It’s been a long and eventful year for the NFL and everyone involved. In a season riddled with social and political conflict. Players, owners, and fans have all made their feelings known to the state of the NFL as well as the “President.” It has been a grueling season for all parties involved and if to stay in the loop for what you may need to know, here is a break down of everything NFL heading into the Divisional round playoffs.
Here is who’s playing:
On Saturday the Falcons will face the Eagles, and the Titans will likely lose by 30 points to the Patriots. On Sunday the Steelers will face off against Jaguars and the Saints at the Vikings. Saturday could be the day of blowout losses and lackluster competition, however, Sunday has potential. The Titans are a neat story but have no chance against a Patriots team that has played the same quality of football for two decades; the Titans are lucky to have made it out of their game against KC. With no Carson Wentz and a Falcons team who squeezed the Rams offense into a state of comatose (scoring 3 points in the second half) is in a prime space to throw Nick Foles into a vortex of 250-pound defensive backs ultimately hurdling Foles and the offense into a white flag surrender.
Sunday is going to be different.
The Jaguars gave the Steelers their worst loss this season (and since Tim Tebow blew them out the playoffs oh so many moons ago), but Pittsburgh was a different team when they first came together. It wasn’t until late this year that the Steelers figured out who they were as an offense. Big Ben looked lost early on but got his awareness back after the Jaguars picked him off several times. It was possibly Ben’s worst game as a professional ball thrower. It led him to joke* about retirement, but it seemed to be a likely course of action. His inconsistency turned to accuracy, and his interceptions turned into touchdowns and Pittsburgh enters Sunday as the most dangerous Offensive team in the hunt.
The Jaguars are in a way the Bizzaro Steelers. Without Ryan Shazier, the Steelers defense is unorganized and always on the verge of giving up a soul-crushing play that seals the other team’s victory. However, the Jaguars have the worst QB in the NFL and CFL, Blake Bortles, his inability from the position reeks of hypocrisy. Blake “Garbage Time” Bortles is two years away from being a walk-on at the Arena League tryouts. With that said, Jaguars defense is the bee’s knees; it is immaculate. It’s not the best defense ever to take the field, but they’ve shown that it translates to the postseason after last weeks miserable win against Buffalo. What’s best for Jacksonville is they’re confident going into Sunday that they can shut down the Steeler offense.
I am personally less interested in Saints against the Vikings, but it is a similar scenario to that of SteelersXJags. The Saints with a combustible offense and the Vikings with an apocalyptic defense that could end a teams season in one quarter. Drew Brees still has something left, but there’s not much left in the tank and will need his line to keep Anthony Barr at least five yards away from him. The Vikings, on the other hand, have a surprisingly better offensive option than Blake Bortles with Case Keenum who has turned into a serviceable QB in an improved Vikings offense. The Saints defense isn’t a pushover like it has been in years past and the Vikings may have a hard time executing with untested playoff Keenum.
What you need to Know:
Everything you need to know going into the offseason.
Get Paid or go home:
On Friday Steelers’ running back, Le’Veon Bell declared that if the team places a franchise tag on him this season rather than give him a guaranteed contract, he will either sit out next season or retire. While Bell is 25 and running backs seem easier to find than ever, Bell’s case is unique. His talents aren’t that of the traditional running back; he can, in fact, do it all.
With the immense risk, NFL players are at just by taking the field Bell is right to threaten retirement if not given the respect he deserves and is entitled to given what he’s done/gone through under the name Steelers. Bell standing up to the team that drafted him and the possibility of retirement could have lasting effects on contracts depending on who wins this stalemate. This game is too violent just to let the rich continue taking advantage of their players.
The British are Coming:
Next season will see even more games in England. Now more than ever it seems there will be an overseas franchise, otherwise what is the point of dragging teams across the Atlantic Ocean for a game neither team wants’s to play.
One way or another, the Patriots dominance is coming to an end:
Last week ESPN published a report stating that there was a divide inside the Patriots team on who should receive the credit for their five championships. Also saying that Tom Brady orchestrated the trading of his young Backup QB Jimmy G. In the days following the legitimacy of the reporting has been questioned and mocked by some and praised by others. With Brady in his 40’s and no QB in the wings to take his place, the Pat’s may see their dominance end with a bittersweet conclusion of Brady as a dominant QB.
The Season of Injuries:
There are injuries every season and every week in the NFL. Most of them, fans don’t ever hear about. It is, in a sense, normal in the NFL to see a player limp off the field. However, this season seemed different, and each injury carried weight. From Deshaun Watson to Ryan Shazier to Zach Miller the injuries have come in bunches and have been brutal. Miller of the Chicago Bears suffered a gruesome leg injury that could have led to an amputation. A prognosis that Miller thankfully avoided but so severe that in the era of CTE and players retiring out of fear of long-term risk, the game as an entity of culture, is at risk.
There once was a time where Boxing was part of the mainstream culture, and the Heavyweight champ was a household name. Odds are, you can’t name any one of the three heavyweight Champions. The gruesome injuries athletes have sustained on rudimentary plays this season have been recycled, rewatched, and seen with more eyes and more times than any injury in NFL history.
Richard Sherman, who tore his Achilles this season, spoke out against the leagues’ concussion protocol. He referred to it as a joke, and he is sadly right. No matter what effort and legitimate care the league claims to put into protecting the players, the game is the problem. As more parents begin to fear for their children long term and push them towards other sports, NFL may be in for a severe talent drop off, something they already see in QB play.
The NFL needs to take responsibility for the injuries that players sustain and look into providing a safer environment for players to heal, play, and grow old. The NFL can no longer turn a blind eye to the post league life of its players.