Thursday, November 26, 2015

the afc, with six weeks to go ...

“Let’s all pack up, and move this year.
Let’s slip the liars, and disappear.
Leave memories?  For auctioneers.
And those just standing still.

They’ll miss the taste of wanting you;
Call out your name like I still do!
But they haven’t said?  A word that’s true!
And they only?  Hold you down.

And this heartbreak world,
Of just imagine?
With tired talk
Of better days?

In this heartbreak world,
Where nothing matters?

Come on – let’s make this dream
That’s barely half awake?

Come true! …”


Or, to put things more “Stevo Style”:

"Give the Royals this -- they NEVER give up.  They NEVER quit!  Unlike that f*cking failure of a franchise across the parking lot!" -- me, Monday, October 12, 2015.


Almost exactly twenty four hours before I dropped that comment (said while watching the eighth inning rally to force Game Five against the Astros), the Chiefs had yet again found a way to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory.  

Specifically, they'd blown a two touchdown lead in the fourth quarter, for the second straight home game.  

Even more specifically, for the second straight home game?  The Chiefs gave up the winning points inside of a minute to play, due to questionable (and arguably fireable) mistakes by "Fat" Andy Reid that directly cost his team the victory.  (The "what in the world are you thinking" handoff to 25 against denver; the "what in the f*cking bluest of blue f*cking hells are you thinking?!?!?!?!" decision to not use his timeouts against the Bears.)

Even more damning than the previous collapse against the denver broncos?  Is that this one occurred against the Chicago Bears, a team that entered at 1-3, probably should have been 0-4 (they barely beat the oakland raiders in Week Four, 22-20), and had just set a NFL record the prior week by not only failing to cross the Seahawks 43 yard line at any point of their 26-0 "assume the position because we're taking the business!" defeat to the Seattle Seahawks?

Every single possession ended in a punt!  Ten possessions, ten punts!  And not a single play run in field goal range, even at fake mile high!

Somehow, that team rolls into Arrowhead, drops two touchdowns on the Chiefs in the last four minutes of the game, and wins when "Fat" Andy's most recent "seriously, is this guy mentally retarded" brain fart -- attempting a 65 yard field goal into the wind! -- predictably and epically failed.

Oh, and did I mention, every sane, rational person assumed that the season was over not only because the Chiefs were 1-4, L4 ... but the franchise, Jamaal Charles, was carted off the field early in the second half, his season and (possibly) his career, over.

Halloween was still three weeks away, yet for all intents and purposes, the Chiefs season was over.  

Pretty much before it began.


And now, here we sit, three weeks after Halloween, and the season is not only "not over", it's "so f*cking on" that even I am in utter shock and awe, at how quickly things turned around.  Six weeks ago the Chiefs looked hopeless.  Now, every Chiefs fan has hope.  And with good reason.

Consider the opportunity the Chiefs have in front of them this weekend.  And folks?  Hang on, we barely have a year of the lovable ol' guy left to enjoy him, so peoples and peepettes?  Vice President Biden.

(vice president biden voice) Folks!  The Chiefs opportunity this weekend is huge!  A three letter word -- huge!  H U G E Huge!

Thank you sir.  You?  I'll miss.  Joe?  Stand up Joe, let 'em see you!  


In all seriousness, you can make a legitimate argument this week's game against the Bills is the defining moment of the "Fat" Andy Reid era.  Will it be an era, or an error?  I'd argue we're gonna learn a lot about what 2016, 2017, and 2018 are going to look like, come 3:30pm CT on November 29th.

To say nothing of what the ending to 2015 entails.

The Chiefs currently occupy the second wildcard slot / last team in position, at 5-5.  They are 4-2 in the conference, which is not only huge for tiebreaker purposes, but it means anyone who didn't learn to add via Common Core can deduce every game remaining for the Chiefs, is against a conference foe.  Which, again, leads a person with an IQ north of room temperature to conclude that the Chiefs are going to wind up holding that tiebreaker, because in order to make the playoffs, they have to win more conference games.

There currently are three teams tied with the Chiefs at 5-5 for the "transfer slot", to use a NASCAR phrase.  The Jets are 5-5.  The Texans are 5-5.  And the Bills are 5-5.  And since I think that they're very vulnerable, the only team ahead of the Chiefs in the wildcard race, the Steelers, are 6-4.

There also are three teams that sit a game behind the Chiefs at 4-6, one of whom will more than get their crack at the Red and Gold down the stretch -- the raiders, the Jaguars, and the Dolphins. 

(I should note, the Ravens at 3-7 are very much alive, but they need to win out -- or take five of six, with the loss coming to Seattle -- to have any chance.  We’ll deal with that, when we get to the Steelers portion of this post.)

So let's break this down, one at a time ...


(julie chen voice) But first!

There are three playoff slots in play, if we're being honest*.  You not only have both wildcard slots up for grabs, but some f*cked up and flawed team is going to win the AFC South and host one of these other teams in a playoff game.

It's time to figure out who, exactly, those three teams will be.

We'll go in reverse order of the contenders, beginning with …


(*: this is an abject bullsh*t lie.  There are four in play, if New England and Kansas City simply (coach asshat voice) “Do your job!  Just do your job, and we will win this game!”, on Sunday.)


* The Miami Dolphins.
Current Record: 4-6 overall / 2-5 conference.
Head to Head Tiebreaker(s) Held: Texans.
Head to Head Tiebreaker(s) Lost: Jaguars, Bills, Jets.
Remaining Schedule: at Jets / vs Ravens / vs Giants (MNF) / at Chargers / vs Colts / vs Patriots.

Thoughts: if they lose Sunday, it's over.  The Bills already swept Miami, the Jets won the first contest, and the 'Fins still have three division leaders left on the home schedule.  If they lose yet another tiebreaker for good, it's over.

Furthermore, let's just address the Captain Oats in the room, shall we?  The Dolphins have beaten the 'Skins (season opener), the Eagles (with The Sanchize under center), the Titans (tied for the worst record in football), and the Texans (aka "The Outlier Victory").  They've beaten NOBODY with a winning record!  

Hell, they not only haven't beaten anyone with a better than 22.46% chance of playing after January 3rd, they've been tuned by every decent team on the schedule!  The Patriots beat them by 30.  The Bills swept them, winning by 16 and 27.  The Jets blew them out so badly that the Dolphins promptly sh*t canned their head coach the following day.  The Cowboys entered last week having lost seven in a row.  They destroyed Miami in Miami. 

We all know how this is going to play out.  And it will not be pretty for the Miami Mammals.

Gut Feeling on Final Standing: 5-11, out of the playoffs.  The win will be against the San Diego "Super" Chargers ... in what might be the final professional football game played in San Diego.


* The Jacksonville Jaguars.
Current Record: 4-6 overall / 4-4 conference.
Head to Head Tiebreaker(s) Held: Dolphins, Bills.
Head to Head Tiebreaker(s) Lost: Colts, Texans, Jets.
Remaining Schedule: vs Chargers / at Titans / vs Colts / vs Falcons / at Saints / at Texans.

Thoughts: am I certifiably insane ... or just semi-retarded?  Because I see a very, very, very manageable path to 9-7 in there -- if not 10-6.  They'll be favored in three of the next four, and the one they're likely to be a dog in (Indy at home) is not only very winnable, I think they will win that game, irregardless of who is under center for the Colts.

Furthermore, let's just address the Captain Oats in the room, shall we?  This is one of two teams (along with the Chiefs) fighting for a playoff berth, that keeps getting demonstratively better every week.  They've won 3 out of 4, with their only loss being a justifiable five point defeat at the Fake Meadowlands to a (probably) better Jets team.  Blake Bortles has made enormous strides this year.  The defense is capable of holding any team to 17 or less.  They're well coached, well-schemed, well-prepared every week.  What's not to like?

Gut Feeling on Final Standing: 8-8, in the clusterf*ck for the six seed.  But I can absolutely be talked into 9-7, AFC South Champions.  


* The oakland raiders.
Current Record: 4-6 overall / 4-3 conference.
Head to Head Tiebreaker(s) Held: Jets.
Head to Head Tiebreaker(s) Lost: Steelers.
Remaining Schedule: at Titans / vs Chiefs / at broncos / vs Packers / vs Chargers / at Chiefs.

Thoughts: they are going to look back at last week's choke job in Detroit, and need to vomit, when this season is over, because that's the defeat that doomed them.

Furthermore, let's just address the Captain Oats in the room, shall we?  Does anyone actually think the oakland raiders can close 5-1, with the only loss being to the Packers (since that's the only one they can, in theory, afford to lose)?  This is a team that just p*ssed away a lead to the Lions, has beaten nobody with a record above .500, has been throttled at home by 20 (Cincinnati) and nearly 20 (Minnesota), and is entering Sunday's roadie on a three game losing streak.

Gut Feeling on Final Standing: 7-9, out of the playoffs.  They'll upset denver**, and beat Tennessee and San Diego.


(**: that projected upset -- namely, whether or not it occurs -- will decide who wins the AFC West.  On December 13?  We are ALL raiders!)


* The New York Jets.
Current Record: 5-5 overall / 4-4 conference.
Head to Head Tiebreaker(s) Held: Colts, Dolphins, Jaguars.
Head to Head Tiebreaker(s) Lost: Bills, Texans, raiders.
Remaining Schedule: vs Dolphins / at Giants / vs Titans / at Cowboys (Sat) / vs Patriots / at Bills.

Thoughts: they're in deep, deep trouble.  That final three, my God.  Do you see a win in any of those three?  Because I don't.  They're not beating the Patriots, unless the Pats have nothing to play for and rest the starters.  And news flash for ya non-Jets fans out there: if you think Bill Belichick is going to lay down for the Jets?  You don't know football.

Furthermore, let's just address the Captain Oats in the room, shall we?  Does anyone really think Ryan Fitzpatrick is going to lead this team to a 4-2 finish (or 5-1, given their tiebreaker issues) to grab one of the two wildcard berths?  Ryan Fitzpatrick, who just had surgery ten days ago, has already bombed out as the Bills QB, and who was so atrocious in Houston that Bill O'Brien opted for Ryan Mallett over him, and last time I checked, Ryan Mallett is out of the league and probably not getting an invite back.

Gut Feeling on Final Standing: 7-9, out of the playoffs.  They’ll get upset by Tennessee, to kick off a four game losing streak, to end the season.


* The Houston Texans.
Current Record: 5-5 overall / 4-3 conference.
Head to Head Tiebreaker(s) Held: Jaguars, Jets.
Head to Head Tiebreaker(s) Lost: Chiefs, Dolphins.
Remaining Schedule: vs Saints / at Bills / vs Patriots / at Colts / at Titans / vs Jaguars.

Thoughts: where’s the layup?  They face five squads battling for the postseason lives in their last six – all but the Titans, who even in the God-awful AFC South, are drawing dead with six to play.  (I know, I know – they’re as close to first place as the Chiefs are … but the Titans are 0-6 in the conference.  They’re done.)

Furthermore, let’s just address the Captain Oats in the room, shall we?  Does anyone really think Brian Hoyer is going to lead this team to a 4-2 / 5-1 finish to grab one of the two wildcard berths (via 4-2) or the AFC South (via 5-1)?  Brian Hoyer, who was benched in the opener for a dude no longer in the League (Ryan Mallett), who couldn’t beat out “insert sh*tty ass QB here” in Cleveland for the starters gig, and hasn’t beaten a team with a winning record since Noah was mocked for building a boat, because nobody on Earth knew what the hell this thing called “rain” was.  (Note: that last item might be a slight exaggeration.)

Gut Feeling on Final Standing: 7-9, out of the playoffs.  They'll beat the Saints and Titans.  I think.


* The Indianapolis Colts.
Current Record: 5-5 overall / 4-3 conference.
Head to Head Tiebreaker(s) Held: Texans, Jaguars.
Head to Head Tiebreaker(s) Lost: Bills, Jets.
Remaining Schedule: vs Bucs / at Steelers (NBC) / at Jaguars / vs Texans / at Dolphins / vs Titans.

Thoughts: provided they take care of business at home, the Colts are in decent shape to at least grab one of the two wildcard slots.  They have a decent conference record, currently own every tiebreaker needed to win the South, and if they split with Jacksonville and Houston down the stretch, they'll probably win the division by at least a game, if not three.

Furthermore, let's just address the Captain Oats in the room, shall we?  If there's one place no team wants to travel for the wildcard round, it's Indy, right?  I mean, I know a good number of you reading this have attended a Chiefs/ Colts playoff game in that place, be it in 2006 or 2013.  That stadium?  Is a freaking nuthouse.  As a Chiefs fan, I don't want any part of Indianapolis -- anywhere, anytime, anyplace.  They've already used us as their own personal urinal four painful times in the last twenty years (1995, 2003, 2006, 2013), and if you want to get technical, they've ended five different Chiefs seasons in that time frame (the Week Sixteen 1996 victory cost the Chiefs the playoffs).  

I really have no desire to spend the first weekend of my 39th year of existence having to travel to that lunatic asylum. 

I honestly think I'd prefer to open in denver.  I'll grant you, the odds of my being arrested at fake mile high are astronomical.  I hate those assholes disguised as fans so damned much -- one in particular -- that I highly doubt I could control my emotions.  But at least the Chiefs can beat the donkeys.  They're oh for my lifetime, at beating Indy when it counts.

If the Chiefs are going to exercise only one playoff demon this year?  Let it be denver.

Gut Feeling on Final Standing: 9-7, AFC South Champions.


* The Buffalo Bills.
Current Record: 5-5 overall / 5-4 conference.
Head to Head Tiebreaker(s) Held: Colts, Dolphins, Jets.
Head to Head Tiebreaker(s) Lost: Jaguars.
Remaining Schedule: at Chiefs / vs Texans / at Eagles / at Redskins / vs Cowboys / vs Jets.

Thoughts: who the hell did this squad p*ss off royally in the League office, to get a schedule like their second half?  Five out of six on the road?  And those five are (in order) at Jets (W) / at Patriots (L) / at Chiefs / at Eagles / at Redskins, every single squad of which is at least within a game of owning a postseason berth with six to play?

Furthermore, let’s just address the Captain Oats in the room, shall we?  They’ve played ONE non-con game so far (a loss to the Giants to open October).  Even if they sweep all three conference games remaining (and they damned well could), they’re still looking at 8-4 as a conference ceiling.  Unless they win out?  They’re probably drawing dead for the five seed, and the privilege of rolling whoever wins the AFC South 45-13 to open the playoffs at 3:30pm CT on January 9th.  Which means their ceiling is what, opening at denver to close down Wild Card Weekend?

Gut Feeling on Final Standing: 8-8, in the clusterf*ck for the six seed.  They’ll beat the Texans, the ‘Skins, and the Jets. 


* The Pittsburgh Steelers.
Current Record: 6-4 overall / 3-4 conference.
Head to Head Tiebreaker(s) Held: raiders.
Head to Head Tiebreaker(s) Lost: Chiefs.
Remaining Schedule: at Seahawks (FOX) / vs Colts (NBC) / at Bengals / vs broncos (CBS) / at Ravens (NBC) / at Browns.

Thoughts: that of every team either in as of today, or within a game of being in as of today, the Steelers are in the worst shape of everyone?  Despite having the best record of the contenders at this point?  Their only tiebreaker they have is over oakland, and if there’s a five or six way clusterf*ck at .500 for the six seed, will that one actually matter?

Furthermore, let’s just address the Captain Oats in the room, shall we?  The counter-balance to the previous paragraph is that NO team benefits more from Joe Flacco’s season-ending injury than the Steelers.  Here’s what the Ravens had left: at Browns (ESPN) / at Dolphins / vs Seahawks (NBC) / vs Chiefs / vs Steelers (NBC) / at Bengals. 

The way the Ravens had been going?  I absolutely could have seen them entering that Bengals game at 8-7 (they’re currently 3-7), on a six game winning streak, facing a “win and you’re in” situation against a Bengals team with nothing to play for.

Look at that remaining schedule for Pittsburgh.  You find me a layup win in there.  Four teams either currently in, or within a game of being in.  All three divisional road games, plus a roadie this week to the two time defending NFC Champs.

If the Steelers get in?  They’ll not only have MORE than earned it?  They will be the team, NO sane team will want to face.

Because if they can go 4-2 or better against this stretch run?

They’re capable of beating anyone.

Gut Feeling on Final Standing: 8-8, in the clusterf*ck for the six seed.  They'll win the two at home, lose all four on the road.


That's a look at the non-Chiefs contenders.  My gut reaction says the Colts will win the South.  The Jags, Bills,and Steelers will all wind up 8-8 (although I really want to go back and change Jacksonville to 9-7, and let the tiebreakers figure out who wins the South and who gets the six between them and Indy, the more I think about it.)  The raiders, Texans, and Jets will all look back at indefensible losses (to, respectively, the Lions, Dolphins, and Titans) as the reason they finish one back at 7-9.

And that leaves one contender for those three spots in the AFC Postseason Field ***, to determine the outcome for.


(***: again, an abject bullsh*t lie.  The donkeys still have the Pats, Bengals, and raiders at home, and the Steelers on the road.  The AFC West is far, far, far, from over.  And every fan of satan’s squad?  Knows it.)


Coming up in Part Dos ... to be posted about an hour from now ... a look at the last contender, and something this site hasn't seen in well over a year.

Happy Turkey Day everybody!

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the third thursday thirteen ...

"So you're dancing on the ocean -- Running fast, along the sand. A spirit born, of earth and water -- Fire flying from your hand...