Week 17 Observations
Rip on Jason Garrett all you want for his punting affliction, make the off-base Tony Romo jokes about Kyle Orton's late-game interception, but the Sunday night game was a thrilling, if anti-climatic, finish to a deep slate of quality games.
Aaron Rodgers' avoidance of the rush on 4th-and-11 and subsequent TD-pass to Randall Cobb was probably the biggest single play of the day, though Bears safety Chris Conte made arguably as big an error as Orton did for the Cowboys, letting Cobb run by him.
The fight to lose the last Wild Card spot in the AFC was pretty insane too. The Dolphins (6.5-point favorites), Ravens (6.5-point dogs) and Chargers (10.5-point home favorites against the Chiefs' backups) did everything they could to get the 8-8 Steelers in, but Ryan Succop and the refs in overtime wouldn't go along with it.
The Cardinals got down 17-0 to the 49ers and made it all the way back before collapsing on a final drive to yield the game-winning field goal. After beating Seattle on the road (despite four Carson Palmer picks) and erasing that kind of deficit to the Niners, they were certainly a worthy playoff team.
The Seattle-St. Louis game was actually pretty close but for the early pick-six and the bogus series of ejections and personal fouls. Kendall Langford's ejection was totally unjust as he accidentally grazed a ref with his hand as he was gesturing at him. Either way, the St. Louis pass rush was elite at the end of the year, and they would be a dangerous team if they ever got a quarterback. That management might still be pot-committed to Sam Bradford shows just how dangerous it is to take a quarterback No. 1 overall if he doesn't pan out. It's very hard to ditch a former No. 1 overall QB unless he pulls a Jamarcus Russell, and even that wasted three years. (Granted, it's not likely Raiders management wouldn't have squandered them anyway).
Speaking of Russell, the player the Raiders should have taken instead, Calvin Johnson, was out, and Matthew Stafford failed to exploit the horrific Vikings secondary. When one considers how pedestrian Stafford's career numbers are (7.0 YPA, 109 TD/73 INT) while playing indoors with arguably the greatest at-his-peak wideout of all time during the most prolific passing era of all time, he looks like a Bradford-level bust. Sadly, the environment and Johnson are likely mask his mediocrity and entrench him as the starter indefinitely, likely putting Calvin Johnson on the Andre Johnson path to a Hall of Fame career with scant postseason opportunities.
That's not too different from Adrian Peterson's situation. He'll enter 2014 with 2,033 career carries. I know he's super-human, but it's hard to see him having more than two elite seasons left, and that's assuming he's not slowing down already. Incidentally, (h/t @FO_ScottKacsmar), the Vikings led the NFL with 23 rushing TDs, and Peterson had only 10 of them.
The Giants-Redskins game lasted forever and was one of the worst of all time. Eli Manning left at the half with an ankle injury, and it made little difference even though Curtis Painter has to be the worst backup in the NFL. Seriously, if you're going to make Painter your backup, you might as well not have one. Use the extra roster spot for a lineman, and if your QB goes down mid-game, just let anyone play the position.
How great was Josh Gordon this year? Even dinged up, on the road and in crappy weather weather he goes 7-for-82. He also led the NFL in receiving by 147 yards despite missing two games.
I was bummed Sheldon Richardson got me only one tackle and no sacks in the Steak League where total points through all 17 weeks determines who's eating and who's buying. Luckily he scored another rushing TD!
I might finally be able to let go of the Keenan Allen injustice as I'm eating for free anyway, and I think I would have lost in the semis or the finals even with him on my roster.
As Scott Pianowski pointed out, stop patting yourself on the back for doing well in SU picking pools this week. Fifteen out of 16 favorites won, with the only dog being the Jets (less than seven points). And nearly half of the games were virtually automatic picks (Indy, Seattle, Denver, Pittsburgh, San Diego, New Orleans and New England).
Finally, a word on Peyton Manning - a person with so little imagination he decides to use his fame and excess money to invest in crappy chain pizza outlets: I don't root for the guy, and I don't know why non-Colts or Broncos fans (other than his fantasy owners) seem so damn excited he broke the TD and yardage records (actually he might lose that latter one due to a stat correction if one of his passes was ruled a lateral). What does it matter than Manning as opposed to Brady or Brees has these records? It's not like someone breaking Roger Maris' 61-homer record that stood for 37 years. Brady got the TD record six years ago. Brees got the yardage record two years ago. This is more like Barry Bonds breaking Mark McGwire's mark. And lest you think that's different given the steroid-inflated power environment, the NFL's quarterback-stat environment is every bit as inflated relative to past eras. Dan Marino's 48 TDs when No. 2 was Neil Lomax at 28, was more like Babe Ruth hitting 59 homers in 1921 when Bob Meusel was second with 24.
While Manning's obviously an all-time great player, I don't have any particular reason to like or root for him - are people so desperate they need to align themselves with an overdog all the time? I similarly never related to non Bulls fans rooting for Michael Jordan. So I hope Manning loses the yardage record back to Drew Brees, and I don't even like Brees, indoor stat compiler that he is, either.