Should We Expect the Expected on Championship Saturday in College Football?

Championship Saturday is set in college football, and it looks like we’ll be treated to a host of very good to great games all day. But as we wait in anticipation for what we all expect will be a wild weekend — because college football is always wild — what if…..well, the most shocking thing about Saturday is that it’s not shocking at all?

Let me explain.

All the water cooler talk this week will be centered on who’s in and who’s out of the top 4 right now and who should get in if this happens and who should be in if that happens. For instance, is an unbeaten Wisconsin a guarantee playoff team? Can TCU jump into the mix if they upset Oklahoma? Is Ohio State in if they beat the Badgers, thus winning the Big 10? Does USC have any chance if they win the PAC-12 title game on Saturday? Do the Crimson Tide have a prayer?

So all these crazy, fantastic scenarios exist and the crazier the outcomes are on Saturday, the more chaos we’ll be treated to leading up to the selection show on Sunday.

But in a sport where the unexpected happens so routinely that it has become the expected, what if all the chaos we are expecting Saturday never happens. What if the unexpected, actually, doesn’t happen?

Everyone can agree, I think, that the winners of the ACC and SEC title games will be in the playoff. But then that’s where our imaginations are given free reign to run wild: Wisconsin hasn’t been that impressive this year so Ohio State should win, which will cause major debate over whether the Buckeyes deserve a spot in the playoff over a one-loss team, like Alabama; and Oklahoma beat TCU once already — it’s hard to beat a good team twice. So will TCU get in? And if they don’t, who takes OU’s spot?

See how fun that is? And that’s just a glimpse into all the debates we can be having.

But what if Wisconsin doesn’t lose to OSU? And say the Sooners roll through TCU like they did a couple weeks ago in primetime? Then what? No craziness? All the fun scenarios we played out get trashed just like that?

The most unexpected thing in college football this Championship Saturday would be if Wisconsin and Oklahoma each won.

How boring.

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed, @brian22goodwin.

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Meet Peyton Manning: Franchise Killer

Mike McCoy was relinquished of his duties as offensive coordinator with the Denver Broncos this week. Which, of course, got me thinking….

With so many questions about the National Football League’s down ratings and decreased attendance, everyone seems to have an opinion as to why. Even the President has chimed in on Twitter — on many occasions.

Whether you are of the belief that the NFL’s problems stem from Colin Kaepernick or the national anthem protests or the parity that exists between teams or the lack of developed young players at offensive line positions or the over-saturation of the game starting with the Thursday night games, there’s one thing we should all start considering as the sole, number one, without-a-doubt reason for the NFL’s problems: Peyton Manning.

Check it out. What does the NFL need to destroy all these issues? The answer is more good teams. The NFL is full to the brim of mediocre to below-average teams. I mean, look no further than the AFC playoff picture as it exists right now — the Ravens at 5-5 with no discernible playmaker or capable quarterback on offense are in the playoffs, if they started today. You want more? The Buffalo Bills are 5-5 and just started a 5th round rookie at QB and got shelled by the Chargers, 54-24. They are barely on the outside looking in on the playoffs. The aforementioned Chargers, you ask? Well, they’re 4-6 after starting out 0-4 and are all of a sudden the sexy pick to win the AFC West, as the Chiefs have lost 4 of 5 including their most recent to the god-awful New York Giants. I’ve got more.

The Tennessee Titans are 6-4 and a game out of the division lead. They gave up 57 points to the Houston Texans earlier this year. What is this, the Big 12?

The Broncos got out to fast start with quarterback Trevor Siemian garnering MVP talk in the first few games of the season. Now? Siemian has all but vanished on Denver’s depth chart behind Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch. I repeat Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch.

And while the AFC is soaked in mediocrity, the NFC isn’t a whole lot better — the teams there just seem to mask it better. If you look at win-loss records, we’ve got some very good teams in the NFC and the depth is there. Or so it seems. But look a little deeper.

The Detroit Lions are 6-4, but are they really a team that can win a road playoff game in January? The Cowboys went from challenging the Eagles to a team that can’t protect their quarterback or execute screen passes. The Packers might not win another game this year, yet they stand at 5-5 right now. The Seahawks were many people’s pick to represent the conference in the Super Bowl this February. Now, they can’t run the ball and their defense looks lost. They’re 6-4.

Ok, now I’m tired of going on about this. I hope I’ve made my case — the NFL has very very very few great teams. All these teams are just middling around .500. But some will make the playoffs because, hey, 12 teams have to, then they’ll get trounced in what will be an unwatchable first weekend of the postseason; and people will wonder why ratings were down. Hmmmm….

So, back to my point here. If we need more above-average, good, and
great teams, let’s look at why we don’t have them. Again, enter everyone’s favorite regular season quarterback, Peyton Manning.

I argue while Manning won 2 Super Bowls for the Colts and the Broncos and with those victories, brought a bounty of benefits to those teams and cities, he has done more to destroy and hinder franchises in the NFL.

Ready? Let’s count.

Indianapolis Colts (1)

This is an easy one. Manning’s greatness only hid all of this franchise’s foibles — from the construction of the roster to the owner’s antics that bring into question his mindset and ability to own an NFL team. No one talked about those things when Peyton was there. Why? Because the Colts were winning. Peyton consistently took 10-win talent and turned it into 14 wins or 8-win talent to 12 wins. Since his injury in 2011, the Colts have gone 54-52 and currently start the Patriots former 3rd string QB and a coach that no one believes will be there next year,

Denver Broncos (2)

Short and simple. Peyton leaves Denver, rides off into the sunset after
capturing Super Bowl 50 — and leaves Denver with Brock Osweiler and Trevor Siemian to man the ship. Do we really need to get into specifics? I mean, just look at John Elway up in his suite during these Bronco games. His expression says it all.

Chicago Bears (3), Miami Dolphins (4), and San Diego/L.A. Chargers (5)

Thanks to Peyton Manning’s success in Denver, the coaches who were
there when he was and were “coaching” him (like we’re supposed to believe they had a hand in his success there) benefited after Manning retired by parlaying that success into other coaching jobs — John Fox in Chicago, Adam Gase in Miami, and Mike McCoy in San Diego.

The Bears are 12-29 with Fox and have not even sniffed the playoffs.

The Dolphins are 14-12 under Gase and were quickly dismissed in the wildcard round last season. This year, Gase felt signing Jay Cutler to play quarterback for him was a good decision.

The Chargers went 27-37 before firing McCoy and now sit at 4-6 with first year coach Anthony Lynn.

Detroit Lions (6)

The Lions hired Jim Caldwell, partly, based on the success he had in Indianapolis. Of course, we know Manning covered up so many warts
with that franchise, but now here’s another organization putting their faith in a coach who, well, may or may not really know what he’s doing. Maybe that’s harsh. Let’s just say Caldwell isn’t quite the same coach without Manning under center.

Under Caldwell, the Lions have no division titles and no playoff wins.

Atlanta Falcons (7) and Seattle Seahawks (8)

These franchises, while they’ve each experienced success recently, have  not been “ruined” per se by Peyton Manning, but they’ve encountered hinderances over the past decade and a half, thanks to “the Sheriff”.

After Jim Mora, Sr. enjoyed the benefits of a Peyton-led Colts team, the league thought his son, Jim Mora, Jr. must be worthy of a head coaching gig. Both Atlanta and Seattle bit — and neither relished in any sort of sustained success with Mora as their coach. It wasn’t only until years after Mora left each city that those franchises started winning consistently.

Cleveland Browns (9) and Tennessee Titans (10)

Although Manning never played for either team, the flirtatious manner in which he teases them is enough to send both the Browns and Titans over the edge. Both franchises have been rumored in the past (and some rumors still linger today) to be interested in Manning or that Manning had an interest in some sort of front office job with them. As Peyton leads them along, we see neither of these franchises is fully committing to life “without” him, even though they don’t have him — if that makes any sense. And it does, right?

So about a third of the NFL’s teams have been ruined or their path back to relevance has been commandeered by Peyton Manning. And there’s your reason for all the league’s woes. (That’s not even taking into account how Peyton has damaged the college game — Tennessee, Duke, and UCLA.)

Great, glad we solved that. Up next, why Peyton Manning is to blame for Lonzo Ball.

You’re welcome, everyone. And Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed, @brian22goodwin.

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Showdown Saturday Causes Shake Up to College Football Playoff Hopefuls

The big games we were promised Saturday came and went without a ton of suspense. Alabama was taken to the final minute against Mississippi State — and that was about all we got as far as close games. Georgia forgot to get off the bus at Auburn, Notre Dame missed the flight to Miami, Michigan State — my god — should have stayed in East Lansing, and TCU was never really in it against Oklahoma.

All that said, what we do have is a clearer picture of who’s in position to make the top-4. According to the College Football Playoff rankings, the SEC champ and the ACC champ will be in; and Oklahoma controls their own destiny. That leaves one spot for maybe an SEC “non-champion” or an unbeaten Wisconsin.

But one thing we know about college football is we know nothing about college football.

Here’s a few of my thoughts on what I see as the top 10:

1. Alabama

Close calls are not something college football fans have come to expect when watching Alabama football. But quarterback Jalen Hurts performed at his best in the clutch during the game’s final drive on Saturday night. The Tide have the nation’s best defense in yards and scoring.

2. Clemson

No team is better at sacking the QB than the Tigers’ defense. I don’t see Clemson tripping up before their December 2 meeting in the ACC Championship Game against Miami, which will put the winner in the playoff.

3. Miami

Put the Canes at 2 or 3 — it will work itself out when they meet Clemson. The win over Notre Dame was more than just a “W”. The defense opened a lot of people’s eyes; and we should start believing that this team’s defense might be just as good as conference rival Clemson’s. But this young team can’t take the next two games for granted — a noon kickoff against Virginia and then a Friday tilt in a half-empty Heinz Field against Pitt will both be easy to overlook.

4. Georgia

Ugly showing from the Bulldogs at Jordan-Hare on Saturday. Georgia’s one-dimensional offense proved to be predictable and vulnerable against a good, attacking defense determined to stop the run. A loss is one thing, but a 40-17 defeat at the hands of one of your conference rivals, when you’re supposed to be the best team in the country, is beyond disappointing. But if they win out and win the SEC title game, the loss won’t mean much as far as the playoff goes. Georgia will be there. The question is if they can’t handle Auburn, how is Georgia going to do against Alabama, if indeed it is the Tide in the SEC Championship Game?

5. Oklahoma

There is no doubting Baker Mayfield and OU’s efficient offense. But you’ve got to play some sort of defense — and I haven’t seen the Sooners do it since week 2 against Ohio State. For me, Oklahoma is no lock for the final 4 even if they end up with 1-loss and the Big 12 title — in reality, though, they committee has made it clear that they’ll be in.

6. Auburn

Well, Auburn passed task 1 of their 3-pronged strategy of crashing the playoff — beat Georgia. Up next on the To-Do List — just go ahead and beat Alabama in the Iron Bowl in two weeks. Then, of course, the Tigers would have to beat Georgia in a rematch in the SEC Championship Game. I’m not saying they can do it, but the way that defense played against the very efficient Georgia offense, I’m certainly not saying they can’t.

7. Wisconsin

Undefeated still, yet not getting much love. The win over Iowa was good for the Badgers, but it’s their first win over a team with a winning record. They’ll need to win impressively when they host Michigan this Saturday if they want to make a push for the top-4.

8. Notre Dame

ND’s playoff hopes came crashing down in Miami over the weekend in anti-climactic fashion. Just when it looked like everything was lining up for Brian Kelly’s team, the Hurricanes went and handed the Irish their worst defeat since USC beat them 49-14 in 2014. Notre Dame’s strength of schedule is still excellent so barring a stumble in the final couple weeks, the Irish will be in a New Year’s Six bowl

9. Ohio St.

A week after getting embarrassed at Iowa, Urban Meyer had his Buckeyes ready to rebound at home against Michigan State, who had everything to play for. I don’t really see a path to the playoff for OSU, but stranger things have happened. All OSU can do is win out, including the Big Ten Championship Game against Wisconsin, and let the chips then fall where they may.

10. Penn St.

Back-to-back losses really has a way of taking a team off of everyone’s radar. I don’t even know who the Nittany Lions beat Saturday (I’m only kidding — that wasn’t meant to be a slight against Rutgers). James Franklin’s team is stuck is a bad spot — they can win out but still won’t win the division, thus leaving them out of the conference title game. To make matters worse, a New Year’s Six bowl game isn’t even a given right now based on how the conference is playing out.

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed, @brian22goodwin.

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“Prove-It” Games Headline Week 11 in College Football

This Saturday in college football should provide a bit of clarity with regard to which playoff-hopeful teams are legitimate contenders, as we move closer and closer to the conference championships in early December. A team like Miami, who hasn’t really won very convincingly and who’s schedule hasn’t been all that overwhelming to this point, can add a major boost their their resume with a win over the third-ranked Fighting Irish. The TCU-Oklahoma winner seems all but a sure thing to be playing in the Big 12 title game — with all signs pointing to the playoffs, if the winner Saturday can indeed win the conference championship (no matter how hard I argue that the Big 12 isn’t worthy).

Hey, even Wisconsin, who has gotten shredded in the media for their uber-weak schedule, can bolster their argument with a win over 20th-ranked Iowa. And while we just take for granted that Alabama and Georgia are on an inevitable collision course to meet in a battle of unbeatens in the SEC Championship Game at Atlanta’s brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, both have formidable opponents this weekend in Mississippi State and Auburn, respectively.

Let’s check out which games this Saturday carry the most weight moving forward towards the College Football Playoff.

#3 Notre Dame at #7 Miami

The “Catholics Versus Convicts” rivalry is rekindled this Saturday night in prime time. Both teams have high hopes of being in the top-4 at season’s end. A win here makes that a very real possibility, especially for the Irish, who’d only need to worry about a slip-up at Stanford. For
Miami, they’d still need to beat Clemson in the ACC Championship Game, which is not a given by any stretch of the imagination.

You don’t want to oversimplify the winning formula for this game, but you also don’t want to overthink it. This comes down to Miami’s 66th-ranked rush defense going up against Notre Dame’s 5th-ranked rushing attack. The Irish’s Heisman-hopeful running back Josh Adams is averaging 8.7 yards per carry — that’s really really good by the way — and in the their last two big prime time tilts, Adams averaged 196.5 yards against USC and NC St. If Miami is able to contain Adams and force ND quarterback Brandon Wimbush to beat them in what should be a very hostile environment, this game could easily turn in the Hurricanes’ favor.

Turnovers could be the other determining factor in this game. Miami quarterback Malik Rozier has to do a better job of protecting the ball than he did last week against Virginia Tech. The Golden Domers are tied for 5th in the nation in turnover margin with a plus-12.

#6 TCU at #5 Oklahoma

TCU comes into this game with the conference’s top defense. The Horned Frogs have already defeated three of the top 10 offenses in the nation while holding them below their season averages for yards and points. Now, they get Heisman Trophy front-runner quarterback Baker Mayfield and the nation’s most productive offense.

In a league that does not place any emphasis on defense — look no further than last week’s 62-52 game between OU and Oklahoma State, TCU is allowing only 284 total yards and only 13.9 points per game. They are number one in rushing defense in the nation, giving up less than 70 yards per game and only four touchdowns on the ground for the year. At least someone in the conference is willing to humor us and play defense.

It’s worth noting last year when these two met, Mayfield threw for 274 yards with two touchdowns and ran for another 55 yards and two more scores. The Sooners won that shootout 52-46, the most points TCU gave up in 2016.

For all intents and purposes, this is an elimination game. The winner is by no means guaranteed a spot in the playoff, but the loser is most definitely out.

#1 Georgia at #10 Auburn

A lot of interesting storylines exist Saturday when these two SEC powers  meet on the field. First, while the Bulldogs have already clinched a berth in the SEC Championship Game on December 2, a win in Auburn on Saturday might make it difficult for them to ever fall from the top-4 this season, even if they were to lose in the title game.

Secondly, Auburn has a ton to play for. Win Saturday and beat Alabama in the Iron Bowl and the Tigers will be pitted in a rematch with this very same Georgia team on December 2 with a possible playoff berth the line.

Lastly, can true freshman quarterback Jake Fromm go into Auburn and come out with a win? The win over Notre Dame was big, but that was much earlier in the season, when expectations hadn’t yet reached their peak. This would constitute a signature victory — top 10 opponent, on the road, all the heightened national title expectations. This is big time SEC football here.

And Fromm might just be ready for the big stage. He’s the 9th most efficient QB in the country, and he has two stud running backs in the backfield with him in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, who have accounted for 18 touchdowns this year while averaging a combined 185 yards per game. Georgia’s rushing attack is 8th in the nation and they have the best redzone offense — scoring at a 97% clip when inside their opponents’ 20.

Auburn’s best hope will be to force the freshman QB into making some poor decisions with the ball. However, the Tigers defense is only plus-1 in turnover margin and only 5th in the conference in defensive passing efficiency.

#25 Iowa at #6 Wisconsin

Make no mistake — this is not a great statement game for Wisconsin, but it is their ONLY statement game. We have nothing to refer to in order to critique the Badgers this season. The schedule is awful. But a win over the Hawkeyes, who actually still have a pathway to Indy, would give us something to look at. Ultimately, we probably won’t know much about the Badgers until December 2 in the Big 10 title game.

Other Notable Games

Also watch for Michigan State visiting Columbus to take on Ohio State. Granted the winner would still have an uphill battle like none other if they want to make the top-4, they will, however, be in complete control of the East Division in the Big 10 with the inside track to playing for the conference championship in Indianapolis on December 2.

And no cake walk this weekend for Alabama either. The Tide go into Davis Wade Stadium to play a #16 Mississippi State team that’s riding a 4-game winning streak, where they’ve scored no less than 34 points in each.

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed, @brian22goodwin.

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College Football Doing What College Football Does

Anyone who tells you they know how a college football season will turn out is not being truthful. In fact, as we enter the 11th week of the 2017 season, not even the so-called experts can be trusted. College football is and has been chaos for decades. Upsets happen routinely and when the human element gets added to the mix as far as the playoff committee and the writers’ and coaches’ polls, predicting what will happen in college football is like trying to predict the next tweet from the President’s Twitter account. (Good luck.)

So after another weekend where some of the proclaimed “giants” fell to defeat, let’s look and see where the top 10 stands today:

1. Alabama (9-0)

It makes no difference to me whether you have the Tide at 1 or Georgia at 1. If all plays out how we think (and that’s dangerous proposition in this sport), then the two will settle it on the field in the SEC Championship Game in December. Until then, Alabama’s dominance is just too impressive for me to place them in any other spot.

2. Georgia (9-0)

Jake Fromm very impressive at what yea coach Kirby Smart asks him to do. It will be a lot of fun to see how he matches up with an Alabama defense. Before then though, Georgia has to deal with Auburn, who has their sights on an SEC title.

3. Notre Dame (8-1)

Every checkpoint that the Irish come to is passed with flying colors. However, this Miami game has a different feel to it — it’s later in the season, new expectations have been established, fan bases and alumni are starting to think about “what could be”. It should be a classic matchup of two teams that know what they want to do, know what they’re good at, and know what the opponent is going to try and do. ND can run the football as well as any team in the country — 5th in the nation; Miami’s defense has shut down opponents’ passing attacks all season. Can they slow Josh Adams enough to make quarterback Brandon Wimbush beat them?

4. Clemson (8-1)

When Clemson is executing, they can play with anyone and beat anyone. So putting them at 4 is only due to their little slip-up they had at Syracuse. It’s hard to envision the Tigers out of a game because their defense is tenacious. A battle against the Hurricanes is looming with the CC title on the line.

5. Miami (8-0)

A week ago I said step one for Miami was beating Virginia Tech. Check. Now, a tougher task remains — beat Notre Dame. A very good Miami defense versus the pass will be tested against an Irish offense that is fourth in efficiency inside the 20. If Miami can’t stop the run, this might be over as quickly as Notre Dame’s previous wins over USC and NC St.

6. Wisconsin (9-0)

The Badgers host Michigan in 2 weeks and that will be the only kinda sorta test that Wisconsin faces until Indy. Hard to get really excited about this team because I’m not sure any of us know what the Badgers really are.

7. TCU (8-1)

Let me get this out of the way: I don’t respect the Big 12 and I couldn’t care less if they get left out of the College Football Playoff again. That said, I do like TCU quite a bit. Here’s a team that does value defense: number 1 in the country versus the rush (69.7 yards per game) and 6th in scoring (less than 14 points per game). This Saturday night’s showdown in Norman could mean the season for TCU — a win and they should be safely in the Big 12 title game with a shot at a playoff berth.

8. Oklahoma (8-1)

The experts who put together the playoff ranking each week sure do love OU. Not me. The conference plays no defense (aside from TCU) so I have a hard time putting all this offense I see from Oklahoma in perspective. I mean, it took the Sooners 62 points to beat Oklahoma State. That doesn’t scream playoff team to me.

9. Auburn (7-2)

This Tiger team is a dangerous one. They’re lurking just under the radar, but they control their own destiny. It’s simple: beat Georgia, beat ‘Bama (and everyone else left on the schedule) and Auburn will be in the conference championship game with possible playoff implications on the line.

10. Penn State (7-2)

I know, two straight losses and the Nittany Lions are still in the top 10? The loss at Ohio State was a choke job, but they played well for nearly 3 and a half quarters. And the loss in East Lansing after a 3-hour plus weather delay isn’t the worst loss that a team could have. Yes, Washington could easily have this spot, but I’m not ready to give Penn State the boot quite yet. But make no mistake, the playoffs are not happening for James Franklin’s team this year.

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed, @brian22goodwin.

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Why We Love Sports….And Hate Them

Sports are great….and terrible. They thrill us; they capture our imaginations; they give us fodder with which to banter with colleagues and friends. They also keep us up until all hours of the night; they frustrate us when our teams are on the wrong end of the results; and to be honest they give us anxiety and ulcers and headaches and stomach sickness.

So even when sports are going as expected, there is still a lot of emotion that get invested by us, the fan. Multiple that by a hundred, a thousand, a million when things aren’t as predictable as we’ve gotten used to.

Does anyone else feel like the sports world has been turned upside down? As a sports fan for as long as I can remember, I’m unable to recall a period of time when sports have been so unpredictable, games have been so explosive, and storylines have been so dramatic.

I know, I’m sure there are many examples that can be drawn from times in the past when sports were just as wild. So, ok — maybe this particular stretch of sports isn’t unprecedented; but it’s sure worth noting. Just look at the past week:

We were treated to Game 2 of the World Series that at the time seemed like it had that “Game of the Year” feel to it. Then just days later, perhaps the greatest World Series game of all time, Game 5 makes us forget all about Game 2. Seriously, Game 5 was one of those games that you just can’t wrap your head around. As you’re watching the game unfold, you shake your head in disbelief because, logically, this isn’t the way a baseball game goes.

According to ELIAS, the only team ever to overcome multiple 3-run deficits in a World Series game before both Houston and L.A. accomplished the feat in Game 5 was Toronto in 1993. The Blue Jays won that game 15-14.

And to think, this out-of-this-world offensive explosion came just 24 hours after Houston managed just a single hit off the Dodgers’ number 4 starter in Game 4. But then in a game started by three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw and finished by preeminent closer Kenley Jansen, Houston pounds out 13 runs, 14 hits, and 5 — yes 5 — home runs.

While the Astros’ offensive numbers are enough to make your head explode (especially knowing the pitchers they did it against), they also held a lead just about as good as a cheese grater holds water. Houston blew leads of 11-8 and 12-9 after the 7th inning.

So pardon me for saying this because, yes, the game was as thrilling as you’ll ever witness, but thank goodness when it finally ended — a mere 5 hours and 17 minutes and 417 pitches after it started.

I’m exhausted from just re-telling the events from the game.

If that craziness isn’t enough to satisfy you, check out the NFL this year since Week 1. Good luck trying to understand who’s better than who; and if you’re an average guy who’s betting on games, well you’re either asking to lose your money or you know more than you should and might want to consider moving the Vegas and cashing in.

Aside from protests and anthems and sitting, standing, or kneeling, NFL offenses are just so inconsistent from week to week that we, as fans, can’t get a gauge on which teams are for real and which teams are not. That’s what’s wrong with the NFL, as far as the product on the field — not protesting the National Anthem. (Off the field and part of a deeper conversation — yes, there’s room for the anthem conversation.)

In the first seven weeks last season, 15 teams scored fewer than 10 points in a single game. In the first seven weeks this year, it’s already happened 27 times.

Furthermore, NFL games are averaging 43.8 points, which is the lowest rate since 2009. Yardage is also down — games are averaging 670 yards, which is also the lowest rate in the NFL since 2009. Yards per play — yep, you guessed it — also the lowest that stat has been this decade.

I mean, just look at the teams who lead the league in top offensive categories: Kansas City has the most points scored, Houston and the Rams are 1-2 in points per game, and Houston has accounted for the most offensive touchdowns. If you’d have had to predict which teams would be at the top of these categories at the onset of the season, you’d  have said New England, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, New Orleans, Green Bay, Oakland probably. Not the Texans or the Rams!!! The Rams??? Really???

The league has become difficult to predict and just as difficult a question  to answer is why. The answer to that requires a deeper conversation and we won’t go down that path right now.

The parity in the NFL is so vast that teams were jockeying at the trade deadline this week like never before. And no surprise, really. It just added to the mayhem that had already been set in motion by everything else happening in the sports world.

In addition to the wild World Series and the NFL that leaves us scratching our heads every Sunday, the NBA season is just beginning, but it’s not providing sports fans with much stability. Aren’t we supposed to be able to turn to the NBA and see the Cavaliers and LeBron James leading the way in the Eastern Conference? The Spurs or Warriors atop the West? Not right now in this upside down world we call sports. The Cavs are in the midst of having dropped 4 of their last 5 games, including 3 to lower-tier teams like the Bulls, Pelicans, and Nets. Things are so bad in Cleveland LeBron had to call a players-only meeting to get everyone on the same page. Same page?? Players only?? The season started 2 weeks ago — how disjointed could the team have gotten in only 2 weeks??? And the Spurs aren’t helping matters. After a typical San Antonio start to the year, 4-0, they’ve lost three straight. How often does a Gregg Popovich-coached team lose 3 in a row?

All you can do is shake your head.

We won’t even get into the spectacle that has become the on-again, off-again suspension of Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott. Or the phony, made-up death threats that Jim McElwain claimed were directed at him a week ago while he was still employed at the University of Florida as the head football coach. Those unsubstantiated allegations got McElwain fired — at least that reflects some sort of sanity on the part of the higher-ups at Gainesville.

But hey, if you need a constant. If you need something to remind you that the planet is still spinning and not everything in the sports world has gone haywire, look no further than ol’ reliable Eldrick Tiger Woods. My man is back and ready to make another go at a comeback at the end of the month in the Bahamas.

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed, @brian22goodwin.

 

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