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Late For Work 2/11: 2009 Predictions Revisited

Plus final power rankings and Mike Mayock’s top wide receivers in the draft.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Thursday, February 11th, 2010 at 9:08 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

2009 Predictions Revisited

I have to hand it to ESPN’s  Gene Wojciechowski.

The man made 44 predictions about the NFL season back in September, and now he is checking the outcome.  As Wojciechowski points out, most sports analysts conveniently forget to check the results.

Perhaps this ESPN writer should have done the same. In the end, he scored a dismal 16 out of 44 points, a 36 percent, which would get him a big fat “F” in the classroom. But he isn’t hiding from that fact.

His predictions for the AFC North didn’t help his score, either. What Wojciechowski said then about the AFC North …

Order of finish: Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns.

On the Steelers: “[QB Ben Roethlisberger will] take his usual sacks beatdown, but the offense could be strengthened by the return of running back Rashard Mendenhall. And as always, there’s Hines Ward, Super Bowl hero Santonio Holmes and Willie Parker. Comforting.”

On the Ravens: “Linebacker Bart Scott is gone, but the Ravens’ defense still remains one of the leading causes of snot bubbles and wooziness.”

On the Bengals: “[T]he Bengals have quarterback Carson Palmer back in the lineup, which is always a good thing, and the defense could be decent. Too bad it won’t translate into a winning season.”

On the Browns: “How is this team going to win more than six games? Oh, wait, I can answer that one. They’re not.”

What Wojciechowski  said actually happened in the AFC North…

“D’oh! The Steelers not only didn’t win the division; they didn’t reach the playoffs. (At least Pittsburgh’s O-line was dependable, giving up a whopping 50 sacks.) … The Ravens finished second, made the playoffs, eliminated the Patriots and then took a leave of absence against the Indianapolis Colts in the divisional playoff game … double d’oh!

“The Bengals not only had a winning season, but they won the division by going 6-0 against Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cleveland. However, the Ocho Cinco Network suffered a blackout against the Jets in the regular-season finale and wild-card game.”

Wojciechowski gave himself 0 points for his AFC North predictions, but at least he got it right when he later predicted that Ravens running back Ray Rice was destined for a breakout season. He also scored a point by predicting Baltimore would be the last team to make it into the AFC playoffs.

Come on! Let’s all stop hiding from our preseason predictions. Here’s your chance to either fess up or claim your genius.

I’ll start (gulp). I thought the Ravens would finish 11-5 (not 9-7), lose to Pittsburgh (twice), beat Cincinnati (twice), beat the Packers and Vikings, finish second in the AFC North behind the Steelers, and make the playoffs via a wild card spot. At least I got the playoffs part correct. Eh?

Final Power Rankings

With revisited predications out of the way, let’s take a look at how the Ravens finished in a few of the final power rankings now that the 2009 season is complete.

Fox Sports:  No. 7
USA Today: No. 9
CBS Sports: No. 10
ESPN’s Paul Kuharsky: No. 9

Top Wide Receivers in the Draft

Mike Mayock of NFL.com ranks the top wide receivers in the draft as follows:

1) Dez Bryant, Oklahoma St.
2) Golden Tate, Notre Dame
3) Arrelious Ben, Illinois
4) Demaryius Thomas, Georgia Tech
5) Mardy Gilyard, Cincinnati

These receivers are typically highlighted on most top-receiver boards, but NFL Network’s Charles Davis and Michael Lombardi breakdown two prospects beyond the Top 5:  Jordan Shibley from the University of Texas and Dexter McCluster from Ole Miss.

Davis compared Shipley to Wes Welker of the New England Patriots. Shipley is not a game breaker, but has the speed to get open in the slot and is always dependable. He finished 2009 with 106 receptions, 1,363 yards, and 11 touchdown (receptions and yards were Texas school records).

Lambardi reiterated twice that McCluster is a “gameplan player” meaning teams have to take the time to figure out how they will matchup against him. McCluster is a college running back who is projected to become a slot or wide receiver in the NFL, but could be brought in the backfield in third-down situations.

McCluster finished his 2009 campaign with 44 receptions, 520 yards, and three touchdowns. Not too shabby for a running back. Davis added that McCluster is the only player to have more than 500 receiving yards and 1,000 rushing yards in SEC history.

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