Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

Most Recent FO Features


» 2018 Free Agency Cost-Benefit Analysis

Is Kirk Cousins the best free-agent quarterback in recent memory? Should Trumaine Johnson or Malcolm Butler have gotten the larger contract? And what makes a free-agent contract good or bad, anyway?

28 Jun 2005

Previews in Review 2005

by Michael David Smith

Last year's Football Outsiders review of NFL preseason magazines was so popular that other websites have picked up on our idea. But the Football Outsiders previews in review is the original: accept no substitutes!  Before we look at this year's five big newsstand previews, let's take a look at how those magazines did in their 2004 predictions.

We'll use a system of two points for each correct prediction of a division winner or wild card team, one point for a predicted division winner getting into the playoffs as a wild card, and one point for a predicted wild card team winning the division, with a maximum score of 24. I think that's a good system, mostly because that's the system King Kaufman of Salon.com used in selecting the staff of Football Outsiders as the winner of his 2004 NFL Preseason Predictions Contest.

Using that system, the winner of our contest is Pro Football Weekly, with 14 points. Street & Smith and Athlon tied with 12 points, and Lindy's and The Sporting News tied with 11 points. I'm happy to report that the staff of Football Outsiders scored 18 points.

Street & Smith's and Athlon can take solace in noting that both correctly predicted that the Patriots would beat the Eagles in the Super Bowl. All five can take shame in noting that nobody picked the Chargers, Steelers, or Jets to make the playoffs, and all five publications thought the Chiefs and Panthers would make it.

So what about this year's predictions? Once again, Street & Smith, Athlon, and Lindy's only make picks for the order of each division, but  with The Sporting News and Pro Football Weekly, we get a projected final record. A D signifies the team is picked to win its division; a W signifies the team is picked to get into the playoffs as a wild card.  The final column gives the number of magazines out of the five that pick this team to go to the playoffs.

Team PFW S&S Athlon Lindy's TSN Playoff
NE 10-6 D 1 D 1 D 1 D 10-6 D 5
NYJ 10-6 W 2 W 2 W 3 9-7 3
BUF 7-9 3 3 2 4-12 0
MIA 4-12 4 4 4 8-8 0
PIT 11-5 D 1 D 2 W 1 D 8-8 4
BAL 10-6 W 2 1 D 2 9-7 2
CIN 9-7 3 3 3 9-7 D 1
CLE 4-12 4 4 4 2-14 0
IND 13-3 D 1 D 1 D 1 D 12-4 D 5
JAC 10-6 2 2 2 10-6 W 1
HOU 8-8 3 3 3 10-6 W 1
TEN 4-12 4 4 4 3-13 0
SD 10-6 D 2 W 1 D 2 W 9-7 4
KC 9-7 3 3 3 W 11-5 D 2
DEN 9-7 1 D 2 1 D 8-8 2
OAK 6-10 4 4 4 7-9 0
Team PFW S&S Athlon Lindy's TSN Playoff
PHI 12-4 D 1 D 1 D 1 D 12-4 D 5
DAL 7-9 3 2 3 8-8 0
NYG 6-10 2 W 4 2 6-10 1
WAS 5-11 4 3 4 5-11 0
MIN 12-4 D 1 D 1 D 2 W 9-7 W 5
DET 8-8 3 3 1 D 10-6 D 2
GB 8-8 2 2 W 3 7-9 1
CHI 5-11 4 4 4 9-7 0
ATL 9-7 D 1 D 1 D 1 D 9-7 W 5
CAR 9-7 W 2 W 2 W 2 10-6 D 4
NO 7-9 3 4 3 7-9 0
TB 6-10 4 3 4 8-8 0
SEA 10-6 D 1 D 1 D 3 7-9 3
STL 9-7 W 2 2 1 D 7-9 2
ARI 6-10 3 3 2 W 9-7 D 2
SF 3-13 4 4 4 3-13 0


  • Pro Football Weekly: Eagles over Colts
  • Street and Smith: Eagles over Colts
  • Athlon: Ravens over Eagles
  • Lindy's: Patriots over Falcons
  • Sporting News: Eagles over Colts

A complaint I have every year is that the magazines are too cautious in their predictions. I don't want them to go out on a limb just for the sake of doing it, but with the exception of The Sporting News, everybody plays things awfully safe. Pro Football Weekly is the worst, predicting that seven of eight division winners will be the same as last year, and ten of twelve playoff teams.

All five magazines say the Patriots, Colts, Vikings, Falcons, and Eagles will be back in the postseason, and not one magazine thinks the Bills, Dolphins, Browns, Titans, Raiders, Cowboys, Redskins, Bears, Saints, Bucs, or 49ers will be there. I'm a little surprised that no one wants to take a flyer on one of those NFC teams. With the exception of the Eagles, there was hardly anything separating the top of that conference from the bottom last year. It seems almost certain that a team none of us are thinking about will make it into the playoffs in the NFC.

The Sporting News, however, does pick three playoff teams that no other magazine is picking -- Cincinnati, Jacksonville, and Houston -- and three playoff teams that only Lindy's is also picking -- Detroit, Arizona, and Kansas City.  Congratulations to The Sporting News for recognizing that the NFL doesn't same the exact same 12 teams to the playoffs year after year.

One oddity: Two different magazines, Lindy's and Street & Smith's, have pieces written by Don Pierson. The head NFL writer for the Chicago Tribune, Pierson is one of the best in the business. It just seems odd that he'd write for two competitors, though. Will I see his byline in the Chicago Sun-Times next?

Which magazine should you buy? Each one costs seven bucks, so price isn't an issue. But here are some thoughts on each of them:

Lindy's has an interesting system where they give numerical grades to head coaches with absolutely no explanation of where the numbers come from. Bill Belichick comes in first with a 99, Mike Martz is a surprisingly high fifth, and Mike Nolan and Nick Saban bring up the rear; each scores a 70. Lindy's loves those numerical ratings; they also give one to each unit on each team. An article on the 3-4 defense is interesting but doesn't break any new ground. Lindy's has always had a great feature in showing how many games every player played and started, which is particularly useful for offensive linemen. (This year Sporting News and Pro Football Weekly have begun doing that as well.) Each team's section includes the key additions and key losses. I like the cheesecake cheerleader shots, but I don't like the look ahead to next year's draft, which doesn't even put Bowling Green quarterback Omar Jacobs in the top ten at his position.

Pro Football Weekly may provide vanilla playoff predictions but it does go out on a limb with a claim that Mark Clayton of the Ravens will be the top rookie in 2005. It also has an NFL-wide mock-expansion draft featuring 10 of its contributors trying to build their team as best they can. In that draft Tom Brady is the No. 1 overall pick and Walter Jones is No. 2. Other articles include yet another look at the 3-4 defense, a ranking of the best dynasties, and a list of the Top 50 players in the league regardless of position. Where have I seen that before?

Athlon, at 256 pages, is the thickest of the magazines. It has lots of fantasy information, cheerleader cheesecake, and many photos of players. A ranking of the head coaches puts Belichick No. 1 and Dennis Green No. 32. One interesting piece profiles Stephen Neal, Antonio Gates, and Marcus Pollard, all of whom got to the NFL without playing football in college. Oddly, though, the article lumps those three in with Drew Bennett, who did play football but switched from quarterback to receiver in the NFL. Memo to Athlon: Lots of guys switch positions from college to the pros, or do you not watch any Pittsburgh games?

The Sporting News disagrees markedly with Athlon in saying that Dennis Green will be the Coach of the Year. It likes the signings of LaMont Jordan, Derrick Mason, and Mike Wahle, but not the signings of Ken Lucas, Jonas Jennings, or Marco Rivera. It also lists the players with the best abilities in a variety of categories -- the quarterbacks with the best arm, the running backs who are best between the tackles, the safety who is best at run support. A good feature, but I disagree that Jonathan Ogden is the best tackle in pass protection.

Street & Smith's opens each team section with a list of its best ever running backs. I like a ranking of the best running backs ever as much as the next guy, but for some teams it gets a little silly. How impressed are we supposed to be that Stacey "I Ate Myself out of the League" Mack is the third-best running back in Jaguars history, or that Jonathan Wells is the second-best running back in Texans history? A feature on dynasties makes an interesting case that the 1961-67 Packers had the accomplishment least likely to be duplicated. The current Patriots feature fifth in their dynasty rankings. My favorite article was about the lasting legacy of the USFL.

So which one should you buy? I'll give the same advice I gave last year: Visit your local bookstore, buy a coffee, spend some time with each of these magazines, and then purchase the one that's most to your liking. Of course, you can always just read Football Outsiders for free, since we'll be publishing plenty of preseason material over the next two months. And we have a preseason publication of our own coming out that, while a little more expensive, is far superior to any of the magazines I've discussed today -- and a bit more significant in page count.

Ultimately, though, remember that it's the NFL, and there's no such thing as too much information. Except about Brentson Buckner's shoes.

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 28 Jun 2005

89 comments, Last at 06 Jul 2005, 10:07pm by marvold


by B (not verified) :: Tue, 06/28/2005 - 12:12pm

If Arizona wins its division, as TSN predicts, than Denny Green should be Coach of the Year.

by Dan Riley (not verified) :: Tue, 06/28/2005 - 12:26pm

I'm buying three of those mags just to see how the Colts get into the Super Bowl.

by ElJefe (not verified) :: Tue, 06/28/2005 - 1:01pm

Re: #2

At least two of the mags that put the Colts in the Super Bowl have them with HFA and the Pats playing on the first weekend of the playoffs. Sounds like the logical recipe.

by Björn (not verified) :: Tue, 06/28/2005 - 1:17pm

There is an error in your table. I would like to think that nobody in their right mind would predict Eli Manning to go to the playoffs this year, but sadly, it appears as though S & S has done so. For shame!

by MRH (not verified) :: Tue, 06/28/2005 - 1:24pm

"not one magazine thinks the Bills, Dolphins, Bengals, Browns, Titans, Raiders, Cowboys, Giants, Redskins, Bears, Saints, Bucs, or 49ers will be there"

Nice review but according to the table TSN picks the Bengals to win their division.

by Aaron (not verified) :: Tue, 06/28/2005 - 1:31pm

Thanks, those two errors are fixed.

by Led (not verified) :: Tue, 06/28/2005 - 2:17pm

I think the smart money is on last year's playoff teams to make the playoffs. Sure, you won't get them all right, but you'll get quite a few. And, all things being equal, you'll tend to get more right than by trying to guess which specific teams are going to fall back and which teams are going to improve significantly (which depend heavily on random events like injuries). It makes for boring reading, though, which should be more important to the mags than accurate predictions.

by Bockman (not verified) :: Tue, 06/28/2005 - 2:38pm


I think it's wrong to discount anyone from missing the playoffs in the NFC this year, with the possible exception of the 49ers. The conference is just too weak for someone to not come up with a good arguement as to why a particular NFC team should make the playoffs.

by GJA (not verified) :: Tue, 06/28/2005 - 4:20pm

How about this for a BOLD Superbowl prediction:

Cowboys over Broncos

The Dallas Cowboys lead by third string QB Tony Romo Who took over after injuries to both Drew Bledsoe and Drew Henson will beat the Denver Broncos running behind Ricky Williams traded from Miami in week 5 after a freak car accident took out the entire Denver RB corps.

I figure I put more thought into MY prediction than most of the magazines.

by AndyNH (not verified) :: Tue, 06/28/2005 - 5:09pm

I quit buying these magazines a few years back when every single flippin' season, last year's winners were predicted as this year's winners.

Um, like, duh? How hard is that to come up with? More fun with a dartboard! Me, I'm looking forward to a certain August delivery from Amazon...

by Peyton Barclay (not verified) :: Tue, 06/28/2005 - 5:28pm

Despite your conviction that there aren't that many strong teams in the NFC, it should be little surprise that none of the five magazines picked the Cowboys, Saints, Bears, Bucs, Redskins, or 49ers to reach the playoffs. The latter four have horrible offenses which must demonstrate marked improvement to have any chance at the postseason. The Saints are, well, the Saints, and they usually find a way to screw it up at one end of the season or the other. Plus, they actually would have to outplay Atlanta and Carolina, which seems like a tall order. Dallas probably has the best chance of any of them, but the Dallas defense was exposed last year as a fraud, and the Cowboys receivers don't scare anyone. The second-tier NFC teams may not be dominant or terribly consistent, but I'd venture to guess that the second place team (either Atlanta or Carolina) in the South will take one wild card spot, and the other will go to a North or West team not named the Bears or 49ers.

by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Tue, 06/28/2005 - 6:30pm

I was looking at that Lindy's article on coaches, which argues that Bill Parcells' greatest accomplshment was getting the 99 Jets home at 8-8. (I know Vinny was hurt, but this was a team that had been in the AFC Championship game the year before.) Then in the section on Parcells (ranked 2nd to Belicheck, also getting a "99") the author claims that the only question left about Parcells is whether he or Lombardi is the greatest coach ever.

Gag me.

by Sean (not verified) :: Tue, 06/28/2005 - 7:11pm

As far as the pre-season pubs go, I've always found that TSN puts together the best product and this year is no exception. In addition to having a high production value, they use the same beat writers who cover the teams for them to the season to write the previews, and they tend to show a good feel for their team's personnel. Plus any publication that doesn't publish gratuitous cheerleader photos gets points with me.

I was surprised to see their picking 3 AFC South teams to make the playoffs, but after looking at the schedules I think that might be a condemnation of the NFC West as much as anything else. The AFC East had three teams with winning records last year and getting to fatten up to the tune of 3-1 or 4-0 against NFC West opponents certainly helps.

I think FO had a good rule of thumb during the prediction thread last year- you need to eliminate half of last year's playoff field as a matter of course. Philadelphia, New England and Indy have all made convincing arguments that they should be penciled in for playoff spots. I think Atlanta is clearly a vulnerable team, as are both the NFC West entries from last year- even if one wins the division, it will be stunning if the West sends two playoff teams again next year. Green Bay has gotten worse while the rest of their division improved, so throw them in, too. Every AFC team is vulnerable simply because of the level of competition, but if I would probably pick San Diego and Denver as two of them. The division has improved markedly around them and San Diego probably overachieved last year. That leaves Pittsburgh and the Jets. Ostentsibly it would be easier to argue against the Jets, who have a quarterback who can't stay healthy, a coach who is a liability, took some free agent losses and have an offense built around a 32 year old running back. Still, I like their personnel, and their division got weaker with the insertion of Losman into the lineup. Pittsburgh would have to take a tremendous fall to go from 15-1 to out of the playoffs, but I just have a bad feeling about where Roethlisberger is heading. Normally the team that loses the Super Bowl has a hangover next season, but I can see that team being Pittsburgh this year.

by terrylemmon (not verified) :: Tue, 06/28/2005 - 8:22pm

who is the better pick portis, d.davis,j jones,lions...... k. jones dallas,,,,,,,,,,,, wr pick who is this years drew bennett or bradon stokely thanks terry

by Lonnie (not verified) :: Tue, 06/28/2005 - 10:16pm

I think that the Minnesota Vikings could have 50/50 chance to win the NFC North to get by Green Bay, Detroit and Chicago. The Vikings will maintain their aggression without Randy Moss is now with Oakland is to stay neutral on Offense and Defense with team enthusiasm, team consistancy and team productivity to score touchdowns on the field to produce victory with #11 QB Daunte Culpepper at the helm with new additions to the Vikings Defense are LB Sam Cowart, SS Darren Sharper, LDE Pat Williams and LB Neopolean Harris. They will help to achieve and to impress Vikings Head Coach Mike Tice
seal a big victory for the "Purple People Eaters".

by Björn (not verified) :: Wed, 06/29/2005 - 12:08am

RE: #8

You may be right, but I hate Eli Manning. I have discounted him out of spite!

by BillinNYC (not verified) :: Wed, 06/29/2005 - 1:10am

My favorite comment from TSN's Dan Pompus (excuse me, I mean Pompei) is this line on page 5, talking about how the Eagles will clearly win the Super Bowl, "The Eagles are a more complete team than the Colts, who look like the best team the AFC has to offer."... Lets' repeat, "the best team the AFC has to offer."

Not to be a Pats homer here, but really? Repeat Champs, with essentially the same team intact. In fact, the later article on the Pats notes that the Pats may have actually gotten BETTER. And they don't even get a mention as a contender?? It will be discussed in the upcoming PFP book (so we'll see), but will the losses of the two coordinators have THAT big an impact.

Hasn't anyone learned that a high powered Off, with a weak D, is not necessarily the receipe for success?

So Lets look at TSN's own grades:

KC is also in there projected to be 11-5, but they too are weak on the D side of the ball.

Pompus' article talks about all the Colts have to do is win home field advantage and the AFC is theirs. Dost he forget the Jaguars beat them in the RCA Dome last year, and the Pats beat them there the year before, along with Denver and Carolina.

A team wins 14 games two years in a row, and they can't do that again. Another team wins 15, and of course that will never happen, but a guy throw 49 TDs w/ 10 INTs, and he will throw that again every year until he retires.

by Sean (not verified) :: Wed, 06/29/2005 - 1:59am

"but a guy throw 49 TDs w/ 10 INTs, and he will throw that again every year until he retires."

It wouldn't surprise me. He's that good.

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Wed, 06/29/2005 - 2:03am

I'm absolutely shocked that Buffalo isn't getting more love. I mean, really, FOUR AND TWELVE?!?! Does anyone HONESTLY believe that there's a chance that Buffalo can finish 4 games worse than Miami? Sure, JP Losman is a concern, but then again, AJ Feely isn't? Buffalo's defense outplayed Miami's last season by a large margin, and Miami has the added uncertainty of switching schemes.

I think if anyone has a chance to steal a division title from the Pats' grasp, it's Buffalo this year. They ended the season as the hottest team in the league, they had an absolutely RIDICULOUS defense, and Drew Bledsoe isn't around to guarantee the Pats 2 wins and the tiebreaker every year anymore.

by Mike M (not verified) :: Wed, 06/29/2005 - 9:04am

RE #15: The Vikings will maintain their aggression without Randy Moss is now with Oakland is to stay neutral on Offense and Defense with team enthusiasm, team consistancy and team productivity to score touchdowns on the field to produce victory with #11 QB Daunte Culpepper at the helm with new additions to the Vikings Defense are LB Sam Cowart, SS Darren Sharper, LDE Pat Williams and LB Neopolean Harris

Ummmmm..... what? I read that sentence three times because I'm a huge Vikings fan, but.... what? :)

by dryheat (not verified) :: Wed, 06/29/2005 - 11:06am

#19..I know you're not a Bills fan, but as I remember from last season, the Bills went something like 1-7 against teams with .500+ percentages and 7-1 vs. .500 and worse teams. I suspected they were frauds all year, and I think the finale against Pittsburgh JV confirmed that. I don't think Losman will play any worse than Bledsoe did, but their great defense is a myth. They played nothing better than average. They gave up 31 & 29 to New England, 32 to Miami, and 29 in that Pittsburgh game. No sale, holding Seattle, San Francisco, and Cleveland under 10 doesn't impress me. The Jets are clearly the (distant) second place team in the division.

by nelphonious of pennefield (not verified) :: Wed, 06/29/2005 - 12:44pm

NFC DIVISIONAL PAIRINGS OF WHICH WILL MAKE WILDCARD=ELIMINATE THE OTHER MOST INTRIGUING:1)Cowboys vs.Giants 2)Lions vs. Packers 3)Saints vs. Bucs 4)SHawks vs. SRams.Mag chart worth saving for Ja.2006 results comparison.FO=add your picks into the chart,and we can score at home in the New Year. By then Shanahan and Torre can replace each other.

by the_K (not verified) :: Wed, 06/29/2005 - 1:04pm

Re: #21

Are you suggesting that Football Outsiders' defensive DVOA is a fraud?

by Pat on the Back (not verified) :: Wed, 06/29/2005 - 1:09pm

I said it last year, I'll say it again this year. Detroit over Houston. Added interest as the Lions become the first team to ever host their own superbowl.

Also said it last year, and will say it again this year (only this year I'll be right!), Colts are due for a fall. Unless they can piece together a decent defense (that is, play the way they did the second half of last year from the get-go), they aren't getting too far. Personally, I think the shift of a lot of teams towards offensive philosophies (especially when it comes to the reinforced chuck rule) is actually a detriment to the Colts because:
a) it makes the cost of their skill players even higher, thus making them go cheaper on the defense and
b) they experience fewer tough defensive schemes, so when they do run into one it is harder to work around from past experiences. A good defense is just like good pitching; the more familiarity with it, the more likely they are to succeed.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 06/29/2005 - 1:15pm

On the other hand, offense is more constient year to year than defense, so it's easier to turn around a bad defense and harder to hold onto a good one. The Colts will have a great offense for the next few years, all they need is a few good breaks and they can have a decent defense for one of those years.

by MCS (not verified) :: Wed, 06/29/2005 - 1:39pm


You have converted me. I pre-ordered my book last week. Even linked to Amazon via FO.


by senser81 (not verified) :: Wed, 06/29/2005 - 2:19pm

re: #12

Parcells is hard to figure out. I think of him as the NFL's version of Billy Martin, a guy who can come in, kick some butt, then the team gets tired of him. Parcells has won nearly everywhere he's been, but he also has seasons that leave you scratching your head.

Another note on Parcells is that he replaces horrible head coaches, then is in turn replaced by a horrible head coach. Perhaps this makes us think Parcells has accomplished more than he actually did. He replaces Perkins in NY, then is replaced by Ray Handley. He replaces Dick McPherson in NE, then is replaced by Pete Carroll. He replaces DICK KOTITE in NYJ, then is replaced by Al Groh. And he has replaced Dave Campo in Dallas.

by charles (not verified) :: Wed, 06/29/2005 - 2:19pm

So in all likelihood, all belichick has to do to get another ring is match wits with the likes of marty, herm, cowher, or dungy in a playoff game. And probably reid or tice in a superbowl. And then if parcells get the cowboys to the superbowl he still has bledsoe as his quarterback and you know what the patriots do to him. I think i have just talked myself out of watching the nfl next year.

by IzzionSona (not verified) :: Wed, 06/29/2005 - 3:10pm

Is it just me, or did TSN predict an aggregate league record of 255-257?

by GJA (not verified) :: Wed, 06/29/2005 - 6:09pm

re: #27

As a Cowboys fan, all I can say is Oh NO, will Jerry make himself the head coach next?

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Wed, 06/29/2005 - 9:12pm

Re #21: You have to remember that points aren't necessarily the best barometer of a good defense. Remember the Rams/Ravens game from 2 years ago where the Rams gained around 150 yards of offense and still scored 30+ points?

Field position is fluid. If a team is giving up a bunch of points, it might mean that the defense is horrid, and it might mean that the offense keeps turning the ball over inside their own 20. If a team doesn't allow many points, it might mean that their defense is great, or it might mean their offense keeps pinning the opposition inside the far 20. Or it might mean neither- it's possible that both units are bad, but the special teams are absolutely godly. I think DVOA is a much better measurement of how good a unit is than points scored/allowed is.

by smashmouth football (not verified) :: Thu, 06/30/2005 - 12:24am

Re: 31
I still have recurring nightmares of that Ravens-Rams game. I think the Ravens held the Rams to 133 yards total offense. Chris Redmon had the worst performance I've ever seen by an NFL QB in the second half. Absolutely bizarre. And even when the Ravens D created turnovers and gave the ball to the offense inside the RAMS 5, the offense STILL couldn't score. Absolute offensive suckitude.

by El Angelo (not verified) :: Thu, 06/30/2005 - 12:31am

I like the Simmons approach that 6 teams will repeat and make the playoffs, and 6 new teams will join them. My brief list--

Holdovers: Patriots, Steelers, Chargers, Colts, Eagles, Vikes

Newbies: Panthers, Cardinals, Bears (yes, the Bears), Bengals, Jaguars, Giants

by smashmouth football (not verified) :: Thu, 06/30/2005 - 12:34am

Most bizarre prediction has to be Buffalo 4-12. You've gotta be kidding. Even with a raw QB they'll probably go 9-7 and challenge the division leader(s) to the end. Their D and special teams alone should get them 6 wins right off the bat.

I also think a symptom of playing it too safe is reflected in the unwillingness of these prognosticators to pick some more 12-4, 13-3, or even 14-2 teams. I don't see so many division winners with 10-6 or 9-7 records.

Although I'm hoping it happens, I sort of doubt Pittsburgh will go 8-8. And I'm not altogether on SD's bandwagon. Look for some retrenchment this year, maybe around 8-8 and not in the playoffs. Same could be said for Atlanta.

by dryheat (not verified) :: Thu, 06/30/2005 - 9:25am

#31 and 32...

There was also that Texans victory over Pittsburgh a couple years back. Those kinds of wins, however, are still rare. I don't mean to disparage DVOA in the least, all I meant to convey was that watching Buffalo last year, they seemed to beat up on the weak sisters and got their teeth handed to them by decent teams.

by El Angelo (not verified) :: Thu, 06/30/2005 - 10:24am

re #12 & #27:

For the record, I actually think that season was Parcell's *worst* job of coaching. He had no idea what to do in case Vinnie went down, then wasted 6 good weeks on Rick Fricking Mirer, who we all know had no talent. They were closing fast at the finish once Lucas got the QB job, but it was too little too late, and they didn't make the playoffs. I don't consider the Parcells era in the Jets lore to be that big an accomplishment; they had one above-average season of the three, and were badly outcoached in their loss to Denver in the AFC Championship game. If he had stayed a 4th season and we hadn't gone through The Al Groh Experience, perhaps this would be a different discussion, but hey, he didn't.

by MDS (not verified) :: Thu, 06/30/2005 - 12:07pm

"I don’t consider the Parcells era in the Jets lore to be that big an accomplishment"

He took over a team coming off a 1-15 season (and 3-13 the year before that) and went 9-7, 12-4, 8-8. That terrible eight-win season in 1999 was tied for the MOST wins the Jets had had in one year since 1986 before Parcells came along. If that's not a big accomplishment, what is?

by El Angelo (not verified) :: Thu, 06/30/2005 - 1:12pm

re #37:

Fair point, but I never thought the Jets were lacking for talent under Kotite. The fact that they went 4-32 under his stewardship was less about their talent level and more about the fact that he was arguably the worst coach ever. This was, after all, a team that was a nice 6-5 before the Fake Spike Game, and then went into freefall.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 06/30/2005 - 2:49pm

Is it just me, or did TSN predict an aggregate league record of 255-257?

Nope, that's what I get too. I thought TSN's looked a little wrong to me, but I thought it looked a little too "win"-y (1 division going 12-4, 10-6, 10-6?), but I guess it does have 1 too many losses.

Man, I hope that's a typo on FO's side. Otherwise they look really, really stupid. (PFW, for those wondering, does have an equal number of wins and losses).

by B (not verified) :: Thu, 06/30/2005 - 3:20pm

Why does it matter that the wins don't equal the losses? It would be an incredible feat if TSN was within one game of predicting each team's record, whether or not they predicted an even number of wins and losses.

by Sean (not verified) :: Thu, 06/30/2005 - 3:29pm

RE #36: I don't see any of that at all. I certainly don't see how you would get that Parcells got badly outcoached in that AFC Championship game- the Jets moved the ball well but ended up having a ton of turnovers, and not turnovers of the Denver is being physical and forcing turnovers variety, just weird turnovers. They were up 10-0 on the road and then got hit with a crushing back to back sequence of a blown safety coverage that gave up a touchdown followed by Denver recovering their kickoff-and it wasn't an onside kick or anything, the ball just got caught up in the wind. That was a very strong Denver team and they probably would have won the game regardless, but the Jets had a lot of bad luck in that game.

And I just can't agree with the rest of the assessment either. The talent that was on the roster in 95-96 was overstated, but regardless, taking a team that had gone 4-28 over that period and having them go 12-4 in a division that sent four teams to the playoffs two seasons later is extremely impressive.

by Led (not verified) :: Thu, 06/30/2005 - 4:36pm

"They were up 10-0 on the road and then got hit with a crushing back to back sequence of a blown safety coverage that gave up a touchdown followed by Denver recovering their kickoff-and it wasn’t an onside kick or anything, the ball just got caught up in the wind."

Reading that still makes me ill. I will never forgive Dave Meggett for failing to cover up that kickoff.

by Sean (not verified) :: Thu, 06/30/2005 - 6:55pm

Yep, that game, along with the 2000 season ender against the Ravens, are both sitting at the bottom of my sock drawer, to be brought out when I feel like tormenting myself. Strangely, while I have this year's Pittsburgh loss on tape, it doesn't get me nearly as upset. I guess with Pennington's shoulder the way it was and with the team playing three straight overtime games I just assume that they would have gotten their doors blown off in New England the next week, so I can't work myself into quite the same lather.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 06/30/2005 - 9:46pm

Why does it matter that the wins don’t equal the losses? It would be an incredible feat if TSN was within one game of predicting each team’s record, whether or not they predicted an even number of wins and losses.

Well, sure, but if you're going to bother predicting seasons for everyone, you might as well make it a believable prediction.

Let's put it this way: TSN can't possibly be 100% correct. PFW could, in theory.

Now, the chances of PFW being 100% correct are very, very slim - 1 in 2^124, to be specific. But that's bigger than zero. :)

by B (not verified) :: Fri, 07/01/2005 - 10:12am

With those kinds of odds, playing the lottery doesn't seem like a waste of money.

by El Angelo (not verified) :: Fri, 07/01/2005 - 11:24am


Can't argue with your excellent points too much. My biggest problem, I guess, is that the Parcells era is regarded as some titanic accomplishment in Jets lore. It isn't. They had 1 playoff victory. And they should have peaked in the 3rd and 4th seasons he was there, but I'm still annoyed as to the whole QB thing and, of course, the Al Groh Experience. Those have tainted me beyond the parameters of reason, I suppose.

by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 07/01/2005 - 12:09pm

With those kinds of odds, playing the lottery doesn’t seem like a waste of money.

Eh, it's better than that. I was thinking sloppily. I don't know how to calculate the number of ways there are to divide up 256 into numbers less than 16 (that's a partition problem).

A more intelligent guess (but still not right) would be (2^4)^16, which is 2^64, which is a lot better, but still something on the order of 1 in 10^20.

So it's probably between 1 in 10^20 and 1 in 10^40.

In other words, still better off playing the lottery.

by Kevin (not verified) :: Fri, 07/01/2005 - 2:39pm

Pat, my recurrence gives appx 3.3926222943232 * 10^37.

Of course, not all of those are equally probable.

by Jets Fan (not verified) :: Fri, 07/01/2005 - 2:58pm

I'll never forget the stupid half back option pass that Parcells came up with.

If Parcells should be credited with turning around a franchise, why doesnt he go coach the Cardinals. Seems to me he only goes to teams that are already knocking on the door.

by Sebastian (not verified) :: Fri, 07/01/2005 - 4:22pm

I don't think you can calculate the probability of PFWs forecast being correct without knowing how to figure in a draw (as you obviously can't equate it as 1/3 with win and lose). If you don't count draws (no publication actually predicted one because they are almost unpredictable, but that doesn't mean that it's impossible or even implausible), that leaves me with a 1/17^32 chance that PFWs predictions are correct, assuming these picks don't "rule each other out" (because every team only plays against certain teams, their results are related, example: if PFW predicts two teams which play each other during the regular season to go 0-16 or 16-0, that obviously cannot happen. For regular results like anything between 1-15 and 15-1 this would take a ton of work to figure out, I assume that PFW predicted each games outcome and counted Ws and Ls, if they didn't theres virtually no chance their results add up). You also have to assume that every team is just as likely to beat their opponent on any given sunday (New England beating Miami is a 1/2 chance, as is the NYG winning in Philly).
1/17 because there are 17 possible results (0-16, 1-15...16-0) and 32 teams.

by Sean (not verified) :: Fri, 07/01/2005 - 7:01pm

"If Parcells should be credited with turning around a franchise, why doesnt he go coach the Cardinals. Seems to me he only goes to teams that are already knocking on the door."

Um, no, that would be Phil Jackson. When Parcells took over the Giants, they were one of the worst teams in the league. When he went to the Patriots, they were the worst team in the league. The Jets had just finished putting up the worst two year record in the history of the NFL, and hadn't posted a winning record in ten years. Then he went to the Cowboys who had just posted three consecutive 5-11 seasons. Where do you get the knocking on the door bit?

by Carl (not verified) :: Fri, 07/01/2005 - 8:26pm

"And we have a preseason publication of our own coming out that, while a little more expensive, is far superior to any of the magazines I’ve discussed today – and a bit more significant in page count."

I foresee a posting on Romenesko.

by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 07/02/2005 - 10:46am

that leaves me with a 1/17^32 chance that PFWs predictions are correct

Eh, 17, 16, whatever. That's less than an order of magnitude, so it's not a big deal.

It's not 1/17^32, though, because that allows for all 32 teams to go 0-16, for instance. That's why I set a lower bound of (1/17)^16, because you *can* pick 16 numbers at random and switch them to generate the other 16 teams. The upper bound is clearly (1/17)^32. If Kevin's right, it's closer to the upper limit.

It is likely still lower than that, because of the correlated numbers, but I doubt it's much lower than that. The correlations won't kill more than a few orders of magnitude.

In other words, it's still way better to pick the lottery.

by Sebastian (not verified) :: Sat, 07/02/2005 - 8:27pm

"It’s not 1/17^32, though, because that allows for all 32 teams to go 0-16, for instance. That’s why I set a lower bound of (1/17)^16, because you *can* pick 16 numbers at random and switch them to generate the other 16 teams. The upper bound is clearly (1/17)^32. If Kevin’s right, it’s closer to the upper limit."

Actually, it is. It obviously cannot happen, but PFW could theoretically make such predictions. As a matter of fact, it's just as unlikely that every team goes 0-16 this season as a combined score of 255-257.
And you can't generate the numbers of the 16 remaining teams either...

by Zac (not verified) :: Sat, 07/02/2005 - 10:37pm


It isn't, because as you said, not all possibilities can actually happen. Remember, we are discussing this because TSN's picks are impossible. There will 256 wins and 256 losses. Only the scenarios that come out like that are possible, and therefore should be counted.

by Sebastian (not verified) :: Sat, 07/02/2005 - 10:50pm

"It isn’t, because as you said, not all possibilities can actually happen. Remember, we are discussing this because TSN’s picks are impossible. There will 256 wins and 256 losses. Only the scenarios that come out like that are possible, and therefore should be counted."

Jep, but you don't have to predict that way. As a matter of fact, we don't even know if PFWs prediction could actually happen (most likely only if they predicted the outcome of every single game). And I obviously have no idea how to calculate the number of predictions that could be possible.

What do you look for exactly when you only take into account all possible scenarios?
It's not predicting the outcome of every game (example: Doesn't make a difference for a two game series who wins the first or the second game, records will stay the same for both teams) and it's not predicting the outcome of every series (wouldn't matter if New England wins 2 games against the Dolphins and loses 2 against the Jets or vice versa if they play accordingly against their other opponent).
Because all results are interconnected with each other by the schedule, many predictions cannot be correct although there's still a plethora of predictions that could happen. But I do not have any idea how to calculate those. Would appreciate it if anyone had any ideas

by Led (not verified) :: Sun, 07/03/2005 - 12:52pm

Re: 51, Parcells (at least in his recent coaching stints) is like a private equity firm looking for underperforming companies for a leverage buyout. He doesn't randomly pick bad teams. He picks teams that have talent that is not performing as well as it can, and he leverages future cap space to bring in veteran players to make a run within a relatively small window. And he's good at it.

by Sean (not verified) :: Sun, 07/03/2005 - 4:40pm

Compare the roster of every team Parcells inherited with the roster of that team three years later- you'll find that well over 50% the team has been turned over. The teams that Parcells has taken over have had a few good players here and there surrounded by glaringly inadequate players (and actually, I'm not sure that Patriots team he took over had any good players at all, aside from Sam Gash).

Tony Dungy rightly says that 80% of football games are lost, not won. He's not just talking about mental mistakes or turnovers- he's talking about the fact that if you have personnel deficiencies that can be exploited, they will be. The reason why Parcells has been so successful turning teams around-and why Belicheck was able to turn the Patriots around so quickly- is that he makes a massive effort to bring in veteran players who will at the very least be competent and uses them to replace players that are simply liabilities.

by MDS (not verified) :: Sun, 07/03/2005 - 7:29pm

I'm just baffled at how anyone can gainsay the success Parcells has had. I know of no one who suggested that the Cowboys were anything but one of football's least talented teams before Parcells came along, and he promptly took them to the playoffs. The Jets and Patriots teams he took over were even worse than the Cowboys. The Giants did have talent, especially with Lawrence Taylor, but Parcells had been their defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, so he deserves some of the credit for the way LT developed.

I don't think I'd like Parcells as a person if I knew him, and I'm guessing that's why a lot of people want to disparage him, but as a coach there's absolutely no reasonable assessment other than he's one of the all-time greats.

by Terence Newman (not verified) :: Sun, 07/03/2005 - 10:38pm

I would like to personally say that I personally cost the cowboys at least four games last year so don't blame parcells he is still a great coach. Now if you will excuse me I'm going to learn how to play jump balls.

by Glenn (not verified) :: Mon, 07/04/2005 - 12:11am

A lot of people disparage Bill Parcells because of the bad will he creates when he leaves a team. I don't wish to stir the pot on this topic again (I seem to recall that Sean and I had a go-round on this one last year), but it's a good place to start when looking at why many folks grit their teeth at his mention. Hell, they even found that out in Tampa Bay, and he didn't even coach 'em. I believe that he's a great coach. I also believe that he believes it, and that turns people off.

by MDS (not verified) :: Mon, 07/04/2005 - 11:13am

Glenn, there's no doubt that Parcells has acted badly in the process of interviewing for some jobs and leaving others. The way he spent time during Super Bowl week negotiating to leave the Patriots for the Jets is unforgiveable. And it's laughable that Peter King and Parcells' other media supporters dutifully reported that he would never coach again even as he interviewed with Jerry Jones. If you're evaluating the totality of Parcells' NFL career, I think it's fair to count some of those actions as a negative. But on the balance, the success his teams have had on the field greatly outweighs all that.

by Led (not verified) :: Mon, 07/04/2005 - 12:46pm

I largely agree with Sean (#58), although I think the teams Parcells took over had more than just a few good players here and there mixed in with the crap. The Cowboys and Jets had a bunch of pro-bowl talent on defense, and the Cowboys had some talent on offense too (pro-bowlers Flozell Adams and Larry Allen on the line, talented but underachieving Galloway and Bryant at WR). The Giants' defense was stacked, and even NE had Bruce Armstrong, Irving Fryar, Ben Coates on offense as well as the first pick in the draft. But Sean is right that one thing that all these teams had in common (besides poor to gadwaful head coaching) was a number of positions filled by liabilities. Parcells is good at filling roster blackholes with competent veterans (although those are often expensive, short-term solutions) and he also improves discipline, effort and execution.

So I don't think anybody's saying he's not a great coach. Just that a part of the "turnarounds" for which he is given credit should be attributed to the bad coaching and underperformance of the teams he took over. And with NE and the Jets, the short term success came at a cost of mid-term instability. All things being equal I give more credit when a coach builds a team and sustains long term success, as Parcells did with the Giants.

by Led (not verified) :: Mon, 07/04/2005 - 1:31pm

Wow, I just checked and the 1996 Jets had more offensive talent than I remembered. Not superbowl quality talent by any stretch, but not garbage. Besides coaching, QB was the weak link (N. O'Donnell, F. Reich, G. Foley). I couldn't find the OL (other than Jumbo Elliot), but here's the skill positions:

WR K. Johnson, W. Chrebet, J. Graham (and W. Slaughter)
FB R. Anderson
TE K. Brady
RB A. Murrell (surprisingly decent, averaged 4.1 ypc in 1996 and 4.0 ypc over 860 carries for the Jets)

The defense had Mo Lewis (pro-bowler), Aaron Glenn (pro-bowler), Hugh Douglas (pro-bowler), Marvin Jones, Victor Green, Marcus Coleman....

And this team went 1-15! This is my nominee for the worst coaching performance in the history of pro football. Any challengers?

by MDS (not verified) :: Mon, 07/04/2005 - 2:39pm

But doesn't every team have a few talented players? It just seems to me like everyone says in hindsight that Parcells' teams had talent, but no one seemed to recognize that talent until it was coached by Parcells.

It's funny that I'm defending Parcells here because, as I mentioned, I think he seems like a jerk as a person. A few years ago when he was a finalist for the Hall of Fame I was adamently opposed to him getting in because the rules say a coach has to be retired and I didn't believe for a second that he was retired. But once I'm absolutely convinced that he's done coaching (which might only come when he's deceased) I can't fathom how anyone could dispute that he's Hall-worthy.

by Sebastian (not verified) :: Mon, 07/04/2005 - 3:55pm

"I would like to personally say that I personally cost the cowboys at least four games last year so don’t blame parcells he is still a great coach. Now if you will excuse me I’m going to learn how to play jump balls. "

Donate 1000$ to the "Quincy Carter Rehabilitation Fund" and don't ever mention the following words in the same sentence: "Terence Newman, First Round, First Cornerback taken, can contribute right away"

by MDS (not verified) :: Mon, 07/04/2005 - 4:39pm

Since you guys brought him up, do you have any thoughts on what happened to Terence Newman? I'd guess I've seen about 15 Cowboys games the last two years and it seems like Newman was better as a rookie than he was last year. Scientific Football 2005 says Newman had some very good games and some very bad games last year.

by Rocco (not verified) :: Mon, 07/04/2005 - 5:11pm


My roommate is a Cowboys fan, so I suffered through a number of their games last year. I think it was a combination of not having Darren Woodson, a complete mess at the other CB spot, and Roy Williams running around a lot. Newman was forced to match up without help a lot and got exposed a bit. I didn't see much of him in 2003, so I'm not sure this is the reason, but that was our thought.

by S (not verified) :: Tue, 07/05/2005 - 1:53pm

I thought I'd give my two cents on the mags, since I just got done with a long car trip in which I've had time to peruse two.

This is the first year I picked up TSN and I was a little disappointed. I think the thing that got to me the most was having the teams' beat writers write the teams' section. Sure, these guys know the team as well as anyone, but the sections tend to come off as a little "homer"-ish (the Dolphins are a good example). Also, with Pompei doing the predictions, you often get mix-matched analysis (i.e. the Texans beat writer who does their section is luke-warm on the team, though Pompei has them in the playoffs).

I'm usually partial to Lindy's, but I haven't read much of it yet this year. It seems that they've become more low-brow over the years (i.e. more cartoonish illustrations, dumber quotes, more sexually explicit cheerleader photos), but it's usually pretty good.

Of course, the preseason publication I'm really looking forward to is coming out in August.

by MDS (not verified) :: Tue, 07/05/2005 - 2:17pm

One year Dan Pompei picked the Lions to win the Super Bowl, and the Free Press Lions beat writer who wrote the Lions preview section of the magazine came right out and said that Pompei was crazy.

by Keith Cockrell (not verified) :: Tue, 07/05/2005 - 2:49pm

Okay, most of you guys have already talked out the Parcells debate, but just a quick two notes.
to 27. Parcells TRIED to replace himself with the Jets with Bill Belichick. Not exactly a horrible coach.
to 40. The only door the Cowboys were knocking at was the cellar door and from below at that.
and a last one to 66. Terence Newman did contribue immediately, and well in his rookie season. He had more trouble last year but things around him sucked. Let's see what he does this year.

by Jets Fan (not verified) :: Tue, 07/05/2005 - 3:05pm

When Parcells took over the Cowboys, didn't they have the #1 rated defense? (If not, I bet they were darn close).

I would give him way more credit if he would have resurrected the Cardinals...

Seems to me Parcells and Gruden are both over-rated.

by senser81 (not verified) :: Tue, 07/05/2005 - 4:06pm

re: post #71

Parcells could have "tried" to replace himself for the Jets with Vince Lombardi, but that doesn't mean it actually happened. When you look at the procession of Jet head coaches, it still goes Kotite-Parcells-Groh.

by El Angelo (not verified) :: Tue, 07/05/2005 - 4:11pm

Re #64: That was sort of my point many messages ago. I'm probably more bitter about the Parcells experience than rational thought dictates I should be, but the fact is that while he did a fine job turning the Jets around, talent-wise, they weren't a 1-15 team.

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 07/05/2005 - 4:33pm

When Parcells took over the Cowboys, didn’t they have the #1 rated defense? (If not, I bet they were darn close).

No way. They weren't even first in their own division. Parcells started in 2003, and in 2002 the top defense was (of course) the Buccaneers, and Philly was next (or close).

by MDS (not verified) :: Tue, 07/05/2005 - 5:04pm

According to DVOA, the Cowboys' defense went from 12th without Parcells in 2002 to fifth with Parcells in 2003.

by Basilicus (not verified) :: Tue, 07/05/2005 - 5:45pm

Dallas's defense in Campo's last year (2002) was 13th in points allowed and 16th in yards allowed. In Parcells' first year with Dallas (2003) the team was 2nd in points allowed and 1st in yards allowed. Of couse, last year they were 28th in points allowed and 16th in yards allowed. Why was Chan Gailey swept out so fast for Dave Campo? Gailey went 10-6 and then 8-8 with the team. Their offense in points ranked 9th and 11th and their defense ranked 3rd and 5th in his two years there. The only thing I can figure out is that he went 0-2 in the playoffs, which may have been horrific to Dallas after Johnson and Switzer's Super Bowl wins.

Another thing, slightly connected to the Cowboys...Jimmy Johnson went 36-28 with the Dolphins. Dave Wannstedt went 42-30 with the Dolphins. Wannstedt has the better win percentage, .583 to .563, and Johnson had Marino all four years he coached the team. Wannstedt had Fiedler and then, oh yay, Feeley. So why would Miami have held on to Johnson if Johnson had wanted to stay, but Wannstedt they so aggressively dismissed?

by El Angelo (not verified) :: Tue, 07/05/2005 - 5:51pm

Because JJ at least built the program in Florida and has Super Bowl rings from his Dallas tenure. Wannestedt, by contrast, once traded a 1st round pick for Rick Mirer's corpse.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 07/05/2005 - 7:36pm

I'm not a member of the Denny Green fan club, but anybody who asserts that Green is the worst coach in the NFL doesn't know anything about football.

Also, anybody who can get his team into the playoffs with Quincy Carter behind center is a TREMENDOUS coach.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 07/06/2005 - 11:24am

Denny Green is the guy I call if I want my team to go like gangbusters in the regular season and flame out in the playoffs, assuming Marty is busy. Speaking of which, if by some astronomical coincidence, Marty and Denny met in the superbowl, who would win, or would it be the first superbowl to end in a tie?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 07/06/2005 - 11:56am

B, I certainly think that game management is the weakest part of Green's coaching skills, but, in all fairness, with maybe two exceptions, all his playoff losses were to more talented teams. The guy isn't a great coach, but anyone who won as many games as he did over ten years can't be the worst coach in the league.

Actually, Green's biggest problem may be that he doesn't know his weaknesses very well, and tends to attempt aggregate too much power, which is a common failing among football coaches.

by senser81 (not verified) :: Wed, 07/06/2005 - 12:05pm

If Parcells didn't have the good fortune of facing 4-time losers Denver and Buffalo in the Super Bowl, we would be comparing him to Chuck Knox.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 07/06/2005 - 12:46pm

I didn't mean to imply that I think Green or Shottenheimer are bad coaches. There are plenty of coaches in the league who can't even get to the playoffs, so getting that far ought to count for something.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 07/06/2005 - 1:07pm

senser81, if Norwood's kick is moved a few feet, Parcell's certainly would be viewed differently. Maybe I should go back and review the rosters of the 1990 Giants and Bills teams; my recollection is that the Bills had better talent, but that is probably giving inadequate acknowledgement to what the Giants had on defense.

I seem to remember that the 49ers had some momentum going for a game-winning drive on the Giants in the NFC Championship, and then Roger Craig dropped the ball. I really thought that the 49ers were going to be the first team to win three consecutive Super Bowls, but the Giants were able to win two very close games in a row (I don't remember who they played in the Divisional playoof game).

by senser81 (not verified) :: Wed, 07/06/2005 - 1:30pm

Yeah, its impressive that Parcells won the SB with a backup QB (Hostetler), but a lot of things had to go NY's way for that to happen. In the NFC Championship game against SF, Montana got knocked out and as you said Roger Craig fumbled the ball as the Niners were running out the clock to win the game. Then Matt Bahr had to make something like a 47-yard FG to win the game 15-13 with no time left. Then in the Super Bowl, they barely beat the Bills, which at the time seemed like a big upset but in retrospect the Bills got beat like a drum in the next 3 Super Bowls so it probably wasn't that big of a deal.

Even in 1986, the Giants were the #2 seed in the NFC behind the Bears. They got lucky that Jim McMahon was hurt, and Mike Ditka decided to acquire Doug Flutie with a couple games left in the regular season then make his first start a playoff game. Duh. Instead of playing the 14-2 defending champ Bears in the NFC Championship, the Giants got the wild-card Redskins, a team they had already beaten twice in the regular season. If you recall the Giants played the Bears in the 1987 season opener, and the Bears killed the Giants. Even in the Super Bowl, the Giants faced the mediocre Broncos, who were probably the third-best AFC team that year (behind the Browns and Pats).

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 07/06/2005 - 2:12pm

I suspect you remember, Senser, what regular seaon game set the '86 Giants on the winning path, before which they hadbeen stumbling along. The Purple-headed ones had the upper hand on Parcells' squad late in the 4th quarter at the Metrodome, when the Giants improbably converted a fourth and about 25, and then went on to win the game, and begin a long winning streak.

Now, the Vikings of about the 86-89 era, THAT was an underachieving group. Once Lynn forgot to take his anti-psychotic medication, of course, and made the Walker trade, things were completely lost, and when Millard tore up his knee the defense lost a lot, but those teams should have won more games. Hell, the '87 team, which played the Redskins nearly even at RFK in the NFC Championship, backed into the playoffs that year.

by senser81 (not verified) :: Wed, 07/06/2005 - 2:17pm

I remember those Viking teams. I've always hated Tommy Kramer, and I'll never understand why he was Minnesota's starter for 10 years. He was pretty awful, and even when his stats were good he still made the play that lost you the game. My memory is probably bad, but it seemed like whenever Wade Wilson played the Vikings won, and whenever Kramer played the Vikings lost.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 07/06/2005 - 2:40pm

Ya' hafta remember, senser, that by 86 Kramer was a pretty beat-up QB; the first half of the 80s featured some pretty awful Vikings offensive lines. I remember a Bears game in '84 when Kramer got his collarbone broken (I think), Manning got knocked out, Wilson (I think) got knocked out, and Manning was asked to go back in, because Wilson was completely incoherent, and Manning basically said that he had enough of this crap, and I think the Vikings had to put a running back behind center to finish the game.

I'd say Kramer vs. Wilson was pretty much a toss-up; ol' wade really could get the yips on occasion. I saw him overthrow a wide-open, 40 yeards downfield, Anthony Carter twice in the second half against the Redskins (Vikings lost) in the Metrodome once, and it was not surprising.

by marvold (not verified) :: Wed, 07/06/2005 - 10:07pm

RE #86: It's important to remember that '87 was a strike year, and the Vikings were 0-3 in replacement games. The actual Vikings were 8-4, a much better example of their quality. Not that they didn't still "back in," since they knew about the losses all seaons long, but the Tony Adams era shouldn't really be counted against them. (Except Lynn for planning so poorly for the strike, but then that's Lynn for ya.)