Week 15 in the NFL: Dear Mr. Kroenke
Dear Mr. Kroenke,
I am officially tossing in my hat and applying for the head coaching position of the Los Angeles Rams. I realize just how important it is for you to find the right person to coach a squad that runs a middle school offense. Who better than a retired middle school teacher who coached football?
As a retired middle school teacher, I am still well connected with several other middle school teachers who would love a career change and would be willing to help turn this franchise around.
Without middle school teachers, you don’t have the NFL because we are the ones who prepare students for the riggers of high school, which (you may not know this) then leads kids on to college where you pluck the best of the best to play like middle school kids. My people can bypass all of that, sign kids straight out of the seventh grade to contracts that include bonuses like Pokemon cards or cell phone upgrades instead of money.
As for dealing with the press, they will be a piece of cake. Try dealing with pissed off parents, angry administrators, or kids crying because they have detention after school. We can take it and we can dish it right back at them.
Best of all, I live just minutes away from Thousand Oaks where your kids, uh, I mean players, practice. You don’t have to pay any relocation bonus to me.
Thank you for your consideration. Should you feel like you want to discuss this further, have your people contact my agent, make that editor, Tim Forkes at the Los Angels Post-Examiner.
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Seattle 24 – Los Angeles 3
This game was a huge surprise. Sure, everyone expected the Seahawks to win in a somewhat methodical fashion to clinch their third NFC West crown in four year. No one expected Jared Goff to suddenly morph into Joe Montana, so the Rams scoring three points seemed about right.
Yes, looking at the Seahawks in what can only be described as painfully bright uniforms didn’t make for easy viewing, but by now, we have come to expect this with Thursday night games.
No, what really shocked me is the NFL actually went through with this game. The only game that might have been worth watching the Rams play at this point would be against the Cleveland Browns just so we can all see how bad Los Angeles has become.
Miami 34 – New York Jets 13
Not sure if this game proved Miami is good no matter who plays quarterback for them or that the Jets suck no matter who they face at quarterback. Matt Moore replaced the injured Ryan Tannehill with his first ever four-touchdown pass performance. The Dolphins show no sign of quitting in their pursuit of the playoffs.
As for the Jets, they can pursue a new line of work, including the coaching staff, as another wasted season nears an end.
Baltimore 27 – Philadelphia 26
Baltimore hung on by the closest of margins only when the Eagles failed to convert a two-point conversion with four seconds left. As a result, Baltimore has what amounts to a playoff game on Christmas against the Steelers. If Baltimore can win its final two games, they are in the playoffs.
However, with Pittsburgh up a game on them, they have no room to falter. The Eagles can take pride in knowing that despite the loss, they have not quit on their once promising season and with another solid draft or two, they could be one of the elite teams in the NFL very soon.
Houston 21 – Jacksonville 20
Another week in which the Jaguars were so close to victory only to see it slip from their paws. In fact, when this season ends, Jacksonville will wonder if it were not for a play or two in several games, they may well have been a threat to win the AFC South.
Houston seems to be a threat to themselves and are fortunate to be tied for first place. At the moment, there is not much of a difference between the Texans and the Jaguars despite Houston still being tied for first and the Jaguars now officially searching for a new head coach.
With two games to go, Houston seems to have lost patience with off-season free agent savior Brock Osweiler and is now a bigger mess going into the final two games of the season than they were before the season began.
Pittsburgh 24 – Cincinnati 20
It’s a wonder Steeler head coach Mike Tomlin doesn’t have white hair. For a team with everything to lose, these Steelers sure show no sign of any consistently good football that would strike fear into any of the remaining playoff bound teams in the AFC.
Still, Pittsburgh did manage to come from 14 down to beat a team many thought was going to be much better than they have shown all year — the Bengals. However, if I am Pittsburgh, I have to be worried. Six field goals is no way to feel good about an offense that will need to find the end zone if it plans to advance far in the post season. Of course, if they do not beat the Ravens next week, there likely won’t be a post season for this group.
Green Bay 30 – Chicago 27
Another team that seems to show no real desire to peak for the playoffs when playing another team with no reason to suit up — somehow, the Packers are still in the thick of the NFC North even though they did all they could to gag against the hapless Munchkins of the Midway. If not for a last second 32 yard field goal from Mason Crosby, Green Bay was liable to have seen their playoff hopes dashed in an overtime loss to Chicago.
Thankfully, Crosby saw to it there was no overtime and that the Packers have hope, especially after the Lions lost to the Giants.
As far as Green Bay is concerned, the playoffs are underway and have been for several weeks.
Tennessee 19 – Kansas City 17
This was a total team effort. Not the Titans win, but the Chiefs loss. After the Chiefs offense was unable to run out the clock, much less score another point while holding a ten-point lead, the Chiefs received additional help in their choke fest from their coaching staff.
Kansas City thought they won the game after the Titans missed a 53-yard field goal into the wind in freezing weather only to find out their head coach, Andy Reid, called a timeout to, you got it, freeze the kicker, ex Chief, Ryun Succop. Instead, Succop booted the game winner on his second attempt and once again, the AFC West is up for grabs. Super Bowl champions just do not lose ten-point leads at home this time of year.
Indianapolis 34 – Minnesota 6
Somehow, the Vikings still had a shot at the playoffs if they could just eek out a home win against the mediocre Colts. The Vikings proved they are only mediocre on their best days which seemed to end back in early October.
Now it is the Colts who still have hope (although little) at winning their division and advancing to the playoffs.
This game did see the return of Adrian Petersen from his knee injury and had to leave him wondering if all that rehab work was worth it.
We also saw Frank Gore move into tenth place on the all-time yardage list which just goes to show, if you play long enough and total 70 yards a game combined in rushing and receiving often enough, people will look back on your career and think you were great. Frank was good, but never great.
Buffalo 33 – Cleveland 13
Not even the great Rex Ryan could figure out the complexities of losing to the horrible Browns. Not even Rex Ryan thinks for one second the Bills win will save his rotund backside from being fired. Rex Ryan needs to decide if he wants to be happy with being a defensive coordinator or leave the NFL and try his shtick at the college level because he is not head coaching material in the NFL.
You see what happens this time of year when two teams with nothing to play for play each other, I get stuck writing about Rex Ryan.
New York Giants 17 – Detroit Lions 6
Here is what we know: the Giants are an unspectacular team that has the ability to play anyone tough and could well be the one wild card team that can reach the Super Bowl while the Lions’ once magical season could crash and burn around them if they lose their next two games.
It would be a shame to see the Lions miss out on the playoffs because not only have they been away from them since the Truman administration, it would also mean that Cheesehead fans will be wearing those damn cheeseheads along with their too-tight sweaters while drinking schnapps to stay warm while playing in the post season.
Next week, the Lions are being rewarded with a game against the Cowboys, a team that only seems to lose to the Giants.
Atlanta 41 – San Francisco 13
This is what a December football game should look like when a first place team plays a pile of smoldering poop. The Falcons were not about to turn in a dud while in a dogfight for first place with the Buccaneers while the 49ers were not about to do anything except show why they are in a dogfight with the Browns for the worst record in the league.
Actually, San Francisco is not bad once you get rid of the players, coaches, front office, and high prices for food and drink. All that’s left for this bunch is to dress them in silver and black and move the calendar back five years. Anyone else beside me in favor of blowing up this entire operation and moving them back to the stick to start over?
New Orleans 48 – Arizona 41
This is a game that can only make fantasy football players excited. Not even a Saints fan can be happy seeing how this is what they have failed to do on a consistent basis this year. That these two teams can play a game of Madden Football at this time of year when they have nothing to play for is a testament of what the Pro Bowl is like; two teams who just want to have fun with no one getting hurt. Somehow, I have to think if these same teams had to play in Green Bay, Chicago, or Buffalo, they’d have trouble being talked into taking the field at this time of year.
New England 16 – Denver 3
What a difference a year makes. Last year, the Broncos would have been ecstatic holding the Pats to 16 points because Manning and company would have found a way to scratch out 17. Now, all they can do is field an offense that can’t even scratch their butts let alone score a touchdown or two at home. If you had told the Broncos Tom Brady would only complete 16 of 32 passes and their offense would be held in check and still win, they would wonder what type of pot you sampled in Denver. Instead, perhaps it was the Bronco offense that was a tad too high by turning the ball over three times, allowing the Patriots to ground and pound their way to another victory.
Oakland 19 – San Diego 16
San Diego fan who want to see their home games televised can always thank the Raiders for packing their stadium with their collection of misfits. Without them, Charger fans would have to go to Qualcomm Stadium just to watch them lose to their dreaded rivals.
Perhaps next year, the Raiders will rub salt in the wounds of San Diego fans by moving into their current stadium while the Chargers move north to Los Angeles. Anything is possible, except for the Chargers making the playoffs this year.
The Raiders received an extra gift earlier when Kansas City decided they had enough of the idea of winning their division and possibly home field advantage by losing to the Titans. Now if the Raiders can win out, there will be an extra pro football game or two in Oakland before they bolt to another city.
Dallas 26 – Tampa Bay 20
Tampa Bay has much to feel good about in their loss to Dallas except that losses at this time of year hurt more than any of the feel good stuff analysts like to point out. They came back from a 17-3 deficit against the conference’s best team while playing them on the road on national television.
None of that good stuff helps the fact they still allowed Dallas to come from behind and score nine fourth quarter points to win their twelfth game of the season, especially when the loss ends the Bucs five game win streak and drops them out of a tie for first with Atlanta.
Simply put, Tampa has to win out to hope for a playoff spot, which might not mean much because as long as Dak Prescott completes 32 of 36 passes and Ezekiel Elliott runs for 159 yards a game, there are not a lot of teams left that will beat these Cowboys.
Monday Night Prediction
The horribly disappointing Carolina Panthers play the Washington Redskins with Washington the team playing for the post season. Tampa Bay’s loss will now give new incentive to the Redskins who, if they win out, will likely grab the final wild card slot. This is national television which means there will be endless talk about what a swell guy and great leader Cam “Fig” Newton is and how head coach Ron Rivera has done a fantastic job despite all the disappointment the team has endured. The real truth is this: Newton has blown chunks this year when it comes to tossing the ball.
It’s understandable because he has to keep track of other stuff like what neck tie to wear with his game day suits and whether or not to dab or sulk because let’s face it, he has to lead by example.
As for Rivera, he was on the verge of being fired after the 2014 season before he and his team had a great one-year run. However, the long-term future in Carolina does not look good for him or its fans.
However, this is the NFL and lets face it, players do not always respond with the same sense of urgency they once did so it is entirely possible the Redskins lay an egg on national television. Do you get the sense I am stalling on picking a winner? You are correct. Okay, here goes. I have no idea who will win but will predict the game will be an absolute blow out. That said, I will just go with the final score and leave it to you to watch while I tune into Jeopardy.
Final Score: 52 to 7.
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Editor’s Update: The final score from Monday Night was 26-15, not the blowout that was predicted. The biggest losers were the fans at FedEx Field who watched their quarterback, Kirk Cousins, throw an interception near the goal line and then fumble the ball — near the goal line — whiffing away their best path to the playoffs.
Jonathan Stewart had 132 yards rushing for Carolina and his team had a total of 148 rushing yards. Cousins led Washington in rushing yards with 11 — no joke. The Redskins only managed to put up a total of 29 rushing yards.
But both QB’s did pass for over 300 yards each, which made the game exciting at times.
Top photo: Rams QB Jared Goff getting sacked Thursday night by Frank Clark of the Seahawks (YouTube)
Jim is a life long resident of California and retired school teacher with 30 years in public education. Jim earned his BA in History from CSU Chico in 1981 and his MA in Education from Azusa Pacific University in 1994. He is also the author of Teaching The Teacher: Lessons Learned From Teaching. Jim considers himself an equal opportunity pain in the ass to any political party, group, or individual who looks to profit off of hypocrisy. When he is not pointing out the conflicting words and actions of our leaders, the NFL commissioner, or humans in general, he can be found riding his bike for hours on end while pondering his next article. Jim recently moved to Camarillo, CA after being convinced to join the witness protection program.