Here I am!
For the last three seasons, I’ve boldly made pre-season predictions based on nothing more than the bios posted on CBS’s website. For this all-star second-chance season, we’ve seen these teams before, which makes preseason predictions easier. I’ve also gone back and figured out where each team was eliminated, and what their average placement was during their race. Armed with the information, I’ll again jump in over my head and present the fourth preseason
Stuck in the Desert and Officially Detained - or, Philiminated with extreme prejudice.
No one yet, but Phil hungers! He hungers!
Flat Tire - or, not likely to get anywhere soon.
Zev & Justin (Season 15/9th place/6.00 average) Zev & Justin failed in a big way by violating TAR Rule #0: Don’t do something that’s so dumb that you shouldn’t have to actually be told not to do it. In this case it was Rule 0(b): don’t lose your passport. Now, on the one hand, I don’t expect a whole lot from a team that can’t keep their passports in their pockets. On the other hand, there’s no way they’re going to make the same mistake again. On the other other hand, Zev & Justin were eliminated early enough that they don’t have the experience in the Race that most of the other teams do. On the other other other hand, they might actually be better than the little we’ve seen from them. Well, no; rethinking the other other other hand, I doubt this team has much to show us. Zev & Justin will leave early, but they might be fun while they’re here. (Mini-Spoiler: check out their shirts in the episode 1 preview video on CBS’s website. Made me chuckle.)
Mel & Mike (Season 14/6th place/3.57 average) Mel, at 70, is the oldest Racer this season; Mike, his son, is the fifth oldest (after Ron, Gary, and Margie). Mel’s age will be an issue on the Race, because the grueling pace just isn’t suitable for a 70-year-old man. To be fair, their original elimination was due to getting poor directions rather than anything to do with Mel’s age, they did score three top-two finishes, and they have a good Racing strategy and attitude, so I think they could very well be in it for a number of episodes. But I really don’t think they have much of a chance to make it to the final three.
Stopping for Gas - or, not broken-down, exactly, but not a good sign.
Gary & Mallory (Season 17/6th Place/4.63 average) Gary & Mallory got hugely lost in Oman to earn their elimination just last season. I admit I was originally bullish on this team, but take a look at their average placement: it’s worse than nine of the remaining teams, with only hapless Zev & Justin having a worse average.
Kent & Vyxsin (Season 12/5th place/3.63 average) Kent now knows how to drive a stick shift, so now he’s all prepared for his first Amazing Race. Too bad this is his second. I really don’t see this team as a serious contender, although they might just be surprising.
Amanda & Kris (Season 14/8th place/4.50 average) Amanda & Kris are the requisite young couple with communications problems that, along with beauty queens, seems to be the go-to demographic for the casting department. Amanda & Kris have gotten engaged since their original appearance on the show, so presumably they’re not Racing to Find Out If They’re Right For Each Other, which is something of a relief. What’s not a relief is that they were apparently cast strictly because Margie & Luke were cast: Margie & Luke U-Turned Amanda & Kris, knocking the out of the Race. Sort of. Amanda & Kris were actually in last place when U-Turned, and it’s debatable whether they would have passed any of the teams in front of them. In any case, both Amanda and Kris think their biggest mistake was “trusting other teams too much,” so although it’s not clear why refusing to “trust” Margie & Luke would have prevented the U-Turn, it is clear that Amanda & Kris have a personal vendetta this season. Good luck with that.
Ron & Christina (Season 12/2nd place/3.45 average) Ron was kind of a tool in this team’s first Race, but he repented near the end, and seems to feel genuinely bad about it even now. It should be interesting how much effort he puts into being Nice Dad instead of Mean Dad, versus how much effort he puts into Racing. Ron & Christina were one task away from winning the Race their first time around, but I think the competition this season will be a little too stiff.
"Rapido! Por Favor?" - or, making meaningless ineffectual comments from the back seat, but in no immediate danger.
LaKisha & Jennifer (Season 14/4th place/4.27 average) Kisha & Jen had a terrible pair of legs to finish off their original Race, with an awful performance at the swimming Detour, then getting U-Turned the next leg. Despite that, they wound up slightly ahead of Jaime & Cara near the mat, when Jen stopped to use the Port-a-Potty, dropping them out of the final three. This team’s statistics aren’t great, but my wife thinks they’ve got a chance to win against the other teams, and maybe she’s right. I’m tentatively ranking them here in the middle of the pack, but I could easily see them going either up or down.
Jaime & Cara (Season 14/2nd place/3.92 average) Cheerleaders, right. Yet another Season 14 team (five! teams from Season 14 made it into this season), and the second-place team at that. Second place is impressive, but I’m not so impressed with this team. They’re grating, and I don’t really think they’re all that good. Still, they made it far in their original season, and might be a dark horse this season.
In the Passing Lane - or, ahead of the pack, but not quite comfortably.
Margie & Luke (Season 14/3rd place/2.75 average) I remember Luke as being something of a whiner, but this team came within a whisker of winning Season 14: like Ron & Christina, it was the very last task that did them in. I’m a little suspicious of this team’s success, but their average finish is 2.75, much better than putative second-place finishers Jaime & Cara and behind only the Cowboys this season. That makes them a notch better than most teams in my mind, particularly since I think this team is a bit more likely to learn from mistakes than others.
Flight Time & Big Easy (Season 15/4th place/3.09 average) The Globetrotters were eliminated because Big Easy couldn’t unscramble five letters. In retrospect, he says he was overthinking the challenge, and he’s probably right. If this team gets cornered into a task they have problems with, like the unscrambling, they might go down, but otherwise they look very good for getting into the final three.
Cruisin’ with Earl - or, drivin’ on the shoulder, takin’ shortcuts, and generally kickin’ butt.
Jet & Cord (Season 16/2nd place/2.58 average) Oh my gravy! The cowboys are back, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m rooting for them. My wife thinks they’re “cute and cuddly,” which would probably embarass them all to heck, but I’m honestly hoping I’ll see them all season. And I probably will: Jet & Cord make very few mistakes, and none twice. Now that they’ve Raced around the world once, their biggest original disadvantage–lack of international experience–is gone. The early favorite to win it all.
[sub]Props to Mullinator and his Raj Rating[/sub]