In the NFL, Past Performance Is Not Indicative of Future Results

Bruce DickensonCorrespondent IJuly 18, 2008

As the temperature and dew-point rise, creating a rather uncomfortable climate, the last few weeks before the NFL preseason can be unbearable. To add insult to injury, we have a three-day break from baseball, leaving us with little news to distract our thirst for information on our favorite team.

Enter the 2008 NFL season predictions.

Just like top-10 lists, I do not know why I read these. Perhaps to anger myself with the same results from list to list. I have been complaining for years that these lists reflect nothing of the season to come and are little more than a regurgitation of last season's standings.

Therefore, I decided to do a bit of research and report what I found, to illustrate my antipathy for such prophecies. For example, the list below shows 2006 season results, followed by a relatively accurate culmination of a few 2007 season predictions, and ending with 2007 season results.

2006 Season Results 2007 Season Predictions 2007 Season Results
AFC East
AFC East
AFC East
1.  New England 1.  New England 1.  New England
2.  New York 2.  New York 2.  Buffalo
3.  Buffalo 3.  Miami 3.  New York
4.  Miami 4.  Buffalo 4.  Miami
AFC North AFC North AFC North
1.  Baltimore 1.  Cincinnati 1.  Pittsburgh
2.  Cincinnati 2.  Baltimore 2.  Cleveland
3.  Pittsburgh 3.  Pittsburgh 3.  Cincinnati
4.  Cleveland 4.  Cleveland 4.  Baltimore
AFC South AFC South AFC South
1.  Indianapolis 1.  Indianapolis 1.  Indianapolis
2.  Tennessee 2.  Tennessee 2.  Jacksonville
3.  Jacksonville 3.  Jacksonville 3.  Tennessee
4.  Houston 4.  Houston 4.  Houston
AFC West AFC West AFC West
1.  San Diego 1.  San Diego 1.  San Diego
2.  Denver 2.  Denver 2.  Denver
3.  Kansas City 3.  Kansas City 3.  Kansas City
4.  Oakland 4.  Oakland 4.  Oakland
NFC East NFC East NFC East
1.  Philadelphia 1.  Philadelphia 1.  Dallas
2.  Dallas 2.  New York 2.  New York
3.  New York 3.  Dallas 3.  Washington
4.  Washington 4.  Washington 4.  Philadelphia
NFC North NFC North NFC North
1.  Chicago 1.  Chicago 1.  Green Bay
2.  Green Bay 2.  Green Bay 2.  Minnesota
3.  Minnesota 3.  Detroit 3.  Detroit
4.  Detroit 4.  Minnesota 4.  Chicago
NFC South NFC South NFC South
1.  New Orleans 1.  Carolina 1.  Tampa Bay
2.  Carolina Panthers 2.  New Orleans 2.  Carolina
3.  Atlanta 3.  Tampa Bay 3.  New Orleans
4.  Tampa Bay  4.  Atlanta 4.  Atlanta
NFC West NFC West NFC West
1.  Seattle 1.  St. Louis 1.  Seattle
2.  St. Louis 2.  Seattle 2.  Arizona
3.  San Francisco 3.  San Francisco 3.  San Francisco
4.  Arizona 4.  Arizona 

4.  St. Louis


Looking at the divisions in order, I will start with the AFC East. Buffalo was predicted to be in last, and they finished second. They are predicted to finish as a possible Wild Card contender in 2008. 

In the AFC North, Cincinnati and Baltimore performed well below expectations, with Baltimore being the poor Dolphin's only win.

The AFC South was not horribly off, but no one predicted the meteoric rise of Jacksonville. In addition, I would have liked to have seen a Chargers vs. Jaguars AFC Championship game. 

The AFC West was right in line; however, most people expected much more of both the Chargers (early in the season) and Denver.

The NFC East was a huge disappointment to prognosticators. Philly last, Dallas first, Washington a Wild Card, and oh, by the way, the Giants won the Super Bowl.

The NFC North was as big a debacle as the AFC North. Coming off of a Super Bowl, the Bears finished last, Green Bay was tied for the best record in the NFC, Minnesota made a good showing, and Detroit won more games than anyone expected.

New Orleans was expected to do well in the NFC South, but after a slow start, they were constantly playing catch up. Carolina and Atlanta performed close to expected, but Tampa won the division after being predicted to be in third.

The NFC West proved that, despite skepticism, Seattle was still the team to beat, Arizona was better than expected, and St. Louis couldn't get it together.

I have yet to see one 2008 season prediction that strays from the 2007 season results, except for the Giants pundits who pick them to miss the playoffs.

The Pats will go 15 - 1, the Cowboys will have the best record in the NFC, all the teams that had losing records last year will finish 8-8 at best, and so on. 

My prediction: Fast-forward to 2009 and I bet you will see similar results to these.