2021 NFL Preview & Prognostications

Just a few days ago I was pretty excited about the return of football with capacity crowds and business as usual, but now The Sickness has grabbed headlines again and it seems as though that sense of normalcy could be in jeopardy. At the moment no sweeping proclamations have been made, but stay tuned. In the meantime we shall proceed.

The biggest news outside of Covid related chaos is the NFL’s expansion to a 17 game regular season. To achieve that teams played one less pre-season game, so the only people really affected are the fringe players trying to make a team’s roster. There are always old faces in new places, teams with new coaches, and overhyped rookies looking to become the next Joe Montana, Walter Payton, Randy Moss, or Lawrence Taylor, and we’ll have a much better idea in a few months how all of that might shake out. For now it’s all guesswork, but atleast it’s fun, and I am glad that I feel encouraged enough to bring back this preview after a one year hiatus. As always the team’s record from the previous season is in parentheses, with the predicted record for this season following it. And remember…no wagering. I am not a professional and most of the time I’m not very good at this.

North

Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1) 10-7

Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) 10-7

Cleveland Browns (11-5) 9-8

Baltimore Ravens (11-5) 8-9

I think Bengals’ QB Joe Burrow is the real deal, and he’s going to surprise a lot of people. The Browns might be a bit of a surprise too, but I don’t believe it will be in a good way. Everyone assuming they are the presumed division champs will likely be wrong. Am I undervaluing the Ravens?? Perhaps. But every team can’t have a winning record and make the playoffs, and in a highly competitive division my vibe is that Baltimore will run into some problems and fall short of expectations (actually those problems have already began with the loss of starting tailback JK Dobbins to a torn ACL).

East

Buffalo Bills (13-3) 11-6

New York Jets (2-14) 8-9

New England Patriots (7-9) 8-9

Miami Dolphins (10-6) 7-10

The Bills have to be considered amongst the favorites in the conference. To be honest I thought QB Josh Allen was a bad choice as the 7th overall pick in the draft a few years ago, but he’s doing a pretty good job of proving me wrong thus far. There’s no reason to believe Buffalo won’t dominate a division that is a mess otherwise. I think the Jets may have finally found a decent quarterback, and they also added some other pieces on both sides of the ball that make me think they won’t be the dumpster fire we’ve come to expect. The Patriots aren’t the same team without Tom Brady, and I’m not as confident in their rookie signal caller Mac Jones as I am in New York’s rookie quarterback Zach Wilson. The Dolphins might take a step back this season, but I hope they aren’t dumb enough to give up on second year QB Tua Tagavailoa. I believe they are building a solid team around him and good things are ahead, but it might take another year to gel.

West

Los Angeles Chargers (7-9) 11-6

Kansas City Chiefs (14-2) 10-7

Las Vegas Raiders (8-8) 7-10

Denver Broncos (5-11) 7-10

No one has been talking about the Chargers this offseason, and that might be a good thing. I always prefer to sneak up on people rather than have the pressure of lofty expectations. QB Justin Herbert acquitted himself quite well in his rookie campaign and there’s no reason to expect anything less this year. The Raiders & Broncos aren’t going to be any better than they were a year ago. I expect both teams to utilize multiple quarterbacks and need their defense to lead them to some victories. The stunner here is the KC Chiefs. Most talking heads will consider them legit Super Bowl contenders, but I think they’ll lose a dogfight for the division, sneak into the playoffs as a wildcard, and be watching the Super Bowl at home like the rest of us.

South

Tennessee Titans (11-5) 12-5

Indianapolis Colts (11-5) 11-6

Houston Texans (4-12) 5-12

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-15) 5-12

The Colts acquired QB Carson Wentz from Philly in the offseason, but will that do them any good?? Wentz can’t seem to stay healthy, and at the moment it’s a tossup as to whether he’ll be ready to go Week 1. That leaves the door open for Tennessee. RB Derrick Henry is a stud & receiver Julio Jones came over from Atlanta a few months ago. He’s 32 years old, but with AJ Brown in the lineup Jones won’t have the pressure of being the top wideout. Replacing tight end Jonnu Smith won’t be easy, and that may be the chink in the armor of the Titans’ offense. I’m not sure what to make of the Titans’ defense, although they did add former Steelers’ linebacker Bud Dupree. Watch time of possession in their games. I think they’ll dominate that and win a bunch of low scoring grinders. Everyone has heard more than enough about the Deshaun Watson situation in Houston and there are still a ton of questions. Will they trade him?? Will he be suspended for a big chunk of the season?? If Tyrod Taylor takes most of the snaps I think the Texans are in for a long season. I don’t have much faith in the Jags either, although I think new head coach Urban Meyer will build around rookie QB Trevor Lawrence and have his team in the playoff conversation a year or two from now, but losing first round draft pick Travis Etienne in the preseason doesn’t bode well for this season.

Playoff Teams: Bengals, Bills, Chargers, Titans, Colts, Chiefs, Steelers

AFC Champion: Tennessee Titans

 

East

Washington Redskins (7-9) 10-7

Dallas Cowboys (6-10) 9-8

New York Giants (6-10) 7-10

Philadelphia Eagles (4-11-1) 5-12

I’m still not buying the Cowboys as legit Super Bowl contenders, although I believe QB Dak Prescott will be just fine returning from the ankle injury that torpedoed his season last year. I suppose the Giants could surprise me and be much better than they were a season ago, but my vibe is that they are just kind of treading water. It blows my mind to see how far the Eagles have fallen since winning the Super Bowl less than five years ago. Can Jalen Hurts make the leap from excellent college quarterback to solid NFL starter?? I think Philadelphia has a bunch of very good players on both sides of the ball, but they have lacked cohesion the past few seasons and I’m not sure that’s going to change. That leaves Washington as the favorite. Is their enough FitzMagic left in the 38 year old signal caller now playing for his ninth NFL team?? Having an elite defense led by Chase Young, Montez Sweat, & Landon Collins will certainly help.

West

Arizona Cardinals (8-8) 11-6

Los Angeles Rams (10-6) 10-7

Seattle Seahawks (12-4) 9-8

San Francisco 49ers (6-10) 7-10

This race is going to be fun to watch. Arizona & the Rams both made moves this summer, and whether or not they work out well one has to give them credit for not standing pat. Los Angeles thinks they have a better chance of advancing in the playoffs with 33 year old veteran QB Matthew Stafford than with 2016 top overall pick Jared Goff, who they shipped to Detroit. I think it might be a positive chain of events (eventually) for both guys. The Rams lost starting RB Cam Akers to injury but traded for former Patriot Sony Michel so I don’t believe the team will be negatively affected all that much. The defense, led by All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald, should be stout. Having said that, I am giving a slight edge to the Cardinals, who added receivers DeAndre Hopkins & AJ Green and have a defensive unit featuring newly acquired defensive end JJ Watt, first round LB Zaven Collins, and a very talented secondary. Seattle has won 10+ games seven out of the past eight years and Russell Wilson is still one of the best quarterbacks in the league, but I feel like they’ll drop off just enough to miss the playoffs. ‘Frisco needs to decide on a quarterback, and once they do that I think they can get back on track, but that might be a couple of years from now.

North

Minnesota Vikings (7-9) 9-8

Green Bay Packers (13-3) 9-8

Chicago Bears (8-8) 6-11

Detroit Lions (5-11) 1-16

Or as ESPN’s Chris Berman used to call it, The Norris Division. I am sure I don’t have to rehash the Packers/Aaron Rodgers drama that has dominated offseason news, but I think it might be just enough of a distraction to cost them the division. The Lions have stunk most of my nearly five decades on the planet and I don’t think that will suddenly change in 2021. Much like the 49ers the Bears have a quarterback conundrum. Conventional wisdom says the smart thing to do is start either journeyman Andy Dalton or former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles under center, but we all know the pressure from fans & the media will lead to rookie Justin Fields being handed the keys to the kingdom. That decision will likely pay off down the road, but it creates chaos right now. So why am I so high on the Vikings?? I don’t know to be honest. Kirk Cousins isn’t spectacular, but he can be a very good quarterback at times and he has solid weapons at receiver & running back. The secondary could be one of the best in the NFL, and guys like Danielle Hunter & Anthony Barr should disrupt opposing offenses often. It won’t be pretty, but I think the Norris goes to the Vikes by a nose.


South

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5) 13-4

New Orleans Saints (12-4) 8-9

Atlanta Falcons (4-12) 6-11

Carolina Panthers (5-11) 5-12

I’ve stopped waiting for Tom Brady to fall of a cliff. That whole regimen of 25 glasses of water per day, fruit smoothies, fish, and lots of veggies apparently works because he proved a year ago that he deserves much more credit for the Patriots “dynasty” than Bill Belichick. I don’t expect much to change this season, and it helps that the rest of the division will probably struggle. New Orleans has named Jameis Winston as their new starting QB after the retirement of Drew Brees, and Winston is going to have to prove himself before I start to believe in him. I don’t anticipate much improvement by the Falcons or Panthers. Carolina must stop opposing defenses from stacking the box to stifle premier RB Christian McCaffery, and for that to happen former Jets first rounder Sam Darnold will need to finally live up to his potential. Atlanta got rid of receiver Julio Jones and I’m just not impressed by what remains.

Playoff Teams: Redskins, Cardinals, Vikings, Bucs, Cowboys, Rams, Packers

NFC Champion: Green Bay Packers

 

Tennessee Titans 24

Green Bay Packers 19

Top Five Picks in 2022 NFL Draft

1 Detroit Lions

2 Houston Texans

3 Jacksonville Jaguars

4 Carolina Panthers

5 Philadelphia Eagles

 

Winning & Musing…Volume 2.21

Sadly football season is now over. Atleast we have Modified March Madness, the Daytona 500, & golf on the horizon, right?? The sports calendar may have its lulls, but they never last for long. 

 

 

 

 

Congratulations to the new Hall of Fame inductees: WR Calvin Johnson (Detroit Lions), who could’ve played atleast five more seasons and might’ve been considered the greatest receiver ever if he’d been on a perennial championship contender. O-Lineman Alan Faneca (Pittsburgh Steelers). DB John Lynch (Tampa Bay Buccaneers). QB Peyton Manning (Indianapolis Colts & Denver Broncos), who I will always consider a superior quarterback to Tom Brady. DB Charles Woodson (Oakland Raiders & Green Bay Packers), whose combined success in college & the NFL is probably under appreciated. WR Drew Pearson (Dallas Cowboys), who should have been in the HoF thirty years ago. Pittsburgh Steelers scout Bill Nunn, who played a huge part in building the 1970s dynasty. Former Oakland Raiders head coach Tom Flores. Not making the cut: O-Lineman Tony Boselli, linebackers Zach Thomas, Clay Matthews, & Sam Mills, and receivers Torry Holt & Reggie Wayne. 

 

 

A few friends posted on social media the day before the Super Bowl expressing total indifference about the Big Game. Actually I have several friends like that – absolutely no interest in sports whatsoever. To each their own, but honestly I’m very thankful to be a sports fan. Watching ball games, golf, & car races on TV has helped me thru some dark times at various points in my life. This past year I have observed several of my Facebook friends doing outdoor activities like fishing & hiking, and I’m a bit jealous. Such things are basically pandemic proof, which I’m sure has been a blessing for them. Unfortunately I’ve never been physically able to be outdoorsy, so I’ve relied heavily on simply being a sports fan. 

 

 

Real Time Super Bowl Thoughts:  

  • H.E.R.?? 👀 Stupid moniker, but she can sing, play guitar, & has a nice rack. 
  • I’m not a country music fan, but I might have to check out this Eric Church guy. Nice job on the anthem, although two voices aren’t necessarily a good thing. The lady singing kind of overpowered him. 
  • You mean that poet’s 15 minutes aren’t up yet?? ⌚️ Guess I can’t blame her for striking while the iron is hot. 
  • The Door Dash commercial with The Muppets is cute. 
  • “Jumping offside really does help you get to the QB sooner.” That’s some Booger McFarland level insight from Tony Romo 🤣.
  • Matthew McConaughey, Doritos, & Queen…an oddly compelling combination. Will Ferrell’s GM commercial is amusing. How can you have a group of Bud Light Legends without Spuds McKenzie or The Frogs?? Maybe that’s Budweiser?? I don’t know. On the rare occasion I drink beer I prefer good beer 🍺.
  • TB 7, KC 3 at the end of the 1st  Q. More defense & smash mouth football than most expected, and I’m okay with that. 
  • Mountain Dew Melon?? No thanks 🤢.
  • BIG 2nd Q goal line stand for the KC defense!!
  • The Jason Alexander Tide commercial is low key brilliant if you get the background music joke. TMobile, Gwen Stefani, & Blake Shelton…okay, I get it. Not bad 🤷🏻‍♂️.
  • 21-6…Tampa leads at the half. The Chiefs are making too many mental errors. 
  • A reasonably entertaining halftime show. I’m sure people far younger, allegedly way cooler, and more familiar with The Weekend than me will hype it as the best ever, but I’m nostalgic for the days of Prince, Michael Jackson, & Justin Timberlake. 
  • The Uber Eats Wayne’s World spot just made me sad. Wayne & Garth are looking old 👀.
  • Gronk is a freakin’ beast. I can’t hate on him like I do Brady. 
  • Dear Ashton Kutcher: Don’t. Ever. Sing. Again.
  • Tampa is up 31-9 at the end of Q3. If anyone but KC was the opponent I’d be changing the channel, but with Mahomes I feel like anything can happen.
  • “Only” 25k fans in a stadium that can seat over 65k. Will this event come to be known as a “super spreader”, or is that kind of thing over now that we have a new President?? 🏟
  • Blaine Gabbert now has more Super Bowl rings than Dan Marino, Dan Fouts, Jim Kelly, Warren Moon, & Fran Tarkenton…combined. Life isn’t fair. 
  • I hope Jason Pierre-Paul doesn’t celebrate with fireworks 🎇.
  • As a proud alumnus of Marshall University I can put aside my disdain for TB12 long enough to be happy for Bucs’ offensive coordinator & former Herd QB Byron Leftwich.
  • 31-9 Final. Tampa wins. The fallacy of The Patriots Dynasty has been exposed.  Belichick really is that coach who went 36-44 with the Cleveland Browns. It was Brady all along. He now has more titles than any franchise in NFL history, let alone individual players. Bastard. 
  • One thing the NFL does better than the other pro & even college leagues: the whole deal is over by 10:30pm. It’s Sunday night & people have to go to work in the morning, so the average fan doesn’t want to stay up until midnight. 

Winning & Musing…Volume 1.20

Football is over (mostly). Pitchers & catchers have reported. March Madness is right around the corner, and before it arrives we’ll have the Daytona 500. We have a lot on our plate folks…it’s a veritable sport-asbord. Well okay…that’s probably not a word that’s going to become anything, so let’s just jump on in.

 

 

 

 

It’s been a couple of weeks since the Super Bowl. A few thoughts:

*Congrats to the Kansas City Chiefs. I thought they’d win their division, but I also assumed they’d fall short in the playoffs. Thankfully the New England Patriots FINALLY showed some chinks in their armor and the Chiefs were able to take advantage and take home their first Lombardi Trophy in a half century. Well done.

*As much as I like Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes he should not have won Super Bowl MVP. That award rightly belonged to RB Damien Williams, who averaged over 6 yards/carry and had a touchdown. I know how these things work…Mahomes was destined to be the MVP no matter what if his team won. That’s just how it is. It’s a better story. But let’s be honest…Mahomes didn’t really get things going until the 4th quarter. Williams was consistent the entire game.

*The only commercial that even registered with me was the Jeep ad featuring Bill Murray in a Groundhog Day spoof. Citizens of The Manoverse may recall that I adore Groundhog Day, and since the big game just so happened to take place on the “holiday” it was simply perfect.

*Unlike a lot of older church folk I was not overly offended by the halftime show featuring Shakira & Jennifer Lopez. It was just about what I expected. There are a ton of more musically gifted artists that the NFL could have booked for the gig, but that’s not what the halftime show is about. Occasionally the ideas of musicality & showmanship intersect…Paul McCartney (2005), Michael Jackson (1993), Bruno Mars (2014), Prince (2007)…but more often than not they are two separate concepts. People must realize that the NFL isn’t going to drag The Mormon Tabernacle Choir or The Gaither Vocal Band out onto the field to sing hymns for the Super Bowl halftime show.

 

 

I was never a big fan of Kobe Bryant during the two decades he played for the Los Angeles Lakers, and I was harsh on him when circumstances dictated. However, sports fans do tend to enjoy aging athletes going out on a high note even if we’ve cheered against them their entire career, and Kobe’s 60 point game in his NBA swan song a few years ago was epic. In retirement he had transformed into a doting Dad, and really, who could dislike that?? To call the helicopter crash that killed Kobe tragic seems like an understatement. Nine people lost their lives, including three teenage girls, with one of those being Bryant’s daughter Gigi. I don’t believe in deifying athletes, but I also understand that it is difficult for human beings to wrap our mind around such a heartbreaking catastrophe. It made me sad to learn that Bryant had a disagreement with his parents & siblings a few years ago and wasn’t on speaking terms with them at the time of his passing. I cannot even imagine the pain that his family, along with the loved ones of the others killed in the crash, must be going thru.

 

 

Congratulations to the LSU Tigers for winning their third national title since 2003 (all three coming under a different head coach). It seemed inevitable, especially in the latter part of the regular season, but getting past the Clemson Tigers in the championship game was no easy feat. Would the Ohio St. Buckeyes (who were upset by Clemson in the semifinal) have given the Bayou Bengals a tougher fight?? Perhaps, but it’s folly to speculate. LSU head coach Ed Orgeron has certainly paid his dues in the sport, seems like a genuinely decent man, and is a perfect fit in his home state of Louisiana.

 

 

Zach beat me in our bowl picks. He was 28-13, while I went 22-19. Picking Ohio State to win the national championship didn’t help my situation since they essentially lost two games for me. However, the good news for yours truly is that I did come out ahead in our season long Pigskin Picks of Profundity. I was 61-43, while Zach finished with a .500 record of 52-52. As always a big thank you to my nephew for playing our silly little game. It’s all in good fun. There’s no money involved. We’re just two football fans who enjoy a good challenge.

 

 

With pitchers & catchers having reported now seems like a good time to weigh in on the sign stealing scandal that cost three MLB managers…AJ Hinch (Houston Astros), Alex Cora (Boston Red Sox), & Carlos Beltran (New York Mets)…their jobs. Cora was a bench coach for the Astros a few years ago while Beltran was a player for the team. To say that the situation “rocked baseball” feels inaccurate, since MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has taken very little action. Pete Rose was banned from baseball for betting on his own team (which obviously means he didn’t throw games), while the Astros won a World Series by blatantly cheating, yet none of those players are facing a ban and there’s no threat of their championship being stripped. Seriously?? Fay Vincent has got to be rolling over in his grave.

Winning & Musing…Farewell Football

You might think it is a bit weird that we are wrapping up the football season before The Super Bowl even kicks off, and perhaps it is, but that’s one of the things we’ll talk about, as well as tying up a few other loose ends in the inaugural 2019 edition of W&M. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

As a lifelong Pittsburgh Steelers fan I feel obligated to chime in on this Antonio Brown brouhaha. A couple of years ago Brown went on Facebook live from the locker room during a playoff postgame speech by head coach Mike Tomlin, and that was the first indicator to me that there might be an issue with his ego & attitude. Then, several months ago, a friend of mine suggested I check out a show on Animal Planet called Tanked, on which AB was a guest who was having a custom fish tank made for him. During that program I got a little more exposure to his arrogance. No one seems to be talking about the details of Brown’s falling out with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and I was always taught that there are three sides to every story…one side, the other side, & somewhere in the middle is the truth. Big Ben probably isn’t blameless. He has his faults, as do we all. However, given the preponderance of the evidence and the fact that Brown essentially quit on his team in the midst of a must-win scenario before the final game of the season I will not be heartbroken if the Steelers pull the trigger on a trade. Having said that, I hope that they are smart enough not to give the guy away for anything less than a first round pick, and it would be smart to send him to an NFC team. The vindictive side of me would like to see him go to a terrible team like Arizona, Tampa Bay, or Detroit, but that might be asking for too much. I’d be remiss to ignore Tomlin’s part in all of this drama. It is my personal belief that the Steelers have severely underachieved with him at the helm. That may seem a bit harsh since he has led the team to two Super Bowls and one championship, but most Steelers fans agree that the team should have won two or three additional Lombardi Trophies in the past several years. The Antonio Brown controversy has reinforced the general impression that the team lacks discipline and that Tomlin doesn’t run a tight ship. However, those calling for him to be fired are wasting their energy because that’s just not how the Steelers do things. They haven’t fired a head coach in a half century.

 

 

Zach edged me out in our college football Bowl-a-Palooza picks. He went 25-13, while I was 22-13.  I limped to the finish in our Pigskin Picks of Profundity, going 1-4 in the final week to finish the season 51-56. Conversely, Zach ended on a strong note, going 4-1 in the final week to end the season 47-61.

 

 

Congratulations to the Clemson Tigers for winning their second national championship in three years. I must confess that I watched very little of the title game because the Alabama Crimson Tide began to bore me to tears quite awhile ago, so I’m not sad at all that Clemson beat the snot out of ‘Bama by four touchdowns.

 

 

I am cautiously optimistic about new West Virginia Mountaineers head coach Neal Brown. After a few successful seasons at Troy (a 1-AA school that plays in the Sun Belt Conference) Brown comes to Morgantown after the sudden departure of former coach Dana Holgorsen. I can’t blame Holgorsen for bolting. Sure, Houston isn’t in a “Power 5” conference…but they will be, and probably sooner rather than later. Since the school is situated in the fourth largest city in America and the state of Texas is one of the top recruiting areas for elite athletes one must assume that the Cougars are a sleeping giant. There is also the fact that Holgorsen never seemed to feel totally comfortable in the Mountain State. He just never really fit in here, unlike beloved former coach Don Nehlen, who came to West Virginia in 1980 from Ohio and never left, even after he retired in 2000. Holgorsen will undoubtedly be happier in Houston and likely lead his team to great success. Meanwhile, Brown has made a good first impression and seems to quickly be fitting in just fine. Will that translate to winning on the field?? Who knows?? The truth is that no matter who the coach is the Mountaineers can probably expect to average 7 or 8 wins per season and play in a run-of-the-mill bowl game each December, but perhaps every once in awhile the stars will align, the dominos will all fall just right, and they could sneak into a Big 12 title game & maybe even the playoff. They’ve been that good maybe about a half dozen times in my 40+ years on the planet, so there’s always hope.

 

 

I’m not going to analyze my NFL Preview in detail. By now we all know I said a lot of crazy things that turned out to be completely wrong. In the NFC I only predicted 2 of the 6 playoff teams correctly, while I did a little better in the AFC, getting 4 out of 6 right. I placed way too much faith in my Steelers. Not only did they not get to The Super Bowl…they didn’t even make it to the playoffs. I nailed two of the Top 5 picks in this spring’s NFL Draft (Tampa & Arizona), and the 6-10 Denver Broncos & Cincinnati Bengals fell to 10th & 11th in the draft order only because so many other teams were even more inept, so I’m at peace with those choices. I had the Seattle Seahawks in that bottom five, but they actually went 10-6 and made the playoffs. I assume most pundits thought the San Francisco 49ers would be much better than 4-12 with the 2nd overall draft pick, but injuries destroyed their season. I really thought the Oakland Raiders & NY Jets would be rather decent this season, but they landed high draft choices as well.

 

 

As far as The Super Bowl goes, I just can’t get excited about it at all. I make no secret of my longstanding hatred of the New England Patriots, so cheering on the Los Angeles Rams would seem like a no-brainer. However, I’m not all that enthusiastic about the Rams because let’s be honest…they really shouldn’t be in the game. I don’t want to go off on a loquacious rant about officiating, but the blown call that cost the New Orleans Saints a trip to The Super Bowl was quite possibly one of the most egregious mistakes I’ve ever seen in any sport. It is inexcusable incompetence and the entire crew should be fired. The NFL needs to have some sort of mechanism in place to prevent or atleast correct such critical errors, even if it means almost total eradication of human judgment. Having said that, I suppose I will watch atleast some of “The Big Game” and pull for the Rams.

2018 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 2

Wow, the beginning of the NFL season kind of snuck up on me. When choosing which games to pick I could not pass up the opener featuring the defending Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles, but it’s a Thursday nighter, and early games for this procrastinator are an issue. Fortunately I think we’re going to make it just in time. I got off to a pretty good start last week. Zach?? Not so much. We’ll see how adding pro football into the mix spices things up. This is going to be quick & dirty due to time constraints, so enjoy.

My Season:        4-1

Z’s Season:      1-4 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clemson (-12)   at      Texas A&M

The Tigers had no problem beating down Furman last weekend, and A&M easily defeated Northwestern State. I have no doubt that Jimbo Fisher will dramatically improve the Aggies in time, but it might take a season or two. Conversely, Clemson seems damn near unbeatable. This game is in College Station, which is traditionally a raucous crowd. That should give me pause, but it really doesn’t. Clemson might lose at some point this year, but it’s not going to be this week. Zach points out that A&M played on Thursday last week, meaning they’ve had an extra couple of days to prepare for this game. He likes the home field and thinks this will be a close game. The Aggies may not win, but Zach believes they’ll cover the points.

My Pick:     Clemson

Z’s Pick:     Texas A&M

 

 

 

USC                     at      Stanford (-4)

As good as Stanford has been the last several years it feels like it has been rare for them to be favored over the Trojans. Of course they do have the nominal home field advantage, which makes sense I suppose. Both teams had fairly effortless wins last week, so not much can be learned from those games. I feel like Southern Cal has been overlooked a bit in the offseason and no one is expecting much because they are trying to replace QB Sam Darnold, now plying his trade with the New York Jets. Conversely, Stanford running back Bryce Love is a Heisman frontrunner and getting all kinds of attention. The Vibes are telling me the script might get flipped this weekend. Contrary to what I’ve observed, Zach feels like USC is overhyped…but he thinks they’ll get a close victory.

My Pick:     USC

Z’s Pick:     USC

 

 

 

San Francisco at      Minnesota (-3)

Expectations are high for the 49ers, but perhaps we need to pump the brakes a bit. Sure, Jimmy G. looks like he’s going to be a good quarterback, but I’m not sure about the weapons he has surrounding him, a concern exacerbated by the loss of starting RB Jerick McKinnon to a torn ACL just a few days ago. The defense could be quite good though, with the addition of Richard Sherman in the secondary being a solid move. But if we’re talking defense you can’t look past the best, and a season ago that was the Vikings. I don’t expect that to change this year, and new starting QB Kirk Cousins could push his team all the way to February. Zach doesn’t buy all the Cousins hype and thinks Garoppolo will emerge as the better quarterback, but he likes Minnesota to get the close win.

My Pick:     Minnesota

Z’s Pick:     Minnesota

 

 

 

Houston             at      New England (-6.5)

On paper this might look like a mismatch, but I am convinced that Houston’s 4-12 record in 2017 was an anomaly. QB Deshaun Watson and defensive lineman JJ Watt are both back & healthy, so I expect this season to be much different. The Patriots are what they are, and any perceived chinks in their armor haven’t shown up on the field. I think both teams will make the playoffs, but from a psychological perspective a win in this one would be huge for the Texans. Zach likes Houston well enough, but he just can’t pull the trigger against the Pats.

My Pick:     Houston

Z’s Pick:     New England

 

 

 

Atlanta                at      Philadelphia (-2.5)

The NFL season kicks off on Thursday night with the defending Super Bowl Champs having the home field against the Falcons, who most of the experts are predicting will battle New Orleans for the NFC South. The offseason hasn’t been perfect for the Eagles, and traditionally it is difficult for defending champions to recapture that magic a season later. I believe that Atlanta might be a bit overrated, and I’m not necessarily sure what to make of Philly, but for now I think the afterglow of that Super Bowl win lingers on and make this another night to celebrate in the City of Brotherly Love. Zach concurs and thinks the Eagles will win by two TDs.

My Pick:     Philadelphia

Z’s Pick:     Philadelphia

 

Winning & Musing…Bye Bye Football!!

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.

2017 NFL Mock Draft

After doing my first ever mock draft(s) back in 2014 and then trying again the following season I took last year off. I was recovering from surgery and just had too much occupying my mind. But we’re back baby!! I’m doing something a little different this time, a decision that is contrary to what typically defines me as a fan. My fantasy football buddies know that I love to tinker. Wheelin’ & dealin’ is a huge part of the fun for me. However, in putting together this mock draft I’ve decided not to do any imaginary trades. The only trades reflected here are the ones that have already been made in reality. I expect that there will be some deals done during the actual draft, but eliminating such speculation here concurrently simplifies the process while challenging my inner nature. The pool of prospects is deep this time so we’re doing a three round mock. My methodology is a hybrid of what I believe is likely to happen mixed with my own take on what teams should actually do. As always I have no inside knowledge about salary cap issues, contract negotiations, & what players may or may not do or where they may go in the future. The NFL Draft is educated randomness, but I’ll be darned if it’s not a lot of fun.

 

 

 

Round 1

 

1       Cleveland Browns

Myles Garrett – DE – Texas A&M

No one believes that there’s a quarterback in this draft worth the #1 overall pick, and the Browns are understandably a little gun shy given their poor quarterback track record in the past couple of decades. Ideally they’d trade out of this spot, but usually the only teams looking to move up this far are looking for a franchise signal caller, and that’s not going to happen. So Cleveland is likely to utilize the “best player available” strategy, and Garrett is the clear cut best player in the draft, a guy I’ve seen compared to recently retired Broncos LB/DE Demarcus Ware. If Garrett really is that good he’s certainly worth the top choice.

 

2       San Francisco 49ers

Reuben Foster – LB – Alabama

Don’t be surprised if ‘Frisco trades down out of this spot. I think it’s still too early for a quarterback, and even if they do draft one at some point it’s likely that Brian Hoyer or Matt Barkley will be starting most of the 2017 season. Better to address other needs with this choice, and Foster is a safe pick.

 

3       Chicago Bears

Malik Hooker – S – Ohio St.

Jay Cutler isn’t going to be behind center in Chicago this season. That job will be held by Mike Glennon, formerly of the Buccaneers. He’s probably not a long term solution, but he is good enough for the Bears not to reach for a quarterback with this selection. Wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey has bolted for Philadelphia, but with Eddie Royal, free agent arrivals Kendall Wright & Markus Wheaton, and 2015 first round pick Kevin White (finally healthy after two different leg injuries) receiver isn’t a need. Hooker is an immediate upgrade at safety.

 

4       Jacksonville Jaguars

Jonathan Allen – DT – Alabama

Calais Campbell was signed away from the Cardinals in free agency, and I think this addition would make the Jags’ defensive line quite formidable.

 

5       Tennessee Titans (from LA Rams)

Corey Davis – WR – Western Michigan

Tennessee has this pick as a result of a trade wherein the Rams moved up to the #1 overall slot to pick QB Jared Goff in 2016. Quarterback Marcus Mariota doesn’t have a top notch receiver to throw to on the current roster, so Davis seems like a logical choice.

 

6       New York Jets

Haason Reddick – LB – Temple

The Jets have whiffed on quarterbacks Geno Smith and…probably…Christian Hackenburg & Bryce Petty, although the jury is still out on those two. Josh McNown is the likely starter in 2017. The question is…is that okay?? Might they still sign a free agent signal caller or make a trade?? Either way, they should be about as hesitant as the Browns to roll the dice this early on a quarterback. Signing Morris Claiborne away from the Cowboys probably negates the need to choose a cornerback in this spot.  Reddick has been steadily moving up most draft boards, and he fulfills a need.

 

7       Los Angeles Chargers

Mike Williams – WR – Clemson

It still seems odd to say that…the LA Chargers. Although younger fans might not be aware that the Chargers originated in the old AFL in 1960 in Los Angeles before relocating to San Diego a year later. At any rate, this could be an interesting spot to take a quarterback and let him learn for a year or two behind Philip Rivers, who is 35 years old and known to not be a big fan of the move to Los Angeles. However, I don’t think they’ll pull the trigger just yet. Free agent Russell Okung moves down from Seattle to plug a massive hole at tackle, so there’s no need to reach for that position. Instead, Williams gives Rivers another weapon to go along with receiver Keenan Allen, RB Melvin Gordon, and tight ends Antonio Gates & Hunter Henry.

 

8       Carolina Panthers

Dalvin Cook – RB – Florida St.

Free agent Julius Peppers bolted Green Bay for the warmer climate of Carolina, so that fulfills a need on the defensive line. Matt Khalil has left Minnesota to join his brother Ryan on Carolina’s offensive line, which takes care of that issue. Are the Panthers comfortable with 30 year old Jonathan Stewart leading the rushing attack, backed up by Fozzy Whitaker & Cameron Payne?? Well, if necessary I am sure they’d live with it…but it’s not necessary. Cook is probably the most well-rounded running back in the draft, and I think he gets the nod.

 

9       Cincinnati Bengals

Solomon Thomas – DE – Stanford

Many pundits have Thomas as the second best prospect in the draft, so if he’s available at this point the Bengals will sprint to the stage to make the pick. He has been compared to Rams’ end Aaron Donald, and if he lives up to that evaluation Cincinnati will be quite happy with the choice for the next decade.

 

10     Buffalo Bills

Marshon Lattimore – CB – Ohio St.

The Bills lost cornerback Stephon Gilmore in free agency, so why not replace him with this pick?? Lattimore might even be an upgrade.

 

11     New Orleans Saints

Ryan Ramczyk – OT – Wisconsin

The Saints might consider replacing receiver Brandin Cooks, who they traded to New England. I think they’ll do that…just not yet. It is entirely possible that the Saints try to trade down…or even trade up…because this is a tough spot. With Lattimore already off the board cornerback is a reach here. My philosophy?? When in doubt upgrade the offensive line.

 

12     Cleveland Browns

Deshaun Watson – QB – Clemson

The Browns improved the defense with the top pick, and now I think they have to grab a quarterback. None of the best prospects are ready to walk right onto an NFL field as a starter, but Cleveland is still rebuilding anyway so they can be patient. Of the choices that have been deemed first round worthy I like Watson the best. He’s a winner. From my limited fan perspective it seems like he’s got the intangibles that separate the wheat from the chaff at this level. If he’s a bust…well, it wouldn’t be Cleveland’s first rodeo, right?? But if he lives up to his potential the sky may be the limit.

 

13     Arizona Cardinals

Malik McDowell – DT – Michigan St.

This is another tough spot. Carson Palmer isn’t getting any younger and he’s battled injuries a lot, which have derailed the Cardinals’ momentum. They went from 13-3 in 2015 to just 7-8-1 last season. Defensive tackle Calais Campbell, safety Tony Jefferson, & linebacker Kevin Minter all left via free agency, although linebacker Karlos Dansby returns to Arizona after wandering in the football desert of Ohio the past few seasons, and Jarvis Jones, a former first round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers, adds additional depth to that linebacker group. McDowell is a reach, but a replacement for Campbell is necessary. I think they can get a quarterback in the second round.

 

14     Philadelphia Eagles

Leonard Fournette – RB – LSU

Running back Wendell Smallwood from my West Virginia Mountaineers is on my dynasty league team, so this choice would sadden me a bit. However, my vibe is that Smallwood isn’t viewed as a top notch lead runner, while Fournette is a generational talent that some have compared to Adrian Peterson. Only his injury history has caused him to drop this far, otherwise he’d be a Top 5 pick.

 

15     Indianapolis Colts

Christian McCaffrey – RB – Stanford

No one would be more upset to see the Eagles take Fournette than the folks in Indy, where starting RB Frank Gore is 147 years old. They’ve done a lot to fix their defense in free agency, so I think offense is the priority here. I don’t believe there is a lineman worthy of this spot. That leaves McCaffrey, who I envision as a swiss army knife hybrid RB/WR who can be special in the right system. Hopefully head coach Chuck Pagano & offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski will know how to maximize his skills.

 

16     Baltimore Ravens

Jamal Adams – S – LSU

The Ravens will sprint to the podium with this selection. Adams can partner with free agent acquisition Tony Jefferson to make a formidable combo in the defensive backfield.

 

17     Washington Redskins

Derek Barnett – DE – Tennessee

Ideally the Redskins would trade out of this slot. Aside from that possibility, I have to think that upgrading the defense is a priority.

 

18     Tennessee Titans

Zach Cunningham – LB – Vanderbilt

With their first choice in this round Tennessee added a potent weapon on offense, so I think this pick has to be defense. They’ve added some pieces in free agency, but more needs to be done. One would assume that since Cunningham played college ball right there in Nashville the Titans are likely familiar with his work.

 

19     Tampa Bay Buccaneers

O.J. Howard –TE – Alabama

The Bucs added receiver DeSean Jackson in free agency, and along with Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans, & running backs Doug Martin and Charles Sims they provide QB Jameis Winston with a pretty good arsenal. The one thing missing?? An elite tight end. So I think it is a reasonable upgrade that’d make the Bucs’ offense quite intimidating.

 

20     Denver Broncos

Forrest Lamp – G – Western Kentucky

The quarterback competition in Denver looks to be between Paxton Lynch & Trevor Siemian. They’ll both be disappointed if Howard is already off the board, because a good tight end is a QB’s best friend. So, where is the value here?? They could still choose a tight end, but I think it is more likely that they’ll reach for a solid offensive lineman to protect whichever young signal caller wins the job.

 

21     Detroit Lions

Jabrill Peppers – S – Michigan

There are still plenty of great defenders available, so this pick just depends on who the powers-that-be in the Motor City prefer. I like Peppers in this spot. No one knows quite where he fits in the NFL. He’s too small to play linebacker, so safety is probably the best option. Can he be the second coming of Troy Polamalu?? I think it’s possible.

 

22     Miami Dolphins

Taco Charlton – DE – Michigan

The Dolphins are really building something with potential. This might be a good spot for a team to trade up to if they’re looking for a quarterback. If that doesn’t happen though Charlton could be a nice addition to the pass rush.

 

23     New York Giants

David Njoku – TE – Miami (FL)

The Giants have had an interesting off season, adding receiver Brandon Marshall to the offense and Geno Smith as the quarterback of the future. Okay, I’m kidding about that second part. Maybe. Who knows?? Anyway, since there isn’t good value at running back here (and I think Paul Perkins should be given a fair chance at succeeding) the focus might be on defense. Or will it?? The Giants have a solid history of good tight ends, from Mark Bavaro in the 80’s to Howard Cross in the 90’s to Jeremy Shockey a decade ago. Njoku would be a significant upgrade at the position and give an aging Eli Manning another weapon in the chase for a third Super Bowl ring.

 

24     Oakland Raiders

Marlon Humphrey – CB – Alabama

Will the Raiders sign running back Adrian Peterson?? And if they do, is that enough?? I’d hate to rely on a 32 year old tailback whose legs could abandon him at any minute. Can they trust DeAndre Washington with the job?? Those are all questions that don’t currently have an answer, and the point is moot anyway because I don’t think there’s another first round talent at running back. The Raiders will focus on improving an already stellar defense, and Humphrey should be a starter from Day 1. He’s the fourth Alabama alum off the board in this round, which shouldn’t really surprise anyone.

 

25     Houston Texans

Mitch Trubisky – QB – North Carolina

I was convinced that Tony Romo would be the quarterback for the Texans in 2017, but to the surprise of many that’s not happening, which is unfortunate because Houston is just a quarterback away from being a legit Super Bowl contender. I don’t know what they do for the immediate future, but with this pick they must think long term. Trubisky is a nice fit. It would have been advantageous for him to sit & learn for a year or two behind Romo…instead he might be warming the bench while Jay Cutler or Colin Kaepernick try to lead the team to The Promised Land.

 

26     Seattle Seahawks

Fabian Moreau – CB – UCLA

I like the fact that the Seahawks added former #2 overall pick Luke Joeckel to their offensive line and former Packer Eddie Lacy to a running back mix that also includes Thomas Rawls & CJ Prosise. Moreau is a piece that might actually re-legitimize the Legion of Boom.

 

27     Kansas City Chiefs

Caleb Brantley – DT – Florida

The Chiefs are the real deal, but they’re also in a really tough division. They lost defensive tackle Dontari Poe in free agency, so they’ll be looking for a replacement. Brantley might be somewhat of a reach, but he fills a need.

 

28     Dallas Cowboys

Obi Melifonwu – S – Connecticut

It seems like the Cowboys lost their entire defense in free agency. Defensive backs Barry Church, Morris Claiborne, & Brandon Carr all bolted Big D for greener pastures. Melifonwu impressed a lot of people at the combine, and he can probably step right into a starting role for a depleted Dallas defense.

 

29     Green Bay Packers

Alvin Kamara – RB – Tennessee

The Packers don’t really have many holes to fill, although I am not convinced that receiver turned running back Ty Montgomery is truly the answer in the backfield after the departure of Eddie Lacy. What about Christine Michael?? Ehhhh…I don’t know. Kamara is probably a reach at this point, but he might seize the job easily and make the choice look brilliant.

 

30     Pittsburgh Steelers

Raekwon McMillan – LB – Ohio St.

I know my Steelers well enough to know that, despite most fans wanting desperately for them to upgrade the secondary, they covet the linebacker position more than just about anything. With Jarvis Jones & Lawrence Timmons having moved on the position is a legit issue. Ryan Shazier is great and Bud Dupree has potential, but James Harrison can’t play forever and everyone else is unproven. Pittsburgh has had good luck drafting former Buckeyes, which gives McMillan the nod over a couple other possibilities.

 

31     Atlanta Falcons

Cordrea Tankersley – CB – Clemson

The Falcons’ defense got eaten alive by Tom Brady in the second half of the Super Bowl, so I have to believe that will be a point of emphasis going forward. Defensive tackle Dontari Poe defected to Atlanta from Kansas City in free agency, so that fills one huge need. There are a plethora of cornerbacks to choose from in this spot, but I’m going with Tankersley for no apparent reason.

 

32     New Orleans Saints (from New England Patriots)

John Ross – WR – Washington

This pick is obvious. The Saints traded away speedy wideout Brandin Cooks. They took an offensive tackle with the 11th pick. There are enough corners available they can be patient, especially if they also lure Malcolm Butler away from New England as expected. Ross is a solid replacement for Cooks.

 

 

 

 

 

Round 2

33     Cleveland Browns

TreDavious White – CB – LSU

In the first round the Browns got the best player in the draft in defensive end Myles Garrett and took their latest quarterback of the future. They need a corner to bookend with All-Pro Joe Haden, and White should fit the bill.

 

34     San Francisco 49ers

DeShone Kizer – QB – Notre Dame

The Niners added linebacker Reuben Foster in the first round. The top two field generals…Watson & Trubisky…are off the board, so ‘Frisco will roll the dice on Kizer to develop for a year or two while Brian Hoyer and/or Matt Barkley pretend to be pro quarterbacks.

 

35     Jacksonville Jaguars

Cam Robinson – OT – Alabama

The Jags made what is probably the safest choice in the draft with their first round selection of defensive tackle Jonathan Allen. Now they can solidify the offensive line with a massive addition.

 

36     Chicago Bears

Garett Bolles – OT – Utah

After signing Mike Glennon away from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (and also picking up Mark Sanchez…lol) the need for a quarterback is diminished in the short term, which is good since the value isn’t there in this spot. The secondary was addressed in the first round. Improving the offensive line is always a solid choice.

 

37     Los Angeles Rams

Chidobe Awuzie – CB – Colorado

The Rams didn’t have a first round pick and didn’t make any major free agency moves. Wade Phillips is the defensive coordinator now, and in the past he has worked wonders for teams like the Texans & Broncos. They really need to address the secondary.

 

38     Los Angeles Chargers

Dan Feeney – G- Indiana

The Chargers added a premier wideout in the first round. I think it is still a bit early to take the quarterback of the future since Rivers is likely going to be around for a couple of years. It is more likely, especially with the departure of guard DJ Fluker, that they address the offensive line, even after signing tackle Russell Okung away from Seattle.

 

39     New York Jets

Pat Mahomes – QB – Texas Tech

The Jets played it smart in the first round…but they just can’t help themselves. They’ll add to their collection of quarterbacks and pray that one of them actually develops into something resembling a competent pro.

 

40     Carolina Panthers

Charles Harris – DE – Missouri

Let’s be honest. Julius Peppers, at age 37, is a temporary fix. The Panthers need a young end that can be mentored by the veteran.

 

41     Cincinnati Bengals

Takkarist McKinley – LB – UCLA

The Bengals released linebacker Rey Maualuga and signed Kevin Minter away from Arizona. I think they’ll still look to solidify the position in the draft.

 

42     New Orleans Saints

Teez Tabor – CB – Florida

The Saints improved the offensive line and replenished the receiving corps in the first round. I think they go defense here, solidifying the secondary. They still might end up getting cornerback Malcolm Butler from the Patriots, but then again they might not. Either way adding some depth is never a bad thing.

 

43     Philadelphia Eagles

Jourdan Lewis – CB – Michigan

The Eagles have rebuilt their receiving corps this offseason with the additions of Torrey Smith & Alshon Jeffrey. They took a stud running back in the first round. Now it’s time to improve the secondary.

 

44     Buffalo Bills

Curtis Samuel – WR – Ohio St.

Other than Sammy Watkins the Bills have nothing impressive at receiver, and Watkins seems to have a hard time staying healthy. If they want any quarterback to succeed he’s got to have some weapons.

 

45     Arizona Cardinals

Davis Webb – QB – California

Any quarterback taken in this spot is a gamble. But with an injury prone & aging Carson Palmer backed up by Drew Stanton the situation warrants a roll of the dice. Webb has tremendous size, especially if he adds some muscle. Cal has produced guys like Aaron Rodgers, Steve Bartowski, Kyle Boller, & Jared Goff, so maybe Webb can evolve into a solid NFL quarterback.

 

46     Indianapolis Colts

Dion Dawkins – G – Temple

Indianapolis took Christian McCaffrey in the first round, and they did a lot to upgrade the defense in free agency. It seems like protecting quarterback Andrew Luck has been an issue every one of his five NFL seasons, so they’ll keep trying to improve.

 

47     Baltimore Ravens

Chris Godwin – WR – Penn St.

After solidifying the secondary in the first round and in free agency the Ravens have a couple of directions they can go in this spot. Steve Smith is retired and the jury is still out on 2015 first round pick Breshad Perriman, leaving only Mike Wallace as a reliable pass catcher, so I think Baltimore has to pull the trigger on a wideout.

 

48     Minnesota Vikings

Chris Wormley – DT – Michigan

The Vikings didn’t have a first round selection due to last year’s trade that brought them QB Sam Bradford from Philly. They’ve replaced the aging Adrian Peterson with running back Latavius Murray, formerly of the Raiders…a great move in my opinion. I think they’ll go defense here, choosing from among the best players available to add some depth.

 

49     Washington Redskins

Adoree’ Jackson – CB – USC

The Redskins lost two receivers…DeSean Jackson & Pierre Garcon…in free agency. Terrelle Pryor comes over from Cleveland to fill one of those spots, and Brian Quick, formerly of the Rams, takes care of the other. And of course they have last year’s top pick Josh Doctson, so the wideout spot is solid. They have a stable of young running backs and a good offensive line. The pass rush was enhanced in Round 1, so I think the back end gets some attention here, especially with DeAngelo Hall being 33 years old.

 

50     Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Budda Baker – S – Washington

The Bucs added a big tight end in the first round, so they can now turn their attention to defense. Baker adds to a secondary that already includes last year’s first round pick, cornerback Vernon Hargreaves.

 

51     Denver Broncos

Taylor Moton – OT – Western Michigan

We know the Broncos have a great defense, but no one is too sure what to expect from the offense. They added an offensive lineman in Round 1, but don’t be surprised if they double up on that area of need.

 

52     Cleveland Browns (from Tennessee Titans)

Pat Elflein – C – Ohio St.

Cleveland has this pick as a result of a trade the Titans made last year so they could go up and get tackle Jack Conklin (a move that worked out well for Tennessee). The Browns have already addressed needs at quarterback & corner, as well as taking the best defensive end in the draft with the top overall selection. They might end up using this pick as an asset to trade up, but that’s an unknown. I think this is a good spot to solidify an offensive line that already has a lot of talent. Center Alex Mack moved on to Atlanta last season after seven years with the Browns (netting an appearance in the Super Bowl…not a bad exchange on his part), so maybe they find a talented replacement in this spot.

 

53     Detroit Lions

Tim Williams – LB – Alabama

After addressing issues on both lines in free agency and adding the athletic Jabrill Peppers in the first round it seems like Detroit should be focusing on the linebacker position with this pick. Apparently Williams had some off the field issues at ‘Bama, but he’s being compared to Raiders’ (and former WVU) pass rusher Bruce Irvin, so we know a team will be willing to roll the dice. Putting a guy with a history of marijuana & firearms arrests in Detroit…what could possibly go wrong??

 

54     Miami Dolphins

Gareon Conley – CB – Ohio St.

I really like Miami’s offensive. However, despite a line that includes Ndamukong Suh & Cameron Wake and the presence of linebackers Kiko Alonso & Lawrence Timmons I still think the defense needs some work.

 

55     New York Giants

T.J. Watt – LB – Wisconsin

The G-Men added their next great tight end in Round 1, so now I think they’ll tinker with the defense a bit. If TJ is even half as good as his brother JJ this will be a steal.

 

56     Oakland Raiders

Joe Mixon – RB – Oklahoma

The Raiders added a cornerback in Round 1, so I feel like this might be a good spot for a curveball. I’m sure DeAndre Washington will be given every opportunity to win the starting job, and IF Adrian Peterson is brought in that adds some depth, but Mixon is rising up many draft boards and he’s just the kind of controversial player the Raiders have always taken a chance on. Wow…Peterson & Mixon in the same backfield?? Wrap your head around that.

 

57     Houston Texans

Dorian Johnson – G – Pitt

Whomever ends up being the quarterback will need a deep & talented offensive line in front of them. 

 

58     Seattle Seahawks

Larry Ogunjobi – DT – Charlotte

What do you get a team that has everything?? In this case I think beefing up the interior of the defensive line is a smart move.

 

59     Kansas City Chiefs

Jarrad Davis – LB – Florida

The Chiefs didn’t do a whole lot in free agency besides signing CJ Spiller to replace the departed Jammal Charles at running back. I feel like they need to add some depth to the pass rush, especially with Tamba Hali being 33 years old.

 

60     Dallas Cowboys

Kevin King – CB – Washington

Dallas has to continue rebuilding their defense. Period.

 

61     Green Bay Packers

Dalvin Tomlinson – DT – Alabama

The Pack replaced departed running back Eddie Lacy in the first round, so now they can turn their attention to the defense. Tomlinson would be the sixth ‘Bama player taken in the first 61 picks…about 10% of the draft thus far. I don’t know if that’s any kind of record, but it sure is impressive.

 

62     Pittsburgh Steelers

Carl Lawson – DE – Auburn

In the first round my Steelers replenished a depleted linebacker corps. They added a couple of nice complementary pieces in free agency, and I’m sure they’ll take the best player available here. That might just be Lawson, who has drawn comparisons to Dwight Freeney. He’s battled injuries at the collegiate level, so where he lands will be largely dependent on medical evaluations.

 

63     Atlanta Falcons

Josh Jones – S – North Carolina St.

In Round 1 the Falcons addressed secondary issues that cost them the Super Bowl. They might want to consider doubling up just to be sure.

 

64     New England Patriots

Roderick Johnson – OT – Florida St.

The Super Bowl champs finally get to make a selection, although I really don’t know how they could improve, especially after trading for receiver Brandin Cooks, signing cornerback Stephon Gilmore away from Buffalo, & getting defensive end Kony Ealy from Carolina. I suppose refining the offensive line to protect the ageless Tom Brady wouldn’t be a bad move.

 

 

 

Round 3

 

65     Cleveland Browns

Desmond King – S- Iowa

 

66     San Francisco 49ers

Duke Riley – LB – LSU

 

67     Chicago Bears

Sidney Jones – CB – Washington

 

68     Jacksonville Jaguars

Jake Butt – TE – Michigan

 

69     Los Angeles Rams

JuJu Schuster – WR – USC

 

70     New York Jets

Quincy Wilson – CB – Florida

 

71     Los Angeles Chargers

Brad Kaaya – QB – Miami (FL)

 

72     New England Patriots (from Carolina Panthers)

Montravius Adams – DT – Auburn

 

73     Cincinnati Bengals

Tyler Orlosky – C – West Virginia

 

74     Baltimore Ravens (from Philadelphia Eagles)

Vincent Taylor – DT – Oklahoma St.

 

75     Buffalo Bills

Antonio Garcia – OT – Troy

 

76     New Orleans Saints

Nathan Peterman – QB – Pitt

 

77     Arizona Cardinals

Rasul Douglas – CB – West Virginia

 

78     Baltimore Ravens

Tarell Basham – DE – Ohio

 

79     Minnesota Vikings

Isaac Asiata – G – Utah

 

80     Indianapolis Colts

Marcus Williams – S – Utah

 

81     Washington Redskins

Eddie Jackson – S – Alabama

 

82     Denver Broncos

Evan Engram – TE – Mississippi

 

83     Tennessee Titans

Cooper Kupp – WR – Eastern Washington

 

84     Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Elijah Qualls – DT – Washington

 

85     Detroit Lions

Ahkello Witherspoon – CB – Colorado

 

86     Minnesota Vikings

Will Holden – OT – Vanderbilt

 

87     New York Giants

Jaleel Johnson – OT – Iowa

 

88     Oakland Raiders

Tyus Bowser – LB – Houston

 

89     Houston Texans

Ryan Anderson – LB – Alabama

 

90     Seattle Seahawks

Chad Wheeler – OT – USC

 

91     Kansas City Chiefs

Jalen Myrick – CB – Minnesota

 

92     Dallas Cowboys

DeMarcus Walker – DE – Florida St.

 

93     Green Bay Packers

Cameron Sutton – CB – Tennessee

 

94     Pittsburgh Steelers

Dede Westbrook – WR – Oklahoma

 

95     Atlanta Falcons

Carlos Watkins – DT – Clemson

 

96     New England Patriots

D’Onta Foreman – RB – Texas

 

*97    Miami Dolphins

Devonte Fields – DE – Louisville

 

*98    Carolina Panthers

Ryan Switzer – WR – North Carolina

 

*99    Philadelphia Eagles (from Baltimore Ravens)

Derek Rivers – DE – Youngstown St.

 

*100 Tennessee Titans (from LA Rams)

Danny Isidora – G – Miami (FL)

 

*101 Denver Broncos

Samaje Perine – RB – Oklahoma

 

*102 Seattle Seahawks

David Sharpe – OT – Florida

 

*103 New Orleans Saints (from Cleveland via New England)

Marlon Mack – RB – South Florida

 

*104 Kansas City Chiefs

Josh Dobbs – QB – Tennessee

 

*105  Pittsburgh Steelers

James Conner – RB – Pitt

 

*106 Seattle Seahawks

Brian Allen – CB – Utah     

 

*107 New York Jets

Isaiah Ford – WR – Virginia Tech

Winning & Musing…..A Post-Super Bowl Wrap-Up

I know I said I wasn’t going to watch The Super Bowl, but I did…kind of. The Owl called me about a half hour before kickoff and we talked until midway thru the 4th quarter. The game was on but my TV was muted. However, thanks to modern technology I was able to go back and fill in some blanks so I could knowledgeably pontificate on all related matters. The things I do for my peeps. You’re welcome.

 

 

 

 

 
imI didn’t have any major issues with Idina Menzel’s rendition of the national anthem. I’m not a fan of Menzel’s distracting odd-shaped mouth or the fact that she unleashed Let It Go on an unsuspecting populace, but atleast she didn’t forget the words like Christina Aguilera four years ago.

 

 

 

It seems like the best Super Bowl commercial is the one that didn’t air. GoDaddy.com (a company I despise because of their idiotic name) produced an ad that mocked Budweiser’s sentimental puppy commercials, during which a little dog runs away but returns only to have the owner say she’d just sold him online with a website she created thru GoDaddy. It was a clever parody. But unfortunately we live in the United States of the Offended, a nation that seems to have lost our collective sense of humor. A bunch of pansies started an online petition demanding that the ad be pulled, a petition that stated that GoDaddy was “encouraging private breeding/puppy mills while shelter animals wait patiently for their forever homes” and also railed laugh2against online transactions involving pets because the animal “could be sold to someone who runs a fighting ring, someone who abuses animals, or someone who cannot adequately care for an animal.” Oh please…get a freakin’ grip people!! I could walk out of The Bachelor Palace and be struck by a meteor. I could go on a blind date and find out the potential mother of my children is a homeless transvestite serial killer with a drug & alcohol addiction. I could traipse all the way to the local grocery store specifically to purchase a gallon of skim milk only to find them sold out of everything but half gallons of 2%. It’s called life!! Look, I am not minimizing the value of responsible pet ownership. I know several people who have rescue pets and folks that foster on a regular basis. I’m down with the jive. I love my dog more than just about anything in the world. But this is a nationally known company that paid $4.5 MILLION for a 30 second ad during the Super Bowl and because a bunch of bored bleeding hearts got their knickers in a twist was forced to hurriedly produce and air a subpar commercial. They certainly didn’t get their money’s worth. Can’t we all just lighten up?? Laugh a little. Learn to take a joke. You’ll live longer.

 

 

 

kpKaty Perry’s halftime show was…okay. Perry, a fallen preacher’s kid who has turned her back on The Lord and embraced 21st century whore culture, is a lovely young lady that has put out some catchy tunes (amongst the other things she has put out), but I’m not the target audience for her act. Lenny Kravitz wasted his time & talents by even showing up, and I didn’t know who that fat rapper dude was that popped in. It was a visually creative spectacle, especially at the end when Perry flew off on the star from the “The More You Know” PSAs that used to air on NBC in the 90’s. I am sure that teenage girls and massive amounts of 20-somethings with no taste are going to trumpet this as the greatest Super Bowl halftime show EVER…but I’ll take Springsteen, McCartney, Prince, dead pedophile Michael Jackson, or even Justin Timberlake & Janet Jackson’s old saggy nipple any day of the week.

 

 

 

How big of an idiot is Seattle head coach Pete Carroll, not to mention offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell?? I’m pretty old-fashioned when it comes topc football. I suppose spread offenses & dual threat quarterbacks are fun to watch, but at the end of the day if you can’t hand the ball off to your running back at the 1 yard line and ram it down the defense’s throat for a touchdown then you don’t deserve to win. Throwing the ball in that situation is insane, and no explanation can logically justify the play that was called. I am certainly no fan of Seahawks’ RB Marshawn Lynch. He made a complete jackass out of himself in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl. Having said that though, if Lynch is in your backfield at the 1 yard line GIVE HIM THE DAMN BALL!!!! And if that fails I think QB Russell Wilson is a pretty good second option. Get him out in space. Let him try to find an open guy, or if nothing is available he can throw the ball away. I don’t know how many offensive plays are in a typical NFL playbook, but I have to believe that in a list of options the play that was called would have to be dead last. Carroll can no longer be taken seriously as a head coach on any level, and Bevell…once thought to be a potential future head coach…may have just irreversibly torpedoed his career.

 

 

 

sb2You know who I feel sorry for?? Seattle wide receiver Jermaine Kearse. Kearse made an amazing juggling catch that put the Seahawks inside the 5 yard line with about a minute remaining in the game. That catch should be…and would have been…remembered as one of the greatest catches in Super Bowl history. It was spectacular. Sadly, due to the stupidity of the “braintrust” that called Seattle’s final offensive play, Kearse’s incredible reception will just kind of disappear into the ether, as if it never happened at all.

Winning & Musing…..Volume 1.15

kickoff_footballThe Super Bowl is this Sunday but your humble Potentate of Profundity won’t be watching. I think it might be the first time in 42+ years on the planet that I haven’t bought into the hype. The truth is that my interests have shifted a bit in the past couple of years and I find myself less interested in sports than I once was. I find both teams involved to be somewhat loathsome. We know that the commercials won’t be all that interesting (there hasn’t been a truly memorable slate of Super Bowl ads in several years) and I can check them all out online on Monday anyway. They have a semi-talented harlot performing the halftime show which I am sure will thrill little girls with no taste and teenage boys attracted to the…well…not the music, that’s for sure. There’s just nothing there for me. My energy can be better spent reading a book or on any number of other activities. So, with that in mind now seems like the perfect time to wrap up the football season by tying some loose ends and pontificating on whatever else pops into my brain. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

I apologize that our Pigskin Picks of Profundity ended with such a whimper. I ran into some computer issues right before the final week of the NFL 1regular season. I am not opposed to taking a bye week, but that’s not how I wanted to finish the year. However it is what it is. C’est la vie. For the season Zach finished with a 46-50 record (he had a brutal final week…well, the final week that we picked), while I concluded with a record of 52-44. I’d put our records against any of the talking heads at ESPN.

 

Our bowl picks were even closer, but with the same result. I went 23-15 for a 60.5% winning percentage, while Zach was 22-17 for a 56.4% winning Ohio_State_Buckeyespercentage. Neither of us picked Ohio St. to win the national title or even make it past the semifinal. I am sure we weren’t alone in assuming Alabama would defeat the Buckeyes. Obviously we were wrong.

 

Looking back at my pre-season Top 25 a few things pop out. I had Florida St., Oregon, & Alabama in the Top 3, but made the assumption that Ohio St.’s NCAA_footballchances at a national championship were lost when QB Braxton Miller was lost to injury. I was way wrong. My 4th team was South Carolina, which ended up going 6-6. I said Boise St. would win 10 or 11 games (they won 11 in the regular season), although they did finish a few spots lower in the final rankings than I thought they would. Baylor, Michigan St., & UCLA had strong seasons as I predicted. I whiffed on Oklahoma, who I thought would be a Top 10 team but finished with just 8 wins. My Marshall Thundering Herd blew an opportunity to go undefeated and finish with a Top 15 record as I’d hoped, but did end up 23rd in the polls. LSU had a subpar 8 win season and didn’t finish ranked liked I thought they would. Ditto for Notre Dame. Arizona had a solid year and finished just about where I predicted. Ditto for Auburn.

 

My NFL prognostications were solid with few surprises. I got 5 out of 8 division winners correct. My Steelers really surprised me by winning the AFC nfl-footballCentral, while their Pennsylvania neighbors the Philadelphia Eagles completely fell apart down the stretch, losing 3 out of their final 4 games. I picked 5 out of 6 AFC playoff teams, although I said it’d be Denver representing the conference in The Super Bowl. Damn I wish I would have been right about that. I only got 3 out of 6 NFC playoff teams right and predicted Green Bay would go to The Super Bowl. If their coach wasn’t so conservative and they could play special teams at all I would have been right.

 

dfEven though I am ambivalent in regard to The Super Bowl the fact is that this DeflateGate stuff with the New England Patriots has been difficult to escape. Even non-sports news outlets are talking about it. I actually turned off the AFC Championship game at halftime and was in bed by 8:30pm that night. I could see where things were headed and just couldn’t stomach watching anymore Patriots “success”. So do I believe that they deflated balls in a covert attempt to win the game in an underhanded fashion?? Yes I do. Do I believe deflating balls helped all that much and altered the outcome of the game?? Not really. Although I do think those that are pointing out that New England outscored Indianapolis 28-0 in the second half after the subterfuge had been discovered and the footballs pumped up to their proper air pressure are missing the point. By halftime the game was over. The Colts’ spirits had been broken. Whatever kind of advantage the chicanery did provide in the first half was enough. I am a big believer in momentum. I think that if the score would have been 17-14 or 10-10 at the half it is possible that Indianapolis might have been more competitive. However, whether or not deflated balls made a difference in who won & lost the game isn’t really the most important issue. The fact is that over the past dozen or so years the New England Patriots, under the “leadership” of head coach Bill Belichick, have been proven to be built on a foundation of cheating and arrogantly thumbing their nose to the rulebook. If they win The Super Bowl will they really care about a fine of a few hundred grand or losing a draft pick?? Of course not. It’ll be a small df2price to pay. It is well known that NFL Commissioner Fidel Goodell is good buddies with Pats owner Bob Kraft. Goodell is an incompetent assclown anyway, and any kind of preferential, non-objective treatment of the Patriots in this situation would further call into question Goodell’s capability to carry out his duties properly. I know that this will never happen, but what I would do is fine the team $10 million, take away their 1st, 2nd, & 3rd round draft picks for the next three years, and suspend Belichick for the entire 2015 season. Surely this would be a stiff enough penalty to f-i-n-a-l-l-y get the attention of the folks in New England.

 

I had a huge problem with the NCAA ending all sanctions against Penn St. football a few months ago, penalties that had been handed down in the wake joe-paterno-psu1of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal and resulting investigation. I thought the scholarship restrictions and post-season ban should have stayed in effect for the entire 4 years they had been originally set at. However, I don’t have any issue with former/late head coach Joe Paterno’s wins being restored. I have always believed that retroactively going back and changing record books and acting as if games never happened was kind of silly. We all know who won those games…why ignore it?? Eliminating the post-season ban and restoring full scholarship capacity is, in my opinion, a much bigger deal because I am not sure the citizens of Happy Valley and Nittany Lions fans have really been humbled and learned to put football in a proper perspective. It feels to me like they still assume that Penn St. is above the rules…and evidently they are right.

2014 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 13

Okay I just have to vent…again. This college football playoff thing is a complete joke. I never in a million years thought something could be worse than the BCS, but the current system has somehow managed to make the BCS look logical & fair. As an alumnus of Marshall University and a longtime fan of the Thundering Herd I find it outrageously offensive that they have thus far been excluded from the playoff committee’s Top 25. Even some of the talking heads thought this would finally be the week that the Herd was included, but instead Minnesota…a three loss team that was defeated by Ohio St. just a few days earlier…remained in the same #25 spot they’d held previously. Three loss teams Louisville and Clemson (who lost a few days ago just like Minnesota) are both ranked ahead of 10-0 Marshall as well. To add insult to injury, last week on ESPN’s Mike & Mike former Florida St. QB Danny Kanell, whose prickishness just oozes thru the TV screen, said in reference to some highly ranked team (it may have been the Seminoles, who like Marshall have had many question the strength of their schedule) that they can only play theFU teams that are put in front of them. Oh really?? That’s exactly what Marshall has done you sanctimonious assclown, and they’ve beaten the snot out of everyone they’ve faced (unlike Florida St., which is the luckiest team I’ve ever seen and should have lost atleast 2 games already). No one is saying that Marshall should be in the playoff. That’s not the point. The issue is that the committee not even putting them in their Top 25 is ridiculous. It’s basically a bunch of arrogant elitists saying to someone they perceive as “lesser” than them “you’re not invited to our exclusive club”. D*****bags like Kanell even refer to games among the “power” conferences as “big boy football”. The problem with their logic is that the “power” 5 conferences AND the “other” 5 conferences are ALL in the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision (what used to be called Division 1-A) and therefore should have equal access to the FBS National Championship. If the “have-nots” aren’t going to have that kind of access then the divisions need revised. Let the chosen ones play “big boy football” while guys like Danny Kanell lube up and pleasure themselves watching it on TV, and allow the teams in the MAC, C-USA, Mountain West, AAC, & Sun Belt to form their own division and play for a separate national title. Maybe some “lower” teams like Boise St. would try to move up to “big boy football”. Maybe some current 1-AA teams would move up into whatever this new “lower” division would be. It’s all good. The point is that we could remove all pretense and let the morons in the media focus their idolatry on their chosen few, while the little guys would still have something legit to play for.

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Anyway, sorry for the rant. Y’all are here for some picks. Last week I went 3-4, bringing my season record to 35-32. Zach was an impressive 6-1 and nailed the prediction that Alabama would defeat Mississippi St. but not cover the 7½ point spread. His season record is now 36-31. This looks like kind of a mediocre week in college football, but I think we’ve found a few noteworthy games as well as a couple of NFL matchups that should be fun. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

Arizona at Utah (-4)
Neither of these teams is heading to the playoff or even the Pac 12 title game, but both are solid Top 25 teams that have had quietly successful seasons. The Utes ArizonaWildcatsget the slight home field advantage, but I think Arizona is the better team and will win this game easily. Zach likes the Wildcats by a TD.

My Pick = Arizona
Z’s Pick = Arizona

 

 

 

Louisville at Notre Dame (-3.5)
It’s awfully convenient that Louisville was never given the time of day when they were in the old Big East, but now all the sudden they are in the ACC and the playoff NotreDame1committee awards them a Top 25 spot even though they’ve lost three games (including an early season loss to now 4-6 Virginia) and have such luminaries as Murray St. and Florida International on their schedule. Oh by the way, Marshall also played Florida International and beat them by almost the same margin as Louisville did. The Irish have lost 3 out of their last 4 games and have quietly slipped out of the polls. Not even the idiotic playoff committee ranks Notre Dame. Apparently Minnesota’s victories over Eastern Illinois, Middle Tennessee, San Jose St., & Purdue (honest to God…the Gophers haven’t beaten anyone with a damn pulse…exactly what Marshall is accused of) are more impressive than Irish wins over Stanford and…well, okay…Stanford is the only decent team Notre Dame has beaten and even they are only 5-5. At any rate, I think Notre Dame is going to open up a can of epic whoopass on Louisville, and I hope it happens just to make the playoff committee look stupid. Zach has no love for Notre Dame, but he thinks they’ll win.

My Pick = Notre Dame
Z’s Pick = Notre Dame

 

 

 

USC at UCLA (-3.5)
ucla_bruins2The Battle of L.A. And it may also decides who will meet Oregon in the Pac 12 title game. I suppose UCLA still has an outside shot to make USC_Trojans2the playoff if all the dominoes fall their way, but that is highly unlikely. The Bruins have the slight home field advantage, but I’m not sure that means much considering both teams are based in the same city. I’m going with UCLA if for no other reason than I ranked them 5th in my pre-season poll and they might actually get there if they keep winning, therefore making me look like a freakin’ genius. Conversely, Zach believes that the Trojans will win by three TDs.

My Pick = UCLA
Z’s Pick = USC

 

 

 

Detroit at New England (-7)
New_England_Patriots_HelmetWhen I was a kid the Detroit Lions were a joke. Occasionally they’d have a decent season, but for the most part they were mired in Detroit_Lions_Helmetmediocrity. Not even the great Barry Sanders could lead them to a Super Bowl appearance in the 90’s. But right now they are having a really good season and the folks in Vegas give them 16-1 odds to make it to The Super Bowl. We’ll have a much better idea if the Lions are legit after this game. The Patriots, whose eulogy was being written by the geniuses at ESPN about a month & a half ago, have risen up like one those horror movie killers that never really die. Trust me, there is no one on Earth who’d like to see New England crash & burn more than your humble Potentate of Profundity, but I’d be shocked if that occurred in this game. Zach likes the Patriots…but not by 7 points. He thinks the Lions will lose a close game and cover the points.

My Pick = New England
Z’s Pick = Detroit

*

 

Arizona at Seattle (-6.5)
seattle-seahawks1The defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks have been knocked back down to mediocrity quicker & even moreso than I predicted. At thisnflarizonacardinals point it will be a struggle for them to make it to the playoffs. One of the reasons why?? The division leading Cardinals, who own the best record in the NFL. Raise your hand if you saw that coming (put your hands down…liars). However, Arizona has lost QB Carson Palmer for the season and now must rely on journeyman Drew Stanton to lead them the rest of the way. Stanton got off to a good start last week in a victory over the Detroit Lions, but can he keep it up?? If this game were being played in the desert I might say yes, but it is being played in Seattle at one of the league’s most raucous venues. If the Seahawks have any hope of defending their crown this is a must win and I think they will rise to the occasion. Zach has lost faith in Seattle’s celebrated defense and thinks it is the Cardinals who deserve that kind of respect now.

My Pick = Seattle
Z’s Pick = Arizona