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Seer of all NFL things? Not!

Our man made 44 bold predictions about the NFL season. Here's how right he was(n't)

Originally Published: February 9, 2010
By Gene Wojciechowski | ESPN.com

Anybody can make 44 NFL predictions and then conveniently forget to check the results. For better or worse (usually worse), I never forget.

Feel free to mock when appropriate.

The scoring scale (1 point awarded for correct prediction, ½ point awarded for partial correct prediction):

[+] EnlargeMerril Hoge
Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesHow Merril gets that knot tied like that is a closely guarded secret.

35 to 44 points -- You replace ESPN's NFL Insiders. A carefully worded network statement reads: "Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter have left the company to pursue other opportunities in the private sector."

25 to 34 -- Jerry Rice calls. Wants to know if you'll be his Hall of Fame presenter.

15 to 24 -- Merril Hoge is semi-impressed. Says he'll show you his secret technique for tying fist-sized necktie knots.

5 to 14 -- Uruguayan housewives know more about football than you.

0 to 4 -- Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder offers you high-paying, multiyear consultant contract.

1. AFC East

What I said then …

Order of finish: New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, New York Jets.

On the Patriots: "I can't even invent a reason why they won't win the East."

On the Fish: "Is it possible to have a more complete team [in 2009], but a worse record? Sadly for the Dolphins, the answer is yes."

On the Bills: "They're staring at another 7-9 season."

On the Jets: "A rookie QB (Mark Sanchez) and a rookie head coach (Rex Ryan) give me the heebie jeebies. I'll bet Thomas Jones a Peter Gammons that he doesn't come close to the 1,312 rushing yards he had a season ago. The defense has possibilities, but the offense is playmaker-deficient."

What actually happened …

Team Hoodie won the East … the Dolphins went from 11-5 in 2008 to 7-9 in 2009 … the Bills were off by one; they finished 6-10 … Sanchez struggled (12 TDs, 20 INTs, 63.0 passer rating), but Ryan was a revelation, Jones cost me $20, the defense mostly dominated and the Jets reached the AFC Championship Game.

Score: ½ point.

2. NFC Rookie of the Year

What I said then …

Beanie Wells, RB, Arizona Cardinals.

[+] EnlargePercy Harvin
Nick Laham/Getty ImagesWho knew Percy Harvin would be this good? The Vikings: Yes. Gene: No.

What actually happened …

In the immortal words of my buddy Ivan Maisel, "Ah messed that uppp."

See, they sort of got rid of the NFC and AFC rookie thing. Instead, there was an offensive and defensive ROY -- and neither one was Wells. He didn't come close.

Wide receiver Percy Harvin, a purple-and-gold draft day gift for the Minnesota Vikings (22nd pick), won the offensive award.

Score: 0 points.

3. Runner-up

What I said then …

Harvin, Vikings.

What actually happened …

I got blind-sided (pun apology) by second-place finisher Michael Oher of the Baltimore Ravens. Still, I've got to give myself some credit for having Harvin in the preseason top two.

Score: ½ point.

4. AFC Rookie of the Year

What I said then …

Rey Maualuga, LB, Cincinnati Bengals.

What actually happened …

Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing was what I thought Maualuga would be. Maualuga did pick up a postseason DUI, though.

Score: 0 points.

5. Runner-up

What I said then …

Knowshon Moreno, RB, Denver Broncos.

What actually happened …

Moreno finished tied for third in the offensive ROY voting. Does that count for anything? Uh, no.

Score: 0 points.

6. AFC North

What I said then …

Order of finish: Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns.

On the Steelers: "[QB Ben Roethlisberger will] take his usual sacks beatdown, but the offense could be strengthened by the return of running back Rashard Mendenhall. And as always, there's Hines Ward, Super Bowl hero Santonio Holmes and Willie Parker. Comforting."

On the Ravens: "Linebacker Bart Scott is gone, but the Ravens' defense still remains one of the leading causes of snot bubbles and wooziness."

On the Bengals: "[T]he Bengals have quarterback Carson Palmer back in the lineup, which is always a good thing, and the defense could be decent. Too bad it won't translate into a winning season."

On the Browns: "How is this team going to win more than six games? Oh, wait, I can answer that one. They're not."

What actually happened …

[+] EnlargeCarson Palmer
Jason Bridge/US PresswireTo the surprise of our intrepid prognosticator, Carson Palmer took the Bengals to the division title.
D'oh! The Steelers not only didn't win the division; they didn't reach the playoffs. (At least Pittsburgh's O-line was dependable, giving up a whopping 50 sacks.) … The Ravens finished second, made the playoffs, eliminated the Patriots and then took a leave of absence against the Indianapolis Colts in the divisional playoff game … double d'oh! The Bengals not only had a winning season, but they won the division by going 6-0 against Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cleveland. However, the Ocho Cinco Network suffered a blackout against the Jets in the regular-season finale and wild-card game.

Score: 0 points. (By the way, this isn't going well for me so far, is it?)

7. AFC South

What I said then …

Order of finish: Jacksonville Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans.

On the Jaguars: "A calculated flyer pick in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL."

On the Colts: "If the Jags don't win it, the Colts will. In fact, I'm already having second thoughts. What, pick against Peyton Manning?"

On the Titans: "With defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth now wearing a Washington Redskins uni, there's no way the Titans' D can put together all those top 10 rankings of a season ago."

On the Texans: "It's simple: If the Texans don't reach the playoffs this season, Gary Kubiak is probably gone. Good guy. Good coach. But Texans fans and Texans management has just about had it with 8-8 seasons."

What actually happened …

I'm getting a Percy Harvin migraine on this one. My calculated flyer crashed and burned. The Jags finished 7-9, good for last in the division. … But (he said excitedly) the Colts did validate my second guess. … The non-Haynesworths went from seventh in total defense in 2008 to 28th in 2009. After an 0-6 start, it's a miracle they finished 8-8. … The Texans missed the playoffs, but not by much. A 9-7 record earned Kubiak a contract extension. Remember, I said, "probably gone."

Score: 0 points.

8. NFL Most Valuable Player

What I said then …

Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings.

What actually happened …

It wasn't even close (much like my picks). Peyton Manning got 39½ of the 50 votes. Peterson got zilch.

Score: 0 points.

9. MVP finalists

What I said then …

San Diego's Philip Rivers, New Orleans' Drew Brees, New England's Tom Brady, Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers and Chicago's Matt Forte.

"If Peterson isn't the guy, Rodgers will be."

What actually happened …

Brees was second with 7½ votes, Rivers third with two, Minnesota's Brett Favre fourth with one. Rodgers, Brady and Forte were no-shows.

Score: 0 points.

10. If these six NFL'ers wrote six-word memoirs …

What I said then …

Plaxico Burress: "I fought the law; law won."

Brandon Marshall: "Cutler's in Chicago; I'm in pajamas."

Terrell Owens: "Six-pack abs. One-pack mind."

Al Davis: "Me, paranoid? Did Kiffin say that?"

Tom Brady: "Tried taking ugly pills. Didn't work."

Daniel Snyder: "Throw money at everything, catch nothing."

What actually happened …

Who cares? I'm taking a point.

Score: 1 point.

11. AFC West

What I said then …

Order of finish: San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs.

On the Chargers: "This is officially Philip Rivers' team, not LaDainian Tomlinson's. … If the Chargers can't win the weakest division in the league, then Norv Turner ought to fire himself."

On the Raiders: "Actually, JaMarcus Russell is growing on me, and I like a coaching staff that beats the crap out of each other."

On the Broncos: "Am I the only one who thinks the Broncos are going to be OK?"

On the Chiefs: "Another team going nowhere."

What actually happened …

[+] EnlargeJaMarcus Russell
AP Photo/Tony AvelarJaMarcus Russell spent just a little more time on the bench this year than a certain someone predicted.
The Chargers won the division by five games. … Russell grew on me like toe fungus and the Raiders finished 5-11. … The Broncos season: 6-0 start, then 0-4, then 2-0, then 0-4 finish. So sad. … The Chiefs went nowhere (4-12).

Score: ½ point.

12. The coach most likely to be relieved of his whistle is …

What I said then …

Tom Cable, Oakland Raiders.

What actually happened …

Cable is still the coach. For now. But you never know with Raiders owner Al Davis. He's been known to fire people for buying him the wrong color Gummy Bears.

Score: 0 points.

13. Also in danger of joining the fraternity of the unemployed:

What I said then …

Cincinnati's Marvin Lewis, Buffalo's Dick Jauron, Dallas' Wade Phillips and Houston's Kubiak.

What actually happened …

Jauron didn't make it to Game 10. The others survived.

Score: ½ point.

14. And if they get canned, the four college coaches who can expect a phone call …

What I said then …

Mark D'Antonio, Michigan State; Jeff Tedford, Cal; Bob Stoops, Oklahoma; Jim Harbaugh, Stanford.

What actually happened …

If the reports are true, Harbaugh was contacted by the Raiders. Personally, I'd rather be the Stanford Tree mascot than work for Davis.

Score: ½ point.

15. Detroit's Matthew Stafford will have a better rookie season than the New York Jets' Mark Sanchez because …

What I said then …

Stafford has wide receiver Calvin Johnson, Sanchez doesn't. Sanchez has to play in the world's media capital, Stafford doesn't. True, the Jets have a much better offensive line than the Lions, but Stafford's quick release will help reduce that sack total of 52 in 2008.

What actually happened …

What actually happened is this: Stafford had to play for the Lions, Sanchez didn't. Stafford lasted 10 games before injuries ended his season. He still threw for one more TD than Sanchez, who started 15 games. They both had 20 INTs. But Sanchez reached the playoffs, Stafford didn't.

Score: 0 points.

16. NFC East

What I said then …

Order of finish: New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins.

On the Giants: "I blew off the G-Men last year and they mocked me with a 12-4 record."

On the Eagles: "Two words: Brian Westbrook. If he stays healthy, the Eagles could easily win the division. If he doesn't, then Philly is going to sweat out a playoff spot."

On the Cowboys: "The Cowboys are also looking for a playmaker wide receiver and, like the Giants, not much else. Roy Williams is supposed to be that guy, but I'll believe it when I see it."

On the Redskins: "Six of their final seven games are toughies: at Dallas, at Philly, New Orleans, New York Giants, Dallas, at San Diego."

What actually happened …

The Giants mocked me again. Thanks for the 8-8 record, fellas. … Westbrook didn't stay healthy and the Eagles didn't win the division. But an 11-5 record took care of a playoff spot. … Williams' stats: 38 receptions, 596 yards, 7 TDs. Thank goodness for Miles Austin (81-1,320-11). Otherwise, the Cowboys don't win the division. … The Redskins lost all six of those toughies. Jim Zorn lost his job.

Score: 0 points.

17. Five players destined for breakout seasons:

What I said then …

Pierre Thomas, RB, New Orleans; Greg Olsen, TE, Chicago; Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore; Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Indianapolis; JaMarcus Russell, QB, Oakland.

"… I think Russell will finally figure out what it takes to succeed in this league."

What actually happened …

Right. Wrong. Right. Wrong. Monumentally, laughably, really, really, really wrong.

Score: ½ point.

18. Coach of the Year

What I said then …

[+] EnlargeJim Mora Jr.
Nick Laham/Getty ImagesLadies and gentlemen, Jim Mora Jr., your NFL coach of the year. (Did Gene say that out loud?)

Jim Mora Jr., Seattle Seahawks.

What actually happened …

Mora got fired. I might not be far behind.

Score: 0 points.

19. NFC North

What I said then …

Order of finish: Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions.

On the Vikings: "I'm taking the Vikes because Brett Favre will do what Tarvaris Jackson has never done: complete 60 percent or more of his passes."

On the Bears: "If the Bears want to reach the playoffs, they might have to win the division. … In the past nine seasons, it's taken at least 10 games to win the division and an average of more than 11 victories. … Jay Cutler thinks with his arm instead of his head way too often. That means interceptions and drive-ending incompletions."

On the Packers: "The Packers aren't going to go 6-10 again. … Dom Capers is the defensive coordinator and he has a history of seamless transitions when it comes to installing the 3-4."

On the Lions: "An 0-6 start is a distinct possibility. … But even if that happens, they'll be better than the 2008 Lions that started out winless and stayed that way."

What actually happened …

Favre completed 68.4 percent of his passes and the Vikings reached the NFC Championship Game. … A 7-9 Bears record didn't cut it when the Vikes finished 12-4 and the Packers finished 11-5. And, sigh, Cutler had 27 TDs, but a league-leading 26 INTs. … What'd I tell you: The Pack nearly doubled their victory total of 2008 and led the league in turnovers forced. … The Lions started 1-8 and finished 2-14 -- two victories more than 2008.

Score: 1 point.

20. You'll never be able to make fun of kickers again if …

What I said then …

David Buehler sticks on the Cowboys' roster (and so far so good).

The rookie from USC, picked in the fifth round to serve as the Cowboys' designated kickoff specialist, stunned his teammates by recently beating safety DeAngelo Smith in a 50-yard dash.

What actually happened …

He stuck.

Score: 1 point.

21. The AFC team most likely to surprise us is …

What I said then …

Houston Texans. It happens if Matt Schaub stays healthy for an entire season and the defense improves across the board.

What actually happened …

Schaub stayed healthy, the defense was better than 2008 and the record improved. But not enough to reach the postseason.

Score: 0 points.

22. The NFC team most likely to surprise us is …

What I said then …

Packers.

What actually happened …

From 6-10 to 11-5.

Score: 1 point.

23. Amaze and impress your fellow owners with these three fantasy football sleepers:

What I said then …

Mendenhall, Steelers; LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles; Stafford, Lions.

What actually happened …

Mendenhall and McCoy delivered the sleeper goods.

Score:1 point.

24. Who suffers more from the Madden curse, Pittsburgh's Troy Polamalu or Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald?

What I said then …

[+] EnlargeLarry Fitzgerald
Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesFor the most part, Larry Fitzgerald avoided the Madden Curse.
Both. I don't see a Super Bowl rematch in their futures.

What actually happened …

Polamalu missed 11 games with injuries and the Steelers missed the playoffs. Fitzgerald reached the postseason, but couldn't make it to the NFC Championship Game.

Score: 1 point.

25. NFC South

What I said then …

Order of finish: New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

On the Saints: "Two stats to remember: No team in the NFC South has ever won consecutive division titles, and in the previous seven seasons, five South teams have won the division after finishing last the year before."

On the Falcons: "I'm not saying they're going to win 11 again, but no way do they fade into the world of sub-.500."

On the Panthers: "The stat about no repeat winners in the NFC South? The Panthers won the division in 2008."

On the Bucs: "The Bucs' 9-7 record in 2008 is going to seem like the good old days after this season."

What actually happened …

The Saints went from last in the division in '08 to first in the NFC. … The Falcons didn't win 11 and they didn't go sub-.500 (they finished 9-7). … An 8-8 record put the Panthers in third place. … Hey, a prediction that came true! The Bucs went a depressing 3-13.

Score: 1 point.

26. AFC team most likely to flop

What I said then …

Dolphins. "[C]hances are, Miami won't escape the injury bug like it did in '08."

What actually happened …

Quarterback Chad Pennington lasted three games. Tailback Ronnie Brown lasted nine. Bye bye, playoffs.

Score: 1 point.

27. AFC flop honorable mention

What I said then …

Jets -- Flop is probably too harsh of a word for the Jets. They're just not going to win nine games again.

What actually happened …

They won nine games again.

Score: 0 points.

28. NFC team most likely to flop

What I said then …

Cardinals -- Since 1998, the Super Bowl loser is usually doomed the following season.

What actually happened …

They won the division and reached Round 2 of the postseason.

I am weak and worthless.

Score: 0 points.

29. NFC flop honorable mention

What I said then …

Panthers -- If [QB Jake] Delhomme doesn't deliver, they miss the playoffs.

What actually happened …

Delhomme did worse than I'm doing on the predictions thing. Eight TDs, 18 INTs.

Score: 1 point.

30. Geno, help. My dog ate my fantasy draft worksheet. Who are the top three players at each position?

What I said then …

First three quarterbacks: Drew Brees, Brady, Peyton Manning.

First three running backs: Peterson; Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars; Michael Turner, Falcons.

First three wide receivers: Randy Moss, Patriots; Fitzgerald; Andre Johnson, Texans.

First three tight ends: Antonio Gates, Chargers; Jason Witten, Cowboys; Greg Olsen, Bears.

What actually happened …

QBs: Manning, Brees and Favre.

RBs: Tennessee's Chris Johnson, Peterson, Jones-Drew.

WRs: Johnson, Fitzgerald, Moss.

TEs: Vernon Davis, Dallas Clark, Gates.

Score: ½ point.

31. Comeback Player of the Year

What I said then …

Tomlinson, Chargers. "He won't lead the league in rushing in '09, but look for his numbers to get a significant bounce."

What actually happened …

Tomlinson's numbers flopped. He rushed for 380 fewer yards in '09. He's played his last game for the Chargers.

Score: 0 points.

32. NFC West

What I said then …

Order of finish: Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, St. Louis Rams, San Francisco 49ers.

On the Seahawks: "Few teams suffered more significant injuries last season than the Seahawks …"

On the Cardinals: "Kurt Warner, Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin did almost all of the heavy lifting during the playoffs, but a little more balance wouldn't hurt."

On the Rams: "New coach Steve Spagnuolo will crank up the volume. Five or six wins isn't out of the question."

On the 49ers: "This really isn't an awful team … I'm rooting for head coach Mike Singletary, but the playoff drought (no postseason since 2002) will continue."

[+] EnlargeSteve Spagnuolo
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesSteve Spagnuolo ought to have been good for five or six wins, right? Minus, say, four or five.

What actually happened …

Matt Hasselbeck played hurt -- and it showed. The Seahawks' season was wrapped in yellow police tape. … The Cardinals had double the wins of the Seahawks. … Yeah, ol' Steve Spagnuolo cranked up the volume -- to one. One win. … The Niners weren't awful (8-8), but the postseason drought lives on.

Score: 0 points.

33. NFL Defensive Player of the Year

What I said then …

Mario Williams, DE, Houston Texans. "He had 12 sacks last season and made his first Pro Bowl -- the first of many."

What actually happened …

Williams made another Pro Bowl, but the Packers' Charles Woodson was the rightful winner of the 2009 award.

Score: 0 points

34. Runners-up

What I said then …

Justin Tuck, DE, Giants; Jared Allen, DE, Vikings.

What actually happened …

Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis finished second. Denver linebacker Elvis Dumervil finished third. Allen got a couple of votes. Big whoop.

Score: 0 points.

35. Your Week 1 upset special

What I said then …

"Green Bay is anywhere from a 3-3½-point favorite at home against Chicago … I'm taking Da Bears."

What actually happened …

Packers 21, Bears 15. Cutler's second-leading receiver was the Green Bay defense (4 interceptions).

[+] EnlargeBrett Favre
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty ImagesBrett Favre was the league's most improved QB. Funny, he wasn't on Gene's preseason list.

Score: 0 points.

36. Three quarterbacks who will make biggest improvement from a season ago.

What I said then …

In the non-injured-a-year-ago category -- Michael Vick, Eagles.

In the bench-warmer category -- Byron Leftwich, Bucs.

In the injured-a-year-ago category -- Hasselbeck, Seahawks.

What actually happened …

Favre was the no-brainer choice for most improved QB. Vick had his moments, but nothing like Favre.

Leftwich was zero factor. He started three games and threw four TDs.

The less said about Hasselbeck and the Seahawks, the better.

Score: 0 points.

37. AFC Playoffs -- Last team in

What I said then …

Ravens.

What actually happened …

Ravens. Thank you, Ray Rice.

Score: 1 point.

38. AFC Playoffs -- Last teams out

What I said then …

A tie: Texans or Titans.

What actually happened …

Texans. Hey, there.

Score:1 point

39. NFC Playoffs -- Last team in

What I said then …

Eagles.

What actually happened …

Eagles.

Score: 1 point.

40. NFC Playoffs -- Last teams out

What I said then …

A tie: Packers or Cowboys.

What actually happened …

The Falcons were aced out.

Score: 0 points.

41. AFC Championship

What I said then …

New England vs. San Diego: "I take the Patriots because I believe Brady is a football god. I take the Chargers because it's time they ate at the grown ups' playoff table."

What actually happened …

The Pats and the Chargers each lost their first postseason games. I watched each one curled up in the fetal position.

Score: 0 points.

42. NFC Championship

What I said then …

Minnesota vs. New York Giants: "Does Brett Favre get his revenge?"

What actually happened …

[+] EnlargeGisele, Tom Brady
Marcel Thomas/FilmMagicGisele and Tom got to watch the Super Bowl together this year. From somewhere other than the field.
Vikes vs. Saints. And, no, Favre didn't get his revenge.

Score: ½ point.

43. Super Bowl XLIV

What I said then …

Minnesota vs. New England: "A sports writer's dream."

What actually happened …

Colts vs. Saints: A sports writer's dream.

Score: 0 points.

44. And the winner is …

What I said then …

New England: "Gisele and Brazil rejoice."

What actually happened …

Gisele and Brazil rejoiced if they were rooting for the Saints.

Score: 0 points.

TOTAL SCORE: 16 points.

Time for knot school.

Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at gene.wojciechowski@espn3.com. Hear Gene's podcasts and ESPN Radio appearances by clicking here.

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