Sunday, January 2, 2011

Week 17: 11 Things I Know I Know

1. I know every single week of the NFL schedule matters. Don't believe me? Ask the Jets and the Chargers about each of their respective Monday Night Football matchups during Week One.
The Jets lost to Baltimore at home, 10-9. They bounced back to win 11 games, but because of that loss, they are now the six-seed in the AFC playoffs meaning they have to win three road games (at Indianapolis, at New England, and possibly at Pittsburgh) if they want to advance to the Super Bowl.
Thanks to a loss at Kansas City Opening Week, the Chargers find themselves out of the playoffs altogether.
2. I know the top of my 2011 Mock Draft will look like this:
   1. Carolina Panthers: QB Andrew Luck, Stanford
   2. Denver Broncos: DT Nick Fairley, Auburn
   3. Buffalo Bills: QB Ryan Mallett, Arkansas
   4. Cincinnati Bengals: DE DaQuan Bowers, Clemson
   5. Arizona Cardinals: QB Cam Newton, Auburn
   6. Cleveland Browns: WR AJ Green, Georgia
   7. San Francisco 49ers: QB Jake Locker, Washington 
   8. Seattle Seahawks (Assuming loss to Rams): RB Mark Ingram, Alabama
   9. Tennessee Titans: DT Marcel Dareus, Alabama 
   10. Dallas Cowboys: CB Patrick Patterson, LSU
   11. Washington Redskins: OT Nate Solder, Colorado
3. I know a good draft can quickly lead to success. Last season, the top three picks belonged to St. Louis, Detroit, and Tampa Bay. Each team made strides this season - from laughing stock to respectability. With another solid class, each of these teams can build around their first round franchise quarterbacks and make their way into the playoffs in 2011 and beyond. 
4. I know Philadelphia and Green Bay are headed in opposite directions. Sure, the Eagles sat most of their starters this week including Michael Vick, but they laid an egg last week at home against Minnesota and have not been able to ride the wave of the miracle finish against the Giants in Week 15 into any more victories.
Green Bay needed to win their last two games at home against good competition and they performed. Aaron Rodgers stepped up down the stretch and carried the team to the postseason. If they had a consistent running game, they would be the NFC favorites despite their seeding.
5. I know the Giants have a quarterback problem developing. The murmurs for benching Eli Manning would be full-fledged roars if David Tyree doesn't make "the helmet catch" in the Super Bowl. Eli led the league in interceptions this year, marking the second time that has happened in the last four years. His 25 interceptions were the third-most this decade. Winning solves everything, but because the Giants failed to qualify for the postseason, it will likely be a long offseason for Eli.
6. I know Oakland went 6-0 within their division but still missed the playoffs by two games. Just an amazing stat.
7. I know Tom Brady will throw an interception during the playoffs that costs the Patriots the game. This interception-free streak is impressive, but these sorts of things tend to end in ugly fashion.
8. I know Tim Tebow deserves a shot to start at quarterback next season for the Denver Broncos. He has looked competent enough to warrant a chance as the number one guy next season. He can unify the fan base and bring hope where little exists right now.
9. I know it's a shame Dallas waited until Wade Phillips got fired before they started competing. The Cowboys won five of their last eight games, and they only lost those three games by a combined seven points. Things don't look bleak in Dallas.
10. I know fantasy football has to be the hardest of all fantasy sports to play. Year after year, injuries derail at least 25% of teams (yes, that's a very scientific estimate). Even if you are lucky enough to avoid that bug, you had better have a high waiver wire priority in order to pick up an undrafted free agent after a huge Week One performance (see Lloyd, Brandon). Lastly, you had better hope your stud running back doesn't vastly underperform (see Rice, Ray or Greene, Shonn or Mathews, Ryan). It's a very frustrating endeavor.
Side note: Anyone that predicted Brandon Lloyd and Arian Foster would lead the league in receiving and rushing yardage is a liar.
11. I know all four road teams will win their divisional playoff games next weekend. This year features an incredibly impressive array of wildcard teams, each of whom comes into the postseason with momentum.
In the NFC, the Saints should (easily) handle the Rams / Seahawks while the Packers will edge Philly.
In the AFC, the Jets' focus since last season has been acquiring the right mix of cornerbacks to shut down Peyton Manning. They'll show the work has paid off. I also expect the Ravens to take care of business at Kansas City.
Side note: I'm sticking with my preseason Super Bowl pick (Jets over Packers) despite the fact both teams are seeded sixth. Can't ditch them now.
"11 Things I Know I Know" is my feeble attempt to trump the untrumpable's Peter King and his "10 Things I Think I Think" which happens to be my favorite article each week.

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