The holidays are here, Gavin can’t make fun of me for getting into the Christmas spirit too early anymore, and it’s time for a themed column! Which already has a theme because I write about the NFL anyway!
Oh, whatever, here is Aaron’s NFL Christmas Wish List!
- COMPELLING PLAYOFF MATCHUPS. No more Patriots vs. whoever in the AFC Championship game, thanks. Either the Raiders or the Chiefs (probably the Raiders) will take the other top AFC seed, so there should be enough Wild Card and lower-seed willingness to let a tougher team rise up and take care of an injury-riddled New England. The NFC will take care of itself; the Seahawks are probably going to wind up out in the first round they play in.
- ANOTHER SUPER BOWL THAT SURPRISES PEOPLE. Last year nearly everyone (not me) assumed the Panthers were too much for the Broncos, and Denver’s defense helped The Sheriff to another championship. I’d personally enjoy another Super Bowl that can surprise us somehow – or at least where there isn’t a supposed clear cut winner (cough, Raiders-Cowboys, cough).
- LESS OF A BLACK MONDAY BLOODBATH. The day after the conclusion of the NFL regular season is called such because coaches lose their jobs on that day. There is one (Gus Bradley) that has pretty much sealed his fate, but let’s think about the others who may be entertaining a change: the Chargers, maybe? The Rams (yes please), possibly. The Panthers likely won’t dump Ron Rivera just a year removed from a Super Bowl appearance. The Bears and Jets are in year 2 of their coaching regimes; the Niners and Browns are just one year in. One change I think is that Sean Payton will be shown the door in New Orleans so they can rebuild, but I may be wrong. Hopefully owners let this stuff play out. Except for Jacksonville.
- THE JAGUARS TO ADD SOME PASS RUSH VIA FREE AGENCY. Yeah, they didn’t do that last season, trusted rookies, and now most of their pressure comes from the interior and the backers and secondary. Calais Campbell is going into free agency, and keep an eye on Jason Pierre-Paul – he signed a one-year deal last year and is playing great, and the Giants may not have enough money to retain him. If they don’t, and the Jags bring in Tom Coughlin somehow, that would be a reunion worth seeing. He was widely regarded as a joke after the firework incident but seems to have redeemed himself.
- ANOTHER ENTERTAINING DRAFT. And I’m not asking this just because the Jaguars made out like bandits in the last draft. Most selections were unexpected and this year looks to be more of the same. Taking first-round running backs is a trend that is surging back into popularity and not many of the top-flight quarterbacks have declared anything yet. I look forward to seeing what happens.
- TOM COUGHLIN. It has been reported by several people that Tom Coughlin and the Jaguars have mutual interest in some sort of role for him back with the team. As a Jaguars fan and a football analyst, I say, YES PLEASE. He could do nothing but benefit the team, and I see him either being in a “President of Football” role or coaching and grooming his successor. It would be a great tip of the hat to the man who built the Jags on the football side of the ball.
- THE JAGUARS TO NOT STINK IN 2017. Give me something to look forward to, Santa Shad!
BONUS: TOP FIVE CHRISTMAS SONGS:
5. “White Christmas,” The Drifters
5. “White Christmas,” Bing Crosby
4. “Jingle Bell Rock,” Bobby Helms
3. “Holly Jolly Christmas,” Burl Ives
2. “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” Bing Crosby
1. “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” Andy Williams
[The views expressed in this post about Christmas music are not reflexive of the views of this blog as a whole. These are just not top 5 Christmas songs. Aaron is insane. -Editor]
Let’s Run Through Our PICKS:
RAIDERS at CHIEFS – It surprises me that I am not sure how to pick this game. Before last Sunday’s games, I would have definitely picked the Raiders – they looked better and the Chiefs had just gotten beat by Tampa at home. But last week, the Chiefs beat a very talented Falcons team; also, the Raiders willed themselves back to a win over the Bills who are more solid than their record suggests, scoring nearly 30 unanswered points. This is at Kansas City which is a loud environment, but I am going to continue to give the advantage to the Raiders until they show me otherwise – they are my current pick to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
REDSKINS at EAGLES – The Redskins have something to prove and a sixth seed to fight for in the playoffs. The Eagles can now only play spoiler, because their inexplicable loss to the Bengals has pretty much eliminated them from contention. However, I look at both of these teams, and I think that Philly will earn the win and start the “spoilage” in their own division.
TEXANS at COLTS – Brock Osweiler looked halfway competent against the Packers last week, but honestly Green Bay’s defense can make anyone look good (see also: week 1, Blake Bortles). The Colts will continue to make their late-season push and take care of the business they need to take care of in order to make a valid push to win the division. Indy will get the win.
BENGALS at BROWNS – Yeah, the Browns aren’t going to win a game this year unless the Steelers’ starters take week 17 off. The Bengals should win here.
BRONCOS at TITANS – The Titans are .500 late in the season for the first time in a while, but with that Broncos defense coming to Nashville, it’s not going to matter. Denver will hand the Titans a loss, and stay in the mix for a Wild Card spot in the playoffs since the loser of KC-OAK will probably sit at #5.
CARDINALS at DOLPHINS – Hey, stop the presses: the Cardinals realized they were a Talented Football Team last week against the Redskins, and somehow Carson Palmer found a way to do things like complete passes and score touchdowns. What a concept; can they continue it against a sneaky-good-but-got-smacked-around-in-Baltimore Dolphins team? You know what, I think so – Palmer’s got a ton of weapons on his sideline and Bruce Arians has the drive to lead the Cards to another win and keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
BEARS at LIONS – The Lions are playing great. I think they are definitely one of this year’s surprises, and good for them, because they have slowly built a winning team up in Detroit, although this year’s struggles in Green Bay have helped their cause. Anyway, the Bears have about a 3.8% chance to win this game… Detroit should take this game.
STEELERS at BILLS – The Steelers showed that they were back to their early-season form in holding the Giants off last week. A more impressive thing is that the Giants kept Pittsburgh to only 21 points. The Bills won’t be quite as fortunate, as the Steelers will come to town and hand them a loss.
CHARGERS at PANTHERS – The Panthers are a joke, and I don’t think the Chargers will be impacted much by the trip across the country. San Diego will win here.
VIKINGS at JAGUARS – The Vikings are looking for a morale boost, and the Jags will provide it. I’ve said what I’m going to say about the Jaguars for now. I am a fan and always will be but the team is ridiculously bad, they got beat by a pedestrian rookie QB last week, and I do not think they will win another game this year. Vikes for the win.
JETS at 49ERS – Week 14’s version of the Mediocrity Bowl will probably see the Jets win, I guess. I’m surprised the NFL found three and a half minutes’ worth of highlights to put on their Youtube channel, to be honest with you.
FALCONS at RAMS – Atlanta lost a close one against the Chiefs last week, and they are meeting up with the Rams at just the right time. The Falcons will gain a win and a morale boost, and be able to right the ship and quiet the L.A. Coliseum crowd.
SAINTS at BUCS – The Bucs have an impressive winning streak going on, and the Saints lost pretty decisively to Detroit last week. Through a weird piece of scheduling, these teams play each other twice in three weeks, and it will probably help determine the division. I see this one going in favor of Tampa, though. I think that the Saints lean heavily on their passing attack, but with Doug Martin in the mix, the Bucs can be more balanced and allow Jameis Winston, who shows a proclivity for extending plays, to rely on the play-action and let plays develop. In short, the Bucs should win here.
SEAHAWKS at PACKERS – The shine has worn off of this matchup some, but that’s okay for the most part. The Seahawks are way, way better than most of the Packers team, especially on defense, but Aaron Rodgers is the better of the two quarterbacks. Will that translate to on-field success? I think so, personally – I’ll call the win for the Packers here.
COWBOYS at GIANTS – GAME OF THE WEEK – Oh, man. The New York Giants handed Dallas their only loss of the season back in Week 1, and here we are 13 weeks later for the rematch, on national television, and in New York. What an exciting game! Both defenses are playing very well, and both offenses have some dangerous weapons that flash when they need to, but have a little trouble staying consistent. This is a very hard one to pick. I can make a case for either team here, but I have to ride the hot hand. The loss will still keep this dangerous Giants team in the playoff mix, but I think the Cowboys will walk away with their revenge.
RAVENS at PATRIOTS – ESPN should be thanking the people in charge of scheduling for this game, because the Pats look vulnerable and the Ravens ALWAYS play hard with New England. I don’t know if the bigger story is that New England won against the Rams last week, or that they only put up 26 points against them. This year, if New England can’t keep scoring, they’re in trouble, and I think they are in trouble here. Baltimore is fighting hard for the top spot in the AFC North and I think they will be able to play spoiler and hand the Pats a loss.