NFL Mystery Box: Week 13
A whole new way to prepare for the weekend
Well, it finally happened. I ruined my streak of awful NFL picks by having a winning week. Don’t worry. It was 8-7, so it’s not like you missed anything exciting. It was fun being the worst NFL prognosticator on earth, but with this week’s milquetoast performance, I have decided to punt the previous weekly preview format. It is my opinion that format was getting a little stale. I tend to get bored with things very quickly (because I have actual ADHD), and this format made it almost two full seasons, so I want to thank that format for the time it put in, and I can assure you it received a generous severance package. Given how bad I am at picking games, it makes sense to focus less on that and focus on the things I am good at writing about. Namely, fun stuff. Just like a college football head coach, I am going to bail on my modestly successful current format before the season is even over and head over to something I think will do better several years from now when I figure it out. I am going to focus on finding a new format for the rest of the season that I think is more fun. We are starting out with a Mystery Box. I will try out a variety of segments. I am curious to know which are most enjoyable, so if you have an idea about which segment you like most or least or just have an idea for a segment, let me know. Who knows, if it’s a good enough idea, Brian might fire me and hire you.
Listicle Of The Week: NFL coaches on the hottest of seats
Matt Nagy. The Bears combo of Nagy and Pace have been peddling mediocrity for the last 5 years. Sneaking in as the last playoff team a few times has kept them in power, but this season they aren’t getting there. It’s hard to believe ownership will keep this going much longer.
Joe Judge. Another coach/GM combo that is in big trouble. While Judge has had a shorter run than Nagy, the results have been far worse. The Bears and Giants both are in trouble primarily because of terrible personnel decisions, which means the GMs are the real one’s in danger, but I highly doubt a new GM will keep a coach with a very unsuccessful resume.
Vic Fangio. Vic hasn’t done much with the Broncos, and the GM has shown that he is focusing on the future with the Von Miller move. I highly doubt the Fangio regime will survive missing the playoffs again. I don’t think it’s Fangio’s fault that he hasn’t had a decent QB this entire time, but I also don’t think he survives another lost season.
Mike Zimmer. Mike has the most talented QB of anyone on this list, which is probably the main reason he will be fired unless the Vikings get to the playoffs. He is supposed to be a defensive mind, yet the Vikings defense is one of the worst in the NFL. He simply hasn’t done enough to keep his job any longer.
Pete Carroll. This might finally be it for Carroll. After years of diminishing returns, the total collapse this season due to Russell Wilson’s injury has revealed the lack of supporting pieces and schemes around him. While GM John Schneider has been cruising on those two good drafts he had 10 years ago, Carroll is going to be the one to feel the ramifications.
Honorable mention and the reason I don’t think they will be fired:
Brian Flores and Mike Tomlin: Ownership is loyal to a fault
Urban Meyer, Dan Campbell, David Culley, Robert Salah, Arthur Smith: Too embarrassing to fire them this quickly
Matt Rhule, Ron Rivera: GM hasn’t provided them with even a semi-decent QB yet. They probably deserve at least one year with a chance.
Best Quote Of The Week: Kirk Cousins
That truly is what she said.
Worst Bets For The Week: Because I like them
Over/Under: San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks under 45.5
The Seahawks ran 45 plays on Monday night. 45. That is unbelievably low. Meanwhile, we know the 49ers love to run with the ball (and clock). This game is probably going to have VERY few plays run. That means the odds of scoring a lot of points aren’t great. The Seahawks offense has been one of the worst in football since Russell Wilson’s injury. Meanwhile, the 49ers will be missing spark plug Deebo Samuel. This game is going to be a total dud.
Spread Pick: Arizona Cardinals at Chicago Bears -7.5
The Bears are an awful, awful team. The Cardinals are coming off a bye, getting Kyler Murray and Deandre Hopkins back, and their defense has been one of the best in football. I don’t see how one of the worst passing defenses in the NFL will stop this group. I smell a blowout with a cavalcade of boos pouring down in Soldier Field.
Player prop: Joe Mixon over 83 yards rushing.
The Chargers insist on keeping two safeties back no matter who they are playing and what that team likes to do. In this case, the lingering threat of Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase will ensure they stay that way. Meanwhile, the Bengals have had a TON of success running, and if the Chargers will let them (and they will), I see them doing it all day Sunday.
Money line Upset: Pittsburgh Steelers +166
The Ravens have been getting away with winning ugly the last few weeks. It has been a while since they really BEAT a team. Meanwhile, the Steelers haven’t been very good on either side of the ball as injuries and COVID issues have really hampered them. I feel like the Steelers season is on the line here. Another loss, and they will be hard pressed to make the playoffs. They need to get a win at home, and I think they end up stumbling into one here. Plus I heard they are going to start trying hard at practice.
Most Important Game Of The Weekend: New England Patriots vs. Buffalo Bills
This game is important for a lot of reasons. First, this is for first place in the AFC East, so that is obvious. There is also a bit of a big brother situation here. The Patriots have bullied the Bills for a LONG time. Last year was the Bills first out from under the thumb of the bully, but their recent struggles and the Patriots success threatens to open the door for a second round of suffering. The Bills need to put their foot down here an make a statement. Otherwise, creeping uncertainty about the future of this group will start, really for the first time. This is also our first chance to see what this improved (from earlier this season) version of Mac Jones will look like against an elite defense. The loss of Tre White last week was huge for the Bills and opens the door for Jones.
The Game That Is On In Hell This Week: Washington Football Team vs. Las Vegas Raiders
This probably won’t be the worst game to watch this weekend, but this is DEFINITELY a matchup of the two most dysfunctional ownership groups in the NFL. The Davis family has a long history of burning the city that is hosting them (but that certainly won’t happen to Las Vegas), suing the NFL, making outlandish personnel decisions, and most recently, trying to shield Jon Gruden until the NFL basically overruled them (I guarantee that, to this day, Mark Davis has no idea what Jon Gruden did wrong). Meanwhile, for the second time this season, the Washington Football Team allowed actual sewage to spew onto their paying customers, and I am not even talking about the product on the field. Both of these teams are in the midst of lost seasons of mediocrity. Both will be doing it again next year. Both are currently trapped in endless PR nightmares. The irony of it being Dan Snyder revealing Gruden’s emails is not lost on me. The NFL would be better off if both of these teams just started a spin off league and played each other every week so the rest of us could ignore them.
My Best Tweet From This Week: For Ted Lasso fans
SunSentinel Dolphins @SSMiamiDolphinsWife of NYC developer and Miami #Dolphins owner Stephen Ross files for divorce #NFL https://t.co/18TBKlo5R3 https://t.co/F508J0ZP6a
Fun non-football item of the week:
I like this new thing where Barstool posts lists just antagonize people. I personally don’t care much for Barstool, as I am not a 28 year old former frat boy, but some of the stuff is funny, and this certainly is.
Just for fun, here is my top 5 Christmas movies list (for real).
It’s a Wonderful Life
Honorable Mention: The new Grinch, Charlie Brown Christmas, Muppet Christmas Carol
Dead last: Kirk Cameron’s “Saving” Christmas
Dead last actually: Love Actually
Q and A section:
Can you do a QB Carousel prediction for next year? What reasons might QBs who are on the move consider? - My former grad assistant
I think the following QBs could be on the move and I will briefly cover where I think they might go and why.
Russell Wilson: Saints. Russell is ALL about winning. Money is nice, but winning is nicer for a player nearing the end. The Saints were on his list of possible trade destinations, and that is the team that makes the most sense a year later. They have cleaned out a lot of their cap issues. Sean Payton is vastly better than his previous coaches at creating a successful offense.
Aaron Rodgers: San Francisco 49ers. This one doesn’t get mentioned much, but after another year without much at QB, I’m guessing the 49ers will be getting desperate. Rodgers is now married to a Hollywood actress and is from California. He loves winning, but seems to have developed social habits that require a high end location.
Derek Carr: Pittsburgh Steelers. He is another player who has complained bitterly about his team’s lack of competitiveness. I could definitely see him forcing a move to the Steelers (or another strong team with a good front office), a team that regularly competes in the playoffs, and is basically the Anti-Raiders organizationally. I am assuming this is it for Roethlisberger.
Deshaun Watson: Carolina Panthers. I think Tua’s recent run, and the Dolphins’ success since they stopped pursuing Watson will get the team to focus on Tua moving forward. Meanwhile, the Panthers have absolutely nothing at QB and they want to win now. I see them being more desperate than a few other possible suitors like the Eagles or Broncos.
Why is Dick Pound back in the news? - Dick Pound
Longtime IOC member Dick Pound apparently had a “phone conversation” with former Tennis player Peng Shuai and he feels confident that the IOC are going to have the Olympics in China no matter what is going on with her. Other major sports leagues and athletes (other than the WTA) have also agreed to pretend to pay attention to this until everyone forgets about it (and all of the other massive abuses perpetuated by the Chinese government) and keep doing business with China.
If you could assemble two teams one with the most beloved active NFL players and the other with the most despised. What would those teams look like? -Andrew
PS - Triple points if you can list people for every starting position.
OK, this question is a bit excessive, but I will. I will do despised first, then beloved. These are NOT MY OPINIONS about these players, just my read on general consensus. Andrew, you owe me some retweets and shares for this one.
QB: Ben Roethlisberger vs. Ryan Fitzpatrick
RB: Christian McCaffrey vs. Austin Ekeler
WR: Odell Beckham Jr., Antonio Brown and Cole Beasley in the slot vs. Cooper Kupp and Davante Adams with Adam Thielen in the slot
TE: Zach Ertz vs. Gronk
Offensive line: Jesse Davis, Austin Jackson, Austin Reiter, Taylor Lewan and Richie Incognito vs. Trent Williams, Tyron Smith, Quenton Nelson, Joe Bitonio and Jason Kelce.
DT: Ndamakong Suh vs. Aaron Donald
Edge: Frank Clark and Nick Bosa vs. JJ Watt and Khalil Mack
LB: Von Miller, Jadaveon Clowney, CJ Mosely, and Jaylon Smith vs. Shaquem Griffin, Darius Leonard, Bobby Wagner, TJ Watt
CB: Jalen Ramsey and Richard Sherman vs. Xavien Howard and Troy Apke
S: Jamal Adams and Daniel Sorenson vs. Tyrann Mathieu and Antoine Winfield Jr.
What is the Omicron Variant named after? - Fry
Following a long tradition that started with the Spanish Flu, governments name viruses and their variants after places they are not actually from. In this case, the variant is not from Omicron Persei 8, the fictional home planet of Lrrr from the longtime animated show, Futurama. However, major governments have agreed Zoidberg is funny, so they have chosen this name.
Hi, longtime listener (reader?) first time caller (writer?), would you rather be the fan of a cursed team like the Dolphins or a talented team that plays down to the level of their competition every week? Asking for a friend..... Brian from HQ
Brian is not asking for a friend. He is asking for himself because he is a Ravens fan who has been suffering from trauma related to insane football game outcomes. The answer is, of course I would rather be a fan of this current Ravens team . They have a definitive answer at QB, head coach, and a strong ownership/front office. This has been a tough year for them, but injuries to basically every offensive position group have played a big part. They are somehow 1st overall in the AFC anyway. The Dolphins have none of these core pieces firmly in place despite pounding the Ravens a few weeks ago. While it hurts more to have expectations and lose, I would rather do my losing in the playoffs once a year than every week during the regular season.
Do you want to see a crab smoking a cigarette? - me to you
If you think these questions are bad, submit your own in the comments below or drop them on my twitter feed/DMs. I will accept LITERALLY any question about ANY subject.