Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The Pointlessness of Pre-Season Predictions, via Peter King--AFC Edition

It is a tradition, amongst NFL media types, to predict what will happen in the NFL season.  Who will make it to the playoffs?  Who will absolutely suck?  Is it remotely possible to know which teams will rise, and which teams will fall?  Given the parity, the factor of injuries, the sheer WTF factor that any given week in the NFL has, how silly is it to look at the schedule before a single game is played, and attempt to determine what will happen?

That's the thesis here, and our lab rat, fat on Owner Box freebies, is SI's Peter King.  It would be fun, wouldn't it, if SI and Peter King reviewed his predictions from the September 6th issue, and talked about what he got right, and where he went incredibly wrong?  But they won't do that.  But I will! Yay, accountability!

But let's be fair--even in a season that has only 16 games, it is ridiculous to predict an exact record.  On the other hand, that's my point--it is ridiculous to predict an exact record.  And if a guy who has Hall of Fame votes can't do better than predicting a 3-13 season for the Rams, for example, what the hell is the point?  Or that the Chiefs would win six games, and finish at the bottom of the AFC West?  We pay money for this expert analysis?  (and to fair, in on online column, King seems to suggest that all of this is foolishness)

Let's get into it.  And again, I might sound like I'm picking on Peter King, but that's just because his picks are handy (for me--I've got the magazine sitting right here. Can't find it online, though).  I think it is pretty stupid to waste time and print and money on any of this sort of crap, regardless who does it.  Sure, it's fun, I guess, in some bland, no-accountability way, but it doesn't fundamentally add anything to what is already a pretty great sport.  Let's score 2 points for a getting the team in the right spot in the standings, and 1 point bonus for each record that's correct.  So that's 16*2+16, or 48 points total per conference.

AFC East--King pegged the bottom two teams, (Dolphins and Bills).  Swapped the Jets and Patriots (he missed significantly on the strength of the Patriots, I would say, predicting a 10-6 year).  He didn't get any of their records correct; the aforementioned 10-6 was the best record he was expecting; 2-14 the worst. The Patriots and the Bills combined to win 6 more games than King predicted.   4 out of 12 points.

AFC North--King gets the top two in the North--Steelers and Ravens did finish 1 & 2.  But King imagined a snugger race for that second spot--he had the Ravens at 9-7, just inching out the 9-7 Bengals.  And we all know how it went in Cincinnati this year.  He also gets Cleveland's record correct at 5-11.  He can hardly be blamed for thinking that 5-11 wouldn't be good enough to finish 3rd in the division.  5 out of 12 points.

AFC South--Poor Pete--the AFC South was particularly nutty.  He's right about the Colts finishing first.  And nothing else.  Essentially, he got right what every schmuck in America would have guessed.  2 out of 12 points.

AFC West--Wasn't a kind division to prognosticators but it's hard to imagine getting it worse than King did--He didn't see the Chiefs winning more than 6 games (again, nothing odd about that).  In fact, he saw only one team finishing above .500.  Can you guess who?  The Chargers!  In fact, he's not far off in most of his records; aside from the whole Chiefs thing.  He pegs the Chargers record; gets the Raiders within a game of 8-8.  But still, the point of this is exercise is pointing the silliness of guessing entire Division races, and records  and so--1 out of 12 points.  

Grand total:  12 out of 48, or 25% success.  I'm just eyeballing, the NFC, but I'm pretty sure King does even worse there.  We'll see.

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