2010 prognostications are rolling in and I'm ready to stick my neck out and risk my prognosticating decapitation.
Actually, my 2009 predictions were pretty good. I got five of the six NFC teams correct and four of the six AFC competitors on the money. Long-time readers know I use two heuristics to inform my picks. First, I go in with the understanding that half of last year's field likely won't make it. It seems that every year the NFL manages to turn over half the field from the year before.
The second is my faith in the "fantastic four" model. Every year since 2000, an average of four teams which had losing records the year before wind up in the playoffs. Here's the 2008 crop:
- Miami: 1-15 in '07, 11-5 in '08;
- Atlanta, 4-12 in '07 to 11-5 in '08;
- Baltimore: 5-11 in '07 to 11-5 in '08;
- Carolina: 7-9 in '07 to 12-4 in '08
Last year, I proferred a "fantastic three" figuring that only three losers were ready to make the jump and that some 8-8 squads would make the big jump. In fact, only two teams made the loser-to-playoff lead, but I got both the Bengals and the Packers correct.
This year, finding those diamonds in the dross might be a big more difficult. There were only 11 teams which finished below .500, as parity increasingly pulls more teams towards the 8-8 mediocrity belt. My challenge will be to find those teams which make this year's big leap.
If the trend continues, three to four teams from this swarthy bunch will keep on playing into late January:
- St. Louis, 1-15 last year
- Detroit, 2-14 last year
- Tampa Bay, 3-13 in '09
- Washington , 4-12 in '09
- Seattle, 5-11 in '09
- Kansas City, 4-12 in '09
- Oakland, 5-11 in '09
- Cleveland, 5-11 in '09
- Buffalo, 6-10 in '09
- Miami, 7-9 in '09
- Jacksonville, 7-9 in '09
How many of these '09 turkeys will soar this season? I offer these predictions, with playoff teams in italics and the fantastics in bold:
- New York
- New Orleans
- Tampa Bay
- San Francisco
- St. Louis
- New England
- New York
- San Diego
- Kansas City