Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Looking back at my predictions





1) Patriots – Predicted 1.

They won a weak division. I will give them credit for going 12-4 despite several injuries and poor receivers. The defense it getting a little older, but if they can find some receivers Brady has become a solid enough passer (he was more of a manager his first years) that they should be good next year.

1) Eagles – Predicted 2

HA! I’m the only person I know who pegged the Eagles as a playoff team. Had I known Westbrook would only miss one game, Reggie Brown would develop, and Garcia would start 6 games and play the way he did five years ago I would have picked them (that said I was totally against starting A.J. Feeley who only won last time he was in Philly because he was lucky to have a great running game and defense). They will be good again next year, but should still try to find someone to spell Westbrook. If they go far with Garcia and McNabb struggles coming back it could get ugly…

2) Jets – Predicted 3.

I was right that if Pennington could play, they might not be bad – I’ve always liked Chad. I did not foresee Coles’s rebirth (let alone the arrival of Cotchery to give them two legitimate targets), but I was right they did not have a clear successor to Martin, but platooning Washington, Houston, and Barlow backs worked surprisingly well – but not so well they should not bring in a feature back next year. And the defense was better than I expected – credit to “Mangenius.” Next year they will hopefully have a #1 back, but there is talk they will let 2nd round pick Kellen Clemens start at QB next year. Kellen has a big gun, but while I know Chad’s arm has never been great I will point out that this offseason he can work on that rather than have to rehab his rotator cuff again.

2) Cowboys – Predicted 1

Owens was his typical annoying self (saying he was not paying attention to Parcells because he was thinking about his birthday party was classic), but he put up the numbers despite injuries. I’ll give credit to Parcells for whacking their other big free agent and not worrying about how much cash they gave Vanderjagt. However while they made the playoffs with the Romo spark their defense fell apart – they just got pushed around by Philly at home with the division on the line. Who knew Greg Ellis was the glue? And I suspect teams have started to figure Romo out. If Bill retires they will have to serious rework this teams (maybe even if he stays). They need to draft a passrush.

3) Bills – Predicted 4

They were not great on either side of the ball, but I will say Evans and Losman who I panned proved they belong. They are in good position for next year because they don’t have any glaring holes so they can just keep developing their overall talent. Might be a wildcard next year.

3) Giants – Predicted 3

I said that Dallas, Philly and New York were all division crown contenders, and all three made the playoffs. And I was right that the Giants were the least of the three. They fell apart so badly that Coughlin may still be fired. Eli is still a work in progress at best and with Tiki retiring they may have issues next year (although with Strahan and Arrington coming back and okay depth in the secondary they can lean on the defense). Brandon Jacobs may be a passable starter, but they will need to add another body in the backfield – and maybe a vet to pressure Manning would not hurt either.

4) Dolphins – Predicted 2

The Jets and Bills finished higher than I predicted because the Dolphins fell down, but my predictions were actually fairly on point. I said their hot finish last year did not mean they were as good as everyone thought. I could not have predicted that they would rush Dante’s knee back too soon. Basically three QBs took turns killing this team all year. Assuming Saban is back next year and Dante’s knee is better they may be a contender, but that defense is not as good as it used to be – especially if their best player, Jason Taylor, actually retires.

4) Washington – Predicted 4

I didn’t buy the hype. This team is dysfunctional from the owner on down. None of their signings worked out and Greg Williams D took a step back. They finally tried out Jesse Campbell, he has a strong arm but I am not sure how good a QB he will end up being, he struggles reading defenses. I can’t predict how they will do next year because they will have probably turned over half the roster by Week One.



1) Ravens – Predicted 3

Despite appearances I was actually very on point about the Ravens because I said if McNair could stay healthy for 14-16 starts the division was in their grasp. Damn it Jim, I’m a predictor not a doctor! That said they better win now because they are getting old at a bunch of key spots – McNair, Jamal Lewis, Derrick Mason, Jonathan Ogden, Trevor Pryce, Ray Lewis.

1) Bears – Predicted 2

Yes I was wrong, but only because this division was so bad. Have you ever seen a less steady #1 seed? Fans are lashing at Grossman, who was the best QB in the league at the start of the season, and calling for journeyman Brian Griese. Brian Griese!?! He’s going to take you to the promised land?!? This might be a reflection of fans realizing the defense is falling apart as the post season starts – not good to only be making headlines for running guns for the mob – but I don’t usually like to give fans that much credit. Briggs is probably leaving, but otherwise the big issue this teams needs to address in the offseason is the quarterback.

2) Bungles – Predicted 2

I’m willing to now declare that was wrong in predicting Caron Palmer would bust. The team did take a big step back though as they were streaky all year, the passing defense joined the run defense as a problem (I guess that great Ravens D wasn’t all just Marvin Lewis huh? Turns out player talent matters too) and all those arrests didn’t help. They need to draft defense – DL especially, both runstopper and passrush.

2) Packers – Predicted 4

I was never a huge Favre fan, he made too many bad plays for me to call him an all-time great, but he should come back because e can still play some (which I did not really doubt), not at a Pro-Bowl level, but still NFL starter quality. More importantly the team around him does not totally suck. Jennings will have year’s experience to team with Driver, Ahman Green showed he can still play, the OL grew as the year progressed, and the defense was okay (need to get younger in the secondary though). A team that was a bunch of new guys will be more used to each other and with no glaring holes they can just focus on adding talent. Plus Brett can come back and set career records for wins and TDs…and interceptions (what was I saying about a bunch of bad plays too?).

1) Steelers – Predicted 3

I was wrong about them winning the division, but I was right that they were just a team that got hot at the right time last year and were not going to repeat as champs. Cowher’s season long consideration of retiring was probably a distraction, but the real killer was Roethlisberger’s trifecta of injuries as he was played when he wasn’t ready to be back and killed them in a few games – I don’t know why they did that either because Batch is a good backup. If he rebounds next year and they can find a WR to team with the aging Hines Ward (or Holmes matures) I don’t see why this isn’t a good team next year.

3) Vikings – Predicted 3

They started well and I was wrong about Chester Taylor’s ability to carry the load, but I was right about Brad Johnson and the dearth of WR talent. If they can magically find a passing game (on both ends) they can compete next year, but Jackson is clearly not ready and I wouldn’t go with Bollinger. I don’t think it happen, mainly because I’ve soured on Childress as a guy who is overmatched by his job and makes mistakes because he stubbornly can’t admit when he has made a mistake. I bet he is gone in a year or two.

4) Browns – Predicted 4

Winslow showed me up by playing pretty well, but that was about the only silver lining for this team. Despite Wimbley’s emergence, the defense (which I said would be bad) needs to be blown up, Sean Jones is the only other solid starter. If they can do that and gel, Frye comes back and takes a step, then they might – and I do mean might – be able to take a run at .500. Otherwise they are two years away.

4) Lions – Predicted 1

Okay I was wrong about them as my surprise team. On offense they need a QB, #2 WR to pair with Roy Williams, to upgrade the line, and to pray Kevin Jones can come back. I don’t think Martz is leaving, this offense was not much of a sales pitch. Defensively they are not as bad. Basically it’s a bunch of role players, so if you fix the offense (a lot to ask in one offseason I know), they could be average. If you manage to add a stud or two…



1) Colts – Predicted 1

About what you’d expected, except the run defense was worse. If Simon comes back to team with McFarland at DT next year and the get some better linebackers (can they afford Lance Briggs), then their subpar secondary will earn its turn to be exposed and Manning still won’t win the big one.

1) Saints – Predicted 4

Everything broke right for them, Brees was totally healthy, a 7th round pick turned out to be a #1 receiver, and the rest of the division fell down. It is tough to say how they will be next year. I think Horn’s career is wrapping up, but they have plenty of WR depth. Where they really have a need is in the front seven – 23rd against the run is not good, and they could stand add a little passrush too.

2) Titans – Predicted 3

Young played more than I thought, because they punted a good spot starter (Volek) for Kerry Collins right before the season began. Vince looked good, but I don’t buy it. He made a bunch of crazy plays that all bounced his way – usually after your rookie year those don’t work as well and are called “bad decisions.” Plus I saw him almost crying after losing to the Pats the last game of the year – not good leader material. However if I am wrong that offense can be good now that Travis Henry has returned and remember the name Brandon Jones at receiver. They should focus on upgrading their DL because otherwise their D is not so bad, Pacman Jones has worked out for them despite his many encounters with the law. Just make sure to keep Jeff Fisher.

2) Panthers – Predicted 1

My prediction read “If they can stay healthy they will be a force.” Losing 40% of your OL for the season Week 1 is a killer for any team (they eventually had three starters on IR), but especially one with a weak line in the first place. Clearly that is the #1 need next year (could also afford to get younger on the defense). That and a backup QB as Weinke was so awful the only game they won with him was when he threw just 7 passes and was off the field entirely for EIGHT (8!!) third downs so they could just snap to a running back. I will give the coaching staff props for creativity, which is why I like this team again next year.

3) Jaguars – Predicted 2

Way too erratic. Del Rio might be a good motivator, but someone needs to be their Xs and Os man and I am not sure they have on now. Maurice Jones-Drew solves one problem, but Garrad is not a starter and they evidently don’t trust Leftwich anymore (mistake - unless you think he will never be healthy, because he has had his moments). They also need someone (anyone?) to step up at receiver. There all big, yeah that’s great.

3) Falcons – Predicted 3

Vick ran for a record 1,000 yards and threw 20 TDs, but still could not get the birds over .500. Maybe if they ever game him some good WRs to work with he would actually look as though he could be a legit QB in this league, but I doubt it. Mora talked his way out of a job and always underappreciated Warrick Dunn will most likely be pushed out too so it is tough to predict how they will be next year.

4) Texans – Predicted 4

Good Lord, despite improving to 6-10 they just have the feel of a rudderless ship. They seem to have talent, but it never works out. It is tough to diagnose what is wrong, so given that nothing else seems to make sense I’ll say they need a personality to be a leader on this team.

4) Buccaneers – Predicted 2

I don’t really think Chris Simms as the glue so I will just say I was wrong about this team. It is not really clear what this team needs beyond just more. The OL will be more experienced next year, but the defense probably won’t have Simeon Rice and needs upgrades at LB and probably in the secondary too.



1) Chargers – Predicted 3

I was not as far off as it appears because I said they would be a playoff team with Brees, but I was not sure about Rivers - and given the way he finished the season I still am. As it turned out it did not matter because Tomlinson had a season for the ages. Better yet with Vincent Jackson developing at WR (to go with Gates) they don’t have any glaring needs. Just get some depth OL and SF.

1) Seahawks – Predicted 2

I was right that they would take a massive step back (and that was not just because Hasselbeck and Alexander were hurt – they were .500 without them), it just happened that no one else in the division stepped up to take it away from them. It is tough to say what is wrong with this team. Basically I think it comes down to having a bunch of solid starters to keep them competitive, but not many stars (Alexander, Peterson, Jones, maybe Hasselbeck?) to carry them over the hump

2) Chiefs – Predicted 2

Huard really came through for them, but this team basically begins and ends with Scary Larry. Gonzalez had a bit of a comeback season, but there is not much else on offense and the defense is average. They need a quality WR and a runstopper on the DL.

2) Rams – Predicted 1

I looked pretty clever with this pick when they started 5-1, but then they dropped five straight – including two to Seattle on last second fieldgoals. Losing Pace and some others on the OL slowed them down too. For next year they to find another receiving target besides Holt (Bruce’s stats not withstanding) – Steven Jackson doesn’t count. Their bigger need a run defense. The deserve credit for going 8-8 with the 31st run defense in the league. Bigger linebackers would help, but they need to draft defensivelinemen.

3) Broncos – Predicted 1

I said the only way they did not win the division is if Plummer crapped the bed because they drafted Cutler and that is more or less what happened. The good news is that Cutler looks good, but the running game was not what it had been in years past, Rod Smith is old and Javon Walker was not quite as good as I expected, but they did find a couple of rookies: Tony Scheffler, a TE the QB likes and WR Brandon Marshall. This defense started well, but the team declined down the stretch – how do you lose to 49ers at home with the playoffs on the line?! They’d benefit from adding to their DL – the only passrusher they have is Elvis Dumervil. And they need to replace that CB who was murdered.

3) 49ers – Predicted 4

Well this was a pleasant surprise, my opinion of Nolan has improved. If Gore can stay healthy long term they have an offense. They need some WRs, but with Smith getting more experience he may be able to get that offense moving. Unfortunately the D needs major work. I know Nolan will think he has found some players in Walt Harris and Mark Roman, but the truth is there is only one quality player in the secondary (they were both available for a reason). They also need a bigger DL (plus BY is getting up there) and have basically no passrush.

4) Raiders – Predicted 4

Ha ha. I am enjoying seeing the Raiders being this bad. I only wish Jeff George had started some games for them. Will they take Brady Quinn with the #1 overall pick? It depends on what Al Davis’s Ouija board tells him. And don’t buy that the defense is as good as its stats. They may be number one against the pass, but one suspects it might be because teams were ahead and just beating up on that 25th ranked run defense. The only place they should not be adding talents is half back and the secondary.

4) Cardinals – Predicted 3

Not many surprises, a historically bad team stayed true form. I said that James’s success in Indy was part him and part the system. At first I looked totally wrong, but he ended up with 1,150 yards and 6 TDs after three 100 yard games in December. Dennis Green is already gone, but he leaves behind a team that is only an offensive line away from being a contender to make the playoffs.


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