Earlier this week I wrote about Frank Gore’s HOF case. For the first time in seven years I may actually start to take this blog seriously and post more content besides Saturday game picks. We’ll see what happens, but I am looking into it.
There are some good games to talk about this week, but before that I wanted to share some thoughts about the NFL 100 All-Time Team.
Watt the Faulk, Boomers?
I thought the NFL’s 100 All-Time Team could lead to a disappointing show once I saw some of the position breakdowns. More RB (12) than QB (10) for one. The other concern was a media panel largely consisting of people who grew up watching players in the 60s and 70s, because people are proven to favor nostalgia and tradition when it comes to things like this. Would they give the players of today a fair shake?
Through 38 player choices at running back and the front seven, it doesn’t appear so. The only players who started their careers after the 1994 salary cap are Ray Lewis (1996) and Derrick Brooks (1995). It’s not that there have been many snubs, but there have been some glaring ones so far.
I compiled my own list of the top 100 players of all time in August. I have yet to rank them together or post it anywhere, but I plan to soon. My list included 15 quarterbacks and seven running backs as opposed to the NFL’s breakdown of 10 QB and 12 RB. Of course, my sixth and seventh running backs just happened to be LaDainian Tomlinson and Marshall Faulk. Neither managed to make the cut for the NFL 100 (while the likes of Dutch Clark, Marion Motley and Gale Sayers did), so that was already a bad first impression for me.
Then the front seven came out last night with 26 players. My list had 30 players (9 DE, 9 DT, 12 LB). I probably could have showed more love for the older eras, but I didn’t see a reason to include the likes of Doug Atkins, Bill Hewitt, or Lee Roy Selmon.
The biggest snubs here had to be J.J. Watt and Derrick Thomas. Unlike the RBs, it’s not so much they picked the wrong players or too many this time, but they just didn’t pick enough. They shouldn’t have had 12 RBs, period. That would have freed up spots for Watt and Thomas. I also saw mention of Von Miller on Twitter. He didn’t make my list, but he’s close to it.
This really goes back to the problem of people not able to evaluate a player’s career while he is still active. I can understand struggling with Aaron Donald, who I had on my list already, but that should not be the case with J.J. Watt. While injuries have clearly stripped him of all-time greatest discussion, just look at what he has accomplished when healthy. In six full seasons, he’s been named first-team All-Pro five times and Defensive Player of the Year three times. Most guys can play 10-15 years and never sniff those achievements. He’s had multiple 20-sack seasons and was ridiculously dominant at his peak. That’s the kind of player you need to put on such a list, but they didn’t, and the live reaction show afterwards just saw guys (from the 80s/90s) stand up for their old teammates and personal favorites. Watt wasn’t even mentioned in the snubs segment.
By the time the series is over, I’m sure there will be some support that they did enough justice for the last 25 years of football. They’ll likely include Tony Gonzalez and Rob Gronkowski at tight end, and quarterback will have Peyton Manning and Tom Brady (I bet you they snub Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers though). Ed Reed should show up at safety. I’m not sure they’ll do Joe Thomas at OT or Darrelle Revis at CB, but Adam Vinatieri could end up being the kicker. At WR, I’m not sure if they really have to do anything more modern than Randy Moss, but Larry Fitzgerald absolutely has an argument and I even have two other younger players than him on my list.
But so far there does seem to be a serious misjudgment of the worth of modern players, and an overvaluing of players from older eras where the job just wasn’t nearly as year-round or professional as it is today. Watching Bill Belichick analyze some 1930s-40s film with “You can see him block here” and thinking he’d take that player over Watt or Faulk, guys he had to develop gameplans to stop, is just comical, a farce.
Onto the games…
Browns at Steelers (+2.5)
Hopefully there won’t be a fight this time, but I can see why the NFL wants to bury this one on the schedule. I also wouldn’t be surprised if part of Mason Rudolph’s quick benching last week was to keep him out of this game in case the Browns look to retaliate. Sure, Rudolph was playing terrible football again, but that was a quick hook at halftime in a 7-3 game where he had one turnover on a tipped ball in the red zone. Anyways, I think the Steelers trust Devlin Hodges more and he doesn’t appear afraid to throw deep like Rudolph does. Of course Hodges could be terrible too in this game without JuJu Smith-Schuster available, but I felt like the Steelers defense contained Cleveland pretty well last meeting outside of giving up two big plays. This is an important game for both teams and I like the Steelers at home underdogs in this one.
Or maybe I just can’t wrap my mind around the thought of Cleveland sweeping Pittsburgh.
Titans at Colts (-1)
The Colts have Tennessee’s number for sure. Curious to see if Ryan Tannehill’s hot hand can keep up on the road in what is suddenly a big game for both teams. The Colts don’t have T.Y. Hilton available and Jacoby Brissett has been struggling. I think Tennessee is playing better right now, but like PIT-CLE, it’s hard for me to go against the history of one team owning the other for so long.
Raiders at Chiefs (-10.5)
Kansas City can gain some real breathing room in the division with a win here. The spread is big, but Oakland could have a chance here if the Chiefs continue their 2019 ways of making mistakes. I still feel like the offense can be the best in the league, but there are just too many mistakes this year. Penalties that kill drives, bad throws to open receivers, fumbles in scoring territory, not being aggressive enough on fourth down, weird run calls on 2nd-and-long. Last time out was also probably the worst game of Mahomes’ NFL career. In Week 2, he may have had the best quarter of his career in Oakland when he threw for almost 300 yards and 4 TD in the second quarter. But keep in mind the Chiefs didn’t score a point in any other quarter that day. That’s why I think Oakland has a chance in this one if Derek Carr brings his A game.
Patriots at Texans (+3.5)
I’m just going to leave this one here:
Vikings at Seahawks (-3)
This is one where I’ll hedge: Vikings ATS, Seahawks ML. Seattle has been winning a ton of close games this year. The Vikings have a better overall team, but I want to see Cousins in attack mode on the road. He was poor in a loss on MNF in Seattle last year. Hopefully this game will be better than that one.
GOTW: 49ers at Ravens (-6)
Super Bowl preview? It’s pretty amazing to see a 10-1 team as a 6-point underdog, but the Ravens have gone from having a solid season to being historically great since the bye week. The Ravens have scored at least 23 points in every game this season, joining elite company:
We’ve already seen Lamar Jackson and the offense rip through the Patriots this year. Now they get the NFC’s best defense. The 49ers are the first defense since the 2000 Titans to hold five teams to 100 net passing yards. Even if Jackson struggles to pass for yards, he’s still a very effective runner and the Ravens are at home with a defense that has been getting better every week. I like them to keep rolling in this one with their unique attack and making Jimmy Garoppolo turn the ball over, but getting a great game here would be ideal.
Now you’ll have to excuse me as I try to figure out how the Steelers, with no offense, held 4Q leads against both the 49ers and Ravens this year.
NFL Week 13 Predictions
I figured some regression was coming after an 11-3 ATS week. Thanksgiving picks didn’t go too well, but we’ll see.
It sounds like Drew Lock will be at QB for the Broncos this week. That was inevitable, but I’ll give the Chargers, who get Derwin James back, the benefit of the doubt here. I know, sweet regression here we come.