Coming January 23rd, 2023…The Jags and the Dolphins, Florida’s two best pro football teams, fighting it out in clashing shades of turquoise for a trip to Super Bowl LVII!
Carry on like Ken Dorsey after a failed fourth down all you want, it won’t change facts.
Wait, you’re skeptical?
You think there’s still some stuff that could happen between now and New Year’s that could change the playoff picture?
Yeah, maybe you’re right. Maybe the Raiders aren’t the worst team in the league. Maybe Joe Flacco won’t finish the season top five in passing yards. Maybe Cooper Rush isn’t better than Dak Prescott, no matter how determined Jerrah is to create a controversy.
A year ago at this point, Sam Darnold & the Carolina Panthers were 3-0. They won two more games the rest of the way and finished in last place. At the same point, the Chiefs were 1-2 and in last place. They won 11 of their next 14 games to finish first in the AFC West.
Now, I’m not suggesting everything we’ve seen so far is a mirage…but history tells us some of it is. That’s good news for histrionic NFL fans, who can take comfort in the notion that misery – or at least mediocrity – loves company.
Consider the tepid starts of these name brand QBs and their offensive units:
Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs got only a FG in the 2nd half at Indy…and were an awful defensive holding call that went their way from posting a doughnut in the first half against the Chargers
Tom Brady’s Bucs scored one touchdown against both Dallas & Green Bay, and were shut out in first half v Saints
Aaron Rodgers’ Packers were shutout in the 2nd half v TB, got a FG in the 2nd half v CHI, and got one score total v the Vikes
Joe Burrow’s Bengals scored one TD against both Pittsburgh & Dallas
Kyler Murray’s Cards were shut out in the first half by Vegas, and scored no TDs against the Rams
Russell Wilson’s Broncos scored a single touchdown against each of their three foes
Do you expect the league’s defenses to continue to hold down these guys? Maybe Brady’s finally made like a middle-aged Icarus and flown one too many seasons. Maybe Kyler’s study habits have caught up with him. But all of them?
By the way…Russell Wilson’s Broncos are also now 2-1 and tied for first in the AFC West. Justin Fields’ Bears are 2-1 and tied for first in the NFC North. If the regular season ended today, the Bills and Packers would be wildcards, however…the regular season is not ending today.
Some predictions were too easy to miss…like Josh Allen being good and Carson Wentz being ungood…but settle down, everybody. We’ve got 14 regular season weeks and several high-end holidays to get through before the annual postseason tournament even starts.
All that said, if it does wind up being JAX v MIA in late January, let’s just hope the Jags don’t wear their turquoise pants against the Dolphins’ turquoise jerseys. I’d rather not watch the AFC Championship in black & white.
Meantime, let’s get to this week’s awards & best bets…
WEEK FOUR NFL MATCHUP I WISH WAS GONNA BE ON ‘SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL’
Bills at Ravens
The juggernaut of the first two weeks hasn’t just been exposed as mortal…Buffalo’s now looking up at the Dolphins in the standings. That may not be a real big deal in September, but losing Micah Hyde for the rest of the season sure is. Meantime, the Ravens – another victim of those Dolphins – are struggling in the secondary themselves…so a shootout between the two 2018 first-round gems worthy of primetime. The winning QB jumps higher in the MVP race, the loser and his teammates fall to .500.
Also will accept: Jags v Eagles
ALTERNATE REALITY QUESTION OF THE WEEK
If Trey Lance hadn’t gotten hurt last week, would Bill Belichick have replaced Mac Jones by trading for Niners backup Jimmy Garoppolo?
MORAL CONUNDRUM OF THE WEEK
If Miami winds up being the last undefeated team of 2022, will Larry Csonka, Mercury Morris & the rest of surviving 1972 undefeated Dolphins still pop champagne when Tua & co finally lose?
FREE AGENT SIGNING EVERYONE LAUGHED AT BUT IS NOW LOOKING JUST GRAND
He’s averaging six catches and a touchdown as Trevor Lawrence’s favorite target. Not bad for a guy whose springtime deal was supposed to warp WR contracts forever.
UNIT NOT GETTING ENOUGH CREDIT OF THE WEEK
I get it, Trevor Lawrence is the golden boy…but that JAX front seven is fast and fancy. The cynic will point out it’s easy to gather so much talent when your team is always near the top of the Draft, but Duval County residents aren’t apologizing as the franchise slides into its latest update to a sneaky-strong tradition of dominant defense.
BEST PIGSKIN SEQUEL OF THE WEEK
Butt Fumble 2: The Butt Punt
The competition was stiff this weekend, what with Jimmy Garoppolo doing his best Dan Orlovsky impression by stepping out of the back of his own endzone for a safety…but Dolphins punter Thomas Morstead’s foot and Trent Sherfield really took the o.g. to a whole new level.
BEST COMPLAINT OF THE WEEK
“It’s too hot out”
So Chicago needs to join Detroit and Minnesota as NFC North teams playing under a dome because it’s too cold out…but now it’s too hot out in Miami? Sheesh. Might be time to accelerate the dawn of the football-playing robots era.
HELPFUL PERSONNEL TIP OF THE WEEK
Bench Carson Wentz, start Sam Howell
The results are in: Wentz is broken. The Commies roster is not. In fact, in a relatively soft NFC, they could still have a shot at making a playoff push…if they roll with the rookie QB sooner rather than later.
VAPID CYNICISM OF THE WEEK
“Rookie QBs need to be brought along slowly”
Whether it’s Howell in our nation’s capital or Kenny Pickett in Pittsburgh, the notion a high-pedigree needs to be spared the upgrade in game speed – or whatever else might cause an issue – has been more than offset over the last decade or so by 2012 draftee RGIII, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson. And also Justin Herbert. And Dak Prescott. And Derek Carr. And Kyler Murray. And Lamar Jackson. (I can stop now, yes?)
NICKNAME SUGGESTION OF THE WEEK
Vita ‘The Area Code’ Vea
And it should go without saying, but this obviously would need to be accompanied by Vea changing his number from 50 to Tampa area code 318.
BRADY MOOD RING EMOTION OF THE WEEK
BEST BETS EVER OF THE WEEK
(20-6 over the last two weekends)
Penn St -25.5
Iowa St/Kansas o58.5
Enjoy the football weekend, and remember: I hope your team wins…unless they’re playing my team.