Today is Monday of Super Bowl Week. The San Francisco 49ers are already in town and the Baltimore Ravens are flying in today. So far, every weather analyst is saying the city will have great weather for this week – Wednesday being the only day we might get some rain. All the renovations to the city are in place and, when the hundreds of thousands of fans and visitors show up, they’ll be greeted by a city that’s been preparing for this week. And if they want to enjoy a bit of Mardi Gras flavor, the adjoining parishes will still roll their regular parades this week.
So what better time to look back on my 2012 NFL Season Predictions, Primer & Pretty Pictures post? (One of the more popular posts I’ve had up this past year but I’m guessing the pictures of models had quite a bit to do with that). Time to see what I got right and what I got wrong and what I got really really wrong.
Five Predictions I Got WRONG:
New Orleans Saints win the NFC South: Let’s get the obvious one out of the way. Yes, I clearly felt that the Saints were a Super Bowl contender. Yes, I thought the year-long suspension of Sean Payton could be overcome by a team full of veteran leadership. No, I never thought Drew Brees would pick the worst possible moment to turn into an INT machine – the 3-game stretch with the Niners, Falcons and Giants where he threw 4 TDs and 9 INTs. What can I say? The Bounty scandal, the suspensions and everything that went with them really got to the team.
Philadelphia Eagles win the NFC East: Perhaps I was fooled by the Eagles ability to remain in the NFC East mix for so long. Fact is the bottom finally fell out from Andy Reid’s feet and everything went with him. They lost 5 out of their 6 division games and got blown out by teams as diverse as Arizona, New Orleans, Cincinnati and the Giants. New coach Chip Kelly will have to decide if Mike Vick is the answer at QB, when all signs point that he likely isn’t and there isn’t a better option out there.
Wild Card Teams: I’d picked the Chargers, Giants and Bears to all make the playoffs and they all let me down by hook or by crook. Of the three, the worst was San Diego, who finally got the Norving they’ve been avoiding for so long. Meanwhile the Giants and Bears somehow found ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Lovie Smith lost his job because of it.
Teams that would miss the Playoffs: I expected Atlanta, Indianapolis, Minnesota, Seattle and Washington to be just short of the playoffs. Atlanta surprised everyone by running away with the NFC and being the #1 seed – then surprised no one by losing during the NFC Championship Game. Minnesota rode a resurgent Adrian Peterson to the playoffs, benefiting from Chicago’s choke at the end of the season. Indy, Seattle and DC all benefited from quality rookie QBs, solid coaching and some breaks to all end up in the postseason. It’ll be interesting to see how they improve next year. Of the three, I think Seattle has the better chance to be back next season.
Super Bowl Prediction of Green Bay vs New England: To be fair, both teams made the playoffs. Green Bay lost in the Divisional Round to San Francisco. The Patriots did one better, hosting the AFC Championship Game, but losing to the Ravens after a bad second half. While wrong, I’m willing to stand by that one and say that it would surprise no one if they’re in the mix for next year’s Super Bowl. It’ll be an even bigger surprise if they’re not.
Five Predictions I Got RIGHT:
Seattle Seahawks: Back then, I wrote “there’s a chance to do some damage…IF Wilson doesn’t have the rookie QB jitters.” OK, so I was hedging my bets, but all the same, the Seahawks were one of the surprises of the season. WIlson displayed maturity and poise and the Seahawks’ D was as stingy as before, battling all year long.
Middle of the Road Teams: Before the season started, everyone was high on the Panthers and on Cam Newton. I said that this is usually a “sign of a stall somewhere along the way.” They started the season winning 5 out of their first 6 games and then won only 2 games the rest of the year – costing the GM and coach Ron Rivera their jobs. As for Pittsburgh, I said they needed to prove they could keep Ben Roethlisberger alive and healthy for 16 games. He only started 13 games and some of those were carrying injuries. Again, not that much of stretch, given Pittsburgh’s continued o-line issues. Finally, while everyone was high on Tampa Bay, I said I wanted to see how Greg Schiano would do at this level first. The team ended 7-9 and Schiano was involved in one imbroglio after the next, feuding with Tom Coughlin and hinting at benching Josh Freeman.
Denver Broncos: Picking the Broncos seems such an easy reach right now, but it wasn’t back in September. Then I said, “Manning may not need to do much, but he will.” A 13-3 record, the top seed in the AFC Playoffs, 37 TDs, over 4500 yards and a 68.6 completion percentage announced to everyone that Manning was back. The defense was not as luminary as last year, but it still held most teams to less that 2 TDs – only Atlanta and New England cracked the 21-point mark on the Broncos and won.
Houston Texans: Given how the AFC South looked in September, it was not difficult to predict the Texans “would dominate the AFC South” And given their track record, it also wasn’t difficult to say that the Texans wouldn’t live up to the expectations that such a domination would display. The Texans looked to be running away with the AFC and then stumbled at the end, overtaken by Denver and New England. That led to a tough Wild Card game against the Bengals and a bad loss against the Patriots.
The Underachievers: Let’s go through the list – the New York Jets, Dallas and Detroit. They gave their fans little to cheer for and much to ache about. Big things were expected of the Cowboys, of the Lions and of the Jets and they only delivered headlines for the wrong reasons. Rumors abounded of potential coaching changes for them and it wouldn’t be a surprise if that happens next season if things don’t get turned around and fast.
So there you go. As for this weekend’s “Big Game”: I’ll be rooting for the Ravens as I still hold too much of an old grudge against the Niners. What can I say, I still remember Montana and Rice walking into the Superdome and finding ways to beat the Dome Patrol!