So it’s midway through the year and time for my mid-season recap. I went back and read through my AFC and NFC previews to see how I’ve done so far. Considering my tendencies for rash decisions and stubbornness, I’m pretty proud of how I predicted the season would pan out. Obviously there were misses, but go read some season previews by the “experts” that ESPN employs. I guarantee I did much better than a bunch of them.
*A/Co can count on Mark Schlereth being an idiot and can rely on his predictions to be as accurate as Max Hall’s passing
*A/Co feels bad for Cardinals fans
But before I get into a recap of my preview, I just wanted to give a brief update on how I fared picking games against the spread. I came up with the idea in Week 2 and assumed that I’d once and for all show just how terrible I was at predictions. Needless to say, that theory was confirmed pretty quickly as I went 3-12-1 in my first week.
But things got better.
I mainly hovered around .500 each week, with the occasional week above or below. I stopped listing my previous week and overall records with my picks, not because I was embarrassed, but mainly because of a laziness so profound that it is hard to describe. So to update you on my progress here is how my last four weeks played our results wise:
I absolutely KILLED it last week. 12-1!!! That’s pretty awesome. Fluky, but awesome. So with that monster week, my overall record now stands at 51-47-3. Pretty good eh? Picking games is pretty tough. I know from experience from all of the money I’ve lost doing it. Not life-changing dollars, but a few hundred bucks here or there is substantial for a college kid. So I think it’ll be interesting to see how I do the rest of the year. Right now Bill Simmons is at .550 and I’m at .520. If I can finish with a better winning percentage than him, I’ll consider it a victory.
Now for the fun part: seeing how my season predictions are holding up.
I’m going to quote some lines from my AFC & NFC previews and give some analysis to their credibility. I highly suggest you go back and check out the posts. It’s really interesting to look at the first half of the season through the perspective I had early on. Plus, you can probably find some good material for calling me an idiot in the comments section.
Starting with the AFC…
AFC West: I was a little hit or miss with this division. I remember getting some flack about having the Chiefs finish second to the Chargers. The Chiefs have proven that they’re a decent, if not above average team. More surprisingly, so have the Raiders, a team I wasn’t very high on. The Chargers have definitely shocked a few people with their below .500 record, but I was not one of them.
“The fact of the matter is that this Chargers team really isn’t that good. Their offense was dynamic because Phillip Rivers is an unbelievably efficient quarterback…Throw in the projected season long hold outs of star blind side left tackle Marcus McNeil and number 1 wide receiver Vincent Jackson and this team is haplessly mediocre.”
After projecting the order of the division I finished with this statement:
“But really, the order of 2-4 doesn’t matter since none of them are going to take the wild card spot.”
I think this still holds up. Regardless of whether the Chargers make a late push, or if the Raiders are actually a good team, the AFC is too strong in other divisions. Only one playoff team is coming from this division. My prediction for the second half: it’s going to be the Chiefs. A head start in the standings and a dominant running game makes the difference in a division filled with inconsistency.
AFC East: I was pretty spot on in regards to the AFC east. I talked about a dominant top 3 and the lonely Bills stuck in the cellar. Of course, Belichick proved me wrong once again putting together a superb team with a bunch of nobodies on defense. I still think the Patriots are very beatable and their luck will change later in the season, but you’ve got to give them kudos for having the league’s best record. Here was my prediction:
“Frankly, I’m having trouble predicting how the Dolphins, Patriots and Jets are going to finish. However, I’m nearly 100% sure that the Bills are going to finish last. Boy, are they going to be terrible…You have holes at nearly every position and you draft RB CJ Spiller in the first round? Really? Combined with the fact that they are switching to a 3-4 defense and are missing NFL level personnel at 5 of those 7 positions, I think it’s going to be a long season. Pencil them in for 2 wins and 0-6 in division.”
Can’t say I disagree with you, past self.
“For the sake of giving some concrete prediction I think the division will end up like this:
Jets / Dolphins / Patriots / Bills
(Can we combine all three practice squads to replace the Bills?) But I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some serious parity in the top three pecking order.”
I stand by the statement (not the order). Who would win that match-up? The combined three practice squads, or the Buffalo Bills. I don’t know about you folks, but I would definitely pay to see that game. In regards to how the rest of the season plays out I think it’s a horse race between the Jets and the Pats. It’s going to be a combination of schedule, luck and execution. As a fan, I’ll refrain from picking, but I think by now you should all know who I’m rooting for.
“Seriously, just how good is the AFC this year? The North is just another division with 3 really solid teams. That is, of course, if you consider the Bengals to be a really solid team…As for the top three teams in the division, I actually think the Steelers are the best…If Anquan Boldin stays healthy we can expect big things from their [The Ravens] passing game. People are reluctant to give in to this team’s new pass first identity. But face it folks, they don’t rely on their defense and run game like they used to…What about the TOchocincos, I mean the Bengals? This team would kill it on VH1 but they’re not that great of a football team…In 13 games last season, Cedric Benson rushed 301 times. He’s just not a guy who’s going to be able to carry a heavy workload two years in a row. Pencil them in for mediocrity.”
I think I did a pretty good job with that one. As for the rest of the season, I like the Ravens. The Steelers are solid and with Big Ben back, they’re dangerous. But they’re also an old football team and it’s starting to show that they have the tendency to break down. I think over the long haul the Ravens have the advantage.
AFC South: I had less success picking the South division, but I think it still remains to be seen how things are going to play out.
“The Texans have a great offense and could win 10 games. The Titans have Vince young and could win ten games (but they also have Vince Young, which means they could lose 10 games). I don’t think the Texans or the Titans are good enough to take a wild card spot away from the East or North.”
I’m not so sure about this all now, especially with yesterday’s addition of Randy Moss. The Texans are going to struggle to make the playoffs. They have a good offense, but Andre Johnson is pretty banged up. Their defense is absolutely atrocious so they’re probably going to hang around 8-8. The Colts are riddled with injuries. Peyton Manning is good, but he’s going to get very frustrated playing good teams with no Dallas Clark and banged up RBs and WRs. This division could take a wild card spot but its going to be very close at the end of the year. I think the Titans take the division with Randy Moss playing an integral role. His numbers aren’t going to be huge, but defenses play differently when matching up against Moss. And when they start backing up just a bit, Chris Johnson is going to make them pay.
NFC East: Hey-ooooooooo!!! Guess that sleeper pick is looking good! The Giants looked a little wishy-washy as the season started, but they’ve gotten it together and are taking advantage of a weak conference. I don’t think anyone could have predicted the demise of the Cowboys, but I definitely saw the signs of an overrated team:
“People love to jump on this bandwagon. And when people start talking, they overlook a lot of negatives thinking that the team can make up for it in other ways. So they see something exciting like Dez Bryant (who I think is going to be great) and neglect to mention that their defense really isn’t good…A questionable o-line doesn’t help a team that is really going to rely on their offense to beat people.”
Also, people act so surprised when there is controversy surrounding Donovan Mcnabb. Really? Come on people:
“So what happens when he finally gets a legit receiving core? They ship him off to Washington, where he gets to throw to…Santana Moss? And Clinton Portis is going to carry a full rushing load? This offense is going to be terrible. And of course, the blame will be placed on McNabb. The guy seriously can’t catch a break.”
Him getting benched for Rex Grossman…REX FREAKING GROSSMAN…was one of (if not the) worst coaching move of the year. Shanahan should be getting destroyed for it far more than he is. The Giants are taking this division. The inevitable talk of Jets/Giants Super Bowl is going to be so annoying though, even for a NY guy like me.
NFC North: I’ve already shared with all of you my disgust for all things Brett Favre. Lets see what I thought before the season started:
“Its funny how quick people are to write of the Vikings after a couple injuries. But the sad truth is that it comes down to the performance of one player. FAVRE FAVRE FAVRE FAVRE FAVRE FAVRE FAVRE FAVRE FAVRE FAVRE FAVRE FAVRE…But the word on the street is that Favre’s ankle is in pretty bad shape. And with Brett Favre you get a lot of things, and one of those things is his consecutive games record. And Brett Favre IS NOT A TEAM PLAYER. So unless his ankle is literally falling off, he’s is going to be out there on the field. So you must be thinking to yourself, ‘Well isn’t that a good thing? Don’t I want Brett Favre out there all the time.’ IF he’s healthy, then yes, but when his ankle is really bad and he’s having trouble stepping into his throws and moving around the pocket, he’s no longer Brett Favre…But what I’m trying to say is that the Vikings, barring an extremely, extremely serious injury, (which remember, hasn’t happened to Favre in 20 years of playing) are stuck with Favre in whatever physical state he is in at the time. And this is going to cost them their division this year as I think they will finish in second and out of the wild card.”
Check and mate, Mr. Favre. I also saw improvement from the Lions. Although their record might not show it, they’ve lost a bunch of very close games and have been missing their franchise quarterback up until last week.
“They are going to be in a lot of shoot outs. Their defense, more specifically their secondary is AWFUL. But with Matt Stafford, Calvin Johnson, and Jahvid Best, they are going to put up points.”
Even with their injuries, this division is all but wrapped up for the Packers. Jay Cutler will be lucky to finish the season taking as many hits as he has. Same goes for little Bretty Brett.
NFC South and West: It doesn’t take too much time to sum up the next two divisions. Like I predicted the Saints and Falcons would be two solid teams in the division. But I have got to give credit to the Bucs who have been putting W’s on the board. Whether it can last with that defense is a question that will be answered in the second half, but feel free to let me hear it for predictions like this:
“The Bucs suck. Sorry, Tampa fans”
I think Raheem Morris begs to differ. The West is just a god-awful as I expected:
“The West is terrible. People like San Francisco, because there really isn’t anything else to like. But their QB is Alex Smith and we all know that guy’s ceiling…The Cardinals lost Kurt Warner and Matt Leinart. Which leaves…Derek Anderson. Unless they decide they want to run the ball 40 times a game, there’s no way they’re winning more than 7 games with Derek Anderson slinging the ball around. Slinging is probably the wrong word. Let’s going with ‘inaccurately lofting’.”
I’m not even wasting precious brain power trying to pick a division winner that’s just going to get spanked in the playoffs. I hope it goes to the Rams. Sam Bradford has been a breath of fresh for a team that hasn’t had anything to look forward to in years.
So that’s my mid-season recap. I think, all in all, I did pretty well on the prediction front. Let’s see if any of this knowledge and eight weeks of experience helps out my picks record. So if you made it this far, here are my picks for this week with the home teams in bold. I guarantee 100% accuracy (yea right…)
Bills +3 over Bengals
Texans +3 over Chargers
Cardinals +9 over Vikings
Saints -6.5 over Panthers
Jets -4 over Lions
Falcons -8.5 over Bucs
Browns +4.5 over Patriots
Dolphins +5 over Baltimore
Giants -7 over Seahawks
Chiefs +2.5 over Raiders
Colts +3 over Eagles
Packers -8 over Cowboys
Bengals +5 over Steelers