Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Football's Holiday Gifts

Peyton Manning was in the giving mood Monday night, giving the ball away four times while handing the Bengals a playoff berth and the Patriots home field advantage.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

Tonight we hit the true heart of the holiday season.

It's the final night of Chanukah, Christmas Eve eve and, for football fans, the beginning of the good part of bowl season, and the home stretch of the NFL regular season.

It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

So, join me in taking a look at some gifts that have been given to several football teams, players and fan bases this holiday season.

Home Field Advantage

From: Peyton Manning
To: Tom Brady

Manning and Brady are supposed to be somewhat friendly, but it was surprising to see Peyton gift wrap the AFC's No. 1 seed for Tom with a four-interception stinker against the Bengals last night.

Will Denver just come out and admit that Peyton is playing hurt? He clearly hasn't been the same the last few weeks, and with a surprisingly salty Oakland team coming to town next week, the Broncos are in danger of having to play on Wild Card weekend.

The road to the Super Bowl now goes through Gillette Stadium, and with a beaten up Peyton Manning, it's hard to see anybody in the AFC defeating the Patriots in Foxboro.

A Free and Eligible Jameis Winston

From: The Tallahassee Police/Florida State Conduct Board
To: Jimbo Fisher

I won't get too far into this, but I will point out that Winston refused to answer any questions at his FSU Code of Conduct hearing, except to say that he received consent both "physically and verbally" due to "moaning."


Anyways, we already knew that none of this was going to affect Winston legally, but it now looks like his eligibility cannot be touched either. Even if the alleged victim appeals there is no way to impact Winston's standing at the university before either the Rose Bowl or the National Championship Game, should the Noles make it.

Coach Fisher's team has often come from behind this year, but it now appears the Seminoles are excelling at running out the clock.

Odell Beckham Jr.

From: The Fantasy Football Gods
To: Waiver Wire Hawks

If you still think the rookie out of LSU known as ODB (I know, it should be OBJ, but I'm going with it) is a flash in the pan, wake up! When fantasy owners either started him for their final this past weekend, or prepare to start him for their final this upcoming weekend, they were/are putting their faith in a guy producing at a historic rate.

Over his 11 starts, Beckham has been just silly good, and if you prorate his numbers to a full 16 game season, he would be sitting at 115 catches, 1,629 yards and 16 TDs.

That would make him one of the top-2 fantasy receivers in the league, along with Antonio Brown, who has prorated numbers of 130 catches for 1,675 yards and 13 TDs.

Yeah, he's a true No. 1 WR and maybe the guy that helped win the most leagues this year.

The Miami Beach Bowl

From: Memphis and BYU
To: Bored Football Fans

The first ever Miami Beach Bowl was the only show in town during the day Monday, and what a show it was. Not only did Memphis and BYU stage a back-and-forth shootout full of long touchdown runs, insane catches and zany turnovers, we also got a bloody brawl at the end!

Oh, and that stupid fish sculpture in Marlins Stadium spun around every time someone scored.

Could this end up being the best South Florida bowl game of the season? Tonight's Boca Raton Bowl between Marshall and NIU features a pair of teams that rush for over 250 yards a game, and should be a pretty good one, while the Orange Bowl matchup of Mississippi State and Georgia Tech may be the worst of all the marquee bowl games. I say advantage MBB.

You go Miami Beach Bowl! It was a heck of a debut, and the only sporting event I've watched in that stadium this year.

The Wisconsin Head Coaching Job

From: Gary Andersen
To: Paul Chryst

For the life of me, I cannot understand why coaches keep running away from the Wisconsin job. I know that past coaches Bret Bielema and now Gary Andersen have complained about assistant coach salaries, but the Badgers are actually comparable to every school in the Big Ten, except Ohio State and Michigan, of course, plus Andersen's new job at Oregon State comes with a lower budget for assistant coaches.

Certainly there are disadvantages, like a lack of talent in your backyard, but ever since the Barry Alvarez era, Wisconsin has bee able to recruit NFL running backs, linemen and linebackers from throughout the Midwest and East Coast. Plus, UW superstars Joe Thomas and Melvin Gordon were both in-state recruits, so it's not like there aren't potential gems inside your borders.

But I doubt Paul Chryst, a Badger alum, will complain about Andersen vacating an attractive job. Chryst led Wisconsin's offense from 2005-2011 and helped the Badgers make back-to-back Rose Bowls in 2010 and 2011.

No doubt this is a gift and perfect fit for Chryst, who had struggled to get his offense off the ground as the head coach at Pitt. After posting an even 19-19 record with the Panthers, Chyst will get the chance to get back into his comfort zone, and with a team that has enough talent to immediately contend for championships in a down Big Ten.

Can't ask for much more than that.

Pat Narduzzi

From: Paul Chryst
To: Pitt

But it may have all worked for the best for the Pitt Panthers, who have reportedly hired former Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi to replace Chryst as head coach.

Long considered the top defensive mind in the country, Narduzzi was expected by many to land a big-time gig in the SEC or Big Ten, but his arrival in Western Pennsylvania makes some sense. The Panthers have fertile recruiting grounds in the Pittsburgh Metro area, and a defensive guru like Narduzzi should be a popular hire in a city where hard-nosed defense is almost fetishized.

Can Narduzzi return Pitt to its past glory? That's a lot to ask, but for the first time in a generation I actually think the Panthers could be a national player.

A Return to the Playoffs

From: Tony Romo and Ben Roethlisberger
To: Cowboys and Steelers Fans

Oh those long suffering fan bases in Dallas and Pittsburgh!

With only 11 Super Bowl wins and 16 big game appearances, fans of these two unlucky franchises have really had it rough throughout the years.

Kidding aside, the usually spoiled fans of these NFL Blue Bloods have been getting antsy the last few years. Dallas hasn't been to the playoffs since 2009, and has won a grand total of one playoff game since 1996. It seems crazy, but the Cowboys haven't been past the Divisional Round of the playoffs since they won Super Bowl XXX in 1995-6, and they've suffered both heart-breaking close losses (Tony Romo's bobbled hold vs Seattle in 2006), and embarrassing blowout defeats (getting housed 34-3 by Brett Favre's Vikings in 2009) since.

Pittsburgh fans haven't suffered quite as long, but they'd sure like to forget their last playoff run in 2011, which was cut unexpectedly short by a heavy dosage of Tebowing.

Before that was a heart-breaking defeat in Super Bowl XLV, and an inability to feast on the NFL's cupcakes has doomed the Steelers to frustrating mediocrity the last two years.

All that changed this year with unexpected career seasons from Tony Romo and Ben Roethlisberger. Those two supposedly over-the-hill quarterbacks have ranked 1st and 3rd in the league, respectively, in completion percentage, 6th and 8th in touchdowns, 8th and 5th in interception percentage, 1st and 3rd in yards per attempt, 1st and 3rd in QB rating and 1st and 5th in QBR.

There is certainly a great case to be made for Aaron Rodgers as MVP, but Romo and Roethlisberger deserve some consideration as well.

An Untimely Egg

From: Andrew Luck
To: Anyone Playing Against Him in Their Fantasy Finals

You know that one guy in your league. He's been riding Andrew Luck all year, and now he's in the finals, sitting pretty with the number one seed.

Then Sunday Night happens.

109 yards, 0 TDs and 2 INTs.

That equates to 0 fantasy points in most leagues, and it could not have come at a worse time for anyone starting Luck in a one-week final.

As for the rest of us, who haven't had Luck dropping 30 fantasy points a week all year, it was awesome! Now, if you're in a two-week fantasy final, Luck still has a chance to redeem himself next week against the Titans, but with Indianapolis locked into the No. 4 seed (winner of Cincinnati at Pittsburgh gets the 3-seed), the Colts may decide to rest most of their starters.

No comments :