It ain’t over ’til it’s over , but now it’s over, so deal with it ….
All season long in the NFL , friends and fellow bloggers alike have been suggesting the league has entertaining with the results mirroring the competitive brand of football being played . Week sixteen provided us with a league-wide set of games which either sank to the levels of sheer ineptitude or the highest of highs, with some spectacular performances . Several teams have been “knocked out of the box” and have become “cannon fodder” for the media after their woefully inept showings over the course of this season.
The hype which surrounded Johnny Manziel because of his incredible collegiate career with Texas A&M might well have been justified , but once you enter the NFL , you simply start with a clean slate and where the only intangible one possesses, is leadership and maturity. Unfortunately , Manziel has yet to show any of the traits in question, since being drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the 2014 NFL Draft. Never was that more evident than with Manziel’s performance in the Browns’ week fifteen contest against their divisional and conference rivals the Cincinnati Bengals . Cleveland was “shut out” in a lopsided contest where head coach Mike Pettine had no explanation for his team’s sheer ineptitude . The finger-pointing has already began , with many question why Pettine chose to sit Cleveland’s incumbent starting quartertback Brian Hoyer , who had shown a great deal of leadership and competitiveness in placing the franchise in a position to actually win the AFC North, before . this erroneous decision by the head coach .
With Cleveland now out of the divisional race and a postseason berth , pride remains the only thing the franchise now has to play for , along with placing Johnny Manziel’s disastrous display behind them.
The Browns will have a tough game on Sunday 28th December , when they face the Baltimore Ravens . If John Harbaugh and his Ravens’ players can eke out a win over the Browns, they could most certainly place themselves back into the playoff race, where they would have the advantage over the San Diego Chargers(9-6).
Philip Rivers and the Chargers will face an eager Kansas City Chiefs’ (8-7) team looking to make up for a rather disappointing season where they expected to contend for the AFC West. Andy Reid has seen his team fall by the wayside , because of a lack urgency from the players but above all, there has not been the exceptional play seen from the Chiefs’ defense last season . Chiefs’ quarterback Alex Smith is having an indifferent season , with the offense spluttering over the course of the season , one could surmise the team’s woes were self-inflicted.
The fallout has begun and it seems almost certain the San Francisco 49ers’ (7-8) will relieve their head Jim Harbaugh of his duties at the end of the season . How things could have spiraled out of control so quickly is dependent upon which story you are willing to believe at this juncture . GM Trent Baalke and CEO Jed Yorke will either retain the often criticized Harbaugh or see the coach hed off under his own steam to accept the vacant head coach’s position at Michigan (Wolverines) where there is said to be a multi-year $48 million offer awaiting John Harbaugh’s signature on the dotted line. Before that takes, place Harbaugh and his team of under-achievers have a divisional match-up against the Arizona Cardinals (11-3) . Having clinched a postseason berth, the Cardinals find themselves in an unenviable position, losing their most recent game ,the momentum seen at the start of the season now having completely vanished , leaving many questioning how good the Cardinals just happen to be.
Over the past five weeks, if there has been a better player in the NFL than Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks , then I would like to hear your nominations for such a mantel . A Superbowl victory has seen a growth in maturity of the quarterback as well as his play overall , along with a leadership ability, rarely seen from a player with less than five years experience though one could make a comparison with Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts and the success he has achieved with the franchise since his being drafted by the organization.
Pete Caroll and his team have systematically cut a swath through the league, as they have risen up the ranks and might now be the best team in the NFC based on their record. The Seahawks have a rather interesting game on Sunday afternoon, when they play host to the St Louis Rams , in a match-up I believe likely to be one-sided with the visiting team being unable to deal with their hosts.
Jay Cutler has led the Chicago Bears (5-10) into another season of sheer ineptitude with the quarterback questioning why Marc Trestman and the Bears’ front office made the decision to sit him out for the remainder of the season. Clearly, the player has failed to live up to the expectations thought and what the Bears were said to be capable of in 2014, with many believing they would be in with a chance of making an assualt on the dominance of the Green Bay Packers and the unlikely resurgence of the Detroit Lions . Instead, Chicago has repeatedly faltered, showing very competitiveness as their season unfolded . A great deal of the blame has to lie with the inconsistency shown by Jay Cutler. GM Phil Emery signed Cutler to a seven-year $127 million deal , a deal which I believe was rather idiotic , with it being offered to a player whose achievements in the postseason have been miniscule .
Chicago has a less than enlightening contest when they are the guests of the Minnesota Vikings (6-9). A contest between the bottom-feeders of the NFC North elicits very little excitement or interest among the fans of these two teams. When one bears in mind the issues faced by the Vikings this season , both on and off the field of play , their woes have manifested themselves in a litany of ways . Rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater typified the issues one could come to expect of a rookie quarterback playing in the NFL
Six straight divisional titles have epitomized the dominance of the New England Patriots(12-3) and their season was once again one where Tom Brady has led by example as the team made light of their divisional opponents within the AFC East.
A narrow one-point victory over the beleaguered New York Jets whose season has taken on comedic levels of ineptitude , while head coach Rex Ryan is at a loss for words as to his team’s repeated failures over the course of their schedule . The victory placed the Patriots into the postseason, where Bill Belichick and Brady will be seeking to win the franchise’s fourth Superbowl during Belichick’s illustrious tenure. The New England quarterback (Brady) hopes to join Pittsburgh Steelers’ legend Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana as the only other quarterbacks to have won four Superbowls during the modern era of the NFL. It would be fair to suggest , over the last decade-and-a-half Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have been the ” face” of the NFL, providing the fans with the best the game has had to offer during that timespan. Inevitably, the comparisons will be made as to where Brady and Manning belong among the NFL greats and whether or not they can be considered among the greatest quarterbacks to ever have played the game. Conjecture and a protracted healthy debate may well be the only thing that can solve the issue, but to my mind the duo are Canton bound for the Hall of Fame !
In their final game of the regular season the New England Patriots will have as their guests at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro’, Massachusetts , their divisional rivals the Buffalo Bills . Bills’ head coach Doug Marrone may well be looking to put a damper on the celebrations of the Patriots by inflicting a fourth defeat of the season for the AFC champions . I certainly believe New England will want to carry the momentum gained by notching their thirteenth victory of the season and sealing their advantage as the number one seed in the AFC while ending the season with the best record in the NFL . As to whether not they can be considered the best team in the league will remain a matter of long, heated arguments that will not solve the problem.
Each season in the NFL , there will always be a team where the analysts (pundits) and fans are astounded by the disappointment of one or perhaps two franchises. In 2014, the candidates I believe who best represent this case are the New Orleans Saints (6-9) and Washington Redskins 4-11) . The fact that both are NFC representatives should not be seen as a big surprise . Neither the Redskins or Saints have proven to be good enough within their respective divisions to be seen as competitive , and the delusions of grandeur exhibited by Jay Gruden and Sean Payton, an only be parodied by the repetitive and asinine behavior often with members of Congress.
From week to week Gruden is unsure as to what his starting lineup ought to be, without referencing his handling of the team’s quarterback situation and the consistency sought from his trio of alternatives, Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy . The fact that it has been McCoy , the team’s third string quarterback , who has led the Redskins to two of their three victories on the season should tell you all you need to know. Jay Gruden may well be an accomplished coordinator, but he is proving to be absolutely clueless as a head coach in the NFL. On Sunday, Gruden’s Redskins will be looking to avoid the season series’ loss when they face the Dallas Cowboys (11-4) at FedEx Field in Landover , Maryland, in a less than thrilling prospect as an NFL game.
Sean Payton may well be considered an offensive guru with his teams over the years considered among the most explosive in the NFL. It still remains the case , but this season , as in year’s past the defense has been one of the constant reminders why the New Orleans Saints can never really hold unto lead . Once out in front, this becomes a team that needs to inflict pain on an opponent by O13 piling up the points and yards , while controlling the time of possession. A 6-9 season has pretty much epitomized what the Saints have been about over the course of the year. Drew Brees, arguably one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL over the past eight years , still provides the New Orleans Saints with the best chance of winning on a weekly basis. He has been the franchise’s best player since being acquired by the Saints as a free agent trade from the San Diego Chargers.
Hoping to round-out their season with a victory, the New Orleans Saints will have the pleasure of making the Tampa Bay Buccaneers their customary whipping post. If Brees and the Saints’ offense are not able to put up at least thirty points on an incompetent Buccaneers’ defense , then I will be extremely surprised ! Lovie Smith was brought in to instill some semblance of discipline into a Buccaneers’ team, but instead, there has been abundance mediocrity on all levels , from the coaching staff on down , to the players. Meanwhile, the apathy remains among the Tampa fans who may well feel there is light at the end of the tunnel . More darkness than light, because neither coaching staff or front office actually have a damn clue , as to what the hell they are actually doing from one moment to the next .
Now comes the hard part for the teams and that will be for them to maintain their consistency as they enter the postseason . Chances are we will witness one or two upsets , as was the case last season throughout much of the league’s postseason foray.
As the spectacle of the NFL regular season has unfolded, what if anything proved to be the biggest disappointment or buoyed your belief the NFL would be special ? Which player do you believe will likely win the league’s highest regular season award the League MVP ?
Picture and slideshow details.
(1) Cincinnati Bengals corner-back Adam Jones makes the Johnny Manziel “money” sign after the Bengals defeated the Cleveland Browns 30-0 in an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 14, 2014, in Cleveland. AP Photo/David Richard ….
(2) Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel watches from the sidelines in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday, Dec. 14, 2014, in Cleveland. AP Photo/Tony Dejak ….
(3) Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) runs off the field after a 30-0 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 14, 2014, in Cleveland. Manziel’s performance in week fifteen was among the worst of any starting quarterback on the day and among the very worst witnessed this season. AP Photo/Tony Dejak …
(4) San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, left, greets San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick after an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014. The Chargers won 38-35 in overtime. AP Photo/Ben Margot ..
(5) Seattle Seahawks fan smiles while holding a sign prior to the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on December 21, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona. Getty Images/ Norm Hall …
(6) Quarterback Russell Wilson (3) of the Seattle Seahawks prepares to snap the football in the first quarter during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 21, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona. Getty Images / Norm Hall …
(7) Drew Brees (9) of the New Orleans Saints is pressured by Dwight Lowery (20) of the Atlanta Falcons during the second quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 21, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Getty Images / Chris Graythern ..
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