• Zone Blitz: Bear Down, The Airing of Grievances, or Your NFL Week 17 Open Thread



    I'VE GOT A LOT OF PROBLEMS WITH YOU PEOPLE, AND NOW YOU'RE GOING TO HEAR ABOUT IT!

    Rich Gapinski of COTL, The Polish Guy Podcast, and "The Gapinski Hour" fame joins me for a special holiday edition of the Zone Blitz. We talk playoffs, both real and fantasy, Cam Newton, give a fond farewell to Ryan Lindley, and Rich goes off something special on the Bears. Sit back and enjoy some good cheer. Or, perhaps more appropriately, as today is Festivus, please enjoy as we air our grievances, and feel free to air your grievances below.

    BW: Rich, First of all, thanks for jumping on board this week. It really is quite ironic that the first time you'd join me here would be in time for Festivus, so Happy Festivus! Not that we have any grievences to air, or anything, but there are times where it may appear that we are bitter rivals in the office, especially when it comes to dealing with Andy's flamingo and that hybrid biting squirrel/labrador you created for me as a welcoming gift, but I want to assure everyone that we get along just fine. Mostly. At least half the time. Occasionally we do get along. Well, at least there was that one time we teamed up on sabotaging Matt's chair. And by teamed up, I mean that somehow I ended up face first in a puddle of urine. I'm still fuzzy on many of the details that led to that, for some reason. Anyway, I'd say that I'm thrilled you're joining me, but clearly that's a lie. So for the good of the site, let's just try to move on and make the best of it. If all goes well, we can end this with a feat of strength. As always, first one to pin Patrick wins...

    Seriously, this is a perfect week for you to jump into the ZB fray, mainly because it gives you the chance to fully air your grievences against the mess that is the Chicago Bears. I'm looking forward to hearing that, and whatever other thoughts you have, but I've got to say that on my end, this weekend's games felt like a grind. It starts Thursday night with the genius throwaway Thursday telecast of Tennessee-Jacksonville. Kudos to CBS/NFLN for sending this year's Thursday Night Football package off on a perfect note. Remember 15 years ago when the Jaguars went 14-0 against the rest of the league, edging the 13 win Titans for the AFC Central Division title, except that the Jags ended 0-3 vs. Tennessee, including a 33-14 loss in the AFC Championship? Yeah, I didn't care about Jacksonville-Tennessee then, so I'm fairly certain that I don't care about the two teams now. As an aside, I can't remember the last time I watched more random regular season NBA than I watched on Thursday night. Jimmy Butler is my new favorite player in the league.

    On Sunday, my focus was, of course, on the Kansas City-Pittsburgh matchup. When the Jags and Titans were busy dominating the AFC in 1999, Andy Reid was getting his start as a HC in Philadelphia. You'd think after all these years that he'd have figured out that you don't beat good teams by kicking FGs and giving away drives at the end of halves. The Chiefs were in a perfect position, down 10-6, but driving with the ball to end the 1st half, and getting the ball to start the 2nd. Replay overturned a 3rd down conversion, and set up 4th down and less than a yard with 27 seconds remaining in the half. Against all odds, Andy Reid had only wasted 2 TOs to that point, so KC still had a TO in their pocket to botch. On the 12, with that little time left, convention says to kick the 30 yd FG, especially since they got the ball to start the 2nd half, and even if they do convert, with only 1 TO left, they'd have had no ability to run, only a couple real shots at the end zone, and the league's worst WR corps at their disposal. Reid decides to go for it and calls a predictable run with Charles, who gets blown up for no gain.

    Save for the Steelers kneeling down to end each half, there were 13 total drives in this game. 7 of those drives lasted more than 5 minutes each (4 for Pittsburgh). The Steelers scored 2 TDs and 2 FGs with their 4, while KC managed FGs in each of their long possessions, with a 4th-- that empty drive to end the 1st half-- coming in at a tick under 4 minutes. The Chiefs are excellent at not turning the ball over, but playoff teams need to convert at least some of the time. The Steelers shut down Charles, kept the Chiefs out of the end zone, and ultimately, that's the difference between a playoff team and an also-ran.

    Much of my Sunday was devoted to following my fantasy teams. I was eliminated from our dynasty league a few weeks ago, but had one championship and one semi-final matchup to follow this weekend. I'm going to win the semifinal pretty easily, despite the fact that I had Andrew Luck going for me, and the other guy still has Peyton Manning. That team is loaded, as is my team that was in the championship this weekend. Turns out I'm in a dogfight in that league, and am putting up my worst week of the entire year. I had to live through the DeMarco Murray mess with that team, dealt with the Eagles ignoring Maclin in favor of Zach Ertz, who I released weeks ago, and had Steven Hauschka missing 3 FGs last night. Despite that, I still have a TD lead going into tonight, with my 1st round pick Demaryius Thomas against his Jeremy Hill. The odds are certainly in my favor, but for a team that's outscoring even the 2nd best team in the league by 30 points each week, it's been a grind.

    Anyway, week 16 is probably the most popular fantasy football championship week, since many long ago realized that passing on week 17's unpredictability was probably a good thing. One thing I've learned from this year is that it doesn't matter how good any one player has been over the regular season if they put up even one stinker in weeks 14-16. Despite the great seasons from Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and Andrew Luck, very few teams with those QBs won their leagues this year. Manning has not done well the past 2 weeks, and Rodgers crapped the bed last week against Buffalo, proving it can happen to anyone at any time. Andrew Luck got many teams to championship games with his performance this year, but yesterday, he lost the championship for many of those teams. Back in 2007, I can remember facing the team that had Tom Brady as its QB in the semifinals. Brady was ridiculous all year, and led that guy to the top seed. I was stuck all year playing matchups with Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger. Anyway, Brady faced the Jets, had 140 yards and 0 TDs (only the 3rd time he had less than 3 TDs that year), and the guy I was facing, plus thousands of other Brady owners, didn't even make it to their championship game. This year, you were much better off to build your team with Demaryius Thomas, Antonio Brown, DeMarco Murray, Jeremy Maclin, Greg Olsen, etc, then take a Matt Ryan, Tony Romo, Ben Roethlisberger, or Russell Wilson as your QB, or find 2 to platoon. As always, buidling the deepest roster in football works best. In my worst week, I'm still fighting for a championship because I was lucky enough to have all of those guys listed above, plus Randall Cobb, Mark Ingram, and Big Ben. Had I taken Rodgers, I'd have not had nearly the depth that I have. Teams that take a QB early tend to be a little too reliant upon those QBs, and leave themselves open to getting burned. All it takes is one bad week.

    As always, I went a little longer than I anticipated with my open, so I'll turn things over to you. There were many playoff berths clinched this weekend, and of course, your Bears continued with their drama, including Robbie Gould today questioning their decision to bench Cutler. What are your thoughts/grievences on what transpired this past week?

    RG: Brian, thank you for having me on for a guest appearance. I am sure many might remember me as a guy who used to write here from time to time. Some have said that I still do.

    As one who preaches brevity, it is now my time to be a hypocrite. Of course, that reason is the Chicago Bears.

    The Chicago Bears are an organizational failure. I supported the Trestman hire. I was tired of Lovie Smith and his ability to coach just average enough to never give the Bears an edge on the sideline. His fear of failure on 4th down and his inability to ever challenge the right play along with his nothing press conferences left me wanting more. I was okay with going off the board. It is normally hard to sell me on stuff like that. For instance, I hated the Shea McCellin pick (patting myself on the back while crying the whole time). I thought Phil Emery might be just a good personnel guy in general that had too much of a propensity to get "cute." Well, bears aren't good when they are cute, the Bears are good when they are instilling fear. You know, acting like Bears. Unfortunately, I think both of the main culprits for the Bears downfall have proven that they are not one of top 32 men (or women, but long hair alone makes the Old Boys Club nervous, and let's just not get into mammary glands) at doing those jobs.

    Trestman is a guy who is the same during every game as he has been in previous NFL stops. For all the talk about what he did with Rich Gannon (true) and Steve Young (credit blown out of proportion), his offenses have gotten worse after the first year he has installed his offense. Everyone remembers how good the offense looked last year and it is quite obvious how bad it is this year. In short, they have stopped throwing it up for their slow-ish, tall receivers. It seems as if Trestman is out of answers as soon as defenses take away the deep ball and force the ball short with zones, situational Cover 3s and the like. Forgetting the other problems, which I am going to get to, I wanted Trestman to at least show that he could put one part of the team together when everything else started falling apart. Like ordering at restaurants (for instance, don't order salad at the place called BBQ Al's Pork Palace), I wanted Trestman to prove he could give the team an aspect that could still be good. He couldn't. The last four weeks have been about hoping that the team had hit rock bottom with the next event proving that it had not.

    The erosion of the defense and special teams has been sad, but not that surprising. The lack of good drafts from the Angelo Era still haunts the middle and bottom of the order. The team has overpaid free agents in attempt to stay relevant. Most notably, the Bears still haven't had a good safety since Mike Brown. The last one that was kind of good was Chris Harris, a guy who they refused to pay an extra million on the way out of town (I am choosing that one instead of the more embarrassing exits like Olin and Urlacher). Then, predictably, they ate crow and tried to bring Harris back once he was somewhat productive and used up somewhere else. More often than not, the Bears front office has been penny smart and pound foolish.

    That philosophy has led to a roster that has a lot of money at the top and not much at the bottom, much like Atlanta and New Orleans. How are those teams on overall talent level? A bit top-heavy, right? The Bears and Atlanta have similar structures but they don't have a quarterback functioning even close to the same level as Matt Ryan.

    As for Jay Cutler, a guy who I have defended in past, the results are getting worse. Yes, I still believe that Cutler can be a quarterback that wins a Super Bowl. I don't believe nor will ever believe that Cutler will be the reason for it. Jay is a guy who will force things and will force things even more when behind. Now, we have years of him getting hit and he is looking a lot like David Carr, except with a lot more arm strength and anticipation with his throws. His footwork is worse (thank you Mike Martz, the guy who secretly hates quarterbacks because his high school girlfriend didn't think chess club was cool). The rest of the organization and the team has to be in sync for it to work. It almost worked in 2010 and 2012, needing just a little more competence on the offensive line and overall talent on that side of the ball. I don't think most people realized that the Bears matched-up well in that 2010 NFC Championship Game and I still believe that they could have done it without a horrible call for an Earl Bennett end-around (Not a reverse, in fact, most "reverses" as they are called by broadcasters are end-arounds) and making Todd Collins the #2 quarterback on the depth chart. People who like to deride Cutler for his lack of toughness in that game forget that he could not come back as soon as Caleb Hanie handed off to Matt Forte with two plays left in the third quarter. Due to the third quarterback rule, enacted in 1981 and repealed in 2011 (shocking, right?), Cutler could not come back into the game even if he wanted to pull a Philip Rivers. Basically, Cutler could not return once the third quarterback took a snap before the third quarter was over. That was the rule. Six plays from Todd Collins and the prognosis on Cutler was enough for the Smith staff to be comfortable with the rule, if they thought of it.

    I don't care about body language. It is just a thing people use because Cutler is a current NFL media villain. He will never win this battle. If he screamed like Tom Brady does, then articles questioning his place to do so (since he is not a "winner," a completely useless and stupid term) would show up all over the place. While Cutler is not a sob story (he is a little too introverted to be a leader, his footwork sucks, he trusts him arm too much and doesn't use his lower body enough, he isn't shy about letting people know he doesn't trust them), he has been given almost no favors over time. At first, he had an out-dated OC and no line. Then, his OC was a line coach and, coincidentally, still had a bad line that that guy used to coach. Now, it seems his head coach is a one hit wonder who also doesn't control the team and doesn't have his back.

    This brings me to Aaron Kromer. I know a guy who see Kromer and other Bears in his restaurant. He told me of Kromer's family and his change in demeanor as the season went along. He told me Kromer is a good guy, a nice guy, trying to do something nobody seemed willing to do (a veiled shot at Emery and Trestman). I agree with his attempt at honesty. He just did it the wrong way. Unfortunately, those types of things can lead to job loss in the NFL. Trestman let Kromer off the hook and then benched Cutler. It was the last straw for the locker room.

    There are more and more rumors about the lack of control that Trestman has plus the lack of accountability when all the Emery and Trestman press conferences talk about "pulling it together." The team just allowed 80 points in two first halves (something that had happened before one of those types of pressers)! They each broke a record! You don't need the team to "pull it together." What the team needed was someone like Air Boss Johnson in "Top Gun," who wanted some butts after getting his tower buzzed. Robbie Gould, who has been called selfish in the past (though, not outwardly), now has blasted Trestman. The inmates are running asylum. There is nothing left and it seems that the best thing to do would be to re-furnish Halas Hall and pretend that the new renovation (Halas Hall really was renovated within the last 2 years) never took place.

    On the field, there isn't much left. Brandon Marshall says he wants to be a leader and stay. They will pay Alshon Jeffrey; who deserves it. Outside of a guy signed off the street (Mariani), the special teams doesn't have a guy who understands the rules of football. The defense is without a leader and the last remnants of the good defenses of the past will be gone once Charles Tillman (rumors say he wants one last hurrah, let's hope they don't pull an Olin on him) and Briggs (actually glad this is over) leave.

    The world I want would be to see if Big Shanny (his appearance on the football preview show was not a coincidence) could try it with Jay for 2 years while getting a safety while hoping that the defensive line (sign Jay Ratliff long term and give him some money) doesn't get killed by injuries again. Give up on Shea McClellin. Keep Bostic at weak side backer. Run the ball with Forte even if it doesn't work the first five times. I would like to see the offensive line get healthy, which is another thing that people haven't paid attention to throughout the Cutler drama. The Bears had a healthy line start all 16 games in 2013. This year, they have started 8 combinations. In my opinion, six of those combinations could be described as "bad" or "average."

    Sadly, it stinks to think that the more likely scenario is that the McCaskeys will be too cheap not to go with one more season of Emery and/or Trestman, even if there is no trust, man. In speaking with fellow members of the Chicago Bears fan base, we seem to agree that this year was the most disappointing one we could remember. When the Bears had Rick Mirer, Kordell Stewart and Jonathan Quinn Medicine Woman, we all knew that anything good from the offense was like a fartless room after a half dozen Al's Italian Beef sandwiches had been consumed. An unexpected delight, if you will. This year, though, we can see all the talent there. We aren't stupid fans. That's why we are more disgusted than ever. Trestman, Emery, Ted Phillips and the McCaskeys all dared to give us hope on offense while ignoring the rest of the team. That, my friends, is unforgivable.

    Oh yeah, get a real surface at Soldier Field. Then, I'll be okay with a NFL stadium hosting the Division 87 Iowa High School Football State Championship Game.

    ****************************END BEARS RANT*********************************

    RG: I feel better and now I get to talk about Andy Reid. I was fine with him going for it there against Pittsburgh. The problem was, of course, is that he ignored the run all game (I think it was 53 pass calls and 12 runs) and then called a run at the most obvious time to call a run. Plus, there wasn't a ton of misdirection on the play, just a counter with one kick-out block. I agree with TMQ that you have to do a little dance and call something a little funky if you want to run a short play design on a 4th and 1 in the modern NFL. The defensive linemen are simply too big and too fast now. I like reverse pitches to running backs, pistol options with a TE leaking on package plays, quarterback rolls and hand-offs with big fat linemen leading to one way while the play is going the other way.

    I moved away from the Browns game more once Manziel was hurt. I think that he hasn't changed a single thing that I felt about him. His in-pocket numbers were good in college but had the problem of throwing the ball up to Mike Evans and giving up on said pocket too early. The start of last week's game did him no favors and he didn't look that much better before getting hurt. Of course, the Panthers held the ball for about 10.5 of the first 12 minutes of the game, scoring a few points. Manziel, however, finally had a play where he looked "NFL" on a post pattern down the field. Still, it is just not enough to like a lot and it IS just enough for detractors to hate him more. That's fine, but everyone knew of the pocket issue coming out of college. How about trying some one reads early with some screens and hitches and moving to roll-outs with two reads later in the game? I have not seen the Browns try that yet. It will be smart of the Browns to get another guy who could be an option once Hoyer takes the job in Houston after Cutler is traded to the Titans. Of course, I am implying that Jake Locker isn't a bad gamble for Cleveland.

    *DROPS KEYBOARD, WALKS AWAY FROM COMPUTER WITH SENSE OF SELF-SATISFIED JOY*

    Hey, h, Brian, I hope yo don't need me to write any more 's dring the rest of the article. I broke my keyboard. How abot giving some thoghts abot the games that matter this week while I by a new keyboard?


    BW: Um, yeah. You know a bit of my sports background, and of course, that background includes being a childhood fan of the Bears (I also liked the Steelers, but Walter Payton threw it over the top for me, and I hung with them for awhile). I don't follow them nearly as closely now, but still always root for them, except for the once-in-4-years they're playing Pittsburgh. Everything you say makes complete sense, and I find no fault with any of it. I don't necessarily think Big Shanny is the answer, but I think you're on the right track by wanting an established coach with a good track record and strong discipline. You can be Nebraska and hire the opposite just for the sake of hiring the opposite, or you can hire the opposite because it's exactly what's needed. In Chicago, they need an authoritative figure at HC.

    For a quick update on my fantasy team, in all lower case and ending with a period, I'll throw out the word-- championship. I'm going zero caps there for a reason. Ended up clawing back after that long Jeremy Hill TD to win by 3. However, Hill would have received 2 bonus points had he gone over 150. When Cincy got the ball back late, up 9, and lined up to run, I knew that 17 yards would hand me a 1 point loss. 1st play, they give it to him, he breaks free into the open field... and takes a knee after a 14 yard pickup. They kneel, I win. Beat my old college roommate, a guy I've been friends with since we were in elementary school, on that play. What a crappy way to lose, and while I'm certainly happy to win, I wish it had come on a Demaryius TD, and not on that. Harkens back to the Brian Westbrook knee at the 1-yard line vs. the Cowboys in championship week 16. Westbrook was a 1st round pick, and cost many teams a championship with that decision. That was also the year of my 1st championship (Westbrook had no impact), but now I know what it feels like to benefit from something like that. There's joy, but that joy is a bit tempered at the moment.

    (Turns out my math was a bit off, and we would have ended tied, giving me the win due to having Latavius Murray as my tie-breaker. Either way, it was a Festivus Miracle!!!)

    I do feel that I need to mention that it was great to see Cam Newton on the field this weekend, and playing well. The Panthers were not good this year, despite still being alive for a playoff spot, but it's not been his fault. This has not been his best year, but quietly he's still been quite solid, and is clearly maturing into a very good leader, and a quality QB. There's still a major question mark regarding the shelf-life/relevance of these hybrid QBs, but Newton is proving to be continually effective (if still developing) and mostly durable. Guys like Kaepernick and Griffin are showing that maybe they don't have staying power (still way too early on RGIII), but it's looking like Cam is going to have a chance to be a successful QB for a long time. If the Panthers sneak into the playoffs at 7-8-1, they could be a tough out, at least for that wild card game.


    Week 17
    With Cincinnati's huge confidence-boosting win against the left-for-dead Broncos (is Peyton Manning's career finally and officially deteriorating, or is it just me?) only two spots remain open. I'd love to see Carolina grab one of those two spots, but by having to travel to Atlanta and take on an on fire Matt Ryan, it's tough to see the Panther defense slowing the Falcon offense down enough to win that game. In the AFC, I think Kansas City pulls off what they couldn't quite accomplish last year, and knocks off the Chargers. That leaves the door open for Baltimore, who gets a bit of a scare, but will ultimately defeat the Connor Shaws.

    In the division championship games, I'm already taking Atlanta, and I'll take the other two home teams as well. Those results would set Pittsburgh up for the gauntlet, and as a fan, it's exactly what I want. Steelers get the 3, face #6 Baltimore in the WC, travel to #2 Denver the next week, then get #1 New England in the AFC Championship Game. I can think of no better road...

    In the NFC, Dallas is the team shaping up as the dangerous out. Unless Seattle loses to St. Louis, or GB-Detroit ends in a tie, they're locked into that 3rd seed, and a likely matchup with the Cardinals. Their possible road of traveling to Green Bay and Seattle appears to be a tougher test than what Pittsburgh could possibly see in the AFC, but for a team like the Cowboys and Tony Romo, there's no better way to beat the demons than to finally win a playoff game in Lambeau, then beat the vaunted Seahawks defense in their crib.

    I'm not saying that Pittsburgh and Dallas will meet in Arizona, I'm just saying that for each of those teams, the possible storybook is setting up rather nicely.


    RG: Finishing with the Bears, the main point I have here is that they tried something and it did not work. Plus, the way it didn't work out is one of the swiftest, ugliest spirals I can remember Chicago having. This has been a case of the fearsome Robert Downey Jr. Rule. Yes, like trying coke and meth on the same night, the Bears went out of the box with their thinking. Unfortunately, if they don't get the proper people in time, they are going to lose about ten years.

    Fantasy football for me was much like the Eagles season. Yes, I did poorly with our dynasty league here, but I knew I was going to have to build from the ground up after selecting Eli Manning and Trent Richardson last year. In my money leagues, I lost in the semis of one where one guy was lucky enough to takes back-to-back picks at the end of the first round. Those names? DeMarco Murray and Le'Veon Bell. I was the second-highest scoring team in the league and lost 191-145 in the semis. He won the championship with about the same score (We only play a 13 week regular season, something I like, actually). In my other league I care about, I lost consecutive win and ins. Not horrible, but just moving on.

    BW: I agree with your 13 week comment. We do that in my home league, and it's something I brought to the dynasty league as well. We do 6 playoff teams, and avoid week 17. The one argument against all that could be that 60% of teams make the playoffs, but I've found that helps to avoid tanking.

    Week 17-RG:I find myself liking Cam Newton more and more. I have been critical of him in the past, not liking his attitude along with a few other things. Well, he is now a man. He was always built like a great man, but I now think he has become a great man. He was playing well early in the season and things were going alright until injuries hit and proved that he had nothing by himself and an amazing rookie at his disposal. I find myself rooting for him this week for the first time that I can remember. Having one healthy talented running back has helped immensely. JStew has 352 yards during their three game winning streak. I can see an argument that supports the Panthers in being in the playoffs. They did tie Cincy. I also like that he is a guy that doesn't take medication in the modern NFL. Talk about a unique idea. Then, he came back something like 12 days after a roll-over accident. He's tough, he is proving he is a leader and he is getting to be a smarter quarterback. If this is the Cam Newton we will see for the next five years, I'll be very happy that I was wrong about him.

    I know that no team from the NFC South really deserves a spot in the playoffs, but I think the Panthers can stake a bit better claim to being there than Atlanta. The Falcons sacked Drew Brees five times last week after spending a season ranked 31st in pressure rate and dead last in sack rate, going into last week with 14 sacks all season. I think it is fair to say that the race for LVT (Least Valuable Team) in the NFC is between Chicago and New Orleans with Washington in a distant third.

    Lastly, I just don't need to see another Mike Smith How Not to Coach Clinic in the playoffs. I'd rather see a guy like Riverboat Ron who dropped out of Mike Smith's class; not turning in his final.

    More Week 17 Rambles-RG: For the other week 17 games, there is one thing that makes the Cincy-Pittsburgh game interesting. First, unless I am missing something, the Bengals could get the second seed if Denver loses. Yes, they play the Raiders, so chances are slim, but the scenario is there after they forced Peyton Manning into his first four interception game since December 5, 2010 against the Cowboys. I suppose they could get it with some tie scenarios, but can we just ignore those, please? The Steelers are just in the playoffs with the third or fourth seed if they win. If they lose, they will be the fifth or sixth seed.

    BW: Steelers vs. Bengals determines the 3 and the 5 seed. The only caveat is if Denver loses to Oakland. In that case, a Cincinnati win would give them the better 11-4-1 record over Denver's 11-5. Pittsburgh loses a tie-breaker to the Broncos, so the best they can do is #3. Doesn't matter much, though, as Denver is dead man walking at this point.

    RG: I am rooting for the Connor Shaws because that does open the door for the scenario of J.J. Watt making the playoffs, thus invalidating that argument that he doesn't get MVP because the Texans QB situation has been horribad. Mike Pettine says that Shaw's best attribute is his "competitiveness." In other words, "This guy stinks and it would be hilarious if we won with him." It's almost as funny as Rex Grossman saying "no" to playing while spending time with the in-laws. Now, the chances are slim there, too, but with the Ravens signing everyone off the street (check your mailbox to be sure, by the way) just to field a team lately, crazy things could occur. After that, they just need Andy Reid and the Smiths (sounds like a bad 70s rock cover band) to beat the Chargers. While, again, it is tough to bet against Philip Rivers doing anything, it is out there.

    RG: Before I give the Ryan Lindley eulogy, do you have any final thoughts?

    BW: From the guy who picked Arizona to beat Seattle? I probably don't deserve a final thought. But at least Lindley's wife is apparently a good athlete, meaning there's still hope if they have kids. The floor is yours, my friend.

    RG: I'd just like to give a shoutout to Ryan Lindley for what might be the worst 225 pass career in NFL history. It really is something to behold. 111-225, 49.3%, 998 yards, 4.43 yards per attempt, an NFL record 0 touchdowns with 8 interceptions. Plus, there was about 20 dropped picks in those 225 throws. I think the Seattle defensive backs started dropping picks on Sunday because they felt they were too easy.

    For comparison, Ryan Leaf went 111-245, 45.3%, 1289 yards, 5.26 yards per attempt, 2 touchdowns and 15 interception in his rookie season.

    Look, the argument is close, but Lindley has had three years to try to hone his craft (which, at this point, I assume is landscape engineering). Remember, Lindley is doing this in the best quarterback environment in NFL history. No matter how you feel, it is obvious that no one wins in this battle of Ryans.

    Thank you again for the opportunity to come over to Zone Blitz and vent. It was an honor be here and I hope you gents reach out to me again. One last thing: Ignore that elaborate trap that set for your car as it leaves the FP parking lot. Don't go to the left. Does that mean I want you to go left or right? Actually, the answer doesn't matter, I just dug a 75 foot hole that extends 50 feet out and around your car. Hope you get home for the holidays.

    Comments 30 Comments
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      The NFL has waived all blackouts for week 17. All markets will get doubleheaders in both afternoon time slots.

      https://nfllabor.files.wordpress.com...ex-final-3.pdf
    1. Bengals1181's Avatar
      Connor Shaw is going to ball out. Dude throws a pretty deep ball, and has two deep ball threats in Cameron and Gordon, against a very suspect Ravens secondary.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      I just..., just....... could not help myself.

    1. brauneyz's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Sullivan View Post
      I just..., just....... could not help myself.



      Somebody's getting in the mood for Sunday.
    1. hobbes27's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Sullivan View Post
      The NFL has waived all blackouts for week 17. All markets will get doubleheaders in both afternoon time slots.

      https://nfllabor.files.wordpress.com...ex-final-3.pdf
      Okay someone needs to explain this to me. Why was Carolina-Atlanta moved to a late game? The only early game of note that Fox has is Dallas and Washington. They have a ton of good late games. Detroit-Green Bay, Arizona-San Francisco, St Louis-Seattle.

      The winner of the Carolina-Atlanta game has zero effect on the playoff picture for the other NFC teams, since its a battle for the #4 seed. So logically that should be an early game. I know the NFL with this scheduling wants teams are battling for similar playoff position to be on at the same time, I get that. But I still don't get moving the Carolina-Atlanta game.

      I am in Los Angeles. Right now, my early game choices are Eagles-Giants (Fox) and Chargers-Chiefs (CBS). Why would I watch the Eagles-Giants game, unless I was a die hard fan of either team or a fantasy football degenerate? I think the NFL has done Fox a disservice.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by hobbes27 View Post
      Okay someone needs to explain this to me. Why was Carolina-Atlanta moved to a late game? The only early game of note that Fox has is Dallas and Washington. They have a ton of good late games. Detroit-Green Bay, Arizona-San Francisco, St Louis-Seattle.

      The winner of the Carolina-Atlanta game has zero effect on the playoff picture for the other NFC teams, since its a battle for the #4 seed. So logically that should be an early game. I know the NFL with this scheduling wants teams are battling for similar playoff position to be on at the same time, I get that. But I still don't get moving the Carolina-Atlanta game.

      I am in Los Angeles. Right now, my early game choices are Eagles-Giants (Fox) and Chargers-Chiefs (CBS). Why would I watch the Eagles-Giants game, unless I was a die hard fan of either team or a fantasy football degenerate? I think the NFL has done Fox a disservice.
      CAR@ATL - at the time the decision regarding TV coverage had to be made - was the only sure fire "win or go home" game of the week. I would guess that played a big part.

      As for PHI@NYG, you got hosed.

      EDIT: According to 506sports.com, you get DAL@WAS. That site is often more accurate than the guide put out by your TV provider.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar



    1. hobbes27's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Sullivan View Post
      CAR@ATL - at the time the decision regarding TV coverage had to be made - was the only sure fire "win or go home" game of the week. I would guess that played a big part.

      As for PHI@NYG, you got hosed.
      Actually I realized they moved Jacksonville-Houston over to Fox and that might be a game of interest, since Houston still has a chance of making the playoffs. So Fox has two games of interest as early games (Dal-Wash and Jax-Hou).

      I just think Fox loses out big time in its early game. Actually its probably Fox screwing itself here, since I am sure they get to decide what to air as an early game in the LA market. Apparently they feel like the Phil-NYG game is going to be the biggest draw in LA. Why? I have no clue. There aren't a ton of Eagles and Giants fans here.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by hobbes27 View Post
      Actually I realized they moved Jacksonville-Houston over to Fox and that might be a game of interest, since Houston still has a chance of making the playoffs. So Fox has two games of interest as early games (Dal-Wash and Jax-Hou).

      I just think Fox loses out big time in its early game. Actually its probably Fox screwing itself here, since I am sure they get to decide what to air as an early game in the LA market. Apparently they feel like the Phil-NYG game is going to be the biggest draw in LA. Why? I have no clue. There aren't a ton of Eagles and Giants fans here.
      The 506sports maps I just posted show you getting Cowboys @ Redskins. Those guys are usually spot on.
    1. hobbes27's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Sullivan View Post
      The 506sports maps I just posted show you getting Cowboys @ Redskins. Those guys are usually spot on.
      Yeah I saw that. Both my cable provider and tv guide is still showing Giants-Eagles as the game on Sunday. But that probably hasn't been updated.

      And the local fox station is still showing Eagles-Giants as the early game.http://www.myfoxla.com/category/239391/tv-schedule
    1. Nancy's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by hobbes27 View Post
      Okay someone needs to explain this to me. Why was Carolina-Atlanta moved to a late game? The only early game of note that Fox has is Dallas and Washington. They have a ton of good late games. Detroit-Green Bay, Arizona-San Francisco, St Louis-Seattle.

      The winner of the Carolina-Atlanta game has zero effect on the playoff picture for the other NFC teams, since its a battle for the #4 seed. So logically that should be an early game. I know the NFL with this scheduling wants teams are battling for similar playoff position to be on at the same time, I get that. But I still don't get moving the Carolina-Atlanta game.

      I am in Los Angeles. Right now, my early game choices are Eagles-Giants (Fox) and Chargers-Chiefs (CBS). Why would I watch the Eagles-Giants game, unless I was a die hard fan of either team or a fantasy football degenerate? I think the NFL has done Fox a disservice.
      Isn't it usually my job to whine about what games I'm getting, since they never show my Midwestern teams here, and I'm too cheap to buy Sunday Ticket? The Panthers and Falcons are playing for the division title, but I agree--there are a lot of good late games, and not much earlier in the day. It does give me more time to get stuff done before settling in for a big 4:00 game followed by my Bengals on (gasp) SNF, though, so I'm in favor.

      I find myself liking Cam Newton more and more.
      Glad to see my man Cam getting a little bit of love around here. I think he just needed some time to grow up a little--some guys never figure it out, but it looks like Cam is starting to. And, y'all, he is one tough hombre, as we used to say. Gets the living crapola beaten out of him every week, and just keeps coming back for more. Hell of a lot of fun to watch, even if the Panthers overall are so often unwatchable.

      JStew has 352 yards during their three game winning streak. I can see an argument that supports the Panthers in being in the playoffs. T
      I have said for years that the Panthers are a different team when he's healthy. They need a lot of other working parts to be competitive, but Jonathan Stewart is a force. I don't think the Panthers can slow down Atlanta enough to win Sunday, but their best chance is probably using Stewart and Tolbert (and Newton) on the ground to just keep the blasted D off the field. The Panthers are not a good team, but still...it's nice to be in the playoff chase. Actually, it's more than nice: it's a freaking miracle.
    1. edave's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Sullivan View Post
      I just..., just....... could not help myself.

      Apparently "Pure Michigan" is not an exportable product.
    1. edave's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by hobbes27 View Post
      Actually I realized they moved Jacksonville-Houston over to Fox and that might be a game of interest, since Houston still has a chance of making the playoffs. So Fox has two games of interest as early games (Dal-Wash and Jax-Hou).

      I just think Fox loses out big time in its early game. Actually its probably Fox screwing itself here, since I am sure they get to decide what to air as an early game in the LA market. Apparently they feel like the Phil-NYG game is going to be the biggest draw in LA. Why? I have no clue. There aren't a ton of Eagles and Giants fans here.
      According to league reasoning Fox wins because they don't lose a game with a lot of advertising sales. The game moved to SNF was initially a CBS game and FOX also picked up the Houston game.

      I'm still not entirely sure how the new cross flexing rules work. Having games on different networks is a new wrinkle that everyone is getting used to (including the league and networks).

      FOX initially had Green Bay early but flex rules allowed the NFL to move the game to increase the audience size.

      Don't count on anything before Friday most weeks in the LA market, especially as the end of the season approaches. Local listings are especially bad at being out of date.

      The506 was (and still is) a great, nearly live mashup of the best available live schedule feeds. Zap2It is a more traditional listing site based on the same data (more or less).
    1. edave's Avatar
      I see I crossed streams on Bears topics ...

      Quote Originally Posted by Rich Gapinski View Post
      Oh yeah, get a real surface at Soldier Field. Then, I'll be okay with a NFL stadium hosting the Division 87 Iowa High School Football State Championship Game.
      Is there any reason aside from money that pushed Chicago to allow the city Parks and Rec Department to run the field? I cringe when I think of the spike they found sticking out of the field during the early season visit in 2011. That place is a death trap maintained by people who do not care.
    1. Brian Williams's Avatar
      Should a WR be considered for MVP?
    1. Brian Williams's Avatar
      The educational experience of following the Bengal thread throughout this game has been a valuable one.
    1. Bengals1181's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Brian Williams View Post
      The educational experience of following the Bengal thread throughout this game has been a valuable one.
      how so?
    1. hobbes27's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Brian Williams View Post
      Should a WR be considered for MVP?
      Its harder to justify a WR as MVP, because they don't impact the game as much as a RB or QB can.
    1. Bengals1181's Avatar
      wow, they actually gave Suh a suspension.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Bengals1181 View Post
      wow, they actually gave Suh a suspension.
      /shakes head

      This all but seals the team's fate against that Cowboys offensive line and running game.