NFL midseason prediction report

The good, the bad and the really bad. Also the terrible. And the rotten.

Topics: Football, Peyton Manning,

The NFL season is about half over, with everyone having played eight or nine games. That’s as good a time as any to look back at this column’s preseason predictions to see how they’re doing.

That is, before things get any worse than they already are. I used the Web site WhereIStand.com to determine consensus picks.


NFC WEST

Consensus pick: Seattle Seahawks
King’s predicted finish: Arizona, Seattle, St. Louis, San Francisco
Current standings: Arizona, Sea./S.F./St.L. (3-way tie)

Nice one, King: “The Cardinals look like they’ve got a shot to get a big jump with a soft early schedule.” Midway in, the Cardinals have a three-game lead. The rest of the division is so bad Arizona might only need one or two more wins the rest of the way.

Not so much: “I’m taking the Cardinals to finish ahead of [the Seahawks] because I’ve done it so many times I don’t want to be left out on the off chance it ever happens. Don’t mistake that for my actually believing in the idea.”


NFC SOUTH

Consensus pick: New Orleans Saints
King’s predicted finish: New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Atlanta
Current standings: Carolina, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, New Orleans

Nice one, King: I really had to look to find something. How about: “The Buccaneers look like they’re going to be one of those teams that’s a tough out. They’ll be in every game, and if things bounce their way, they could find themselves in the wild-card race.”

Not so much: “The Panthers look like fringe contenders again, but they’re not deep. If anything goes wrong it could be a long year, probably the last for former Super Bowl coach John Fox.” The Panthers are 6-2. Football Outsiders had them as the 10th best team in the league before this weekend, when they were idle.

And: “Winning four games last year was something of an achievement [for the Falcons]. Matching it would be another.” The Falcons are 5-3.




NFC NORTH

Consensus pick: Minnesota Vikings
King’s predicted finish: Minnesota, Green Bay, Chicago, Detroit
Current standings: Chicago, G.B./Minn., Detroit

Nice one, King: “New year, new offensive scheme, same old Lions.” And: “Why am I telling you [about Tatum Bell allegedly stealing Rudi Johnson's underwear]? Because it’s going to stand as the highlight of the Lions’ season.”

Fish in a barrel, though.

Not so much: “The Bears are still trying to figure out if Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton should be their quarterback. That tells you all you need to know about them.”


NFC EAST

Consensus pick: Dallas Cowboys
King’s predicted finish: Philadelphia, Dallas, New York, Washington
Current standings: New York, Washington, Philadelphia, Dallas

Nice one, King: I had the order right. I just started in the middle. OK, how about if I cherry-pick, regarding the Cowboys being set for another Super Bowl run: “I don’t think so. Everything will have to go right again.”

Or maybe about the Eagles: “I think McNabb will bounce back for a last hurrah and the attacking defense will get enough takeaways to make a decent offense look like a very good one.” The Eagles are tied for third in the NFL with Tampa Bay, one behind Chicago and Tennessee, in takeaways.

Not so much: Washington is “not a bad team, but it’s thin, and quarterback Jason Campbell, who is still a bit raw, will have to learn Zorn’s Mike Holmgren-style West Coast system. Combine all that with six tough division games, and Washington could struggle.”

Yeah, struggling could commence at any time now for 6-2 Washington. Actually, I wasn’t terribly, terribly wrong about much of anything in the NFC East except picking the Giants third, though to be fair, I picked them to finish third in a very strong division, which could still happen. But they have the best record in the conference and the best point differential in the league, so as of now: Way wrong. And I wasn’t right about anything either.

AFC WEST

Consensus pick: San Diego Chargers
King’s predicted finish: San Diego, Denver, Kansas City, Oakland
Current standings: Denver, San Diego, Oakland, Kansas City

Nice one, King: “This is going to be a rebuilding year in Denver. But since it’s also a rebuilding year in Kansas City and Oakland, and they’ve got more to build, and the Broncos get to play them four times, everything going right might mean the Broncos get to hang around the fringes of the playoff picture for a while.” The Broncos are not just on the fringes of the playoff picture. They’re in first place, since the Chargers are lousy too. But the Broncos are only 4-4 and they’ve lost three in a row. Everyone in the division has lost at least two straight.

Not so much: “Kansas City has one thing going in its favor: The Raiders are trying to rebuild too.” Nope. The Chiefs are so bad they don’t even have that in their favor. Actually, pretty much any positive thing I wrote about anybody in the AFC West could go here. There wasn’t much, but what little there was was wildly optimistic.


AFC SOUTH

Consensus pick: Indianapolis Colts
King’s predicted finish: Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Houston, Tennessee
Current standings: Tennessee, Indianapolis, Jax/Hou. (tie)

Nice one, King: Not picking the Colts to win their 265th consecutive division title.

Not so much: “4. Tennessee Titans.” The Titans are 8-0, have allowed the fewest points in the league and trail the Giants by one point in point differential.

“The backfield is nothing special.” Chris Johnson and LenDale White have combined for 1,119 yards on 244 carries, 4.6 yards per carry, with 15 touchdowns and no fumbles.

“Without much happening differently, they could have been 8-8 [last year], which would have been pretty good in this division, and looks like a reasonable goal for this year.” Goal accomplished with eight games to go.


AFC NORTH

Consensus pick: Pittsburgh Steelers
King’s predicted finish: Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Baltimore
Current standings: Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cleveland, Cincinnati

Nice one, King: Not so much.

Not so much: Everything, but especially saying that Cleveland would be a contender and Cincinnati would be anything other than horrible. No, wait. Especially this: “There are a few divisions the Bengals would walk away with.”

Yeah, like Division III!


AFC EAST

Consensus pick: New England Patriots
King’s predicted finish: New England, Buffalo, New York, Miami
Current standings: N.E./Buf/N.Y. (3-way tie), Miami

Nice one, King: So far so good with those standings. How about this: The “Jets now look like a team built for this year that’s going to play about .500 ball.” And: “The Dolphins will be better than the Jets, and if they get some breaks they’ll contend for the playoffs.” The Jets are a game up on both .500 and the Dolphins, but not a lot would have to change for these twin statements to both end up being right.

Also: Predicting that Tom Brady would throw 11 passes all year. Who else had that?

Not so much: I’ll end up being way wrong about a lot here, but at the midway point, I’m pretty happy with my AFC East preview. Of course, with three teams tied for first place and the other one game back, so is everyone else who wrote one.

King Kaufman is a senior writer for Salon. You can e-mail him at king at salon dot com. Facebook / Twitter / Tumblr

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