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After further review: Revisiting 2021’s sports predictions

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Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski celebrate the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' victory in Super Bowl LV, just one of the many predictions I got wrong in 2021. Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski celebrate the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' victory in Super Bowl LV, just one of the many predictions I got wrong in 2021. (AP photo/Steve Luciano)

Every year, I make a plethora of sports predictions. And every year, I take the opportunity presented by the annual year-in-review issue of The Maine Edge to revisit those predictions and hold myself accountable.

And so we’re going to look back on my prognostication in 2021, celebrating the wins and acknowledging the losses. As far as this stuff goes, I’ve had better years and I’ve had worse ones (though not many of the latter), but in truth, the real predictions were the friends we made along the way.

Let’s have a look.

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Super Bowl LV

Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs 42 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers 35

Actual: Buccaneers 31 – Chiefs 9

Not an ideal start to the year, prediction-wise.

Wrong wrong wrong. I could not have been more wrong. I anticipated that this game would be a shootout pulled out in the end by the play of Patrick Mahomes. Instead, the Bucs D handled the Chiefs offense with ease. It’s my own fault, really – I watched Tom Brady do this sort of thing for the Patriots for two decades. I should have known better.

It’s worth noting that my adorable football-picking dog Stella gave Tampa Bay the nod, predicting a 35-31 win for the Buccaneers. While she also predicted a strong KC offensive performance, she got the winner right.

2021 NBA Finals

Prediction: Phoenix Suns 4 – Milwaukee Bucks 3

Actual: Bucks 4 – Suns 2

Look, I’m the first to admit that my NBA predictions are my least-informed – at least among major professional sports. But I really did feel good about this one. I liked the idea of Chris Paul finally getting a title and the Suns played well throughout the postseason. What I didn’t count on was Giannis Antetokounmpo somehow getting even better and pushing the Bucks to their first title since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was Lew Alcindor.

Zero for two. Not an auspicious start.

MLB Season

American League

Prediction: AL East – New York Yankees; AL Central – Minnesota Twins; AL West – Los Angeles Angels; Wild Card – Toronto Blue Jays; Wild Card – Chicago White Sox

Actual: AL East – Tampa Bay Rays; AL Central – Chicago White Sox; AL West – Houston Astros; Wild Card – Boston Red Sox; Wild Card – New York Yankees

This is … not good. In fact, one could argue that it is actively bad.

Zero fully correct picks. Only two of the five playoff teams predicted at all; partial credit for having the White Sox and Yankees making the postseason, though I was off on how they would do so. Plus, I put my misguided faith in the Angels and the Twins, neither of whom had any real shot. Meanwhile, I also betrayed my homer heart in not picking the Red Sox. Plus, I totally whiffed on the Rays. Just an all-around bad job by me.

National League

Prediction: NL East – Atlanta Braves; NL Central – Milwaukee Brewers; NL West – Los Angeles Dodgers; Wild Card – Washington Nationals; Wild Card – San Diego Padres

Actual: NL East – Braves; NL Central – Brewers; NL West – San Francisco Giants; Wild Card – Los Angeles Dodgers; Wild Card – St. Louis Cardinals

Sure, this is only one more playoff team than in the AL, but this set is significantly better.

Off the top, correctly predicting two division winners is pretty solid. And there’s no shame in missing on the Giants, because literally everybody missed on the Giants. I also had the Dodgers making the playoffs, so that’s good. The Padres were a talented group that couldn’t put it together. And I made the classic blunder of not picking the Cardinals to make the postseason. That’s on me. But hey – better than the AL.

World Series 2021

Prediction: Houston Astros 4 – Atlanta Braves 2

Actual: Braves 4 – Astros 2

Not sure if you’ve picked up on the pattern yet, but this was a BAD year for me as far as predictions go.

Look, I didn’t necessarily want the Astros to win, but it sure felt like they were the right pick against this overachieving Braves team. And I still think Houston had the more talented roster top to bottom. But talent isn’t all it takes – any team can win any game on a given day. Or a series. The Braves combined some strong bullpen arms and timely hitting to pull down their first title since the days of Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz et al all the way back in 1995.

CFL Season

Prediction: Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Toronto Argonauts (East Division); Calgary Stampeders, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Saskatchewan Roughriders, Edmonton Elks (West Division)

Actual: Argonauts, Tiger-Cats, Montreal Alouettes (East) Blue Bombers, Roughriders, Stampeders (West)

It’s probably telling that my best predictive performance of the year came with the CFL.

Now, the relatively low number of teams – nine total – makes picking the six playoff spots easier than it is in other leagues. Still, while I was off on the order, I was right on five of the six, missing only because of my ongoing affection for the Edmonton Elks and a complete miss on Montreal; forget the playoffs – I had the Alouettes winning just four games.

The truth is that the CFL might be the sole saving grace for my entire prognosticating year, because …

108th Grey Cup

Prediction: Winnipeg Blue Bombers 24 – Hamilton Tiger-Cats 17

Actual: Blue Bombers 33 – Tiger-Cats 25

Not bad. A little hesitant on the scoring, but not bad at all.

This was a GREAT game, one that went to overtime. It initially looked as though I might have jinxed the more talented team; for the season, Winnipeg’s QB Zach Collaros and LB Adam Bighill were named the league’s best offensive and defensive players, respectively. But despite the best efforts of Hamilton – on their home field, no less – the Bombers pulled one out, winning their second straight Grey Cup (they won in 2019 and the game wasn’t played in 2020).

NFL Season

(Note: Postseason positions current as of press time)

AFC

Prediction: AFC East – Buffalo Bills; AFC North – Cleveland Browns; AFC South – Tennessee Titans; AFC West – Kansas City Chiefs; Wild Card – Baltimore Ravens; Wild Card – New England Patriots; Wild Card – Los Angeles Chargers; Wild Card – Denver Broncos

Actual: AFC East – New England Patriots; AFC North – Cincinnati Bengals; AFC South – Titans; AFC West – Chiefs; Wild Card – Indianapolis Colts; Wild Card – LA Chargers; Wild Card - Buffalo Bills

This is pretty solid. Granted, everything is close enough where this whole deal could be upended in the next month, but for now – solid.

I hit exactly on three of my picks – the Titans and Chiefs are both division leaders, while the Chargers are in a wild card spot. And I basically flipped two picks, overcompensating for my latent homerism by picking the Bills to win the division over the Patriots; frankly, I won’t be surprised if my initial prediction winds up coming true here. My only misfires were the Browns and Broncos; both teams are still technically in contention, but it isn’t looking great. No shame in missing on the Bengals and Colts – both teams are outperforming most pundits’ predictions.

NFC

Prediction: NFC East – Dallas Cowboys; NFC North – Green Bay Packers; NFC South – Tampa Bay Buccaneers; NFC West – Los Angeles Rams; Wild Card – San Francisco 49ers; Wild Card – New Orleans Saints; Wild Card – Washington Football Team

Actual: NFC East – Cowboys; NFC North – Packers; NFC South – Buccaneers; NFC West – Arizona Cardinals; Wild Card – LA Rams; Wild Card – 49ers; Wild Card – WFT

This is my best collection of picks in ages. Not sure why, but I was on the NFC this year.

As of now, I’ve got three of the four division winners – Cowboys, Packers and Bucs – and six of the seven playoff teams overall. I even had both the Niners and the WFT as wild card winners. And while I had the Rams winning the West, at least they’re still in good shape for the playoffs (and the division is still in play). I straight up missed the Cardinals – I had them finishing last in the West and didn’t think they’d be remotely close – and had a little more faith in the Saints than I probably should have. Still, all in all, this is a very good collection of picks and a great way to end this year’s After Further Review.

Last modified on Wednesday, 22 December 2021 08:18

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