowed. Bleah!
I picked the Giants to finish third in the division with a 6-10 record; the Giants finished third with a 6-10 record. Here was my “bottom line” for the Giants in 2015:
“Last year their defense was horrible – which is pretty much what their defense was two years ago.
“If it doesn’t get a LOT better this year, the Giants will be mired in this level of mediocrity.”
Well, the Giants’ defense in 2015 was the worst in the NFL giving up 420.3 yards per game. Yuck!
I picked the Skins to finish last in the division with a 3-12 record; the Skins won the division with a 9-7 record. Yowza!
Overall, the NFC East Grade is an “F”.
Summing up the individual grades, we have:
3 Grades of “F” producing 0 grade points.
1 Grade of “C-minus” producing 1.6 grade points
1 Grade of “C” producing 2.0 grade points
3 Grades of “B-plus” producing 10.2 grade points
1 grade of “A” producing 4.0 grade points.
That result is 17.8 grade points in 9 “courses” for a season GPA of 1.98. Looks like I will need a summer course or two to raise my average to eligibility standards. I know; I can take that physics course where the emphasis is on gravity. What I do is sit in a chair and prevent the chair from soaring up to the ceiling. If I am successful in that endeavor, I get an “A” as someone who has mastered gravity. Where do I sign up…?
Finally, let me put all this “Grade Point Averaging” into context with a comment from Brad Dickson in the Omaha World-Herald:
“A World-Herald fan poll gave the Husker football recruiting class a grade of “B.” C’mon, these people are not professional analysts. They lack the training to rank recruits, which consists of … well, it includes … OK, the fans have spoken.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………