It’s that time of season, y’all. NFL record predictions are going to be coming in hot and hard for the next month before the 2018 NFL season begins. Things got off to an inauspicious start last week, when USA SPORTS predicted the Detroit Lions to finish 6-10. As pointed out by Twitter user @steeztabor, the publication has predicted losing seasons for the Lions in five straight years.
CBS’s Pete Prisco is singing a similar tune. Monday, he turned in his 2018 NFL predictions. To Prisco’s credit, he put in the work by predicting every single game for the upcoming season. You can read all of them right here.
When all is said and done, Prisco is predicting the Lions to finish with a 7-9 record, good for third in the NFC North. He has the Packers (12-4) and Vikings (11-5) advancing to the playoffs in the division, while the Bears (4-12) well behind the pack. I know this is going to be a tough pill to swallow, but Prisco actually predicts the Packers to win the Super Bowl over the Jaguars. Yuck.
But let’s get back to the Lions, because it’s pretty clear—much like USA TODAY—Prisco has never thought much of Detroit, and the team has responded by consistently outperforming his expectations. Prisco has actually been doing these exact same predictions—going game-by-game—all the way back until at least 2012. Here’s a look at his Lions predictions throughout the years alongside the Lions’ actual performances:
Prisco’s prediction: 9-7
Lions record: 4-12 (-5)
Prisco’s prediction: 4-12
Lions record: 7-9 (+3)
Prisco’s prediction: 8-8
Lions record: 11-5 (+3)
Prisco’s prediction: 10-6
Lions record: 7-9 (-3)
Prisco’s prediction: 7-9
Lions record: 9-7 (+2)
Prisco’s prediction: 4-12
Lions record: 9-7 (+5)
While Prisco’s history certainly looks better than USA TODAY’s, it also paints the picture of an over-reactive analyst. The only two times Prisco predicted the Lions to finish with a winning record were the years following a Lions postseason run, and when the Lions went 4-12 in 2012, Prisco predictably expected another horrible season to follow.
This isn’t just a Prisco problem. It’s an NFL problem. When people predict NFL results, they often rely too heavily on the previous season. But anyone who pays attention to the league knows that parity in the NFL is real, and while there are a handful of franchises who can consistently win (or lose), the middle is nearly random. Obviously, that makes things nearly impossible to predict, but it should also encourage analysts to be a little creative with their prediction. We could all just read last year’s standings, if we wanted.