RANK EVERYTHING (and laugh at Andrew Luck)

As sad as it makes me to say this, we just crossed the threshold of the NFL’s halfway point. People often ask me, “Gyasi, why won’t you text me back when football games are on?”, “Gyasi, why won’t you look at me when football games are on?”, “Gyasi, why do you completely disregard human life when football games are on??” Well, look, there are only 20 weeks of football in every 52-week year. That means there is a very short window of time when America can soak in all of the glory that is sitting around all Sunday afternoon and cheering for men performing feats of athleticism far outside of their own range of ability. So when a whole week’s worth of NFL games passes by without me seeing EVEN A SINGLE SECOND of any of them you can understand my frustration. It was a rough weekend, okay? On the bright side, that awesome girl and I have begun speaking Spanish to each other on a regular basis so I’m pretty much shopping for a ring at this point. Speaking of the point…

Week 8 is when every sportswriter, professional and semi-semi-professional alike, give themselves the green light to begin predicting who will win the NFL’s end of season awards, division crowns, wild card spots, etc. So basically, week 8 is when writing about football becomes reeeeally fun. Who doesn’t love defending opinions formed often times for no reason at all?! I know I do. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to…RANK EVERYTHING. Please secure your seatbelts and keep all extremities inside of your vehicle.

Division Standings

Now, before we get into this, remember that we’re predicting what the NFL will look like at the end of the season. Because I’ve yet to recover that crystal ball that I found at a thrift store that one time and unfortunately lost, this is going to require a hefty amount of prognostication. In case you’re not sure exactly what prognostication means, it’s a term which is used in this case to say, “It will be this way because I say it will, I’m the one writing so shut up”.

AFC West

  1. Broncos (11-5)
  2. Raiders (9-7)
  3. Chiefs (4-12)
  4. Chargers (3-13)

AFC North

  1. Bengals (14-2)
  2. Steelers (11-5)
  3. Browns (9-7)
  4. Ravens (2-14)

AFC Dumpster Fire

  1. Jaguars (10-6)
  2. Colts (8-8)
  3. Texans (3-13)
  4. Titans (1-15)

AFC East

  1. Patriots (16-0)
  2. Jets (12-4)
  3. Dolphins (8-8)
  4. Bills (7-9)

NFC South

  1. Panthers (13-3)
  2. Falcons (10-6)
  3. Saints (9-7)
  4. Buccaneers (4-12)

NFC North

  1. Packers (13-3)
  2. Vikings (11-5)
  3. Bears (5-11)
  4. Lions (2-14)

NFC Dumpster Fire

  1. Cowboys (10-6)
  2. Eagles (8-8)
  3. Redskins (8-8)
  4. Giants (6-10)

NFC West

  1. Cardinals (12-4)
  2. Seahawks (10-6)
  3. Rams (9-7)
  4. 49ers (2-14)

AFC Playoffs

  1. Patriots (Bye, Home field advantage)
  2. Bengals (Bye)
  3. Broncos
  4. Jaguars
  5. Jets (Wild Card)
  6. Steelers (Wild Card)

Wild Card: Jets OVER Broncos, Steelers OVER Jaguars

Divisional: Patriots OVER Steelers, Bengals OVER Jets

Conference: Patriots OVER Bengals

NFC Playoffs

  1. Packers (Bye, Home field advantage)
  2. Panthers (Bye)
  3. Cardinals
  4. Cowboys
  5. Vikings (Wild Card)
  6. Seahawks (Wild Card)

Wild Card: Vikings OVER Cowboys, Cardinals OVER Seahawks

Divisional: Packers OVER Vikings, Cardinals OVER Panthers

Conference: Cardinals OVER Packers

Most Valuable Player

  1. Tom Brady, Patriots
  2. Cam Newton, Panthers
  3. Andy Dalton, Bengals

Offensive Player of the Year

  1. Antonio Brown, Steelers
  2. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
  3. Devonta Freeman, Falcons

Defensive Player of the Year

  1. Tyrann Mathieu, Cardinals
  2. Von Miller, Broncos
  3. Charles Woodson, Raiders

Offensive Rookie of the Year

  1. Todd Gurley, Rams
  2. Amari Cooper, Raiders
  3. Stephon Diggs, Vikings

Defensive Rookie of the Year

  1. Shaq Thompson, Panthers
  2. Marcus Peters, Chiefs
  3. Shane Ray, Broncos

Be sure to bookmark this column on your laptop so that you can come back to it at the end of the season and go, “Wow! Everything predicted here was EXACTLY RIGHT!” At which point I’ll be given a position at ESPN, deny that job and tell them to shove it, and then be hired by Bill Simmons, the one and true Sports Czar. Honestly, you can disregard everything after your realization in January that I can see the future. There’s a lot of football left before we get there, however, so let’s just talk about this past week for a second. One undefeated team went down on Sunday, another one did everything it could to lose on Monday, and Andrew Luck is still really fun to laugh at.

First up, let’s review what happened to the Green Bay Packers. In a Sunday Night Football game that I couldn’t watch because I was bed-ridden with horrible headaches, the 6-0 Packers went to Denver in hopes of knocking off the 6-0 Broncos. 77 yards and 10 points later, the Packers had been completely embarrassed on national television. Peyton Manning, by the way, still only threw for 1 interception and no touchdowns, but Denver’s running game absolutely ate up Green Bay’s defense. This confirmed some of many people’s concerns, mine included, that despite the mythos surrounding Aaron Rodgers and his seemingly magical abilities, the absence of Jordy Nelson and ineffectiveness of Eddie Lacy would be his demise. It certainly seemed that way on Sunday night and unless Randall Cobb can be the dominating talent that his skill set suggests, I expect Green Bay to wilt under the pressure of strong defenses as the season goes on. Everyone loves to pretend that the Packers have done something more than be a huge disappointment in the playoffs ever since winning that Super Bowl in 2010. The Broncos receivers were so wide open on Sunday that even Mr. Noodle had no trouble distributing the ball. If Green Bay’s defense continues to look this perplexed as the season goes on they can expect to give up plenty of yards to the big arms they’ll see in the next few weeks.

Now, while we’re on the subject of undefeated defenses being embarrassed by mediocre quarterbacks, may I ask what happened to the Panthers? They did manage to extend their record to 7-0, but not before doing absolutely everything in their power to lose to Andrew Luck and the Colts on Monday night. Carolina was up 23-6 and looking every bit like a legit contender in a rainy defensive showcase when they suddenly called a team meeting and decided that they no longer wanted to win the game. At least, that’s what we have to assume happened, because the Panthers subsequently allowed 17 unanswered points and found themselves headed to overtime with a team that had looked helpless against them just seven minutes before. Highlights of the seven-minute span included plenty of dropped passes by Carolina’s receivers and at least two dropped interceptions by Carolina’s defenders. And trust me; it’s really hard to drop an Andrew Luck interception because he throws it RIGHT AT THE OTHER TEAM. Once overtime began the Panthers were still undecided about continuing their undefeated campaign and all of the internal turmoil caused Ted Ginn Jr. to drop a wide-open touchdown pass that would have sealed the game. Carolina eventually came away with the win, of course, because Andrew Luck noticed that he and Cam Newtown had both thrown 2 interceptions and was offended that someone that another quarterback would try to upstage him on Monday Night Football. Luck’s third interception of the night sealed the overtime victory for the Panthers and sent the football world into speculation about their legitimacy.

The moral of the story here is that you should never try to look worse than Andrew Luck in any situation because he absolutely will not allow it. The moral of The Martian, which I saw by myself last night, is that if NASA sends you into space they will dress you like a professional athlete. Check back tomorrow for the all-important Fantasy Thursday with a preview of Browns vs. Bengals!

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