Wednesday, January 05, 2011

2010 NFL in Review

With the 2010 NFL regular season now officially in the books, I thought I would take a look back at my preseason predictions and see how they fared. This year for the first time, I decided to pick each NFL team against the over-under line established in Vegas for total season wins, and as I recall at the halfway point of the season I was pretty close to 50-50. So without further adieu let's see how my 32 picks ended up for the 2010 regular season:

Arizona Cardinals: Under 7.5 wins. Bingo. With the departure of both Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin, I figured the Cardinals for a down year, and in the end they proved to be one of the league's worst teams in 2010.

Atlanta Falcons: Over 9 wins. Another win for me, as the Falcons were nothing short of awesome, coming out and going 13-3 in easily nabbing the NFC's #1 seed. As predicted, Matt Ryan and Michael Turner both had huge years, and the Falcons basically ran the table in what proved to be the strongest division in the NFC with three 10-game winners including the defending Superbowl champion Saints. Nice job to the Falcons who really proved something in the regular season this year.

Baltimore Ravens: Over 10 wins. Another easy win, as the Ravens established themselves as one of the AFC's best teams early and often in 2010, finishing the season tied with the Steelers atop the AFC North at 12-4. With TJ Houshmanzadeh and Anquan Boldin added to the receiving corps, Joe Flacco had a solid year to go along with the Ravens' always-solid defense to post a very strong effort on the season.

Buffalo Bills: Under 5.5 wins. At 4-12, the Bills also made a run at the NFL's worst team in 2010, easily clearing the under and another win for my season predictions. It's hard to imagine when this team is going to be good again, and I wouldn't be shocked if the franchise is gone from Buffalo before that ever happens.

Carolina Panthers: Under 7.5 wins. This was another pick that ended up winning easily for me, as the Panthers also made a strong showing for the league's worst team. At 2-14 overall, head coach John Fox is finished in Carolina, and almost surely quickly get a new head start coaching somewhere else, but this team has massive problems on both sides of the ball right now and is in desperate need of a fresh start with a new leader to rally around. Can you say Bill Cowher?

Chicago Bears: Under 8 wins. Whoops. This was a horrible pick for me, as the Bears started the season 3-0 and really never looked back on their way to taking down the thought-to-be-competitive NFC North and easily surpassing the .500 mark with a few games left to play in the 2010 season. Jay Cutler and Mike Martz proved to be a formidable duo on offense in Chicago -- which doesn't surprise me all that much to be honest -- and the addition of Julius Peppers from Carolina in the offseason seemed to re-energize the Bears' team defense which was absolutely ferocious on the season. This was a big miss for me, and I have to admit that between the Vikings and the Packers, I like most of the NFC North competition never saw the Bears coming before this season began.

Cincinnati Bengals: Under 7.5 wins. Here was another easy win for my preseason picks, as the Bengals added TO in the offseason and then promptly proceeded to put up one of the most disappointing seasons of any team in the NFL in 2010. As I said during the preseason, Marvin Lewis is a terribad coach, and I have to laugh at learning this week that Lewis will not be dismissed by the Bengals after a generally very disappointing tenure at the helm in Cincinnati, with his team's 4-12 record this year doing very little to help his cause when it comes to evaluation time at season's end. But then, decisions like this are how long-term loser franchises become long-term loser franchises. Think of it as "Mets Syndrome" -- bring in losers to run your team, and then reward them over and over for mediocre performances.

Cleveland Browns: Under 5.5 wins. After a decent middle of the season, the Browns really cooled off at season's end as (former) head coach Eric Mangini's whole shtick predictably grew tired as it always does. Whether it was Jake Delhomme or Colt McCoy, the Browns could just not do enough on offense to score the points they needed to against their opponents, and the result was a 5-11 2010 campaign that squeaks squeaks out another win for my preseason predictions.

Dallas Cowboys: Over 9.5 wins. Talking about the most disappointing teams of 2010, no list would be complete without the Cowboys right up at the top of the list. I royally screwed up this prediction, as I picked the 'Boys to run away with the NFC East crown that was instead nabbed by the Eagles, while the Cowboys posted a sub-.500record after starting the season 1-7 and seeing the firing of their head coach Wade Phillips, a move which I predicted just a year too early back before the 2009 regular season. Another bad miss for me in my preseason picks.

Denver Broncos: Under 7.5 wins. I said in the preseason how I just did not like this team in 2010, and even I didn't realize just how bad they would be. As predicted, the pick of Tim Tebow was an absolute joke given where the selection was made, and along with the bad running game, just about the only big surprise to the Broncos' 2010 season was the sudden firing of head coach Josh McDaniel just a few weeks before the end of the regular season. With 4 total wins on the year, the Broncos might be up there among the worst teams in football this year, making for another easy win for my preseason pick here.

Detroit Lions: Over 5 wins. I didn't love the line on this team heading into the 2010 regular season, but I went with my heart and picked the over, and came away with a victory as the Lions managed to best the Vikings in their last game of the year to finish the season at 6-10. They weren't great, but especially given that quarterback Matt Stafford missed much of the season due to injury, the Lions did a decent job, just enough to get me another preseason prediction victory.

Green Bay Packers: Over 9.5 wins. As predicted, I thought this was a very good line heading into the regular season this year, and this one came right down to the wire with the Packers playing the Bears in Week 17 at 9-6 and needing to win in order to fight their way into the playoffs. The Pack managed to win their last two crucial games of the year to finish the season at 10-6, a win for my preseason pick, and a date with my Philadelphia Eagles in the wildcard round of the NFL playoffs next weekend at The Linc in Philly.

Houston Texans: Over 8 wins. This one was a miss, as I thought the AFC South was set up for a sleeper team, but I incorrectly picked the Texans instead of the Jaguars as that team during the preseason. The Texans finished several games under .500 in a very disappointing 2010 campaign, and just recently announced their intention to retain head coach Gary Kubiak which will probably mean another year of mediocrity for Houston in 2011.

Indianapolis Colts: Over 11 wins. The Colts finished 2010 with a 10-6 record, which means this was another miss for me with my preseason pick, but I honestly have to laugh at anybody who got this one right before the season began. For the team that won at least 12 games for seven consecutive seasons heading into this year with Peyton Manning under center, and who didn't lose a single game they tried to win back in 2009, I don't regret this over pick even a little bit, but it does go down as another loss among my 2010 predictions here at season's end.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Under 7 wins. Here was another miss, as the Jaguars surprised pretty much everybody by busting out to an early AFC South lead before eventually succumbing to the Colts even in a down year for Peyton Manning et al. Although they fell short in the end, the Jags had a very positive season overall in my view and managed to squeak one game past their Vegas number by the time the smoke had cleared on the 2010 NFL regular season.

Kansas City Chiefs: Under 6.5 wins. Here was another wide miss for me, as it was obvious after just a couple of games into the 2010 regular season that the Chiefs were the class of the AFC West for the first time in nearly a decade, but heading into the regular season I had this team picked as a 5- or 6-game winner at most. As I've said several times here on the blog, Matt Cassel quietly had an awesome year, throwing 27 touchdowns against just 5 interceptions, and the Chiefs' pwnership of the West was really never in doubt after the Chargers started slow and were just too inconsistent to ever make a serious push.

Miami Dolphins: Under 8.5 wins. Here's one that didn't look like a win at the halfway mark, but ended up another correct prediction for me thanks to the fact that the Dolphins simply could not win a game at home to save their lives in 2010. Home losses vs. Cleveland, Buffalo and Detroit late in the year sealed the Fins' fate vs. their Vegas line in 2010, and Tony Sparano's job may be in jeopardy after posting that abysmal 1-7 home record on the year despite ending the season an impressive 6-2 in road games.

Minnesota Vikings: Over 9.5 wins. I could not believe this line was so low heading into the 2010 regular season, but how much more wrong could I have been about this team? Between the Brett Favre sex scandal, and his just general suckery at the quarterback position in throwing just 11 touchdowns and 19 costly interceptions over just 13 starts, and the laughable ineptitude of former head coach Brad Childress who lost his job with just a few games to go in the regular season, the Vikings were never close to good and never made any kind of a push in the division after a 2-5 start that never really got much better as the season wore on in Minnesota.

New England Cheatriots: Over 9.5 wins. Easy win. The Cheatriots finished the year I think showing why they are easily the NFL's best team, finishing with a 14-2 final record in easily taking down the AFC East. This line was never in doubt for any serious NFL fan this year and was about as big of a gimme as you'll find from the Vegas pros in any year.

New Orleans Saints: Over 10.5 wins. Despite a rocky beginning, the Saints were one of the NFL's consistently best teams in the second half in 2010 on their way to posting an 11-5 record and another win for my preseason pick. Frankly I was and remained surprised that this line could be so low given the defending Superbowl champions' 2009 performance, although it took until Week 16 for New Orleans to get it done so I guess the sharps in Vegas knew a little about what they were doing with this line before the season began.

New York Giants: Under 8.5 wins. Although I was correct pretty much all season that the Giants were a typically overrated New York media-created team, they did manage to squeak past their Vegas number and give me a loss in my preseason pick. Fortunately, that was the only loss that me or my Eagles suffered at the hands of the Giants this year, with the Eagles' historic 31-10 comeback in the final 7:40 of their game against the Giants a few weeks back officially ruining the entire season for the then 9-4 Giants on the year, who were officially eliminated from the postseason after the Packers beat the Bears in Week 17 to ice it.

New York Jets: Under 9.5 wins. I was also pretty much right on about the Jets being overrated heading into 2010, but they too managed to get past their Vegas number in posting 11 wins on the season, despite trying to lose about 7 of those games. In the end I should have paid more attention to the Jets' schedule, which proved to be pretty much the easiest schedule I have ever seen a defending conference finalist face, and that was enough to get what seems to be to be a mediocrely-good team over 10 wins on the year.

Oakland Raiders: Under 6 wins. Here was another loss for me, in what proved to be one of the strangest teams of the 2010 NFL season. The Raiders became only the second team in NFL history since the merger to go 6-0 in their division, completing the 2-0 sweep of all other teams in the AFC West by crushing the Chiefs in Week 17. However, the Raiders were pretty much unable to beat anyone else outside of the division, ending the year 8-8 and in third place in the West despite not losing a game to anyone else in the division all the way through the season.

Philadelphia Eagles: Under 8.5 wins. Another incorrect prediction for me, as I like the rest of America failed to know how incredibly well Mike Vick would play for this team after Kevin Kolb was named the team's quarterback of the future in the offseason. As I mentioned before the season began, Andy Reid has a pretty amazing record in regular season games as Philly's head coach, and he did not disappoint this year in guiding the Eagles to a 10-6 record despite trading away longtime starting qb Donovan McNabb before the season began.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Over 9 wins. This one was another easy gimme line this year that I got right, as it was only ever this low because Ben Roethlisberger was slated to miss at least 4 games at the start of the season, while the team managed to go 3-1 in Big Ben's absence and then ran on to a 12-4 record on the year after Roethlisberger's return. As long as Troy Polamalu is healthy, the Steelers have a chance to go far as one of the AFC's best overall teams in the 2010 post-season.

San Diego Chargers: Under 11 wins. I liked this line a lot going in to the 2010 season, but in the end the Chargers were not nearly as consistent as in past seasons, and the rest of their division got better around them instead of worse as I had thought. My prediction for "under" ended up being more correct than I thought, as the Chargers ended the year with just 9 wins and a lot of disappointment, despite (chuckle chuckle) announcing that head coach Norv Turner would be retained heading into the 2011 regular season as well.

San Francisco 49ers: Under 8.5 wins. I thought this was a pretty good line as well heading into the regular season this year, but something about head coach Mike Singletary didn't seem quite right, and I'm glad I took the under as a result. Fast forward 17 weeks, Mike Singletary has been fired, and his team finished the season at 6-10 and was not a factor even in the historically bad NFC West on the year.

Seattle Seahawks: Under 7.5 wins. The Seahawks managed to win the pitiful NFC West in 2010, despite the fact that they could not even make their low Vegas over-under number even with a last-week win to clinch the division. As predicted, the Seahawks did not do a good job on either offense or defense, and it showed in their results as they were never a serious threat to even make it to .500 by the time the second half of the season rolled around, giving me another preseason prediction win.

St. Louis Rams: Under 5 wins. Like the Chiefs, this was a pick I knew I had wrong just a couple of weeks into the regular season this year, but it's still a loss nonetheless. Although the Rams were not a fabulous team in their 2010 campaign, they were in my view the only team really worth rooting for in the embarrassingly bad NFC West on the year, and I was sad to see them fail on the last night of the regular season against a backup quarterback and playing at a pretty terrible Seahawks squad.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Under 5.5 wins. Perhaps my worst pick of the entire 2010 preseason, I like most NFL fans pegged the Bucs to be among the NFL's worst teams, only to watch them bust out with 10 wins and make a very serious run at a playoff spot before falling just short when the Packers beat the Bears in Week 17. Young Bucs' coach Raheem Morris really showed the rest of the league something, and the team will look to keep the momentum going heading into the 2011 NFL season.

Tennessee Titans: Over 8.5 wins. Another loss for me, as I thought the Titans would make a good showing behind Vince Young in the AFC South, but instead the team had inconsistent qb play, culminating in Vince Young blowing up after being benched during a game in mid-season, and the team ended up trying to win with an old and decrepit Kerry Collins, finishing the season 6-10. Jeff Fisher could be on his way out as well as the NFL's longest-tenured head coach, as that team will need to find a way to build around Chris Johnson on offense and get back to their form from a few years ago.

Washington Redskins: Under 7.5 wins. Winnah. The Skins ended a very disappointing 2010 campaign with a home loss to the non-playoff-bound Giants and a 6-10 overall record. Donovan McNabb posted far and away his worst season since his first in the league, eventually getting benched in four different games of the regular season in favor of longtime Florida retread Rex Grossman, who easily outplayed McNabb when he was under center on the year. Between the McNabb saga and the Albert Haynesworth debacle, Mike Shanahan will have his hands full as he looks to turn things around heading into the 2011 NFL season.

Overall, 17-15 on the season for another set of over .500 predictions in the sports arena for me. 17-15 is not at all what I'm looking to accomplish with these picks, but I guess in the parity-laden NFL these days, I can't look at it as too shabby. 20-12 would be so much better though.

In terms of my postseason team predictions, in the NFC I predicted Dallas, New Orleans, Minnesota, Green Bay, Seattle and the Giants. In reality, after the Eagles crushed the Giants' spirit back in Week 13, it is Philadelphia, New Orleans, Chicago, Green Bay, Seattle and the Falcons, giving me 3 out of the 6 playoff spots correct, and only one of the four division winners (Seattle, ironically). And in the AFC, which admittedly I thought going in I was much more confident about and stated as such in my original 2010 preview post, I picked New England, Indy, Tennessee, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and San Diego, when in reality it was New England, Indy, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Kansas City and the Jets. This also leaves me at 3 of the 6 playoff teams correctly predicted, and two of the four divisions (AFC East and AFC South) correctly predicting the winner. So, I nabbed 6 of the 12 playoff teams overall in the preseason, which is again nothing to write home about by a longshot, although coming off a year where I predicted exactly 1 of the 12 playoff teams in the preseason, I guess I should count this as a step upward for me.

Lastly, after deciding to skip the last week of the season like I do the first week every year, since teams often don't play their starters and generally have a million other motivations other than winning their games, I ended the season going 27-17-2 in my game picks against the spread. This is a stellar performance -- especially for me -- and one which I will look to keep the momentum going with as we head into the postseason. Especially in the second half of the season, I seemed to really hone in on those teams that were good and those that were the jokers, and I did an excellent job avoiding the myriad trap games every single week in the league that in past years I have walked straight into and taken the bait like a chump.

Later this week I will look to post picks for this weekend's four wildcard round playoff games, all four of which I think have a reasonable shot for the lower-seeded team to win.

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3 Comments:

Blogger The Wife said...

I give you credit for picking the Pack to go as far as they did . . . can you pick them for the 'Bowl?

1:29 PM  
Blogger PokahDave said...

Correction : New England Greatiots.

3:35 AM  
Blogger PokahDave said...

Correction on Correction :
New England Greatriots...

3:36 AM  

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