I am keeping my word about the timeline for evaluating my preseason NFL picks.

The NFL is set up the best among all professional sports for worst-to-first bounces between consecutive seasons. I knew this full well when I made my projections in the September 10 column. What I didn’t know was what teams would put a monkey wrench into my prognostications.

Let’s see how I’m doing so far after the 32 teams under The Shield have reached the season’s halfway point.

May I use some seasoning and sauce in case I must eat crow?

AFC North projection – Cincinnati, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cleveland.

AFC North actual – Baltimore (6-3), Cincinnati (5-4), Cleveland (3-5), Pittsburgh (2-6).

It looks like I made a transposal error in each half of the division picks.

Baltimore is playing much better defense than I expected, and I don’t recall why I thought otherwise two months ago. Cleveland and Pittsburgh are not good, and the Browns have won two of their three games against division foes, the Bengals, and Steelers.

Cincinnati, except when they played the Browns, have been competitive. They’ll make the playoffs, but they won’t pass up the Ravens.

AFC South projection – Tennessee, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Houston.

AFC South actual – Tennessee (5-3), Indianapolis (3-5-1), Jacksonville (3-6), Houston (1-6-1)

My take on the Jags taking advantage of a weak schedule and a weak division is panning out as expected. It’s possible the Jags and the Colts might muddy up my forecast and switch places in the division race.

Tennessee’s ground game in the latter part of the season will make it easy for them to maintain the division lead and clinch the title three games prior to the regular season’s end.

AFC East projection – Buffalo, Miami, New England, NY Jets.

AFC East actual – Buffalo (6-2), NY Jets (6-3), Miami (6-3), New England (5-4)

There was a whole lotta’ wrong going on in my brain two months ago.

Zappe and Jones, the Pats’ quarterbacks, are capable game managers. I did not expect all four teams to have winning records this deep into the 2022 season. I still believe, although Jets fans are still on Cloud 9 following their defeat of the Bills, they’ll relinquish second place to Miami.

New York needs to find a quarterback in next year’s draft. There will be plenty of options. Buffalo’s best performer in the running game is Josh Allen, not exactly a recipe for a Super Bowl appearance. They look more flawed in recent weeks than they did in the early season.

AFC West projection – Kansas City, LA Chargers, Denver, Las Vegas.

AFC West actual – Kansas City (5-2), LA Chargers (5-3), Denver (3-5), Las Vegas (2-6).

I have, so far, nailed the order of finish, but I write two months ago, “The division has evolved into the AFC’s strongest, and the Raiders might finish fourth but still earn a winning record. The division clearly has the narrowest gaps in talent among its four starting QBs.”

Strongest Division? Can you lightly dash some Wings etc. tweener sauce on my crow please?

Russell Wilson certainly is not the panacea in Denver he appeared to be when he made so many Seattle Seahawks’ skill-position players look better than they really were.

So much for the Raiders earning a wining record. They’ve already blown three multi-score leads in the first half of 2022.

NFC North projection – Minnesota, Green Bay, Detroit, Chicago.

NFC North actual – Minnesota (7-1), Green Bay (3-6), Chicago (3-6), Detroit (2-6).

I knew the Vikings would be good enough to be atop the division, but they’re still a lucky team, winning some games they should have lost instead of losing games they should have won last year.

The Vikes are also benefitting from the stench of the other three division members. I’m not fretting about Detroit moving past Chicago. I believe Justin Fields will get knocked around a little more and spend a few games healing, giving the Lions a chance to leapfrog past the Bears.

And one more thing. The Packers stink. Sometimes I feel I’m watching Aaron Rodgers channel Jay Cutler. I hope Bears fans are enjoying a little schadenfreude for their owners - Rodgers, not Virginia McCaskey.

NFC South – Tampa Bay, Atlanta, New Orleans, Carolina.

NFC South – Tampa Bay (4-5), Atlanta (4-5), New Orleans (3-6), Carolina (2-7).

The Bucs are struggling more than I thought they would, but this finish looks like I thought it would be, except for the Bucs being 6-3 instead of 4-5.

Cleveland’s multimillion dollar payment to assure Baker Mayfield wears someone else’s laundry this year is worth the spend, the way company’s severance some employees with a few hefty lump-sum bucks just to keep them from making any more bad decisions for the company… forever.

I do like watching Atlanta tight end Kyle Pitts on NFL+ abridged replays, and I hope he gets more reps.

NFC East projections – Philadelphia, Dallas, Washington, NY Giants.

NFC East actual – Philadelphia (8-0), Dallas (6-2), NY Giants (6-2), Washington (4-5).

I thought this division was going to continue to be mediocre on top, and very weak on the bottom.

The Giants are whom I was thinking of when I talked about worst-to-first earlier. Sometimes culture is a big part of a team’s turnaround. New York’s wins against Cincinnati, New England, and Baltimore are still holding up as somewhat impressive.

Philly. Who knew?

I’ll keep rooting for them to remain unbeaten all the way to the Super Bowl because I hope - in my lifetime – to see the 1972 Dolphins leave their annual champagne reserve unopened. It’s not so much about hating the Dolphins as it is recalling how a few obnoxious Dolphin fans whom I grew up with would get once the final undefeated team took its first loss.

I like watching the 2022 Miami Dolphins play. I’m still annoyed, however, by the memory of my obnoxious schoolmates.

I digress. Go “Iggles” - 20-0?

NFC West projection – LA Rams, Arizona, San Francisco, Seattle.

NFC West actual – Seattle (6-3), San Francisco (4-4), L.A. Rams (3-5), Arizona (3-6).

Worst-to-first comes to mind with Seattle’s situation. Pete Carroll’s squad has found a way to win without Russell Wilson under center.

Will the Niners resume the Trey Lance experiment when he recovers, or will they take another look at the 2023 draft pool for their next signal caller. Jimmy G, in the meantime, is a very good sport about all this shuffling.