I am posting these Mythical Picks today because I am not sure I will be able to write anything for tomorrow. If I am indeed “off the air” tomorrow, it will only be for a day; I will be back on Monday – Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise.
Rather than review each Mythical Pick from two weeks ago let me just give you the bottom line. I made 23 selections in the games – not being able to make a pick in the Steelers/Packers game because there were no lines at the time I made my picks – and the overall result was 12-11-0. While I beat the .500 mark for the week, the picks would have been mythically unprofitable due to the 10% vig. The cumulative record for NFL Mythical Picks for the regular season was an embarrassingly bad 108-154-7.
Nonetheless, I shall push on into the divisional round of the playoffs with more Mythical Picks this week. Naturally, no one should use any information here as the basis for making a real wager involving real money on a real NFL game this weekend. If you are dumb enough to do that, you may be living proof of reincarnation – - because no one could get that stupid in a single lifetime.
Earlier this week, Roger Goodell confirmed reports that the NFL is considering expanding the playoffs to add a 7th team in each conference. I think the impetus behind this thinking is – simply – money. Adding two more teams to the playoffs would allow two more owners to share in the revenues of a playoff game and for all the owners to share in the additional TV revenue that the games would generate. While, in fact, this idea would give NFL fans something very positive – two more playoff games – make no mistake about it; the foundation of this idea is that it will line the pockets of the owners with cash money.
It appears as if the Commish and his cohorts are thinking along the lines of adding a 7th team and giving only the team with the best record in each conference a week off. Goodell was talking about what the NFL Competition Committee would be studying/considering when he said:
“They’re going to study some aspects of that because when would those games occur and one team would get a bye in each conference and you’d have six games on the weekend. So would you have three on Saturday, and three on Sunday? Or do you get one on Friday and two on Saturday and two on Sunday and one on Monday? I think those are the kinds of things we want to evaluate.”
Personally, I would suggest a different format. It would move the Super Bowl to the second Sunday of February but that is hardly a sacrilegious undertaking.
Week after the regular season: The 7th seed in each conference plays the 6th seed in each conference as a play-in game. Seeds 1 thru 5 all have a week off.
Second week: The 3-seed hosts the winner of the play-in game and the 4-seed hosts the 5-seed.
From there on, the playoffs proceed as they do today…
Frankly, I believe that the NFL has a much more important scheduling issue to confront than one dealing with how to squeeze in another playoff game. The reason I say that is that fans would not object to more playoff games because playoff games are usually well played and they mean something. What the league really needs to do is to figure out ways to reduce the number of meaningless exhibition games in July and August. Season ticket holders overwhelmingly would prefer not to have to buy those tix because they cannot give them away.
The NFL needs to cater a bit to the people who go to the games to watch them in person. There is plenty of evidence that lots of folks consider the “stadium experience” to be deteriorating to a level below that of the “at home experience”. Yes, I know that more folks watching on TV will increase ratings thereby adding TV revenue to the owners’ coffers; however, there is not nearly the same excitement level in watching a game on TV when the stands are half-empty. Cutting back on the meaningless exhibition games for which people have to pay full regular season prices will be a positive move by the league in terms of “customer relations”.
Several times, I have mentioned the futility of Danny Boy Snyder’s search for head coaches. In chatting with a friend, he asked me if the Skins’ coaching hires had been any less successful than the ones effected by the Cleveland Browns over the same period. I had not thought of that and so I went to the record book. The Skins coaches since 1999 when Danny Boy took control of the team:
Norv Turner (Danny Boy ‘inherited him.)
Terry Robiske (Interim coach for 3 games)
Marty Schottenheimer (His record was 8-8 when he was fired.)
Joe Gibbs Redux (He proved you can’t go home again.)
Mike Shanahan (He tarnished his reputation very badly here.)
That is an embarrassingly bad list but it does not stink so bad that the Browns come off looking good. Since 1999 when the “Cleveland Browns 2.0” launched and took Tim Couch with the overall #1 pick in the draft, here are their head coaches:
Chris Palmer (He went 5-27 over two seasons with a bad team.)
Butch Davis (He went 24-35 over 3+ seasons with a playoff game mixed in.)
Terry Robiske (Interim coach for 5 games. He is on both lists. Hmmm…)
Romeo Crennel (He went 24-40 over 4 seasons.)
Eric Mangini (He went 10-22 over 2 seasons)
Pat Shurmer (He went 9-23 over 2 seasons.)
Rob Chudzinski (He went 4-12 and lasted only 1 year.)
All I can say is that those are two very depressing lists if you are a fan of either team.
The Miami Dolphins parted ways with GM Jeff Ireland earlier this week. The official position is that Ireland and owner Steve Ross “mutually agreed” to go in different directions. You might have said that about President Truman and General MacArthur too, I guess. Folks point to the fact that the team lost its last two games to go 8-8 and miss out on the playoffs this year and they attribute the personnel changes to that collapse. Maybe that works for coaches and for a few players but I am not so sure it fits in the case of Ireland who was the GM. I think that Jeff Ireland had been involved in enough embarrassing situations that the Dolphins’ December swoon this year tilted the scales in favor of him “separating” from the team.
Recall that it was Jeff Ireland who asked Dez Bryant prior to the 2010 draft if Bryant’s mother had ever been a prostitute.
[OK, Dez … if you do not want to talk about that, have you stopped beating your mother?]
In the aftermath of the Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin affair, it became known that Ireland’s advice to Martin was that Martin should just punch Incognito in the face. When owner Steven Ross addressed the media on the matter, he used words like “appalled”, “mortified”, and “nightmare”. People who are involved in making their bosses have to admit to such situations usually need to be looking for other career paths. Today, Jeff Ireland is doing just that…
I am going to make selections for the games this weekend on the assumption that the games will happen. You think I am kidding? Well, a man – who happens to be an inmate in a prison in Pennsylvania – has sought an injunction in Federal court that would suspend the NFL playoffs for 7-to 10 days. The reason:
The Chargers should not be in the playoffs in the first place.
The man is a Steelers’ fan and he is outraged by two calls in the KC/San Diego game in Week 17 of the regular season. The officials did miss an illegal defensive formation by the Chargers on a last second field goal attempt by the Chiefs and they did make a controversial ruling on a fumble in the overtime period. Both calls went against the Chiefs – and had the Chiefs won the game the Chargers would be out of the playoffs. More importantly, I believe, had the Chiefs won the game, the Steelers would be in the playoffs.
I am not an attorney; I have admitted that more than a few times in these rants. However, I feel competent to rule on one of the claims by this man in his request for an injunction. According to reports, he asserts that the controversial call on the fumble in overtime was “unconstitutional”.
I have read the US Constitution; I do not pretend to understand all of the nuances therein but I am certain that the concepts of football games, overtime, forward progress and fumbles are not covered in any of the Articles or Amendments – or even in the Preamble.
At this point you must think that I am making this up. Well, just check this out…
(Saturday 4:30 PM EST) New Orleans at Seattle – 8 (47): The Total Line opened at 48.5 but has been at this level for the majority of the week. The Saints’ offense averages 399.4 yards per game; that is a potent offense indeed. However, the Seahawks’ defense only allows 273.6 yards per game; that is a very stingy defense. This game will turn on the play when the Saints have the ball. If they can move the ball effectively and score points, they will control the game. Their problems are that – despite last week’s game in Philly – the Saints are not as good outdoors as they are in a dome and that the Seahawks simply do not lose at home very often. I think the defensive units will rule the day here. I like this game to stay UNDER.
(Saturday 8:15 PM EST) Indy at New England – 7.5 (52.5): Let me ignore the mumbo-jumbo here and just go to the bottom line:
I do not think either team’s defense is going to stop the opposing offense very frequently.
I think the line is fat.
Therefore, I like the game to go OVER and I like the Colts plus the points.
(Sunday 1:00 PM EST) SF at Carolina “pick ‘em” (42): Almost two months ago, these teams played a game that wound up 10-9 in favor of the Panthers. This game is likely to be a low-scoring affair – but not that low. The presence of Michael Crabtree for the Niners gives them a deep threat that keeps defenses honest so that the Niners can run the ball more effectively. I do not put a lot of stock in the Niners with a revenge factor in this game; however, I do think that the Niners would like to get another shot at the Seahawks. Despite the fact that this is a “body clock game” for the Niners in the Eastern Time Zone in the early time slot, I like the Niners to win this game.
(Sunday 4:45 PM EST) San Diego at Denver – 9.5 (54.5): These teams split their two games this year and the cumulative score was Broncos 48 – Chargers 47. These teams know each other and neither team will surprise the other with any kind of razzle-dazzle. Like the other AFC Playoff game this week, I think this line is fat and I think that the offenses will dominate the game. Therefore, I like the game to go OVER and I like the Chargers plus the points.
Finally, let me leave you with an assessment of NFL football from Bears’ linebacking legend, Dick Butkus:
“When I played pro football, I never set out to hurt anyone deliberately — unless it was, you know, an important game.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………