Good stuff on NFL.com today:
Playmate, aging fighter jock almost predict exact final score!
By Gregg Easterbrook
Special to NFL.com
(Feb. 14, 2006) -- Now that Al Michaels has been traded for Oswald the Rabbit, will there be a fad of trading sports personalities for cartoon characters? The Eagles could trade Terrell Owens for Roger Ramjet -- Ramjet's goodie-goodie persona might be just what Philadelphia needs at the moment. After seeing the impact Troy Polamalu had on Pittsburgh's Super Bowl run, many clubs will offer draft picks for the Tazmanian Devil. Teams looking to stretch the field will be in the market for the Road Runner, though as with a lot of speed guys, there will be questions about his hands -- especially since Road Runner has no hands. Now that coaches, too, are traded, Foghorn Leghorn might be ideal for the next vacancy: he'd be great at halftime tirades. Will NFL.com's Tuesday Morning Quarterback and Dr. Cheeks become sought-after commodities? We are, after all, both cartoon characters.
In other football news, sports pundits love to dash off NFL predictions, confident no one will remember what they foretold. Tuesday Morning Quarterback remembers. I have a mind like a steel vault -- that is, rusty -- but write things down. Welcome to my annual Bad Predictions Review. You may end the column by muttering to yourself, "I should have been mentioned because I predicted Alex Smith would lead the league in fumble recoveries" or "I should have been mentioned because I predicted Pittsburgh would win the Super Bowl by a score of 17-10" (actual prediction by retired test pilot Chuck Yeager to Scripps Howard News Service). But remember, this is my annual bad predictions review.
And in other football news, forgot conferences -- how did the states do in 2005? See my annual State Standings below.
Bad Predictions, Category One: Category One is offseason predictions, and "off" is the operative word. Chris Berman of ESPN forecast the Lions to have "a breakout season." Detroit finished 5-11. Three weeks after calling Drew Bledsoe terrible, Peter King of Sports Illustrated declared Dallas, which had just signed Bledsoe to be its starter, the "most improved team in the NFL." Jeffri Chadiha of Sports Illustrated foresaw that Bill Parcells was "likely" to leave those same Cowboys when the season ended.
Ray Glier of NBC Sports predicted that Atlanta would make the Super Bowl; Atlanta did not make the playoffs. "What puts the Falcons over the top and makes them fit for the Super Bowl will be Michael Vick’s ability to pass from the pocket," Glier added; Vick finished 25th in passer rating.
Adam Schefter of NFL Network foresaw, "Doug Jolley should catch about 70 passes in the Jets offense." He caught 29. "Call it a hunch, but this year the Atlanta Falcons don't wind up with the NFL's 30th-ranked passing attack," Clark Judge of CBS SportsLine predicted.
They wound up 27th. "The Lions are poised to make a run at their first winning season since 2000," Judge also predicted. Joey Harrington "is approaching the skill level required to be a very good quarterback," Pat Kirwan of NFL.com predicted. Harrington was benched.
Gil Brandt of NFL.com predicted Julius Jones would lead the league in rushing; he finished 17th.
The St. Louis Post Dispatch predicted, "Take it to the bank, the Rams will go 10-6." Let's hope the bank did not charge an early withdrawal fee when the Rams went 6-10. "There is no reason [Tim Couch] can't play 10 more years in the league," Len Pasquarelli of ESPN.com forecast. There was a reason -- Couch was not on any team in 2005. It is hard to play in the NFL if you are not on a team. Drafting Maurice Clarett was "a good move" for Denver, Pete Prisco of SportsLine predicted: "Clarett will help this team." Clarett was waived in training camp.
Bad Predictions, Category Two: Now it gets interesting -- predictions made in early September, eve of the season's start. Sports Illustrated devoted a September cover to predicting the Panthers would win the Super Bowl, by an exact final score of Carolina 31, Indianapolis 27. The Sports Illustrated article, by veteran football writer Paul Zimmerman, predicted outcomes of all division and wild-card races: only two of Zimmerman's eight predicted division winners won their divisions, while eight of his predicted 12 postseason teams failed to make the playoffs. Zimmerman predicted the Seattle Seahawks would not make the playoffs, while he foresaw of Ben Roethlisberger, "I don't think everything will fall into place." Around the same time the Sports Illustrated web site ran five dueling sets of predictions: none had either Pittsburgh or Seattle reaching the Super Bowl.
ESPN: The Magazine ("Published on Earth: The Planet") predicted Minnesota would win the Super Bowl; the Vikings did not make the playoffs. This is the second consecutive year ESPN Mag's predicted Super Bowl winner failed to make the playoffs; the previous season it anointed Kansas City. The Sporting News predicted Philadelphia would win the Super Bowl; the Eagles did not make the playoffs.