It's time for part 2 of my prediction recaps; as I look at my team-by-team predictions for the AFC South and AFC West.
Prediction #43: Vince Young's second season will be just bad enough that people believe the Madden Curse had something to do with it. (6-10 record)
Nope, can't say I got that right. His season was pretty much what one would expect - more bad stats, but slightly better record (okay, VY's win percentage was worse, but the team's win total was better), and a wild-card appearance in the playoffs. Maybe a few nuts are trying to make a case about the Madden Curse here, but they're flat-out wrong. One thing I was right about was that, despite pulling 10 picks, they had a pretty awful draft.
Prescient quote: "They have a nice stretch after the bye week that could give them some momentum: Atlanta, at Tampa Bay, at Houston, Oakland. But after that, the easiest win is the home game vs. Houston." They won 4 of 5 after the bye, and only 1 of the next 5, and that was the Houston game.
Absurd quote: "The defense has strengths, but isn't the elite unit that would be needed to overcome the offensive deficiencies." That's exactly what this elite unit did.
Favorite quote: "Justin Gage, who couldn't emerge as a decent option in WR-starved Chicago, was brought in to fill the void along with the three rookies, which leaves David Givens and Brandon Jones as the starters. And Brett Favre is complaining about a lack of options." Heh - remember back when Favre was complaining?
Favorite comment: There's a nice set of comments in this blog, but I'll go with the shortest one: "They do have a tough schedule, but who cares the addition of Eric Moulds will save the day." - Stubbs0910
Prediction #44: Byron Leftwich is not the week 1 starter in Jacksonville. (8-8 record)
Freakin' sweet - sure I underestimated Garrard, who has since become my man-crush, but while the rest of the world was stunned by Leftwich's release, I had predicted it weeks before. I gave their draft class a deserved A-; as their first two picks were defensive starters for most of the season, but there was one pick I didn't like:
Prescient quote: "The selection of a 3rd round wide receiver, Mike Walker, is confusing. They have four #2/3 WRs on their roster, and the only need they had at wideout was a #1. When is Walker going to get some playing time?" The answer? Never. He didn't play a single down.
Absurd quote: "None of [the scenarios by which they might lose Leftwich] are good for the Jaguars, and once again, their offense won't match the defense's level of play, and they'll lose a number of low-scoring games." The outcome was very good, and the offense cranked out some nice numbers.
Favorite quote: "The new OC, the new blockers on the strong side (Pashos and Wiggins), and the unproven safeties are all concerns, but they, at first just ghostly, turn a whiter shade of pale in comparison to the QB issues. (Did he just quote Procol Harum on a football website? It's my blog, I can reference any song I d*mn well choose.)"
Favorite comment: "That was a learning experience." - DJ is Dr. Cool. BS.ST. (and no, those aren't Dr. Cool's degrees, they're tributes) - this was in response to my trivia question at the end about black QBs and white WRs, which was horribly botched as I used unreliable sources.
Prediction #45: Despite having the worst defense in the conference, the Colts will still win the division without any trouble.
WOW! Were wronger words ever spoken? They finished FIRST IN THE ENTIRE NFL, and yet had some trouble winning the toughest division in the league. F------ for me. That was meant to be a letter grade, but it looks like a profanity. Which works, too.
Prescient quote: "The worst two-game stretch is hosting New England in week 9 followed by traveling to San Diego." Hey, those were the only two losses that mattered!
Absurd quote: The entire damn blog? Okay, I'll narrow it down to this particularly ugly son of a b----: "I don't have to tell you how unimpressive the starting lineup at LB is: Gary Brackett, Rob Morris, Freddy Keiaho." Yes, there was a time when we hadn't heard of these guys.
Favorite quote: "Dominic Rhodes was most likely expendable, assuming Joseph Addai is able to step up and handle a full workload. Considering that he got himself suspended for four games after the move, the Colts look like geniuses once again."
Favorite comment: strangedavid had a novel of a comment (oh, and by the way, he also has a novel) in which he made 4 points, 3 of which were dead on. I'll just give you the contradiction to my LB analysis: "While Brackett, Morris, and Keiaho aren't household names, they're not total scrubs. Keiaho in particular shows a willingness to commit that Cato June lacked." Keiaho's not far from being a Pro Bowler.
Prediction #46: The Texans' leading rusher this year will be Wali Lundy.
Ha. Man, I need to get to know the AFC South better next year. In my defense, I followed that up by saying, "It's a long shot, but we're having fun here." They tried out a lot of guys at RB when Ahman Green got hurt/old, and Ron Dayne ended up taking the honors with a passable 4.0 YPC on his way to 773 yards. I loved Amobi Okoye at the draft, and I still love him now - what a bright future this kid has.
Prescient quote: "I honestly think Houston has a chance to be the AFC's dark horse this year. But it's a hard conference to break into, and this team is young." That's exactly what happened, though I don't know how I could have called the AFC South "hard to break into" after underestimating each of its other teams by 2-3 wins. In the AFC East or West, the Texans would probably have pulled a wild-card.
Absurd quote: Really I didn't say anything that comes close to the absurdity of the prediction itself. Lundy didn't play a single down, despite Houston's desperation for a capable back. I got most of the rest of it right.
Favorite quote: "They lost last year's #2 WR, Eric Moulds... but they just recently signed Keenan McCardell. But he's old and on his way out, you say? What do you think Moulds is, Dakota Fanning?"
Favorite comment: "No hate mail...but i do disagree. I agree that the Titans and Texans could end up with the same record, but i think the Titans will sweep the texans, givingthem the tie-breaker. The only time the Titans lost to the Texans was when they were swept in 2004 (The year Billy Volek played 10 games after McNair's injuries). I just think the Titans have the Texans number....similar to the way they had teh Jags number in the early part of 2000.
I have great respect for the Texans...if I wasn't a Titan's fan...i'd be a Texan's fan. I just feel that they are a year away. Schaub will need the year to get used to being a starter. Am looking forward to the Texans-Falcons game...should be interesting." - Darklighter - 1) he had good analysis, 2) the only other comment was a 3-worder by Ben.
Prediction #47: Despite having a top-5 defense, the Raiders finish with the worst record in the conference. (3-13 record)
Nope and nope. I should have realized Rob Ryan would feel shafted, not getting the head coaching job in favor of a guy who'd never head coached anywhere before, and had never worked in the NFL. I brought it up, but didn't consider how it'd impact the defensive performance. I also brought up how interesting it was that role players from 2003, when I used to play as Oakland on Madden following their Super Bowl appearance, are still on the squad - including the man who became their top rusher, Justin Fargas, and the men who led the team in receiving, Ronald Curry and Jerry Porter. At the time, I said "That says something...though I'm not sure what."
Prescient quote: "Oh, also they have a new offensive coordinator, Greg Knapp, formerly of the Falcons. So maybe they'll do better running." I'm delighted that Fargas pulled 1000 yards. I don't know why I love long-shot running backs so much, but I guess that's why this has been such a great season for me as an NFL fan.
Absurd quote: "4th-round RB Michael Bush, who would have been at least a 2nd-rounder until he broke his leg, should start at RB in a few years." Michael WHO?
Favorite quote: "The nicest thing is that they haven't lost anyone important other than Moss, who practically didn't play for them last year (he should be able to catch 42 passes for 553 yards without even showing up)."
Favorite comment: "I THE RAIDERKING predicted 2-14 last year...and as usual i was right on the money. This year??? 4-12. ~ FANG" - FANG the RAIDERKING. Fang, you clearly ARE the Raiderking.
Prediction #48: The Chargers miss the playoffs. (10-6 record)
Welcome to Wrongville, population Dan. This recap has really hurt my self-esteem. The Chargers could have lost 3 more games and still have made the playoffs (assuming those aren't losses to the Broncos). Ah. I see I've used the F---- bit before. Damn. I didn't like Craig Davis as their top draft pick, and for good reason. Davis finished with 1/3 of the yardage that trade-deadline pickup Chris Chambers amassed in 10 games with the team. 5th-rounder Legedu Naanee was only a little worse than their first-round choice.
Prescient quote: "If a game's close, Norv will blow it. They may upset the Colts." These statements were meant to be unrelated, but came consecutively in the blog. It so happens that the Colts game was the only win decided by 3 points or fewer, and one of only two that they won by 7 or less. Of course, they only had two close losses, both 7-point defeats.
Absurd quote: "All in all, it'll be too much inconsistency and they'll miss out on the playoffs." It took them a while, but they found their consistency, and are still alive in the fight for the Super Bowl.
Favorite quote: The timeline of the Chargers' coaching carousel: "1) Coach-firing time comes and goes, and Marty still has a job. 2) DC Wade Phillips takes a job with the Cowboys, and OC Cam Cameron takes a job with the Dolphins. 3) Oh wait, Marty's fired after all, and none of the good coaching candidates are still on the market. 4) A.J. Smith hires Norv Turner in short order, because doggone it, he's just so nice. He'll never feud like Marty did. 5) Ron Rivera, a good head coaching candidate, is suddenly out of a job. 6) Ted Cottrell is hired as defensive coordinator."
Favorite comment: "CURTIS4BRONCOS - I guess the Chargers beating the Broncos twice last year was a fluke? Maybe. All I know is Broncos fans like to whine like little **** when things don't go their way. I hope Nalen is working on perfecting his career ending cut blocks, 'cause he's gonna need to do something to keep Cutler off his back against the Bolts. SEE YOU OCTOBER 7TH." - Heath Shuler. Both SD-DEN games combined: 64-6. Cutler sacked 5 times. So Shuler might need a little nap - he knows when his team's going to kick some horses' arses.
Prediction #49: For the first time this millennium, the Chiefs' defense finishes ranked higher than their offense. (6-10 record)
I can't take too much credit for successfully predicting a Chiefs collapse, since they were the one team that everyone expected to do worse. But the prediction was correct: 14th in points, 13th in yards on defense; 31st in both on offense. I loved the selection of Dwayne Bowe, and made another prediction regarding him that worked out pretty well, which I'll get to another day. I said at one point that if they weren't 6-1 at the bye, they had little hope for the playoffs. They were 4-3, and didn't win a single game afterwards.
Prescient quote: "The Chiefs also got a good prospect at running back in the fifth, Kolby Smith. He didn't see much playing time in Louisville until Michael Bush got injured, so he's a little rough around the edges, but with good coaching he could be an excellent NFL back in time." You heard about Smith getting a start and probably said, "Who?" I brought up his name before you did. HA!
Absurd quote: "They spent one of their fifth-round choices on a kicker, Justin Medlock, who is expected to take over the kicking duties from day one." Well, he did start day 1, but then got benched for any free agent they could find who wouldn't miss inside the 40. Really, that's the most incorrect thing I said in this blog; I pretty much had the Chiefs' number.
Favorite quote: "Then, thanks to a dream he had, Priest Holmes decides to return and fight for a Hollywood ending to his career. (The movie's already in progress - they're thinking of casting Morgan Freeman as Holmes.)"
Favorite comment: "This just in - Damion McIntosh is injured and the Chiefs are considering plugging in converted DT Will Svitek at LT. Get out while you still have your legs, Larry Johnson. Damon Huard, let Croyle start." - Dan TM. Sorry to put myself here, but it really was my favorite comment.
Prediction #50: Good coaching prevails in the AFC West as Denver takes the division and earns a 1st-round bye. (12-4 record)
My, how my opinion of Mike Shanahan changed over this season. I loved their free-agent haul, which included their new interception leader, #2 receiver, starting running back, backup QB, and the defensive linemen and linebackers who provided valuable depth when the injury bug hit. What I didn't account for was the returning players playing like crap. Heartless, lifeless crap. Which sounds like a coaching problem to me.
Prescient quote: "Of course, Indianapolis will be Travis Henry's show, since they'll have no run defense." Generally, I was wrong about the Colts' run defense, but Henry took them for 131 yards on 26 carries.
Absurd quote: "Travis Henry has a Pro Bowl season, opening things up for Cutler to spread the ball around at will." The injury didn't help, but if his YPG were multiplied out to a full season, he still wouldn't have broken 1000.
Favorite quote: "Some players have their best games after a loved one's death, some can't focus. It seems to me the former happens more often - maybe that's just because it's a more memorable story than a forgivingly bad game, or maybe it's something to do with the mental toughness required of a professional athlete. Anyway, I'm expecting most of the Broncos to perform well in the face of devastation." I really wish I'd been right.
Favorite comment: "Tatum Bell actually did break 1,000 last season(1,025 to be exact), but nonethelesss there was a huge dropoff in production on offense in general last season, not just in the running game." - DaHizzle303. Called me out on a blatant misstatement, and yet remained civil and agreed with my overall point. Why aren't there more like you, DaHizzle?
So yeah, overall, I was pretty bad AFC-wise. I did a little better in the other conference, which I'll get to in the next few days if all goes well.