NFL Mystery Box: Week 17
The CDC recommends consumption of a minimum of 69% of this article
Welcome to week 17, the last week of the NFL sea… wait… I’m hearing from my editor there is another week? Why would they have another week? That’s an odd number of games, it wouldn’t make any sense. And they have an odd number of playoff teams? Who the f (mic cuts out)
Listicle of the Week: NFL MVP standings
My criteria for being MVP goes like this. One, did you play all of or most of the season? The most valuable player can’t miss time or they lose some value. If you did miss time, how was the team without you? Two, how much better are they than similar players at their position? Being a hair better at something than several other people is less valuable than being way better than everyone else at something. Three, how important is their position? QB is obviously the most important position. Left guard, much less so. Four, did it matter that you were good? It’s easier to make a terrible team meh, than make a good team great. Finally, five, how reliant are you on those around you? And how much did they help you or hurt you?
Tom Brady - While his campaign has slowed in recent weeks, he still has the Bucs at 11-4 (second best in the league), he has done nothing but contribute to winning. The Bucs offense has been beset by a series of injuries throughout the year, culminating in last week when they were missing their top two wide receivers and running back, while still putting up over 30. The Bucs defense has been porous most of the year (although signs of life the last 2 weeks have helped offset the offensive injuries) as well.
Aaron Rodgers - He has had a better statistical season than Brady without question. However, he feels less valuable overall. Unlike Brady, who is a team leader, Rodgers spent the offseason complaining about the team, spurning the vaccine (causing him to miss a week) and generally being a distraction. His team has a better record, but offensively he has had less problems to deal with. Davante Adams should also be in consideration for MVP given the fact that he is the best WR in the NFL (yes, better than Cupp).
Jonathan Taylor - Taylor plays one of the most replaceable positions in the NFL, however, there is still a lot of value if you can be elite at playing it. Taylor DOES benefit from having one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, but with injuries, it has rarely been 100 percent this year. He also dominates far beyond his blocking, frequently outrushing his expected yardage. He has vastly outperformed everyone else at the position. He hasn’t missed a game. He has kept a very mediocre Colts group in the playoffs almost exclusively on his back. He can run, and catch passes. If he could throw, they would probably be a Super Bowl team.
Josh Allen - It has actually been a step backwards this year for Allen, who has not been as accurate or effective as his borderline MVP performance last year. He benefits from one of the best WRs in the NFL in Stephon Diggs. What he does not benefit from is the total absence of a running game without him. He has to make virtually every single play for this team to do anything. They will likely win their division, and given the cracks in their defense, it will be because Josh Allen is their offense.
TJ Watt - This last position is up for grabs for a lot of people, frankly. The Steelers record this season when TJ Watt misses all or part of a game with injury is 0-4-1. With him playing the whole game they are 7-3. He set the Steelers single season sack record with 17.5 already in just 10 full games (and parts of 3 others). When he is out there, he is simply overwhelming. He has more sacks than the Atlanta Falcons. He is still has a chance to reach the NFL sack record of 22.5 (a bogus record, frankly). While it’s hard to make this case because of games missed, he has probably been the best player in the NFL period when he has actually played. If you don’t like this one, there are like 15 other people you could put here.
Best Quote of the Week: This woman risking death to ask Bill Belichick an inane question after a crushing loss that will likely cost them the division.
I’m not sure she is the hero or the villain here, I just know she has the courage of a thousand Bravehearts.
Fun non-football item of the week: Brothers don’t shake hands, brothers gotta slug.
The world’s fiercest sibling rivalry gains a new, hilarious chapter. At least we had Oasis for a little bit there.
Worst Bets For The Week: Because I like them
Last Week: 3-1
Over/Under: Las Vegas Raiders vs. Indianapolis Colts under 44.5
No Carson Wentz for this one, which means there will be little possibility of hurting the Raiders where they are weakest, in the air. While Jonathan Taylor is great, the Raiders can stop the run, and they can now stack the box. Meanwhile, the Raiders offense has been bad for weeks, and isn’t likely to explode all over the place this week on the road.
Spread Pick: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Washington Football Team +3.5
I don’t know what people think is happening in Washington, but only spotting them 3.5 points shouldn’t be a thing. This team is on a very intense nose dive, highlighted by their total meltdown in Dallas. The Eagles have been overwhelming teams on the ground and I expect that to continue against a Washington squad that has struggled to contain teams in recent weeks.
Money line upset: Broncos +200
I think the Steelers are more likely to actually spring the upset, but the Broncos are the better choice here because the money line is better. The Broncos beat the pants off of the Chargers in their first matchup. Nothing that has happened since has convinced me the Chargers can stop the run, so I expect that to work again for the Broncos. Meanwhile, the Broncos are designed to take away the pass, the Chargers strength on offense.
My Best Tweet From The Week: RIP Big John
It’s a more serious thought this week, as I remembered what I think worked best for John Madden as a broadcaster. What so many broadcasters fail to understand is that the two biggest things we want from them are for them to LOVE football like we do, and to explain things correctly without being a dick about it. John’s ability to be humble and informative set him apart in an industry so full of ego Aaron Rodgers gets jealous.
Most Important Game Of The Weekend: Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
After picking what amounted to a playoff elimination game last week (goodbye to the Broncos), this is another playoff elimination game. Whichever team loses here can just go ahead book their trip to Aruba before the rainy season sets in. This is more than a game too. It is likely Ben Roethlisberger’s final game in Pittsburgh, which will be a VERY big deal there. The stadium will have a major buzz. It’s also one of the biggest rivalry games in the NFL. These teams truly and deeply hate each other. There won’t be a game this week with a more intense atmosphere, and it couldn’t matter more for these two.
The Game That Is On In Hell This Week: Detroit Lions vs. Seattle Seahawks
A total snooze fest, this meaningless game will decide once and for all whether Pete Carroll can stay employed. Losing this one would probably be the final nail in the coffin of his tenure (if last week’s total collapse wasn’t already). To me, the saddest part of this game is the Seattle fans. Quite possibly the best home fans in football, this group is reduced to a meaningless farce of a game with a lifeless team and a limited Russell Wilson. I’m not sure I can handle seeing that stadium half empty, but it is in play here if the weather is bad. The Lions, meanwhile, are the Lions.
Q and A section: As usual, real questions from real readers, unless they aren’t.
What is the best possible Christmas gift you could give the teams that are already out of playoff contention? - former intern Nate
I missed this question last week, which is perfect, because remembering to get gifts on time isn’t my strongest suit. Let’s give them out to the bottom 8 teams in the NFL, rapid fire.
Jaguars: Talent. Urban Meyer was terrible, as were the assistants, but the biggest problem for this team is just a total lack of talent. On either side of the ball, they only have a few better-than-league-average players.
Jets: New Ownership. They have tried making draft picks and signing players. They have tried lots of coaches, GMs and quarterbacks. If none of those things ever works, it’s probably the fault of Woody Johnson (The actual owner’s actual name).
Texans: Youth. This team desperately needs to move on from Deshaun Watson and restock their draft cupboard. They have almost no players under 25 with even a whiff of pedigree. They were the second oldest team in the NFL this year.
Lions: A quarterback. Jared Goff isn’t going to cut it if this team wants to get better. I understand he was a stop gap, and taking on his contract got them an extra first round pick. There are some pieces on this team that could be good (DeAndre Swift, Amon Ra St. Brown, TJ Hockenson and a good line) but none of that happens without a better QB.
Giants: A new GM. Dave Gettleman guided this team from borderline contender when he came aboard to total disaster with a series of failed picks, bad hires and terrible free agent signings. Hitting on a first round pick for the first time in 5 years would be huge.
Bears: Justin Fields to be great. Yes, they need a new coach and GM, but with their future picks shipped out for Fields, the most important thing is his development. Their are stuck with him, and if he busts like every other Chicago QB it will take years to fix.
Seahawks: A total rebuild. This is not a team that needs to retool. They need to sell any parts that aren’t nailed down right now. As constituted they aren’t going anywhere. Before everyone loses more value, move them now. Historically, they have been good at drafting. Try that.
Panthers: A quarterback. Another team with a lot of nice pieces in place, but absolutely nothing at QB. They desperately need to hit in the draft or in free agency.
At what age is it appropriate to blow off NYE activities? @inventive_not
This has more to do with having kids than age. Once you have kids, every second you stay up gets pushed into an algorithm that tells you how much suffering you will endure the following day. If you are 40 and don’t have kids, I don’t really know what else you would do on NYE. If you have kids, you have to decide if you want to drag yourself out of bed at 6:00 AM because your kid’s brother “was RUDE to them”. If you don’t have kids, consider this paragraph contraception.
What will we see more of on MNF, Baker Progressive Ads, or Baker INT's? Also, what will Big Ben do more of on Monday night, throw touchdowns, or eat burritos? -@cockofthewalk00
Baker Progressive Ads, are you kidding me? I keep waiting for the broadcast to go split screen during a coaches challenge between two separate Progressive ads just so they can squeeze them all in. BTW, Progressive, if you are listening, not money well spent. As for Ben, some players get things such as a rocking chair or a surfboard from a team when they go into retirement. Ben should just be given an absolutely enormous burrito. Then, we can all watch while he chucks it, because he can’t hold anything for more than 2 seconds for fear someone might hit him.
Why there is no NFL in North Dakota? ? Wait, what about South Dakota?? - @miamimvd
I’ve seen Fargo (the movie) and Fargo (the mini-series) and that is my entire point of reference for the Dakotas. My guess based off of that would be that most of the players would be murdered. And there don’t appear to be more that a few hundred people living in either.
Would you rather fight 5 chickens everyday (they wake you up at any time during ur sleep and only stop if you kill them) or fight a gorilla once a year (it can be at any time of the day any day of the year) with ur only heads up being a sword spawns in ur hand right before. He shows up. And this can mean you fight one right before new years and the next one could be right after new years. @FART1ING_UN1CORN
I wonder how many other people have versions of farting unicorn where this one had to go with the number 1 twice. This is easy, it’s the Chickens. I could fairly easily kill five chickens every day (poultry processing plants literally kill hundreds of thousands). People do not understand how strong a Gorilla is. It could literally tear your head and limbs off your body in seconds. There wouldn’t be a second fight. You would go one year, then die. The sword isn’t going to help, it’s just going to make the Gorilla angrier while it rips your head off.
If covid was a STD, how would the NFL handle the current breakout? Would it be kept private, or would there be a mass wrap it up campaign? - Dustfin13
This is the first question that made me wonder how many total questions I want to answer in this section every week. I am still going to answer it though. If this were an STD, the NFL would treat it like concussions and pretend it didn’t exist. You think the league wants people thinking their wonderful players are patient 0 for 20 percent of Atlanta?
Which nfl owner might actually be a supervillain? What are some hypothetical new year's resolutions for top level NFL QBs? -@inventive_not
My most prolific question writer scores again. The obvious answer to the owner question is Jerry Jones. The guy has a lair (Cowboys stadium that he built and financed), a signature drink (Johnny Walker), diva like behavior, and a propensity to tell you his evil plans before he does them. I am going to give 5 QBs New Years Resolutions:
Russell Wilson - go to the Saints
Aaron Rodgers - shut up more often
Josh Allen - let someone else run the ball
Tua Tagovailoa - the courage to demand a trade if the team doesn’t back him
Derek Carr - rent Leaving Las Vegas from VUDU
That’s it! See you next week.