Because my MLB playoff picks were so awesome
By Chris Giblin
It was a strange final round of games for every NFL team this past Sunday; forgive me for getting to it so late. Any other week, if I let it go this long, I guess I would have just let it pass, but this is my last chance to talk about the regular season, not to mention the fact that I truly found a lot of things this weekend to be disappointing, interesting or weird – a lot more so than most weeks. Here’s a list:
1. I Hate Mark Sanchez and the Jets.
This was what was going through my head while watching the Jets’ pitiful 19-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins to guarantee their own demise. Of course, since putting myself through the irritating process of watching the New York Jets fail one last time on Sunday afternoon, I’ve cooled off, and that’s not to say that I was particularly upset at the time either. I was mostly just exasperated and put into shock by the truly awful nature of Mark Sanchez’s interceptions and the overall ineptitude of the offense all afternoon.
The offensive line was called for offsides on countless occasions throughout the game, and once again, Sanchez’s passing game never took off. That is, until the very last drive of the year for the Jets, when they were down 19-10 with two and a half minutes left and no timeouts. The offense actually looked good for that small stretch of time – marching down the field with ease and cashing in a touchdown with a little over a minute to play. Unfortunately, the ensuing onside kick was easily recovered by Brandon Marshall of the Dolphins to seal up the game. Too little, too late for Marky Mark.
He did still manage to win the game for Miami though. Sanchez threw three particularly enraging interceptions throughout the game, all of which allowed for Miami field goals on their ensuing offensive possessions. What’s worse is that the Dolphins didn’t manage a first down on any of those ensuing possessions – the Jets’ defense was stopping up the Dolphins all day – the Dolphins already had the field goal range they needed thanks to Sanchez. He also threw one at the tail end of the first half, giving the Dolphins three points when they were trying to do that themselves. And he threw one on third-and-6 from the Miami 10-yard-line that was returned into Jets territory with 3 minutes left while the score was still only 16-10 Miami. Oh, and he was intercepted by the same lineman (Ryan Starks) twice. That’s just negligent.
But I shouldn’t just blame Sanchez. Like I said before, the entire team on the offensive side of the ball didn’t seem to show up at all. Santonio Holmes pouted on the sideline and didn’t even watch the game during the final minutes. The defense was pretty strong but overall, they didn’t play like a team with urgency and purpose. It looked like they wanted to go home, so I’m glad that’s where they’ll be for the playoffs. Then again, even if they won, they wouldn’t have made it, but with all the other teams that needed to lose to get them a spot, they would have come painfully close.
All the right teams lost except for the Titans, who beat the Texans 24-23 after Houston went for two with only seconds left, going for the win rather than kicking the PAT to tie it and send the game to overtime, doing it because they already had their no. 3 seed in the AFC playoffs sewn up. Frankly, I’m surprised it was that close.
But as for Sanchez, as mediocre as he still is as a third-year NFL QB, he still managed to improve a bit for the third straight year. As a realist, I’m assuming that means his peak just isn’t going to be that amazing. We always knew he wasn’t going to be an NFL top five QB but he’s still struggling to get into the top 20. Of course there’s that other QB who came off the bench and was spectacular…
2. Matt Flynn… You can’t be serious
To anyone in their FF finals who picked up Matt Flynn for their last game of the season, kudos. But that’s probably none of you; we knew Flynn was supposed to be a great backup but didn’t expect him to be the best QB of Week 17. He threw for 480 yards, 6 TDs and one pick in the Packers’ 45-41 shootout win over the Lions. It’s a shame the Jets have two more years on Sanchez’s expensive contract because there’s no way he’ll ride the bench again next year after that. I’m sure there will be other more agreeable teams than the Jets who will express interest in Flynn, and ones without all that QB baggage.
In short, whether it was a fluke or not (and it couldn’t have been that much of a fluke since the vast majority of NFL QBs never have a game like that), Matt Flynn probably just got himself several millions of dollars for the coming years.
But also, with this game coinciding with Drew Brees dominating once more for the Saints, a game in which he led them to a 45-17 blowout of the Panthers by passing for 389 yards, five TDs and one interception, it seems like the MVP tide may have turned.
3. Drew Brees seems like the favorite for the MVP now
This was unprecedented a few weeks ago, and even now, I’ll find it a bit unjust to see the MVP Award go to Brees over Aaron Rodgers. That’s not to say Brees wasn’t incredible. He set the new record for single season passing yards with 5,476 while tossing for 46 TDs and only 14 interceptions. Those are, indeed, MVP numbers, and he certainly had an edge on Rodgers in Fantasy Football. But the fact is, Rodgers was still just a shade more efficient all year, putting up his 4,643-yard, 45 TD, 6 interception season despite being on a team with a defense that allows opponents to maintain the ball longer than just about anyone.
Mainly, I’d say Rodgers has two big things going for him and two going against him. For him, he’s gotten the Packers the top seed in the NFC and he led them to a win over the Saints on opening night of the season. Against him, he’s got Brees setting the passing yards record and, weirdly, that stellar game Flynn put up coming off the bench to close out the season. I don’t think that should really factor in, but I’m sure it will for some – the fact that even if Rodgers went down at the start of the year, the Pack would have still been in pretty good hands.
4. The Broncos look awful… and are going to the playoffs
The AFC West was incredibly mediocre this year. Three 8-8 teams and the 7-9 Chiefs. Someone had to make it in I guess, and that’s the Broncos and Tim Tebow’s all but faded magic, or luck, whatever you want to call it. They’ve lost three straight, looked pathetic in a 7-3 loss on Sunday and are somehow hosting the 12-4 Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday to start the playoffs. This seems to happen every year – one division churns out four non-playoff caliber teams and one gets in and gets rewarded with a home game anyway. It’s unjust and illogical – let’s not chalk it up to the division just being “really competitive,” because none of the teams had winning records outside their own division, or within it for that matter (they all went 3-3).
5. (Probably inaccurate) Playoff picks
Giants, Saints, Steelers, Bengals