Consider week 9 our payment to the football gods for all those random Sundays when the schedule looks pathetic, but we get the random excitement when Oakland takes San Diego to the wire, or Carolina & Cincinnati exchange haymakers over five quarters, or the Cowboys go into Seattle and stun everyone with a road win.
Make no mistake about it, week 9 was the worst slate of football games we’ve seen in a long time. Think about our expectations versus what actually took place.
- Six legitimately enticing matchups featuring playoff-hopeful teams facing off against each other in all of them.
- New Orleans @ Carolina
- Arizona @ Dallas
- Philadelphia @ Houston
- San Diego @ Miami
- Denver @ New England
- Baltimore @ Pittsburgh
- The largest point spread in that group was Denver favored by 3.5 over New England. These games were supposed to be close, the kind of games you expect in November among teams jockeying for playoff position.
What actually took place:
- Yes. That is a steaming pile of manure. Here’s what officially happened:
- New Orleans beat Carolina by 18
- Arizona beat Dallas by 11
- Philadelphia beat Houston by 10 (throw in the Nick Foles & DeMeco Ryans injuries for Philly fans to feel even worse about this weekend)
- Miami beat San Diego’s corpses by 37
- New England beat Denver by 22
- Pittsburgh beat Baltimore by 20
- And just in case all those games were a total bust, we had what I thought was going to be a sneaky good Monday Night game. Why did I think this? Because the Giants just had two weeks to rest while the Colts were getting absolutely demolished by the Steelers two weekends ago. But nope, that had to be an unwatchable blowout too. Not only were the six marquee matchups duds, but all the nationally-televised games were huge misses too.
- I’m thinking the NFL owes us some once-in-a-lifetime miraculous level of football in week 10.
Any time someone brings up the possibility that sports leagues fix their games as a NEGATIVE, just point to week 9 of the 2014 NFL season as your counterpoint. Think of all the amazing things the NFL could have done with this past weekend’s games if only the people who run the league were corrupt…
Overall only four of 13 games didn’t end in an absolute blowout. I’m moving on from week 9, burying it deep in the middle of that dung pile.
Let’s spend the rest of our time together checking in on my preseason picks for how the playoffs will unfold (with an assist to guest blogger Neil as I’ll forage through his picks too and see how right or wrong we both were). My loyal readers know I try to be accountable about preseason predictions. Let’s see what we’ve got.
Ross’ Preseason Playoff Prediction
- New England
- San Diego
- New Orleans
- Green Bay
- Tampa Bay
Ross’s Thoughts Upon Seeing That Prediction
- If we focus on the AFC, I actually look pretty good so far. Yes, having San Diego usurping the Broncos in the West seems foolish now, but only three weeks ago the Chargers were 5-1 and there was hope for that exact scenario to play out. The Pittsburgh and Miami predictions were pretty bold calls, and I gotta pat myself on the back because both of those teams look solid and are right in the mix through nine weeks.
- In that prediction blog, I’ve got the Patriots beating the Steelers in the AFC Championship game. Fast forward to today…I don’t hate that at all. Absolutely it still looks like Patriots/Broncos is the best bet for our AFC title game matchup, but I would never bet against the Steelers if they simply make it to January.
- And now for the carnage…the NFC. In my defense, did anyone have the Cardinals, Cowboys or Lions even making the playoffs? My sense is this conference will continue to operate in a chaotic state through week 17. But picking the Bears and (especially) the Bucs to make the playoffs really jump off the screen. There’s a chance two of my projected playoff teams finish as the two worst teams in the entire conference!
- In that preseason blog, I had Philly beating New Orleans to get to the Super Bowl. Not only does a Mark Sanchez-led Eagles team feel like a lock to miss the playoffs, but the Saints as the #1 seed in the NFC might already be a mathematical impossibility.
- My only chance to look halfway decent is if the Patriots go on to win the Super Bowl, but even then it’ll look like a homer pick.
Neil’s Preseason Playoff Prediction
- New England
- San Diego
- New Orleans
- Green Bay
- NY Giants
Ross’s Thoughts On Neil’s Prediction
- Neil’s AFC predictions are pretty well intact, especially because he didn’t mess with Denver & San Diego like I did. Where he misses wildly is projecting the Texans to win the AFC South. You’ll notice the Colts are nowhere on Neil’s AFC playoff bracket. The reality is that the Colts could have the division clinched by week 13.
- Neil goes on to pick the Broncos over Patriots in the AFC Championship game. Neil’s debilitating conservatism might serve him well when it comes to the AFC. Barring any more major injuries from either team, it really is tough to think any other AFC opponent will jump up and eliminate the Patriots or Broncos before they try to eliminate each other.
- Like me, Neil seems to have two NFC teams that are pretty much out of contention, the Bears and Giants. And like me, Neil has the Saints as the #1 seed and Seahawks as the #2 seed. While both are still plenty capable of making the playoffs, it doesn’t seem like either will be getting a bye unless this conference completely collapses on itself.
- Neil goes with the Saints over the Packers in the NFC Championship and then a Saints Super Bowl win over the Broncos.
Lessons learned from this exercise? Neil and I probably just as good as every other football prognosticator when it comes to predicting in September how a 12-team tournament will play out in January after 32 teams have spent 17 weeks trying to kill each other.
It’s the NFL. It’s unpredictable. It’s chaotic. It’s frustrating as hell sometimes. But I wouldn’t want it any other way.
But can someone from the league office please step up and be a little shady and underhanded for once and simply fix a few games to ensure week 9 of 2014 never ever happens again?
Week 10 picks coming on Thursday.