March 8, 2021

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Tony Romo predictions: How ‘Romostradamus’ can see plays before they happen on CBS broadcast

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Tony Romo can’t see the future — it just feels that way sometimes.

The former Cowboys quarterback and CBS color commentator has quickly become one of the NFL’s most popular broadcasters since heading to the booth in 2017. One of his calling cards, along with what seems a genuine enthusiasm and enjoyment of the game, is his play predictions. Occasionally, before the snap, Romo announces what’s going to happen next. More often than not, he’s right.

The predictions earned him a nickname very quickly — Romostradamus — and they’ve been a staple of his broadcasts throughout his time alongside Jim Nantz with CBS. Romo dialed them back a bit in 2020, he admitted recently to The Athletic, but it’s not an overly conscious decision for him when to make a call.

“It’s just a feel,” Romo told The Athletic. “It’s just instinctual. You might be right in the sense that I probably have throttled that back a little bit. But there’s always a time I’ll bring it out, especially if it’s a fun time to do it.”

MORE: How much does Tony Romo make from massive CBS contract?

How does Tony Romo predict plays?

Romo played quarterback in the NFL from 2004-2016, and week in and week out, he prepared for opposing defensive schemes while also learning Dallas’ gameplan for that matchup. It provides Romo with a deep catalog of NFL plays and concepts that he’s already familiar with.

In a given game week as an announcer, Romo can watch film much in the way he did while playing in the league himself. There, he can spot the same plays or concepts that he already knows. Quarterbacks have to recognize a defense and make split-second decisions. Romo’s background and preparation allow him to do similar things while in the booth.

“People think Tony’s a fortune teller, but this isn’t guesswork and this isn’t psychic ability,” Jim Nantz told the Wall Street Journal in 2019. “He’s not getting some sort of message from the gods. He’s seeing what (Tom) Brady saw.”

Is Tony Romo good at predicting plays?

Romo’s most recent big stage prediction came in the AFC divisional round when the Chiefs faced a fourth-and-1 late in the game at midfield. Chad Henne was in at quarterback for the concussed Patrick Mahomes, and Romo, like almost everyone else watching, thought Kansas City would hard count before punting.

The Chiefs went for it, let Henne throw and converted, though, fooling Romo. No, he’s not perfect on his predictions, but he’s pretty good.

A 2019 WSJ study found that Romo got 68 percent of his predictions right that season. Earlier in the 2020 season, he correctly speculated that the Chiefs and Buccaneers could meet again in the Super Bowl. Those are both solid feathers for Romo’s cap. 

There isn’t another color commentator who even attempts to do what Romo does. Some will discuss potential options before a play and even give their leaning, but Romo sometimes calls out the specifically exact play right before it happens. To even have a 50-50 success rate at such a task would be impressive.

Of course, Romo probably doesn’t chime in with a prediction when he’s less certain. But when he does, it’s safe to assume there’s a good reason for his thinking, and he might yet again be spot on. 

“I like to be able to do multiple things, and it goes back to what I think people at home want to feel or hear about their team,” Romo told The Athletic. “I’m telling them the truth about everything I see, and you’re not always going to say the right thing or do the right thing. But I do feel like I care and want them to enjoy their game.”

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