FMQB is looking into the future today, in this week’s column I will talk about all 20 teams not in the playoffs, and preview the 4 playoff games of this weekend. The playoffs are the most exciting time in the football season, you lose and your season is over. Quick recap on Week 17, and then it’s playoff time!!!
Stat of the Week #1:
In a 6 day time span, we saw the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Quarterbacks to throw 5000 yards in one season ever.
Stat of the Week #2:
In about a 12 minute span, Jimmy Graham surpassed the yardage total for Tight Ends in a season, only to be passed by Rob Gronkowski
Stat of the Week #3:
Matt Flynn became the Packers Franchise Leader in Passing Yards and TDs in one game. This is a franchise who has had Bart Starr, Brett Favre, and Aaron Rodgers.
Stat of the Week #4:
The Bills started the season 5-1 and the Dolphins started 0-7. The Dolphins finished ahead of the Bills in the final standings.
Stat of the Week #5:
In NFL History, the #32 defense in the league has never made the playoffs, and the #31 defense has only been in 4 times. This year, both the worst and second worse defenses are not only in, but they have both #1 seeds!!!
C’mon Colts, you couldn’t beat the Jaguars to keep Peyton’s legacy? Thought it was funny how as soon as you could tell the Colts were going to lose, the Rams decided to play aggressive and almost came back against the #2 seed in the NFC. We should have done that all year. I am a little disappointed that the Rams can’t get Luck or a slew of picks, but I’m also a little happy that we’re not forced into that decision. I had nightmares of us trading Luck, and having him turn into the greatest QB of all time with 5 Super Bowls and stats galore. The Rams would have been forever jinxed, like the Vikings were with the Herschel Walker trade.
Bengals at Texans– The battle of the rookie quarterbacks! To be honest, the AFC matchups in Wild Card weekend are horrible. I don’t see this game being very good at all, and either way, either the Bengals or Texans are going to be in the final 8 after Saturday, which just seems wrong. It seemed like the Texans were immune to the injury bug this year, or more like the injury plague, with their star QB, WR, and LB going down. But it caught up with them the final 3 weeks and they haven’t won a game since they clinched their first berth in team history, actually the Texans last win was a 1 point victory over the Bengals. The first matchup between these teams had TJ Yates leading a game winning drive and scoring with 2 seconds left in the game. Maybe the rematch won’t be so bad afterall!
Final Score: Bengals 24, Texans 23
Percentage of Bengals pulling the upset: 75%
Lions at Saints- This is by far the most exciting matchup this week! The battle of the 5000 yard passers. Both teams could easily throw up 45 points, and have defenses that could allow that too. Welcome to the Wild Wild West, because this is going to be a shootout! In their first meeting, the Saints won 31-17, but the Lions were without Suh. The QB’s combined for 750 yards that game, and I can easily see more fireworks for the playoffs.
Final Score: Saints 45, Lions 31
Percentage of Lions pulling the upset: 30%
Falcons at Giants- I can literally see this game going either way. Minus the other NFC matchup, this is easily the most exciting playoff game. Matt Ryan vs Eli Manning. Julio Jones vs Victor Cruz. Giants defensive line is already talking smack about the Falcons offensive line, which will make the game pretty chippy. I feel like both teams are very wishy washy, so I could see a 17-13 game, or a 35-32 game; either team winning! Definitely excited for this matchup to see what happens.
Final Score: Giants 24, Falcons 23
Percentage of Falcons pulling the upset: 50%
Steelers at Broncos- The lingering question this offseason is if Tim Tebow can overcome a 4 game losing streak, or if teams have finally figured out their run first offense. And by 4 game losing streak, I’m saying the Steelers are going to trounce the Broncos. Even with Mendenhall out, I see Roethlisberger getting back into shape a little bit and throwing for 2 TDs. The Steelers have the #8 rushing defense, and should be able to contain Tebow like the Chiefs did last week. Tebow says he’ll be aggressive, but I see him waiting until the 3rd quarter to do it, and when he does start, he will throw a couple interceptions which will rock his confidence. I foresee another 8-20 day for Tebow, 1 rushing TD and 2 INTs.
Final Score: Steelers 19, Broncos 6
Percentage of Steelers pulling the upset: 80%
Next Week’s Matchup:
If the following picks are correct, next week would have Bengals at Patriots, Steelers at Ravens, Giants at Packers, and Saints at 49ers. 2 blowouts, 2 fantastic games, should my crystal ball be right…
Indianapolis Colts (2-14): This team can go nowhere but up. Colts fans have a lot to look forward to with the #1 Draft Pick (and QB of the century) and Peyton Manning coming back. This team should have at least 7 wins next year, and possibly contend for the AFC South again.
Cleveland (4-12): The Browns were honestly a disappointment this year. FMQB had high hopes for the Browns this year, but being stuck in the surprisingly toughest division in football at this point, and having their franchise QB not pan out, I see another disappointing year next year. Sorry Cleveland fans.
Jacksonville (5-11): The only bright spot for the Jaguars this year was an incredible season by rushing champion Maurice Jones-Drew. This was even more impressive with him facing 10 men in the box most of the time. Blaine Gabbart is not their hopeful QB of the future, and they have a head coaching vacancy. Look for another year or two of heavy rebuilding. Still my #1 pick to move to LA, but analysts say that wont happen.
Buffalo (6-10): This team became the biggest surprise of the season, but soon became the second biggest disappointment. After a 5-1 start including knocking off the mighty Patriots, the Bills finished the season 1-9. Had they gone 4-5 even, they would have had a shot at the playoffs. I see the Bills doing worse next year, as they wont sneak up on anybody and wont improve via free agency.
Miami (6-10): Starting off woeful, the Dolphins managed to finish up with a strong 6-3 finish with an interim coach and their backup QB. I see the Dolphins making a play for a great QB, and I see them being back in the playoffs in 2 years. Look for an 8-8 season next year, they are also in a tough division.
Kansas City (7-9): Kansas City has a promising season next year. Although in a division that is fighting for mediocrity, they should hire Romeo Crennel as their head coach, have 2 strong QBs to choose from, and wont have a poor opening like this season.
Oakland (8-8): I had high hopes for the Raiders, but it truly looks like they will be going downhill from here. An impressive shot at the playoffs this year came up short. Carson Palmer went 4-6 and was unable to limp in. The only bright side is the Raiders will have either Palmer or Campbell to choose from, but they paid a crazy price for them. The Raiders don’t have a pick until the 5th round this year!
San Diego (8-8): I am honestly surprised that Norv Turner is still the head coach after this season. In a division that should have been easy to win, the Chargers blew a 4-1 start. Either way, look for them to be back in the playoffs next year.
New York Jets (8-8): Probably the third biggest disappointment this year (any guess on who #1 is?), the Jets went from back to back AFC Championships to missing the playoffs. Mark Sanchez looked atrocious this year, and couldn’t even manage the game behind a strong defense. The Jets famous “talk” has started to become a tiresome nuisance, and nobody cares what Rex Ryan says anymore. Over/Under March before he predicts a Super Bowl win again.
Tennessee (9-7): Honestly a surprise this year! New head coach, new QB, and a star running back who wasn’t producing somehow was a tiebreaker away from a playoff birth. Hasselbeck played extremely well for a new offense. Look for this team to be even better next year!
St. Louis (2-14): I’m not saying this just as a Rams fan, but I’m honestly excited about next year. We’re chasing after top head coaches (Jon Gruden, Jeff Fisher), and we’ll have a healthy roster again. Bradford was basically hurt or playing hurt for half the season, and he won rookie of the year last year for a reason (rhyme not intended there). Amendola was hurt in Week 1 and out for the year (our top receiver last year) and our impressive rookie Greg Salas was also out for half the year. The Rams also placed 10 players from our secondary on IR this year, that’s unbelievable! We have the most Salary Cap room of any team, and this is the first year we’re forced to spend it under the new labor agreement. We have the #2 pick in the draft, and could go with either a WR or Offensive Lineman. Our O Line was horrible this year, and apparently 2 players were shifted from their natural positions. So drafing a left tackle (ala Matt Kalil) would put the other 2 players in their normal spots, thus fixing 3 OL needs with only one pick. Or we could go Oklahoma State’s WR phenom Blackmon, who is being touted as a poor man’s version of Calvin Johnson. That would put Amendola, Brandon Marshall, Salas, and Blackmon as our top receivers. I am truly excited about becoming healthy and getting some good players next year, I think the Rams can look at an 8-8 season.
Minnesota (3-13): The Vikings were a disappointment this year. Nobody expected a deep playoff run, but many were hoping that Donovan McNabb would revitalize his career here. Then flashes of a speedy Ponder had fans excited for the future. Issue after issue arose this year, including Chris Cook’s domestic incident, Bryant McKinnie’s eating himself out of the league, McNabb’s utter failure, and Peterson getting seriously injured in Week 16. There are way too many holes for this team to fill, and the Vikes play in the new toughest division in Football. Unfortunately we’re going to have to wait about 4 more years to see this team return to any kind of greatness.
Tampa Bay (4-12): Definitely the fourth worse disappointment this year. They somehow started off at a strong 4-2 start, only to lose their last 10 games in a row. That is utterly horrible. They have fired their head coach, and I don’t see Josh Freeman as the QB to lead this team. Stuck in another very difficult division, I don’t see the Bucs competing for anything in the next 5 years.
Washington: (6-10): Kyle Shanahan has guaranteed a NFC East title next year, I honestly don’t see them coming anywhere close. They are in another very tough division that for some reason this year was battling for mediocrity. I don’t see the Redskins competing with the Eagles, Giants, and Cowboys anytime soon without a franchise QB. The constant indecision at the QB position with this franchise has locked them into several 5 win seasons. At least Dan Snyder isn’t afraid to spend money.
Carolina (7-9): The Panthers definitely ended the season on the biggest upswing of any team. And think about it, there were 3 or 4 games in the beginning of the season that the Panthers had an easy shot at winning. Win 2 or 3 of those and you’re in the playoffs. Cam Newton took the league by storm and shocked many people who saw him as the next Jamarcus Russell. They are in a very tough division, but I can easily see the Panthers nailing the #6 seed next year. They have a new coach and new QB, their success should last for awhile.
Seattle (7-9): Seattle also has quite a bit to look forward to. A bad 2-6 start ended in close miss to get to .500. Should the Seahawks make a run at a real QB (sorry Tavaris, you couldn’t do it in Minnesota I don’t know why they thought Seattle would be any different), I can easily see a 9-7 team next year. Being in the NFC West doesn’t hurt their chances.
Dallas (8-8): Probably the fifth most disappointing team this year (don’t worry, I’m getting there lol). Dallas had Romo hurt last year, and was expecting a deep playoff run this year. Because of a lot of 4th quarter shananigans and missed field goals, the Cowboys could easily be 12-4 this year. Tony Romo also had an amazing year considering he was playing hurt for half the season. Dallas will be in the playoffs next year as long as the key pieces stay put.
Philadelphia (8-8): Ok here we are! The Eagles were easily the biggest disappointment this season. If it wasn’t for their slow start, they would be in as they barely missed out this year. “Shady” McCoy proved himself to be a Top 5 RB in the league which is definitely promising, but the wheels totally came off the Nightmares this season. They thought that signing 8 superstars would make up for the other 45 players on the team, which just isn’t feasible. Asoumugha was benched for a drafted cornerback, Vick was hurt half the season and only had one rushing TD, and Desean Jackson’s contract issues affected his play on the field. Vince Young played more like a practice squad QB than a backup, and he jinxed them with the “Dream Team” name. The Eagles will have better days to come, but they need to add to their core 8 players and get some help. At least they’re keeping Andy Reid.
Arizona (8-8): After starting 1-6, nobody expected much from the Cardinals either, but they surprised everybody with a crazy 7-2 run at the end to finish at a respectable 8-8 (including wins over the Cowboys and 49ers). This saved Ken Whisenhunt’s job, and gave them something to look forward to next year. Kevin Kolb will be better (even though Skelton looked pretty dang good too), Beanie Wells has turned into a great RB, Fitzgerald isn’t losing anything anytime soon, and their special teams won them 2 games. Arizona will be a .500 or 9-7 team for years to come, but in the NFC West that most likely means playoff births!!!
Chicago (8-8): Where are we on disappointments, #6? The Bears were the sixth most disappointing team this year. Coming off an NFC Championship, they were somehow quietly winning games while the Packers, Saints, and Lions took the limelight. But at the time of Cutler’s injury, the Bears had a stronghold on a Wild Card spot, and would have been a scary team to play in the playoffs. Forte getting hurt (and not getting a contract resolved) definitely made a huge impact. With as many times as Cutler gets hit, the Bears need a strong backup QB, Caleb Hanie could have won 2 out of the last 6 games and made the playoffs, but he couldn’t even do that! Mike Martz is out as Offensive Coordinator, and their once staunch defense is getting old. Although I dislike Cutler, I give him a lot more credit on his abilities than most people. I can see the Bears being in the playoff hunt for one more year, but their window is closing fast.
I want to give out a quick pat on the back to Matthew Stafford. He became the 5th QB in NFL history to surpass 5000 yds in one season, and he didn’t even make the Pro Bowl! In his first full season as QB, he led the Lions to their first playoff berth since 1999. Stafford is also five years younger than any other QB that has ever thrown for more than 40 TD’s in a season. I know FMQB says this a lot (sorry TJ Yates), but I think we can legitimately say we have a star in the making.