Up until now, we had been consulting our medical expert Dr. Kelly Brackett for his prognoses on NFL teams. Then we asked legendary movie odds-maker Sam “Ace” Rothstein for his thoughts. Now it’s your turn. That’s right, we’ve decided to take some of our observations about this past week in the NFL and open them up to the public in the form of poll questions. It’s not a new concept, but since nobody tends to ask the kind of questions we do, it promises to yield some interesting discussion.
1) Is Thursday Night Football a Conspiracy?
Our View: Of course it is. This is all about the NFL teaming up with the cable providers to make your cable bill even more rapey than it is now. It’s actually a bit like how most states drunk drivers. The sad and ugly truth is states don’t really want to get rid of drunks behind the wheel, because there is far too much money to be made off the guy who has one too many beers at happy hour.
Think about it. The media demonized the drunk driver by making every single one of them look that guy they show on the news; the guy who hasn’t had a driver’s license since the Clinton administration, and just earned his 19th offense by plowing into a school bus after going on a full piss-up for breakfast AND lunch. The trouble is there is no money in that guy; by now the state has bled him dry, and now gets to spend money to house him in the slammer.
But the vast majority of us know somebody who got popped with the “Milwaukee Misdemeanor” because they had a tail-light out when they got pulled over after such a happy hour. Then they got to spend $20,000 in legal fees, fines, and general bleedery because they blew .00000Dick over the legal limit. The point here is that both DUI laws and Thursday Night Football are all about a money grab.
Honestly, the only reason the NFL Network exists is to get you to pay for a cable package which includes it, and the only reason you would ever do that is to have access to Thursday Night Football. Lord knows you aren’t tuning into the NFL Network to get insightful commentary from idiotic assholes like Warren Sapp and Michael Irvin. ESPN already gives you more ex-gridders who can barely string a sentence together; there really is no need to double-down on your cable bill to get more of them.
Speaking of the four-letter network, if you doubt this is a conspiracy, ask yourself why their on-line Gamecast is totally different on Thursday nights. It’s so you can get no real information from the “information superhighway” (raise your hand if you remember that term), so you will call somebody in India and struggle through 14 time-zones and a language barrier for the privilege of paying even more money for a shit product. Every once in a while, Thursday Night will bring you a game you might care about, but far more often than not it delivers shit like this week’s Texans-Jaguars matchup. We’ll pass.
2) Can Anybody Beat the New Orleans Saints?
Our View: Before you Seahawks fans get all bent out of shape, stop to consider this. Nobody is going to beat either the Saints or the Seahawks at home. But unlike Seattle, New Orleans really has a chip on their shoulder. We told you in our NFL season preview that the Saints were a force to be reckoned with, largely because they were out to prove something after Goodell’s ham-handed suspensions in the wake of “Bounty-Gate.”
We all know the Saints had a bad year in 2012. They got off to an abysmal start and did nothing but eat shit from that point forward. We both knew the Saints were bound for a comeback, and with the help of Atlanta being arguably the biggest train-wreck in the league, the Saints could easily end up getting home-field in the play-offs, because to keep the advantage they currently have, the Seahawks have to win out.
3) Is Jon Gruden retarded, crazy, or both?
Our View: The following is a sentence that Jon Gruden uttered during last Monday’s Patriots – Panthers right before the infamous pass interference non-call which ended the game:
“I got to think that they’re going for the endzone here, Mike.”
Forget the fact that everybody in the stadium already knew that. Forget the fact everybody watching on television already knew that. Forget the fact there were only four seconds left in the entire fucking game, and even Rain Man knew this was going to be the final play. Rather, let’s try to answer the question. We really can’t tell if he is dumbing his commentary down for the masses or if he is completely out of his fucking mind. Until we get more evidence, we have no choice but to go with both.
The problem is that both of the following statements are true. Gruden obviously gets his fan mail in a rubber room while under the supervision of ESPN’s staff psychiatrist, and we are forced to listen to his drivel because he has a Super Bowl ring. It also should be pointed out that ESPN does this stupid “Gruden’s Grinder” thing at the end of each Monday Night Football. It’s like a “player of the game” award, which must be impossible for him to select seeing as how every”this guy” on the field is the greatest player to ever set foot on the gridiron.
Then there’s the part we are pretty sure nobody has told Gruden about. Back during his coverage of the 2012 London Olympics, J-Dub discovered that “Grindr” is actually a website where homosexual men meet each other for all sorts of “no strings attached” fun. You would think of all the thousands of interns ESPN has, at least one of them might have raised the red flag on the term “Grinder.”
4) How long will it be before any contact with a quarterback will be illegal?
The Bears-Rams game offers the perfect example of this. With just a bit more than eight minutes to go in the game, Chicago quarterback Luke McCown dropped back to pass , and RAms defensive tackle Michael Brokers put a big, albeit clean hit on him. McCown got taken right off his feet and deposited on the turf for what should have been a sack. But a oughing the passer penalty was called on Brockers and the Bears were given a first-and-goal at the St. Louis 1-yard line. The Bears scored two plays later.
The call was complete bullshit. Sure, Brokers laid McCown out, but he didn’t violate any of the rules about contacting the quarterback. McCown still had the ball, there was no helmet-to-helmet contact. Brockers didn’t hit him with the crown of his helmet; in fact the brunt of the contact was Brockers shoulder into McCown’s chest. Sure, it was a hard hit, but it was a textbook tackle. Brockers didn’t drive McCown into the ground either.
If that tackle is a penalty, then the NFL is fucked. They are taking the same approach to quarterbacks as America is to smoking. We get bombarded with a never-ending torrent of how smoking will kill you and will kill everybody around you. We keep making more rules about where you can’t smoke and we keep loading more taxers on cigarettes. But if the damn things are so deadly, then why do we just ban them?
This is exactly the NFL’s approach to “protecting quarterbacks.” They have made all kinds of rules about when you can hit them and where you can hit them. So, why not just go all teh way and ban all contact to a quarterback. If Brokers’ tackle of McCown is a penalty, then we are already there.
5) If The Playoffs Started Today
As we’ve said before, this is the phrase that literally makes J-Dub’s head explode, but it is actually a law that if you write about the NFL, you have to do this kind of shit. Since we already violate so many other laws, we just can’t afford to deal with the Blog Police.
The Patriots may very well be the best team in the AFC right now, which is a bit like being the smartest kid on the short bus. The ugly reality about the AFC this that all the big contenders got exposed. Now, the whole world knows Peyton Manning hiberantes in temperatures under 40 degrees. Now, the whole world knows the Chiefs’ defense is useless without Tamba Hali. And the whole world saw that the Patriots area collapse waiting to happen, and it would have happened Sunday had the Broncos not beat them to it.
#1) Denver (9-2) – 1st round bye
The Broncos had better pray for warm weather, because Sunday night showed Manning simply can’t play in the cold. It’s also pretty hard to argue with what happened in the first half Sunday night, but the second half made it pretty clear Denver has some major problems. As we’ve been saying since Week 1, that defense sucks on whole wheat toast, ans it finally cost them. That comeback by the Patriots was less a function of anything New England did and more an epic collapse by the Broncos, and specifically Peyton Manning. defense is still not perfect because of the last three quarters. Denver is very much listening to all off the criticism that was swirling around that defense in light of the poor play during the first six weeks of the season, and they have responded with pure furor. But the Broncos’ ability to not close games out will be a problem for Manning, whose playoff record is far from desirable.
#2) New England (8-3) – 1st round bye
The Patriots really don’t have a very good shot to stay here. Let’s be honest. This team has more of those first-half performances in it, and there’s only two things that will really keep them here. One is if either the Bengals or the Colts continue not to know why they are suddenly so lackluster. Another is that New England proved in the Denver game that they won’t quit.
#3) Indianapolis (7-4) vs. #6) Tennessee Titans (5-6)
As fluid as the AFC playoff picture really, the Colts could easily be #1 ro #4. #4 seems more likely as the offense has really sputtered in the absence of Reggie Wayne, and those offensive struggles are putting a lot of strain on the defense as well.
The real mess in all of this comes in the “Wild West” scenario for the#6 spot. There are 5 teams who are only separated by tie-breakers from the Titans. All thee teams are 5-6 and are all varying stages of shitty. But one of them is going to make the dance, and now you have to pick which one. No matter what, we are guaranteed to see one of these wrecks come January. You know you don’t want to see any of these teams. The Ravens? Boring. The Steelers? Same thing. The Dolphins? Yeah, like that locker room isn’t completely fucked. The Jets? Although they are jam packed with drama, watching them play is like watching disabled people fuck. Don’t even get us started on how all of sports radio is slurping on the Chargers after they beat Kansas City. We all know that Philip Rivers will find a way to fuck it all up.
#4) Cincinnati (7-4) vs. #5) Kansas City (9-2)
The team that will get the #1 spot in the AFC is the one who wins this week between the Broncos and Chiefs in Kansas City. If the Chiefs end up coming to Cincinnati, we get another example of how the Bengals’ Marvin Lewis is the best one-and-done coach out there. If this ends up being a road game for the wild-card Broncos, look for another first-round exit for the senior Manning.
#1) Seattle (10-1) – 1st round bye
Do you remember that “Onion” headline: “Dallas Cowboys wide receiver arrested for failure to possess cocaine?” Change the drug to amphetamines and it works for this year’s Seahawks. We’ve mentioned this before, but now that two players have gone down since then, where’s the mysterious middleman between every team and the league that makes all of these hot samples disappear and/or show up negative? Does Seattle just not have that guy’s number? Seriously, with all of the crazy stuff that you DON’T hear about players getting away with, you’d think there would be more damage control there.
Now on the field, the Seahawks are the most complete team in the league. They don’t have it all together yet, but if you told us that Seattle would make the playoffs in each of the next six years, you wouldn’t hear a lot of argument out of us.
#2) New Orleans (9-2) – 1st round bye
Like we said, Saints’ nation is back and with a vengeance. The “chip on the shoulder” thing is in full effect here because you have to figure as long as Brees and Payton are down there, they are going to do everything in their power to make the point that they feel they were unjustly punished. The best way to do that is to beat every team in the league as often as possible, but they have a real task ahead of themselves as they head to Seattle for what is likely a sneak preview of your NFC Championship game.
#3) Detroit (6-5) vs.# 6) Arizona (7-4)
The #6 team in the NFC, whoever it may be, has to love the idea of getting the Lions, because Jim Schwartz is easily the worst coach in the NFL. Or at least he will be until the Lions do their predictable one-and-done playoff appearance. The Detroit Lions’ stock is dropping quicker than Andy Dick’s pants at whichever was the first bar he passed after breaking out of rehab yet again. They aren’t just losing games to bad teams, now they’re losing games to bad teams at home, and that’s usually as good of news as getting an audit notice from the IRS.
The team we all need to start paying closer attention to is the Cardinals. Arizona is now 7-4, they dominate time of possession, Palmer is still winning his life-long battle with the crippling pick, and their defense is brutal. There’s a lot of experience on that team and they seem primed to take the next step. While they might not be a better team than San Francisco, they’re playing a hell of a lot better at the moment and that’s shaping up to be one bad-ass Week 17 matchup with a trip to the playoffs on the line.
#4) Dallas (6-5) vs. #5) Carolina (8-3)
On one hand, Carolina has won 7 in a row and are looking to be all business. On the other, this game could easily be against the Eagles, but in either case, the Panthers will be the better team that has to go on the road. No matter which hand you want, the Panthers should easily win this game, because the Eagles are not that good, and the Cowboys are the Cowboys.
The NFC also has a “Wild West Scenario.” The currentn #1 and #2 team will meet yet in the regular season, There’s all kind off possibilities in the middle of the pack, and there’s a log-jam for the last spot.