2004 NFL Recap
In my 2002 NFL preseason prediction column I picked seven out of eight division winners and half of the divisions in the exact order of finish. In 2003, I correctly forecast five out of eight of the division winners, plus the exact order in two divisions. This year, I picked only three division winners and the correct order of one division. Apparently, my skill as a football prognosticator have diminished to the same level as my dog's skill as a nuclear physicist.
NFC East (prediction): Philadelphia, Dallas, Washington, New York
NFC East (actual): Philadelphia, Dallas, Washington, New York
This is the only division I forecast in the exact order. Except for Philadelphia running away with this division, the other three teams were close together in the final standings. Philly is the best team in the NFC.
NFC North (prediction): Minnesota, Green Bay, Detroit, Chicago
NFC North (actual): Green Bay, Minnesota, Detroit, Chicago
Minnesota started strong then choked the last part of the season. They should be sued for impersonating a professional sports franchise. Once again quarterback Bret Favre led the gritty Packers to the division title, only to lose to the Vikings in the first round of the playoffs.
NFC South (prediction): New Orleans, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Atlanta
NFC South (actual): Atlanta, New Orleans, Carolina, Tampa Bay
I predicted Atlanta would finish in last place in this division. They finished first. A healthy quarterback Michael Vick turned out to be the difference maker. Replacing mediocre coach Dan Reeves helped a lot, too.
NFC West (prediction): St. Louis, Seattle, Arizona, San Francisco
NFC West (actual): Seattle, St. Louis, Arizona, San Francisco
Seattle and St. Louis were evenly matched in this weak division. Coach Dennis Green has the Arizona Cardinals moving in the right direction while San Francisco needs a transfusion of talent.
AFC East (prediction): New England, Buffalo, New York, Miami
AFC East (actual): New England, New York, Buffalo, Miami
The New England Patriots are one of the premier teams in the league today with tons of talent and plenty of depth. They won in a very tough division (excluding Miami), but it's hard to repeat Super Bowl triumphs.
AFC North (prediction): Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Cleveland
AFC North (actual): Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland
Rookie quarterback Roethlisberger of Pittsburgh is the real deal. He's a big stud with a strong arm who plays like a seasoned veteran. The Steelers are a tough team -- to relax at halftime, they chew on scraps of sheet metal.
AFC South (prediction): Indianapolis, Tennessee, Jacksonville, Houston
AFC South (actual): Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Houston, Tennessee
Peyton Manning of Indianapolis was the best quarterback in the game this season. He makes instant, correct decisions and releases the ball quickly. The Colt's superb, balanced offense overcomes an average defense.
AFC West (prediction): Kansas City, Denver, Oakland, San Diego
AFC West (actual): San Diego, Denver, Kansas City, Oakland
San Diego won the division and Oakland wound up in last place. Al Davis is probably turning over in his grave. I realize he's still alive, but I heard a rumor he sleeps in a coffin with a teddy bear named Stabler.
In my 2004 preseason column, I predicted that the Minnesota Vikings would beat the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl. However, I'd strongly advise against placing any wagers on it. The odds of it happening are about the same as the odds of my dog winning the Nobel Prize for Physics this year.