This year's NFL Draft started on Thursday and finishes today. The draft reminded me that I forgot to crow about my ability to accurately predict the sports-related future. In two posts from last year, I discussed the prospects of my favorite NFL team, the Carolina Panthers, in Ron Rivera's first season as the team's head coach. My first attempt was based on the records of Rivera's three predecessors. In that post, I predicted a 7-9 record for the Panthers based on the same record in the first seasons for previous coaches Dom Capers and John Fox. Honestly, the whole idea was ridiculous since previous results would have no affect on future results.
My second attempt was based on last season's opponents for the Panthers, and I correctly predicted a 6-10 record for the team. I guessed the Panthers would win two and lose four games against their divisional rivals in the NFC South. They were swept by the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints but were able to sweep the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who limped to a worse-than-expected 4-12 season.
I thought the Panthers would go 1-3 against the four teams from the NFC North but were actually swept by that division. That incorrect prediction was balanced by my prediction for the Panthers against the four teams from the AFC South. I thought the team would go 2-2 against that division. Instead, they went 3-1 including a win in week 12 over the Indianapolis Colts who were without All-Pro quarterback Peyton Manning. Finally, I gave the team one win against their remaining two opponents, either Arizona or Washington. The Panthers lost their first game of the season against the Cardinals but tallied their second win of the season in week seven against Washington.
Should I make another attempt at prognosticating? In my first prediction post from last year, I gave the Panthers a 11-5 record and first place in the NFC South in the second season under their new head coach. Do I still think that is possible? With Rookie of the Year Cam Newton at quarterback, I do not think that is out of the realm of possibility. I think the NFL South will have a down year. Tampa Bay has a new head coach and is in rebuilding mode. Atlanta had another disappointing postseason with a 24-2 loss to eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants. Then there is New Orleans which is dealing with multiple issues including the contract status of their All-Pro quarterback Drew Brees. I think the Panthers can go 4-2 in their division.
This season, the Panthers will play the teams from the NFC East and AFC West. I think they can split with the NFC East teams and go 3-1 against the AFC West. I also think they should be able to win their remaining two games against the Chicago Bears and Seattle Seahawks. Add all those together, and yes, I think the Panthers can go 11-5 this season and win the NFC South.