This is always a unique time of the season, because 20 teams are doing some reflecting (and re-hiring) while the other 12 are looking forward to bigger and better things. Before we get to the playoffs, let’s take a quick look at the season for the rest of the group.
Quick Hits- Season Reflections:
- Despite QB questions, I think the Bills and Texans have a lot to look forward to in 2015
- Same with the Eagles. They only had one bad loss (Washington) all year, and had a backup QB for half the season
- Minnesota is going in the right direction, Chicago is not
- I think if there’s a year for a Coordinator to jump ship and become a head coach, it’s this year. There are some strong teams in the running (ATL, SF, CHI), while your typical CLE, JAX, OAK teams are not
- The AFC is looking very superior, with 11 of the 16 teams above .500
- Mike Smith’s entire job was riding on 1 game, he lost
- I would be excited if I was Marcus Mariotta that Tampa Bay has the #1 overall pick, Super Bowl coach and a star receiver in the making
- Jay Cutler should strongly consider Tennessee, with a coach who took his team to the Super Bowl
- Despite their best season since 2007, Cleveland is heading into 2015 with more questions than answers. Not a good spot to be.
When looking at the playoff group, there’s really not much of a shocker with who got in. Seattle, Green Bay, Carolina, New England, Denver, Indianapolis, and Cincinnati were all in it last year. The Chargers, Chiefs, and Eagles were in it last year but just barely missed out this year. Arizona also barely missed out last year. Both the AFC top 2 teams are the same, they just switched places, while the NFC #1 Seed is Seattle again.
Cardinals at Panthers:
This is probably the 1 game that nobody wants to watch and is impossible to predict. Way to start off Wild Card weekend with a bang NFL…We have the sub .500 team facing a team with possibly a 3rd string QB. Carolina has been truly hit and miss, either getting blownout or killing teams themselves. They only have 1 quality win though. But a hurting Arizona team won’t be enough to take them down on the road. Panthers 17, Cardinals 9
Ravens at Steelers:
At least the NFL makes up for the first game with a Saturday night, black and blue, hated division rival game. The Ravens and Steelers split the season series, with both teams winning at home. Funny enough, Baltimore scored 46 points combined in both meetings, and Pittsburgh scored (you guessed it) 46 points. Let’s continue that theme and have this game go into overtime. Steelers 27, Ravens 24
Bengals at Colts:
The only other matchup who have already played each other, Cincinnati is hoping to actually score and avoid the 27-0 shutout that the Colts won in Week 7. The Bengals are another strange team this year, whose defense can hold the mighty Peyton Manning, yet lose to Cleveland, tie the Panthers, and get swept by the Steelers. Hate to think what happens if both Andy Dalton and Marvin Lewis go 0-4 together in a playoff game, but I think the odds are it’ll happen. Colts 35, Bengals 17
Lions at Cowboys:
The last time these 2 teams met was the crazy back and forth contest last season with a last second Detroit win. A game that showed 41 points scored in the 4th quarter alone, and the odd Fake-Spike-QB-Sneak play to win the game. Calvin Johnson also had a whopping 329 yards receiving (2nd all time). One can only hope to have a game half this exciting, but it should be a good matchup again. Much is the same, yet so much is different from last year’s meeting. Detroit’s defense is staunch, while Dallas’ offense is on fire. But either way I think a Murray, Bryant, Romo combination will be too much to stop. Cowboys 31, Lions 24
Here are my 4 Championship teams: Patriots vs Steelers in the AFC, and Cowboys vs Seahawks in the NFC. We then see a Patriots vs Cowboys Super Bowl with Dallas winning it all.
Stat of the Week #1:
Chiefs Wide Receivers had 0 TD receptions this year. This is despite Alex Smith tossing 18 TD passes.
Stat of the Week #2:
Matt Forte caught 102 passes this year breaking the record for most by a running back. To put this into perspective, only 3 Wide Receivers had more receptions than Forte.
Stat of the Week #3:
DeMarco Murray had nearly 500 more yards than the 2nd place running back.
Stat of the Week #4:
Over 1/3 of the quarterbacks had 4000+ yards this year. This used to be the mark of an MVP type season
Stat of the Week #5:
23 receivers ended up having 1000+ yards. 15 of which had 10+ TDs.
Stat of the Week #6:
Antonio Brown had the 2nd most receptions in a season with 129.
Stat of the Week #7:
Despite throwing 6 TD’s in 2 different games, Ben Roethlisberger threw only 20 TD’s in his other 14 games.
Stat of the Week #8:
Despite having 2 games with zero TD passes this year (after a 51 game streak with a TD pass), Peyton Manning only fell 1 shy of the TD mark again.
Stat of the Week #9:
The Cowboys were undefeated on the road, and 4-0 in December
Stat of the Week #10:
The Panthers made the playoffs despite not recording a win from October 5th through December 7th. They did so by defeating a team for the division title who didn’t win from September 18th through November 9th.
Stat of the Week #11:
The NFC South was the only division to not have a team with double-digit wins. 4 out of 8 divisions had 2 teams with double-digit wins.
Stat of the Week #12:
Only 1 QB in the NFL had a game with a perfect passer rating. It’s a shocker: Geno Smith did it on Sunday.
Every year that a non-winning team makes the playoffs, the playoff seeding skeptics come out in droves. I remember when it happened to Seattle in 2011, everybody and their mom cried foul until Seattle actually won their playoff game. I understand where they come from, I just don’t happen to agree. If the NFL changes their seeding, then division rivals and the purpose of something to play for besides a Super Bowl will go out the window. The only thing I would advocate is a rule saying if a team wins their division but is .500 or less, then that team gets the #6 seed and a road game. I do have one seeding beef though. How is Seattle the #1 seed despite losing to Dallas and both teams having the same record? I think Head-to-Head needs more weight than Conference record in this case.
Playoff Stolen Stat:
In the past 4 years, the NFC East has been won once by each team
The NFC North, AFC East and AFC West have been won by the same team (Packers, Patriots, Broncos) in each of the past 4 years
The NFC South has its first repeat champion in its 13 years of existence
Trivia Question from the year 2047:
Who holds the Dallas Cowboys franchise record for most rushing yards in a season? Years from now, some will have forgotten DeMarco Murray, which is now the correct answer. He passed Emmitt Smith on Sunday after having a monster year with 1845 yards. Looking ahead, he’s only 13,829 yards shy of breaking another little record that Emmitt holds. Murray only needs to duplicate this season 8 more times and he’s there…
While other teams had “Win and you’re in” mentalities on Sunday, Tampa Bay had a “Lose and you win” mindset to secure the #1 overall draft pick. This is one time that you want to see your team lose. You could even argue that Saints fans might want to see the Saints lose to keep Mariotta out of the division. Either way, when I saw that the Buccaneers were winning 20-7 at the end of the 3rd quarter, I exclaimed “What are they thinking?!?!” Well in true Buccaneer fashion, they gave up 16 points in the 4th to secure the #1 spot. Three years ago it was “Suck for Luck,” and I feel like coaches told the offense to “Slow-ta Mariotta.”
Kind of an odd year regarding coaching changes. There were only 3 firings this year, while some years can have up to 8. Then we had a coach opt out of his contract through a goofy loophole, and another coach and team leave on mutual terms. Current openings are Jets, Falcons, Bears, 49ers and Bills. A surprisingly good bunch of teams with talented rosters for a new coach to come in and have some success.
Quote of the Year:
“Are you going to miss the NFL?” Reporter
“Is the NFL going somewhere?” Jim Harbaugh
Genius question to try to trip Harbaugh up and say he was leaving for Michigan; even more genius by Harbaugh to not only catch this but to come back with a witty comment
Quote of the Week #2:
“I’m going to a meeting, I’ll talk to you later” Kyle Orton, the last time anybody saw him in the locker room. That meeting was him retiring from the game.