Prior this season, I contended to the idea that the NFL could be discerned mathematically. I completely ignored teams for who they were and simply viewed statistical data and trends and determined who would make the playoffs as well as win the Super Bowl.
I don't think you even have to check back at my older thread to guess that I was just as good at everyone else at predicting the future: that is, I won some and certainly lost some.
So, now that the playoffs are all but wrapped up (yes I know two games to play, and there's endless scenarios including the Eagles still limping into the #4 seed, etc), let's see just how bad it was for me to waste an afternoon reviewing stats.
My original projection: New England wins Division and #1 seed; No Wildcards
Review: Well, that wasn't too hard. The Dolphins and Bills gave me pause early on, but, well, let's just say they regressed towards their personal means. The Jets, however, are pretty much set to make the dance as the #6 seed. I didn't expect the Jets to be terrible, so I wouldn't call leaving them out a total whiff.
My original projection: Cleveland wins division and #4 seed; No Wildcards
Review: Whoops. As a reminder, my divisional projection was based on A: no team but Pittsburgh has successfully defended the North, and Pittsburgh was supposed to get a hit of the Super Loser Curse, drop 4-7 games from last year, and end up 8-8 or worse. As for the Browns, they are breaking a 6-year streak where the team with the Madden Curse still went 9-7 or 10-6. Simply put, math failed this division.
My original projection: Indianapolis earns #3 seed; Houston and Jacksonville score both wildcard spots
Review: I did not project Peyton sitting out the season. That said, let me take the time to vote him in for MVP of the league. I still can't imagine the Packers or Saints being this God awful if their starting QB missed the season.
The Jaguars were simply a matter of process of elimination leaving them the last team standing.
My original projection: San Diego earns #2 seed
Review: Simply put, everything fell into place EXCEPT San Diego. The Bolts' annual slow start started off worse than usual, and their late season surge may be too little too late this year. Denver turning into a winning team isn't necessarily a fail here, though I DID predict that Denver and KC would stink, Oakland would go 8-8 and the Chargers would carry a great divisional record to the bye. I guess that part didn't really work out.
My original projection: Giants earn #1 seed; no wildcards
Review: My prediction was based solely on a pair of patterns; one pattern determined that the NFC East team was the team most likely to earn the #1 seed, and the Giants had their turn as part of a rotating divisional title. The evenness of the three non-Redskin teams involved in the divisional chase is a testament in favor of literally picking one team because it "was their turn". The #1 seed however was an epic fail for this division.
NFC North: My original projection: Chicago earns #2 seed; Detroit earns #5 wildcard seed
Review: You can only wonder how this would have turned out if the Bears hadn't lost Cutler and Caleb Hanie hadn't turned out to be the NFC's Curtis Painter. As for leaving out the Packers, Super Bowl teams are supposed to regress; it's statisitically proven. Call it "not being as hungry" or call it "regression towards the mean" but this 13-1 season after a 13-6 Super Bowl season is completely unpredictable. And, don't tell me this could have been foreseen because the team had back all of its injured players. Show me a Super Bowl champion, and I'll show you at least a dozen people who predicted them to repeat, even though that almost never happens. It just doesn't.
My original projection: Tampa Bay earns #3 seed; Carolina earns #6 seed
Review: I said in my previous post that, when the Saints broke the NFC South curse by making the playoffs again instead of former-last-place Tampa Bay, the curse was reinforced when the Saints were punished by losing to Seattle. I must be wrong. It's safe to call the curse broken. This will be the second year in a row that last place does not turn into playoffs. That said, if the curse hadn't blinded me, then it would have been very hard to pick Tampa, even though they have certainly performed even worse than anyone could have predicted.
My original projection: St. Louis earns #4 seed
Review: I underestimated Harbaugh's debut (8-8) and could not have predicted that Sam Bradford would get hurt and tank the Rams. That said, I don't see how Josh McDaniels had anything but a negative effect on this team, and, given his poor track record, let me officially shout DUMBASS to the team that hires him next year.
That said, PLEASE DONT LEAVE WADE PHILLIPS! We love you! In that fan to defensive coordinator kind of way!!!
Looking back, I realize that my predictions would not have changed much if I had "gone with my gut" instead of the math. I still believe in the Superstitious side of the NFL, and, while I doubt I will ever go 100% data for predictions, the stats are still a huge factor. Let's face reality: the same teams don't always make it to the playoffs and bad teams have good seasons. There's no way ot explain how it works, but Lord knows we will always try.