Two weeks to go before the abominations of the league are officially sent on their merry way, and I for one am going to miss all the primetime, standalone Bears games. What theater!
Speaking of great theater…the not-so big, perfectly legal hits that led to roughing the passer flags kept on coming this week, with notable awful calls occurring in the Pittsburgh-Atlanta and Seattle-San Francisco games. These calls lead to the inevitable tweets, posts, exclamations that the league is “unwatchable, glorified flag football.” My response? Yeah right. I know this has been a repeated theme on here this year, but America is the drunk and the NFL is our bottle – more so than any other year I can recall, there have been public outcries to “watch something else,” whether it be due to domestic controversy, commissioner conspiracy, or just a poor product. Yours truly even wrote a post stating the reasons why I was more excited for the collegiate season than the NFL one. Did that stop me from tuning in any change I got? Definitely not. Does anyone have the ratings for the season? I’d bet there hasn’t even been a TICK down in viewership. And two nights from now will be the greatest social experiment of all, with the final standalone Thursday night game of the season a dazzling matchup of 2-12 dumpster fires. Even the Raiders have shown more fight than the Titans and the Jaguars down the stretch. Simply put, if you’ll watch Tennessee-Jacksonville, there is no game you will not watch. So lets do this America, lets do this BFFPP. Lets show the world we can put down the bottle for one night at least.
The most hyped game on Sunday afternoon ended up being one of the worst to watch, as Johnny Manziel’s starting debut in Cleveland was a three hour long turd in the punch bowl. It’s easy to pile on Johnny after that abomination, but I was never in the camp that he would make it as a starter in the NFL, for a few reasons. First, he appears to be the opposite of a leader, much closer to Justin Bieber than Russell Wilson in the area of personality, maturity, and leadership. Second, his skill set always seemed like one that was much more conducive to the wide open, forgiving college game than the NFL. In a lot of ways, he’s different than Tim Tebow – he actually can throw downfield, for one – but they both came in to the league needing vast improvements as pocket passers. The jury is still out on Manziel while the verdict has been delivered on Tebow, but Sunday did show that 14 weeks of practice had not made a ton of difference in that regard. But the number one reason why I’ve doubted him from the start is something he cannot control – that little baby frame of his. Someone is legitimately going to break him in half one day, and if I had to guess the one person most likely to do it, I’d guess Haloti Ngata. Playing six games in the second hardest-hitting division in the NFL doesn’t help – I just don’t see him ever making it through seasons in one piece, even if he makes the necessary improvements to his game on the field and his attitude off it.
The Patriots seem well on their way to locking up homefield throughout the AFC playoffs, man I wish I took that 20-1 that was available after the Kansas City debacle. You all know I am no Pats fan, but I am curious if I’ve got the right pulse of Pats Nation – is the Ravens the one team you would least like to see rolling into Foxboro this January? Many facts about the Ray Rice situation make me think that Ravens brass is not the most moral bunch, but as a football fan, I can’t help but admire the way the team plays and root for them because of it. Their secondary is ripped to shreds right now, but they’ve proven they can do it, do it on the road, and do it when the opposition seems far and away the better team. The San Francisco Giants of the NFL.
Also Pats fans, if it were up to you, how many snaps would Gronk take in the next two weeks?
The NFC playoffs will have one very talented team miss out on the dance, as there are currently 6 teams fighting for 5 slots not called NFC South. After Philly didn’t hold serve versus Dallas Sunday night, projection systems likely have them as most likely to miss out – even at 11-5, but this would certainly change if Dallas can’t take care of the Colts this week. At the top, after a tumultuous season that had their Super Bowl odds bottom out around 15-1, the story appears to be the same in that the road is going to go through Seattle. Good luck with that, Rodgers.
A couple more hypotheticals for you all:
Pick an “All Tough” team for offensive skill position players (QB, RB, WR, WR, TE). Mine is Roethlisberger, Marshawn, Boldin, Steve Smith, and Gronk. Can you IMAGINE having 3 or so of those guys on the same offense? Vicious.
Imagine all rosters being wiped totally clean, and you’re the GM responsible for the NFL wide redraft. Age is a factor, but current contract is not. What does your board look like? The consensus 1/2 in whatever order seems to be Rodgers and Andrew Luck, but who goes three? I posed this question to a few different groups, and the two names that came up the most were Russell Wilson and JJ Watt. The fact that it wasn’t easy to rattle off 5 or 6 OBVIOUS quarterbacks that would go before the elitest of the other positions (Watt, Sherman, Calvin Johnson) just shows the step back the position has taken – a few years ago, it seemed RGIII, Kaepernick, Cam Newton would be high picks here – I don’t see any going in the top 10 now. Next question – if coaches were also wiped clean, at what point do you take Belichick? 3rd? Haha! Seriously who wants to have this draft with me and have the most epic fantasy league of all time?
Finish the season strong boys and girls!