I'm going to start by going over my preseason predictions of the AFC. (East and North now, West and South later.) Next I'll do the NFC, followed by all my miscellaneous predictions that peppered the time from the NFL draft (and my discovery of FanNation) to the season's beginning. I'm saving those for last since some won't be answered until after the Pro Bowl.
Prediction #35: Despite a more difficult schedule, the Jets improve on last year's 10-6 mark. (11-5 record)
Ha! What a joke. Not even close. I liked their picks of Darrelle Revis and David Harris, who went on to lead the team (Harris 1, Revis 2) in tackles. That's about all I said that was worth anyone's while. The main place where I went wrong was seeing good things from Chad Pennington and Thomas Jones and the continued improvement of sophomore linemen Nick Mangold and D'Brickashaw Ferguson. Every one of them was average when they needed to be excellent. Here are some of the gems from this column:
Prescient quote: "I wouldn't be surprised to see [Pete Kendall] become the next Jetskin, if Dan Snyder makes an offer good enough." Not long after, he made his way to Washignton.
Absurd quote: "This team is vastly better with a couple of extra pieces added and more experience all around." So much better that they won 6 fewer games!
Favorite quote: "And before you go off on diatribes about how you only make 35K for a family of five and you're not playing a game for a living-um, get over yourself. These guys made it in a highly competitive field that pays a lot of money, and they want market value. That's capitalism." I'd wanted to say that for a long time.
Favorite comment: "8-8 or 9-7... they will struggle with the full time switch to the 3-4 this year. Especially considering their best defensive player doesn't fit well in that type of scheme AND he has made himself very vocal in saying he is not comfortable in the scheme, nor does he like the scheme (Jonathan Vilma, for the uninitiated)." - mikesteelnation
Prediction #36: The New England Patriots somehow make the playoffs. (13-3 record)
I basically summed it up by saying "The fact of the matter is, we're debating whether they're going to barely win the division with 10-6, run the table with 16-0, or somewhere in between?" As we found out, they ran the table - and I can at least brag that I mentioned the possibility in my prediction.
Prescient quote: "Welker, I expect, will be just fine - he'll exploit nickel backs and Moss' double coverage and Brady will find him easily." Could I have hit that one better?
Absurd quote: As part of my reasoning for how tough their schedule would be, I said "they have two games apiece against division rivals Buffalo, Miami, and the Jets, who combined to give the Pats half of their losses in 2006, 2004, and 2003." Those three teams combined for 6 non-division wins.
Favorite quote: "Dean **** (aka Dean Urinates, Dean Micturates, Dean Relieves Himself, College Official ****)" - especially awesome since the DC's last name, P E E S, got censored.
Favorite comment: "Belichik definitely "micturated" on somebody's wheaties in the scheduling office... they gave him and the Pats once of the MOST brutal schedules I have EVER seen...." - mikesteelnation (I promise he's not going to get all of them)
Prediction #37: The Miami Dolphins suffer one of the league's most tumultuous seasons. (5-11 record)
Well, despite the 1-15 finish by Miami, I think the Falcons get "most tumultuous," with the Redskins, Bills, and Rams giving the Dolphins some competition for #2. But I said "one of," so I'll call this prediction dead on, though I missed the severity of how much the tumult would show up in the W-L column.
Prescient quote: "Cameron will also be coordinating the offense, a choice I don't agree with. Sure, he's a great coordinator, but he's spreading himself too thin." He'll be back to coordinating in no time.
Absurd quote: "I like a few of their later picks; namely Lorenzo Booker who should complement Ronnie Brown well as a change-of-pace back as well as injury insurance." He played only in the last 5 games, not even getting change-of-pace carries when Ronnie Brown went down. He finished with 125 yards; though maybe the problem might have been lack of opportunity. He got 4.5 YPC.
Favorite quote: "They finally got Trent Green to Miami, and there's no reason to believe he should fail, unless you count his poor performance returning from a nasty concussion last year, or any of the following names: Daunte Culpepper, Joey Harrington, Cleo Lemon, Gus Frerotte, Sage Rosenfels, Jay Fiedler, A.J. Feeley, Brian Griese, and Ray Lucas." And add John Beck and Cleo Lemon to the list.
Favorite comment: ".........What r u talking about?!
Beck was not the worst after Russel and Quinn (who many think Beck might be better).Cameron formed Rivers and Brees and will do the same with Beck and throw in some of Greens tutoring and we have a great QB for the future." - ThXPerTz. While it remains to be seen who's the worst among Beck, Drew Stanton, and Kevin Kolb, it's clear I was right that Trent Edwards was the best of the second tier of QBs in the draft.
Prediction #38: The Bills' continued improvement will not show up in the win/loss column. (7-9 record)
Nailed it! It's indisputable that the Bills made great strides since 2006, but due to a much tougher schedule, they failed to improve upon that year's record. I gave their rookie class an "A-freakin-plus," and though one reason for the grade, Paul Posluszny, got hurt, he looked great before the injury. I was high on J.P. Losman, but also liked Trent Edwards, and predicted that Edwards would eventually be a Matt Schaub - trade bait for a desperate team. Looks instead like Losman will be a Drew Brees; supplanted, but he'll get a chance elsewhere.
Prescient quote: "It'll be important for Ralph Wilson and Marv Levy to show patience - if the games are close, but halfway through the season they're 1-7, it is not time to panic." They started 1-4, with two one-point losses. And then they won 4 straight and 6 of 8 to put themselves in playoff contention.
Absurd quote, coming immediately after my prescient quote: "Don't put Edwards in for Losman." They did, and it worked out great.
Favorite quote: "They demonstrated that the term "franchise player" is inaccurate; meaning in actuality "player we want to keep for one more year," as former FP Nate Clements cashed in on the open market." Man, they really need a new term.
Favorite comment: "Yeah, the Bills will probably go 7-9 or 6-10. I don't think Poz is as great a draft choice as many people do, mainly because of his injury history. No matter what anyone says, tearing two tendons in your knee is bad." - redskinskillcowboys. Well, his knee outlasted the bone of his forearm, anyway.
Prediction #39: The Steelers will not be a top 10 defense for the first time this millennium. (6-10 record)
Well, of course, it depends on how you're measuring top 10. Total points? Yeah, okay, they got #2. Total yards? #1. Rushing yards? #3. Passing yards? Also #3. Hm. Well, they were bottom 3 in interceptions, so... fine, I admit it, I was way wrong. Dick LeBeau, you are wonderful. I based a lot of this prediction on expected friction between LeBeau and Tomlin, with Tomlin expecting to change defensive scheme eventually. As it turns out, it was the offense that got a makeover, and all for the better.
Prescient quote: "[Tomlin] seems to be a sharp guy, with strong motivational skills, and in time I think he'll be a great coach." Even when I was predicting dysfunction and losing for the team, I had a good feeling about the new head man. Roethlisberger loves this guy, and I think the pair will win a Super Bowl before long.
Absurd quote: "This team is going to need to be broken down and rebuilt." No, it doesn't.
Favorite quote: "Of course, there are times when a new coach takes his team to a surprisingly good season; last years' Jets and Saints, for example." Ah, retrospect is fun, isn't it? I also brought up Tampa Bay and Oakland, who similarly fell apart the following year. Maybe I need to think about predicting failure for Pittsburgh again in 2008.
Favorite comment: "I'll keep reading BUT I'm gonna stew about it for a bit...." - mikesteelnation, who continued shoving this prediction in my face all year long.
Prediction #40: Carson Palmer gets back in the Pro Bowl and the Bengals get back in the playoffs. (10-6 record)
Oops. I didn't like their draft, didn't like the player movement, felt average about their schedule, and somehow ended up at 10-6.
Semi-Prescient quote: "I think the Bengals might be involved in more upsets than any other team in the league." Someone else can tell me if that's actually correct, but both Browns games were upsets, they beat Tennessee and Baltimore twice, but lost to Kansas City, Arizona, and San Francisco. Wildly inconsistent.
Absurd quote: "The fact of the matter is, they have one of the league's five best QBs in Carson Palmer." Brady, Manning, Favre, Romo, Roethlisberger, Garrard, Hasselbeck, Garcia, Anderson - all indisputably better. Debatable: Cutler, McNabb, Brees, Warner, Schaub.
Favorite quote: "First, there's the eternal question: Who gets arrested? How often? How long will they be suspended? Okay, three eternal questions."
Favorite comment: "I had a chance to meet Carson Palmer at his charity golf tournament and this guy is so ready to kick **** this year I can't wait for the start of the season. Who-Dey!" - davidsternblows. I imagine that at a charity golf tournament, most NFL players are getting pretty hungry to kick some ****.
Prediction #41: Brady Quinn's first NFL start comes in week 12 vs. Houston. (5-11 record)
In my defense, 5-11 was better than some people were giving them. I loved the draft, with the haul of Quinn and Thomas in the first round. But I severely underestimated Jamal Lewis, and didn't even mention Derek Anderson or Josh Cribbs in my blog.
Prescient quote: "[New offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski's] presence could mean great things for [Kellen] Winslow [II]." 1106 receiving yards. Word.
Absurd quote: I started it off with a bang - "I expect Charlie Frye to start the season promisingly." Two quarters, and it's off to Seattle wit' ye.
Favorite quote: "However, watch out for Jerome Harrison this season - he'll see more carries, and may come out of nowhere and break a few 20-yard runs." - though his long for the year was 17 yds, he did average 6.2 YPC. For a whopping 142 yards.
Favorite comment: "5-11? I don't think so. More like 7-9 or 8-8. Cleveland had one of the toughest schedules in the league last year and went 4-12." - rob B. mikesteelnation then proceeded to call Rob a homer and laughed in his face. As it turns out, even Rob underestimated his team. I have to give this one a close 2nd, though: "miami dolphins will go 8-8." - flamarlins93. What?
Prediction #42: The Ravens become the first team in NFC North history to win the division in consecutive years. (11-5 record)
Gross. Even worse - I picked them to win the Super Bowl. Lesson learned: Old people can't play football. But how many people actually predicted a season so bad that it would cost Billick his job?
Prescient quote: "Depth is a serious concern. Should the Ravens face a slew of injuries, the season could get out of control fast." Of course, that's easy to predict, but there wasn't much I said right about this team.
Absurd quote: "Many [people on FanNation] don't even have the Ravens winning the AFC North, expecting resurgences by Cincinnati or Pittsburgh. I have to wonder why."
Favorite quote: "Some say Willis McGahee is overrated, and I disagree. The only person who overrates McGahee is McGahee himself; most people around the league would place him somewhere near the 10th best RB in the league, which he is." Quiz: who finished 10th in rushing yards per game? McGahee.
Favorite comment: "You have to wonder why?????????? The Ravens won so many games late and by less than a touchdown(think Browns on the Road, at home against San Diego), and then after weeks of preparation, their offense doesnt show up at home in the playoffs against a pathetically weak Colts defense. How did you expect anyone who knows anything about NFL to take them seriously this year?" - Cassidy's House. The truth hurts.
For anyone who didn't notice, had I switched around wins and losses, I would have gotten the Ravens and Steelers perfectly, and been off by one on both Ohio teams. They don't call me sdrawkcab Nad for nothing.