Man, it just comes and goes so fast doesn’t it?! The NFL really runs for half the year, August til February. But it really doesn’t feel like that, because the regular season only goes 4 months. In September, with kids going back to school, summer ending, it really starts to feel like the end of the year. And then by the time we get to the actual end of the year, the NFL’s regular season is done. WHAT?! Obviously 4 months isn’t a long time, but I really do think that because of the time of year it takes place that it gives it a feel that it goes by even quicker. Anyway, for my final hot takes piece of the season I figured instead of hitting on what happened in week 17, I’d instead hit on the season itself. Some of the shit I got right, only a fraction of the millions of things I got wrong, a little bit on all the coaching changes, things I see happening moving forward for some of the non playoff teams, and a playoff preview/prognostication.
16 right. I had 16 correct guesses (and that’s what they are, because nobody has a freaking clue what injuries will occur over the course of a season) as to whom would finish where in the standings. Some of my best predictions were the AFC West which I had spot on (though had Derek Carr not got hurt they likely win the division), and while I didn’t go as bold as to pick the Dolphins to make the playoffs I did say in the write up about them to keep an eye on them as they could be the surprise team in the AFC. I had a surprise team in the NFC. I’d love to tell you it was Detroit, but it wasn’t. Instead, it was the 3-13 Chicago Bears. I said in there that I was taking a major swing and it wasn’t likely, but I still went extremely bold and picked them to get a wildcard spot on the NFC, so I own it. Even trying to pick safely you get a lot wrong, so why bother? I don’t do it for show, don’t do it for any clicks, but I’m not afraid to say what I think.
The coaching firings or in the case of Denver resignings as of right now are as follows: Gus Bradley (Jac), Jeff Fisher (LA), Rex Ryan (Buf), Chip Kelly (SF), Gary Kubiak (Den), and Mike McCoy (SD). I don’t expect many more from here out, MAYBE the Colts wise up and clean house, but as of writing this late Sunday night it doesn’t sound like they’re going to do that. Of the firings, I think Chip Kelly is the most ridiculous, but then again if you’re firing Trent Balke then you should fire Chip Kelly too. Where they screwed up is Balke should have been gone last year at this time. I really think Mike McCoy had some shitty luck in San Diego. I know Bill Simmons kills him, but when he came in how good were they? Did they seriously underachieve at any point? 9-7 (and a playoff win), 9-7, 4-12, and 5-11 this season with an insane amount of injuries and distractions off the field this season, no coach would have done any better. It is kind of ironic that he had a season like this right before the team is likely to leave town. A young Bill Belichick had the exact same thing happen to him. Not saying McCoy is another Belichick, but I do think if he gets a 2nd chance he could thrive.
Bold Prediction: I think we’ll at least start hearing about Cam Newton trade rumors (and for those who don’t know, I spell American when I talk NFL). I don’t mean rumors that’ll be put on a message board (To Panthers: 2018 2nd, 2019 3rd, 2017 6th. To 49ers: Cam Newton. Discuss), I mean serious trade rumors that’ll be discussed on ESPN and NFL Network. The reason for this “bold prediction” is because divas where out their welcome. You know that guy or girl you follow on twitter and they won’t stop bitching about shit? Eventually you just get sick of them bitching and you mute their account (I’m likely one of those people). I have a feeling that the Panthers are ready to mute Cam Newton’s account so to speak. They’d need a big return, which is why I’m not calling for a trade to actually happen. But there are teams who could have the right pieces to make it interesting. Miami? Arizona? Washington? Maybe I’ll be wrong about it all, but how can they not be getting sick of his act after a season like that?
It was a devastating way for the Tennessee Titans to end the season. Not yesterday with the meaningless win against the Texans, but rather the second Marcus Mariota got hurt. They were going to be a threat in the AFC playoffs had they got in. But wow, is that team ever set up to be great moving forward. Thanks to the move back all the way to 15 (then back up to 8) in last year’s draft, the Titans own the 5th and 18th picks in the first round of the draft. That’s insane for a football team that likely would have been a playoff team this season and is currently one of the youngest in the league. With a franchise QB, good O-line, solid pass rush, and playing in a weak division, this organization has a great opportunity to be a dominant over the next few seasons.
You know I said this a week or so ago and I really believe it: the Browns have a chance to be real good too, though unlike the Titans this is more of a longer term outlook. It might not seem that way as they’re at rock bottom and have been at rock bottom since what seems like 1995. But they have the top pick, they have the 13th pick, and what’ll workout to be the 33rd pick, and the 49th pick. So four picks in the top 50 of the draft. That’s a great chance to really rebuild things. The one thing that they may want to explore here though is waiting a season to take a QB. You could roll the dice on a project in rounds 3-7, but I’m talking about holding off taking one with those 4 top 50 picks. The method to this madness is they wait until the projected to be QB rich 2018 draft. The Browns still aren’t going to be good in 2017, and they have RGIII under contract for one more season. Build up an excellent roster, then go get your franchise QB. It will be tempting for them to get one of Mitch Trubisky or Dashone Kizer in this draft as both are expected to be top 10 picks and both are Ohio kids. But neither guy…at least at this point (a TON changes between now and late April so don’t be calling any shots in the draft right now), neither guy is expected to be in the “elite QB realm”. Oh, and they are sticking with Hue Jackson and should stick with Hue Jackson. NFL people are really high on the guy and you can’t have it be a revolving door for your head coaching position.
One team I just simply have no faith in moving forward is the Buffalo Bills. Nobody circles the drain quite like the Buffalo Bills unfortunately. This was one of my favorite teams growing up. I don’t have a team in the NFL, but for a while I would tell people it was the Bills (I would always feel dumb if I said I didn’t have one). This gig is pretty undesirable as they don’t have a franchise QB, they don’t have an elite defense, their best player is likely about to hit the downside of his career. Another thing to consider is that the Pegula’s have been complete zero’s since entering the pro sports world. Since Terry Pegula bought the Sabres they’ve been near the bottom of the NHL standings, and since buying the Bills they haven’t gone anywhere either. Right now they have enough talent to stay out of the top 5 in the draft, and not enough to get them to the playoffs. Combine that with an old stadium, in a city that already has enough things going against it, and it’ll be up to GM Doug Whaley, who has never made a decent hire, to pull a rabbit out of his hat.
Unlike the Bills, some teams do make the playoffs. So with that being said, here is my NFL playoff preview.
First game on the docket is Houston v Oakland. Neither team has a QB, but the Raiders QB situation is somehow worse than the Texans. Just absolute horse shit luck for the Raiders after finally getting out of the gutter. Texans will take what’ll be an awful playoff game to watch.
Steelers v Dolphins should be the much better matchup in the AFC. I THINK the Steelers take this game somewhat comfortably, but they’re a sleepy team. They play up and down to their opponents and when they played down to what they thought was a bad Dolphins squad back in October they got their asses kicked. Sure, Roethlisberger got hurt in that game, but the Dolphins were in control even prior to that. It’s an interesting matchup.
I don’t see the Lions having a shot to win in Seattle. Remember, the Seahawks have god on their side…at least it sure seems that way. It is insane the bounces this team gets when they need them. Not sure they’ll need them in this game, but if things are going well for the Lions just don’t sleep on that little fact. It’s sickening, unless you’re a Seahawks fan.
Finally the best matchup of the weekend will be the Packers vs the Giants at Lambeau. I have to think the Packers keep rolling and take this game, but man this is a juicy matchup. Great offense vs great defense, two great postseason QB’s, it’s got the ingredients to be a classic. Can’t wait for it. Again, I think the Packers take it, but I think this is going to be a tight one all the way.
So then we go onto the divisional round, where the Pats will take on the Texans which will be an absolute massacre just like the Pats did to them in week 3 with JACOBY BRISSETT as QB, but we’ll also get a great showdown in KC between the Chiefs and the Steelers. Looking forward to that possibility. With the game in KC, I really see it as a pretty even matchup. On the NFC side, Atlanta and Seattle should be pretty good (Dan Quinn facing Pete Carroll), but the sexiest matchup of that weekend will be Dallas and whichever one of the Packers or Giants they play. I predicted the Packers, so we’ll say the Packers are who they play. I already said the Pats beat the Texans, I’ll take the Steelers to squeak by the Chiefs, the Seahawks to knock off the Falcons, and the Packers to pull off the upset in Dallas mainly because despite how great Dak Prescott has been all season I can’t take a rookie QB to win a playoff game.
AFC title game would be a dandy between the Pats and Steelers who have combined to win the AFC title 9 times in the last 15 seasons, yet have only met twice in the playoffs in those 15 seasons, and not at all since 2004 (Roethlisberger’s rookie season, not near the QB he has become since). Anyway, Roethlisberger v Brady is a matchup we’ve waited a long time for in the playoffs. I would expect this game, should we get it, to be a classic. With home field, and time for Brady and Belichick running out, I’d expect the Pats to take it and head to the Super Bowl.
NFC title game would be a rematch of the 2014 game that saw the Packers control for 55 minutes, and then a miracle comeback (or horrific collapse, depends on who you were pulling for) by the Seahawks sent them back to the Super Bowl. This time around, I believe the Packers would be the better team for the full 60 minutes and get their revenge.
Finally, I believe we are going to get a Brady v Rodgers matchup in the Super Bowl. It seems like since 2010 this matchup has been waiting to happen. In 2010 the Packers made it, and the Pats looked like they were going to run away with the AFC, only to be upset by the Jets. Next season both were top seeds, but the Packers were upset by the Giants. 2012? Nope. 2013? Not close. 2014 it was happening until Brandon Bostick decided he was Jerry Rice. So finally (as long as I’m right, and we all know I always am) we’ll get Pats vs Packers, Brady v Rodgers. And this just feels so much like 2010. A lot of pundits believe it feels like years the Giants have won it all, but I’ve maintained that this is not a Giants team which is better than their record suggests, they’re worse. But the Packers looked like they were done. I wrote them off. Thought for sure Mike McCarthy was finished as head coach. Figured Rodgers was having big issues with others in the locker room like some in the media had suggested. But this team is on fire right now, and just feel like they’re peaking at the perfect time. So as of right now, I like the Packers to upset the Pats in Super Bowl LI.
Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups