Well, the 2019-2020 NFL season is over. And if you, like me, are a fan of the National Football League, you probably had some expectations when the season began. You thought the Patriots were unbeatable, the Bears would make the Super Bowl, and the Browns would destroy everyone in their division.
Little did we know, this season was more unpredictable than any other before it.
When the season began, Andrew Luck was still the starting quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, Leonard Fournette and Joe Mixon were projected to be fantasy football favorites, and Tom Brady had skills. Now, after the Super Bowl, we know that Andrew Luck retired before the season began, Fournette and Mixon were both massive busts in the fantasy football realm, and Tom Brady is old.
These projections were found across the board by many NFL experts. Unfortunately, some of these experts made individual projections that simply did not end well. I, Elisha, have pulled the projected rankings and win/loss records from the popular NFL website Sporting News. Simeon, author at Levine Lowdown, and I will breakdown and comment on each projection. I will be giving a score on the projection and whether or not it made sense, while Simeon will be commenting on the teams’ losses, injuries, and needs. Also, if you don’t read Simeon’s sports and politics blog, be sure to do so! It’s absolutely awesome. You can read it by clicking here.
|1.||Indianapolis Colts||(11-5)||7-9, 3rd place|
|2.||Houston Texans||(8-8)||10-6, first place|
|3.||Tennessee Titans||(5-11)||9-7, second place|
|4.||Jacksonville Jaguars||(4-12)||6-10, fourth place|
Elisha: While the Indianapolis Colts projection was a good one at the time, we now know that Andrew Luck retired, leaving his team in the dirt. Without Luck, the Colts floundered, struggling offensively, failing to make big plays, and ultimately ruining this projection. The Texans, on the other hand, did well, finishing with 10 wins. Although this projection was close in predicting the Texans to do well, it also predicted them to finish with two fewer wins and a lower placing in the ranks. The Tennessee Titans exceeded all expectations this year, making a deep playoff run on Derrick Henry’s back. They would finish with 4 more wins than projected and would take a wildcard spot in second place. Finally, the Jacksonville Jaguars did almost exactly as projected- they flopped. With a dying quarterback and rebuilding defense, they finished where they were projected: fourth place. While the win projection was off by two, we still count this as a correct projection. McFarland score: 1/4
Simeon: Although the Texans won the division, it was all about the Titans. They exceeded all expectations and made an impressive run in the playoffs thanks to the heroics of Derrick Henry. It all went wrong for the Colts. The sudden news of Andrew Luck’s retirement left the Colts scrambling with only a handful of weeks to find a starting quarterback before the opening of the regular season. Brissett started the season promisingly with 14 touchdown passes and only 3 interceptions in his first 6 games, but those numbers dropped quickly. He struggled as the weeks went by and questions must be asked whether he is the right person for the Colts in the future.
|1.||New England Patriots||13-3||12-4, first place|
|2.||New York Jets||9-7||7-9, third place|
|3.||Buffalo Bills||5-11||10-6, second place|
|4.||Miami Dolphins||2-14||5-11, fourth place|
Elisha: Unsurprisingly, the New England Patriots proved to be the best projection by this group of experts, who were only off by one game. This projection, while easy, is still correct and will be marked as such. However, the mixup of the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills proved to be very detrimental to this bracket’s score, since the Jets would finish with two fewer wins and one lower rank. The Bills would do exactly what the Titans did, exceeding many expectations, finishing with 5 more wins than expected, and making a playoff run through the wildcard spot. The Miami Dolphins, on the other hand, were far more predictable, finishing with the same placing as projected. They did, however, manage to win 3 more games than predicted, including a massive upset that kept the Patriots from taking a first-round bye-week in the playoffs. McFarland score: 2/4
Simeon: The patriots do it again. It wasn’t easy and they had their struggles offensively, but Tom Brady nursed the Patriots into the playoffs. However, this year they fell short, and the future of Brady is still unknown. The Bills were the most surprising team of this division who finished with an impressive record of 10-6. They played hard, consistent and patient football. It was a team coming together in pursuit of glory and although they didn’t reach the Superbowl, they demonstrated the capacity of this team for success. Miami Dolphins, what can I possibly say? Something has to dramatically change to see that franchise gain control of this division.
|1.||Kansas City Chiefs||(14-2)||12-4, first place|
|2.||Los Angeles Chargers||(11-5)||5-11, fourth place|
|3.||Oakland Raiders||(5-11)||7-9, third place|
|4.||Denver Broncos||(5-11)||7-9, second place|
Elisha: For the second time straight, the Sporting News predictions were correct about the first place finisher. The Kansas City Chiefs pulled off a monster season, going on to eventually win a Super Bowl against the San Francisco 49ers. Their finish was correctly predicted, and although their win/losses ratio wasn’t entirely correct, the Chiefs likely would’ve finished at 14-2 if Patrick Mahomes hadn’t been injured for part of the season. Unfortunately, the Los Angeles Chargers did not play nearly as well as expected, finishing six wins lower then they were supposed to. They would go on to finish at fourth place, two ranks lower than the Sporting News authors predicted. An unfortunate prediction, to be sure. However, the teams that were projected to tie for 3rd and 4th place ended up tying for 2nd and 3rd, with two more wins than expected. While we’ll count these as incorrect projections, it is important to realize that the Raiders did end up finishing in their projected 3rd place after losing an important game to the Broncos, who took the tiebreaker win and a resultant second place. McFarland score: 1/4
Simeon: With Patrick Mahomes in your team, anything is possible. The Kansas City Chiefs once again completed a dominating season by winning the Superbowl against the San Francisco 49ers. The Chiefs dominated offensively and held their own on the defensive end throughout the playoffs. Coming from behind in the playoffs is a daunting prospect, but with Mahomes leading the drive, we now know that anything is possible. The rest of this division is a disappointed. The Los Angeles Chargers would have been hoping for more success after a couple of positive seasons with Phillip Rivers. However, it wasn’t to be, with the chargers finishing with a 5-11 record. The Raiders and Broncos will need to make changes to be contenders next season.
|1.||Cleveland Browns||(11-5)||6-10, third place|
|2.||Pittsburgh Steelers||(10-6)||8-8, second place|
|3.||Baltimore Ravens||(8-8)||14-2, first place|
|4.||Cincinnati Bengals||(5-11)||2-14, fourth place|
Elisha: This is, by far, the most terribly projected AFC standings list. The Cleveland Browns, projected to finish at first place with 11 wins, would completely flop, landing in third place with 5 fewer wins then hoped for. The Pittsburgh Steelers would also flop after the loss of star Ben Roethlisberger, who would remain out the rest of the season, limiting the Steelers to only 8 wins and a correct second-place projection. The Ravens would shock the NFL (and the rest of the world) by winning 14 games, including their final 12, carried on the back of their star-studded offense led by quarterback Lamar Jackson. They would finish with the best record in the NFL and would manage a moderately deep playoff run until being defeated by the red-hot Tennessee Titans. Finally, the Cincinnati Bengals, who were the closest to a correct projection that this bracket saw. Finishing in a correct fourth place, they would not win a game until week 12, when they managed to defeat the plummeting New York Jets. Eventually, they would finish with 2 wins, 14 losses, three short of their projected 5 wins. McFarland score: 0/4
Simeon: Shocks and drama. This division was unpredictable, exciting and disappointing. The Baltimore Ravens have found the man for their team. Lamar Jackson was voted unanimously as the MVP and will lead this franchise for many years to come. His leadership, running capability, and all-round skills propelled the Ravens into the playoffs. The Steelers struggled without their first quarterback, leading to a demise at the end of the season. One of the largest disappointments of this season was the Cleveland Browns. A stacked team but no reward. Will it just take some time for the chemistry to come together? I hope so, because this Browns team could be one to watch come next season.
|1.||Green Bay Packers||(12-4)||13-3, first place|
|2.||Chicago Bears||(11-5)||8-8, third place|
|3.||Minnesota Vikings||(9-7)||10-6, second place|
|4.||Detroit Lions||(5-11)||3-12-1, fourth place|
Elisha: Yet another bracket that managed to correctly contain the first place finisher, this saw a switch of the second and third place brackets. The Green Bay Packers would do quite well, finishing with 13 wins and making a decent playoff run. Sadly, tragedy struck the Chicago Bears, who simply could not seem to figure out the problems with their offense. They would go on to win only 8 wins, three short of their projected 11, and would fall to third place in the standings. The Vikings would do better than anticipated, winning one more game then hoped and finishing a place higher. Finally, the Detroit Lions did far, far worse than projected, winning only 3 games, losing 12, and holding a tie. With a failing offense and destroyed defense, they would struggle to score, rarely outscoring opponents when needed. McFarland score: 2/4
Simeon: The Green Bay Packers completed another great season, making a good playoff run but ultimately being stopped by the hot 49ers. Rodgers pushed his case for one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time with his consistent and flawless play. The Vikings did better than anticipated but still lacked the offence to send them far into the playoffs. Kirk Cousins has failed in the big games and that is a serious concern for this franchise. The Bears and Lions both had disappointing seasons and will be looking to recover for next season.
|1.||New Orleans Saints||(13-3)||13-3, first place|
|2.||Carolina Panthers||(8-8)||5-11, fourth place|
|3.||Atlanta Falcons||(8-8)||7-9, second place|
|4.||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||(3-13)||7-9, third place|
Elisha: This bracket proved to be, by far, the most unique. While a victory was achieved in perfectly picking both the New Orleans Saints’ record and placing (which will result in an extra McFarland point), this was eventually marred by several strange finishes. The Carolina Panthers, who would lose All-Star quarterback Cam Newton, finished with three fewer wins than projected, leaving them in fourth place. The Atlanta Falcons would win one less game than predicted, and yet would somehow manage to rank one place higher, proving that the teams in the NFC south lost more games then thought. The Buccaneers would finish with four more wins and one higher standing than hoped, stunning many critics and proving to the world that even Jameis Winston can win 7 games. McFarland score: 2/5
Simeon: A very strange division, other than the expected dominance of the Saints. The Panthers were the major disappointment, who lost Cam Newton and had a poor season offensively. The Falcons and Buccaneers also showed glimpses of promised but struggled to put together a string of wins, leaving them stuck in the midfield.
|1.||Dallas Cowboys||12-4||8-8, second place|
|2.||Philadelphia Eagles||11-5||9-7, first place|
|3.||New York Giants||4-12||4-12, third place|
|4.||Washington Redskins||4-12||3-13, fourth place|
Elisha: Ouch, this one hurts just to look at. Any critic that projected the Dallas Cowboys to win 12 games and the Eagles to do almost just that deserves to hang his head in shame. Despite this bracket being the best predicted by statistics, the terrible performances from the Cowboys and Eagles make me wonder whether the NFC East should have had a representative in the playoffs at all. The Cowboys would win four fewer games than thought and would finish in second place, losing a critical game in week 16 to drop out of the playoff picture. The Philadelphia Eagles would finish with two fewer wins and one place higher than projected, again proving the absolute unpredictability of the NFL standings. In stark contrast, Sporting News managed to almost perfectly project the standings and wins of both the Giants and Redskins, missing by only 1. This almost perfect projection will be allotted an extra point and will put the Sporting News perfect picks number up to 2. McFarland score: 3/5
Simeon: The division which made people consider why we even had divisions in the NFL. The NFC East was always a two-way battle between the Eagles and the Cowboys. The Eagles performed at the right time to secure a place in the playoffs, but the Cowboys were immensely disappointing. With many tipping the Cowboys to make a long run into the playoffs, this result is terrible for the team. The Redskins and Giants failed again. It is deja vu for the Giants who showed small glimpses of promise but still finished in third place with a record of 4-12.
|1.||Los Angeles Rams||(11-5)||9-7, third place|
|2.||Seattle Seahawks||(8-8)||11-5, second place|
|3.||San Francisco 49ers||(8-8)||13-3, first place|
|4.||Arizona Cardinals||(3-13)||5-10, fourth place|
Elisha: To cap this all off, we find a bracket that did not predict the first-place team, instead favoring the team that would disappoint thousands, finishing with two fewer wins than projected and two lower spots then hoped. The Seahawks would do better than many thought, winning extra three games and finishing in second place. The San Francisco 49ers, on the other hand, would finish with an outstanding season, a far cry from what Sporting News said they would do. They would win 13 games, finish as the first seed in the NFC West, and would go on to play in the Super Bowl. Finally, the Arizona Cardinals, led by rookie quarterback Kyler Murray, would finish with 2 wins higher than projected but the same ranking, making this the closest projection in the bracket. McFarland score: 0/4
Simeon: This was the best division in the NFL this season. Three teams vying for a place in the playoffs, resulting in ultra-competitive games and great football. The Seahawks over-achieved this season thanks to the MVP-level play of Russell Wilson. However, a late-season slip saw them stumble into the playoffs without any momentum. The 49ers won this division on their defense paired with the calm mind of Garoppolo. They came close to winning the Superbowl, but ultimately were outplayed in the 4th quarter by the brilliance of Patrick Mahomes.
Elisha’s final score: 11/34. Prediction percentage: 33%
Alright, that’s all for today. Thanks so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed our collab as much as we did writing it. Simeon, you did a great job, man.
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