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Column: Revisiting "fearless predictions" from the summer

Nate Thompson • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:52 AM

Looking back at those “fearless predictions” now, some were good, while others made me look like I had my head buried in the sand at the Grand Haven State Park.

I enjoy columnists or preseason publications that look back at their arguments or projections a year later and muse at how well or disastrous their “insight” actually turned out. A writer who does this after the conclusion of every NFL season is ESPN’s Gene Wojciechowski. In January, he reviewed 46 of his predictions for the 2011 NFL season and gave himself a point for every time he was on the money. He got just 15 correct.

I imagine many of the preseason college football magazines such as Phil Steele, Athlon Sports or Lindy’s Sports aren’t exactly esteemed to see how bad Southern California’s season transpired at 7-5, considering each had the Trojans ranked in the top 3 in June or July.

But that’s the way it goes when predicting sports. It’s never as easy as it seems before the season. Or for that matter, during the season, too. You can tell that by my “Picks of the Week” percentage in the Tribune on Thursdays.

So let’s review:
1. The Detroit Lions will allow an NFL-worst 420 yards per game, but Matthew Stafford will be on everyone’s short list for league Most Valuable Player.

I thought the Lions’ secondary would be shredded like Swiss cheese this season, but despite all the injuries they’ve endured, the ‘D’ hasn’t been that bad. Detroit currently ranks 13th in the NFL in yards allowed per game at an average of 343. What I really should have said is the Saints’ defense will be horrendous. They’re currently allowing an average of 440 yards a game. Stafford, meanwhile, has taken a big step back from his tremendous 2011 season. He’s only thrown 14 touchdowns with 10 interceptions, and really, has never been an MVP candidate since a shaky start in Week 1.
2. Michigan and Michigan State will each suffer three or more losses this season, but their meeting on Oct. 20 will decide the Legends Division champion.

Well, I was partially right. I anticipated the Wolverines would struggle some considering their murderous road schedule, and sure enough, each of their four losses – Alabama, Notre Dame, Nebraska and Ohio State – were on the road or at a neutral site. An inexperienced Andrew Maxwell concerned me about the Spartans, but I didn’t foresee them going winless in the Big Ten at home and slumping all the way to 6-6. And actually, the Legends Division champion was determined a week after Oct. 20, when the Wolverines and back-up quarterback Russell Bellomy lost a key game to the Cornhuskers. U-M and Coach Brady Hoke will regret not having Devin Gardner ready to take snaps at quarterback in that game for a long, long time.
3. Denard Robinson will not win the Heisman Trophy.

This was pretty much a foregone conclusion after Robinson and the Wolverines were humbled by Alabama in their season opener. I predicted that USC’s Matt Barkley would be the favorite. He’s had a good, not great season, but rather it’s been a cast of dual-threat quarterbacks that have stolen the show – Ohio State’s Braxton Miller, Kansas State’s Collin Klein, and the new favorite, Texas A&M freshman sensation Johnny Manziel, aka “Johnny Football.”
4. Grand Haven, Spring Lake and Fruitport will each make the playoffs again.

Yikes, this one really didn’t turn out well. Grand Haven struggled all season with turnovers, penalties and inconsistent play and could muster just three wins – their lowest total since the Bucs went 2-7 in 2005. I get the feeling that next fall will be their season of retribution. Spring Lake was ravaged by injuries and came up a win short of making the Division 4 playoff field. Only Fruitport, which won its first eight games, lived up to the preseason hype.
5. Detroit will eek out the American League Central Division title.

Hey, at least the Tigers made me look smart! I’m now thinking I should have also made a World Series prediction. Maybe that would have changed the actual forgettable outcome.


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