NFL15 Cherry Picks W14: Cream Rising

10 Dec

‘Tis the time of year when consumerism takes on an almost religious zeal, one where the USPS and shipping firms are the harried ushers & usherettes working overtime to get us settled-in for the big service: Gifting day.

....creampour.wc.3.9.08.Parhamr.7.45mAll the time “♫ jingle bells rock ♫” and the multitudes “♫ mix and a-mingle ♫” with the spirit of giving and a goal of getting home safe & sound. All very nice.

But to Joe & Jenny Football the holidays are when their church of cheer, National Football League, which incidentally, has not and never will seek 501(c)(3) Internal Revenue Code exemption, is getting down to it’s nitty-gritty.

The nit & grit: post-season positioning for Conference playoffs that’re just only a month’s time away and take shape in the format of wild-card weekend (1.9.16). The cream o’ the crop are rising to the top of the NFL egg-nog of champions. I’m all-in, alright.

Who gets in and who begins booking the family cruise for February will, for most contenders, of which there are, it seems this NFL season, as many in number as there will be boxes & bows under the “holiday tree (Oh Brother, Mr. President),” depend largely on this last run of (4) games.

Best o’ the Baker’s

....baker.M.Andaya.USS.JC.Stennis.11.7.06.PJ.Perkins.thm1. Arizona Cardinals
2. Cincinnati Bengals
3. New England Patriots
4. Seattle Seahawks
5. Carolina Panthers
6. Green Bay Packers
7. Kansas City Chiefs
8. Denver Broncos
9. Pittsburgh Steelers
10. New York Jets
11. Houston Texans
12. Buffalo Bills

As it sits today, AFC has more contenders but the senior circuit NFC has more VLT (Vince Lombardi Trophy) viables, i.e., serious contenders. Surprised by Carolina’s rank? In a head-to-head, I’d tab any of those four clubs over the Panthers…today.

Puddin’ Proof

.....pudding.pistachio.wc.12.9.13.peterinelcajon.thmThe proof’s in the pudding, so the non-sabrmetric minded sport folk like to say.

Bengals and Panthers both have a tough task the rest of this regular. Not so much in schedule as in the mental-game. They both know their biggest tests will come in the post-season, that first contest, most likely in the post-bye divisional round. In more recent times, Cincinnati (Lewis & Dalton: 0-4) and Carolina (2015’s W vs AZ was Palmer-free) have proven low-calorie, fat-free pudding pretenders in the playoffs. They’d be wise to ditch those mental demons, for now, and focus on tasks at hand and head to the playoffs with nothing but winning on their minds.

Theory on the 12-0 Cats: They’re conservative capitalists, pouncing on opportunities (#17 ygpg but #3 in pts scored) that’ve presented themselves a’ plenty in this topsy-turvy NFL15. Then their top defense (#2 / 3) seals-the-deal. Simple, right? Sure (2015!). Cam’s getting high marks from his ‘mates (“Roman” / SI.com / R.Harper / 12.2), though, I can’t imagine more “front flips” and regular rabbit in “running QB power on third-10” serves well to get Carolina back to the Conference shindig, but in this capricious NFL campaign, ‘if it works don’t fix it’ may be maxim to hang over Cats locker-room door.

And the Packers, they sense it’s just matter of time before reclaiming their Northern throne and back in the mix. They’ve still got issues. Filling Lord Nelson’s void central. Richard ‘Jolly’ Rodgers won’t do it, but he helps. And to that TNF closing heave-ho vs Lions, not so miraculous when no defenders are within 15-yrds of throwing QB and most cornerbacks average near 5’10” today.

Opt Out

It’s time for “hosting” and toasting,” “mistletoeing” and “glowing,” and maybe the most important decision you and your family will make the rest of this 2015: What healthcare plan you‘ll be opting into and out of?

Same ‘opting’ call holds true for NFL fandom this season.

Detroit Lions: Out

Tiddlywinks: Lions game-plan after a big 1Q (17pt) vs GB last TNF. Next 3Q: two FGs. Detroit let a big, juicy win die on the vine. With G-Bay you’ve gotta’ stomp on their throats from get-go, and keep it there. Reigning MVP strikes like a cobra. Pack was befuddled, struggling for answers into the 3rd, season hanging in the balance. But the D held and Rodgers & Rodgers of Cal-Berkeley ties knotted for “longest play of the night (26).“ CBS didn’t know it but it was turning point.

.....GB@DET.12.4.15.RoopeM.thmThat all cued the Chicken Littles cluckin’ away on referees. A facemask is a facemask, strict liability-like. As such, defenders must be aware, head-on-a-swivel-like. Could you imagine League’s referees having to apply a standard that permitted them this leeway: ‘Well, it wasn’t much of a facemask, so let’s let it slide.‘ Besides, refs could’ve just as easily thrown a UR flag on Detroit. This loss (and the season) was all on the Lions and they know it.

Minnesota Vikings: Out

Vikes lost at Denver W4 (23-20), then had two games to rise-in-grade at home versus nemesis Green Bay (W11: 30-13) and Seattle (W13: 38-7), two teams with flaws, and got pounded good. Bandwagoneers are quietly stepping off.

Curious Quote

Jocks take flak for sub-par play, coaches cannot be immune. Problem with Adrian Peterson‘s critique of Mike Zimmer (”out-coached“), All-Day has a conflict of interest. The upside, it’s the first favorable critique of Pete Carroll’s ability since Whine-fest uncorked, post-SB49.

...cherries.ripe,thm.wc.Chirak.6.24.7

Cherry Picks Week 13: “Gang-way!”

Vikings (8-4) @ Arizona (10-2): 12.10 NFLN 8:25: Cards win
Buffalo (6-6) @ Philadelphia (5-7): 12.13 CBS 1:00: Eagles win
Seattle Seahawks (7-5) @ Baltimore (4-8): Fox 1:00: Ravens win
Pittsburgh (7-5) @ Cincinnati (10-2): CBS 1:00: Bengals win
Indianapolis (6-6) @ Jacksonville (4-8): CBS 1:00: Colts wins
Washington Redskins (5-7) @ Chicago (5-7): Fox 1:00: Bears win
Atlanta (6-6) @ Carolina Panthers (12-0): Fox 1:00: Falcons win
Saints (4-8) @ Tampa Bay (6-6): Fox 1:00: New Orleans wins
Oakland (5-7) @ Denver Broncos (10-2): CBS 4:05: Raiders win
Dallas Cowboys (4-8) @ Green Bay (8-4): Fox 4:25: Packers win
New England (10-2) @ Houston (6-6): NBC 8:30: Patriots win
Giants (5-7) @ Miami (5-7): 12.14 ESPN 8:30: Dolphins win

Record: 68 – 71

...NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: cream-pour, wc.cca, Parhamr, 3.9.08; cow-dairy, USDA-FM, R.Doughty, J.Hoover, 6.7.13; baker, M.Andaya, USS-JC.Stennis, 11.7.06, PJ.Perkins; pudding-pistachio, wc, peterinelcajon, 12.9.13; GBatDET, 12.4.15, RoopeM; cherries-ripe, 6.24.07, Chirak, wc; NFL-symbol, wikiproject.
Posted: 12.10.15 @ 5:35pm, edit 7:00 EST; Copyright © 2015

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