Whatever happend with our NFL pre-season predictions? We review

When we actually venture to make predictions on an upcoming season or game we stand by our picks, darn it. We plan to make it a habit, from time to time, to give a look back at our season predictions and take our picks to task. Yes, we’re self-critical like that. And, we also take some solace in knowing that we don’t just make predictions and forget about them. If we’re wrong, we’ll own up. But, hopefully, we won’t be wrong often.

So, having just passed the halfway point of the NFL season, we thought we’d take a critical look back at our season predictions and evaluate the happenings of the first half – the players and teams that surprised, the coaches that made a difference and the trends that matter going into the playoffs.

We pick the AFC division winners like a master clairvoyant

First, let’s take a look at our picks for the division winners in the AFC. They were: Patriots (East), Bengals (North), Colts (South) and Chargers (West). As the standings are today, we were right on 3 of the 4 picks – not too shabby. The Patriots, Colts and Chargers each lead their respective divisions to this point. The Bengals not so much, sitting in last place with a 3-4 record.

Yes, we severely underestimated Steelers rookie head coach Mike Tomlin (though we did pick them, along with the Ravens as the AFC wildcard entries). But more so, we horribly undersold the talent that Tomlin had to work with in Pittsburgh. Rothleisberger, Parker, Ward, Holmes and that defense are all seriously legit. The Steelers play hard-nosed football and have an almost unstoppable running game. It doesn’t seem like they’ll have any problems mixing it up during the playoffs on the road. Will the Steelers make it all the way to the Super Bowl this year? The crystal ball and the New England Patriots say “not likely.” But, Tomlin and his crew will be a really tough out for teams like the Colts, Pats and Chargers.

We pick the NFC division winners like a retarded monkey

Now, begrudgingly, let’s take a look at our picks for the NFC division winners. Here’s where some of our picks went horribly wrong. We didn’t see Brett Favre and the Packers coming. At 38 years old, we had essentially written off Favre and the running game deficit Packers. But, lo and behold, they’re 8-1 and sporting a really stingy defense. And, despite Jon Kitna’s bold pre-season prediction, we also didn’t expect the Detroit Lions to make much noise.

Our own NFC North pick, the Chicago Bears, are languishing, dealing with serious injuries on the defensive side of the ball. At least we were right in that Rex Grossman would be out as the starting QB by mid-season. It is pretty apparent at this point that the QB carousel with Grossman and Brian Griese will continue all year, while the Detroit Lions and aforementioned Packers run away in the division.

Looking at the other divisions in the NFC, we picked the Eagles, Saints and Rams. Wrong, wrong and wrong again – although the Saints could very well turn it around, win the division and still make a serious run in the playoffs. The Cowboys, who we picked as a strong wildcard entry, is making the Eagles, Giants and Redskins look pedestrian and should wrap up the NFC East division crown within the next 3-4 weeks. And the Rams…oh, the pitiful Rams. Sure, they’ve dealt with injuries to stud running back Steven Jackson and quarterback Marc Bulger, but the defense looks absolutely pathetic and the offense isn’t much better. Let’s just say that we were expecting the team to have more than 1 win by week 10. Hey Steven Jackson, what happened to that prediction of 2,500+ total yards this season? With 440 total rushing and receiving yards to date, Mr. Jackson, you’ve got some serious work left.

Breaking News: The Patriots will win the Super Bowl

So, finally, on to our Super Bowl prediction; we picked the Patriots over the Saints. The Pats look like they’re still in track to make our – and just about everyone else’s – most important pre-season prediction come true. But, do we still think the Saints will make it to the final game? Not as much as we did on September 6. Just about every team in the NFC, except for the Cowboys, seems to have at least one or two glaring flaws. It makes us shudder to think that the un-drafted Tony Romo could actually be a Super Bowl quarterback, but he was one botched snap from possibly achieving that feat last year.

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