A wild and crazy NFL season has come to a close with the Broncos winning Super Bowl 50, so Will and Derek are back with their unsolicited opinions on the week’s action, including the Sheriff riding off into the sunset, how much dab’ll do ya, the Hall of Fame, the end for Marshawn Lynch, and our inability to win prop bets.
Will: The game itself was not the most aesthetically pleasing contest of the season. Cam Newton and Peyton Manning completed 31 of 66 passes for 406 yards combined. There were 153 penalty yards and 509 offensive yards. There were 12 sacks and 6 turnovers. Did you enjoy your Super Bowl viewing experience, or would you have preferred more points?
Derek: I’d say I enjoyed it more than most. It was ugly, but at least there were a bunch of turnovers and potential turnovers. It would have been worse if there were nothing but three-and-outs, though there were a bunch of those too. There were 15 punts, which is especially notable considering Peyton Manning completed 13 passes and Cam Newton completed 18. Thankfully, the game’s seven total fumbles made up for the lack of offensive productivity. Everybody perks up when the ball is on the ground in a close game, and it was at least close until the very end. There’s a decent chance I’ll completely forget it in a few years, though.
The worst part was watching as a fan of an eliminated playoff team and thinking “these are the best two teams in the league?” Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders has been calling 2015 “the worst NFL season since at least 2002.” After that game, I believe him. Thank goodness the pass rushers came to play. Otherwise, Brandon McManus would have been MVP.
As you know, I’m from North Carolina, and once considered the Panthers my second favorite team and will again when Cam is way different or playing somewhere else. As you can imagine, my Facebook feed is filled with Panther supporters. Among several themes I’ve noticed, one is that the referees affected the outcome of the game, which was something I hadn’t given any thought to until I saw a bunch of them mention it. Do you think that claim has any merit?
Will: I don’t recall thinking about the refs at all. The Panthers had twice as many infractions as the Broncos for twice as many yards, but none of the calls seemed particularly egregious. There was talk about how much Aqib Talib (who somehow did not get ejected) and the Denver secondary were bumping and holding Carolina’s receivers, and I suppose there’s merit to that. But more than that: hey guys, shut up about the refs, you sound like a bunch of sissies.
Without naming any potential examples or leading you in any way, did you find anything about the Super Bowl — from the pregame to the game to halftime to postgame — objectionable? I made the mistake of staying on Twitter in the hour or two after the game ended, subjecting myself to all sorts of outrage and counter-outrage and mock-outrage and counter-mock-mock-counter-outrage. Nothing about the production offended me in any way except for the inclusion of Mike Carey and Phil Simms. How say you?
Derek: No, there wasn’t anything I noticed. I’ve seen lots of people reference whatever Beyonce did during the halftime show, but I didn’t watch at the time and don’t have any particular interest in tracking it down. There are many reasons I watch sports and write about sports, but commenting on the statements famous pop stars make during halftime performances is not one of them. Besides, I’m sure the people who do enjoy discussing that aspect of sports have already made their feelings known, and they didn’t need an engraved invitation. Other than that, nothing struck me other than Simms and Carey (hopefully not dead, but possibly now unemployed) and the level of play. As bad as they were, I’d stop well short of calling them objectionable.
Not too many people object to seeing Peyton Manning finish his career with the Lombardi Trophy. Do you agree that this is it for The Sheriff? Will you miss having him around? Do you buy the rumors that he might play for the Rams next year?
Will: First, I don’t know when we started calling Peyton Manning the Sheriff, but I am not a fan. The last thing he needs is something to make him sound even dorkier than he is. It reminds me of George Bluth, Sr.’s cowboy phase from Arrested Development. But yeah, this has gotta be it for Peyton. He’ll be 40 in a couple months. He just won a Super Bowl and beat Tom Brady in the process. He still can’t feel his fingers. There is no upside to him playing for the Rams or anyone else. Go home, Peyton. And take Papa John with you.
Speaking of the Papa and forced product placement, did any commercials catch your fancy? The Pokemon ad got me super psyched until I realized it was a Pokemon ad; I still liked it, though I don’t understand what Pokemon product is on the way. The Doritos ultrasound ad is getting pilloried, not unjustly, but I enjoyed it for adding some weird to the occasion. Other than that, I don’t have much. Independence Day 2 didn’t do it for me, nor did Helen Mirren telling me not to drink and drive. I thought it was a bit of a down year overall.
Derek: My personal favorite was Anthony Hopkins’ Turbo Tax commercial. I also liked the Pokemon one, and pretty much anything having to do with Batman and Superman. I’m such a DC mark. I even thought that crappy Green Lantern movie was okay.
Most of them came off as preachy, generic, or a bad attempt at humor. I do take issue with your “not impressed with Independence Day 2” comment. That’s not the Will Gibson I know. Snap out of it, man! You may not have liked it, but Captain Steven Hiller taught us to not give up until the fat lady sings.
We’re fighting for our right to live. To exist. Don’t ever forget that. You don’t want to be the one person who didn’t see it coming when Independence Day 2 wins every single Oscar next year.
Speaking of awards, the Hall of Fame Class of 2016 was announced. The newest members are: Brett Favre, Marvin Harrison, Kevin Greene, Orlando Pace, Tony Dungy, Ken Stabler, Eddie DeBartolo Jr., and Dick Stanfel. Are you opposed to any of them? Should the likes of Terrell Owens or the immortal Morten Anderson have gone in over any of them? Care to share in my outrage that Don Coryell is somehow still not in the Hall?
Will: I’m not opposed to any of them, though Harrison gives me pause because of the whole he-might’ve-killed-someone thing. But bless the Hall of Fame committee for keeping Terrell Owens, one of the five best receivers ever, out because he was kind of a dick. Favre and Pace were shoo-ins. Greene had ten seasons of 10-plus sacks. I’d have to take someone’s word for it re: Stanfel and DeBartolo, but sure, let ’em in. I suppose Tony Dungy is the only one I take some issue with, but any time you can honor a coach with a 9-10 playoff record, you gotta do it. And yeah, why isn’t Coryell in? If you have an offense named after you, you get to be in the Hall. That’s the rule.
We must interject with the most important tweet the NFC West has seen in quite some time. It seemed that Marshawn was on his way out of Seattle after this season no matter what. Now we know he’ll be retiring instead of playing with another team. How did it all strike you?
Derek: It was a bittersweet announcement. I’m happy that the Seahawks didn’t have to cut him (they would have if he didn’t retire) and I’m happy I won’t have to watch him play for another team. With all due respect to Shaun Alexander, Lynch is the greatest Seahawks running back of all time and one of the players I’ve most enjoyed watching. There are already a handful of Marshawn tribute videos and best-of lists floating around the internet, and it took all I had to not turn this article into a love letter. Marshawn was a unique player and is a unique person, and I look forward to telling strangers in bars why he belongs in the Hall of Fame.
Now that we’re near the end, let’s have a look at the future. Whats your way-too-early prediction for the SuperBowl 51/LI matchup?
Will: Oh hell if I know. How about Browns-Rams?
Alright, we’ve waited this long. Go ahead and have fun at Cam Newton’s expense for 10 or 12 paragraphs.
Derek: Man, I don’t even want to anymore. It feels completely unnecessary. All of my criticisms of Cam were so fully on display that pretty much everything has already been said. Besides, Wade Phillips already set the standard for having fun at Cam’s expense, and I know that whatever I come up with won’t be as good.
When I’ve talked about Cam Newton in the past, I gave my opinions and observations. Today, I’m just going to offer up facts. He spent all week saying “if you want to stop me from celebrating, stop me.” He wore golden MVP cleats with his accolades written on them. Then after the Broncos did stop him from celebrating, he shut down and acted like a child because things weren’t going his way.
If that’s the kind of guy you want to root for, that’s fine. Far be it from me to tell you who to cheer for. Just don’t sweep all of that under the rug whenever you call Cam Newton a great role model because he smiles when things are going his way. Don’t say his showboating is fine and then act like everyone else is a jerk when they return the favor after a loss. People who criticize Cam aren’t all racists. People have been rooting against showboats since long before he was born. If you want to laugh and dance and rub it in when you’re on top, don’t expect support and sympathy when you fall off the pedestal.
On that note, let’s give you all the chance to mock us for our prop bet performances. We did not actually put money down on any of these (as far as you know) since gambling is ungentlemanly, but we can still delight in (or weep over) our picks. Results are shown in red. Correct picks feature an asterisk:
Lady Gaga’s rendition of the National Anthem (From when the first note starts until she completes saying “brave”) will be over or under 136.5 seconds?
Derek: You win this round, Trebek. At least I think so. My understanding is with the stipulation of “from first note to brave,” the rendition was 2:09. Without that stipulation, it was 2:22. Seeing as we mentioned that stipulation in the original prop, I’d say it’s fair to award you the fake money.
Will*: Thank you, thank you. I will invest it wisely.
Will either team score in the first five minutes of the game? Yes (+145) or no (-175)?
Derek: Curses! Brandon McManus’ field goal came 4:17 into the game. Couldn’t you have waited a minute, Brandon?
Will: During the game I 100% thought that this prop was about scoring a touchdown, not just scoring, and I was all excited because I thought I got it right. Damnit.
Will there be a missed extra point? Yes (+325) or no (-450)?
Derek: I’m jumping on the anti-kicker bandwagon now. Ban kickers!
Will: Buncha nerds with their elastic hamstrings. Screw ’em all.
If Cam Newton scores a rushing touchdown, his first celebration will be: open shirt Superman motion (+120), dances solo (+180), goes to crowd and gives ball away (+225), dances with teammates (+1000), spikes ball (+2000), hands ball to official (+4000), or dunks on goal post (+5000)?
Derek: We technically weren’t wrong since Cam didn’t score, so we’ll never know. I’ll stand by my original prediction and assume it would have been correct.
Will: Me too.
Which number will be higher: the number of points LeBron James scores vs the Pelicans (+1.5) or the distance of the game’s shortest made field goal (-1.5)?
Derek: This was a close one, as the shortest field goal was 30 yards and LeBron dropped 27 on the Pelicans. Yet once again, we hang our heads in shame. How was the game? Did LeBron leave any points on the floor? Should I add him to my Hate List next to kickers?
Will: Great prop, oddsmakers. The Cavs won the game comfortably, and LeBron played very well: 27 points on 11-of-20 shooting. Just one more three would have done it. He should absolutely be on the Hate List.
Carolina (-5.5) vs. Denver
Derek*: I got one! Yeah! No shutout for me! I’m going to submit this and hop on my yacht.
Will: I will not miss this NFL season even a little bit. Until next year.
A wild and crazy Championship Sunday has come to a close, so Will and Derek are back with their unsolicited opinions on the week’s action, including the Panthers stomping the Cardinals, Cam Newton having fun, the Brady-Manning rivalry, the amount of fun Cam Newton has, the impending Pro Bowl, the extent to which Cam Newton has fun, the Gentlemen of the Week, a notation on how Cam Newton has so much fun out there, the Most Hungover Fan Bases, and an analysis on the relationship between Cam Newton and fun.
Will: Does the Panthers’ beatdown of the Cardinals make you feel any better about the Seahawks falling to them like they did? Could Carolina just be that good? What stood out to you about their play?
Derek: No, not really. I didn’t take anything away from that game other than Carson Palmer is either injured or way more terrible than we thought. Quarterbacks have more of an effect on their team’s success than any other position in professional sports other than pitchers. If your starting pitcher gives up 10 runs in the first inning, you’re not going to win. And if your quarterback turns the ball over six times, you’re probably not going to win that one either.
The bad news for Palmer is, in my opinion, he played even worse than the stat line indicated. It’s fair to say that this game didn’t have my absolute undivided attention, but when I checked the box score afterward I was surprised he only threw four interceptions. He was throwing it right to Panther defenders, and as a result the team looked completely demoralized.
So no, I don’t feel any better. The Seahawks would have kicked Arizona’s asses just as badly if Palmer played that kind of game. Most playoff teams would have. Put 21 other Pro Bowlers on the team and they won’t win when the quarterback is consistently giving the ball away. I didn’t turn off that game thinking the Panthers were a runaway freight train, which appears to be the consensus among football pundits.
Am I off-base here? Am I just completely blinded by my dislike of Cam Newton?
Will: Nah, you’re not off-base. Dripping with bitterness, sure, but not too far off-base. I didn’t watch this one too closely either — the Royal Rumble was on, for cryin’ out loud. When the scoreline read 17-0 after the first quarter, whatever degree of interest I had in the game vanished.
Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson were already out of the playoffs. With Tom Brady and Peyton Manning both aging and struggling in the AFC Championship game (together they completed exactly half of their passes), how much “Cam Newton is the best quarterback in the NFL” talk are we in for over the next couple weeks?
Derek: That’s depressing. Why would you say something like that? Maybe I should just stay off the internet the next two weeks. The impending Newton lovefest could very well drive me to violence. Look at how much fun he’s having! Doesn’t he look like he has fun? He has so much fun! AGREE WITH US THAT HE HAS FUN!
See? It’s happening already.
The only thing that could “save” us is the original media darling: Peyton Manning. The narratives of “Peyton Manning’s last game” and “Peyton Manning could ride off into the sunset” and “old school vs. new school” could deter us from hearing about how much fun Cam Newton is having. Did you know he has fun? Football is fun for him. He has fun. Fun is fun.
Which Super Bowl storyline do you think will be beaten into the ground before the Super Bowl? Will Manning and/or Newton take the crown, or could an underdog like Michael Oher, Thomas Davis, or Poorly Timed Criminal Offender/Drug Test Failer X steal it?
Will: Here’s hoping for the latter, because sweet Christ I want nothing to do with any of it. I’m going to hide in a bunker until April. Super Bowl talk is the worst. The Super Bowl is quietly the worst. Aside from the game itself, I’m out. Good for Thomas Davis for playing with a broken arm. Good for Cam Newton for giving balls to kids. Good for Michael Oher for being in a movie. Good for Peyton Manning for being old.
I don’t know it’s just that they play under helmets or what, but football players are not compelling to me. This is probably unfair and born of my distaste for the NFL, but so be it. I dislike everything about football except for the football.
Did Brady vs. Manning, you know, do anything for you? Do you find their rivalry particularly compelling? They’ve been two of the NFL’s best for some 15 years, going head to head several times during that stretch. So why am I sitting here so underwhelmed? Can we blame it all on Phil Simms?
Derek: Such a negative recap today. The answer is, again, no. I’ve enjoyed their rivalry over the years, but Manning is a shell of his former self. I’m shocked the Broncos made the Super Bowl the way Denver’s quarterbacks have played this year. And that brings us to Mr. Simms, who continually refuses to acknowledge that Manning is at a different stage in his career. He praises Manning like he gets a bonus every time he does it. I can’t enjoy a rivalry between two players when I roll my eyes every time the color commentator mentions one of them. Add in the fact that neither quarterback was particularly impressive, and all of the fun (© Cam Newton) was sucked out of the rivalry. Sadly, it’s not over yet, since Simms will call the Super Bowl. Splendid.
Will: Were there any hidden subplots within the championship games? Aside from whatever Cam’s latest thing is, what are people going to be all mad about? What are the talking points? I was hoping for both Denver and New England to lose and had no rooting interest in Carolina-Arizona, so I wasn’t too absorbed by the proceedings.
Derek: Did you see that Panthers fan fall down?
That’s about all I’ve got. I wasn’t kidding about my apathy for these football games. I can’t believe I’m reading mock drafts before February. This is stupid.
Let’s talk about something equally pointless: the Pro Bowl! What would it take to make you watch? Would you gamble on it or take part in a Pro Bowl drinking game? Would you require financial compensation? Will it even exist in five years?
Will: If you put a $20 bill in front of me and said that I had to watch the whole game, start to finish, with only limited phone and computer interruption, I don’t think I would do it. I certainly wouldn’t gamble on it, because the only thing worse than losing money is losing money on something so astronomically meaningless.
Drinking game? …Maybe.
Let’s hand out this week’s hardware.
Gentlemen of the Week
Derek: Wade Phillips, come on down! The Broncos’ improbable upset was thanks in large part to your defense. Also, there’s this:
Will: That immediately makes Wade wittier than like half the league. I’ll go with that Panthers fan who fell over the barrier. He looked like he had a good time.
Most Hungover Fan Bases
Derek: I’ll say Carson Palmer’s fan base. I’d give it to Cardinals fans, but it looks like they already jumped off the bandwagon.
Will: I’ll go with that Panthers fan who fell over the barrier. He looked like he had a good time.
A wild and crazy Week 10 has come to a close, so Will and Derek are back with their unsolicited opinions on the week’s action, including YET ANOTHER Seahawk collapse, Carson Palmer’s performance, the coronation of JFF, the fall of Peyton Manning, the Packer’s slide, showboating, the Gentlemen of the Week, and the Most Hungover Fan Bases.
Will: The Cardinals beat the Seahawks in what looks to have been a barnburner. Seattle nearly flipped the script of its early season blown leads, rallying back from a 19-0 deficit to take the lead before falling thanks to two fourth-quarter Arizona touchdowns. Judging by the box score alone, this looks to have been a strange game — a safety, a fumble return for a touchdown, somebody called Tukuafu scoring. 1) Do you have any significant takeaways from this game, and 2) Is it time to seriously worry about the Seahawks’ playoff chances?
Derek: Yet another blown lead in the fourth quarter. Do me the courtesy of clicking here and here so I don’t have to rehash my thoughts on the Seahawks in the fourth quarter. My word. It would be funny if they weren’t supposed to be a somewhat decent team.
So, takeaways. First, the Cardinals may be better than I gave them credit for. I thought they were overrated most of the year because they only looked good against bad teams, but I can’t say that anymore. Unless, of course, the Seahawks are also a bad team, which is something I may have to come to grips with. Either way, Carson Palmer was awesome. The Seahawks D was constantly in his face, and they succeeded against him at times. Palmer committed three turnovers — one that K.J. Wright returned to the Arizona 3-yard line, and one that Bobby Wagner returned for a touchdown — but he was fearless. He would step up into the pocket and throw perfect passes that only his receivers could get and they, naturally, extended and made the catches they needed to. I’m very, very close to making an Artists Formerly Known as the Legion of Boom joke, but I thought Palmer played so well that it didn’t really matter.
On the other end, the Seahawks’ offensive struggles continued. The blocking wasn’t great, but I’ve seen worse from them. The penalties were a killer. The Seahawks faced 1st-and-20 a stunning five times in this game. Five! Five drives were pretty much over before they even began. But that was just the beginning. All told, the Seahawks were penalized 14 times for 131 yards. Despite the defense giving them two touchdowns, they still couldn’t pull it off. Ridiculous.
So, yeah, I’d say I’m pretty worried. Seattle needed all three games of this homestand. It wouldn’t be easy. Two of the three teams are pretty good, and all three get two weeks to prepare for the Seahawks. Things are hopefully not bad enough to lose to Blaine Gabbert next week, but what are Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and Martavis Bryant going to be able to do after seeing what Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, and Michael Floyd did? They’re thinking about it right now, while Seattle is getting ready for the 49ers. Meanwhile, the Falcons own the final wild card spot with a 6-3 record. There are six 4-5 teams looking to unseat them. The Seahawks are behind the Redskins, Buccaneers, and Rams in the tiebreaker. The Seahawks may be a team nobody wants to see in the playoffs, but every week they look less likely to make it. I don’t understand. They’ve been automatic in these situations before. The mystique is fading.
I hate Malcolm Butler so much.
Now, word on the street is you didn’t catch the Browns-Steelers game live. And enjoyed it! Have you found a replay to watch? And now that the Browns have decided to roll with Johnny for the rest of the year, do you still feel it’s the right move?
Will: I haven’t watched it yet; I’m still living in a state of glorious, willful ignorance. I still haven’t seen so much as a replay package. Like your Seahawks, my beloved Browns also racked up the penalty yards: 188 of ’em! Word is that Johnny played the best game of his young career, but the Browns were so overmatched and perhaps deflated by Ben Roethlisberger’s heroic effort off the bench that it didn’t matter.
But word has indeed come down that Johnny will start the rest of the way, which is an encouraging development. I feel for Josh McCown, who played admirably as long as he was physically able, but he’s 36 and Johnny is 22. We still haven’t seen enough of Manziel to know if he can actually be a starter in the NFL, so kudos to Mike Pettine and company for making the move to find out. These are the things you applaud when your team is 2-8.
Let’s talk about the good teams. New England beat the Giants on a last-second field goal, which feels about right. Both Brady and Eli put up big numbers, and it looks to have been a pretty even game. In a week loaded with odd results, this one seems like it played to expectation. Anything meaningful to be gained here?
Derek: Well, if Eli could play every game against the Patriots, he’d have more accolades than his brother. That’s something. Though the biggest news may be yet another injury for the Patriots. How long can they keep this up? They’ve managed to keep Brady and Gronk on the field, but most of the offensive line, Dion Lewis, and now Julian Edelman are down. Bill Belichick is the smartest guy in the room, but even he has a limit on how many injuries his team can take before it starts costing them games. Are they always going to be competitive as long as Brady and Gronk are healthy? We may find out soon enough.
The Bengals finally bit the dust, as they could not overcome the onslaught of the mighty T.J. Yates. Plus, we finally got that Dalton Game we’ve been expecting. It is getting a bit colder, after all. How much enjoyment did you get watching the Bengals fall to the (tied for) FIRST PLACE HOUSTON TEXANS?! I’ll just leave this here while you think about it.
Will: Pardon me while I wipe the vomit off of my keyboard. My god, that division. Old Yeller’s in better shape. I forget to make a crack about not taking the Bengals seriously for one dumb week and they lose to the freaking Texans on Monday night. I still feel vindicated. Never forget that Andy Dalton is Andy Dalton.
Speaking of shoddy quarterbacking, Peyton Manning was benched in favor of Brock Osweiler. Wait, Peyton Manning was benched in favor of Brock Osweiler?? He completed only one more pass to his team (5) than he did to the opposition (4) in what was a surely demoralizing 29-13 loss to the Chiefs. His play this season has been as mercurial as a man of his age’s back; some days it feels good, and others it feels like cold damp death. Do you feel remotely comfortable predicting anything for this Broncos team as long as Manning is at the helm?
Derek: No. A horrendous performance from Peyton has been a long time coming. For whatever reason, opposing defenses haven’t been able to hold on to the balls he throws right to them. He should have thrown four or five interceptions when he played Kansas City earlier this year. Somehow, your Browns were the only team to intercept him more than twice before Sunday. Unsurprisingly, a bunch of injury stories leaked shortly after the game, and we may have seen the last of Peyton Manning. Brock Osweiler looked better in relief, but the standard wasn’t particularly high at that point. I’ll be interested to see how he does. He went 18 picks before Russell Wilson in the 2012 Draft, but we haven’t seen him outside of the preseason so far. His rookie contract ends at the end of this season, so he’s got a chance to make some money.
What I want to know is if Peyton even wants him to succeed. Can you picture Osweiler hoisting the Lombardi Trophy while Peyton scowls under a storm of confetti? I sure can.
While we’re talking about Peyton, I’d like to ask a fantasy football philosophy question. Who should feel worse: the people who started Peyton (-7 points!) or the people who benched the “injured” Ben Roethlisberger and watched him score 27 as a backup?
Will: Peyton, for sure. I won one game this week against a fellow who started Peyton, and I feel terribly about it. The game ended up being a blowout, but imagine those who had solid performances across the board and only needed 15 points or so to win. I’d be insulted and offended if I were a Peyton Manning owner. The Roethlisberger thing also hurts, but starting a shitty player (for one day, anyway) always hurts a little worse than benching a good one. Now, if you benched Roethlisberger for Manning, I would not vote to convict you of any crime that you committed thereafter.
Let’s go north. The Packers lost to the Lions. Wait, the Packers lost to the Lions?? They came within a two-point conversion of tying it in the final minute, but no dice. We — and most observers, I suspect — favored relaxation after losses to the Broncos and Panthers, but those were heavyweight fights. This was a genuine stunner. Are the Vikings — who soundly defeated the Raiders — seriously going to win the NFC North? Could the Packers also be in danger of missing the playoffs?
Derek: How did this happen? The only reason I wouldn’t have said the Lions were bottoming out was because they’re the Lions. Their floor is pretty close to the center of the Earth. But they were certainly flailing, and they hadn’t won in Green Bay since 1991. It’s not like the Packers were complacent or overlooking them, either. They had just lost two in a row and were in danger of losing their grip on first place in the NFC North. Lo and Behold, the Vikings won, and they’re now somehow in first place. I don’t understand anything. Everything pointed to Green Bay winning by 30.
I still can’t panic yet. As long as they have Rodgers, they have a shot. The problem is, he’s gotten injured around this time the last two years. If they’re playing this poorly with Rodgers, just imagine how unsightly they’d be without him. Luckily for us, the Packers have a chance to show us they’re for real this Sunday, when they travel to Minnesota.
Much has been made of showboating in the last 48 hours. Cam Newton did an obscenely long touchdown dance. J.J. Watt called Andy Dalton a Red Ryder BB Gun. Carson Palmer told Seahawks fans to suck it. Any comment on all of this celebration outrage? Should we be thinking of the children?
Will: Yes, yes we should. We should be thinking of the children and wondering why they aren’t better dancers and celebrators and taunters. Rather, we shouldn’t be wondering that — if we vilify captains of creative industry like Cam, Watt, and Palmer, then clumsy-dancing, poor-shit-talking kids is what we deserve. Is that the world you want to live in? Do you not want to see homages to D-Generation X in your local high school games? It’s a slippery slope, and we’re in danger of falling all the way down the goddamn mountain. For shame.
There will rightly be plenty of talk about which game was the best of the week, but which do you think was the worst? We had the Browns amassing 188 penalty yards in a toothless loss to the Steelers. We had a 10-6 derp-off between Tampa and Dallas. We had Washington dropping 47 on the Saints, the Bears beating the Rams by 24, and the Panthers handling the Titans, 27-10. Which would you least like to watch on a loop?
Derek: New Orleans was fun, because I enjoyed the shots of a hapless Rob Ryan standing on the sideline. I’m going to miss him. Steelers-Browns was frustrating, but mostly due to personal fantasy football reasons no one wants to hear about. I can’t complain about the Rams losing. And while Bucs-Cowboys wasn’t pretty, it at was at least close. That leaves Panthers-Titans. Watching Tennessee’s offense was a struggle, and Cam Newton has nearly turned me against the Panthers. I’ve always said the Panthers are my second favorite team, but Cam irritates me to no end. I don’t enjoy watching him succeed. Let’s get Cleveland legend Derek Anderson in there!
Speaking of terrible games, how excited are you for the Jags-Titans game on Thursday night? It has actual playoff implications!
Will: That can’t be true. No way that’s true. I’m gonna pretend you didn’t say that. Let’s move on. Any words of advice or solace for a depressed Browns fan base?
Derek: Maybe Jimmy Haslam’s legal trouble will force him to sell the team? Maybe Johnny will be good? Maybe Josh Gordon will come back next year? Maybe if the Browns keep losing, you’ll get a shot at Robert Nkemdiche or Ohio State’s own Joey Bosa? You don’t have to watch Brandon Weeden or Trent Richardson anymore? Is any of that helping?
In all seriousness, I’ll just say things can turn around in a hurry. The Seahawks were a doormat, but they hired Mike Holmgren and they made the playoffs almost every year. Then they became a doormat again, Pete Carroll and John Schneider were hired, they became good, and won a Super Bowl. You could look back on this season as the beginning of something great. Today is the first day of JFF’s reign. You may remember this day fondly and laugh about how bad you thought it was.
Let’s hand out this week’s hardware.
Gentlemen of the Week
Derek: I’m giving it to the entire Jaguar offensive line. They knew that the referees would screw up the final play of the game, so they allowed Elvis Dumervil free run at Blake Bortles so he could commit the facemask penalty that put Jacksonville in position for the winning field goal. We’re all playing checkers while the Jacksonville linemen play chess. Well done, Gentlemen.
Will: T.J. Yates, you beautiful bastard you. In his first action of the season — and his first since September 2014 — he popped off the bench, tossed a touchdown to DeAndre Hopkins, and knocked off one of the NFL’s three unbeaten teams. It was his finest effort in Cincinnati since, well, his last two games there. He led the Texans over the Bengals in December 2011, and knocked them out of the playoffs in January 2012. T.J. stands for “Lion Tamer.”
Most Hungover Fan Bases
Derek: I’d say the Seahawks, but I think we’re just about numb to this sort of loss at this point. I’m going with the Packers. Three straight losses and the wrong end of the weekend’s biggest non-Ronda Rousey upset likely drove the people of Wisconsin to drink. Well, more than usual. I hope they save some for Rousey’s fans.
Will: Browns. Always the Browns. I mean, not always the Browns, but often the Browns. Whatever. Football’s dumb. Again.
A wild and crazy Week 6 has come to a close, so Will and Derek are back with their unsolicited opinions on the week’s action, including yet another Seahawk collapse, the Browns nearly beating their nemesis, Peyton Manning’s fall, the best and worst undefeated teams, the Gentlemen of the Week, and the Most Hungover Fan Bases.
Will: Let’s start with your boys, who lost after leading yet again, this time to the Carolina Panthers. Is this just the season from hell for the Seahawks? Is there any consistent reason for their blowing leads, or is it just one of those weird runs? What natural disaster best captures the experience of the Seahawks fourth quarter defense this year? Can they recover from it?
Derek: I think a true season from hell candidate has to involve some leaked stories of locker room and front office discord. Judging by that criteria, it was actually last season’s Seahawks who had more season from hell potential. Remember those stories about Russell Wilson not being “black enough” and Percy Harvin getting traded for next to nothing early in the year? No such stories this year, other than the (unfair) narrative that new defensive coordinator Kris Richard doesn’t know what he’s doing.
You see, as much as it pains me to say this, the most obvious culprit in this is Pete Carroll. Just take a gander at the Seahawks’ recent history in the fourth quarter that I broke down last week. The Seahawks have lost 18 games (including playoffs) since Week 1 of 2012. They held a fourth quarter lead in 14 of those games. Fourteen! Every loss except for these four. This is not a new problem. It’s only coming to light now because they’re 2-4. Still, take away the disastrous start to this season, and that’s still 10 blown fourth quarters in 14 games. Gus Bradley was the defensive coordinator in 2012, and presided over four of those losses. Dan Quinn was the defensive coordinator in 2012 and 2013, and he presided over six of those losses. Now Richard has added four more to the list. As the defensive coordinators change, both Pete Carroll and Darrell Bevell remain. I’m inclined to blame it on one of them, but I don’t hate myself enough or make enough money doing this to go back and re-watch each of those losses and assign blame. I can say in regards to Sunday’s game that it wasn’t too helpful letting the Panthers’ only good receiver run free into the end zone. Not the first time I’ve seen something like that.
Will: Let’s say I was a Seahawks fan and I wanted you to ruin my day with a few facts. What might that look like?
Derek: I’ve got you covered there. Consider the following: If the Seahawks could protect fourth quarter leads …
- They would be (at least) back-to-back Super Bowl champions.
- Their win over the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII would have punctuated a perfect season.
- They would have been 13-3 and the NFC’s top seed in 2012. Or even if they just held on against Atlanta in the playoffs, they would have advanced to the NFC Championship game.
Yes, that’s at two Super Bowls, a perfect season, and perhaps a third Super Bowl depending on their performance in their fantasy playoff games. The 2012-2014 Seahawks would be considered by many to be the greatest team of all time, and that’s before we get to the 6-0 start to the 2015 season. But they can’t protect a lead in the fourth quarter, so none of that is true.
So I guess the natural disaster the Seahawks fourth quarter performances most resemble is an Armageddon-esque meteor hurtling toward Earth. Everything seems fine, but you know it isn’t because you can see a giant planet-killing rock heading right for you. Then it finally hits and everyone dies, but Marshawn Lynch unveils a new Frappuccino at Starbucks the next day.
I suppose it’s possible they could turn it around. In both 2012 and 2014, the Seahawks were an average team in the middle of the season. Then they went on a dominant run and became Super Bowl contenders. So I’m not writing them off just yet, but I’ll have to think long and hard about labeling this a season from hell if they can’t beat the 49ers on Thursday night. I … I just don’t think my heart can take that.
Speaking of which, how did your heart handle the end of the Browns-Broncos game? Was there any sort of moral victory? Is John Elway the most hated man in Cleveland?
Will: I’m sorry to say that this has happened enough for me to have established something of a routine, and my initial reaction is always the same. It starts with good, pure laughter. It’s a bit like seeing one of your rides crash in the RollerCoaster Tycoon series. It should be tragic, but there’s enough distance there for it to be sadistically funny. I laugh for a while, and then I stop, and then I think about it all over and laugh again, a bit harder each time.
Then come the deep sighs. The soul-searching. The questions — at first rhetorical, and then earnest — as to why I keep watching this crap week after week. Like, the Browns intercepted Peyton Manning in overtime such that they got the ball on the Denver 39-yard line. All they needed to do was get 10 yards, maybe even five, and they would have been in field goal range. Instead they lost three yards on a Robert Turbin run (he looked decent, by the way. Hardly a world beater, but a legitimate big-bodied back) and 10 yards on two sacks of Josh McCown.
I’m sighing again as I write this. Every time we think the Browns have reached rock bottom, they dig a little deeper. If losing a completely winnable game against an undefeated team at home wasn’t enough, at least Johnny is in the news for a police matter and Joe Haden is rumored to be involved with money laundering. The Haden bit is very hearsay-y for now, but my god, that would take things to a new level.
On a slightly bright side, I got my first look at Peyton Manning’s garter snake of an arm Sunday. What kind of preservative do you think he puts it in overnight?
Derek: Formaldehyde? Whatever it is, it isn’t working. He looks even worse than his stat lines indicate, and his stat lines look pretty bad. I like Peyton Manning, and this is tough to watch. If a team has a bad offense, shouldn’t they just take a knee and punt every drive when they face the Broncos? Manning could probably create more scoring chances for the opposition than, say, Alex Smith could for his own team without Jamaal Charles.
What was it like watching Manning continuously find new ways to suck, but the announcers were still relentlessly kissing his ass?
Will: Eh, I didn’t really mind it. He’s been around long enough to earn a few buttock smooches, and he probably deserved them all in comparison to Josh McCown’s play. Have a look at this beauty!
I really can’t talk about the Browns anymore without ruining my day. So…are the Jets actually good enough to be worth talking about?
Derek: Yeah, I think so. Chris Ivory looks like my man Marshawn. He’ll be dangerous if he can stay healthy. Ryan Fitzpatrick is serviceable, and Brandon Marshall is having a career resurgence. Then there’s their good and occasionally dominant defense. This is a very well-timed question because the Jets travel to New England on Sunday. If they win or keep it close, we may have a contender.
There are five undefeated teams remaining: the Patriots, Broncos, Bengals, Packers, and Panthers. Which is the best and which is the worst?
Will: My immediate instinct is to say that the Bengals are the worst. They look more legit with each passing win, but my experience with football teams in Ohio is that they just don’t change their ways. I think this is about right for them:
The Broncos defense — at full health — is as good as it gets, but man, Peyton looks D-U-N done. He’s still smart enough to put the ball in the right place, but every single pass is a parabola. It’s like he’s quarterbacking in bullet time, except he’s the only one in slow motion.
The Panthers…I don’t buy the Panthers yet. Cam Newton being good is always fun, but aside from the Seahawks, they’ve beaten four teams that are absolute butt fungus. Their next two games look winnable (at home for Philly and Indy), but then they play the Packers, owners of the third best point differential in the league.
I think I’d put New England slightly above Green Bay based on health, but it’s close. It’s always nice as a fan of a Josh McCown-led team that quarterback play is really all that matters in the NFL. Sports are dumb and I hate them.
The Cardinals still own the best point differential in the league thanks to their beatdowns of Chicago, San Francisco, and Detroit. However, they’ve played two decent teams (Rams and Steelers), and lost both games. Where do you see things going for them?
Derek: They’re tough to peg, aren’t they? They actually outplayed the Steelers most of the game but somehow still lost. They’ve shown they can destroy bad teams, which is good because they’ve got the Ravens coming to town this weekend. They’ll win that by 70. But they have a string of games against decent teams after that, including back-to-back trips to Cleveland and Seattle. So, all that to say we’ll learn nothing when they blow out Baltimore this weekend. Though right now, it’s fair to compare them unfavorably to the Falcons in that they’ve beaten up on poor competition.
How about the Dolphins?! Could their new musclebound coach turn things around for them?
Will: I was borderline shocked by how badly they beat Tennessee. Part of that is because I had arbitrarily talked myself into Marcus Mariota as being this season’s Good Rookie QB, and part of that is because I thought Ndamukong Suh had covered Miami’s locker room with enough hog feces to sully their entire season.
So kudos to (…looking up name…) Dan Campbell! Great job by you, Dan! It wasn’t long ago that people were thinking Ryan Tannehill could make a mini-leap and that the Dolphins could compete in the AFC East. Perhaps they just hated Joe Philbin that much. If so, I applaud their commitment to losing in the spirit of pettiness.
Any takeaways from Colts-Pats?
Derek: The Colts actually looked kind of decent. Andrew Luck is still playing hurt, but he had an okay game. They’re 3-3 and leading the AFC South, and it looks like they will go unchallenged in that division yet again. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make some noise in the playoffs again this year. Other than that, I don’t think we learned much. The Colts got a backdoor cover, which was about the only surprise.
Let’s hand out this week’s hardware.
Gentlemen of the Week
Derek: I’m going with Philip Rivers. He wanted to share the ball so much that he threw 65 passes. Then he became the first quarterback to ever throw for 500 yards with no interceptions but still lose the game. Such a selfless, gentlemanly performance from Rivers.
Will: SIXTY-FIVE PASSES. That’s too many passes, Phil. Save some for next time. A proper gentlemanly performance, though.
I’ll go with my new favorite coach, Dan Campbell! He resuscitated the Dolphins, at least for one game. They’re still in the basement of a tough division and play four of their next six on the road, but there’s a chance that they’ll actually try in all of those games. Motivation is the stuff gentlemen are made of. Good work, Dan.
Most Hungover Fan Bases
Derek: I’m going Seahawks. We’re running out of excuses. We had Chancellor’s holdout, tough road games, Lynch’s injury, and so on. Now we’re even losing home games to Cam Newton, who is challenging Colin Kaepernick’s spot as my least favorite player in the league. I don’t feel good.
Will: Screw it, I’m going Browns. Largely similar reasons. I also don’t feel good.