Tag Archives: predictions

NFL 2014 Postseason Predictions

AFC Wild Card

Colts over Bengals. Can’t count on Andy Dalton here.
Steelers over Ravens. Should be a physical battle that the home team wins.

NFC Wild Card

Panthers over Cardinals.  Would have loved to see Logan Thomas get a short for the Cardinals.
Cowboys over Lions. Could be a shootout.

AFC Divisional

Patriots over Colts. As shown earlier this year, the Patriots are still too strong for Luck.
Broncos over Steelers. Broncos didn’t struggle as much you think they have.

NFC Divisional

Seahawks over Panthers. Just don’t see the Panthers scoring enough.
Packers over Cowboys. There could easily be an upset here, but there probably won’t be.

Conference Championship

Patriots over Broncos. Happened earlier this year and will repeat.
Seahawks over Packers. Boring, I know but Seattle is at home.

Super Bowl

Patriots over Seahawks. Trusting the NE flexibility over SEA talent.

MLB Playoff Preview & Predictions

Still very busy, so this is going to be quick. Just want to get it on the record.

AL Wild Card Game
A’s over Royals. The regular season struggles of the A’s won’t matter tonight.

NL Wild Card Game
Pirates over Giants. Pirates have an edge of offense that should settle this in the middle innings.

ALDS
Tigers over Orioles. Had the Orioles not lost most of their infield…
Angels over A’s. Regular season replays itself.

NLDS
Dodgers over Cardinals. I’m stupidly betting against the Cards in the postseason.
Nationals over Pirates. Wouldn’t be stunned if Pirates pulled this out, but pitching makes the difference.

ALCS
Angels over Tigers. Tigers’ bullpen issues will haunt them here.

NLCS
Dodgers over Nationals. Nationals have no bullpen issues, but they will because it’s the postseason and that’s what they do.

World Series
Dodgers over Angels. In the “Los Angeles” series, the slightly richer team wins.

NFC Season Preview & Predictions 2014

NFC East

Eagles 11-5
The defense will be slightly better, and the offense should hold steady. I don’t predict the big improvements – Sproles should offset Jackson, and Foles’ development will offset worse luck – but they will win this division.

Cowboys 7-9
No defense and Romo with a back injury. There’s a limit to how far they can go.

Giants 7-9
Probably will end up three wins better, but this team is unimpressive across the board.

Redskins 7-9
RGIII hasn’t looked well, adjusting to a new coach and system. Defense also needs more physical players.

NFC North

Packers 10-6
Some questions on defense and the offensive line and an important question surrounding Aaron Rodgers (specifically, “How many fingers am I holding up?”), but this is a powerful offense.

Bears 9-7
Could very well get 2 or 3 more wins, but a fragile Cutler and a young defense put a cap on what this team can accomplish.

Lions 6-10
A very powerful offense and an undisciplined defense. They’re basically the Cowboys.

Vikings 5-11
Should go to Teddy Bridgewater – in my opinion the best QB who will come out of this year’s draft – with the associated growing pains. Secondary very suspect.

NFC South

Saints 12-4
The offense is typically unstoppable, and the defense actually has lots of talent this time around. They can still be run on, but they are in good shape.

Falcons 9-7
Losing their starting tackle hurts, because this is a team on the rebound. Jake Matthews will help, but there are still holes here.

Panthers 8-8
I feel like I’m missing something here. This team made little effort to add receivers at a time that their QB is hitting his prime and his RBs are on the decline. The defense is solid – this would have been a good time to go for it.

Buccaneers 7-9
Lovie Smith and a great draft. I think McCown does well but I also think Glennon can win this job for the next few years.

NFC West

Seahawks 11-5
They’ve taken more hits than people realize, but Wilson is a year better. Defense lacks last year’s depth but is still very good.

49ers 10-6
I love how this team built its roster, but between injuries and suspensions, their impressive depth has taken a hit. A lot will hinge on Kaepernick’s development as a passer.

Cardinals 7-9
The defense impressed last year but it’s lost quite a bit of talent. The passing offense should hold up but this team is taking a step back.

Rams 5-11
Bradford out, Zac Stacy unproven, receivers young. This offense has lots of questions that a stout defensive line cannot overcome.

Eagles
Saints
Seahawks
Packers
Bears
49ers

Playoffs

Packers over 49ers
Seahawks over Bears

Saints over Packers
Seahawks over Eagles

Saints over Seahawks

Super Bowl: Patriots over Saints

 

 

AFC Season Preview & Predictions 2014

Once again, I dedicate some thought and space to a sport I care less and less about.

AFC East

Patriots 13-3
Improved defense and receivers that can’t be less healthy than last year. Even with an older Brady, this is a good team.

Bills 7-9
I’m a believer for no real reason. Manuel struggled, Watkins is hurt already, and the secondary is struggling. Yet here we are.

Dolphins 6-10
On paper this team should be much better, but a tough schedule and lack of offensive playmakers makes me wonder where the wins will come from.

Jets 5-11
Predicting a bit of a collapse. The Jets were the luckiest team in the NFL last year and I doubt that repeats.

AFC North

Bengals 10-6
This team probably isn’t as good as they were last year, but the run game should be effective and they’ve developed bona fide pass catchers beyond AJ Green. I believe.

Steelers 9-7
Should have made the playoffs last year, and will contend this year. Expecting Wheaton and Shazier to make an immediate impact.

Ravens 8-8
Could win three more games than this if everything breaks right, but luck averages out so I’ll have them be average, too.

Browns 6-10
This team is better than this but their QB situation is unsettled and their receivers aren’t impressive. The defense is very good, but it won’t be enough. This team can surprise, but it can’t contend.

AFC South

Colts 9-7
The defense won’t be as lucky as last year, and the lack of a run game will be an issue. I also wonder if Luck will keep improving – he’s already playing well.

Titans 7-9
Counting on Locker to be healthy and accurate is risky, but this team has quietly built a great offensive line, a decent receiver corps, and good platoon pieces at TE and RB. The secondary is shallow which will be a problem all year.

Jaguars 6-10
An improving team but I think they’re a year away from threatening. Very young roster that will be better and deeper next year.

Houston 6-10
They’re not as bad as their 2-14 record last year, and the defense can be downright scary, but QB is unsettled and all skill positions are shallower than last year. I say the struggle big time.

AFC West

Broncos 12-4
Counting on Montee Ball and lacking Wes Welker for a while, the Broncos can probably still run away with this division.

Chargers 9-7
A very good offense and very good defense and a tough schedule. They could go a couple of wins both ways.

Chiefs 9-7
They need more playmakers in the passing game to threaten, but with Charles and that defense, they’ll contend.

Raiders 3-13
Looks like another tough year for the Raiders. They’re still early in the talent cycle and it’ll show.

Playoffs:

Chargers over Steelers
Bengals over Colts

Patriots over Chargers
Broncos over Bengals

Patriots over Broncos

Super Bowl: tomorrow, with the NFC preview.

Book Review: Average Is Over

Average Is Over, by Tyler Cowen

Blog-favorite Tyler Cowen’s last book came out in 2011, but I reread it recently after a flurry of reviews and criticism over the past few years. In particular, the participants in the largely pointless current debate about inequality would do well to read this book closely. It makes several predictions about America (it’s largely US-centric) in the next few decades.

At the center is Cowen’s prediction of an even more unequal distribution of wealth and/or income: at the top, 15% or so of the cognitive elite will have excellent lives; the remainder will be more underclass than middle class. The cause of this polarization are the increasing returns to working with machine intelligence – computers capable of making predictions with higher accuracy than humans.

The running example in the book – one that Cowen spends way more time on than is useful – is freestyle chess, combining human players with chess programs. The programs themselves are capable of defeating human grandmasters, but combined with a human they perform even better. Cowen predicts that jobs of the future will be similar: computers guiding humans who occasionally overrule the computers. The skills involved are cognitively demanding: interpreting computer data, analyzing it, and, perhaps most difficult, accepting computer recommendations that run counter to human instinct. Increased computer intelligence will permeate medicine, law, and business in a way that won’t be easy for many to handle. Those that can handle it will do well in the future.

Cowen spends quite a bit of time on the future of the underclass, which is less bleak than it sounds. Technology will make education and entertainment cheap and available, even if wages stagnate and housing becomes to resemble shantytowns more than today’s urban landscapes. (My guess is this prediction is least likely to come true, certainly in the short timeframe covered by the book.)

One interesting idea I didn’t expect was Cowen’s prediction that the world, for a while, will become more annoying as we adapt it to the machines. He compares it to customer service phone trees: machines still handle clear-cut things best, so our future is likely to be more regularized so the machines can handle it. In the longer run, they might catch up to us, but in the nearer future, we’ll just have to deal with a lot more stupidity.

Cowen’s predictions have been quite controversial – though often because the dissenter wishes he weren’t right – but this book is an important analysis of the near future. Highly recommended.

World Cup Knockout Stage Prediction

Updated predictions for the remainder, with the big change being the winner of the Germany-Brazil semifinal (and thus the whole thing).

Round of 16

Brazil over Chile
Less of a sure thing than anyone would have guessed two weeks ago, but Brazil at home still has to be the overwhelming favorite.

Colombia over Uruguay
Uruguay has played well, and perhaps I’m overrating the effect of Suarez on Uruguay, but he has played a huge role for them, and this week he won’t. So I say Colombia takes advantage.

Netherlands over Mexico
Mexico played good defense in the group stage, and now the high-scoring Dutch enter. I think the game will come down to the Dutch defense, which was briefly exposed by Australia before consolidating. I think they hold.

Costa Rica over Greece
I’d call this one of the weaker matchups, and would have loved to see Ivory Coast take Greece’s place here, but Costa Rica has been solid in group play and I say they keep moving.

France over Nigeria
Nigeria’s another team that probably shouldn’t be here, but I also expect the French to make quick work of them. After showing surprising firepower in group play, France is good for three goals here.

Germany over Algeria
Germany’s tailed off after a dominant win against Portugal, but they’ve played maybe 20 bad minutes (against Ghana so far). Algeria’s defensive prowess is more substantial than I expected, but it won’t be enough.

Argentina over Switzerland
This could be a really fun game to watch, with both teams capable of scoring and the Swiss showing a cheese-like defense against France. The key will be for the Swiss to mount a solid attack to keep this game close late, and if they can, they have individuals up front to upset Argentina. I just don’t think they will.

US over Belgium
A decent draw for the US, although Belgium won all games in the group, including a game in which they were down a man for a good portion. The US played some of very good soccer its last two games and can win this, and I think they will. Bonus prediction: Jozy Altidore is a non-factor.

Quarter-Finals

Looks like the Cinderella teams all get booted here.

Brazil over Colombia
Same comments as on Brazil v. Mexico.

Germany over France
I’ll stay away from historical references and instead hope for a high-scoring game. I doubt either team gives up much early, though it would make for an excellent game if they did. A closer game than I would have said before the tournament, but Germany advances.

Netherlands over Costa Rica
Los Ticos beat Italy and Uruguay, so I can’t underrate them, but I just don’t see them scoring enough to win this one.

Argentina over USA
All the athleticism and coaching in the world will not stop Messi. The US doesn’t have the players to stop him, even if he doesn’t score.

Semi-Finals
Big names only.

Germany over Brazil
The biggest change in my pre-tournament predictions. Brazil has looked shaky enough, and Germany has been very good. I say the hosts get upset here.

Argentina over Netherlands
A promising matchup that will probably end up being a scoreless tie. Still happy to watch it, and not very confident in this prediction.

Final

Germany over Argentina
Wouldn’t bet on this, but could be a fun matchup. Both teams have plenty of scoring ability and are strong possession teams. More importantly, neither will be afraid to concede (like Spain and Netherlands were four years ago). This could be a classic.

World Cup 2014 Preview

A quick preview of the group stage of the world cup, along with a preliminary knockout stage bracket. I’ll redo the latter once we know who the teams are. I’ve found this to be a particularly tough one to pick, since the group drawings gave us multiple groups of death and a couple of very weak ones as well. As always, I have very little confidence in these picks unless otherwise noted. Upon further review, I am probably underrating some of the South American teams, especially Chile and Uruguay, although I am somewhat confident that the US will beat Portugal to advance.

Group Stage

Group A
Predicted finish: Brazil, Mexico, Croatia, Cameroon.
Tough to predict after Brazil. Mexico gets a slight edge based on hemisphere, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Croatia advanced instead.

Group B
Predicted finish: Spain, Netherlands, Chile, Australia.
Picking a small upset by advancing the Netherlands over favored Chile.

Group C
Predicted finish: Colombia, Japan, Ivory Coast, Greece.
A weak group, and tough to predict. I’ve seen Japan chosen to win the group and finish last, so I have little confidence here.

Group D
Predicted finish: Italy, England, Uruguay, Costa Rica.
Uruguay is probably favored here, and likely will advance, but I just don’t think their style is well-matched with Italy or England’s defense.

Group E
Predicted finish: France, Ecuador, Switzerland, Honduras.
Ecuador over Switzerland is a close call. Also, never forget that France can be terrible at big tournaments.

Group F
Predicted finish: Argentina, Bosnia, Nigeria, Iran.
Bosnia – Nigeria is the pivotal game of this group.

Group G
Predicted finish: Germany, USA, Portugal, Ghana
Yes, I’m taking the US over Portugal.

Group H
Predicted finish: Belgium, Russia, South Korea, Algeria.
Russia and South Korea are basically interchangeable here.

Early Knockout Stage Predictions:

Brazil over Netherlands, England over Colombia
Bosnia over France, Germany over Russia
Spain over Mexico, Italy over Japan
Argentina over Ecuador, US over Belgium

Brazil over England, Germany over Bosnia
Spain over Italy, Argentina over US

Brazil over Germany, Argentina over Spain

Brazil over Argentina.

NFL Weekly Predictions Review

Since I decided not to do playoff predictions, here’s a quick summary of the season.

Last week: 14-2
Season: 168-88
Good: Many good picks this week.
Bad: Missed Miami and Bears losses, but barely and at home. No shame.
Ugly: Nothing ugly.

The season ends with the best score I’ve had all year, with only close misses involving the Bears/Packers and Dolphins/Jets games. The season ends with a decent 168-88 record, a 65.6% winning percentage short of my 2/3 target but defeating 12 of 14 ESPN “experts.”
Then again, just picking the home team every time would have gotten us around 60%, so no one should feel too good about this.

Next year, I’ll add picks against the spread. It will not go well.

NFL Predictions Review: AFC

The AFC features fewer big misses (Jets, Texans, Chargers), and generally better accuracy than the NFC. Getting the Chiefs right after two wins last year was a good get, and the decline of Baltimore was foreshadowed if not outright predicted.

AFC East

New England Patriots
Predicted: 13-3. Huge questions in the passing game, and the defense has struggled in the past. However, a weak division and a schedule that gives them time to gel on offense should help. Both lines are stout and Brady is consistent enough to get them to the AFC elite again.
Actual: 12-4. Despite injuries on defense and in the receiving corps, this one is just about right.

New York Jets
Predicted: 3-13. They’ll upset some teams because of a well-coached defense, but the offense is a mess. The line is fine, but the skill positions lack talent and their schedule is tough (in the sense that they have to play other NFL teams).
Actual: 8-8. It was in fact the defense, but they helped them to win many more games than I expected. Big miss by me.

Miami Dolphins
Predicted: 7-9. I was impressed by Tannehill last year and I think he moves forward again, but the wins aren’t there this year. Mike Wallace will stretch defenses but there aren’t many left to take advantage of the space underneath. Add two young backs, and this is a team around .500 at beast.
Actual: 8-8. Pretty on the money. Perhaps the bullying scandal cost them the playoffs, but this team is improving.

Buffalo Bills
Predicted: 4-12. EJ Manuel will be a bona fide NFL starter, but with young receivers, a line with questions, and some injuries on defense, the Bills don’t make the leap just yet. I think they’ll contend in more games than not, but given the lack of experience I think they lose most of them. If I’m a Bills fan, 2014 looks good to me.
Actual: 6-10. I underestimated them here – even with injuries they got to 6 wins, and could easily have gotten two more. I like where they’re headed.

AFC North

Cincinnati Bengals
Predicted: 12-4. I’m all in on Cincinnati. A very talented defense with passrushers on the line, tacklers at linebacker, and perhaps the deepest secondary in the NFL. On offense, AJ Green is a beast, and Sanu, Gresham, Eifert, Green-Ellis, and Bernard, if used properly, can be effective. Andy Dalton is the rate-limiting step, but he only needs to be what he’s already been for this team to win.
Actual: 11-5. Mostly right here, despite the loss of Geno Atkins and little depth at linebacker.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Predicted: 6-10. The offense has too many questions, especially on the offensive line and at runningback. Receiver depth is also not there this year. The defense has talent, especially at linebacker, but I don’t see this team contending unless the offense stuns us all.
Actual: 8-8. Screwed out of the playoffs by bad calls in the Chiefs-Chargers game, the late-season Steelers could have done something in the playoffs.

Baltimore Ravens
Predicted: 10-6. I could see this team dropping to .500 if the defense doesn’t gel as fast as it needs to, and if the passing game fades more than I expect it to. That said, the schedule favors them this year, and they match up well in the division. I say the return to double-digits.
Actual: 8-8. This team did, in fact, drop to .500, though largely because struggles on offense. The defense gelled just fine.

Cleveland Browns
Predicted: 4-12. I think this is an improving team and they could leapfrog Pittsburgh in the standings. That said, lack of receivers and a limited quarterback will hamstring this team.
Actual: 4-12. Notice I said “lack of receivers,” so Josh Gordon doesn’t count. Quarterback struggles did  hold them back.

AFC South

Indianapolis Colts
Predicted: 9-7. A solid all-around team that can repeat last year’s performance. The small defense and running game are the limiting factors, and I can see them getting overrun once in a while. That said, they’re on the edge of contention once again.
Actual: 11-5. They held up better than I expected, helped by a weak division. The running game eventually emerged with Donald Brown.

Tennessee Titans
Predicted: 9-7. An optimistic prediction, but there’s no denying the talent surrounding Jake Locker. A rebuilt offensive line, depth at RB (Greene and the underrated Jackie Battle), and a deep (if unspectacular) receiving corps. The defense can only be better than last year, helped by a couple of new safeties and a talented defensive line. Add Zach Brown as a playmaker at linebacker, and if all breaks their way the Titans can knock on the playoff door. (More likely: Locker struggles with accuracy and they win 6 games.)
Actual: 7-9. They were 4-3 with a couple of close losses before Locker went down with an injury. This could have been a different season.

Jacksonville Jaguars
Predicted: 2-14. Rebuilding and very shallow in talent right now. Gabbert probably could have been an NFL starter but I don’t think they’ll get there now that he’s been beaten up for two years.
Actual: 4-12. Largely correct on these, and Chad Henne ended up the quarterback of this team.

Houston Texans
Predicted: 9-7. I see them taking a step back rather than forward from last year. Hopkins is a nice addition but I have little faith in Schaub. Foster has been injured (though Ben Tate is a talented backup) and Andre Johnson is getting old. JJ Watt is excellent off the edge, but he won’t be any better than he was last year, and old Ed Reed, once he plays, won’t make this secondary that much better.
Actual: 2-14. They took a step back and never stopped. I was right on all the red flags, but failed to anticipate the magnitude. Big miss.

AFC West

Denver Broncos
Predicted: 14-2. Perhaps the best team in the league, and especially deep on offense. Hard to see who can keep up with them this year if they stay healthy.
Actual: 13-3. They turned the ball over a bit much and the defense is fading after some injuries, but they were the best team in the league.

Kansas City Chiefs
Predicted: 11-5. I can see a Colts-type year for them this year. New, capable QB in an otherwise average offense with some playmakers, plus a defense full of individual talent. If they can be coached to their potential, this is a playoff team. And I think Reid’s staff can make it happen.
Actual: 11-5. Nailed the rebound. Go me.

San Diego Chargers
Predicted: 4-12. This team is capable of winning more than this, but their schedule is unkind and their inexperience on offense will show. Rivers is now a question mark, too, after last year’s turnover-fest. I wouldn’t be surprised if I underestimated them, but I don’t see the wins.
Actual: 9-7. Even if we adjust for week 17, this is a big miss. Rivers and Woodhead made this offense run far better than I thought.

Oakland Raiders
Predicted: 3-13. Could steal a couple of wins here and there with their running game, but the lack of wide receivers, questions on defense, and the general lack of discipline doesn’t bode well for this team.
Actual: 4-12. Yup, yup, yup.

NFL Predictions Review: NFC

In particular, the NFC looks more equal than it has in some time. There is literally no team which, if it won 12 games or so, would stun me – Arizona, Carolina, and Tampa bay are probably the longest shots, but I given their talent at certain positions I could see each doing rather well.

My prediction about predictions held up pretty well, with far more variance in the NFC results than the AFC. That said, there were some good hits in the NFC as well. I missed big on the Redskins, Panthers, Cardinals, and Falcons, but I correctly predicted the big changes for the Eagles, Vikings, and Saints.

NFC East
Philadelphia Eagles
Predicted: 10-6. I think they rebound from last year’s disaster not unlike the Colts did last year. A lot of this is contingent on health – Vick is fragile, and they’ve already lost Maclin and Benn for the season. That said, I’m buying Kelly’s offense, and I think the defense rebounds. I’m in.
Actual 10-6. Nailed this one. Vick turned out not to matter very much, and the defense was poor early on, but the offense set franchise records so yay me.

Dallas Cowboys
Predicted: 8-8. A lot of pressure on Romo and the receivers, given that the runningback lacks a true feature back. Murray could emerge, but he could also miss half the season, so I’m not projecting him to carry this team. The defense should be fine – pressure, ballhawks – but this team rises and falls with Romo. Given their schedule, 8-10 wins is doable, but I think they break even and fall short of the playoffs.
Actual 8-8. Well, other than underestimating Murray and calling the defense fine (it was awful), this was not bad.

New York Giants
Predicted: 8-8. I think they’ll have trouble protecting Manning, and I’m not yet sold on David Wilson as a full-time starter (my fantasy team notwithstanding). The defense has suffered injuries, too. My biggest concern with them is turnovers: I’m not sure they’re strong enough to dig themselves out of those holes this year. That said, would you be surprised if they made a late run?
Actual: 7-9. Close enough, I suppose. Turnovers and running backs turned out to be big problems for them.

Washington Redskins
Predicted: 10-6. Another team that needs to stay healthy to win, but they’re well-coached and have a capable backup quarterback in case RGIII goes down again. Solid rungame, upgraded receivers, and a decent, if unspectacular defense.
Actual: 3-13. Ah yes. “Unspectacular defense” was probably not the way to describe a terrible defense, or terrible special teams. Big miss.

NFC North

Green Bay Packers
Predicted: 12-4. A little less depth at receiver and a rickety offensive line means the Packers will be a little less dominant than we’ve been used to. That said, an improved defense should help, and they still have Aaron Rodgers, now backed with a running game.
Actual: 8-7-1. The injury to Rodgers hurt them here, but they still finished at the top of the division. The run game was in fact helpful.

Chicago Bears
Predicted: 10-6. New coaching so it’s tough to predict, but the talent is there. Offensive line has some question marks, and I think their defense is overrated. They’ll create turnovers, though, and I think that takes them to double digit wins.
Actual: 8-8. The injury to Cutler lost them a game, and the run defense was far worse than anyone expected. Offensive line held up though.

Detroit Lions
Predicted: 6-10. Offense could be impressive with the additions of Bush and some young receivers, but they were impressive last year, too, to no avail. The defensive line is talented but undisciplined, and the remainder of the defense is average at best. I don’t see them making the great leap forward.
Actual: 7-9. Offense was very good, defense was undisplicined, and coaching did not help.

Minnesota Vikings
Predicted: 5-11. Perhaps a year away from mattering. I have little faith in Ponder, even with improved receivers. Peterson will carry the offense, but I don’t think he can take them as far as he did last year. I wish them well but given their schedule, I think they struggle.
Actual: 5-10-1. Nailed it, basically.

NFC South

Carolina Panthers
Predicted: 4-12. This team is not this bad, but I just don’t see a whole lot more on the schedule for them. They have a tough home slate and still lack threats on defense or in the receiving game to contend. Wouldn’t be stunned if they got to 8 wins, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
Actual: 12-4. Big miss here. I can’t even take credit for giving them 8-win upside, considering how good they’ve been.

New Orleans Saints
Predicted: 11-5. I still don’t like their defense, but they can generate enough of a passrush and some turnovers. Could see them slipping to 8-9 wins if a few close games go wrong, but I think they do well.
Actual: 11-5. Yup, basically on the money.

Atlanta Falcons
Predicted: 11-5. They probably repeat last season, more or less – they’re a better team but will be a little less lucky and face better teams. They could add a win or two to this total, but they’re likely playoff-bound.
Actual: Another huge miss. Defense fell apart, and offense was crushed by injuries.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Predicted: 5-11. There is upside here and I wouldn’t be stunned to see them get 9 wins, but I’m afraid they’ll blow some games they should win, and they’re not good enough yet to win games they should lose.
Actual: 4-12. Close enough, and now they have no coach.

NFC West
Seattle Seahawks
Predicted: 11-5. This projection is more about their defense than the continued growth of Russel Wilson. I think the running game/defense combo is what takes them back to the playoffs.
Actual: 13-3. Underrated them a bit, though Wilson hasn’t improved that much. They did run and defend their way to the title.

San Francisco 49ers
Predicted: 13-3. Well-coached and pretty complete team. Have had some injury problems, particularly with receivers, but they’re deep at RB and I think Kaepernick keeps it up. Defense is deep, too, at all three levels. The team to beat in the conference.
Actual: 12-4. Struggled early and then came on very strong late in the year. Still might be the team to beat in the conference.

Arizona Cardinals
Predicted: 3-13.
Significantly improved from last year on offense (yes, with Carson Palmer), but I just don’t see where more wins will come from. The defense has playmakers, and Palmer/Fitzgerald/Floyd is solid. If they won 6 games I would not be surprised; if they won 9 I would be.
Actual: 10-6. A fourth big miss in the conference. Palmer was an interception machine, but the defense played far better than I thought.

St. Louis Rams
Predicted: 9-7. Their schedule isn’t really conducive to nine wins, but they’ve been so tough in their division and have improved their talent base enough to make me think they can get there. I’ll say that there’s more downside than upside here.
Actual: 7-9. The downside happened, and they finished 7-9 despite losing Bradford. Interesting offseason for them.