Further Review

Steve Hummer's Further Review blog offers comments, asides and quick hits on the state of sports

Falcons pile on already reeling "experts"


It has been a very bad year for pundits and prognosticators. So bad, I’d like to think that 2017 would deliver a year in which we all concentrated more on what actually has occurred instead of what we foresee happening in our cracked and clouded crystal ball.

The pollsters got it all wrong in November, to such an extent that surely the next question any of them should be asking a voting citizen is: “Do you want paper or plastic?”

Far less importantly, there are the Falcons. They serve today as humbling reminders that anyone who claims knowledge of how a season will unfold before the first snap is full of horsefeathers (substitute the more accurate, horse-based product of your choice here).

There is but one vision required to demonstrate the utter hokum involved in the sports prediction: Chris Berman in a swami turban.

Colleagues are cornered into making picks, but it is a chore I avoid unless forced into it by a higher-ranking ink-stained wretch. Even then, a monkey with a Ouija board would be as dependable.

As I would warn anyone who would approach any sportswriter wanting to know his or her opinion on a game as yet unplayed, “Do you really believe any of us would be here typing ourselves blind, cranking out adjectives like Hershey’s does chocolate kisses if we had the slightest idea? Don’t you think if we really knew, we’d be living like a pasha in Las Vegas, sending our betting slips over to the Bellagio sports book in the diamond collar of our white tiger?”

And hooray for the hollow insignificance of the sports prophecy because, otherwise, what would be the point of watching? If you want a certainty of outcome, tune in to reruns of “The Andy Griffith Show,” because it’s all going to work out in the end in Mayberry.

What the Falcons did over the weekend – clinch the NFC South with the help of a Tampa Bay stink bomb – was to completely stupefy. It’s good to remember just how discounted they were back in August in order to appreciate where they stand at the end of December.

Before this season started, 20 contributors to NFL.com voted on division winners. All 20 chose the Carolina Panthers in the NFL South. One, Charley Casserly, a former GM, mused that Tampa Bay was just a year away.

The Panthers were seven-for-seven among the staff of CBSsports.com to win the South. Five had the Falcons buried last in the division.

No one among 12 voters at SportsIllustrated.com had the Falcons as division champions, although two had them making the playoffs as a wildcard. That qualifies as an extra-sensory experience.

The esteemed Peter King and six of his Monday Morning Quarterback cohorts all had Carolina atop the division, and none had the Falcons in the playoffs. Through some voodoo math, teamranking.com saw the Falcons as a roughly 7-9 team with a 24 percent chance of achieving the postseason.

You get the picture.

Sports is built on unpredictability. And we’re all a bunch of dopes, who require constant affirmation of just how much we don’t know.


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About the Author

Steve Hummer writes sports features for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He covers a wide range of sports and topics.