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Revisiting 2017’s sporting predictions

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We’ve reached the end of another year, and so the time has come to look back on the wealth of sports-related predictions that I’ve made. There are quite a few of them; I’ve been known to expend a fair amount of effort in my flailing attempts to guess what will happen in various sporting events and seasons.

As per usual, the results are decidedly mixed.

You’re more than welcome to judge my ability (or lack thereof) however you see fit. I’m well aware of the dart-throwing-monkey levels of accuracy that I tend to put forth; you won’t be telling me anything I don’t already know.

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Super Bowl LI

Prediction: New England Patriots 35 – Atlanta Falcons 31

Actual: Patriots 34 – Falcons 28

I was actually pretty close on this one, but the reality is that no one could have possibly predicted the way this game actually wound up playing out. Sure, I’m within a few points with regards to the final outcome, but the score belies the epic, historic way in which the game unfolded. The greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. The first Super Bowl overtime. 28-3. Another layer of legend heaped upon Super Bowl LI MVP Tom Brady. I was right as far as the destination, but the journey was something altogether unbelievable.

MLB Season

American League

Prediction: AL East – Boston Red Sox; AL Central – Cleveland Indians; AL West – Houston Astros; Wild Card – Toronto Blue Jays; Wild Card – Texas Rangers

Actual: AL East – Boston Red Sox; AL Central – Cleveland Indians; AL West – Houston Astros; Wild Card – New York Yankees; Wild Card – Minnesota Twins

It’s always nice when you can be a homer and still be right. I picked the Red Sox with my heart, but it was the right play. Going with the Indians and the Astros both seemed like no-brainer picks – Cleveland had made it Game Seven of the World Series the previous fall and the Astros were poised to break out in a big way as one of the league’s most talented teams. Not going to lie – it felt good to nail the division winners.

On the flip side, I was solidly wrong on both wild card picks. I hinted at the Yankees’ potential, but figured they were a year or two away; I leaned on the Blue Jays for reasons I’m still not certain about. The Rangers were a year-long mediocrity, winding up a handful of games under .500; meanwhile, I had the Twins finishing dead last, though in my defense I was hardly alone in doing so.

National League

Prediction: NL East – Washington Nationals; NL Central – Chicago Cubs; NL West – Los Angeles Dodgers; Wild Card – St. Louis Cardinals; Wild Card – San Francisco Giants

Actual: NL East – Washington Nationals; NL Central – Chicago Cubs; NL West – Los Angeles Dodgers; Wild Card – Arizona Diamondbacks; Wild Card – Colorado Rockies

Eerily similar to the AL. I got all three division winners right. I had little doubt that the Nationals would prove to be the class of their division – they’re simply more talented than their peers. It wasn’t hard to pick the reigning World Series champs to repeat in their division; it’s not like they had any sort of real setback in terms of their talent level, though they were due for a bit of regression. The Dodgers looked poised for a big run – and so they were.

And again, big whiffs on the wild cards. I went with St. Louis because no one ever went broke picking the Cardinals to make the postseason. And I had a gut feeling about the Giants that was way, WAY off. At least the Cards played wining baseball; San Francisco was the worst team in the NL. Instead, we got two NL West teams – the Diamondbacks and the Rockies – that I figured would be mediocre at best.

World Series 2017

Prediction: Astros 4 – Dodgers 2

Actual: Astros 4 – Dodgers 3

Not bad. Not bad at all. I felt good about this pick when I made it. And while the first six games were as good as any World Series we’ve seen, the no-doubt Astros victory in Game Seven took it down a couple of notches. Still, I’m putting this one firmly in the win column.

CFL Season

Prediction: Ottawa Redblacks, Montreal Alouettes (East Division); Calgary Stampeders, Edmonton Eskimos, BC Lions, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (West Division)

Actual: Toronto Argonauts, Ottawa Redblacks (East Division); Calgary Stampeders, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Edmonton Eskimos, Saskatchewan Roughriders (West Division)

As perhaps the most notable CFL pundit in Northern New England, it’s important to me that I do right by the league when it comes to preview coverage. I felt really good about my playoff picks going into the season. When six of nine teams make the postseason, your job is both easy and difficult – your odds of being right are good, but when you miss, it stings.

I freely admit that I didn’t see the Argonauts coming. Meanwhile, the Alouettes managed to be the worst team in the league, a status I had bestowed on the Roughriders, who went ahead and made the playoffs. I expected more of the Lions as well, who finished last in the West. Still, I expected Ottawa to make it back and figured the Stampeders to be the class of the league again, as well as picking the Blue Bombers and my beloved Esks. Four out of six – it ain’t great, but the CFL has a habit of making a liar out of me.

105th Grey Cup

Prediction: Calgary Stampeders 31 – Toronto Argonauts 20

Actual: Argonauts 27 – Stampeders 24

I feel as though I should apologize to Calgary’s fanbase. This is two years in a row I’ve picked Stamps to breeze to a Grey Cup win … and two years in which they’ve had their hearts broken at game’s end. Another spectacular game – a snow game, no less – in which I (along with conventional wisdom) was wrong about the outcome. Man, do I love me some Canadian football.

NFL Season

(Note: Postseason positions current as of Week 16)

AFC

Prediction: AFC East - New England Patriots; AFC North – Pittsburgh Steelers; AFC South – Tennessee Titans; AFC West – Oakland Raiders; Wild Card – Kansas City Chiefs; Wild Card - Houston Texans

Actual: AFC East – New England Patriots; AFC North – Pittsburgh Steelers; AFC South – Jacksonville Jaguars; AFC West – Kansas City Chiefs; Wild Card – Baltimore Ravens; Wild Card - Tennessee Titans

This isn’t a terrible set of picks at first glance, but dig a little deeper and things get ugly. Sure, I had the Patriots and Steelers winning their divisions, but so did literally everybody else. No-brainer choices. As for the rest, the Titans are much worse than I expected and may still fall out of playoff contention. I liked the Raiders and they’ve been wildly inconsistent. I got burned by the Jags last season, but it turned out I was just a year early. I’d prefer not to speak about the Texans pick.

NFC

Prediction: NFC East – Dallas Cowboys; NFC North – Green Bay Packers; NFC South – Atlanta Falcons; NFC West – Seattle Seahawks; Wild Card – Minnesota Vikings; Wild Card – New York Giants

Actual: NFC East – Philadelphia Eagles; NFC North – Minnesota Vikings; NFC South – New Orleans Saints; NFC West – Los Angeles Rams; Wild Card – Carolina Panthers; Wild Card - Atlanta Falcons

I made a LOT of mistakes here. The Cowboys might still squeak in, but I had the Eagles finishing last in their division. Yes, Aaron Rodgers got hurt and I had the Vikings making the playoffs, but still. Atlanta could still lose their grasp on the wild card and I had the Buccaneers outperforming both the Panthers and the Saints. I slept on the Rams, but so did a lot of other folks. And choosing the Giants to make the playoffs might be the most embarrassing thing about this entire exercise.

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And that’s all she wrote. Here’s to accountability, right? Oh, and one last thing – as of press time, it appears that my dog Stella is going to triumph in our annual Kibbles and Picks competition for the fourth time in five years. Let’s hope 2018 sees a bit more accuracy!

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