For five years, I wrote a picks column for another website. It was very good, I was very good, I’ll leave it at that. If I’m being honest, things started to fall off around year four. Part of that was due to changes in my life that left me less time to watch football and write about it. However, the main reason I stopped writing is that I found it harder to enjoy football. Or, more to the point, I found myself hating the NFL.
Well, lots of reasons, actually. Mainly though, it was the league’s consistently shitty attitude towards violence against women, its hypocrisy in virtually all areas, from player discipline, to player health, to the way it promotes itself, and especially the dictatorial reign of Roger Goodell, epitomized by the so-called Deflategate case.
So, last year, I shelved the old column, and resolved to be just a fan again. I watched, but I had a more relaxed approach. It wasn’t that big a deal any more.
I did have one hope for the season, though. It was the biggest hope I think I’d ever hoped. In my mind, the only thing that would legitimize the season, the only just outcome, was for the New England Patriots to win the Superb Owl. It was the only way to exorcise the smelly demon that was Goodell’s ridiculous and inexplicable trashing of Brady.
So, before we proceed, let me state, categorically, unequivocally, that last season was the greatest season in the history of the league. And, more to the point, the Patriots’ historic comeback victory over the Atlanta Falcons was the greatest Superb Owl ever. EVER. And, even more to the point, the cascade of boos that rained down on Goodell as he spoke before presenting the Lombardi Trophy to Robert Kraft was nirvana. (Also, muscle-bound-former racist violent offender-ding dong Mark Wahlberg, Prince of the Massholes, getting caught leaving the big game early and blaming his kid was a nice bonus.) The whole season, right down to the perfect, storybook ending, was the perfect “f-you” to the NFL.
And I hate the NFL.
But I love watching the games.
So, I’ll keep rooting for the players I like, dreading the successes of the players and teams that I despise, and feel dirty for doing it.
But I’ll keep doing it.
I hate it. I love it. I love to hate/hate to love it.
I’m hate-watching the NFL.
So now, it’s on to the division picks. Teams will be listed in order of projected finish. Given the stated theme of the column, I might as well start off with the worst division in the league:
Not many divisions can boast three legitimate playoff contenders (I’d say three, at best). So, when I say “the worst division in the league,” I mean “It’s hard to choose which team to hate the most.”
Dallas is easy. This is a team that will employ and defend any piece of garbage that will help them win. I mean, do you think they turfed Greg Hardy because he was an unrepentant woman-beater? No. He’s gone because he didn’t produce on the field. Currently (or whenever all appeals are exhausted), they’re dealing with a suspension to star RB/serial woman abuser Ezekiel Elliot. They’ll defend him until the cow(boy)s come home, and welcome him back with open arms. In the meantime, they’ll be ok without him, because any decent NFL back should be able to run behind their impressive offensive line. Oh, and Dak Prescott won’t let them lose. They’re not going 13-3 again, but they’re good enough to win 10 or 11. Before I move on, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the head from which all the rest of the organization rots, megalomaniacal billionaire owner/GM Jerry Jones, also known as Chris Christie’s best bud.
And speaking of Christie, how about those Jersey Giants? Their owner, Next-in-line Mara, inherited the team. So, he’s basically Donald Trump. No, wait; Mara’s third-generation, so he’s basically Ivanka Trump. After the team re-signed kicker Josh Brown last year, despite having knowledge the he was a serial wife-beater, Mara and dickhead coach Ben McAdoo defended the move, only to end up having to eat crow later when the league stepped in. Their most exciting/annoying player gets alternately lauded and roasted by idiot fans and the local media for being a hotheaded, superstar talent with a personality, while their turnover-prone dolt of a QB mostly skates by unscathed by public opinion despite evidence that strongly suggests that he’s dirty thief, most likely due to the fact that he has two Superb Owl rings/is white. They have just enough talent on both sides of the ball to challenge Dallas for the division title, but will most likely end up in the thick of the wild card race.
Philadelphia. Do I have to elaborate? Worst fans ever; really, just pick a sport. It’s worth rooting against them just because their fans are so awful. Oh, and their starting QB, Carson Wentz, just loves killing animals. Anyone who gets that much pleasure out of killing another living thing has a screw loose. Watching someone like that is a threat to my very humanity, because the dark part of me hopes that he gets hurt, and I hate that about myself. Some say Wentz and the defence are good enough to get this team to the playoffs this year, but I haven’t seen enough good from him to be impressed yet.
Washington? Their name is a racial slur, no ifs, ands, or buts about it, and their scumbag owner is emphatic that the name will not change as long as it’s his team. Oh well, maybe after he dies. See, there’s always reason to hope.
Oh Atlanta, I can’t say anything bad about you. If it weren’t for you folks doing a perfect job of doing everything wrong after going up 28-3 in the big game, I would have been denied my perfect ending to last season. Thank you. Thank you so much. Here’s another division title for you. You’re welcome.
Carolina looks good for a bounce back year, provided the defence is decent and Cam Newton doesn’t get his brains beaten in this year again. You know, it’s a shame about Newton. One of the single best talents in the league, great personality, and by most accounts a pretty good guy, but he gets shit on by the media for chintzy reasons like the way he dresses, or for having the audacity to complain about how officials allow him to get abused on the field with no repercussions. The struggle is real, folks.
All I can say about Tampa is that their starting QB is most likely a rapist. In fact, I doubt that there’s anyone out there who isn’t mentally defective/an asshole who truly believes that he isn’t a rapist. Root for that? Nope.
New Orleans? Well, I hate Drew Brees, the millionaire who goes on TV and stabs some defenceless animal to death to prove what a tough guy he is. And then there’s newly-acquired Adrian Peterson, who I have to thank for providing me with the final nudge I needed to get me to end my retirement and start writing about football again. A few days ago, I saw a quote from Peterson where he was talking about playing Minnesota in week one, and how he wanted to “stick it to them,” which, considering Peterson’s history with sticks, I took to mean that he wanted to whip their buttocks and testicles. You see, guys like AP make it easy to hate the NFL. Enjoy last place, Ain’ts.
I’ve been accused in the past of having a man-crush on Aaron Rodgers because he’s just so darn fun to watch, but the reality is that playing for the horrible Mike McCarthy (and in a place where, let’s face it, what else is there besides worshipping the Packers and eating fatty foods) has retarded Rodgers so much that we might never know if he could have been a truly great quarterback, instead of the “playmaker” he’s devolved into, but no one wants to call him. I read an article recently that talked about how many quality plays Rodgers leaves on the field because he doesn’t see open receivers, mainly due to the fact that he spends half his time running for his life, and all of his time on this terribly-coached team. Yeah, Rodgers is a “Great QB,” but Cam Newton is a “Playmaker.”
Coach Mike “Left Eye” Zimmer should have his Vikings ready to challenge for the division title, provided they can score enough points with Sam Bradford at QB. Bradford’s like an even more cautious Alex Smith, but made out of porcelain. Minnesota got rid of child-abusing star Adrian Peterson, but, in case you were worried about starting to like the team, drafted puppy abuser/vandal/accused girl-puncher Dalvin Cook to fill the void.
Detroit backed into the playoffs last year, so naturally they made Matt Stafford the highest-paid QB in the league. Head Coach Jim Caldwell generally vacillates between looking confused or barely conscious on the sideline.
Chicago promises to be terrible this year. They’re paying a shit-ton of cash to the immortal Mike Glennon for doing the important job of being a placeholder at QB until prized draft pick/one-year college starter is ready to take over and lead the team to further mediocrity, or worse. These two might actually make Bears fans miss Jay Cutler.
This is a tough division to write about. I mean AZ, LA, and San Fran are so boring that there’s not much to hate. Just looking at the starting QBs for these three snoozers (Palmer, Goff, and Hoyer, respectively), the only exciting thing is wondering whether Carson Palmer will suffer a catastrophic injury/burst into flames at some point in the season.
The Cards might, and that’s a big might, make a run at the playoffs. The Rams have some good defensive talent, and newly-acquired defensive coordinator Wade Phillips always seems to get the most out of the talent at his disposal, but LA’s best player, Aaron Donald, is a holdout, and the offense is anemic to say the least. Erstwhile Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan was apparently so traumatized by Atlanta’s Superb Owl collapse that he became head coach of the ‘niners, where he won’t have to worry about pesky things like being involved in meaningful games.
In a division this boring, it’s a good thing we have Seattle. I mean, there’s enough to hate there for the whole division. From whiny, annoying cheater Pete Carroll, to goody-goody QB Russell Wilson, the nicest guy no one likes, to Richard Sherman, a good player who consistently gives himself far too much credit for Seattle’s top-notch secondary, even as said secondary falls apart whenever one of its talented Safeties is unavailable. Oh, and they’ve got a woman-beater on the team too (Google Frank Clark), so tick that box.
Seattle should take this division, provided Wilson doesn’t get killed playing behind the team’s putrid offensive line, and so long as the defence stays healthy and sticks to the Carroll maxim “if we hold on every single play, the officials couldn’t possible call them all,” which has served them well for years.
That's all for now. I'll post the AFC Preview and the rest of this week's picks this weekend when I have some time.