WASHINGTON – Well, it’s that time of year again. The NFL regular season is in the books, so now I must own up to the stuff I got wrong and to preen and make a jerk of myself for the stuff I got right (my apologies, Saints and Cardinals fans). As usual, I’ll pause just long enough to look back and see if you’re not entertained.
Just know this isn’t a total season wrap. I’ll still be around to recap the playoffs, and I’ll do a write-up of the NFL champion once Super Bowl XLVII is all said and done. But this is just closing out the regular season since most teams in the league have indeed reached the end of the season.
So to save you from clicking here to see what I predicted (I still suggest you do so you can get the full scope of the stuff I’ve been saying), I’ll show you what I said and then what actually happened. So we can commence the pointing and laughing, or the patting me on the back:
What I predicted: Eagles 10-6 Giants 9-7 Redskins 9-7 Cowboys 8-8
Best call: “The Cowboys don’t respond well to pressure, and this year the pressure is on for them to break through the NFC to the Super Bowl. And much like when they hosted it two years ago, they’ll fail miserably.”
Worst call: “Philly is best equipped to handle a tough schedule. Vick remains a tremendous X-factor, they have one of the best runners (LeSean McCoy), one of the best pass rush tandems (Trent Cole and Jason Babin), and a talented defensive backfield to take advantage of the great rush. This is the Eagles’ year to (make a playoff run).” What happened:
Redskins 10-6 Giants 9-7 Cowboys 8-8 Eagles 4-12
I could’ve added about three or four more “best call” quotes under this division, but I’ll spare you. I nailed the Cowboys (both their record and their status as the most overrated team in the league), along with the Giants’ record and status as the league’s biggest rubix cube. Most people laughed in my face when I said the Redskins would be 9-7, but it looks like even I managed to underrate them. As for the Eagles…I have no words for them. A team that talented shouldn’t be replacing the ‘Skins as the NFC East cellar-dweller, but it looks like they’ve drawn the short straw anyway. Oh, and good luck replacing your most winning coach.
Editor’s note: You can see how other WTOP staffers predicted this season would go for the Redskins here. While most predicted the team wouldn’t fare so well, kudos to digital editor Lacey Mason for forecasting 11 wins for RG3 and company.
Several other staffers – including editor Judy Taub, program director Laurie Cantillo and sports director Dave Johnson – predicted the ‘Skins would go 9-7. Not too shabby.
Others (ahem, news director Mitchell Miller and anchor Dimitri Sotis) apparently had little faith. Their predictions: 6-10 and 5-11, respectively.
What I predicted:
Packers 12-4 Bears 10-6 Lions 9-7 Vikings 6-10
Best call: “I’ve seen quite a few people pick Chicago as their sleeper team. I won’t go that far, but I definitely like their chances to return to the playoffs.”
Worst call: I’m not even sure how I found 6 wins for these guys. Adrian Peterson is coming off of a serious injury. The jury is still out on whether Christian Ponder is a legit franchise QB…without any consistent weapons for him to throw to, I don’t see (the Vikings doing well).
Packers 11-5 Vikings 10-6 Bears 10-6 Lions 4-12
Even though got Chicago’s record right, the fact that I thought they’d be a playoff team shows how badly I handicapped this division. I saw the Lions taking a step back, just not completely falling off a cliff. Plus, I got Minnesota’s record totally reversed. All the more reason Adrian Peterson should be MVP of the league.
What I predicted:
Falcons 12-4 Saints 8-8 Panthers 6-10 Bucs 5-11
Best call: “The fans won’t have bags on their heads, but this is going to be a long year in the Bayou.”
Worst call: “I’m automatically leery of any NFL team led by a college coach…I can’t give the benefit of the doubt to a college guy.”
Falcons 13-3 Panthers 7-9 Saints 7-9 Bucs 7-9
This could be my best division (especially if Atlanta gets to the Super Bowl). I was just about right on the Falcons and Panthers, and even I managed to overrate the Saints by a game even though I seemed to be the only one who thought Bountygate would kill their 2012 season. The jury is still out on the Greg Schiano and the Bucs, but that team is more competitive than I thought they’d be (even if Schiano made a name for himself for all the wrong reasons).
What I predicted:
Niners 8-8 Rams 6-10 Seahawks 6-10 Cardinals 4-12
Best call: “When (Arizona’s) choices at QB are a 5th round pick from Fordham (John Skelton) and any signal caller from the QB Class of 2007 (Kevin Kolb), you’re doomed.”
Worst call:”I’m not sold on (the Seahawks) defense yet, but by next year Seattle could be nipping at the Niners’ heels.”
Even though I was a game off, I got Arizona pegged right. And that’s about the only thing I got right. Seattle’s defense wasn’t just good; it’s one of the best in the league. Russell Wilson somehow managed to surpass even my expectations, and I was one of his biggest fans before the season. I went out on a limb over San Fran, and I was loud wrong. It looked like I was going to have to eat crow about the Rams, but that ended up being pretty close.
What I predicted:
Patriots 12-4 Bills 10-6 Jets 8-8 Dolphins 5-11
Best call: “(The Patriots are) still the best team in this division and one of the best in the conference.
Worst call: “This Bills defense could still be one of the league’s best … the playoff drought in Western New York is over.”
Patriots 12-4 Dolphins 7-9 Jets 6-10 Bills 6-10
Save for being exactly right about the Pats (which is kinda like being right that the sun would rise in the East), I couldn’t have had this division more wrong. The Jets managed to be even worse than I thought, and the Dolphins actually put together a fine first season for new coach Joe Philbin. As for Buffalo…the one year I go out on a limb for you, this is how you repay me? You’re dead to me.
Best call: “The Steelers will be good…just not as good as we’re used to.”
Worst call: “Can you remember the last time you saw Cincinnati put together two solid seasons in a row? Me neither. Which is why I’m not picking them to do it now.”
Ravens 10-6 Bengals 10-6 Steelers 8-8 Browns 5-11
I’ve resigned myself to my fate: I just can’t pick Cincinnati right. Feel free to trust my picks. Just don’t believe a word I say about the Bengals.
I basically called Baltimore right, the spirit of my Pittsburgh prediction was right (even though I still managed to overrate them by two games), and you won’t catch me patting myself on the back about calling Cleveland right for the same reason I don’t for pegging New England correctly.
What I predicted:
Texans 13-3 Titans 7-9 Colts 6-10 Jags 3-13
Best call: “Notwithstanding a good year from Gabbert, the Jacksonville Jaguars are on the clock.”
Worst call: “I don’t care what Merrill Hoge says: this is still a losing team.” What happened:
Texans 12-4 Colts 11-5 Titans 6-10 Jags 2-14
Perhaps I should start listening to Merrill Hoge. Indy not only challenged Houston for the AFC South, but they handed the 2-14 baton to Jacksonville to give me at least one good call in this division (even though the Chiefs outsucked them to grab the top pick in the upcoming draft). Well, maybe not one…Tennessee was about as mediocre as I thought.
What I predicted: Broncos 10-6 Chiefs 7-9 Chargers 6-10 Raiders 5-11
Best call: “When this (Chargers) team underachieves (again), heads will roll: Norv will be fired, and A.J. “Lord of the No Rings” Smith will be thrown out on his face.”
Worst call: “(Denver’s) schedule is brutal, so don’t count on a gaudy record.
Well, got the division winner right, but Denver did get that gaudy record. I’m not sure if San Diego ownership actually resorted to the rough stuff, but I called that situation right along with Oakland’s struggles. All of that is undone by how much I overrated Kansas City…how that team manged to have more Pro-Bowlers (5) than wins (2) is beyond me.
Well, that’s every division and every prediction. Like at least 31 NFL teams, I’ll just have to hope I do better next season.