Don’t you just love this time of year in the NFL? OTA’s are over and teams are wrapping up mini camps before a much needed vacation commences in just a few days. Fans have gotten a chance to finally see many of the new additions to their favorite team’s roster and optimistic hope springs eternal. EVERY team in the National Football League is undefeated and EVERY team is in contention for a Super Bowl Title in 2012.
Predicting the future
Sure, there’s the carryover from a previous season that eventually begins to clear the smoke; the loss of productive players through free agency and retirement, late season’s injuries with still lingering questions, the signing of young rookie hopefuls and no NFL experience. New coaching regimes have taken over in some cities, vowing to turn past despairs into promising futures for fans desperately searching for a “winner”.
That’s what makes the game of professional football so enticing to millions of sports fans across the globe. Seasonal outcomes aren’t watered down by an overactive sample size of the regular season or a playoff structure that lasts half as long. Each and every game is vital to postseason hopes and the dynamics that affect those games CANNOT be ignored. Those dynamics in the military are what we call “the fog of war”, and they can be prepared for but never truly anticipated.
Watch out ’72 Dolphins!
So at this point, with all the teams at 0-0, how can anyone predict or prognosticate what the 2012 NFL Season is going to look like? Better yet, why even bother? A lot of people make a very good living off of doing just that and yet don’t know anymore about what Week 9 in the NFL might look like than an Army General does about a severed supply line two hours into battle. I know it’s meant to be in good natured fun, another source of entertainment and Twitter talk for fans and the media. But come on, really? A recent article in the Denver Post had the Broncos going 10-6 in the 2012 NFL Season based on a well thought out argument (albeit tongue in cheek) formulated around a future Hall of Fame QB, perceived home field dominance and past struggles on the road. Not to mention a schedule fortified with past playoff contenders. Bronco fans were probably jumping for joy at the specter of a double digit win season. Yep, Super Bowl or Bust!
“The fog of war”
Lacking in this self proclaimed “70 years of experience” backing up this bold prediction was any acknowledgement of the “fog of war”. So I did a little study of my own. ESPN posted a panel of 12 so called “experts” to predict the divisional winners, wild card entries, conference champions and eventual Super Bowl winner for 2011. These 12 are trusted with following the local and national stories as they unfold every week in pro football. Many pride themselves as “Insiders” to the game, as if they have direct hotlines to each and every front office for the latest information. Theirs is the gospel that you should anxiously await and hang on to every word. So how’d they fair?
What I meant to say…
Five of twelve picked the Indianapolis Colts to win the AFC South. Nine of twelve tagged the St. Louis Rams as the dominant force in the NFC West. Eleven of twelve saw Philadelphia running away in the NFC East. Twelve of twelve put the Chargers on top in the AFC West. Two chose Michael Vick as the League’s MVP. One pronounced Steve Spagnuolo as Coach of the Year. To six of their credit, they did have the New England Patriots winning the Super Bowl…so at least they had one of the games participants correct. Only one chose the Giants to even make the playoffs as a wildcard, though not as NFC Champs.
“The fog of war” – Peyton Manning never recovered from neck surgery, sat out the season, and the Colts had one of their worst years in franchise history. The Rams were stricken with the worst injury report over 16 weeks of any team in the League, finished as dismal as Indy, and “Spags” is now the defensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints. The Eagles finished .500, had to win four straight at the end of the season to get there, and Michael Vick was statistically pedestrian at best. The Chargers? The Chargers finished behind a team that won their division with an 8-8 record, plummeting 13 places on the overall team injury rank for the season. Oh, that wildcard Giant prediction? NYG won their otherwise anemic division at 9-7 and went on a playoff roll to a Super Bowl XLVI victory.
Why not just enjoy being 0-0 at the moment in the 2012 NFL Season and let the fog clear?