Happy 2017, everyone! Welcome back to your favorite NFL column and mine, Aaron It Out. My Christmas was amazing and I hope yours was too. A lot has changed since I last wrote, so let’s get down to business…
BLACK SUNDAY – it’s just like the shopping day, teams couldn’t even wait until Black Monday to jettison the coaches that were getting canned. There are now some very interesting jobs open, the most attractive being the Broncos after Gary Kubiak’s surprise retirement. But is it an actual retirement, or an Urban Meyer retirement? I’m thinking the former, because Kubiak was in a great situation – coaching for his friend Elway and the team he was a part of back in the 90s. It took Colts owner Jim Irsay nearly a week to give his coach a vote of confidence, and people are starting to link him to a fleet of money trucks in order to get the coach he really seems to want – Nick Saban, who I don’t think will leave his cushy Alabama job anytime soon. And there seems to be another surprise firing on the horizon. People are saying the Texans may drop Bill O’Brien, which is a mistake because the GM is the one with the issues there, but don’t be surprised if the Packers get beat by the Giants this weekend (entirely possible) and decide that Mike McCarthy getting saved by Aaron Rodgers’ talent every week isn’t for them anymore.
In Jacksonville, several names have cropped up, and I think they would be making a mistake hiring Josh McDaniels – it just doesn’t seem like he would make a good head coach. I don’t even think he will be the heir in New England if he stays – I think that will go to Amazingly Bearded Matt Patricia. My dream pick, right now, would by Kyle Shanahan – I know he is a first-time head coach but he has done wonders with Matt Ryan this year, and he has connections, and imagine what would happen if he could lure defensive coordinator legend Wade Phillips to the River City. The thought makes me drool. Look out, too, for Bill O’Brien – if the Texans truly do fire him, I think he could make a case for the head coaching position with the Jags, as well.
TYROD GETTING JOBBED – The Bills are one of the most dysfunctional organizations in football, and I’m saying that knowing what the 49ers have been up to as well. Now, they stupidly want to move on from a talented quarterback in Tyrod Taylor. What is their backup plan? Who knows – but it doesn’t seem to be EJ Manuel, either. In my opinion, Taylor needs to get #paid, and deserves to be. Buffalo is much like Jacksonville in that it doesn’t need to do a complete reset, but has the talent to pair with a competent coach and succeed. EJ Manuel led the team to a loss against the Jets in Week 17. That is all the evidence you need, right there.
ROOKIES OF THE YEAR – On defense, there is Jalen Ramsey, and there is everyone else, in my opinion. Those who are considering Joey Bosa need to look at the “year” portion of this award, and note that he missed the first four games with an injury and also held out. Ramsey played the whole year, and did an admirable job covering the likes of Randall Cobb, Steve Smith, Travis Benjamin, and TY Hilton those four weeks. Give the man his award. He is going to be an amazing piece of the Jaguars’ defense for many, many years to come.
On the offensive side of the ball, come on, it’s Ezekiel Elliott by a mile. Dak Prescott is impressive but Zeke grabbed most yards in the league in his rookie year. Jerry Jones has everyone who thought he was crazy taking a running back high in the first round eating crow, and his laughs can be heard all throughout Jerryworld. Elliott has helped make the Cowboys back into a perennial power.
A SHORT PARAGRAPH ABOUT THE MVP – It’s Matt Ryan.
Come on, it’s the playoffs! Time for crazy stuff to happen!
PICKS AND SCORE PREDICTIONS SO YOU CAN LAUGH AT ME NEXT WEEK
RAIDERS at TEXANS – Um, can we just sit this one out, or maybe let Madden do a play-through for us? This is the embodiment of the Texans-Chiefs game last year, the one where you knew who was going to win and just kind of put the game on the TV and went to clean your house or paint the tires or something. The Raiders are super-talented… and they’re starting a rookie, late-round QB because they caught the injury bug at the wrong time. The Texans are starting Brock Osweiler because they have to. Should be fun, right? Maybe the defense will make the game interesting? Amari Cooper can throw himself some passes? It will be over soon, I promise – OAKLAND 20, HOUSTON 14
LIONS at SEAHAWKS – This is a little better! The Lions ended the year on a 3-game losing streak that is kind of deceptive because they are good, but Matt Stafford’s Finger is a bit more trouble than I think the team is letting on. The Seahawks are the Patriots of the NFC – everyone expects them to make the playoffs every year, except this year, they kind of suck. The Seahawks literally went loss-win-loss-win-loss-win their last six games, and their “awesome defense” let the 49ers put up 23 points in week 17. They’re due for another loss, and in my opinion, they’re going to get it – DETROIT 27, SEATTLE 21
DOLPHINS at STEELERS – The Dolphins won 9 of their last 11 games of the regular season. That, friends, is pretty impressive. They also beat the Steelers without Ben Roethlisberger. I don’t think they will get the win here, though, unfortunately. It would be a pretty neat story, don’t get me wrong – but Pittsburgh is hot right now and on a seven-game winning streak. They’ve got an amazing running game and Antonio Brown is ridiculous. I don’t think there is much difference if Moore or Tannehill starts this game for Miami, and while it will probably be a hard-fought game, the Steelers should come out on top, and they are one of my AFC picks for the Super Bowl – MIAMI 30, PITTSBURGH 35
GIANTS at PACKERS – Oh yes, the game of the week, if there still was such a thing – the matchup that makes George Takei go “Oh Myyy” and a playoff rematch 10 years in the making, when Favre was quarterback and Coughlin’s face got red(der). The Packers ran the table, but that table is one of those short, square folding card tables. The Giants’ punishing defense kept them in games all season and New York has won 9 of its last 11 regular season games, including a beatdown of the Redskins in week 17. I don’t know if the Giants will make it to the Super Bowl, but I think they do make it past Green Bay. NEW YORK 24, GREEN BAY 19
Enjoy the games, everyone!