In my story, 2010 NFL Season Divisional Predictions — Pre-April/Pre-Draft Version, I asked you–readers here at The Sports Geeks–to weigh in on who you thought would end up winning each of the eight (8) National Football League divisions for the 2010 season. I also tasked you with picking the two teams that you felt would have the best chance of making the playoffs as a Wild Card team from each conference.
The polls have since closed–less than 24 hours before the start of the 2010 NFL Draft’s 1st Round in prime-time–and I wanted to share those results with you here, along with a comparison to my original picks from the story.
American Football Conference
At the time I made these initial predictions, the Jets had just picked up LaDainian Tomlinson; a move that I did not necessarily see as “game-changing” for the AFC East. Since then, “Gang Green” has made even more moves–picking up Super Bowl XLIII MVP Santonio Holmes to bolster an already solid receiving corps and adding Jason Taylor from the rival Miami Dolphins to improve upon last year’s #1 team defense. By comparison, the Patriots have done little, while the Dolphins also added a receiver in Brandon Marshall. It was not surprising to see that 70% of the voters thought the Jets would take the AFC East in 2010; what was surprising was the one-sided result. The Buffalo Bills, meanwhile, have the distinction of being the only team that no fans voted for to win either their division or make the playoffs.
While the Bengals took the AFC North in 2009, their division success was somewhat inexplicable, leaving me to believe that the Ravens–especially after the addition of former Arizona Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin–would take the division in 2010. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Steelers let go of their #1 receiver from 2009 and have lost franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for at least 4 games–potentially up to 6 or more–to start the season. It makes sense that Baltimore would take a solid 50% of the fan vote here.
Every year, it becomes fashionable to predict the Houston Texans as winners of the AFC South; while I bought into that a bit at the start of the 2009 season, it didn’t surprise me when the Indianapolis Colts easily handled the division and the Texans again missed the playoffs. If the fan vote here is any indication, the Colts will be putting up another division win in 2010 with a clear 70% of the selections. The percentages drop precipitously from there, with the Jaguars and Titans tied but still reaching only a quarter of 2nd place Houston’s 20% of the vote.
Votes for the AFC West were more spread, as evidenced by the fact that #2, #3, and #4 all received double-digit percentages of the fan voting. The San Diego Chargers still garnered over half of the votes on who would take the division in 2010, however, and it seems pretty clear that the smart money for the division once again lies in the team from southern California.
AFC Wild Card
My AFC Wild Card picks of the Texans and Jets were based on the Colts and Patriots winning their respective divisions. Since the fans saw the Jets winning the AFC–by a wide margin–the voting saw Houston and New England getting the highest percentages for Wild Card position. Interestingly enough, the Jets were not far behind, reinforcing the thought across the NFL fanbase that 2010 may be the year of the Jets. Interesting to note, again, that Buffalo received no love from the fans here at The Sports Geeks.
By combining the votes that teams received to win their own division and votes they received to be a Wild Card team from the AFC, the above results were tallied. Based upon these votes, it can be extrapolated that the fans here at The Sports Geeks are making an early-offseason prediction of the following teams being in the AFC Playoffs:
- New York Jets — AFC East Winner
- Indianapolis Colts — AFC South Winner
- Baltimore Ravens — AFC North Winner
- San Diego Chargers — AFC West Winner
- Houston Texans — Wild Card
- /New England Patriots/Cincinnati Bengals — Tiebreak for Wild Card
Interestingly enough, the only team in the list that did not make the 2009 playoffs is the Houston Texans. Even more interesting? The team that received the most votes overall from the entire fan voting here was the New York Jets–11 votes more than the nearest AFC team (Colts) and 16 more than the nearest NFC team (Cowboys).
National Football Conference
No surprise to see the Dallas Cowboys with such a large percent of the fan voting–they are the defending NFC East champions, and have had few moves this offseason so far–but I must admit surprise about how many fans are predicting the New York Giants as NFC East winners in 2010. Even though the big move of the division so far has been the trade of Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins, it seems as though the fans are unwilling to put the Redskins or the Philadelphia Eagles at the top of the division considering the potential adjustments each team will have to make.
The NFC North was the most hotly-contested division in the fan voting; in fact, the Green Bay Packers were the only predicted division winner from the fan votes to not have over a 50% majority. There were only two votes separating the Packers and the Minnesota Vikings, and it seems clear to me that people are split about predicting Minnesota’s results until there is a clear sense of whether or not Brett Favre will be returning in the fall. As a side note: very interesting to see that the Detroit Lions not only got votes saying they would win the NFC North, but they also got more votes than the Chicago Bears.
Despite the worst-to-first history of the NFC South, fans agreed with me en masse that the defending Super Bowl XLIV champion New Orleans Saints are most likely to win the NFC South in 2010. There was a decent showing making a case for the Atlanta Falcons as division champions, but the Saints had over two-thirds of the votes.
The retirement of quarterback Kurt Warner from the Arizona Cardinals has certainly made a significant impact on perceptions of the NFC West for 2010; not only did I make an early prediction of the Cardinals not winning the division, but 70% of our fan voters put the San Francisco 49ers at the top of the division. It should be interesting to see whether or not there truly is a new leader at the top of the division when the 2010 season comes to a close, or whether the Cardinals can continue their recent reign atop the NFC West behind a new quarterback.
NFC Wild Card
While voters had the Philadelphia Eagles towards the top of the Wild Card voting for the NFC, my other selection of the Cardinals was less popular among the fans. The split between the Packers and the Vikings at the top of the Wild Card standings can be clearly attributed to the narrow decision between the two teams in the NFC North voting; it’s easy to see how people selecting one of the teams for the division would put the other team in the Wild Card spot. Interesting to note that while the AFC side had three teams in double-digit vote counts, only the Packers broke double-digits for the NFC Wild Card. Since only one team from the NFC North would end up a Wild Card team, the fan vote breaks down to putting the Packers/Vikings and the Eagles specifically in the Wild Card spots.
Again, by combining the votes that teams received to win their own division and votes they received to be a Wild Card team here in the NFC, the above results were tallied. Based upon these votes, it can be extrapolated that the fans here at The Sports Geeks are making an early-offseason prediction of the following teams being in the NFC Playoffs:
- Dallas Cowboys — NFC East Winner
- Green Bay Packers — NFC North Winner
- New Orleans Saints — NFC South Winner
- San Francisco 49ers — NFC West Winner
- Minnesota Vikings — Wild Card
- Atlanta Falcons — Wild Card
The NFC playoff picture sees some more overturn here from 2009 than on the AFC side, with the 49ers and Falcons making surprise appearances while the Eagles and Cardinals–the two teams I selected as Wild Card picks–being left out in the cold. Even though the Eagles would have been a Wild Card pick based on only Wild Card voting, the overall combined total of division win votes and Wild Card votes allowed Atlanta to leapfrog into a playoff spot.
It’s still early in the NFL offseason to be making definitive picks, but it is certainly interesting to get a sense of the early fan feedback about who will win their divisions and who will end up as Wild Card participants for the upcoming 2010 season.
And for those sad Buffalo Bills fans? Perhaps this is an early indicator of their team getting the #1 overall pick for the 2011 NFL Draft.
Thanks for participating in the voting!