So the league playoffs are upon us again. As I’ve pointed out in the past, this means our Sunday football gatherings become like a mini-game of Survivor, in which those who no longer give a crap are removed, leaving those of us who do. Mike, by not making the playoffs, became the first one eliminated. He spent the day guzzling beer and throwing bitter remarks at the screen (which is really only a 5% difference from how he is during the regular season.) Meantime, Lars and I faced off in the first round and the differences were rather stark. Lars took on a Que Sera Sera sort of attitude, figuring things would simply work themselves out, win or lose. On the other hand, you could be sure that at least 27 times during the afternoon, I was capable of taking the life of a fellow human being. Probably good that Lars is the one the Fantasy Gods voted off the island. Now I’m facing Carol in the semi-finals, having been beaten by her TWICE in excruciating fashion during the regular season. I hope our friendship survives.
But more than that, I hope I make the Fantasy Bowl…
AWARDS FROM THE COMMISH
FANTASY OWNER OF THE WEEK: Me
Yes, I’m always a little hesitant to give myself awards that aren’t self-deprecating and yes, the game Lars and I perpetrated this week may have set the Fantasy Football movement back a generation. But I made at least one canny move (starting Golden Tate over Michael Crabtree) that landed me an additional two points. Not exactly revelatory, but in a game where nobody’s scoring, every point counts. Besides, pathetic as my point total was, I was the SECOND highest scoring team this week. In fact, I would have been the highest scoring team if not for…
FANTASY PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Le’Veon Bell
I’ve managed to skate by the task of correctly spelling Bell’s first name all season. However, on Sunday, he made that impossible by demolishing the Buffalo Bills defense. Bell ran for 236 yards, 3 TDs and had 62 yards receiving to boot. By the end of the game, Bills D coordinator Rob Ryan had passed our after chugging Yukon Jack directly from the bottle. Bell also single-handedly propelled Jack past Stoner and into the semi-finals, meaning we’ll have a new league champion crowned this season. Oh, and for the record, Bell’s full first name is Lemarcusdemaryiuscolossalmoonunitdweezelmulefrittersaruglarandallpepperjacktacoveon. So you can see why he shortens it.
ASSCLOWN OF THE WEEK: Harry Douglas
Douglas, a WR for the Titans, precipitated a massive brawl when he dove at the knees of Denver CB Chris Harris, delivering a “block” well away from the play. Truthfully, the brawl was precipitated by Denver CB Aqib Talib used the next play as an excuse to try beating Douglas’ ass. (Note I say “try” because fighting in full football gear is a tad like throwing down while wearing space suits.) Douglas was not apologetic afterwards, saying he was playing “gritty” and that Harris was loafing. Although a reasonable person (i.e. NOT Harry Douglas) might question the necessity of blocking someone who’s loafing and not anywhere close to the play. Dishonorable mention goes to Titans coach Mike Mularkey, who supported Harris’ play, and former referee-turned-shill Mike Perreira, who said Harris did not commit a foul and gave us this gem: “I mean, you hate to see people going at knees, but do you want them to go at the head?” Um, do we really HAVE to make that a choice, Mikey?
CRAPPY SEQUEL AWARD: Deflategate II
Deflategate, the NFL scandal that would not die, threatened to, well, not die this week. In fact, it looked to be gearing up for a sequel. The New York Giants informed the league that two of the footballs used in their game against the Steelers were below the league’s required PSI levels. The Giants let NFL Commissioner/Flaming Buffoon Roger Goodell off the hook by not demanding an investigation into that matter. They just wanted to let the league know…the Steelers suck.
Personally, I would have loved to see Deflategate have a sequel because it would have presented Goodell with such a delicious catch 22. He would have to come down on the Steelers with the same force and utter lack of evidence that he used to come down on the Patriots, thereby alienating one of the league’s oldest and most respected families (the Rooneys) and making another powerful enemy. Or he could have pussyfooted around the whole thing and again wound up looking as arbitrary and nonsensical as he generally is when dealing with disciplinary matters. Either way, it would have been lovely to watch him twist in the wind.
Yet another sequel that let me down.
VINCE LOMBARDI “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON OUT HERE?!” AWARD: Russell Wilson
Mark Twain’s age-old observation about lies, damn lies and statistics came to mind this past Sunday afternoon as I watched the Seahawks bumble their way to an ass-kicking at the hands of the Packers. Hawks QB Russell Wilson would end the game with a largely-forgettable 22-39 for 240 yards and one TD. The stat that really jumps out at you, though, is the five interceptions Wilson threw. “Wow,” you might be thinking, “Wilson had a TERRIBLE game. The Packers must have used some sort of wildly complicated kung-fu defense for Wilson to have THAT bad a game.” And if you said that, you either didn’t watch the game, you’re an idiot or you’re a Vikings fan. (Or a combination of all three.)
While Wilson was under pressure most of the day, he didn’t make too many terrible decisions or too many bad throws. Instead, his normally-reliable receiving corp developed cases of cement hands and alligator arms (which would make a really cool picture for my ten year-old nephew to draw. I’ll get him on it.) Doug Baldwin (TWICE), Jermaine Kearse and Jimmy Graham ALL had passes bounce off their fingertips and into the waiting arms of Packer defenders. By the end of the afternoon, Wilson’s facial expression looked liked Peter Boyle at the end of the hermit scene in Young Frankenstein. Meantime, the box score gives the five INTs to the guy who put it right where the receivers needed it to be, only to watch them fumble it to the opposition. I’m sure Wilson looks forward to sitting down to dinner with his receivers while they enjoy the turd sandwiches he made for them.
(BTW, I REALLY wanted to use an image of Peter Boyle as the Creature in Young Frankenstein, but I couldn’t find the right one. So here’s a picture of Gene Wilder with some Oompa-Loompas…)
And finally, in honor of Jon Stewart (Jon, we need you right now, brother) I give you…
YOUR MOMENT OF ZEN: The NFC Coaching Carousel
I’ve got to be honest: the coaching carousel is my favorite part of the season. WAY more than the Super Bowl (it isn’t even close, really.) The last four weeks of the season always provide a great deal of who’s staying/who’s going discussion. So let’s focus on the NFC this week and engage in some reckless speculation, shall we?
Jay Gruden (Washington)
Yes, this may seem a tad out of whack. After all, Gruden got Washington to the playoffs last year and has them in position to do so again this year. But I will counter with two things: 1) Every season there’s at least one firing that makes everyone go, “Whoa, did not see that coming,” and 2) Gruden works for Washington owner Daniel Snyder, a man who is, by adult standards, insane. Snyder is the same guy who’s either fired or run off three Hall of Fame coaches and he’s never seemed entirely sold on Gruden. If Washington fades over the last three games, don’t be completely surprised if Gruden winds up on the unemployment line.
John Fox (Chicago)
This one’s also a bit of a reach. Fox has taken two teams to the Super Bowl and he didn’t exactly inherit a Ferrari with the current Bears roster. But after last year’s 6-10 Mulligan and a boatload of signings in the off-season, the Bears had every right to believe they would be significantly better in 2016. Instead, they’ve been hit by a wave of injuries and the loss of offensive coordinator Adam Gase (the one man who could keep Jay Cutler from repeatedly stepping on his own dick) has resulted in Jay Cutler repeatedly stepping on his own dick. The Bears are well out of the divisional race; a race that will be won by a team that won’t exactly conjure up memories of the ’72 Miami Dolphins. And after 15 consecutive seasons as a head coach, it isn’t unreasonable to wonder if Fox has another rebuilding job in him. Still, he’s done enough throughout his career to earn another season. But that seat might be awfully warm come fall.
Sean Payton (New Orleans)
I could pretty much copy-and-paste what I wrote last season about Payton’s situation in New Orleans: I don’t THINK he’ll be fired, but the relationship between coach and franchise has clearly seen better days. Obviously, Payton’s earned a lot of leeway. I mean, he won a Super Bowl in New Orleans. The only thing more impressive would be to do it while kicking Hurricane Katrina in the c**t. But that was seven years ago. Right now, there’s a distinct possibility Payton will be facing his third straight losing season. He’s got the same aging QB and shoddy defense he had a year ago. Not that my two cents should count for anything, but it might be time for Payton and the Saints to have an amicable split. Payton would only have to announce his availability to get at least a half a dozen job offers. For the Saints, it might be time for a rebuild and Payton, like many long-tenured coaches, doesn’t seem interested in that. There’s no harm in both parties moving on. But in case they don’t, I’m going to save this article so I can copy-and-paste it next year.
Ron Rivera (Carolina)
Again, a bit of a reach. By the time Black Monday arrives, Rivera will be less than 10 months removed from winning an NFC Championship. While this season has been sorely disappointing, he’s earned the right to come back. The only possible things working against Rivera are: 1) he was on thin ice as recently as two years ago, before the Panthers made an improbable run to the playoffs, 2) his first drive suspension of Cam Newton last week (for not wearing a tie on the team plane) may point to deeper issues between the coach and the QB. If THAT’s the case, all bets are off concerning Rivera’s future.
Jeff Fisher (Los Angeles)
Well, I was a tad late on this one. The Rams tossed Fisher out of the canoe on Monday. With the team at 4-9, they would have needed to reel off three straight wins to equal Fisher’s previous high point. After five losing seasons, alienating everyone on the current roster, alienating the alumni and alienating the front office, you’d think the firing of Jeff Fisher wouldn’t have come as a surprise. And yet Rams owner Stan Kroenke seemed to have such a complete and utterly delusional faith in Fisher, it felt like only Fidel Castro had better job security. But hey, the end comes for everybody, right?
Chip Kelly (San Francisco)
While Kelly’s record of 1-12 isn’t a strong argument in his favor, he might actually be SAVED by his organization being a complete dumpster fire. You see, 49ers owner Jed (Jethro) York and GM Trent (Kobra Kai) Baalke handed Jim Harbaugh his walking papers a couple years back because Harbaugh had the temerity to go 8-8 after three straight NFC Championship Games and a Super Bowl appearance. Right now, the Niners would love to get back to that level. And I don’t mean the three straight NFC Title games, I mean the 8-8 season. They replaced Harbaugh with Jim Tomsula, a guy nobody had faith in, not even Jim Tomsula (he DID sport one hell of a porn stache, though.) If the Niners toss Kelly overboard, they’ll be looking at their fourth coach in as many seasons come fall. In all likelihood, Baalke will be canned and Kelly will find himself working with a new GM. Unless they give him more say in personnel decisions. Because that worked REALLY well in Philadelphia.
Brian’s Song (Carol) vs The Rat Pack (Me)
The Electric Mayhem (Hal) vs War Machine (Jack)