November 29, 2012
November 23, 2012
Welcome back to the NFL Pregame Flyover, which has just been awarded column of the year by the Uptown Athletic Club.
Before we look at this week’s schedule of games – and tell you which games are Probably worth watching, which games are of Questionable worth, Doubtful worth, and no worth – let’s talk about the Associated Press NFL awards, which allows voters to split their votes.
Making a decision and standing by it? Pfft. Not in the NFL, known harborer of equivocating little nancies.
If Peter King were a baseball writer, Cabrera and Trout might have been co-MVPs
Throughout the season talking heads and football writers have expended considerable time discussing the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Perhaps it should go to Andrew Luck, who has led the Colts to an 8-4 record behind five fourth-quarter comebacks, while raising the question of why he’s so consistently mediocre for the first three quarters. Or perhaps it should go to RGIII, who has electrified football with his dual-threat skills, while raising the question of whether a black quarterback should have the additional nickname of Bobby Three Sticks, which sounds like a bit character in a Scorsese film.
Meanwhile, many NFL observers have devoted almost as much energy discussing the candidates for the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award. Should it go to Jay Cutler, the feel-good story who could retire now and write his ticket in politics? Or should it go to one of those two other guys – Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson?
What’s great about the NFL is that you don’t really have to decide.
Unlike baseball, which uses a weighted system that asks its awards voters to cast ballots that rank MVP and CY Young award candidates, the NFL simply asks its voters to vote for “THE” guy – except when you can’t make up your mind and you decide to vote for two guys equally. That’s right, the NFL lets you split your vote.
Frankly I think it’s a stroke of genius. Not only do voters not have to decide who is the seventh-most valuable offensive rookie in the NFL (it’s Kendall Wright, but that’s beside the point), voters can admit that life is not black and white, and that sometimes both candidates are deserving of equal respect. Imagine if this option were available in presidential campaigns; you could give half your vote to President Obama and half your vote to Mitt Romney, thereby leaving it up to the actual grownups to make the decision for you.
Think this doesn’t happen in NFL voting? Think again.
In voting for the 2009 NFL MVP award, a voter gave half a vote to Peyton Manning and half a vote to Drew Brees. In the voting for the 2010 NFL Comeback Player of the Year award, someone split his vote between Michael Vick and E.J. Henderson. And in voting for the 2006 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year award, one voter split his vote between Peterson and Joe Thomas.
If this option were available to Major League Baseball writers, Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout might have shared this year’s MVP award. And really, would that have been so bad? Would it have diminished the award to have it shared between two worthy candidates? The Triple Crown winner and the darling of sabermetricians?
In the same regard, who can rightfully say that Andrew Luck deserves to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year over Bobby Three Sticks? Or that Peyton Manning is more worthy of winning Comeback Player of the Year than Adrian Peterson?
Just give them all participation ribbons and a lollipop.
“We’re going streaking!”
The most interesting teams in the NFL are teams in the midst of winning and losing streaks. These streaks have a sublime ability to get fans worked into a lather, both to the pro and con. We’re not talking about one- or even two-game winning streaks, which might only indicate that you played Buffalo and Detroit in back-to-back weeks (hello, Indianapolis).
In our estimation, a team is not streaking unless it’s won or lost three straight games. Is this an arbitrary parameter? Perhaps. But if we gave equal time to every team that’s won at least two in a row, you’d be reading as much about the Browns and Rams as you would about the Falcons and Redskins. And frankly, nobody wants that.
So let’s look at the teams that are truly streaking and see how it’s affecting their fans.
Bengals (Streak: 4W) – Cincinnati has clawed its way back into playoff contention with four straight wins, and Bengals fans – are they the Who Dey crowd or the Who Dat crowd? Who cares? Indeed – are having flashbacks to their glory years. Who’s the most famous Bengals fan out there? Gotta be Nick Lachey (the only famous Bengals fan) and he’s down with the 2012 cats, bro – so much so that he got in a fight with an Igor Olshansky fan at the Chargers-Bengals game this past Sunday in San Diego, prompting security to throw him out. If you’re smack-talking an Olshansky fan at a Chargers game, your worldview has obviously been clouded by years of losing. Smarten up, Lachey, you have an example to set. The Who Cares nation turns its lonely eyes to you.
Lions (Streak: 4L) – Calvin Johnson is on pace to break Jerry Rice’s single-season record for receiving yards, amazing when you consider Megatron is on the cover of Madden 13 and thus supposedly cursed. In the Lions’ last four games (all losses), Johnson has amassed the following yard totals: 207, 143, 140 and 171. And in the Lions’ last four games, their defense has allowed the following point totals: 34, 34, 34 and 35. In short, Calvin Johnson is on course to break Rice’s record largely because the Lions’ defense can’t stop anyone and Detroit must constantly sling the piggy to keep up with opponents. Well, that and the fact Matthew Stafford has stalker eyes for Megatron and would probably continue throwing at him even if the Madden curse put him on the sidelines in a full body cast. Meanwhile none of this is affecting Lions fans at all; they lived through the Millen era, so this ain’t sh*t.
Falcons (Streak: 3W) – Atlanta has already clinched the NFC South, and at 11-1 are in position to have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. But no one outside of Atlanta seems to think that the Falcons have what it takes it win the Super Bowl, which is odd when you consider that winning 11 of 12 games is usually a good recipe for winning the last game of the year. Atlanta fans hate you for not believing in their team, but privately they dread the possibility that the Falcons will lose their opening playoff game and remain winless in the postseason under Matt Ryan. Knowing Atlanta, they’ll keep coming up short in the playoffs until they meet a star-crossed Cleveland team that has a placekicker named Mesa.
Chargers (Streak: 4L) – Igor Olshansky was the NFL’s first Soviet-born player, leading me to believe that Nick Lachey just messed with a guy in the Russian mob. Dasvidaniya, Nick. Other than ridding their stadium of pesky Bengals fans, the Chargers faithful has been patiently waiting for the end of the Norv Turner regime. It will last four more weeks, and then general manager A.J. Smith will have the opportunity to replace him with an available coach who actually got fired after going 14-2. Wonder what moron gave that guy his walking papers?
Redskins (Streak: 3W) – So, what’s it gonna be, Skins fans? Is it RGIII or Bobby Three Sticks? Personally I like Bobby Three Sticks, because every time I hear that I expect someone to stay, “I’m going to get the papers, get the papers.”
Raiders (Streak: 5L) – I just finished reading “Badasses” by Peter Richmond, the story of the 1970s era Raiders. It was really funny, entertaining and illuminating, chronicling one of the most colorful teams in NFL history. I’d recommend it for any Raiders fan who can read.
Patriots (Streak: 6W) – Come on, Patriots fans, admit it: It’d be a little bit funny if you lost to the Giants in the Super Bowl again. No? Well, it’d be hilarious to the rest of us.
Eagles (Streak: 8L) – With three wins on the season, the Eagles are in the running for the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft. No one is sure who the top pick will be, but if he lands in Philadelphia, you can be sure the fans will either love him like family or hate his guts. There really is no gray area where Philly fans are concerned, which is why team owner Jeffrey Lurie should switch the team’s uniforms to a black-and-white color scheme. Would anyone care? The only people who look good in green are frogs and Irish people – both of whom are in short supply on the Eagles’ roster.
Texans (Streak: 6W) – Houston has a two-game lead on the Patriots for the top seed in the AFC playoffs, a game that can be narrowed to one if the Texans lose on the road to New England this week. Houston has lost one game all season, a drubbing at the hands of the Packers that happened so long ago as to be almost moot. But if there’s a team that could humiliate the Texans before the playoffs – and get Houston players and fans questioning the team’s Super Bowl chances – it’s a New England team that’s first in the NFL in scoring at nearly 36 points per game. If the Texans win this game, they’ll have the confidence to carry them far in the playoffs; if they get waxed like they did against Green Bay, they’ll probably recede into their shells and congratulate themselves on the best regular-season in team history.
Cardinals (Streak: 8L) – Remember when the Cardinals were 4-0? Man, those guys were streaking. They beat the Seahawks at home, the Patriots on the road, and the Eagles and Dolphins at home. September was a great month for the Cardinals and their fans. October and November? Full of fail. But that’s what happens when you have the No. 32 offense in the league. When every team in the league is better than you at one-third of the game, you’re going to have games like last week – a 7-6 loss to Greg McElroy and the Jets, a tagline that made me very depressed to consider and even more depressed to write. I can’t even bear to re-read it. Were there any typos? Actually, don’t look!