Once a regular mainstay of this site when regularly blogging, I proudly again take the time to open up my stuffed-full mailbox and sort through everything within to answer the burning questions of the day that no one sent in or even asked in the first place:
Q: What is your opinion of the NFL season so far? How have you found the quality of play to be half-way home?
A: Dreck: Noun – something that is of very bad quality; trash, rubbish (ex.“this so-called art is pure dreck.”)
I am of the opinion the NFL is not currently producing a product worthy of all the eyeballs and economy being bestowed upon it. There have been a few theories tossed about why I might be correct. The most prominent is the NFL has cut back so severely on practice (and hitting) time these teams all really opened their seasons getting into football-shape and developing whatever chemistry they can…something pre-training camps, training camps and the pre-season all used to be used for before big television money and bigger concussion issues invaded the sport. I don’t know if you agree with my accusation the quality of the NFL has not lived up to its promise so far in 2015. That being said out of protest I am no longer going to do any Power Rankings because a) you can find someone doing them at every turn but more importantly b) using the word “Power” to describe two-thirds of this league is a joke.
Q: So who are the contenders to go to the Super Bowl as you see them now?
A: New England is the real deal. All roads in the AFC go through Gillette Stadium, 1 Patriot Place, Foxborough MA. Staying in that conference Cincinnati has to now be seriously considered which I never thought I’d type about a team coached by Marvin Lewis and quarterbacked by Andy Dalton but here we are Bengals fans. Denver’s defense didn’t impress me last week in Indianapolis but I’m willing to give them a pass because they’ve been so good otherwise. My advice to the Broncos would be to settle on one running back and let him play a full game or two. It looks as though they have figured out how to use Peyton Manning’s current skill set to move the ball consistently in the air. As for the NFC I see that conference with more contenders…Carolina, Green Bay, Arizona and yes…Seattle. I keep wanting to get on board that “Cam Newton MVP” talk and then I see him slide short of a first down and get up and do that asinine first-down signal he does. I do love the guy tries to get a football to a small child after every score but I keep seeing him forcing things on occasion and am worried this team rides his back so much he’s going to make “the big uh-oh” at the wrong moment in the biggest of stages. Injuries to Jordy Nelson and the barely still-functional Packers receivers have messed with their rotation. So has Eddie Lacy. The week Green Bay wore their hideous throwback uniforms I said to the wife Eddie Lacy looked like a tackle instead of a running back. She thought it might be the uniform. As it turns out every analyst I’ve heard has mentioned Lacy indeed looks large and slow. That doesn’t help the passing game one bit and it appears the Packers are back to throwing on most downs…which doesn’t do Aaron Rodgers…or those receivers…any favors. Aaron was so upset at the end of the loss to the Panthers last weekend he threw his Microsoft Surface to the ground when he saw how wide-open Randall Cobb was in the end zone. If he hadn’t had thrown passes in the first half in a similar manner which he threw the tablet maybe they don’t lose that game? When Carson Palmer and his multiple receivers and runners are all active and healthy they’re the offense to beat in the NFC. That defense has worried me in recent weeks but remains one of the league’s best. Seattle is…Seattle. The next couple of weeks will determine if they are contender or pretender. I think they are starting to come out of the Super Bowl depression we knew they’d have at least early on.
Q: The recent College Football Playoff Rankings were just released. As usual there is controversy over them. Thoughts?
A: A fellow named Bert Martin left a comment on ESPN’s web site today about an article relating to the new rankings release and the constantly used explanation of “the eye test” as to why certain teams are where they are:
“Yes, they ‘eye’ the names of the schools, not their body of work. Complete sham.”
If you have been with me from the jump you know I was a BCS-basher early on. But it was primarily because of frustration every other division of college football manages to not only have a playoff but invite a boatload of teams. You can argue if more teams just waters down the process and doesn’t produce a true champion but then we’ll have to talk about March Madness now won’t we? (I didn’t think you wanted to mess with that…) The money from the everyone-gets-a-bowl-invite system is the reason after all these years we’ve edged up to allowing four teams to play for what passes for a championship in a sport where half of the schools don’t even play at the same level as the other half. Anyway…we can’t put the genie back in the bottle now but in the end if humans all agreed upon a set of criteria, put said criteria into a computer, ensured the computer was executing properly…and provided transparency throughout I would be ok with going back to just two teams being selected to play for the title…or whatever number you want. The system in place right now is about producing the best possible television event by creating the best possible combination of most-watched teams into the four-team playoff. If you think otherwise you are delusional.
Q: Do you still play Fantasy Football and what do you think of the current furor over its legality and status these days?
A: My wife and I both play. I started back in 1998 and she jumped in two years later. Right now we each have a team in three separate seasonal leagues and between the six teams I’d say four have a legit chance to make the post-season. We never had an interest in DraftKings and FanDuel, especially when they started running commercials every three minutes. Mind-numbing. Even more mind-numbing is no one regulated their business model, which also somehow didn’t meet the Federal definition of gambling. Well…news about site employees playing unchecked combined with a ravenous press reporting people are dropping 25-30 K per week into these “skill games” using their own machinery to run every statistical probability to enhance and even ensure winnings has gotten lawmakers’ attention. From Ladd Biro of the Philadelphia Inquirer:
“In case you’ve been living in the Amazon for the last several months these sites – dominated by DraftKings and its evil twin FanDuel – are spending like a Bush/Clinton PAC to convince you that $5 and your encyclopedic fantasy knowledge can make you an instant millionaire. After all, how hard can it be to pick the best player at each position in any given week, under a not-that-restrictive salary cap? It seems so easy, until you realize that you aren’t playing against the guy in the next cubicle. In fact you have about as much chance of winning a weekly DraftKings jackpot as you do of winning your state’s lottery since the “game” is dominated by deep-pocketed “sharks” who enter hundreds, sometimes thousands, of lineups with a dizzying array of player combinations using statistical algorithms specifically built to tilt the odds in their favor.”
Fantasy Football started out for my wife and me as friendly, annual competition (with an occasional meager financial payoff at season’s end for the top teams based on owner “contributions”). And so it remains for us all these years later. We do it for the sheer, pure fun of it. This year we’re even playing in Free leagues…no investment other than emotional…which may be the best way to do it because if you take Fantasy Football seriously you’ll eventually go insane. One note – on weeks you are playing your wife things do take a turn even if no money is on the line. Take this past weekend. One of my teams was losing to her by fourteen going into Monday night but I had picked up Chicago Bears RB Jeremy Langford off waivers earlier…and played him on a prayer as the only active player remaining between our teams. I came from down 93-79 to win.
Things have been a bit chilly at home since Tuesday morning…and it ain’t just been the weather.