Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Extremely Early Forecast of the NFL Season

It is said that baseball is America's pastime. While that may have been true 20 or so years ago, it is now clear that the NFL is the sport of choice for most of the country. Everything the league does is news regardless of if it occurs in season or during the off season. The league had another holiday a couple of days ago with the release of the schedule. It is the time of year where fans go through and count the winnable games for their teams. It gives people a chance to either get a good feeling for how their team might do, or in some cases a sinking feeling that the season may be lost even before it starts. As I did last year, I am going to give you a forecast of how I see each team doing in the upcoming season. There are still plenty of moves left to be made. Teams still have to draft their future stars, training camp, players will get signed and cut, and there will inevitably be a major injury or two before the season kicks off on September 5. Remember, it is the extremely early forecast of the season.

How did I do last season? Well, Giants fans are always quick to point out that I struck out on the NFC East. I had the Eagles winning that division and the Giants finishing 7-9. We all saw how that one worked out. I did accurately predict the AFC East winner, calling for the Patriots to finish 12-4 while they actually finished 13-3. I also was correct with the NFC North although I grossly underestimated the dominance that the Packers would display. I had them at 12-4, they went 15-1. I also got the AFC North correct, and correctly predicted both 12-4 records for the Ravens and the Steelers. However, I was incorrect for the AFC and NFC Wests, while being correct for the NFC and AFC Souths. In all, I did a decent job in predicting how the season would turn out. So, here is the extremely early forecast of the NFL season. 

NFC East
Dallas Cowboys
New York Giants
Philadelphia Eagles
Washington Redskins

This is not an indictment on what I think Robert Griffin III will be as a NFL quarterback. I actually think he will be better than Luck. However, the schedule is brutal and as good as RGIII will be, he will still take his lumps. Giants fans will be happy to know that I have their team missing the playoffs this year, and they will surely point out what happened last year when I predicted the same thing. Consider Tha WeathaMan a good luck charm if that is the case. The Giants' schedule is the toughest in the league, and if they manage to make the playoffs they will have earned it. I'm putting faith in Michael Vick (always a risky proposition) and Tony Romo (ditto) to get it done. 

AFC East
Buffalo Bills
Miami Dolphins
New England Patriots
New York Jets

If any of you can figure out the New York Jets, please let me know. They are a pure case of an enigma wrapped inside of a riddle encapsulated by a conundrum. I have them going 8-8 but they have an equal chance of going 11-5 or 12-6. The Buffalo Bills are my surprise team as I truly feel that they will turn a corner this season. This division still belongs to The Hoodie and Mr. Brady until someone comes along to change that, and I do not see that happening this upcoming season. 

NFC North
Chicago Bears
Detroit Lions
Green Bay Packers
Minnesota Vikings

 I see this being an extremely competitive division. Green Bay should repeat as champs, but it should not be a runaway like it was last year. Even Minnesota will be competitive, but with their rebuilding project in full swing it will take them a couple of seasons to get back on the winning side of things. 

AFC North
Baltimore Ravens
Cincinnati Bengals
Cleveland Browns
Pittsburgh Steelers

I see the Steelers doing just enough to squeak out the division by a game over the Ravens. I think the Bengals will come back to Earth a little bit as they have only qualified for the playoffs in back to back seasons once in their franchise's history (1981 & 1982). Cleveland will have a tough go of it as they determine whether Colt McCoy is the answer behind center or not. Their difficult schedule does them no favors. 

NFC South
Atlanta Falcons
Carolina Panthers
New Orleans Saints
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

Count me as one of the few individuals that do not think the "bounty-gate" scandal will single the end for the Saints. They still have Drew Brees, whose contract situation will be settled before training camp, and the rest of that dynamic offense. Brees is essentially the coach on the field, and the Saints will be fine. However, if the rest of the NFC South is going to overtake New Orleans this is the season to do it. 

AFC South
Houston Texans
Indianapolis Colts
Jacksonville Jaguars
Tennessee Titans 

This division now belongs to the Houston Texans. The rest of the division will be in competition for high draft picks in the 2013 draft. I do believe the Titans will be a better team than last year's edition, but their schedule is brutal. Their first four games are against the Patriots, at the Chargers, the Lions, and then their first division game at Houston. That's a 0-4 slate that is staring them in the face. Andrew Luck will steadily improve throughout the season, but the cupboard is bare in Indy. As far as the Jaguars are concerned, at least Tim Tebow will visit Jacksonville as a member of the Jets in week 14. That's something to look forward to right? 

NFC West
Arizona Cardinals
St. Louis Rams
San Francisco 49ers
Seattle Seahawks  

Just as the Houston Texans owns the AFC South, the San Francisco 49ers appear to be the class of the NFC West. Matt Flynn will help the Seahawks, but a lack of play-makers will doom the team. I'm not sold Kevin Kolb can make Arizona winners, while in St. Louis Jeff Fisher will have the Rams heading in the right direction. 

AFC West
Denver Broncos
Kansas City Chiefs
Oakland Raiders
San Diego Chargers  

If you have any idea on what is going to happen in this division please raise your hand. Now put it down because it is clear that you are lying. This is arguably the most confusing division in the NFL. Which San Diego team is going to show up from week to week? Is Peyton truly back? What is going on in the always eventful land of Oakland? Is Kansas City contenders or pretenders? All of these and many more questions pop up when thinking about the AFC West. I believe all these teams will be competitive week in and week out, and the division will not be clinched until week 15. Then again, who knows when you are talking about these four teams? 


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Is Donovan McNabb Hall of Fame Worthy?

Donovan McNabb would prefer to be making news about signing a new contract to play in the NFL in the upcoming season. Instead he is currently unemployed. However, it doesn’t mean that McNabb is not making headlines. A couple of weeks ago, McNabb made the news by taking a few shots at his former head coach Mike Shanahan. Now McNabb has found his way back into the NFL news cycle with his recent declaration that he thinks of himself as a hall of famer

Before really diving into whether or not McNabb actually has a case to be a hall of famer, what was he supposed to say? If you ask Brett Favre that same question, is he supposed to say “no”? Of course McNabb thinks of himself as a hall of famer, and no one should have an issue with his opinion of himself. The bigger issue is if McNabb truly deserves to be a hall of famer or not. 

The first thing to do is examine the raw numbers, because essentially that is what the hall of fame is about. There are a few other things that go into it, and they will be discussed later. But the crutch of any player’s hall of fame candidacy is what he produced during his NFL career. Take a look at the chart below: 

Donovan McNabb
263 total
     Terry Bradshaw
244 total
Jim Kelly
244 total
Troy Aikman
174 total

The chart above takes three hall of famers and compares their numbers to Donovan McNabb. All four players played (McNabb is officially not retired as of yet) roughly the same number of seasons with Bradshaw having the most seasons with 14. What is obvious is that McNabb’s numbers compare favorably with the three hall of famers who are generally regarded as three of the best to ever play the position. There is however, a big difference between these four quarterbacks? Bradshaw has four rings, Kelly played in four straight Super Bowls, and Aikman has three Super Bowl victories under his belt. McNabb played in, and lost, just one Super Bowl. So, how much of that falls on McNabb? The lack of a ring should not be placed solely at the feet of Donovan McNabb. 

Terry Bradshaw was surrounded by hall of fame talent during his Super Bowl wins. Jim Kelly had a hall of fame running back, Thurman Thomas, in the back field as well as one of the great receivers on the outside in Andre Reed. Troy Aikman was on Dallas Cowboys teams that were littered with greats and hall of famers up and down the roster. Donovan McNabb has had…well; he did have one full season with Terrell Owens. That season McNabb took the Eagles to his lone Super Bowl appearance. Outside of that season, 2004, Donovan McNabb had nowhere near the talent that some of his contemporaries around the league had. Not to mention the other three quarterbacks mentioned earlier.

Yet, even without a plethora of surrounding talent McNabb was able to take the Philadelphia Eagles to four consecutive NFC East titles, five NFC Championship games, and that one Super Bowl. We will always be left to wonder just how much McNabb could have accomplished had he been given a steady supply of upgraded talent to work with. This is not to dismiss the fact that McNabb still has the same amount of Super Bowl wins that I do, but  Super Bowl rings are not and should not be the end all be all for hall of fame induction. This also is not to ignore McNabb’s failures in Washington and Minnesota. It all is taken into account.

As any frequent visitor to this site and blog knows, Tha WeathaMan doesn’t just look at the raw numbers. Numbers never tell the full and complete story. This is the case in this situation as well. McNabb was the best quarterback in Eagles history, and the best offensive player in that franchise’s history.  Take a look at the approximate value in the Eagles’ history courtesy of You can also take a look at how they calculate that number here

The hall of fame is truly for the cream of the crop, the players that carried their teams to greatness when they otherwise would have been mediocre. Looking at the roster, numbers, and track record of what Donovan McNabb was able to do in Philadelphia it is clear that he fits into that category. Is Donovan McNabb a hall of famer? The numbers might say that he is. However, what does the eye test say? In my opinion the eye test says that McNabb was good but not great. Do I think Donovan McNabb is a hall of fame quarterback? McNabb will probably go down as a quarterback that did a lot with a little, but never did enough.  In my personal opinion I believe McNabb is a borderline candidate who doesn’t pass the eye test. He belongs in the hall of very good. Like his career, McNabb’s hall of fame vote will be close but he will ultimately come up just short when it matters the most.