Oh boy. Football season is here.
“Do I detect a certain ‘Meh’ in that statement?” many of you might ask.
I will confirm, there is plenty of ‘Meh’ in that statement.
For a variety of reasons, I get a little more disengaged from the NFL every year.
Likely the biggest factor is how L plays soccer on Sundays, something she’s been doing for four or five falls now. I just don’t sit down and watch football on Sunday the way I used to.
I generally prefer college football to pro.
I don’t play fantasy football.
There’s a part of my that finds it hard to get interested in the NFL simply because it has become so corporate and forced down our throats for 12 months of the year. Every other major sport takes a break. Not the NFL, which is always pumping content.
Finally there is the fact that I live in Indianapolis, and am a Colts fan. These are not good times for the Colts. And here’s where things get interesting. Because I think I’ve cracked the mystery of why the football gods are so angered at the Colts.
Andrew Luck was never supposed to be a Colt.
Oh we thought the football gods were on our side when Peyton Manning missed a full season just in time for the Colts to tank and get the #1 pick the year Luck came out. And things looked good at first. By Luck’s third year, the Colts reached the AFC title game and it looked like a long run of success was underway.
Then it all went to shit. Dozens of horrible personnel decisions caught up with them. They couldn’t keep Luck healthy. They had no backup plan for when Luck got hurt. They let him play too long when he was hurt. No one seems to know what condition Luck’s shoulder is in right now, if/when he’ll play this year, and whether he can be effective if he does get on the field.
At first, I figured all of that was on the Colts. But I’ve come to accept that the football gods realized they made a huge error in allowing Luck to end up in Indy. And they’ve done their best to correct that mistake. We might get Luck, but he will not enjoy the long, charmed run Peyton had before him, always playing with an amazing offensive line in front of him, Hall of Fame caliber running backs and receivers to support him, and a cutting edge offensive coaching staff calling the plays. Oh, and Peyton never got hurt until his final season on the field in Indy.
Luck’s spent the better part of his career handing the ball off to terrible and/or washed up backs, throwing to one very good (but not HOF) receiver and a bunch of stiffs, having the offense change every season, and running for his life behind an atrocious offensive line. The Colts can’t even put a decent defense together to at least balance the lack of talent around Luck on offense.
Realistically you have to write off this year for the Colts. Even in the weak-ass AFC South. Even if Luck plays most of the year, and at a high level, the team is still trying to dig out of the mess of the Ryan Grigson years and isn’t ready to win this year. That means maybe, hopefully, next year they’re back in contention. And that is the season Luck turns 29. Elite QBs who can stay healthy can play deep into their 30s, as Peyton and Tom Brady have shown. But there’s the risk the Colts pissed away Luck’s best years because they couldn’t build an offensive line that could protect him or give him a running game to keep defenses honest. Plus Luck has taken way more abuse than Peyton or Brady did when they were young.
Some folks will blame Grigson, Chuck Pagano, and Jim Irsay. I say the football gods have as much to do with it as the Colts leadership.
Prediction time! Remember, DO take these to your bookie, because they are rock, solid, gold picks based on several minutes of glancing at other folks’ predictions.
AFC East: New England. As long as Belichick is coaching and Brady is QBing, this is the pick.
AFC North: Pittsburgh. One more run for Big Ben?
AFC South: A cesspool of a division. Some people love with Tennessee. I don’t really trust them, but can’t pick Houston, so I guess it’s Tennessee by default.
AFC West: Likely the most fun division in the game. You can make an argument for every team getting the right collection of breaks and winning it. And each team is one key injury away from thinking about drafting in the top five next April. Since I’m not a Chiefs fan, I’ll try to jinx them by picking them. Kansas City.
Wildcards: Oakland, Cincinnati
NFC East: Dallas. Don’t expect a season like last year, but the Cowboys should still be good enough to win their division.
NFC North: Green Bay. We’re all pulling for America’s official Second Favorite Player, Aaron Rodgers, right?
NFC South: The Redemption Division! Carolina wants to redeem themselves for last year’s post-Super Bowl collapse. Atlanta wants to redeem themselves for their in-Super Bowl collapse. Should be a great run. I’ll take Atlanta to eek out the division title.
NFC West: Seattle. Team turmoil will take their frustrations out on their opponents and claim the #1 seed.
Wild Cards: Carolina, Arizona
Oakland over Tennessee
Kansas City over Cincinnati
New England over Oakland
Pittsburgh over Kansas City
New England over Pittsburgh
Green Bay over Arizona
Carolina over Dallas
Carolina over Atlanta
Green Bay over Seattle
Green Bay over Carolina
Dude, come on. It’s one thing to go with a sexy, sentimental pick of Green Bay to get to the Super Bowl despite thinking they’re probably not the best team in the NFC. It’s another to pick them over New England. Hell, an NFC team could be 18–0 coming into the Super Bowl and it would still be dumb to pick them. Because, as you know, as long as Belichick is coaching and Brady is QBing… I think we all learned our lesson last February.
New England 35, Green Bay 31
- And her sisters used to. For one fall we usually had three games every Sunday. ↩