Revisiting My Preseason Prognostications

| November 16th, 2011

We are all about accountability here at DaBearsBlog and I thought this would be a fun time to see how my preseason predictions are turning out. I shot for 50% and I hit that on the nose.  I’ve wrapped a shitload of thoughts about the Bears and the whole of the NFL into the column.

  1. Let’s start at home.  The Bears will go 10-6 or better.  They’ll make the postseason and win (at least) one playoff game. Looking pretty good here, boys.
  2. Lance Briggs will play for them all year. Knock on wood.  2-0. By the way, remember when Lance Briggs’ contract was a big story in Chicago? I don’t think it’s been mentioned once anywhere since the season started.
  3. Jay Cutler will be mentioned in the MVP race come November. I got this one wrong.  It’s Matt Forte who is in the thick of the MVP race should Aaron Rodgers get hurt.  2-1.
  4. Rod Marinelli and Lovie Smith will realize they’re starting two strong safeties in Week 2 when Drew Brees beats them deep a few times.  They’ll rectify the situation in short order.  I am currently taking a bow.  This prediction is downright terrific.  Brees did beat them deep but it took Chris Harris’ expert performance in the Detroit game to make significant changes.  Conte and Wright have allowed only one passing TD when playing together.  I take it.  3-1.
  5. The Miami Dolphins have a coach the owner doesn’t want and a QB the coach doesn’t want.  They’ll finish 4-12.  4-1, baby! Those people who thought Miami was going 0-16 simply weren’t watching their first 7 games of the year. Miami could easily be a four or five win team at this point but they’ve been awful at the end of games.
  6. The Bears will injure Matthew Stafford’s shoulder.  (You can’t even get odds on this in Vegas, it’s such a no brainer.)  4-2. Though I like that I predicted this. The Bears defensive performance against Stafford and the Lions offense Sunday was a thing of beauty.  They made a formal decision that not a single yard could be gained without inflicting punishment on the man gaining that yard.  When they play that way, they can beat every single team in football.
  7. When Jim Harbaugh is losing a lot of games with the Niners around mid-season, the discussion will be whether he’s tanking 2011 intentionally to bring Andrew Luck there in 2012.  4-3. If you knew the 49ers were going to be a good team, you knew the following: (1) Mike Singletary was the most inept head coach in the history of the sport. (2) Jim Harbaugh could instill his own toughness even with a shortened offseason. (3) Alex Smith’s career could be salvaged by good coaching. (4) This was one of the best collection of defensive players around.
  8. This will be the year the Colts miss the playoffs.  (Special advance prediction: they make the playoffs as the #2 seed in 2012.)  Bing, bang, boing.  5-3. I believe I made this prediction before I knew the severity of Peyton Manning’s neck injury. If I were the Colts, and I in fact not the Colts, I would draft Andrew Luck and see what I can get on the trade market for Manning. Wouldn’t a franchise that thinks they’re a QB away (Redskins, Niners, maybe even the Jets) give up a king’s ransom for the greatest regular season QB of all-time? Imagine if the Colts could go into 2012 with Andrew Luck and the tenth or twelfth pick as well.
  9. The Jets will lose opening night to the Cowboys, causing both camps to overreact to the result. 5-4 but I should have won this one. Why in God’s name was I so interested in the Jets v. Cowboys opening Sunday nighter? This was an interesting night that actually spoke to both of the seasons these two teams would have. The Jets were dominated by the Cowboys – signaling defensive flaws they’ve yet to rectify – but Tony Romo decided to Romo the game away.
  10. The Jets will realize the New Meadowlands sucks as they lose prior to reaching the AFC Championship Game.  The Jets won’t be getting a playoff game in the New Meadowlands.  I’m 5-5. Here’s my problem with coaches who say too much.  After a while, it just becomes noise. Rex Ryan spent the summer imploring other coaches to beat the Patriots for him and then allowed the Patriots to steamroll his club twice this season. The Jets coach spends far too much time telling us how good his team is and far too little time coaching his team.
  11. The Giants won’t be able to blame the stadium for finishing 7-9 or worse.  They can blame failing to re-sign the security outlets for a shaky, turnover-prone QB.  I really see this team and making the largest plummet in the league.  5-6. I am wrong here though I think the Giants are going to struggle with the remainder of their schedule. If they don’t beat the Eagles Sunday night, I can see them coming into a Week 17 date with the Cowboys that may decide the division/playoff destinies of both teams.
  12. Six playoff teams in NFC: Eagles, Saints, Bears, Falcons, Cardinals, Packers. (4 out of 6 look good) I have to admit I’m surprised the Eagles are not the best team in the NFC East. Whatever has gone wrong with that team is just not a matter of X’s and O’s. Losing to John Skelton and Arizona at home? How is that even possible for a team with this much talent?
  13. Six playoff teams in AFC: Jets, Pats, Chargers, Steelers, Ravens, Titans. (4 out of 6 look good) The Texans are in the pole position down South but the Titans are still in it and now have the better quarterback. The last three Chargers loss, one more unexplainable than the next, will slide the Raiders into the postseason.
  14. My darkhorses.  NFC: Redskins.  AFC: Bills. You know, this looked pretty good after the fourth week of the season. I know the bulk of the NFL is writing the Buffalo Bills off but guess what? I’m not. Yet. If the Bills can win down in Miami, they’ll set up a game with the Jets at the Meadowlands that could decide the playoff fates of both. I watched every snap of their first game and I think Chan Gailey cost his team the game. Chan does this weird thing where he has Ryan Fitzpatrick throw bombs down the sideline on third-and-shorts instead of doing what the offense does best and attack underneath. He took the blame the first time. He’ll do better the second time.
  15. No, I didn’t pick the Texans.  Because adding Wade Phillips to your staff, signing Danieal Manning and changing the position of your best defensive player don’t add up to division titles in my book.  5-7. Like I said before, the entrance of Matt Leinart into the race gives Tennessee a real chance. Leinart, however, is being given a true chance to revitalize his career. If he can win games down the stretch and play well doing it, Leinart might find himself competing for a starting job in someone’s camp next summer.
  16. MVP: Phil Rivers.  5-8. Should I take two losses for this one? I don’t like the omen of insulting Phil Rivers the week he’s coming to Chicago but I can’t figure his season at all. The fumbled snap against Kansas City, the horrible pick sixes against Green Bay, the dead second half against the Jets…etc. He is either injured or he’s lost all control of Norv’s offense.
  17. Tarvaris Jackson will not make it through half the season as the starting QB in Seattle. 6-8. I still can’t conceive of a single reason Pete Carroll chose to let Matt Hasselbeck leave town. For Tarvaris and Whitehurst? Does he really believe either of those guys are the answer at the most important position in all of sports?
  18. Same for Donovan McNabb in Minnesota. 7-8. This was easy. Donovan McNabb has been done for 3-5 years, depending on who you ask. But having watched Les Frazier coach a few games this year, I don’t think he’s long for the job either. Frazier seems lost most times and his blatant refusal to make Adrian Peterson the centerpiece of his offense is mind blowing.
  19. Same for John Beck.  Sexy.  Rexy. 8-8. What I didn’t predict here was that Rex would be the initial starter, Beck would replace HIM and then Beck would get benched for Rex. If I had predicted that, I’d be far happier with myself.
  20. After winning their division narrowly, the Texans will be embarrassed by the Pats in the first round of the playoffs (at home) and Gary Kubiak will find himself unemployed with 24 hours.  Good writing here, huh?  I don’t pick the Texans to make the playoffs above but then I put them in the playoffs here.  Call it a push. Because even if Leinart keeps the Texans afloat and puts them in the playoffs, I can’t imagine a scenario where he beats the Ravens, Steelers, Jets or Bengals defense on wildcard weekend.
  21. Devin Hester will lead the league in kickoffs returned from inside the end zone.  And it won’t be close. Someone should be in charge of keeping this statistic. I think the most overrated storyline heading into this season was the moving of the ball on kickoffs. Sure it has resulted in more touchbacks but it hasn’t affected my enjoyment of the games. I would also love to know if injuries on returns are down. (Wasn’t that the point of moving the kicks to begin with?)
  22. Kyle Orton will have a productive half-year at QB and still get benched.  (Another bet Vegas won’t even take.)  9-8. When you have Tebus of Nazareth, there is nothing you can do. Kyle Orton’s career is rather fascinating, isn’t it? Drafted by the Bears, finds himself the starter in 2005. Wins a bunch of games and is replaced, at halftime, of a game he is winning, by Rex Grossman. Dealt to Denver. Has sensational year with Josh McDaniels. Enters 2011 as the starter as is replaced by Tim Tebow, whom John Fox decides it would be better if he doesn’t throw the football. 
  23. The Buffalo Bills will allow more sacks than any team in football but also be fun as hell to watch.  I am not taking a loss on this yet.  The Bills offensive line has been in free fall as they’ve sent three or four starters to IR.  The end of this season could get ugly for Ryan Fitzpatrick.  I do wonder if the Buffalo Bills could have paid Fitz half that sixty million dollar contract if they were negotiating now.
  24. Three surprising teams from 2010 will take a step back: Tampa, St. Louis, Kansas City.  All because of slightly regressing QB play.  10-8. I nailed all three of these. Josh Freeman has been absolutely awful for the Bucs, essentially throwing three picks a week. Sam Bradford has battled health issues but he’s also struggling with the downfield throws the Rams avoided like gingivitis last season. Matt Cassell is not good. He was not good in New England. He is not good now.
  25. Steve Smith will realize Cam Newton is not capable of being an NFL starter yet and try to get out of Carolina before the trade deadline.  10-9. Just dead wrong, although much of the Cam Newton hoopla has receded in recent weeks. Cam is a touch pass away from being an elite NFL thrower and Steve Smith has to be considered alongside Calvin Johnson and Wes Welker for the All-Pro team.
  26. The Browns will move from 5-11 to 8-8 and become the trendy pick in 2012. 10-10. I can’t remember what I liked about the Browns a few months ago but I was wrong. What amazes me about the Browns is just how little talent they have on the roster. How long does Mike Holmgren have to keep this GM charade going before he just walks down to the sideline and starts calling plays?
  27. The Raiders will move from 8-8 to 5-11 and no one will be surprised.  And I drop below .500 to 10-11.  I like the Raiders. They are tough up front on defense and when Darren McFadden is healthy they can be one of the most physically dominating rush offenses in the game. If Carson Palmer turns out to be a viable starter again, I have to assume he was tanking seasons with the Bengals because he looked capable of throwing triple-digit interceptions last season.
  28. More Bears stuff!  The Bears will have a top 6 defense in both yards and points allowed.  10-12.
  29. Jay Cutler’s season numbers: 61%, 3,485 yards, 29 TD, 11 INT.  I am going to give myself a win here because this is basically what he’s projecting to.  11-12. I am still routinely amazed by Cutler’s arm strength.  I can’t imagine there’s another quarterback in the league with his kind of fastball.
  30. Matt Forte will lead the Bears in reception yards.  12-12. It sure seems clear that Earl Bennett could have recorded one of those 100 catch seasons we’ve been dreaming about around here if he had stayed healthy throughout the first two months.
  31. I will spend most of the season trying to come up with a good Rookie of the Year joke for Dane Sanzenbacher.  (Rosinbagger!)  13-12. That was a softball, I know, but I’m slumping. I have a feeling Great Dane’s role is going to be reduced more and more each week until we find him on the inactive list. It’s just a feeling.
  32. The Bears will use three plays to cover early offensive line deficiencies: the quick toss, the screen and the draw.  They’ll be effective.  Let’s call this one a push. They’ve done some of these things, sure, but the truth is the Bears are thriving offensively based on their run game.
  33. Julio Jones will have been worth it for the Atlanta Falcons.  He’s the year’s top rookie.  I’m not taking the loss here yet. Jones is finally coming on for the Falcons and they’ve got a pretty easy schedule down the stretch. Right now here are my rankings for Rookie of the Year: DeMarco Murray, Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Jones, AJ Green.
  34. Offensive Player of the Year: Chris Johnson.  Get off my knob.  Did you see this coming with Johnson?  13-13. Johnson is not only wasting the Titans money but he’s statistically one of the worst starting tailbacks in the league. He is also having the kind of year that must drive Matt Forte and Ray Rice absolutely insane. The last thing these guys want is their respective GM’s saying, “Look what that guy did when we paid him.” I think both Forte and Rice are destined for the franchise tag.
  35. Defensive Player of the Year: Julius Peppers. Peppers is having an amazing year but I think he’ll unfortunately be judged almost exclusively by his sack totals. I think Pep belongs in an exclusive category with Revis and Ware.  His valuable is almost incalculable.
  36. The teams I’ll be rooting against hardest: (1) Packers (2) Eagles (3) Jets. Well the Lions have quickly risen to #2 on this list. I am still impressed by how much I dislike the Detroit Lions. I wrote last year (I think) that the Vikings had replaced the Packers as the team I despised the most in the NFL. I still value the Bears v. Packers rivalry but I held genuine hatred for the Vikes. When Favre left town and the Vikes started stinking again, there was a hatred void in my soul. And wouldn’t you know it? The Lions and their cheap shot bullshit and annoying coach filled it with ease.
  37. The teams I’ll be rooting for outside Chicago: none. I’ll be rooting for the Bills to get back into the playoff race. I’d really love for them to beat the Jets in two weeks.
  38. I’m already regretting not picking the Colts to make the playoffs. I stayed strong.
  39. 38 is enough.  Isn’t it?
  40. Oh yeah!  Super Bowl prediction: Chicago Bears 31, New England Patriots 30. I don’t mind this prediction, even with the Packers runaway success. I like this Patriots team as they’re currently constituted. They remind me of those makeshift defenses Bill used to win with right down to using the wide receiver in the secondary. As for the Bears, the road to the Super Bowl (should they make the postseason) will be difficult without the games at home. But I don’t think they’d be a substantial underdog at New Orleans, New Jersey, Dallas, San Francisco…etc. Beating the Packers at Lambeau will be the name of the game.