Saturday, January 18, 2014

The FGR Conference Championship Picks

Before we get to this weekend's picks, I can't let the hiring of the most recently doomed Reskins' head coach to pass without comment. As I have alluded to in the past, I work deep in the heart of Redskins' country and have had the opportunity to transact some business with the organization. Based on those dealings, it never surprises me when the rock rolls back over them after it looks like they might finally get it to the top of the hill* (like it appeared they may have done in RG, III's rookie season). There are two paths to the Super Bowl and, at this point, the Redskins don't appear to be on either one: (1) find a Hall of Fame quarterback like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees or Peyton Manning and/or (2) build a strong well-run organization and hire a competent coach (Ravens, Steelers, Giants, Seahawks and 49ers). If you can do number 2 and add a top ten quarterback like it appears the Seahawks and 49ers have done, then you'll be in contention for the long haul.

On the other end of the spectrum you have the teams that have (1) committed themselves to a quarterback who is not going to get them over the top like Matthew Stafford, Sam Bradford and Andy Dalton and/or (2) built an organization that is somehow fundamentally flawed like the Lions, Browns, Bills, Raiders and Jaguars. For whatever reason, these teams just can't get out of their own way despite the fact that the NFL is structured so that even the dregs of the league should find windows of short term success. The Redskins have been one of these teams since Dan Snyder bought them and the fact that Snickers could build a "you're not you when you're hungry" commercial around the diva that is RG, III means that their fortunes are not going to change anytime soon.

"Hey Robert, how's my favorite awesome
superstar quarterback today? How about
dinner and cigars at the Palm tonight?"
Let's take a look at the inevitable sit-down that this latest move is going to end with in three years when Jon Gruden arrives in Washington to figure-out what in the hell is going on with Dan Snyder and his brother.

Snyder: You think I run a sloppy organization Jon?

Jon: [Shakes his head] You're unlucky.

Snyder: You goddamn Grudens, you make me laugh. I do you a favor and take Jay in when the Bengals offense crapped the bed in another playoff game and you're all over ESPN bashing my team.

Jon: You took Jay in because no one else wanted to coach your team. Now we're talking business. Let's talk business.

Snyder: Yeah, let's talk business Jon. First of all, you're all done. Monday Night Football don't even have that kind of audience anymore. Your schedule is weak, right? You're getting chased out of primetime by NBC with Sunday night football and the NFL Network on Thursday night. What do you think is going on here?

Jon: Is that why you slapped my brother around in public?

Jay: Aw, now that, that was nothin' Jon. Dan didn't mean nothin' by that. Yeah, sure he flies off the handle every once in a while, but me and him, we're good friends, right Dan?

Snyder: I got a football team to run. I gotta kick asses sometimes to make it run right. We had a little argument, Jay and me, so I had to straighten him out.

Jon: You straightened my brother out?

Snyder: He was calling screen passes two at a time. We couldn't make a first down. What's the matter with you?

Jon: I leave for Green Bay tomorrow, think about a buyout price for the end of my brother's contract.

Snyder: Sonofabitch! Do you know who I am? I'm Dan Snyder! I made my bones when you were coaching wide receivers at Southeast Missouri State.**

And we all know where it goes for Dan Snyder from there. (He may want to post a guard outside the massage room). Let's get on to picking some games between teams that actually know what they're doing.

At Denver by 5 over New England: The Pick - Patriots

Isn't this a repeat of Super Bowl XXVI when the Patriots were 14 point underdogs to the Greatest Show on Turf Rams and beat them 20-17? The Rams had four Hall of Fame caliber players at all four skill positions that year with Kurt Warner (MVP), Marshall Faulk (Offensive Player of the Year), Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt (along with crazy fast Az-Zahir Hakim as their third receiver).*** The Patriots countered with Tom Brady (in his second year), Antowain Smith, Troy Brown and David Patten. The defenses were a wash as the Patriots finished 6th in scoring defense (272 points) and the Rams finished 7th (273 points). Oh yeah, the game was played in the Superdome and the 2001-02 Rams may have been the best dome team of all-time.

So the Rams had a massive edge in quarterback experience, offensive weapons and field conditions while the Patriots had the edge in coaching and kicking (Adam Vinateri). Fast forward to 2014 where the Broncos feature a massive edge in receiving weapons and . . . and what? Certainly not quarterback, running back or coaching. Maybe on defense but while people are going on and on about how depleted the Patriots are, they seem to forget that the Broncos lost Von Miller who might be the best pass rusher in football and that the Broncos were 22nd in points allowed this year at almost 25 per game while the Patriots were 10th at 21.1. (Sorry this is so dry but I spent much of the day moving furniture so my life is devoid of humor at the moment).

Amber Heard - No. 58 on
the Maxim Hot 100 List . . .
(See what I did there?)
I think it all changed for the Patriots after the Miami game in Week 15 (a 24-20 loss) when Belichik looked at Tom Brady's 55 passes and thought, "what in the f-ck are we doing?" In the three games since, Tom Brady hasn't thrown more than 26 passes while the Patriots have averaged 41 carries for 214 yards and 3.3 touchdowns. Those are 1983 Nebraska Cornhusker stats. Yeah Tom Brady is dealing with somewhat limited receiving weapons but do you really want to put eight men in the box against him? (The answer would be "no"). Ironically, it was the sudden discovery of a running game that helped propel Peyton Manning to his only Super Bowl win with the 2005-06 Colts. This year I see that formula crushing his dream of another one. Patriots - 31 . . . Broncos - 27. (Combined score of 58).

At Seattle by 3.5 over San Francisco: The Pick - 49ers

That half point scares the crap out of me. The over/under is only 38.5 which means Vegas is expecting something in the 20-17 range so you take the points right? If I had to pick a winner, it would be Seattle because I just have a feeling that Russell Wilson and that crowd are going to will them to victory but I could just as easily see a 49er team that is tired of getting thrashed at CenturyLink Field make enough plays to pull-out a win. If nothing else, they might do it because they know that losing a game of this magnitude to his most hated rival might cause Jim Harbaugh to produce a 1,000 page playbook that says nothing but "All Pete Carroll and no Super Bowl makes Jim a dull boy" over and over and over again. Actually, I can totally see that happening so let's go with a final score of Seahawks - 17 . . . 49ers - 16.   

Last Week's Record: 3-1
Playoff Record: 4-3-1
Season Record: 139-115-4

Email the Fantasy Golf Report at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com.

Endnotes

Sarah Shahi - No. 33.
* This is of course a reference to Sisyphus, the king of Ephyra who, according to Greek mythology, was sentenced to an eternity of pushing a boulder up a hill only to have it roll back down before it reached the top. Cut to the fans in Cleveland, Detroit and Cincinnati nodding unconsciously and semi-psychotically.

** If you've never seen The Godfather and have no idea what in the hell I'm talking about, check-out this epic scene. If that doesn't make you want to see the rest of the movie, then it's probably not right for you anyway.

** The Rams led the league with 503 points that year. The Colts were second with 413. The Bengals scored 226. So you see Bengals fans, even though you know you're getting at most one playoff game every year, it could be (and has been) worse.