We at "Taken At The Flood" believe in accountability. Therefore, with an exciting Bears-Colts Super Bowl coming up, let us revisit our pre-season NFL predictions
:1. Eli Manning will not live up to the considerable media hype.
Eli, in his third full season with the New York Giants, completed just 57.7% of his throws resulting in a passer rating of 77, 18th in the league. He threw 18 interceptions, tying Brett Favre (see below) for fourth place in this category of dubious achievement.2. The Philadelphia Eagles will finish their season 11-5, winning the difficult NFC East. The hated Dallas Cowboys will finish second in the division, despite Terrell Eldorado Owens' antics. The aforementioned Eli Manning's Giants will not make the playoffs, due to their tough schedule and aging running game. The Washington Redskins will implode.
The Eagles in fact, miraculously, finished 10-6, winning the division. I also got the order of finish correct, and was right about the Redskins. The Giants, however, did manage to back into the playoffs despite a .500 record, due to the mediocrity of the NFC.3. I shall once again win my suicide pool.
Sadly, the perfidious Jacksonville Jaguars screwed me by losing to the lowly Texans, and Double Barrel ran away with the title.4. Raiders owner Al Davis will not be a very happy man.
The Raiders finished 2-14, worst in the league. What a catastrophe.5. Cowboys coach Dick Parcells will not be a very happy man. This bet with Faceman is whisky in the bank.
According to Michael Lewis' article in the New York Times Magazine, Parcells literally choked on his own bile while attempting to sleep during the season. Handling Vanderjagt, Owens and Bledsoe almost killed the guy. And I won the bet with Faceman, of course. Let's not even mention Tony "butterfingers" Romo.6. The Madden Curse will continue, resulting in an injury to Shaun Alexander.
Alexander broke his foot this season.7. Kicker Mike Vanderjagt will miss a critical potential winning or tying kick in the waning seconds of a game. This will not make Mr. Parcells happy.
Vanderjagt, despite making $3.3 million this year, was cut by Parcells mid-season after missing two field goal attempts at home against the Colts.8. My buddy Cooter will deep-fry a turkey before watching football on Thanksgiving Day.
I assume this happened. Cooter is insane.9. My buddy ZMama will not become a Niners fan, despite having moved to the Bay Area.
ZMama had the pleasure of watching her Seahawks beat the Cowboys in probably the most amazing finish to a playoff game I have ever seen.10. The Patriots will take the Deion Branch holdout and loss of kicker Adam Viniateri in stride, culminating in another successful season.
Despite much hand-wringing from the Boston sports media and key injuries, the Pats finished 12-4 and made it to the AFC Conference Final.11. Brett Favre will end his career with a horrible losing season, due primarily to front office incompetence. Good offenses are built around the line, guys. The lack of protection will be ugly.
Favre actually managed to finish 8-8, primarily due to the lack of quality NFC competition. And his offensive line was surprisingly good at pass protection, allowing just 21 sacks (tied for 9th best).12. Football remains a game of attrition, and injuries will have a big effect in December and January. This is not so much a prediction as an immutable truth.
Injuries undid the seasons of many teams, including my beloved Eagles. Football is a tough sport played by very tough men.13. San Diego Coach Marty Schottenheimer, if he can make it to the playoffs, will make a boneheaded decision resulting in a loss and/or failure to cover the spread, making me lots of money in the process.
In this year's playoffs, this Schottenheimer fellow, in no particular order:
- Challenged a clear fumble, losing a timeout in the process.
- Went for it early on 4th and 11 at the opposing 30-yard line, costing his team a relatively sure 3 points and achieving nothing in the process.
- Did not manage to drill into his defensive players that on a fourth down pass, you bat the pass down, instead of trying to intercept! This is high school level stuff. But somehow, Chargers safety Marlon McCree did not get this message, intercepting on fourth down in order to make the highlight reel and fumbling the ball back to the opposition. What a douchebag.
- Called 32 pass plays for rookie QB Phil Rivers and gave only 23 touches to the League MVP and all-around stud LaDainian Tomlinson (whose name, as Jiggy Donuts would say, means "The Dainian" in French). This is just inexcusable. All Marty had to do was run the ball, and he could have won that game.
The result, as you know, was that the Chargers blew an 8 point lead, losing at home to the underdog Patriots. Marty is now 5-13 in the playoffs. However, the saddest part of this sordid story is that I did not make money on this game because I neglected to take my own advice and bet heavily against Marty. As Warren Buffett likes to say, "predicting rain doesn't count, building arks does". In this respect, I failed miserably.
Looking back, this NFL season and post-season showed once again why the sport is so popular in North America. It had moments of sublime excitement and drama. Now that it is all but over, I will turn my attention once again to hockey, and wait for the Ottawa Senators to break my heart as usual in May.