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Revisiting past predictions 2016

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Revisiting past predictions 2016 (AP file photo)

A look back at the year’s sports prognostication

We’ve reached the end of another year. A year in which I spilled considerable ink in an effort to accurately predict what might happen over the course of various sporting seasons. And so, as we do every December, we look back and revisit those predictions and see just how badly I screwed it all up.

As always, the results are … mixed.

Feel free to pass judgment and/or cast aspersions on my abilities; nothing you say about my predictive talents will be any worse than what I already know to be true.

-

Super Bowl 50

Prediction: Carolina Panthers 30 – Denver Broncos 21

Actual: Broncos 24 – Panthers 10

In my defense, I was far from the only person to think that the Panthers were going to win this one in a walk. Despite the noodle-armed quarterbacking of a fading Peyton Manning in his last-ever NFL contest, the Broncos were able to take down Carolina thanks to a ferocious defensive performance and an offense that managed just enough. It was a beatdown of such severity that Cam Newton spent the entire subsequent season trying to shake it off. This one was wrong, but for the right reasons.

MLB Season

American League

Prediction: AL East – Boston Red Sox; AL Central – Kansas City Royals; 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 – Texas Rangers; Wild Card – Baltimore Orioles; Wild Card – Toronto Blue Jays

Thank goodness for the Red Sox; my only 100 percent accurate AL selection was my homer pick. Overall, I was right about playoff appearances for three out of my five. I had the Blue Jays as the first Wild Card instead of the second, but I consider that a good pick as well. And I had a good feeling about the Rangers making the playoffs, though I didn’t think they had the juice to win their division.

On the flip side, I didn’t see the Indians coming and picked the Royals to repeat as division champs. No shame in that, though Kansas City did regress. No regrets about that Astros pick either; that’s an incredibly talented team that I might have just been a year too early on. As for the Orioles, well – it just goes to show you that baseball is a hell of a funny game sometimes.

National League

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

Actual: NL East – Washington Nationals; NL Central – Chicago Cubs; NL West – Los Angeles Dodgers; Wild Card – San Francisco Giants; Wild Card – New York Mets

Despite my lifelong AL fandom, I almost always do better on the NL side. This year was no exception. Four out of five picks nailed. The only one I missed was the second Wild Card, where I went with St. Louis and the spot wound up going to the Mets. Here’s the thing – no one has ever gone broke picking the Cardinals to make the playoffs. That was a no-brainer pick, and even though they’re in a division with the nascent juggernaut Cubs, I’ll probably pick them to make the postseason next year too.

Still – four out of five. Feeling pretty good about myself there.

World Series

Prediction: Chicago Cubs 4 – Cleveland Indians 2

Actual: Chicago Cubs 4 – Cleveland Indians 3

This was one of those predictions that seemed really easy before starting to look catastrophically wrong before ultimately turning out to be basically right all along. It was a World Series for the ages – one of the best ever – and I’m glad that I was wrong, if only because we got what might have been the greatest Game 7 in a generation … or longer.

CFL Season

Playoff teams

Predicted: Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Ottawa REDBLACKS, Toronto Argonauts (East Division); Edmonton Eskimos, Calgary Stampeders, Saskatchewan Roughriders (West Division)

Actual: Ottawa REDBLACKS, Hamilton Tiger-Cats (East Division); Calgary Stampeders, BC Lions, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Edmonton Eskimos (West Division)

2016 saw me continue to spend as much time on the CFL as just about anyone in New England. Not that my fascination mattered much when it came to these predictions. When you’re picking from among nine teams for six playoff spots, it’s not like there’s a lot of room to screw things up. I mean, you could pick any six and be literally guaranteed to be right on three.

I was right on four.

I had the REDBLACKS and Tiger-Cats flip-flopped in the East standings, which isn’t terrible. I knew Calgary would be good (albeit not historically good), but the Eskimos wound up as a crossover team as opposed to atop the division. I didn’t expect much from BC or Winnipeg, but I did pick both the Argonauts and the Roughriders, who finished in a tie for the league’s worst record at 5-13.

104th Grey Cup

Prediction: Calgary Stampeders 35 – Ottawa REDBLACKS 20

Actual: Ottawa REDBLACKS 39 – Calgary Stampeders 33

Another one where the conventional wisdom made perfect sense. Calgary had one of the best regular seasons in CFL history. Ottawa was under .500 for the year. It was an easy pick – and the wrong one. Best Grey Cup in decades.

MLS Cup

Prediction: Toronto FC 2 – Seattle Sounders FC 1

Actual: 0-0 draw in regulation; Sounders win 5-4 on penalties

What can you do? I know nothing about any of this, after all. It was essentially a coin flip – and I flipped wrong.

NFL Season

(Note: Postseason positions current as of Week 16.)

AFC

Prediction: AFC East – New England Patriots; AFC North – Cincinnati Bengals; AFC South – Jacksonville Jaguars; AFC West – Oakland Raiders; Wild Card – Pittsburgh Steelers; Wild Card – Denver Broncos

Actual: AFC East – New England Patriots; AFC North – Pittsburgh Steelers; AFC South – Houston Texans; AFC West – Oakland Raiders; Wild Card – Kansas City Chiefs; Wild Card – Miami Dolphins

The Patriots pick was easy and I feel good about the Raiders pick. However, the cons far outweigh the pros; the Bengals have been terrible and I picked the f---ing JAGUARS. Yes, I had the Steelers making the playoffs, but holy crap, this is embarrassing.

NFC

Prediction: NFC East – Dallas Cowboys; NFC North – Green Bay Packers; NFC South – Carolina Panthers; NFC West – Arizona Cardinals; Wild Card – Seattle Seahawks; Wild Card – New York Giants

Actual: NFC East – Dallas Cowboys; NFC North – Detroit Lions; NFC South – Atlanta Hawks; NFC West – Seattle Seahawks; Wild Card – NY Giants; Wild Card – Green Bay Packers

Slightly better on this side. Got the Cowboys right, had the Seahawks, the Giants and the Packers making the playoffs albeit in slightly different spots. No shame in picking the Panthers or the Cardinals – who’d have guessed the Lions and Falcons would step up? And yes, things may still change a little, but ultimately, my NFL work was particularly bad this year.

-

And that’s another one in the books. A few wins, more losses and a heaping helping of accountability. Let’s root for a more accurate 2017, shall we?

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