Going into the penultimate week of the regular season, it seemed a good time to check back on some of my predictions for the NFL season. The NFC
was previewed way back in July, and the AFC
preview came a week later. That’s my excuse for the incorrect predictions, the correct predictions are entirely due to my expertise and breadth of football knowledge.
Predicted NFC Playoff Teams – Division winners – Seattle, Philly, Carolina, Green Bay
Wildcards – Atlanta, Detroit (Lambs might make it if they hide Martz’ headset for the last game)
Aside from Detroit, this lineup looks right, albeit with Atlanta winning the division and Carolina getting a Wildcard. The other likely Wildcard is Minnesota, who I pegged for a .500 record, which is about right. I just didn’t think that would be Wildcard worthy. For some side predictions, I predicted Minnesota would lead the league in combined points (correct so far) and give up just as many points as they scored (Pythagorean theorem) to get to their .500 record, I predicted Tampa Bay had “the look of a 7-9 team that will fire the coach to compensate for some bad offseason moves”, Atlanta could win the South if Michael Vick learns to slide at the end of his runs, Mike Martz’s ineptitude would keep the Rams from the playoffs, and that the NFC East would have three teams around 7-9 (three teams currently at 5-9). I almost nailed the rushing title , predicting Shaun Alexander and Clinton Portis would be 1-2 in the NFC (currently 1-3).
The only big miss was the 49ers, who I knew would suck but thought would scrape up 5-7 games. Near misses include the Lions, who I predicted would contend for the Wildcard (they still might, but it would require some pretty farfetched scenarios), and the Bears, who I predicted would be 4-12, but might actually be in the Wildcard hunt with a 5-9 record.
Division winners: New England, Indy, Baltimore, Kansas City
Wildcards: Jets, Denver (and a sleeper pick for Jax IF Fred Taylor plays all 16)
Let’s see, if you substitute Pittsburgh for Baltimore, and San Diego for Kansas City, I’d have it nailed. Um, in my defense, NOBODY predicted Pittsburgh and San Diego would be a combined 24-4 this year. I had the Pats winning 12-14 games (correct), Jets taking the Wildcard, Wannstedt getting fired midseason, Indy winning their division easily with Jax as the sleeper coming up with the Titans heading down, Dick Vermeil would cry, and Carson Palmer would lead the lead in picks (which he was until missing last week while Jake Plummer spit the bit). In close calls, I had the Raidahs at 5-11 (5-9 now), six teams would be 8-8 (seven teams are within two games with two to go), and Buffalo with 6-8 wins (8 right now).
Lots of big whiffs in the AFC. I said Pittsburgh and San Diego would suck (umm, WRONG), Cleveland would be close to .500, Miami would win 6-8 games, and Denver wouldn’t find a 1200-yd rusher (seriously, had you even HEARD of Reuben Droughns?). Anyway, still more hits than misses, and my New England/Philly prediction is still looking strong.
Speaking of Philly, I feel bad for the fans, but TO is getting some major karmic payback for completely fucking over two franchises during the offseason. He wanted to be the Savior, the Deliverer, the Messiah for the Iggles. It would be delicious if Philly makes it to the Super Bowl without him, proving that he wasn’t the “missing piece of the puzzle” after all. Karma is a bitch sometimes.
Quick poker news, if anyone read this far… With my last remaining bucks in Pacific, I started playing these “fast” six-seaters for $20+2. Opening stack is 800, blinds go up every six hands, and they usually take about half an hour. I had < $50 and planned to play two of these. Of course, I took down a second place on Sunday, and won last night for a neat $76 profit for an hour’s time. The play at these things is horrific. It’s almost like these guys are all drunk cowboys, and don’t want to invest time in their gam-bool-ing, so they just go all-in on their first Ace.
Honestly though, I should have won last night. My first three hands were AKs, AKo, and QQ. I busted THREE people during the first three hands. The first AK was a suck-back. I raised to 5xBB since I was pretty sure I’d get some callers and wanted to get them mentally invested in the pot. I got two callers and the Flop was A77. UTG bet 50 into me (making me think he had a weak ace), and I kicked to 200. He raised all-in, and I thought I smelled another AK and called. Of course, he had called my preflop raise with 87, and I was way behind until I sucked out one of the remaining aces for my ace-high boat. I consider this a suck-back since he probably shouldn’t have called my preflop raise, considering I had position on him. The flop happened to hit him between the eyes, and he played postflop well to suck me in.
Next hand I see another AK and raise it to 3xBB, just for variety. I get two more callers. Flop is QJx and I float another 3xBB bet, just to impress them with my constant pressure. They both call again, and I know nobody has a strong Q. Turn is a K and they check to my 5xBB bet. Only one caller sees the river, which is a brick. I throw another 5xBB out there, and he calls it. Pacific mucked his cards after my AK shows, so I take down pot #2. Third hand is QQ. I’m shocked. But I recover enough to raise again to 4xBB. Sometimes I vary my raises just to see if they notice (which is why I like to watch chat). After one call, the BB goes all-in with the shortstack. I kick that just enough to put the other shortstack all-in, and he obligingly calls. Pacific upchucks the cards, brick brick brick brick ACE. Arrrrgh! But after my QQ is flipped, their cards are mucked, meaning they went all-in either on low pairs which didn’t make a set, or on Kx or Qx, perhaps because they thought I was just being a bully.
One of the survivors commented that he had never seen a three-hand sequence like that. I responded that I had probably used up my allotment of premium hands right there. And I was right, because I was cold-decked until the very last hand. I had stolen some pots with my enormous chip lead (3400-800-600 is pretty enormous) until I got head-to-head, not surprisingly against the commenter. By then it was 3600-1200 and I continued to chip away into him. He played pretty well, raising frequently and at the right times until I picked up KK in BB. He raised into me and I pushed him all-in. The river was an ace again, but my cowboys held up for the easiest $84 I’ve ever won.
One lesson from all this. Pay attention to the chat window. You’ll see who is paying attention to the cards and bet/raise size. Sometimes these are crappy players who are trying to impress others with their card sense (“I think he has aces”), but sometimes you can tell if someone says something perceptive or insightful that they’re really paying attention. Of course, you can use this against them by changing your patterns later in the game, and raising on scare boards with nothing. If you’ve established that you raise X amount on top ten hands, he might put you on a better hand. Or you can trap with a strong hand. Be more careful when someone is saying stupid things. It could be a decent player who is trying to convey fishiness (“What’s the best hand in Omaha?” or “I just noticed this is Omaha, how do you play?”). You can fake stupidity, but you can’t fake intelligence.