At the moment we speak, my regular season predictions turned out being fairly strong. There were some bold predictions that didn't seem to come true, but I don't proclaim to be a Nostradamus. I'm just a blogger and aspiring author, not a psychic. I like football and that's that. My Super Bowl prediction could very well be a reality, but we'll just have to wait and see. For 2009, I thought it would be the Pittsburgh Steelers defeating the Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl (both teams missed out). For 2010, I thought the Baltimore Ravens would defeat the Green Bay Packers (the Ravens lost in the divisional round and the Packers actually won the big game). This season, I have a bold prediction that could hold true, but there is still a lot of room for upset specials.
I will sort out my thoughts by division to give some organization...
My prediction was pretty much accurate. The Patriots not only won the division, but also the #1 seed, the Jets took second, and the Dolphins and Bills dwelled at the bottom. I had figured that the talent that the Patriots demonstrated meant that the AFC would be in their hands. The Jets, while they took second, performed to lower expectations than I believed they would. I thought they would contend for the playoffs once again and cause the havoc in which they did for the last so many seasons. It turns out that they were rocky and ended up 8-8. It was unfortunate how the Bills started out so strong, but then faltered as the season went on. They have a team that's actually performing to good standards, but they just can't translate it into wins, thus their longest playoff drought in the league still remains. I figured the Dolphins would not do a good job, but they did improve during the stretch, and felt that Tony Sparano should have at least kept his job until the end of the season. The only team that matters so much now is the Patriots and their longevity into the playoffs. At the moment we speak, it seems as if it'll come down to them and the Ravens, the Steelers will have to be fortunate enough.
This division was a mixed bag, but my important predictions stand. I predicted the Texans would win the division and do so at 10-6 and they did. I predicted the Colts would miss the playoffs for the first time since 2001, and they did. They lost six more games than I thought, but it goes to show you that the team is nothing without Peyton Manning, their talent is weakening, and Jim Caldwell is NOT fit to be their leader. It goes to show you that now is the time to set up for the next generation of the Colts. The Jaguars did worse than I thought, but Jack Del Rio was fired after all of this time. As for the Titans, they did better than I thought. I was thinking they would bomb, but they nearly made the playoffs at 9-7. The Texans look like a weakening team, as Wade Phillips absence showed for a lack of defense and T.J. Yates may now be feeling the heat. Their match against the Bengals may provide them with one win, but in that case, they will NOT get past the Ravens. The AFC South was not a strong division, not the weakest, but not at all strong.
It's no surprise that the AFC North was a strong division, since the Ravens and Steelers both finished at 12-4. I did believe the Ravens would go 12-4, but the Steelers would go 13-3 and clinch. However, I can see both teams making it to the divisional round of the playoffs, a prediction that will stand. The Ravens may have a better chance at advancing to the AFC Championship than the Steelers, but that will be something we just have to wait and see happen. The Bengals prediction I made may very well be my boldest prediction that goes up in flames on the negative to positive end. I thought the team was a mess and that they would go 1-15. However, their new talent with rookie QB Andy Dalton and some young, helpful receivers have really provided them with a contending team. Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is also a future nominee for a head coaching job, as defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer should be looked at as a coaching nominee right now, with the defense they have. I expected the Browns to not explode, but not falter in the way they did. I was thinking Mike Holmgren was injecting some life into the team, but they have problems that seriously need to be addressed. The Ravens and Steelers are going to be strong going into the playoffs, the former may be stronger than the latter, but any prediction may be included.
I just needed to switch the names around and make the numbers a bit more mediocre. I correctly predicted the Raiders being in second and going 8-8, due to the fact Al Davis should have not let Tom Cable go. Also to note, the Chiefs dwelled at the bottom of the division. However, the Chargers did not perform to expectations. They just performed poorly, as they let Darren Sproles go, and Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, and the rest of the offense performed poorly. Rivers and Gates, for the record, need to no longer be considered as Pro Bowl candidates. They were considered this time, but if they keep performing like they did this season, they shouldn't get the votes. The Broncos were the surprise team. Tim Tebow turned out being a quarterback that led the team to several comeback, overtime wins. However, much of the credit for the team's success should be given to the defense and Matt Prater, the kicker. John Fox was also a good fit for the team as head coach. If the Steelers remain healthy, they should easily be able to defeat the Broncos. Winning games in the last moment will not come easy for the Broncos in the playoffs.
One thing we know for sure is: The Eagles are NOT the dream team. It seemed like the Eagles had a lot of talent on their roster, but I also mentioned that they could easily crumble, especially if Michael Vick got hurt. He got hurt and the team didn't perform well. However, there was more. Juan Castillo should have not been moved to defensive coordinator, just to make room for Howard Mudd as offensive line coach. The defense performed poorly, especially with the talent on the team. The Cowboys rightfully fell to third, only I said 9-7, instead of the actual 8-8. The Redskins were at the dead bottom, but at 5-11 instead of 3-13. However, the team does not have many issues addressed. If Mike Shanahan wants to remain with the team after 2012, he is going to have to draft a quarterback of the future. Rex Grossman and John Beck are not quarterbacks of the future. Roy Helu and Evan Royster may be a strong pair of running backs, but they need a passing game that will work. The Giants won the division, finally making the playoffs after falling short the last two seasons. The Giants have been inconsistent and their run in the playoffs will all come down to consistency. They could either be the dark horse team that no one saw coming or they could be knocked out quickly.
So it turns out that the Saints were a force to be reckoned with. Plus the Falcons made the playoffs in back to back seasons for the first time ever. I believed the Saints would make it, but the Falcons would not. While the Panthers didn't make the playoffs, they did go 6-10 and showed that Cam Newton is an incredibly talented quarterback. It turns out that my boldest positive to negative prediction that went up in flames was that the Buccaneers would win the division and reach the NFC Championship. I felt the team was young and hot, Josh Freeman would progress, and Raheem Morris would make a name for himself as coach. It turns out that the team fell into a huge slump, Josh Freeman regressed, and Raheem Morris demonstrated that he was too ineffective and immature to be a head coach in the NFL, thus he's gone. The Saints could very easily reach the NFC Championship if they defeat the Lions at home and 49ers on the road, which is very likely. They will have a better shot against the Giants or Falcons (likely the Giants in this case) at home than on the road against the Packers. They are far better at home, no dome team has ever won outdoors in the championship, and going to Green Bay, Wisconsin in what will likely be freezing weather will likely not change this. The Falcons haven't won a postseason game since 2004. If the Giants are not put together, they may have a chance. If they are, they may be in for a handful.
The order was correctly projected and the one seed for the Packers in the NFC was as well. I knew that the Lions were going to improve, but was surprised that they went to 10-6 and qualified for a spot in the playoffs. That is a good thing, as they haven't reached the playoffs since 1999, leaving the Bills as the only team to not reach the playoffs in the 21st century. The Bears faltered and the Vikings just reeked, not much else to say on that end. As for the Packers and Lions, the playoffs will be interesting. The Packers will likely play the Giants or Falcons. The Giants could shock them if they "show up," as their regular season matchup went down to the wire. The Falcons would have a tougher time in the cold weather, but may have a chance. The Lions will have a difficult time getting past the Saints at home. It's possible, but the chances are slim. The Lions haven't won a postseason game since 1991, the second longest drought, only behind the Bengals, who last won in the postseason in 1990. I predicted the Packers would win in the Super Bowl, and I feel that prediction could hold if they remain strong.
Pretty much botched up on the NFC West. I thought the Niners were in store for improvement, but they would need to part ways with Alex Smith. It turns out that Alex Smith is doing excellent and ever since Jim Harbaugh came in, the team has just kept going upward. The Seahawks and Cardinals did fair, but not playoff worthy. As for the Rams, they just bombed. I felt that with Sam Bradford and with the team's close contention in the playoffs last season, they would have a good chance this time around. However, they just crumbled due to injuries and lack of targers for Bradford and all around talent. The 49ers could have a run, but they may very well be stopped by the Saints if the team remains hot and performs well in this road game. Anything could happen, though.
My Super Bowl predictions still stands, the Green Bay Packers defeat the New England Patriots. Just for kicks, here are my updated predictions as to how things will turn out, but will not at all be rejecting anything from the first prediction sheet.
Texans beat Bengals- 23-13
Steelers beat Broncos- 17-3
Saints beat Lions- 49-27
Giants beat Falcons- 31-28
Patriots beat Steelers- 27-24
Ravens beat Texans- 20-7
Packers beat Giants- 31-28
Saints beat 49ers- 28-24
Patriots beat Ravens- 20-17
Packers beat Saints- 56-42
Packers beat Patriots- 45-31
Let the playoffs begin!