How My NFL Predictions Worked Out by G.W. Gras
I got the NFC South, completely wrong. Like completely wrong. I, like many others, thought the Falcons would’ve been the odds on favorite to not only win this division but to even make it to the NFC Championship game. It was obvious by week 4 this team was a shell of what they were last season. The injury to star wide out Julio Jones in early October was a deafening blow to this team, and Harry Douglas became Matt Ryan’s main source of offense as Steven Jackson and Roddy White struggled to stay on the field for most of the season. The defense was one of the worse in the league, and they struggled keeping up with teams on both sides of the ball.
I thought this would be the story for the New Orleans Saints, who obviously didn’t like me picking them to finish 5-11. I thought the return of Sean Payton at head coach would be over-rated, and I didn’t think Rob Ryan would make such an improvement on a defense that was historically awful one season ago. I did say that Josh Freeman was not the real deal and would eventually be benched for Mike Glennon – and when it comes to Mike Glennon, I’m not sure if he’s the “answer” for Tampa Bay, but he didn’t look too bad out there – there will be decisions to be made on Glennon in the offs-season, as he did show some signs of being competent under center.
The AFC East for me was a slam dunk. No way can anyone go against the Patriots in this division as long as Brady is there. Unfortunately for Brady that is literally ALL that is there. Injuries to Gronkowski, an average at best defense and a bunch of slot receivers is all Brady had to work with all year. It got them to the AFC Championship game sure, but we all kind of knew it was all smoke in mirrors. I picked the Jets to finish second in the division, while most were picking them to finish as one of the worse in the NFL. Geno Smith may be horrible, but the team worked thru his weaknesses to finish 8-8 and were in the wild card hunt for most of the year. It was too easy to pick the Dolphins to fail as they made all the pre-season noise when signing major free agents, but that only leaves them with a lot of post season questions heading forward.
The last big miss on my part was the AFC South (there must be something about down South that I just don’t “get”). I thought Indy would miss the playoffs and finish with a 7-9 record, instead they finished on top of the division an 11-5 record, which included a first round playoff win against a Kansas City Chiefs team that had such a big lead by halftime, they decided to not even show up for the 3rd and 4th quarters. I thought the Houston Texans would win this division by default and they instead won the first pick in the NFL draft. I’m actually glad I was wrong with this one. The Texans kind of made me sick with the way they seemingly sleep-walk week to week and show minimal effort. Games are earned, not given in this league. They still have enough talent on that roster to re-up for next season, so they’re not dead yet.
For the rest of the league predictions, I give myself a pat on the back. I had the Packers and Bears tied for the lead in the NFC North and if it wasn’t for that ridiculous tie the Packers had with the Vikings it would be true. In all honesty if your team ties with the Minnesota Vikings, it should count as a loss anyway. It’s amazing both of these teams stood afloat considering both starting quarterbacks missed time. The Bears were lucky enough to have a quality back up in Josh McCown to keep the team in contention in Jay Cutler’s absence, while Green Bay was lucky to have, luck on their side as Aaron Rodgers missed most of the regular season. Credit should be given to coach McCarthy for keeping his team alive through it all, it wasn’t pretty, but he won the division title regardless. I was right about the Lions being crazy for giving Stafford the extension, and the fact that Jim Schwartz was fired by season’s end proved me right in saying he was in the “bottom five of NFL coaches.”
I took some flack for saying the 49ers would finish 9-7 and with good reason. But I still hold firm on what I said of Colin Kaepernick then. I don’t buy into him and after seeing his collapse late in the NFC Championship Game, you can see why. But even forgetting that, I watched him all season long and he seemed to lack the poise to go through his progressions and at times was just too jittery for me under center. Arizona I predicted to finish 10-6 and was spot on but unfortunately for Bruce Arians and the Cardinals, it still wasn’t enough to get a seat at the table in the playoffs. The AFC North was everyone’s favorite division to pick because nearly everyone had it : Cincy, Baltimore, Pittsburgh then Cleveland. Although I do think this division would’ve been shaken up a little bit more if Hoyer didn’t get injured for Cleveland, it was Cincy’s to lose. . . and they almost did as Baltimore’s defense was picking up steam and making up for Joe Flacco offense which was less-than-impressive. Cincy has lost both their offensive and defensive coordinators after making a first round exit in the playoffs. And Marvin Lewis remains the head coach after again, not winning a playoff game. The NFL is a confusing place.
Lastly, I had Kansas City and Denver tied for the division lead in the AFC West. Was I wrong? Yes. But after the previous season that the Chiefs had, consider the fact that some had KC in their power rankings all season long. Injuries derailed this team. I thought Alex Smith did what was asked of him (and NOBODY should be blaming him for this team’s embarrassing playoff loss, he balled) and Jamaal Charles was outstanding and earned my nod for league MVP. Keeping all that in mind, predicting them to finish first in a division after the abysmal season they had, was not only bold – but almost right. . . if those pesky Broncos didn’t stand in the way.
And for those that laughed when I said, Chip Kelly would find success in the NFL – how you like me now?