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Season Predictions in Review

Back in August I made my final season predictions for the 2016-17 NFL season. It didn’t go well.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Whenever I roll out my season predictions, I know I’m going to get a fair amount wrong. You can never predict the NFL season too accurately.

At least this year none of you sent me a scalding yet hilarious email telling me how bad my picks were this year.

That is not an invitation to do so.

Anyway. After a classic Super Bowl last night, we are now in the NFL news desert that is the off-season. That also means that it’s time to take a look back to August and see how wrong I was in my predictions.

NFC East

My Predictions:
  1. Dallas Cowboys (12-4)
  2. New York Giants (6-10)
  3. Washington Redskins (6-10)
  4. Philadelphia Eagles (5-11)
Actual Standings:
  1. Dallas Cowboys (13-3)
  2. New York Giants (11-5)
  3. Washington Redskins (8-7-1)
  4. Philadelphia Eagles (7-9)

What I got right:

Well, I did get the finishing order correct, so that counts for something. I was mostly correct on what I said for Dallas, too. I figured if Dez Bryant, Ezekiel Elliot, and Tony Romo stayed healthy, it was a Super Bowl caliber roster. Close. No one saw Dak Prescott coming this year; and with him the Cowboys were, in fact, a Super Bowl contender.

I was also close on the Giants and Eagles. I mentioned that if Eli Manning had a good year, the Giants could be a playoff team (I just didn’t think he would). I also said that the Eagles would be improved but not great this year.

Oh, and I specifically mentioned how Josh Norman wouldn’t make as big of an impact in Washington as some thought.

What I got wrong:

Basically everything other than the Cowboys. I didn’t believe in any of the other QBs in the division (whoops) as all of them played above what I expected.

I think my biggest miss in this division was Carson Wentz. He was very impressive as a rookie, especially at the start of the year.

NFC North

My Predictions:
  1. Green Bay Packers (13-3)
  2. Minnesota Vikings (11-5)
  3. Chicago Bears (4-12)
  4. Detroit Lions (4-12)
Actual Standings:
  1. Green Bay Packers (10-6)
  2. Detroit Lions (9-7)
  3. Minnesota Vikings (8-8)
  4. Chicago Bears (3-13)

What I got right:

Basically just the Packers and Bears. I’m slightly proud that I did nail the Packers losses to the Vikings and Redskins, but overall the team did underachieve from what I, and many others, thought they could do.

As for the Bears, I essentially said that Jay Cutler was done and the rest of the team wasn’t very good. But let’s be real, that wasn’t a tough one to predict.

What I got wrong:

Everything else. Especially the Lions. I thought that the Lions would a complete dumpster fire this year, especially without Calvin Johnson. Instead, they won lots of close games and went to the playoffs for the second time in three years in Jim Caldwell (say what?).

I also jumped on the Vikings bandwagon like just about everyone else. But when you lose your starting QB, running back, and two offensive tackles, there just isn’t much left. So basically because of injuries, everything I wrote about the Vikings back in August was dead wrong.

NFC South

My Predictions:
  1. Carolina Panthers (12-4)
  2. New Orleans Saints (8-8)
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11)
  4. Atlanta Falcons (5-11)
Actual Standings:
  1. Atlanta Falcons (11-5)
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-7)
  3. New Orleans Saints (7-9)
  4. Carolina Panthers (6-10)

What I got right:

Virtually nothing.

Ok, I was actually pretty close on the Saints. But they’re fairly predictable at this point in the sense that Drew Brees (the most underappreciated QB in the league in my opinion) will win them some games, but he isn’t good enough to get them out of that 7-9, 8-8, or 9-7 range.

What I got wrong:

Basically everything.

I literally got the division completely backwards. Flip it upside down and I almost got it exactly right. I was so wrong about Atlanta it’s almost funny. In fact, my exact quote was: “Atlanta isn’t a great team.” Wrong.

Never did I think that Tampa would be as good as they were this year either. While I did say that Tampa would be improved, never did I imagine a 9-7 record and a legitimate chance to make the playoffs. They may have benefited slightly from being under the radar all year, so we’ll see how they do next year.

And then there was Carolina. Last year I didn’t think Cam Newton could carry them (he did). This year, I was a believer and thought Newton could carry them again, especially with Kelvin Benjamin back in the fold. Nope. Carolina was substantially worse this year as they seemed to have lost the confidence that brought them to the cusp of a championship a year ago.

NFC West

My Predictions:
  1. Seattle Seahawks (13-3)
  2. Arizona Cardinals (11-5)
  3. Los Angeles Rams (5-11)
  4. San Francisco 49ers (1-15)
Actual Standings:
  1. Seattle Seahawks (10-5-1)
  2. Arizona Cardinals (7-8-1)
  3. Los Angeles Rams (4-12)
  4. San Francisco 49ers (2-14)

What I got right:

Again, I got the correct finishing order in the division. Essentially I was correct in what I wrote about Seattle. I mentioned that they would turn Russell Wilson loose, and that they’re defense was still good, but no longer the best. Sure I over inflated their record a bit, but that’s a win for me.

I almost got the Rams and 49ers exactly right. Both were terrible. I also correctly called the firing of Jeff Fisher, which admittedly wasn’t much of a stretch. Along with that, I noted that I wasn’t sold on Jared Goff.

I’m a little disappointed that I predicted the 49ers to be worse than they actually were, but not by much. This team is a disaster, and I correctly predicted that Chip Kelly would only accelerate the team’s free-fall.

What I got wrong:

Mostly everything I said about the Cardinals. After a few years of being near the top of the division, and league, the Cardinals took a step back. I did note that it was possible for Carson Palmer to go full Jake Delhomme this year, and he did. But I did specifically note that the Cardinals would not drop off. Welp.

NFC Playoffs:

What I got right:

I only got half of the NFC playoff field correct, picking the Cowboys, Packers, and Seahawks to get to the tournament. I did actually have the Cowboys squaring off with the Packers in the divisional round, albeit in Lambeau. And I had the Packers winning it. So there’s that.

I also had Green Bay losing to a NFC South team in the Championship Game, so that counts for something. Right?

What I got wrong:

Everything else. I pegged the Cardinals, Vikings, and Panthers as playoff teams, and the best of that bunch finished 8-8 on the season. So that was all woefully wrong. I also had Seattle losing to a NFC South team in the divisional round, but nothing else about that was accurate.

AFC East

My Predictions:
  1. New England Patriots (13-3)
  2. Buffalo Bills (7-9)
  3. Miami Dolphins (6-10)
  4. New York Jets (5-11)
Actual Standings:
  1. New England Patriots (14-2)
  2. Miami Dolphins (10-6)
  3. Buffalo Bills (7-9)
  4. New York Jets (5-11)

What I got right:

A lot of it, actually. Other than the Dolphins, I was only off on the Patriots record by one game. My opening sentence summed up the Patriots back in that article: “Guys, it doesn't matter that Tom Brady will miss the first four games.”

It didn’t; as Brady put together one of the best seasons you will ever see, let alone from a 39 year-old QB that only played 12 games.

Accurately, I noted that Tyrod Taylor isn’t a QB good enough to elevate the Bills, although I will admit I think he is better than some give him credit for. Buffalo has the playmakers, they just haven’t put it all together.

I had Ryan Fitzpatrick taking a step back as the biggest reason the Jets would regress this year. And guess what? That happened. The Jets were again the Jets that we all came to know and love over the past few years.

What I got wrong:

The Dolphins. I basically wrote Miami off, only getting them to six wins based on an easy schedule. Even without Ryan Tannehill down the stretch, they still pushed into the playoffs. I wasn’t a big believer in the Dolphins back in August, apparently.

AFC North

My Predictions:
  1. Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3)
  2. Cincinnati Bengals (11-5)
  3. Baltimore Ravens (11-5)
  4. Cleveland Browns (4-12)
Actual Standings:
  1. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5)
  2. Baltimore Ravens (8-8)
  3. Cincinnati Bengals (6-9-1)
  4. Cleveland Browns (1-15)

What I got right:

The top and bottom of the division. Well, at least their places.

I was right (mostly) about the Steelers. They weren’t the juggernaut I expected them to be, but the offense was more than capable. Had Antonio Bryant, Le’Veon Bell, and Ben Roethlisberger all played all 16 games, maybe Pittsburgh would have gotten to that 13-3 record I pegged them at.

I did say that Bengals would take a step back. Unfortunately, I said that, but didn’t follow through with their win-loss record.

I had the Browns in dead last, although I thought they would be better than they were in reality. But I’ll still take credit for pegging them in last place.

What I got wrong:

I apparently over valued everyone in the AFC North. All of the teams were at least two games better in my predictions than they were in real life. The Ravens apparently aren’t as talented as I thought, the Bengals took a huge step back, and the Browns were actually the worst team in the league, despite my statement in August saying otherwise.

AFC South

My Predictions:
  1. Indianapolis Colts (10-6)
  2. Houston Texans (9-7)
  3. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-8)
  4. Tennessee Titans (1-15)
Actual Standings:
  1. Houston Texans (9-7)
  2. Tennessee Titans (9-7)
  3. Indianapolis Colts (8-8)
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-13)

What I got right:

Well, I did get the Texans record correct. And my write-up was more or less accurate. I said that if Brock Osweiler was good, then Houston would win the division. I also said that if Osweiler wasn’t, then Houston would be, more or less, the same team they had been. That’s basically what happened.

What I got wrong:

All off-season I was touting how if Andrew Luck played the Colts couldn’t possibly be worse than they were a year ago. Wrong. I also said that the defense would be slightly improved overall. Very wrong. I think I was drinking way too much of the Colts Kool-aid this off-season.

I did say that I wasn’t all about Jacksonville yet this year, but they were a lot worse than I expected. After a week one near win against the Packers, I thought that maybe there was a chance for what I predicted. And then the rest of the season happened.

And then there was my Titans prediction. Probably my second biggest miss (behind Atlanta) in my entire series of predictions. I saw nothing to indicate success with Tennessee, and yet they found it. I would still argue that the Titans were probably the best team in the division this year, but couldn’t quite topple the Texans. So very wrong about this team.

AFC West

My Predictions:
  1. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)
  2. Oakland Raiders (11-5)
  3. Denver Broncos (8-8)
  4. San Diego Chargers (7-9)
Actual Standings
  1. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)
  2. Oakland Raiders (12-4)
  3. Denver Broncos (9-7)
  4. San Diego Chargers (5-11)

What I got right:

Most of this, actually. The correct order, and almost exact records for the top three teams. And more or less close on the San Diego Los Angeles Chargers.

I think in my predictions I summed up the Chiefs nicely as a team that wasn’t fun to watch, didn’t make mistakes, and just won games. That’s exactly what the Chiefs did.

I was also right on (other than being a game off) about the Raiders. Correctly calling their first winning season since 2002, led by a spectacular core of young players.

Denver was probably one of my more accurate write-ups. I said that the QB situation didn’t inspire confidence, which it really doesn’t. I also noted that I had the Broncos getting off to a good start before falling apart down the stretch. That’s basically what happened.

Even back in August, I said that giving the Chargers 7 wins was too many. I always seem to over hype this team and I did so again. Really, this is just Philip Rivers and...other guys.

What I got wrong:

Not much, other than the records.

AFC Playoffs:

What I got right:

I did correctly have the Patriots, Steelers, and Chiefs in the playoffs, but that’s where these correct predictions end. None of my seedings were right, and I didn’t hit any of the match-ups.

What I got wrong:

Most of it. I incorrectly had the Colts, Bengals, and Ravens in the playoffs. Much like the NFC, the best team out of that bunch had a record of 8-8 in reality.

So in review, I didn’t do too well. In some divisions I got the standings correct, and in the AFC West I almost got the whole thing right. If only I had Oakland going to the playoffs. Imagine what a different world we would live in if my Super Bowl predictions of the Colts and Panthers had been accurate.