Well. It’s been over a week since the football season ended, so I suppose we should do our traditional wrap-up. For some reason this year doesn’t seem as…bleak…as the calendar typically feels immediately after football season. I’m not especially into The Olympics, but I guess it does alleviate the emptiness just a little. It helps that the college basketball season has been compelling even before March Madness, and there has been plenty of offseason news in other sports as well. And I might even try to get back into Nascar this year, so that’ll be fun. Anyway, let’s briefly revisit football one final time before we let it rest for a few months.
I get a real kick out of looking back at my NFL Preview, which was even more off base than usual. I correctly predicted just six of the twelve playoff teams. I got 4 of 6 right in the AFC, which isn’t awful, but only 2 of 6 in the NFC, which is terrible. My AFC title game was Steelers vs. Patriots, which was half right, while my NFC title game was Giants vs. Packers, and neither team even made the playoffs. There were a bunch of other insightful gems as well:
- “the Bills are just treading water, with new head coach Sean McDermott being the latest guy that’ll lead the team nowhere before getting canned in a couple of years” Buffalo went 9-7 & made the playoffs. McDermott’s job looks pretty secure, especially if they can upgrade the quarterback situation.
- “I think this is a year in which the future Vegas franchise establishes dominance while Kansas City takes a step backward” The future Vegas franchise being the Raiders, who went 6-10. And the Chiefs, though they won two less games than the previous season, still won the division.
- “The Chiefs feel like they’re in a transitional phase, with first round pick Patrick Mahomes biding his time until QB Alex Smith goes away” Well, I guess I wasn’t totally wrong about the Chiefs. They traded Smith after the season and Mahomes will be their starting QB in 2018.
- “I’m sure everyone in Pittsburgh would deny it, but the truth is that the AFC North isn’t their true competition. The fact is that the only thing on anyone’s mind is overcoming the Patriots and getting to the Super Bowl.” Unfortunately the Steelrs couldn’t overcome the stupid NFL rulebook or the Jacksonville Jaguars.
- “Tom Savage will probably begin the season as the starter, but I really like Deshaun Watson and think he’ll be one of the league’s best QBs in a couple of years” Watson did become the starter for the Houston Texans even quicker than I’d imagined and looks like he’ll be really good. Unfortunately he tore an ACL midway thru the season during practice.
- Of the Jacksonville Jaguars I opined that “they’ve gone backward. Unlike most people I’m not that psyched about first round pick Leonard Fournette, and QB Blake Bortles inspires zero confidence.” I’m still not completely sold on Bortles, but he led his team to a division title and an appearance in the AFC Championship. And Fournette?? He rushed for over 1000 yards and had ten TDs.
- My thoughts on the NFC East?? “This is a tough division, but New York has to be the heavy favorite.” The Giants finished dead last at 3-13 and have the second overall pick in the NFL Draft. The Cowboys & Redskins were mediocre. The Eagles ran away with the division and eventually won The Super Bowl.
- Speaking of the Redskins, I said that “they feel like a team on the negative side of transformation until the likely departure of Cousins and the drafting of a new quarterback next year.” Well, Cousins will be leaving in free agency, and I suppose it’s still possible that Washington may draft a quarterback, but they really don’t need to since they traded for Alex Smith.
- My thoughts about the Seattle Seahawks included the idea that “RB Eddie Lacy has moved to the northwest from Green Bay, and I expect him to be in shape & a significant contributor.” Lacy was the team’s fifth leading rusher and got lost in the shuffle when rookie Chris Carson emerged as the starter. Even after Carson suffered a season ending ankle injury free agent signee Mike Davis won the job, and Lacy’s football future is very much in doubt.
- “The Vikings defense will be alright, but might have to be better than that” It was the best defense in the NFL.
- “I’d like to see QB Drew Brees lead the Saints back to the playoffs as he winds down his brilliant career, but I don’t think it’s going to happen” The Saints did make the playoffs, but lost to Minnesota on one of the most improbable passing TDs you’ll ever see.
- Of the Saints I opined that “it’ll probably be Mark Ingram & third round choice Alvin Kamara getting most of the work in the backfield by the mid-point of the season” Kamara did indeed emerge as a pretty good rookie RB, while Adrian Peterson was traded to the Arizona Cardinals just a month into the season.
I don’t care if their fans are obnoxious Neanderthals who literally eat horse manure. I don’t care if they burn down half the damn city of Philadelphia. I am just THRILLED that the Eagles beat the detestable New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. And…if I may quote my man Forrest Gump…that’s all I have to say about that.
Speaking of The Super Bowl…
The only commercial that made a dent in my memory is the one where Eli Manning & Odell Beckham did the dance from Dirty Dancing, and I don’t even recall what it was advertising. The halftime show was just fine. I like Justin Timberlake, and thought his Prince tribute in Minnesota was a nice touch. The best part of the post-game was alleged comedian & actor Kevin Hart getting denied access to the Lombardi Trophy and the victory stage by a huge bodyguard who looked like he belongs in a WWE ring. Fans of This Is Us were anxiously awaiting the end of the festivities so we could watch the show’s most highly anticipated episode, which did not disappoint. After that I ended my nearly six month divorce from Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show mainly because the cast of This Is Us were set to appear. That ended in disappointment when Fallon went political again during a sketch when he was doing his Bob Dylan impression, and then the This Is Us cast’s interview was less than five minutes long and had to be “spoiler free” because the live audience hadn’t seen the show. It’ll be a very long time before Fallon gets another reprieve from me.
Going back to college football y’all might be interested to know that I finished our Bowl-a-Palooza with a record of 19-21, while Zach broke even at 20-20. I started off strong and it looked like I might run away with it, but I faded fast and Zach closed strong.
I thought the College Football Playoff committee screwed up by putting the Alabama Crimson Tide in the playoff at all. Sure, they ultimately won the national championship yet again, but not only didn’t they win their conference but they didn’t even make it to the SEC title game. If the committee isn’t going to have any respect for conference championships then perhaps we should eliminate those games and maybe even eradicate conferences altogether. I have such an idea percolating in my mind and may write about it this offseason if I get bored enough to really be missing football.
I’m not even going to analyze my pre-season Top 25. I don’t think any of my predictions were accurate. I know my final four was USC, Penn St., Oklahoma St., & Florida St. The Seminoles in particular had an abysmal year after losing their starting QB to injury. It was so bad that head coach Jimbo Fisher bolted for Texas A&M after the season.
Our Pigskin Picks of Profundity ended with me at 54-54, while Zach was 52-56. We went into the final week tied and I went 3-4 and Zach was a not-so-good 1-6. But Zach did improve his 2016 winning percentage, jumping from 37% to 48%. I’m already looking forward to next season.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2018 includes receivers Randy Moss & Terrell Owens, linebackers Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher, & Robert Brazile (a player from the late 70’s/early 80’s), safety Brian Dawkins, guard Jerry Kramer (possibly the last of Lombardi’s Packers to be enshrined), & executive Bobby Beathard. I’m a bit surprised that Moss & Owens got voted in the same class. They’ve been dangling the carrot in front of TO for a couple of years, so I thought maybe they’d finally vote him in but make Moss wait. As a West Virginian and an alumnus of Marshall University I’m very happy for Moss. Perhaps I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, but I always perceived Dawkins as pretty good but never thought of him as a Hall-of Famer. I suppose Lewis & Urlacher were no-brainers, although I’ve never hidden my disdain for Lewis. RB Edgerrin James, DBs John Lynch, Everson Walls, & Ty Law, offensive linemen Tony Boselli, Kevin Mawae, Joe Jacoby, Steve Hutchinson, & Alan Faneca, and WR Isaac Bruce all fell short. Of those I am most surprised that Boselli didn’t make it. I’ll be rooting for him, Faneca, & Jacoby in 2019, but that’ll be the first year of eligibility for tight end Tony Gonzalez, safety Ed Reed, & cornerback Champ Bailey so the vote could be interesting.