Looking back on the predictions I gave for this COVID-affected 2020 NFL season; it is not wrong to say that my predictions were better than most of the people who get paid large sums of money every year on television. Like anything in life, the more knowledge you have about any topic, the more your analysis will be based in some aspect of truth. Let’s look back on my predictions.
AFC East: 1) New England, 2) Buffalo, 3) New York Jets, 4) Miami
Actual AFC East Results: 1) Buffalo, 2) Miami, 3) New England, 4) New York Jets
After watching Josh Allen’s performance in the wild card game last year, my pre-season expectations for Buffalo were timid. I also thought that Cam Newton would reattain the swagger he carried during the early part of the 2010s. I was wrong on both counts. Buffalo is a legitimate contender for the AFC crown. The Miami Dolphins, on the strength of a much better defense than expected, just missed the playoffs. New England struggled through a 7-9 season and the New York Jets were pathetic except for their two late season wins against 2020 NFL playoff teams. I had New England losing in the AFC Championship. Instead, Buffalo will be the team that loses in the AFC Championship.
AFC North: 1) Baltimore, 2) Pittsburgh: Wild Card, 3) Cleveland: Wild Card, 4) Cincinnati
Actual AFC North Results: 1) Pittsburgh, 2) Baltimore: Wild Card, 3) Cleveland: Wild Card, 4) Cincinnati
This was one of my most accurate projections. I did not expect the mid-season swoon that cost Baltimore the division title. But at the end of the season, they were the best team in the North. Because of this, Pittsburgh and Baltimore reversed their positions in my prediction. Cleveland did finish third and got back to the playoffs for the first time in 18 years. The Browns are exciting and will be an interesting watch during wild card weekend. Cincinnati found their quarterback of the future but still have a lot of talent deficiencies compared to the rest of their division. I am sticking with my Baltimore prediction of winning the Super Bowl. More on this later.
AFC South: 1) Houston, 2) Indianapolis, 3) Tennessee, 4) Jacksonville
Actual AFC South Results: 1) Tennessee, 2) Indianapolis: Wild Card, 3) Houston, 4) Jacksonville
I did not believe that Ryan Tannehill could be a franchise quarterback, but he was fantastic this season. Mixed with Derrick Henry’s unbelievable season, they were able to win games despite a terrible defense which I thought would be their downfall. I expected Indianapolis to have a winning season but miss out on the playoffs. They snuck in as the 7 seed and have the herculean task of defeating the Buffalo Bills in their wild card game this weekend. Houston took a horrible step back as their defense collapsed despite DeShaun Watson being all-world, and Jacksonville as predicted was the worst team in the league. Not a terrible prediction but just surprised at the large difference in records between Tennessee and Houston even though the teams are quite similar.
AFC West: 1) Kansas City, 2) Denver: Wild Card, 3) L.A. Chargers, 4) Las Vegas Raiders
AFC West Actual Results: 1) Kansas City, 2) Las Vegas Raiders, 3) L.A. Chargers, 4) Denver
Other than Kansas City who will go in as the top seed in the AFC playoffs, my predictions here were off for Las Vegas and Denver. The L.A. Chargers remained inconsistent like expected and their football coach paid the price with his job after the season ended. Denver was burdened with injuries, COVID-related problems and unstable quarterback play all season long. I expected this team to ride its defense through the season like when they won Super Bowl L. But the wheels came off early and their season was over. The Las Vegas Raiders have a great offense but a terrible defense. If they can improve their defense just a little bit, they will make the playoffs next season.
Overall, I predicted four of the seven playoff teams even though I swapped the positions of the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers. Two of my misses were related to the difficult seasons that both teams had while my third miss predicted accurately where the team would finish but not expecting them to clinch a playoff spot. Overall, a decent prediction for my least favorite NFL conference.
NFC East: 1) Dallas, 2) Philadelphia, 3) N.Y. Giants, 4) Washington
NFC East Actual Results: 1) Washington, 2) N.Y. Giants, 3) Dallas, 4) Philadelphia
This entire division was a gigantic shitshow. The only thing I got right was the fact that this would be the worst division in football. Other than that, I got the final positions of every team completely wrong. But when your division winner goes 7-9 and wins a final game where its opponent was obviously tanking, it is hard to know which garbage team is going to survive. Let’s hope for a rapid demise of the remaining NFC East team at the hands of Tampa Bay.
NFC North: 1) Minnesota, 2) Detroit: Wild Card, 3) Green Bay, 4) Chicago
NFC North Actual Results: 1) Green Bay, 2) Chicago: Wild Card, 3) Minnesota, 4) Detroit
This was my worst set of predictions. I expected Green Bay to fall back this season. I underestimated how good of a coach Matt LaFleur was going to be. The Packers are not a fluke and I was wrong about that. I also thought that Matt Patricia would get Detroit’s defense up to par this year and carry them to the 7 seed. I was also wrong on both counts as the defense was awful and Detroit fell into the basement and is currently looking for a new coach. Minnesota, who pulled the wild card upset over the New Orleans Saints last year, took a surprising step back even though I believed this team was on the rise. Chicago, who had a six-game losing streak mid-season, rose up to get to 8-8 and snag the last wild card via tiebreaker over Arizona despite a tremendous amount of offensive problems. Nothing went my way with my NFC North predictions.
NFC South: 1) New Orleans, 2) Tampa Bay: Wild Card, 3) Atlanta, 4) Carolina
NFC South Actual Results: 1) New Orleans, 2) Tampa Bay: Wild Card, 3) Carolina, 4) Atlanta
This may have been my best prediction. New Orleans continues to roll and slides into the playoffs as the number 2 seed. I expected with Tom Brady at quarterback, the turnovers that plagued the talented Buccaneers would be limited and they would get into the playoffs. This absolutely happened even though the Saints kept them in second place by sweeping the season series. I expected both Atlanta and Carolina to have losing seasons which did occur. I believed Atlanta had more talent than Carolina. Despite their positions being reversed, both teams need a lot of work.
NFC West: 1) Seattle: NFC Champions, 2) L.A. Rams: Wild Card, 3) San Francisco, 4) Arizona
NFC West Actual Results: 1) Seattle, 2) L.A. Rams: Wild Card, 3) Arizona, 4) San Francisco
I almost nailed this one right on the nose also. Seattle took the NFC West back this season and Russell Wilson showed once again that he is one of the best quarterbacks in football while the defense showed signs of life. The L.A. Rams offense was actually equally mediocre to the previous 2019 season which cost them a playoff spot. But the one game improvement can be directly tied to having the number one defense by yards in the league. I still believe Arizona has the least amount of talent in the division, but the 49ers extremely difficult season tied around their Super Bowl hangover allowed them to slide into the third spot. Despite the miserable season, the 49ers will likely contend for the title again next season.
While my NFC East and NFC South predictions were abject garbage, I again predicted all four playoff teams and their proper positions out of the NFC South and NFC West. Many of the things went almost according to plan in these two divisions. Overall, I was able to successfully predict eight of the fourteen playoff teams. I successfully predicted an underwhelming three of eight division winners and both my Super Bowl picks are alive and well coming into the 2020 playoffs. Now, here are my playoff predictions. Even though I am sticking with Baltimore in the AFC, I am going to change my pick for the NFC winner. Here you go!
AFC Wild Card Games
Buffalo 38 Indianapolis 30
Pittsburgh 23 Cleveland 13
Baltimore 34 Tennessee 31
Baltimore 42 Kansas City 38 (Upset)
Buffalo 30 Pittsburgh 17
Baltimore 33 Buffalo 30 O.T.
NFC Wild Card Games
New Orleans 31 Chicago 7
L.A. Rams 20 Seattle 16
Tampa Bay 26 Washington 9
Green Bay 25 L.A. Rams 17
New Orleans 38 Tampa Bay 27
Green Bay 41 New Orleans 19
Super Bowl Pick
Baltimore 31 Green Bay 20
Enjoy the playoffs!
EXPERT OF SOME