Moving on in my recap of my preseason predictions, I will now look at how well I handled the NFC East and North.
Prediction #18 - The Washington Redskins will pull off a winning record. (9-7 record)
Ding ding ding! We have a winner! I loved the choice of LaRon Landry and was dead on about his impact on the Skins' secondary. And while many people thought the Fred Smoot was a poor acquisition, I didn't and was right. Basically, when it comes to my own team, I'm a genius.
Prescient quote: "The big weakness is now the depth of the offensive line. And the pattern over the past two years has been that injuries attack where the Redskins are weakest." Jon Jansen and Randy Thomas were out for the season pretty early on.
Absurd quote: "They play the NFC North, and Chicago is a home game, so a division sweep isn't out of the question." As you'll see soon, I underestimated the NFC North. Though the Skins did pull off 3-1 against them, and only barely lost to the Packers. But there's not much that I said wrong, so this will have to do.
Favorite quote: "It's encouraging that last year's poor showing didn't prompt any firings. Could owner Dan Snyder actually be learning a lesson or two? Well, no, but it's a good sign anyway."
Favorite comment: "Philly is still the team to beat in the NFC East. Sure, it would be wonderful to see my Skins win the division, but I think Philly is a little too strong. A 10-6 season is not impossible, though...." - AAARedskin. The comment I was going to put was where someone took me up on my bet. I said that if the Redskins' line stayed healthy, but they finished below .500, I'd post a picture of myself in NFC East rivals' gear as my avatar. Apparently that person's account has been deleted.
Prediction #19 - Donovan McNabb actually makes it through a season. (11-5 record)
Well, he played 14 games, which is better than most of the day 1 starting QBs in the league can say. And he only threw 7 picks! People are going to remember this as a season where McNabb struggled to keep his job, and that's the power of the antsy East Coast media. And his line was so bad that he was sacked 12 times in one game! I don't care if it's because he's black or not, but Donovan McNabb was definitely over-criticized this year. Oh, but did I mention I later picked Philly to win the NFC Championship? Whoops.
Prescient quote: "I think that McNabb is going to protect himself a little more this year. He knows he may well be auditioning for work elsewhere, and can't afford to miss time."
Absurd quote: "Many [people]... contend that Kevin Curtis is not a good #1 option at receiver. And they're right." 1110 receiving yards? Sounds fine to me.
Favorite quote: "I also don't see why they drafted two running backs, when they already have Brian Westbrook, Correll Buckhalter, Ryan Moats, and Thomas Tapeh." - sorry, this one was rather bland. But those two running backs were Tony Hunt and Nate Ilaoa. Hunt got 16 yards on 10 carries, Ilaoa didn't play at all.
Favorite comment: "its way too early to start making such bold predictions" - andrewsmith764, who somehow managed to miss the ENTIRE PURPOSE of my blog.
Prediction #20 - The Giants tank and Tom Coughlin is fired before the season ends. (5-11 record)
I just flew in from Mars, and boy is my face red! I had a few things right about them; I liked Spagnuolo, liked drafting Aaron Ross... basically everything I said was good was right. But I owe Tom Coughlin a huge apology.
Prescient quote: "Expect [Spagnuolo] to focus on improving the Giants' tackling, which cost them a few big plays last year." The Giants' linebackers, in particular, are tackling much better this year, a big reason they are where they are.
Absurd quote: "Atlanta and San Francisco are winnable battles, but they will be battles." The Giants won those games by a combined 64-25 margin.
Favorite quote: "They need to groom [a lineman] better than Adam Koets and last year's 4th rounder, Guy Whimper (what kind of name is that for a 300-lb man?)."
Favorite comment: "The Giants are one of the many decent teams in the NFC, all of whom could go anywhere from 5-11 to 12-4." - J-Ri. I don't know if those were the truest words ever spoken, or the biggest cop-out in history. I'll go with cop-out.
Prediction #21 - The Cowboys will start the season strong, but fall just short of the playoffs. (9-7 record)
I didn't love the coaching situation, and still don't, due to Wade Phillips' essential lame-duck status. Without actually making a prediction on the matter, I wondered about chemistry issues with Brad Johnson wanting a shot to start at QB, Julius Jones and Marion Barber dueling at RB, and T.O. getting a new staff. None of those situations produced any strife, and that's probably why Dallas held together so well. I liked how they handled the draft, and pretty much got everyone on the money; pegging Anthony Spencer as a good fit but not a future superstar, had some hope for Nick Folk, and thought Isaiah Stanback was a waste of a pick (his total contributions to the team: 3 kick returns).
Prescient quote: "The ‘Boys made their best offseason move in picking up safety Ken Hamlin. They needed another good safety opposite Roy Williams, and Hamlin's presence will improve the entire defense. Suddenly this is a very good secondary." Everyone on that secondary was better this year.
Absurd quote: "A weak divisional record will cost them a trip to the playoffs." They lost two divisional games, both after they'd pretty much secured the top playoff spot.
Favorite quote: "It's a lose-lose. Either Garrett is everything they've hoped, and they struggle to figure out how to fire Phillips, or Garrett disappoints, and they're back to square one."
Favorite comment: "And to say the redskins will make the playoffs? How in the world can you look at those 2 teams and think the redskins are even close[?] This team will be in the NFC championship and you will be proven as the complete idiot that you are[.]" - switzbeats. This was part of a larger tirade, where, sadly, most of what he said was right. But...ahem...HA! That was me getting the last laugh.
Prediction #22 - The Vikings will finish dead last in the NFC. (3-13 record)
In the first sentence, I described exactly the reasons they finished 8-8: "They have a dangerous new running back, a stacked left half of the offensive line, a solid defensive line, and a quality secondary." That was enough to win eight games. I liked that they brought in Leslie Frazier, but am surprised at how quickly they adapted to their new coach.
Prescient quote: "[Travis Taylor's] 651 yards last year weren't great, but they did lead the team, and the addition of Bobby Wade won't make up for it." Wade led the team in receiving yards, falling exactly 4 yards short of Taylor's mark from last year.
Absurd quote: "If the 49ers game were earlier in the year, that would be a pretty good match, with both teams trying to figure themselves out. But the Niners should have it together by week 13." 27-7 Vikings.
Favorite quote: "I worry about the Minnesota front office, and their disturbing tendency to overestimate their personnel." Okay, they're pretty good at evaluating running backs, but the rest of the offense...
Favorite comment: "What on Earth are you talking about?" - The Deity. That was how he opened his session on Vikings 101 where I was completely taken to school. And he was right on all counts, except when he said that the Green Bay home game was an easy win.
Prediction #23 - This will be Brett Favre's last season, and it will be frustrating. (5-11 record)
Strike one, and strike two. Okay, it may turn out to be Favre's last season, but I've already made it quite clear I don't think so. I wasn't big on their draft class, and was only wrong about James Jones - Justin Harrell was out half the year, and wasn't so good when he was in, Aaron Rouse made a minimal impact and was their second-best choice, Brandon Jackson only managed 3.6 YPC behind a fairly good line, and it's downhill from there. Except for kicker Mason Crosby, who looks like he'll be around a long time.
Prescient quote: "I think it was a good decision to move on at running back... [But] do they really think Vernand Morency, Noah Herron, and the rookie Jackson will give them the rushing game Favre needs to open up his passing options?" Nope, but a little nobody named Ryan Grant will.
Absurd quote: "Frustration will mount, and interceptions will be thrown." - this was the second time in 11 years that Favre threw fewer than 16 picks. The other was 2001.
Favorite quote: "But then again, opposing teams may find a lot of success in simply clamping down on Jennings and Donald Driver, giving Bubba Franks all the dropped passes he can eat." Fortunately, they found Donald Lee and got decent contributions from the #3, 4, and 5 WRs.
Favorite comment: "i agree with the record but they are not goin to b ahead of minnesota in the division they have a old quaterback who is injured and he is also not happy with being there. plus they dont have a good running game now that ahmad green is in a Texans uniform. plus they defense isnt all that good. they are very old up front. and they defensive backfield SUCKS!!" - hurricane. So many things wrong with this statement...
Prediction #24 - The Detroit Lions will still be in the playoff hunt in week 15. (7-9 record)
They were 6-7 at the time, and though they were a long shot due to their slumping, they had a legitimate chance. Plus, I got the final record exactly right. Boo-yah. Time will tell for sure, but I liked Matt Millen's draft for once.
Prescient quote: "Injuries to the defense could be devastating, as the youth is not going to be quite ready to step in." - Kalimba Edwards and Stanley Wilson missed significant time at the end of the season, and the defense lost its teeth.
Absurd quote: "I don't expect them to fare well against Chicago - they don't match up well at all." They won both games.
Favorite quote: "Every fan expects their team to be vastly improved, even those whose team finished 14-2, and they expect the rest of the teams to stay the same. But the NFL changes from season to season. The Jets and the Saints come out of nowhere to become playoff teams. The Bucs and the Redskins topple to become lottery picks. And of course, at the end of the season, people say ‘I wasn't surprised that the Bucs tanked. They suck.' Tirade over." This still drives me nuts, but it's amusing to see that the four teams I mentioned bounced back to their previous form. Oh, also, "lottery picks"? Did I forget what sport I was talking about?
Favorite comment: "boy do u watch football. u must dont if u think they gone win 7 games. the lions traded their best defensive player in dre bly so how they gone stop the pass? and shaun rogers cant keep his hands off females i say they finish 6-10." - hurricane. Is this guy a gem or what? All that to tell me I was wrong by 1 game.
Prediction #25 - The Bears continue the trend of Super Bowl Letdown Syndrome. (10-6 record)
That prediction and that record don't seem to go together, do they? Well, I explained that by my definition, SBLS is that the Super Bowl loser doesn't get past the divisional round of the playoffs, a trend with no exceptions since the Bills' last Super Bowl. But I figured their division was so horrible they'd have to win 10 games, like Seattle the year before in a terrible NFC West.
Prescient quote: "Grossman's brainfart interceptions will cost them a few games, in some they'll beat themselves, and in others they'll simply be outplayed." Yeah, that's pretty much how it went. They were good enough to give one team 2 of its 3 losses, but bad enough to lose 9 games.
Absurd quote: That I didn't say anything about how awful Benson is.
Favorite quote: On the Thomas Jones trade: "That'd be like going to the liquor store and having the cashier say, ‘You want that bottle of Bombay Sapphire? Let's see, you give me twelve bucks, I'll give you ten back, and we'll call it even.' ‘Are you sure? That's way too good of a deal.' ‘Yeah, it's cool, we have a Beefeater still on the shelf. Now we've got all this shelf room. Really, we're ripping you off. I can't have that on my conscience. I'll give you eleven back.' "
Favorite comment: "Wow, I had no idea Bears' fans had signs like that. I only watched the game on TV, and of course they didn't show those signs over national television. Totally a low blow." - Harris, who wondered what I was talking about when I said the Bears' fans acted shamefully towards New Orleans fans. mikesteelnation went on to explain that there were signs saying "Finish what Katrina started."