Forecasting can be a tough business. Come to think of it, millions of people rely on a forecaster's predictions to do everything from getting dressed in the morning to investing their hard earned money to charting a course for future business endeavors. Although there's no doubt they must possess strong analytical skills, forecasters also need to be wired to see the big picture. But probably one of their most important attributes is the ability to completely dismiss past “misses,” forging ahead with the confidence of a quarterback that hasn't lost a game all season — much like Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.

Take the weatherman, for example. How many other jobs can you think of that allow you to “miss the mark” that many times and still remain employed? You know; you've been there. They predict 1 to 2 inches of snow, and you get pounded with 12. The forecast calls for clear skies, and the rain comes rushing in out of nowhere. Not once have I ever heard them say, “I guess I totally blew that forecast.” They just show up on the set the next newscast, flash a big smile, and boldly make their next prediction — much like Bengals receiver Chad Johnson.

Financial advisers/consultants are another interesting group, collecting and analyzing mountains of data on publicly traded companies, identifying diamonds in the rough, and then convincing you to buy stock in these up-and-coming star performers. Although I don't have any hard numbers to support my observations on their successes, I'm pretty sure that the dwindling value of my own stock portfolio (and that of many others I know) means they're throwing more interceptions than TDs — much like Packers quarterback Brett Favre.

For those of us in the construction world, the forecasters that draw the most attention this time of year are the construction economists. These well-schooled experts track everything from short- and long-term interest rates to the price of materials, feeding diverse data into their secret formulas to come up with that magic projection for new construction activity. Past predictions by this group of analysts has proven to be pretty conservative and atypical of the fearless forecasters previously mentioned — much like the play of Bears quarterback Kyle Orton.

What's our forecast for 2006? Will it be a year to remember, or a year to forget? Will it be another year of grinding it out on the ground for some meager gains or will some previously tight markets allow you to open up your playbook a little and get some easy scores? For our analysis of the market, turn to page 26 and read this month's cover story, “Thinking Outside the House,” written by staff writer Beck Finley. This comprehensive review of existing market conditions and construction activity projections for the coming year will help you see if you're going to score big in 2006 or be hit for a huge loss?

Here's a hint: Your 2006 season should be much, much better than the Houston Texans.