Reflecting on my NFL Playoff Predictions
Hi Sports Fans,
I finally watched Super Bowl 55. I was about 4 weeks late watching it. I wanted to watch it sooner but I stumbled across the result when I woke up the next day. Even before I logged into my mobile phone, an alert appeared stating that Tom Brady was Super Bowl MVP. I still wanted to watch the game but when I knew the outcome, there was less urgency.
Wild Card Round
In my post NFL Playoff and Super Bowl Predictions (2020/2021 Season), I predicted the results of the entire playoffs. In the comments section I updated my predictions when I was wrong. I started really badly; I only predicted 2 out of 6 games correctly. I predicted the Browns and the Rams wins correctly. However, I was correct that the Wild Card Round (first round of the playoffs) would have several upset wins; only 2 of the Division winners won their home games. I was wrong about, which games would be the upset wins.
Getting so many predictions wrong in the Wild Card Round meant different matchups in the Divisional Round. I redid my predictions in the comments. This time round I performed better. I predicted 2 out of 4 games correctly. I predicted the Packers and Chiefs wins correctly. I had previously predicted the Chiefs to beat the Browns in Championship Round but they met a game earlier because of my incorrect predictions in the previous round. I was wrong about the Buccaneers two times in a row. In the Wild Card Round, I predicted they would lose to the Football Team, which I predicted as a major underdog Super Bowl winner. In the Divisional Round, I predicted they would lose to the New Orleans Saints. I predicted Drew Brees (Saints' Quarterback) would win a final Super Bowl before retirement and the NFL would make up for all the times they cheated the Saints out of playoff wins. I was wrong on before counts. In the AFC, I wrongly predicted the Ravens beating the Bills. In my original post, I predicted the Ravens would lose in the Wild Card Round. Instead, they lost one round later.
I made fresh predictions for the Championship Round. This time, I predicted both games correctly. It seems I can predict two games right in each round. I correctly predicted both the Chiefs and Buccaneers winning. I believed the Chiefs were Super Bowl bound before the start of the playoffs. They were the most dominant team in the league and proved that with the best regular season record. They were also the previous year’s Super bowl Champion. After, on two occasions, wrongly predicting the Buccaneers losing, I decided that it was going to be yet another Tom Brady (Buccaneers' Quarterback and compulsive Super Bowl winner) season. A win for the Buccaneers would mean that they play at home in the Super Bowl. It would also mean that the NFL would get a potential dream matchup of the greatest quarterback of all-time (Tom Brady) against arguably the quarterback of the future (Patrick Mahomes). What was also intriguing is that two former Patriots players (Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski) had become pirates (i.e. Buccaneers) and would be playing in the Buccaneer’s home stadium, which even has a very cool pirate ship. It felt very much like how Donald Trump went from president to accused insurrectionist.
For the Super Bowl, I predicted the Buccaneers would beat the Chiefs. In my original post, I predicted the Football Team would beat the Chiefs. Half my prediction remained the same. This prediction was correct. Tom Brady won his seventh Super Bowl. This is more than any team. Most likely, no other player will ever come close to breaking this record. It is still possible he will win another Super Bowl before he is done.
What did I think of the game?
The game was disappointing. Both teams played badly. Patrick Mahomes had another disappointing Super Bowl; see my post Super Bowl – Planned Entertainment for Dollars for more about his performance in Super Bowl 54. In this game, he was unable to make anything happen to turn the game around. He also did not get any help from the referees.
The final score was 31-9 to the Buccaneers. The score might indicate the Buccaneers played well but many of the points were a result of penalties and very bad punting by the Chiefs. The referees appeared to be stricter with the Chiefs, defence in particular, than they were with Buccaneers. The second Buccaneers touchdown drive was kept alive by an overturned interception and offside penalty on a field goal attempt. The Buccaneers touchdown drive was greatly assisted by two pass interference calls that gifted the Buccaneers huge gains. The offside penalty seemed clear-cut but the other penalties were borderline and would not have been called in last year’s Super Bowl. Inconsistent referee decisions are more of a problem than bad referee decisions. Leniency can vary considerably between games and even different halves of games. The halftime score was 21-6 in favour of the Buccaneers. It could have been 10-6 or even 7-6 if the referees had made different decisions.
In the second half, the Chiefs pulled the score back to 21-9 with a field goal. The Buccaneers responded with a touchdown to increase the lead to 28-9. The Chiefs were not playing well enough to overcome this deficit. The Buccaneers added a field goal to increase the lead to 31-9 before the end of the third quarter. That ended the scoring for the game. Other than a few failed desperate attempts to score by the Chiefs. The second half was quite uneventful and boring. If the game had been closer at half time, maybe we could have seen a more exciting second half.
I think most people would have expected a much higher scoring and more dramatic ending considering the quality of the quarterbacks and offensive players in the game. On a positive note, the Buccaneers were the underdogs. People seem to like it when the underdog wins. I believed an underdog winning was the way this season would go when I predicted the Washington Football Team winning. In hindsight that feels like a bad prediction; the Washington Football Team would have needed too much help to beat four top-tiered teams. The Buccaneers were not quite that big of an underdog and they played at home. However, the Buccaneers won three away games in the playoffs to get to the Super Bowl. That definitely makes them an underdog from the start of the playoffs.
Source: USA Today
I enjoy watching NFL games and I enjoy making predictions about games. I also enjoy supporting the 49ers, even though I have never been to San Francisco. I started supporting them back in the 1980s when they were winning everything. They also sent me a letter with the 1984 Super Bowl team photograph. I considered supporting the Bears but the 49ers seemed to show more interest in their fans and I preferred the 49ers' team colours.
Wrestlemania 37 Logo
However, I am a little disappointed in how the NFL has evolved. It is more about making money than about the sport. This definitely seems to be the case since Roger Goodell became the NFL commissioner. Manipulating games to achieve particular results and outcomes is not beyond the NFL. It is easy to manipulate games as referees as well as coaches have so much influence on how games progress. Most of the time it is easy to cover up any manipulation, as many aspects to refereeing and coaching is subjective. Most of the time we can only suspect manipulation when we see inconsistent decisions made. I discuss this in detail in my post Super Bowl – Planned Entertainment for Dollars, which uses Super Bowl 54 as an example.
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