LAS VEGAS | Just past the midway point of the season, it's time to look back in a combination of awe and mockery at just how well our full-season predictions are doing.
The 2013 NFL season has had its typical roller-coaster moments. Just when you think you can count on picking against a pair of 0-8 teams, they manage to both win in the same week. It's continued proof that throwing darts at a board might just have better accuracy than trying to pick NFL games these days, given the parity in the league – where even the worst teams are sometimes just a few plays away from keeping even with the best.
I said then: Pats will rule again … Jets will be bottom-feeders.
Now: The Patriots are two games up on the Jets, who have been very up and down. A little consistency here on out, and they could put a scare into New England.
I said then: Bengals will surpass Ravens and Steelers.
Now: The Bengals are in the lead, but the Steelers have been a surprise cellar-dweller with that rough 0-4 start.
I said then: Texans will outpace the Colts, Jaguars will be terrible.
Now: At least I was right about the Jags. But I sure didn't see things completely falling apart in Houston.
I said then: Broncos will roll past Chiefs to division win.
Now: The Chiefs are a pleasant surprise at 9-0, a game up on the 8-1 Broncos – but they play this week to find out just how real things are in K.C.
I said then: The Cowboys, Giants and Redskins will duke it out to rule the division.
Now: The Cowboys are there. But the Eagles, who I picked to finish fourth, are tied with them while the Giants and 'Skins languish two games back.
I said then: The Packers rule again, but the Bears should be a wild-card team. Vikings will struggle.
Now: It's still tight, but the Lions are in control and hold a crucial sweep over the Bears. Things could go awry for Green Bay in a major way without Aaron Rodgers. But the Bears are decimated with injuries maybe in an even worse way – on defense.
I said then: Saints will have a leg-up on the Falcons. Panthers will bring up the rear.
Now: The Saints have been great, as predicted. But the 2-7 Falcons are making me look foolish. Instead, it's the Panthers breathing down the Saints' necks.
I said then: Seahawks sneak past the Niners.
Now: It might not be sneaking past at this point at 9-1 against San Fran's 6-3. The Seahawks are very much for real.
I said then: Patriots, Bengals, Texans, Broncos, Ravens, Colts from the AFC. Cowboys, Packers, Saints, Seahawks, Bears, Falcons from the NFC.
Now: Looks like things are reasonably solid for four of those six in the AFC. Sorry, Texans. You're broken. And the Ravens could get consistent and make a run. In the NFC, the Falcons are the big stunner. The Saints and Seahawks look like sure things now, with the other three having decent chances of getting in. But my Broncos-over-Saints Super Bowl prediction still seems tight.
Baltimore (4-5) +3 (46.5) at BEARS (5-4)
MattE's pick: Bears 24, Ravens 20
Detroit (6-3) -2.5 (48) at Pittsburgh (3-6)
MattE's pick: Steelers 27, Lions 23
Atlanta (2-7) -2 (43) at Tampa Bay (1-6)
MattE's pick: Falcons 24, Bucs 16
NY. Jets (5-4) +1.5 (40.5) at Buffalo (3-7)
MattE's pick: Jets 23, Bills 20
Cleveland (4-5) +6 (42) at Cincinnati (6-4)
MattE's pick: Bengals 27, Browns 20
Oakland (3-6) +7 (42.5) at Houston (2-7)
MattE's pick: Texans 26, Raiders 13
Washington (3-6) +3.5 (52.5) at Philadelphia (5-5)
MattE's pick: Eagles 31, Redskins 27
Arizona (5-4) -6.5 (41.5) at Jacksonville (1-8)
MattE's pick: Cardinals 24, Jaguars 17
San Diego (4-5) -1.5 (45.5) at Miami (4-5)
MattE's pick: Chargers 26, Dolphins 23
Green Bay (5-4) +6 (42.5) at N.Y. Giants (3-6)
MattE's pick: Giants 24, Packers 20
Minnesota (2-7) +13 (45.5) at Seattle (8-1)
MattE's pick: Seahawks 31, Vikings 13
San Francisco (6-3) +3 (47.5) at New Orleans (7-2)
MattE's pick: Saints 34, 49ers 24
Kansas City (9-0) +8 (49.5) at Denver (8-1)
MattE's pick: Broncos 31, Chiefs 24
New England (7-2) +2.5 (46) at Carolina (6-3)
MattE's pick: Patriots 27, Panthers 23
Last week: 6-8 straight up, 5-8 against the spread. Season: 91-55 (.623) straight up, 72-70-4 (.507) against the spread