NFL Mystery Box: Week 16
Happy Holidays to my loyal readers
I’m back! After a one weekend hiatus brought about by my sadness over the state of the NFL, I have returned. I think a lot of things in life come with sides. Very few things in life are truly, unquestionably pure. Football certainly isn’t. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun and enjoyable most of the time. I am going to choose this week to focus on the good, but let’s not forget the risk that players take to give us what we enjoy so much.
Listicle of the week: Biggest Pro Bowl Snubs
Tis the season to complain, and in the spirit of Festivus, let’s complain about the best players to not make the Pro-Bowl (before 3/4 of the players drop out and these guys all make it anyway, then drop out). I want to be clear. The Pro-Bowl itself does not matter, but who goes sure does. Players have incentives for going, and it is all about the respect fans and media give these guys. I am also going to say who they should replace, because it is easy to say someone should be in while not having the guts to say who they should replace.
Austin Ekeler: The do it all running back for the Chargers doesn’t put up huge rushing yardage totals, but his ability to catch passes out of the backfield and put up big numbers in total yardage and TDs makes him the most versatile back in the league. He also stayed healthy and should have been in ahead of Nick Chubb, who wasn’t as versatile, healthy or good this year
Josh Allen: Allen is not having as good a season as he had last year, but he is definitely having a better year than Lamar Jackson who was chosen ahead of him. He likely suffered from the fact that Jackson got off to a strong start this year, and has faded dramatically as the season wore on (but Pro Bowl votes were already counted).
Jaylen Waddle: Waddle is a player who suffered from a team wide slow start to season before stomping on accelerator. Unfortunately, by the time he flew past Ja’Marr Chase into the top place for rookie WRs, many of the votes had already been lodged. Now the player who is still on pace for the most receptions by a rookie in NFL history will be an alternate.
AJ Terrell: It’s tough to be a breakout cornerback on bad defensive team. You simply aren’t going to get the recognition you deserve. I expect we will see Terrell as a second-team All-Pro selection (which will adequately recognize his high-level season). An All Pro shouldn’t miss the Pro-Bowl. Still, cornerback is about name-recognition, and he doesn’t have it yet. He should be in over Marshon Lattimore, a player with a better long term resume on a better defense, but who had a noticeably worse year.
David Andrews: Offensive line snubs are super hard to quantify. The gaps between them at an elite level are very minor and probably not worth being upset about, but it is unfair that the Patriots got completely snubbed at O-line. David Andrews should sneak past a strong campaign from Corey Linsley as a representation of the dominant effort from the Bills game alone. The Patriots don’t have significant skill players or running backs, and their QB is a rookie. So how do they win so much? Their offensive line is excellent and David Andrews is the top piece.
Best Quote of the Week: Joe Burrow
OK, this isn’t the exact quote, there is a bit of editorializing Browns fan in this tweet. He just said there isn’t much to do in Cincinnati. He is 100 percent correct though. I used to live within driving distance of Cincinnati, so I can confirm this. The chili is actually good (who can say no to a pile of cheese, not I, for one) although I am more of a hearty chili guy than a runny chili guy, so that’s an issue. Kentucky isn’t better either. Overall, let’s just say this is the second red flag Joe might decide to pursue free agency (them not having an O-line last year and his leg turning into the spaghetti that goes under the chili was the first).
Fun non-football item of the week: BALD EAGLES!
Look, I have no idea if this was photo shopped. Bald Eagles are usually fairly solitary, so this is odd, but for my own sanity and happiness, I am assuming this is real. If this happened to me I would shit my pants with delight. I love birds so much. They are majestic and wonderful. I would love to be a bird for a day, soaring above the earth. I’m sure someone has written a poem about birds. Let’s look into that.
Worst Bets For The Week: Because I like them
Last column: 3-1 (Bills JUST missed)
Over/Under: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers Under 44
The Panthers defense is better than you realize, and their offense can’t throw the ball to take advantage of the Buccaneers defense. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers are missing most of their key offensive weapons, and Antonio Brown is likely to be limited in his first game back. Barring and defensive or special teams touchdown run, these offenses aren’t going to do a lot. And no, Sam Darnold’s return does not change my feelings about this.
Spread Pick: Indianapolis Colts vs. Arizona Cardinals -1
The Cardinals just got embarrassed on the road by the Lions. Meanwhile, the Colts were very convincing at home versus the Patriots. However, things are switched this week. The Cardinals are at home, and the Colts are on the road. I think the Cardinals overlooked the Lions, and didn’t prepare or play well. I am guessing there will be no looking ahead this week, as one of the NFLs best deep passers takes on one of the worst deep ball secondaries in the NFL. I expect a big bounce back game for the Cards. The Cards have a good enough defensive line to avoid being embarrassed by Jonathan Taylor.
Player Prop: Jimmy Garoppolo Over 235.5 yards vs. Tennessee Titans
The Titans have one of the worse secondaries in football. Meanwhile their defensive line is one of the best at stopping the run. I expect the 49ers to move the ball through the air a lot more than usual. Plus the Titans are at home, so I doubt there is much blowout potential here for the 49ers. I expect Jimmy to throw early, often and successfully.
Money Line Upset: Miami Dolphins +140 over New Orleans Saints
The Saints are at home coming off a big win over the Buccaneers. However, the Dolphins are also on a tear, and come into this one as an underdog. I expect the Dolphins defense to be a nightmare for the Saints, who have been missing both of their offensive tackles. Meanwhile, the Dolphins passing game has been improving, and I would expect them to challenge the Saints in the air, where they have struggled defensively.
My best tweet from the Week: My first insider scoop
This is funny, because I posted this before Bruce Arians came out and said he didn’t care about what happened, and he would do what was best for the football team, indicating that this is exactly how the conversation went. I find myself genuinely curious what Brown would have to do at this point to be cut from the team (since we know he has already committed several crimes, lied to his own team (putting their health at risk), and started a brawl with his own teammates in Tampa). Murder? It’s murder isn’t it. But it would have to be the murder of an IMPORTANT Bucs player right?
Most Important Game Of The Weekend: Denver Broncos vs. Las Vegas Raiders
This probably isn’t the BEST game of the weekend. That is probably Bills/Patriots, but Broncos/Raiders is the most IMPORTANT. This is essentially a playoff elimination game. It is almost certain that the AFC playoff teams will be 10-7 or better. While it is possible one 9-8 team could sneak in, it isn’t likely, and it almost certainly won’t be the loser of this game, who will be giving up significant tie-breaker advantages and be 7-8 with two games left. Basically, this is a loser leaves town game for the AFC playoffs. It is also a division matchup, so there is that added pressure. Neither of these teams really deserves to be in the mix, but one of them can buck the odds and be right there on Monday morning. The other can look forward to their coach being fired.
The Game That Is On In Hell This Week: Jacksonville Jaguars vs. New York Jets
This is an oddly competitive category this week, thanks to the Lions/Falcons and Bears/Seahawks, but the Jaguars/Jets game is the kind of blowout winner these two teams have been playing all season. First, the Jaguars lost the tiny bit of intrigue they had when they finally pulled the rip cord on the corpse of Urban Meyer’s dignity. Now they are just a bad team, playing for a bad interim coach, trying desperately to get out of this season. Meanwhile, the Jets, who have shown some offensive sparks of life in recent weeks, are missing their most exciting player Elijah Moore, and an army of others are on the Covid list. This means the terrible players they usually use aren’t even available. This is truly a matchup for draft placement where the loser takes all. Bad luck to both of them.
Q and A section: As usual, real questions from real readers, unless they aren’t.
What holiday song does Jared Goff sing around the table with his family? And why that song? - @WheatstrawI
This feels very much like the answer is Baby It’s Cold Outside. First of all, he just moved from LA to Detroit, and it is Mother F***** cold up in there. Second, I suspect there was some gaslighting done to turn his role as the sacrificial lamb of the Rams into being the significant other for this woman:
Just wait till she has to visit Detroit for the first time.
What is the perfect Christmas meal? - My sister
Honestly, anything I don’t have to make. But since I doubt this is the purpose of this question, for me, the perfect meal on Christmas day itself would be a brunch with the following things: Waffles/dark-maple-syrup, blueberry pancakes, scrambled eggs with cheese and bacon, cheese danish, elite everything bagels, sausage/bacon, mimosas, and a quality mixed fruit bowl. I am a huge breakfast person, but not when I first wake up. So brunch zone is perfect.
What are the odds that after seeing this year's playoff race that the NFL decides to expand the playoffs again and why are those odds 100%? - my boss @briangriffiths
As this question describes, this is as inevitable as the sunrise. A 16 team playoff would allow half the league to get in. Generally, owners, coaches and players want more teams to get into the playoffs. It increases the chances that fans will be happy with the season outcome. It increases attendance if more teams can get in/get in. It improves morale for bad teams if they have a longer chance to get in. It increases income in the form of two additional games to sell to TV bidders. It gives all of us more football to watch. 8 team playoffs are basically a given. The argument against it is that it waters down the product, which, obviously. But all of the above arguments will win out, so, here’s to next year’s 8 playoff teams.
Which current NFL player is the next great action movie star? - @inventive_not
My second favorite question this week comes from a person who ironically describes himself as non-inventive. The history of NFL players becoming actors isn’t really that great, to be honest. The best ones, at least recently, are probably Denzel Washington’s son John David Washington (Tenet), Terry Crews (The Expendables), Carl Weathers (Predator), and Bubba Smith (Police Academy). The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) famously played football for the University of Miami, but not in the pros. It’s clear from looking at this list that these guys have some stuff in common. Their size and athleticism makes them good for acting roles that involve action. They are all black (not really a requirement, but worth noting). They also are frequently in comedies (Crews, Weathers, Johnson and Smith have shown significant comedy chops). They are all defensive players (except Washington). So the next great one will probably be a black defensive player who is kinda funny. I am choosing Myles Garrett of the Cleveland Browns. He has shown incredible toughness, and is obviously strong as hell. He is funny (amongst other things, he has joked about getting drug tested when he doesn’t wear sleeves, and set up a QB graveyard at his home for Halloween). He famously pounded Mason Rudolph with his own helmet, which might be bad on a football field, but would be great in a movie. Patrick Ramsey is honorable mention for the combination of his mouth and skill. Aaron Donald snags the bronze because he is a human terminator. (they both play in LA which helps with this).
Which NFL head coach is the most likely to fart loudly on a first date? - @inventive_not
My favorite question from this week comes from the same exact person as my second favorite, so incredible credit to you @inventive_not. This is a three way race to me.
Nick Sirianni - Nick looks like the college kid who takes his first date to Dave and Buster’s and spends the entire time telling her she should watch him kill all these zombies in a first person shooter game, sets the record and saves his initials as ASS, orders a 4 slices of pizza, and asks her if she wants one after he has eating three and is holding the fourth one in his hand already. After all that cheese consumption, farting is happening. At the end he asks if she could drop him off at his dorm.
Andy Reid: Andy simply does not care about farting. He orders the full rack of ribs and asks what you want. He eats those ribs while listening to you talk. He farts occasionally. At the end, he offers to pay for his meal and your small side salad because he is respectful.
Dan Campbell: Dan might be the head football coach of an NFL team, but I guarantee you, Dan still thinks farts are absolutely hilarious. He definitely won’t try to let one slip, but when it does, he will laugh loudly, look at you and say “Did you hear that!?” He assures you that he did. He apologizes and then says he shouldn’t apologize because it’s just a natural bodily function and anyway, can we get back to talking about my 5 favorite blocking techniques and how mind blowing they are? You are going to love them.
Anyway, I am picking Andy Reid in an upset, because it’s just inevitable. Honorable mention to Urban Meyer who is gone, but not forgotten. He will fart, definitely blame you for it and leave without picking up the check.