Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.
Find more columns by Luke here.
A co-worker the other day asked me how I was going to explain myself.
To be honest, there really is no way to defend my pre-season pick for the Detroit Lions to go 11-5 and make the playoffs.
Whether it was flashbacks to Barry Sanders, Wayne Fontes or just the hope I'd be the only person outside of Detroit to peg the Lions for the playoffs, the fact is, I was off by 11 games.
There are other things I thought true before the season that didn't even come close to working out. Let's just put it this way: Of the 32 teams in the NFL, I didn't hit one team's record right.
The Cincinnati Bengals didn't go 11-5. The Atlanta Falcons were not the worst team in the NFL. The Miami Dolphins didn't end at the bottom of the AFC East. Jacksonville isn't the best team in the NFL, and it is more likely on a golf course somewhere this week than in Tampa, Fla., for the Super Bowl.
But as always, I do have a propensity for getting something right. My beloved Buffalo Bills did not make the playoffs for the ninth straight year. Next year, we'll try to make it a smooth decade without playoff football at One Bills Drive. The Broncos didn't make the playoffs because of a poor defense, Pittsburgh was the biggest under-the-radar team in the NFL and Philadelphia did make it to the NFC Championship game (the farthest any of my predicted playoff teams went).
Overall, Professor Prediction originally gave me a C. But I was docked a full letter grade for the disturbing 11-win total I gave the Lions, who finished 0-16. I guess driving the Jon Kitna and Dan Orlovsky bandwagon isn't the best idea.
But alas, we're down to the last week of the 2008-09 football season.
Somehow, Arizona made it to Tampa to play the most storied franchise in the NFL. It's the new guy versus the old guy. As we can see, I'm not the best at picking games. I like both coaches and both quarterbacks. The Cardinals have the best player on offense in Larry Fitzgerald, and the Steelers have the best player on defense in Troy Polamalu.
Pittsburgh is a seven-point favorite in Las Vegas. My gut feeling tells me to take Pittsburgh. That their defense is going to win the game. That Ben Roethlisberger will put together one of those games where he makes plays.
That's why we're going George Costanza on it and choosing the opposite of my gut.
I'm taking the Cardinals and Anquan Boldin - not Fitzgerald - to be the Most Valuable Player.
If nothing else, maybe I can push that grade back up to an acceptable C.
- To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org