Collective Cowardice Redux

Earlier this year, I blasted ESPN’s gang of experts for making utterly spineless predictions for the upcoming season. Let’s see how they did.

All 16 picked New England to win the division. Check.

Eleven picked Baltimore for the division, while two more tapped them for wild card. Bzzt.

Fourteen of 16 expect Indy to repeat in the AFC South, with the other two bodly predicted a wild card. Check.

All but one expected San Diego to take the AFC West once more, with the outlier only predicting Denver would knock them back to the wild card. Check.

Nine of 16 expected Philadelphia to repeat as NFC East champ. Seven more said they would take the wild card with Dallas winning the division. Bzzt.

All 16 expected Chicago to repeat as NFC North champ and New Orleans to repeat as NFC South champ. Double Bzzt.

9 of 16 expected Seattle to repeat as NFC West champ and five of the remainder expected a wild card with St. Louis or San Fran taking the division. Partial Bzzt. St. Louis and San Fran were terrible.

Eight expected Dallas to repeat as wild card; seven tapped them to win the division. Check.

No one one thought the Giants would repeat. Bzzt.

No one picked KC to repeat. Ding!

The most common wild card picks were Denver (Bzzt) and Cincinnati (Bzzt), Dallas and Philly (15 of 16 expect both to make the playoffs. Bzzt-ding) and Seattle (ding!).

Buffalo, Miami, Cleveland, Tennessee, Houston, Kansas City, Oakland, Giants, Minnesota, Atlanta, Tampa Bay and Arizona were given no chance at the playoffs. Washington, Green Bay and Detroit are given only one vote. I said at least one of those would make the playoffs and at least one would win the division. Green Bay and Tampa took their divisions. Washington and New York made the playoffs. One of Tennessee or Cleveland will win it. Meanwhile, Buffalo, Minnesota and Arizona made runs. Bzzzt bzzzt bzzzt bzzzt bzzzt!

Going expert by expert, Palantonio and Smith won the pool by going 7 for 12. Pasquerelli, Jackson, Schlereth, Clayton, and Mosley got 6 of 12, while McAllister, Scouts Inc, Theismann, Tafoya, Chadiha, Hoge, Allen, Sando and Symmes got 5/12. So all their conservatism meant they would have been as well off — probably better, just randomly selected six of last year’s playoff teams and six of last year’s non-playoff teams.

I told you that only half the teams would make the playoffs again at best. And sure enough, six teams repeated from 2006. My own predictions got 6 of 12 right. And no one pays me to do analysis.

And the computer idiots at Football Outsiders? They got 7 of 12 but with far more insight as to which teams had a chance and which teams didn’t.

I would also like to point out — since no one else has noticed — that, as of this writing, the “weak” NFC basically matched the “strong” AFC this season head-to head. People forget this because the AFC has two monster teams. But they also have the Jets, Fins, Ravens, Raiders and Chiefs, who were awful all year.

A few years ago, the AFC was far stronger than the NFC and Easterbrook hysterically and unnecessarily called for the wild card teams to be drawn at large. The cycle swings back, doesn’t it?

Last Linkorama of the Year

  • It’s getting better all the time. Record low murder rate in NYC — although better medical care probably has something to do with it.
  • A linkorama to a linkorama. Radley Balko rounds up the latest in our insane War on Drugs.
  • How does TSA measure success? By how much they harass you. That bodes well for our security and ease of travel.
  • Peggy Noonan on a reasonable candidate. She’s one of the few “conservatives” worth reading these days.
  • When it’s Cats Against Rats, I tend to favor the felines.
  • You know those steady graduation rates and closing race gap in education? Not so fast. I don’t have the bandwidth to look at the study and see if it’s full of crap or not.
  • Bill Kristol, the voice of conservatism. ugh.
  • Megan on Paul

    If you want intelligent criticism of Ron Paul, try Megan McCardle’s dissection of his tax policy. And if you want intelligent defense, try the same source:

    The New York Times’ willingness to believe that Ron Paul is a Nazi-lover seems like a symptom of a general willingness to believe that people with extreme political views that you disagree with all hang out together in some big club, where they exchange tips on stamping out liberty, and recipes for Molotov cocktails . Memo to the right: the greens do not hang out with the Maoists1. Memo to the left: the Nazis and the anarcho-capitalists hate each other with a passion seldom found outside a faculty compensation committee meeting. It should be rather obvious from listening to Dr. Paul that he’s no crypto-fascist. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go research Dennis Kucinich’s links to the Shining Path.


    Ron Paul: not a Nazi. I’m slightly bemused by the fact that the Nazis are so eager to claim Ron Paul as one of their own. I mean, not that Ron Paul isn’t a perfectly nice guy, and so forth, but isn’t claiming that you’re friends with famous people who’ve never met you something you’re supposed to grow out of in high school?

    On second thought, I suppose a Nazi is definitionally someone who never grew out of anything in high school.

    Quote of the Day

    From Megan McCardle:

    Incidentally, is anyone else amused by the lightening speed with which filibustering has gone from [undemocratic obstructionism/a vital institution for protecting minority interests] to [an important tool for preserving Federalism/an obscene mechanism for thwarting the clear Will of the People]? No one’s even bothered to come up with a better fig leaf than “but it’s different when my guys are in charge!

    Boobs for Boys

    Why is NFL tonight sitting there talking about Jessica Simpson being at the Cowboys game? Who cares! What does it say about our worthless media that frickin’ Terrell Owens (“She doesn’t run any routes. She doesn’t catch any balls. She doesn’t throw any balls.”) has the right attitude?

    The War on Science Funding

    Being a scientist, I hear an endless stream of nonsense about how anti-science the Republicans are and how much they slash and burn science funding to pay for their wars and corporate interests. It’s bullshit, of course. One of the principle opponents of the space program was Walter Mondale — a democrat. The superconducting super-collider was killed by Bill Clinton — a Democrat. And it is mainly liberals and progressives, notably Gregg Easterbrook, who demand that all of NASA’s work be practical. I told everyone that science funding would be hurt with the Dems in power.

    I hate being right all the time.

    In short, this omnibus spending bill is at best disappointing, and at worst a total disaster, for science funding in the US. Overall, the research agencies all received a meager increase in their budgets (roughly 1% for NIH, 2% for NSF, 3% for NASA, and 2% for the DOE). That’s disappointing because these increases don’t keep up with inflation, are far, far short of the Administration’s request and the American Competitiveness Initiative, and won’t support all the scientific projects in the pipeline.

    Oh, it gets better. The Democrats are ending our participation in ITER, the foremost nuclear fusion project. Nuclear fusion, which has just passed breakeven, has the potential to replace all of our fossil fuels and nuclear fission plants with clean safe nuclear energy. But the “we love the environment and hate global warming” Democrats aren’t interested.

    Of course, everyone is blaming Bush for this (and specifically, the war funding). But the Dems came in under the President’s request. This was one of the few areas were they controlled spending.

    Yes, I have a personal stake in this (for now, at least). At some point, I’ll put up my post on that subject. But you just have to savor the irony. The anti-intellectual Bush is more interested in funding science than the super-enlightened Democrats.

    Wednesday Linkorama

  • It’s not enough we have that silly online gambling ban. Now, we’re going to have to pay $100 billion in trade agreements to keep it.
  • Carbon capture a good option? Eh, not so much. Carbon capture is one of those things that worries me. There is a stampede to embrace this idea and little, if anything, is known about the environmental impact.
  • From my old stomping grounds, a cop roughs up two jaywalkers. Oh, it was a war veteran and his pregnant fiance. Nice.
  • Jesus, is the MPAA a bunch of lunatics. You really should see This Film Is Not Yet Rated, if nothing else for the scene of Maria Bello discussing her pubic hair.
  • Golden Crash

    Did the Catholic League sink the Golden Compass? I don’t think so.

    One thing I’d add to his brilliant analysis — the foreign box office for The Golden Compass has been just as bad. All those evil buddhists, muslims and euro-atheists aren’t seeing this cinematic turd either.

    One good thing about the crash and burn of the The Golden Compass. It enabled this.

    Wipe Up Your Own Blood

    Oh, man.

    New Jersey authorities sent a “disgraceful and obscene” notice to two grieving families – a lawsuit against them and their four loved ones killed in a terrible crash for damage the victims allegedly caused to the Turnpike.

    The negligence suit, filed by lawyer William B. Ziff on behalf of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, demanded money from both the Ryan and Christmas families, who lost relatives – including a toddler – in a horrific August 2006 crash on the Turnpike near Teaneck.

    The crash occurred after a tractor-trailer with bad brakes, carrying bricks and traveling at 70 mph, plowed into stalled traffic, smashing into a car driven by Theresa Christmas, 41.

    Christmas was killed, as was her husband, Charles, 40, and daughter Victoria, 2, sources said. Another daughter, baby Theresa, survived the crash.

    The truck then hit a car driven by Norma Ryan, 37, who also was killed.

    All three dead adults, along with relatives, were named in the Turnpike Authority’s lawsuit seeking money for damage to the road’s infrastructure.

    “This is disgraceful and obscene,” said lawyer Jeffrey Lisabeth, who represents Norma Ryan’s grieving husband, Allan Ryan, of Voorhees, NJ. The husband is suing the truck driver and others over his wife’s death.

    “Mrs. Ryan must have bled on the roadway surface while she was being crushed by tons of bricks, and they want to charge her husband for the cleanup?” Lisabeth said.

    The suit is “the most outrageous thing I have seen in a long time,” said lawyer Sam Davis, who represents orphaned crash survivor little Theresa Christmas, now 2, and her relatives in a separate civil suit against the truck driver and others.

    After The Post called about the lawsuit, Ziff rushed out to Union County Superior Court and canceled it.

    “It should not have happened,” said NJTA spokesman Joe Orlando. “It was a clerical error. We would like to apologize to the family.”

    But the action now prevents any future claims from being brought by the authority against the truck driver, who officials say caused the deadly crash, as well as his firm.

    As a result, money that may have been recovered for taxpayers will not be collected.

    Your government at work. Nice.