Punt, Pass, and Predict

The stadium scene.
Aug. 29 2000 3:00 AM

Punt, Pass, and Predict

Slate is about to inaugurate a new "Sports Nut" feature on pro football, "Tuesday Morning Quarterback." During the NFL season, Tuesday Morning Quarterback will run every—if you can't figure out when it will run, we're not going to tell you.

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Tuesday Morning Quarterback will feature 20/20 hindsight on each weekend's games, especially far-after-the-fact analysis of blunders in strategy and tactics. You may say: That's unfair, football players and coaches must make their decisions under pressure, everything is clear in hindsight. Exactly! They earn millions chasing a ball in publicly subsidized stadiums, the least we can do is second-guess. As a matter of policy, Tuesday Morning Quarterback will be consistently unfair. Please join me, starting tomorrow, Tuesday, Aug. 29.

And now as a warm-up, here is the official TMQ NFL preview:

Right now every sports page, tout service, and betting parlor is running its season preview. But only Tuesday Morning Quarterback gives you certified guaranteed predictions! That's right—all TMQ forecasts are totally, absolutely guaranteed to be predictions. So you can't go wrong! Although you're not likely to be correct.

Please do not use these free, guaranteed predictions as the basis of any wager, such as an IPO.

Super Bowl Matchup: I absolutely guarantee that I have no idea who the Super Bowl teams will be. Neither does anyone else. Last year nobody—not Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, Pro Football Weekly, the New York Times, or USA Today—called the Super Bowl in advance as the Rams vs. Titans. Predictions of this nature are so weak statistically that they essentially correlate with random choices. Professional sportswriters and tout services pretend that's not what they are doing. Tuesday Morning Quarterback, on the other hand, guarantees that what it is doing is making random choices.

Division Winners: Of the six division winners from last season—Indianapolis, Jacksonville, St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa, and Washington—only one was a repeat from the previous year. In each of the two prior seasons, only one division winner repeated from the preceding year. This is a statistically strong indicator, and thus it seems safe to predict that of last year's division winners, only one will repeat this year. But TMQ has no idea which one it will be.

Actual Predicted Final Score: 13-10. Tuesday Morning Quarterback feels certain there will be a game with this score this year, and that you will wish you hadn't watched it.

Team-by-Team Forecasts

Arizona Cardinals: This team was outscored 118-19 in the first quarter last season. It was wracked by injuries, holdouts, and poor player relations; this year, for a refreshing change of pace, it is wracked by poor player relations, holdouts, and injuries. The Cardinals have had one postseason victory in the last 52 years. The true NFL devotee should say of this franchise what Rousseau said of Paris: "We can never get far enough away from you." Forecast finish: 4-12.

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