Grading My NFL Saturday Predictions

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In this post I will break down my two NFL Saturday predictions with the good, the bad and the lucky. Then I’ll add my final thoughts and give myself an overall grade*.

Ravens vs. Broncos

The Good:

1) “Since I think the Broncos will attempt to stop Rice at all costs early in the game, I think the Ravens will need to set up the run by establishing the pass first. This means they will need a big game out of either Torrey Smith or Anquon Boldin. I will say the one place I think the Ravens could have a major advantage is with their speedy wide receiver Torrey Smith against the aging cornerback Champ Bailey. If the Ravens can get some big plays with Smith, they will have a good chance to win at the end.”

This couldn’t have been more right. Torrey Smith burned Champ Bailey deep all game long. He had 3 receptions for 98 yards and 2 touchdowns, and Flacco missed him on at least two more deep passes where he was wide open. Anquon Boldin also had a nice game with 6 receptions for 71 yards. In addition to this, Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce only ran for 27 yards and no touchdowns in the first half, but then since the Broncos had to worry more about pass coverage Ray Rice was able to finish with 131 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

2) “If Ed Reed and the Ravens secondary can confuse Manning throughout the game and cause a few turnovers, the Ravens will win.”

The second interception determined this game. I’m not sure if Peyton was confused on that particular play, but he looked less confident in his decision making than I had seen him look all year long. For the game he only completed 28 of his 43 passes for 290 yards, with 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

3) “I will finish with one quick note, watch out for the Broncos kickoff and punt returner, Trindon Holliday. He’s explosive and could change the game with a few big returns.”

HELLO! Don’t say I didn’t warn you that he is explosive. I’ll admit that when I typed this I couldn’t have imagined Holliday having a 90 yard punt return touchdown and a 104 yard kick return touchdown.

The Bad:

1) “In the end, I think the Broncos are just a little too good…Denver Wins. 31-28”

Why, why, why? After the game I re-read my entire post and couldn’t believe I stuck with the Broncos. The final score was 38-35 Ravens so I was in the right ballpark for the final score at least.

Honestly, the Ravens deserved to win by more. Take away special teams and you’ll see that the Ravens dominated this game. However, if the Broncos could have just learned from the first half not to get burned deep**, they would have prevented the 70 yard Jacoby Jones touchdown catch with 31 seconds left and I’d be looking great right now.

The Lucky:

“Von Miller gets 3 sacks.”

Nope. He finished with a half a sack on Denver’s only sack of the game. He did have 2 of Denver’s 3 hits on Flacco though.

Packers vs. 49ers

The Good:

1) “Mathews has more than enough speed to stop him, but I believe the hard play action, threat of the pass, and the ability to scramble for key yards will be too hard to stop. Look for Harbaugh to use his quarterback in a lot of different ways. After all, he didn’t sit Alex Smith for no reason.”

I was right, but not as right as Jim Harbaugh. Other than the opening drive interception, I think Kaepernick played a perfect game. He threw for 263 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for 181 yards and 2 more touchdowns.Until this game, the previous NFL record for rushing yards by a QB in a playoff game was held by Michael Vick with 119 yards. Kaepernick obliterated that record.

2) “Since Kaepernick has taken over at quarterback, Crabtree has finally looked like the #1 guy in San Francisco. In fact, the wideout has been targeted on more than 60% of Kaepernick’s 3rd down passes and had more than 90 yards receiving in 4 of the last 5 games…Kaepernick will buy time with his feet and allow for Crabtree to create space. I expect another big game for Crabtree.”

If Kaepernick weren’t so unbelievable, everyone would be talking about Crabtree’s excellent performance. Crabtree finished with 9 catches for 119 yards and 2 touchdowns. The wide out was clearly Kaepernick’s go-to-receiver and I couldn’t believe he was able to get so wide open on 3rd down plays. 

3) “I think the 49ers are the better team. I think they have a much better defense and their offense will simply outscore the Packers. I’ll predict a close game until the 49ers pull away in the 4th Quarter. 49ers Win. 41-27”

I’d say that was pretty darn accurate. The game was tied at 24 halfway through the 3rd Quarter and the Niners took a two touchdown lead on the first play of the 4th. The final score was 45-31 so I predicted the 14 point win perfectly, but should have added 4 points to each team. I’ll take it.

The Bad:

1) “The last thing I will note is that Packers kicker Mason Crosby has been bad all season long, while the 49ers just signed Billy Cundiff due to their kicker, David Akers, struggles. No field goal will be a gimme for either team, so hold your breath.”

I’m picking nits here. Honestly. This is probably the most incorrect prediction I had. Both kickers were 1 for 1, but they were from 31 and 36 yards.

The Lucky:

I will predict that Kaepernick rushes for 2 touchdowns in this one.”

Check! Kaepernick rushed for exactly 2 touchdowns, and they weren’t flukes. The first was from 20 yards out and the second went for 56 yards.

Final Thoughts:

I’m really happy with how I did. I got one of my two “lucky guesses of the game”, predicted a big game for Torrey Smith and Trindon Holliday, and got just about everything right in the 49ers victory. With that said however, I still picked the Broncos to edge out the Ravens for a victory, so I only went 1-1. Finally, I love getting to remind you that I was right while I was wrong. Yes the Broncos lost, so I was wrong; but, the spread favored the Broncos by 9.5 points and I picked the Broncos to win by 3, so I would have made money in Vegas.

Grade: A-

* Wow, I really wish I could have done that in school.

** Or if they had trusted Peyton Manning to throw the ball once to ice the game. Yeah, I might have been yelling at my television. So what?

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