• Blitz Picks 2015: Week Sixteen


    Welcome to the "Bowl Edition" of the Blitz Picks. It is the time of the year for college bowl games and holiday travel, so Brian and I wish you a wonderfully fun and safe holiday time. So, this week will be abbreviated. We will return in earnest for the final week of the regular season.

    IT COMES IN THREES

    1) Assuming the current seeds, predict the results of the NFC playoffs.

    RG: Okay, this is fun. I haven't gotten to see how this actually plays out yet. So, as I normally do with these types of questions, I will go game-by-game.

    -#5 Seattle def. #4 Washington: By the time this game begins, Russell Wilson may be on a streak of 25 touchdown passes without an interception thrown. Of course, the Redskins are on quite a streak of their own. Kirk Cousins has only thrown 2 interceptions in the last five games to go with 12 touchdowns. However, the last good team the Redskins team played was the Panthers. The offense had 5 turnovers in that one. Seattle dominates 30-13.

    -#3 Green Bay def. #6 Minnesota: We already saw how this game will play out. The Packers will find their offense and the Vikings will struggle. I can't see why things would play out any differently this time around. Green Bay wins 31 to 10.

    -#1 Carolina def. #5 Seattle. The Seahawks will run into the team that is a better version of itself. I expect this is to be decided by the quarterbacks as Cam Newton partially puts a crown on his MVP season. The Seahawks are game for them, but come up short on the road. The first of our "pretender" picks from a few weeks ago falls. Carolina wins 27-23.

    -#2 Arizona def. #3 Green Bay. Oh, hey, stagnant Packers offense! We missed you!. I know, I know, you were only gone for one week, but still... The Cardinals show a pretty good Green Bay defense how the Packers offense could look like under Bruce Arians. Yes, the Packers have had major injuries, but I truly feel that the Cardinals are the version of their offense they wish they could be. Arizona wins 35-26.

    -#2 Arizona def. #1 Carolina. I would have more confidence with this pick if the Cardinals didn't lose their most versatile defender for the season during SNF, but I still think the dynamic offense they have will be enough for them to prevail. Barely. I can envision a game pretty similar to the game we just saw this last weekend in New York. Well, without all the fighting. So, I'll flip the score. Arizona wins 38-35 as Carolina becomes the first team to start a season 14-0 and not make the Super Bowl.

    BW: The question does clearly state that we should assume current seeds, and I’ll play along, but considering Seattle’s trip to Arizona in week 17 where both teams may still have something to play for, and considering the Vikings could be playing a Packers team that will be resting starters, I’ll say there’s a 25-30% chance Minnesota ends up as the 5 and Seattle the 6, which could change things drastically.

    As is, and especially considering that Washington appears likely to finish at or above .500, I think that I have to agree with much of what you’ve written above. Seattle is playing well enough to take down Washington, though that game could be closer than we think. As well as the passing game is clicking, the Seahawks need Lynch back to help them find that second dimension offensively in order to have a realistic chance to run the table. For Washington, Jordan Reed is the perfect player to expose Seattle’s biggest defensive weakness which is their relative inability to cover the TE. Yes, Green Bay would beat Minnesota (possibly the only team I think they’d beat in the playoffs), and I agree that Carolina and Arizona would advance past the Seahawks and Packers.

    Where we disagree is in the NFC Championship game. Whether they stay undefeated or not, I think the Panthers are the best team in the NFC, especially considering the loss of top 5 DPOY candidate Tyrann Mathieu for the Cardinals. I think Carolina is better suited to slow down the Cardinal passing game more than Arizona is suited to slow down the Panther passing game, especially minus the Honey Badger. And while I like David Johnson at RB, the combination of Jonathan Stewart and Cam Newton on the ground is nasty for a defense to have to deal with. With Cam’s running ability, the Panthers have more outs if one facet of their offense is out of sync. For Arizona, if Palmer is off, I can’t see the Cardinals grinding out a win over Carolina. Top to bottom, Arizona may be the best team in football, but Carolina will finish the deal and represent the NFC in Super Bowl 50.


    2) What should have happened to Odell Beckham Jr.? Give me a Blame Rankings.

    RG: I am a harsh judge, I guess. While the one game suspension was good enough for most of the opinion out there, I wanted more. I wanted two games for Beckham and one for Norman. I saw the whole game and was paying attention to the end of all of the plays. For the first half, they are both to blame and I think the extra blows to the head later in the game (targeting in the NCAA, by the way, an immediate ejection) deserve an extra game for Beckham. I want one game each or their combined actions, perhaps giving a deterrent to all players and I wanted one more game for Beckham for the extra brutality. As for blame, I'll go with:

    -1. Beckham: There is absolutely no excuse to act the way he did. He was guilty of roughing, unsportsmanlike conduct and spearing in what was about a 4 play sequence. Two of those could get a person thrown out of separate games if committed in different games. Brad Wing was quoted saying that he has seen behavior like this from Beckham before. So, um, this is normal? Let's just hope he doesn't smoke weed like Josh Gordon did, or he really could be in trouble.

    -2. The officials: They should have taken control of the game by tossing both players in the first half. The teams, coaches and players might have had reason to listen if each team had lost the best player each had on one side of the ball (arguable for Norman, sure, but still a message). The way they handled the game was too lax, something that could lead to a Van Gundy grasping some legs. They talked to each coach and presumably gave warnings in the first half. Then, about a half dozen called personal fouls and about 22 uncalled penalties occurred after the warnings. There can be no learning if a parent doesn't follow through on threats.

    -3. Josh Norman: It's one thing to get under one's skin, but he absolutely perpetuated a lot of the activity when he could have walked away. He is not shy from that kind of football, engaging in very physical affairs with Julio Jones and Dez Bryant. Yes, there is some brilliance in the idea that talk could from Norman could get the best opposing player of of the game whether by penalty or mental control. However, sometimes it is unwise to poke a bear. One key aspect to being in control is knowing when to back off.

    -4. Tom Coughlin: If he took him out for a series or something, perhaps some of it could have been mitigated. For a guy with a reputation of being a tough coach, Coughlin looked rather meek in a situation he had to have some ability to control.

    BW: More games would have never happened, but I wouldn’t have been opposed. We are hearing people complain about Cam Newton’s antics and how he sends the wrong message to kids—you know, because we don’t want kids to think football is fun—but the NFL was forced to take a stand against Beckham. Let’s be real, had Reuben Randle pulled even half of what Beckham did, he would have been ejected by the end of the 1st quarter. It was a clear case of the refs supposedly warning each team, but refusing to do anything about it because they didn’t want to alter the balance of the game by kicking out a star player. That feels like a directive from the league, though I’m sure the league wasn’t factoring in anything to the degree of what went on Sunday when making that decree.

    1. Beckham: Really, this is the only one that matters. As a society, we make way too many excuses for people and their actions. Norman was no saint on Sunday, but that type of stuff is in many ways standard nowadays. That doesn’t make what he did right, but many DBs and WRs will jaw back and forth, stretch the rules as much as they can, and battle beyond the completion of the play, including occasionally drawing a flag. Again, this isn’t right, but it’s become part of the game. Beckham allowed Norman to get into his head right from the start, and completely lost control. You can’t blatantly target an opponent’s head under any circumstance. His actions were reckless and selfish, much like getting away with taunting after the TD by stepping intentionally over Norman. Beckham is quickly gaining a reputation as a selfish player, and now DBs around the league are aware that they can get into his head.

    2. Josh Norman: His job is partly to get under Beckham's skin and make him lose control. Mission accomplished.

    3. The officials: Ditto to everything you said.

    4. Coughlin: First and foremost, Coughlin was hired to win games. He's now long past the need to bench/suspend a bad apple who happens to help him significantly on the football field. But sometimes coach dad has to step in. He didn’t, which passively condoned every last one of Beckham’s actions, even if Coughlin played tough to the media after the game. This is the first time Beckham has hit this extreme, but it’s not his first sign of selfish immaturity. Had Coughlin nipped that behavior in the bud immediately, what happened Sunday probably never escalates beyond standard fare. Now had Beckham fumbled, Coughlin would have been forced to take a stand. Fumbling is unforgiveable.

    5. Eli: If no one else will do anything, grab the dude by the facemask and tell him to stop hurting the team. Peyton would have done it. I know it’s not his style, but still…


    3) There have been eight single-season 2,000 yard rushers in league history. No receiver has ever caught that many yards, though five have eclipsed 1,700 yards. How soon will it be when the amount of 1,700 yard receivers is more than 2,000 yard rushers? When will we get a 2,000 yard receiver?

    RG: We aren't far away from the first 2,000 yard wide receiver. I think it could happen next year if Antonio Brown gets a fully healthy year from Ben Roethlisberger. It is that thought that brought this question to my mind. Until recently, it was simply too hard to see a wide receiver to be so dominant that he could possibly get 50% of his team passing yards. It wasn't too long ago when a 3,000 yard season was the threshold for good quarterbacks.

    It's 4,000 now and may be even higher soon. There have been 43 passing seasons of forty-five hundred yards or more. Want to know how many have occurred since 2009? 26. That fact alone makes Dan Marino's 5,000 yard campaign in 1984 even more ridiculous. It's a lot more reasonable to think that a receiver could get to the point where he is catching 40% of the team passing yards. Maybe the big number for receivers will go to 1,800 (2-Rice, Megatron) or 1,900 (1-Megatron), but 1,700 does seem like a good number to be at right now.

    With Brown and Julio Jones over 1,540 this season, it seems reasonable that the number of 1,700 yard receivers will get to seven after a couple more weeks. This is a number we will have to re-visit, but I am okay with being at 1,700 for now.

    BW: 1700 is fair for now, but the answer is likely next year, and within the next decade, the number of 1700 receivers should far outweigh the number of 2000 yard rushers. Despite Adrian Peterson’s ridiculous season from a couple of years ago (which we may look at as being even more impressive than what Marino accomplished in 1984), 2000 is a number that will be tough for any RB to obtain again. It’s still tough to say that we’ll eventually end up with more 2000 yard receivers than rushers at some point, but I do think that we’ll see a 2000 yard receiver within the next 5 years. Assuming health, Roethlisberger and Brown are by far and away the most likely duo to hit that figure at present, because as Brown proved on Sunday, no single player can cover him, and the Steelers have way too many weapons to be able to double-team him on a consistent basis. The amazing thing is, if you take out the 4 full games Roethlisberger missed, AB is averaging 135.1 yards per game, which would put him at 2161 for a complete season. So yes, they’re more than capable of accomplishing the feat. Otherwise, I’m not sure the QB is in the league yet, though the WR might be. Give Bill O’Brien a franchise QB in Houston, and it’s scary to think what he could do when paired with DeAndre Hopkins.


    FANTASY MINUTE

    BW: Unless you're in one of those leagues that has their championship in week 17 (not a fan), this is your championship week. If you've made the championship, remember that you've done this. You've gotten yourself to this point. And it's all because you're good enough, you're smart enough, and dog-gone it, people like you. Fantasy football champions are 73% better looking than normal folk. Food tastes better when you're at the top. Go get 'em, champ.

    Oh, and to Odell Beckham, thanks a lot. There will be lots of fantasy football championships lost because he decided to act like a blockhead.

    THE PICKS

    Thursday, Dec. 24
    Chargers at Raiders, 8:25 p.m.- The Eskimo Brothers Stadium Bowl. Will the Chargers end up living in the Raiders old home while a new one for them and the Rams is being built in Los Angeles? I really hope they find an actual eye patch still sitting in one of the locker rooms. PICK: (OAK 6-1)

    Saturday, Dec. 26
    Redskins at Eagles, 8:25 p.m.- The Seattle Beatdown Bowl. The team who comes out of this game victorious is likely to face the Seahawks in the first round of the playoffs. It’s a good thing that the winner of this division is not likely to get awarded. Thank you Football Gods. PICK: (PHI 4-3)

    Sunday, Dec. 27
    Panthers at Falcons, 1 p.m.- The Remember When Bowl. See, about a year ago, the Falcons lost a tough game to the Packers 43-37, but the Falcons had a shot at the division. The Panthers sat at 4-8-1 after that week while the Falcons fell to 5-8. They lost two of the last three, including the season-ending 34-3 roll-over to the same Panthers, giving them the division over the Saints. Basically, Atlanta was one game away from the playoffs and the Panthers haven’t lost a regular season game since then. PICK: (CAR 6-1)

    Cowboys at Bills, 1 p.m.- BW: The Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer Bowl. Remember when everyone was picking on Rudolph and labeled him a misfit? Then the fog kicked in, and everyone realized how valuable Rudolph actually was? The Cowboys are the fog and Tony Romo is Rudolph. Sean Lee is Hermey the Elf. J.J. Watt isn't playing in this game, but he's Yukon Cornelius. PICK: (BUF 6-1)

    49ers at Lions, 1 p.m.- The Muddy and Sad Bowl. It just feels like this one should be played at Old Candlestick in the mud and rain to signify the seasons these teams have had. What will happen is a couple good performances from Matt Stafford to end the season. That will lead to many writing how next year might finally be his year. It won’t. Despite what I said above, this is probably still The Most Likely to Finish 0-0 Game of the Week. PICK: (DET 6-1)

    Browns at Chiefs, 1 p.m.- The Chewy Roar Bowl. That’s pretty much the best thing a Browns fan can do with their time now. Practice makes perfect and that tall guy in the furry Chewbacca suit is getting pretty old. The Browns have managed to lose 4 of the 5 games where their crappy defense actually forced 2+ turnovers. I don’t think that any team has ever had a five game losing streak and a ten game winning streak in the same season, but the Chiefs have a great chance to do that. The NFL is weird. PICK: (KC 7-0)

    Colts at Dolphins, 1 p.m.- The Pink Slip Bowl. After a month or so of rollercoaster weeks for the Dan Campbell-led Dolphins and a full year of disappointment from the Colts, I am not sure who is looking for a job first. Pagano probably goes when Grigson goes and the Dolphins will politely decline to interview Campbell, so I guess it makes sense for Pagano to officially be removed first. PICK: (MIA 4-3)

    Jaguars at Saints, 1 p.m.- The Can We Buy Your Coach Bowl. This one is for the Jaguars fans. I hear there is four of them now. That one couple had a baby and some random dude from Sweden recently doubled the brood. Anyway, those four people would really like for Sean Payton to get hold of this offense. The Jags offense has 60 plays of 20+ yards this season, more than anyone in football. PICK: (JAC 4-3)

    Patriots at Jets, 1 p.m.- BW: The Todd Bowles. See what I did there? Rex Ryan made a statement early in his tenure with the Jets by giving New England fits. Todd Bowles needs to do the same on Sunday if the Jets want to have any chance of advancing into the playoffs. PICK: (NE 6-1)

    Bears at Buccaneers, 1 p.m.- The Lovie Bowl. Maybe the league should let Love Smith combine the rosters in an attempt to make a competitive NFL team. The funniest thing about that scenario is that the defense would still suck. Still, the national media would love to see the shots of a benched Jay Cutler. PICK: (TB 5-2)

    Texans at Titans, 1 p.m.- The Awful Quarterback Bowl of the Week. The Texans had to get T.J. Yates injured in order to turn to Brandon Weeden to break a string of 25 drives without and offensive touchdown. Plus, that team now leads the division. Brandon Weeden may reach the playoffs faster than Ryan Tannehill. That's not a great accomplishment, but I don't have many actual accomplishments to pick from here. PICK: (HOU 6-1)

    Steelers at Ravens, 1 p.m.- BW: The Reverse Flex Bowl, Sponsored by Draftkings. This game wasn't good enough for NBC to keep in prime time, but that's not Pittsburgh's fault. Jimmy Clausen? Ryan Mallet? Doesn't matter. Stack the Steelers this week in your DFS lineups. PICK: (PIT 7-0)

    Packers at Cardinals, 4:25 p.m.- The Playoff Preview Bowl. See my comments above. I think the Cardinals will win this game and also beat Green Bay in the playoffs. The funny thing is that I really think the only quarterback who could make the Cardinals offense even better is Rodgers. His mobility and downfield accuracy would annihilate defenses when paired with the Arizona receivers. PICK: (ARZ 7-0)

    Rams at Seahawks, 4:25 p.m.- BW: The You Really Think Jeff Fisher and Case Keenum Can Go Into Seattle And Win Bowl? Didn't think so. PICK: (SEA 4-3)

    Giants at Vikings, 8:30 p.m.- The Thank Odell Bowl. If he had not messed up, a banged up Vikings secondary might have found a way to lose to Eli and the mercurial wideout. This game got a lot easier for Minnesota. At least we get one last look at Coughlin's rosy cheeks in this one. PICK: (MIN 5-2)

    Monday, Dec. 28
    Bengals at Broncos, 8:30 p.m.- The AFC West Bowl. There is absolutely no doubt that the Broncos now need this game to keep grips on the AFC West. Then again, they may want to go on the road against the AFC South winner instead of hosting the Chiefs or Steelers. Tank for the AFC Stank. Would you rather face Big Ben, Alex Smith or Brandon Weeden? Maybe Elway saw this all along. What a rascal. PICK: (DEN 4-3)

    WRITER'S VETO:RG: Well, we aren't going to get there. Kellen Moore wasn't able to save us last week. Of course, sticking with the plan of going against a "7-0" nets us a pretty obvious option this week. Our selection is between Johnny Foosball on the road versus a playoff team, a Clausening or Aaron Rodgers. I'll take Rodgers. The Packers will remind us for one last time that they are good, thus making the week 17 game between Arizona and Seattle much more interesting. Heck, I'll even call the winning touchdown going to Richard Rodgers, giving everyone a Xmas time Discount Double Rodgers for the win.

    LAST WEEK 12-4
    SEASON: 140-84 (62%)
    WRITER'S VETO: 3-7, 5 abstain
    UNANIMOUS: 41-15 (73%)

    Comments 5 Comments
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      The Rams are winning. The laws of physics state that Fischer must finish at 8-8. Also, the Rams are a bad matchup for the Seahawks. I think it has to do with Aaron Donald.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Charles Woodson is retiring.



      So there's that.

      Strike the pose, Wood.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Thursday, Dec. 24
      Chargers at Raiders, 8:25 p.m. (NFLN)

      Saturday, Dec. 26
      Redskins at Eagles, 8:25 p.m. (NFLN)

      Sunday, Dec. 27
      Panthers at Falcons, 1 p.m. (Fox)
      Cowboys at Bills, 1 p.m. (Fox)
      49ers at Lions, 1 p.m. (Fox)
      Browns at Chiefs, 1 p.m. (CBS)
      Colts at Dolphins, 1 p.m. (CBS)
      Giants at Vikings, 1 p.m. (Fox)
      Jaguars at Saints, 1 p.m. (CBS)
      Patriots at Jets, 1 p.m. (CBS)
      Bears at Buccaneers, 1 p.m. (Fox)
      Texans at Titans, 1 p.m. (CBS)
      Packers at Cardinals, 4:25 p.m. (Fox)
      Rams at Seahawks, 4:25 p.m. (Fox)
      Steelers at Ravens*, 8:30 p.m. (NBC)

      Monday, Dec. 28
      Bengals at Broncos, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
    1. Matt Kocsan's Avatar
      I am after the dash with a bunch of teams this week, some of whom I don't really know how I picked: Chargers, Skins, Cowboys, Colts, Titans, Bears, and Giants.

      Somehow, I think the Jets, Rams, and Browns are better upset plays than any of those and didn't pick any of them here. I was not drunk when I came to these conclusions or submitted my picks.
    1. Nancy's Avatar
      2. Josh Norman: His job is partly to get under Beckham's skin and make him lose control. Mission accomplished.
      This. Yeah, he could have walked away, but why would he? He was clearly getting in Beckham's head. Norman is playing well enough that he doesn't really need to do this, but it's a part of the game nowadays and he used Beckham's short fuse to his advantage. I shall not even feign impartiality here, but after watching the game, I didn't see any reason to eject Norman, unless you want to eject DBs all day every Sunday and probably Mondays and Thursdays as well.
      I'm honestly concerned that this garbage will be a distraction and the Panthers will lose stupidly to Atlanta. Stewart is out, and the team misses Benwikere, as was apparent last week. By the way, did anyone notice that Cortland Finnegan insinuated himself into several-to-many of the extra-curricular incidents in last week's game? Now there's a dude with a mouth on him.

      Pagano probably goes when Grigson goes and the Dolphins will politely decline to interview Campbell, so I guess it makes sense for Pagano to officially be removed first. PICK: (MIA 4-3)
      Is it too late for the Colts to sign Arians as their head coach? Grigson has failed utterly as a GM. He will not be missed. Pagano may get another head coaching gig at some point and will probably be better next time around, but it's time for the Colts to move on. This is kind of depressing, because not only does it mean the Colts are finished with winning for this season, but for next as well.