As excited as I am about the 2009 season, it's always useful to look back at the year that was. The results of this year are hopefully the building blocks of greater things to come in 2009 and beyond. Before we get into reviewing the on-field performance, I thought I'd throw out my 2008 predictions from last offseason. I'll include links to those posts so you can check out some of the comments from way back then.
First look at opponents
Just under a year ago we took a first look at the list of the 49ers 2008 opponents. After breaking down the schedule I had a prediction of 8-8, thus only off by 1 game. Initially I thought to myself, "Hey, that's not too shabby." Further analysis shows I was a bit off, although some of it was not foreseen by many folks.
These initial predictions showed how much things can change. I predicted a win over the Jets, but Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens were still expected to do battle for the starting QB position. I also had predictions of wins over the Eagles, Bills, Dolphins and Lions, along with an even split of the divisional games. I actually declared the Eagles game a "must-win" if the team was going to get to the playoffs this year.
Probably the highlight of this particular post was seeing methodrampage (I didn't know until now he used to be Braekneck - see bottom of the comments) going at with a Bills fan. We also got to observe a discussion about thongs (not nearly as interesting as you might think). Of all the observations, I'd say the most accurate comment was the last one by jfainsf49: "The most important opponent -- the Niners themselves, too bad we face them each week.
Post free agency/Pre-draft look
This look at the schedule had been immediately preceded by a poll in which over 70% of respondents predicted a .500+ season and 40% prediction at least 9 wins. God bless the optimism of April!
Following the signing of Justin Smith and Isaac Bruce, among others, optimism was running a bit higher, as I projected a 9-7 record, with a 5-1 divisional record. The highlights from these predictions include this dandy about the Rams, "I think the 49ers can pull the sweep, although it'll be tough." I was convinced last summer that the Rams were going to bounce back and be a surprise team this year. Big fat wrong on that one. I actually did get the "opposite split" right with Seattle, but clearly was off-base on the Dolphins: "Dolphins suck, best win this one."
For the most part the people who commented in that post were somewhat realistic, sticking somewhere between 7-9 and 9-7. I think my 5-1 divisional record prediction was definitely way off. Can't underestimate the divisional foes given how crazy the NFC West has been. Considering how bad the Seahawks were this year and they still split with the 49ers will make me reconsider further sweeps a little more.
Midsummer Look at potential must-win scenarios
This was not predictions of wins and losses, so much as what wins would be necessary to achieve certain scenarios. Detroit, Miami and the Jets were must wins to get to 6 or 7 wins. We took tow of those, but yet again, I had the Dolphins and the Jets as must-wins, but the rational for those games changed dramatically as they approached in the regular season.
I thought three wins in the next category would be necessary for making the playoffs and we actually took two of them. That category included the Eagles, Bills, Redskins, Saints and Giants. If we'd beaten Philly things would have certainly been more interesting in the playoff race, although maybe not quite enough.
The final category included the Patriots and Cowboys as games we really had no prayer of winning. The complexion of the Pats game changed with Brady's injury, but it didn't help matters in the end.
The most amusing part of this discussion was how people were thinking 8-8 wouldn't get a team into the playoffs. Sfgfan mentioned it could if they won the division, which is exactly how the AFC West played out and the NFC West was not too far behind. Gotta love NFL parity.
I definitely plan on having similar looks at the schedule over the coming days, weeks and months. I understand that predictions in January (and even in April) are just about worthless. However, it's always amusing to look back at what people were thinking at those particular moments. We might be completely off, but we can see how our views change as the offseason progresses.