As always, I'll go back to my predictions for the NFL season before it all began and take a look at how things actually turned out. Even before I
start, I know that I didn't do all that well this year. One reason I know that before I peek at the results is that I got an e-mail from a long-term
reader who calls himself the Dispossessed Son of Western Pennsylvania wondering where my post-mortem might be this year.
So let me start out by point out that I did notice the correlation between the last time the Bengals had a winning exhibition season and the last time
they had double-digit wins for the regular season. Both those things happened in 1988. It also happened this year. Unfortunately, I only thought
the Bengals would win 7 games this year. But, given the way things went for my predictions this year, I have to look for successes - no matter how
small they are - wherever I can find them.
I got next to nothing right here. San Diego did not win the division; KC did not finish last; Oakland did not come close to breaking even this year;
in Denver, Jake Plummer was indeed more than an 'over-hyped lump of mediocrity' for the regular season. But I did get it right that the Raiders would
not miss Philip Buchanon very much - just as the Texans aren't thrilled to have him under contract there - and that LaMont Jordan would be a good
addition there and that the question for Oakland was 'Can the defense stop anybody?' I answered that question incorrectly and also overestimated the
impact of Randy Moss for the season. And I did call the tearful departure from KC by Dick Vermeil at the end of the season.
At least I got the exacta right in this division. I had Indy to win the division and Jax to run second. They did just that; sadly, I did not have
the Jags making the playoffs as the wild card from this division. My big error in the AFC South was in thinking that the Houston Texans were going to
be competent under Dom Capers. They weren't; I wondered if he could have survived another 7-9 season; he surely didn't survive 'being on the clock'
for the April NFL Draft. I thought the Titans would get batter as the year wore on; they didn't. But I did get it right when I said that I was
suspicious about just how huge an impact Norm Chow's offense would have at the NFL level. The Titans' offense was not horrible, but it was definitely
Could I have been more wrong about the Baltimore Ravens when I said they would win this division with a record of 11-5? I said that my prediction was
based on Kyle Boller morphing into 'something more than an aspiring journeyman' and that he would play such that 'you don't wince every time he takes
the snap from center'. He didn't and you still do. I did get Pittsburgh right as the wild card team from this division but I had the Bengals
finishing third with only 7 wins. That's not very good at all. I did have it right however that the Bengals defense was the weak link here; I didn't
think it would hold up for the regular season; it certainly did betray the Cincy fans in the playoffs. I did call the Brownies to finish last here
but I thought they'd only get 3 wins and they doubled that total.
Here's what I said about the Jets:
'Absent injuries, I like the Jets to win the AFC East this year with 11 wins...'
I also said they needed to be wary of an injury to Curtis Martin because of the lack of LaMont Jordan as a back-up. And I said that the health of
Chad Pennington’s shoulder was critical. Well, all the injuries happened and the Jets won 4 games instead of 11. I thought the Pats would run
second here and make the playoffs as a wild card; they won the division to get to the playoffs - but I did say that there would be different Super
Bowl Champs this year and that prediction is sure to be proven out. I said that Buffalo could be 11-5 or 5-11 if things went really well or really
poorly; I picked a middling 7 wins for the Bills. They got 5. I underestimated by 5 games what the Dolphins might accomplish because I thought their
QBs would be an anchor on what the team could possibly accomplish. I still think that my assessment of the tandem of Sage Rosenfels and Gus Frerotte
is not that far off base:
'If you added together all their quarterbacking skills and squared the sum of those skills, you would spell J O U R N E Y M A N.'
I picked the Rams to win this division but I did say that the Rams, Seahawks or Cards could have won the division because a 9-7 record would have won
it and all of these teams had six games against mediocre division opponents. Well, a 9-7 record would have done it. The Seahawks coasted home with a
13-3 record and the second place Rams had only 6 wins. I had the Cards winning 8 games because they won 4 games in 2003 and 6 games in 2004 and I
thought I had spotted a trend. Sadly, what they did was win 5 games meaning they found the average of those two previous 'less-than-mediocre' years
and showed that they actually are a 'less-than-mediocre' team. I won't even begin to pat myself on the back for picking the 49ers to finish last
Hey folks; I got two right here. I had Carolina with an 11-5 record. I also talked about the return of Steve Smith being a big deal for the Panthers
and how the running attack would flourish with Foster and Davis; that has to count for something, no? Unfortunately, I also thought that the Panthers
would win the division and they didn't - - because the team I picked to finish dead last here (Tampa Bay) also got 11 wins and took the tie-breaker
for the division championship. I also got it right that the Falcons would be nothing more than a break-even team this year. (Yay!) I thought the
Saints could win six times last year even in the face of the Hurricane Katrina chaos; they were fortunate to get half that total. (Boo!)
Like more than a few folks, I took the Vikings to win the division with 10 wins. They didn't - - but they did get nine wins. I picked them for all
the wrong reasons, but somehow got close to the total. Then I had the Lions to finish second with a .500 season. The Lions - - well, they were the
Lions; what else is there to say? - - finished with all of 5 wins and nothing seems to be working there. I said that the Bears defense was very good
and that they would not score many points at all and that was right. However, I thought that status would only bring in 6 wins for the year and it
managed to find 11 and a division championship. But I did get the Packers in the right spot - dead last in the division - and I said that the
revamped offensive line in Green Bay would be mediocre and that Ahman Green would not be a stud running back anymore.
I thought the Eagles would win the division with 11 wins. Once McNabb was hurt and Owens was jettisoned and there was no back-up for Westbrook - as I
said would be important for them to have - the Eagles' season unraveled like a ball of yarn in a room full of cats. I had the Cowboys finishing
second with 8 wins and they got 9 wins but finished third. I had the Redskins finishing third with 7 wins and they finished second with 10 wins. And
worst of all, I had the Giants finishing last with only 5 wins and they won it all with 11 wins. I had this Division entirely upside down. Did I get
anything right in my analysis here? I did say that the Redskins defense would be very strong but that they would not be able to score very much. I
did say that this was a 'put up or shut up' year for Patrick Ramsey and since he went out after about 20 minutes of play in the first game and the
team rolled to the playoffs, he pretty much will be in 'shut up mode' for a while now. That's not much at all to have gotten right!
Here is the most distressing part of the post mortem. In the NFC playoffs, I picked six teams to show up. Only one of them - Carolina - actually did
that. Maybe next year I should throw darts at a newspaper while blindfolded as a way to make picks. It couldn't be much worse than what I picked
this year! Or could it?
But don't get me wrong, I love sports... ... ...
[Edited on 31/1/06 by TRD]