Column: Line Drives — Predictions still look good

[This is my column in Thursday’s issue of The Commercial Review.]

I compare making sports predictions to forecasting the weather. It’s hard to predict the future.

Thing is, there are a wide array of variables associated with both practices which can completely change the outcome.

For example, no one predicted Indianapolis wide receiver Reggie Wayne would tear ligaments in his knee, forcing him to miss most of the 2013 season.

And no one predicted Jay Schools would be off for an entire week because of the recent storm.

I personally tend to stay away from making sports predictions. I haven’t filled out an NCAA tournament bracket for the better part of a decade.

In most cases, I’d much rather see an exciting game than have one team win over the other.

Plus, I’m usually not very good at making a choice as to who will win, so I generally refrain from doing so.

We had a pick ’em competition in the office this year, where we went through and picked a winner for every game each week during the NFL season. Over the 17-week period, I got 125 correct, good enough to put me in a tie for 10th place out of 13.

That’s an average of slightly more than seven picks per week. Which is not very good compared to the winner, city reporter Samm Quinn, who had a total of 149, which is just shy of nine correct per week.

It took some stimulation to get me to do to my NFL predictions with Ray in September. Trying to guess as to how an entire NFL season would play out was not something I was prepared, or even excited, to do.

But what made it fun is publicly disagreeing with my boss in an amusing fashion.

Turns out, I didn’t do as bad as I thought.

I correctly picked eight of the 12 teams in the playoff field this year. In contrast, Ray only picked six.

Some of the teams I picked to be Wild Card teams (Green Bay, Seattle, Indianapolis) ended up winning their division.

Choosing Philadelphia, Cincinnati, New England and Denver to all win their division paid off, and my other correct pick was having San Francisco make it to the postseason, albeit I had them winning the NFC West.

After Wild Card weekend, six of those eight teams are still alive.

My two Super Bowl teams — Seattle beating Denver 31-17 — is also sitting pretty.

The last time I correctly picked Super Bowl teams was in 2005, when I chose the Seahawks and Pittsburgh Steelers to play in Super Bowl XL in Detroit. That pick was probably more lucky than good, but hey, at least I can say it was correct.

Where I went wrong this year, however, was being a homer and picking the Detroit Lions to win the NFC North. Just like every other Lions fan, I was confident that “this was our year!” and that Matthew Stafford and company could pull out a playoff berth, and maybe even a playoff win.

But the men in Honolulu blue went from being 7-5 and in first place in their division on Dec. 8, to third place and eliminated from playoff contention eight days later thanks to consecutive losses to Philadelphia and Baltimore.

My other incorrect choices were Atlanta and Houston to win the NFC and AFC South respectively, and I also had Baltimore as a Wild Card pick.

As it stands, my AFC and NFC championship teams are still safe. I just need the Seahawks to beat the Saints at home and San Francisco to handle the Carolina Panthers on the road to set up my prediction of showdown of NFC West division rivals for a chance to play in the Super Bowl.

In the AFC, Denver will beat up on San Diego, and Tom Brady and the Patriots will edge Luck and the Colts to set up Brady-Manning XV.

Depending on how the rest of the playoff goes in terms of my picks, I just might be more apt to fill out an NCAA bracket this year.

After all, my Spartans have looked pretty good recently, especially beating the Hoosiers Saturday at Assembly Hall and No. 3 Ohio State at the Breslin Center Tuesday.


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