Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Predictions for 2015

  Since Wednesday is on New Year’s Eve I was planning on doing a ‘Year in Review’ post but then I took a look at my predictions for 2014 and they were so bad that I feel I needed to make some predictions for 2015 to redeem my prognosticative reputation. Last year I predicted the New England Patriots would win the Super Bowl, the Miami Heat would win the NBA championship, the Democrats would retain control of the Senate and gain seats in the House of Representatives, and an unknown female singer would rocket to stardom with stunts that made Miley Cyrus look like a nun. None of these things happened. I also predicted a gaggle of ‘Duck Dynasty’ spinoffs and an outcry over people not being able to pay their Obamacare deductibles and co-pays and they didn’t happen either.

  The only prediction I made that was on the money was that no NBA team would come within five games of the all-time NBA best record of 72-10 set by the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls or the NBA worst record of 7-59 (prorated to 8.6 – 73.4) set by the 2011-2012 Charlotte Bobcats which is about as safe a prediction that can be made. If I had only predicted $2 gas, an all-time record stock market, or Senator Joni Ernst I would be busy writing my new predictions for the Midnight Globe, National Enquirer, and the Weekly World News. For 2015 I’m taking the stance that nothing ventured leads to nothing gained and so I’ll take my stab at fame and fortune once again with more predictions for the coming year.

  I predict that former Florida governor Jeb Bush will spend most of 2015 exploring a possible candidacy for the Presidency but will back out in December when focus polls show that he cannot win the nomination or the presidency unless he changes his last name. I also predict that 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney will spend the year denying his candidacy only to 'decide' to run in December while already having a complete campaign team assembled for the Iowa Caucuses in early 2016.

  There will be a sustained economic boom well into the second half of 2015 fueled by falling gas prices that will reach a low of $1.19 per gallon with some gas stations going as low as 99 cents a gallon for publicity. General Motors will announce plans to restart production of the Hummer with a new Hummer H4 model, claiming the hybrid motor will allow the tank like vehicle a fuel efficiency of 15 miles per gallon. The plans for the Hummer will be put on hold in the second half of the year when a major earthquake in North Dakota will lead to an executive order suspending hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in the United States. The term ‘frackquake’ will become a common phrase when Oklahoma and Pennsylvania suffer similar earthquakes and the price of gasoline will reach $4.50 a gallon by years end and send seismic shocks throughout the economy.

  The price of gold will dip below $800 an ounce which will lead to an expansion of the practice of the well-to-do eating gold covered or gold sprinkled foods (it really does happen and you can click here to see). At least one celebrity will create a ‘gold dust’ beach to surround their indoor swimming pool and make a fortune selling their beach as the price of gold spikes to $2100 an ounce by the end of the year due to the oil crises fueled by the ‘frackquake’.

  The Tata Steel chess tournament in January will be won by China’s Diren Ling in a stunning upset and the young Chinese star will gain over 50 rating points by the end of the year to find himself comfortably amongst the top 10 players in the world while his countryman Yu Yangli will punch his ticket to the 2016 Candidates tournament by winning the 2015 FIDE World Cup in September.

  The New York Knicks will declare Carmelo Anthony out for the season with a knee ailment. The team will overtake the Philadelphia 76ers for the worst record in the league and win the draft lottery for the first pick in the 2015 draft. The Super Bowl will be won by the Seattle Seahawks over the Pittsburgh Steelers with quarterback Russell Wilson gaining Super Bowl MVP honors. In the NBA, the Golden State Warriors will have the best overall record in the league but lose their opening round playoff matchup to the New Orleans Pelicans. Warriors’ owner Joe Lacob will publicly criticize head coach Steve Kerr and question his game management which will cause Kerr to resign from his job and resume his broadcasting career with Turner Sports. All-Star point guard Derrick Rose will stay reasonably healthy all year and the Chicago Bulls will win the NBA championship over the Houston Rockets with Bulls center Pau Gasol winning the Finals MVP award.

  These are my predictions for 2015. If gasoline and gold drop to decade lows or rise to all-time highs, Yu Yangli becomes the next big thing in chess, or frackquakes happen all over the US remember you heard it here first!

  And now that those predictions are out of the way it’s time for me to make my annual NFL playoff predictions. As usual, this year I will be using the lines as listed on the Yahoo Sports page and these bets are for entertainment purposes only although I hasten to point out that my NFL playoff bets would have earned 95 mythical dollars in 2013 and 50 in 2014!

Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers
The Cardinals had the best record in the league until losing quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton to injuries. They lost their last two games under the stewardship of Ryan Lindell and Logan Thomas and slid from having home field throughout the playoffs to being the wild card team playing on the road against the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers are one of the rare division winners to have a losing record (7-8-1) but won four of their last five games after getting running back Jonathan Stewart back from injury. Drew Stanton is a possibility to play for the Cardinals but I don’t think he will be able to make the difference. I will bet the money line and wager $260 to win $100 that the suddenly healthy Panthers will win their home playoff game despite their losing regular season record.

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
In the absence of a team that is clearly superior to all the others the Super Bowl winner is the team that is playing the best at the end of the year. This year that would be the Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. I like the Steelers team a lot. They can run the ball with Le’veon Bell, make big plays with Ben Roethlisberger throwing deep to Antonio Brown and have enough players from their last Super Bowl team still on board to know how to win in the playoffs. The Steelers lost to two of the worst teams in the league (Buccaneers and Jets) but were 5-1 against the playoff teams on their schedule. I was contemplating a 25-1 bet on the Steelers to win the Super Bowl with the idea that if they reached the big game I could hedge my bet by picking their opponent. Unfortunately, Bell sprained his knee and is doubtful for this weekend’s game against the Baltimore Ravens. I will still place $100 on the Steelers to win the Super Bowl for a $2460 payout but instead of picking the Steelers at home this weekend and laying the three points I’ll bet $110 to win $100 that the two teams will score more that 46.5 points.

Detroit Lions at the Dallas Cowboys
At 12-4, the Cowboys had their second best record since their Super Bowl years of the mid 1990’s. If the Seahawks hadn’t rediscovered their mojo I would be picking the Cowboys to make the Super Bowl since they can do the one thing I believe leads to post season success and that is run the ball. The Detroit Lions had their best record since 1991 but looked disjointed in their season ending loss against the Green Bay Packers with their vaunted defense not able to stop the run or the pass. The Cowboys are giving 7 points and while I do think they will win the game I have the thought of the Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo pulling another of his famous choke jobs giving me pause betting the money line at -310 or giving the 7 points. So even though Detroit’s best lineman Ndamukong Suh had his 1 game suspension for another of his immature acts (this time stomping on Aaron Rodgers injured calf) reversed I will bet on an offensive minded game and risk $220 to win $200 that the two teams will score more than the over under line of 48.5 points.

Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts
I really like this Bengals team but the next big game they win will be their first while Indianapolis was 2-4 this year against playoff teams. This is a hard game for me to pick since I find both teams very uneven and flawed. The Colts are at home and one of their two wins against playoff teams was a 27-0 drubbing of the Bengals in October so I’ll pick history to repeat itself and bet $110 to win $100 that the Colts can cover the 4 point spread.