LOS ANGELES — It’s amazing how quickly five months flies by when the only thing you look forward to is each passing Sunday. That’s life in the National. Football. League. But seriously, weren’t we just talking about how the Texans and Falcons were ready to make The Leap and become real championship contenders? And how miserable the weather was going to be for Super Bowl XLVIII? And how if Peyton Manning had anything left in the tank after a remarkable comeback season? And if this and then that, and then that and if this? No? Just me?
If we learned anything the last 22-plus NFL weeks it’s that week-to-week, and sometimes day-to-day, we really don’t know anything. Yeah, we all thought the Seahawks and Broncos and Patriots and 49ers would be good, and lo and behold they were the final four teams standing. But what about the Chargers? Nope. Philip Rivers couldn’t find the ocean from the beach in 2012. Redskins? That unraveled in a hurry. Same in Houston and Atlanta. Cam Newton impressed, Andrew Luck became the Comeback Kid, and Nick Foles morphed from “Point Break 2” extra into an MVP candidate.
It was a year of surprises and unknowns and it ended in the most unpredictable way possible; Seattle and it’s #1 defense thrashing Peyton Manning’s record-breaking Denver offense. Go figure.
Lucky for you, I told you all what to expect in the big game; now let’s go see what actually happened. And like Phil Connors, I think I was really close on this one.
1.) “Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will talk about how cold it is at MetLife Stadium.” — I was too busy slicing three different kinds of cheese so I didn’t hear the top of the broadcast, but I’m sure one of those two mentioned the weather. It would’ve been journalistically negligent to not to.
2.) “It won’t actually be that cold.” — Gametime temperature was 49 degrees! Joe Namath didn’t even need that ’70s pimp mink coat he was wearing. But, come on. HE’S JOE NAMATH. #RollTide
3.) “Roger Goodell will be shown sitting outside among the “real” “fans” because he is a “one-of-the-guys” type of commish.” — Fox really made us wait for this one, but when the 3rd quarter hit, BAM! There was good ‘ole Rog sitting among the peeps in the stands like the regular guy he is. Looked great, too.
4.) The opera chick singing the National Anthem will take for-eva to belt it out.” — Again, I nailed this one, but this woman I’ve never heard of sure sounded good.
5.) “Fox will try and get a close-up of Knowshon Moreno crying in pre-game.”
6.) “They will fail.” — I may have missed it, but Knowshon didn’t cry in pre-game did he? Because I’m sure he was crying postgame after that beatdown.
7.) “Most of the commercials will be terrible.” — OK, maybe I was a bit off here. I enjoyed several of the spots. In no particular order:
8.) “Except Bud Light. They always hit home runs.” — That three-and-a-half minute mini-movie with some guy named Ian Rapoport (not to be confused with @Rapsheet) was really awesome. Also loved the “24” promo, the “Transformers 4” trailer and the Full House spot. Kind of an underwhelming commercials year.
9.) “You’ll have no idea what songs Bruno Mars is singing. That’s because no one can name any song that he sings.”— Bruno Mars is a cross between Little Richard, Michael Jackson and James Brown, and I think that’s a good thing. He did a good job with the time he had to work with and willll probably be a gigantic star now, which means my mom will know who he is.
10.) “The Red Hot Chili Peppers will rock out and may literally actually have their cocks out.” — Shirtless sorta counts, right? And I love how we’re having an air guitar controversy. Seriously, people.
11.) “The Broncos will be winning at halftime.” — OK, so I can’t get all of these right.
12.) “Peyton Manning will throw an interception in the game.” — Can I interest you in TWO interceptions?!
13.) “It will not be to Richard Sherman.” — Um, nailed it!
14.) “Joe Buck will make a joke tossing it down to Erin Andrews about Richard Sherman’s rant two weeks ago.” — So sad this didn’t happen. But hey, nice jacket, Erin.
15.) “Pam Oliver’s weave will look absolutely ridiculous.” — Believe it or not, Pam didn’t look half bad on Sunday.
16.) “Darren Rovell will tweet about the amount of buffalo wings consumed during Super Bowl parties.” — So Rovell tweeted about the food overall consumed on Super Sunday but specifically about wings. Has to be the upset of Sunday. Thought that was a lock.
17.) “You will all threaten to unfollow him but not actually go through with it.” — Alas, I’m still following him, too.
18.) “It will be mentioned roughly 3.5 times how Marshawn Lynch now has an endorsement deal with Skittles.” — It was awesome when Lynch was picking up Skittles off the turf and eating them after he scored. What a legend, boss.
19.) “And how Beast Mode wasn’t exactly an active participant in talking to the media this week.” — He’s just ’bout that action, boss.
20.) “Not that it matters because Lynch is going to run for 125 yards at 2 touchdowns.” — Lynch finished with only 39 yards on 15 carries, which surprised the hell out of me; thought he’d dominate in this game.
21.) “We all will be reminded that Wes Welker dropped a potential Super Bowl-clinching pass two years ago.” — Surprisingly, this didn’t come up.
22.) “Pete Carroll will be shown roughly 27 times chomping away on a poor piece of gum.” — It was awesome watching Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” this week for all the Carroll cutaways during the game; hands down the happiest guy in the league. Always jumping and yelling and smiling. Also easy to do when your team is running away with the title.
23.) “He’ll be smiling the entire time because now that Dick Clark has passed away, Carroll is the world’s oldest teenager.” — Carroll is 62 years old and hands down lives younger than you or me.
24.) “It’ll be mentioned that Peyton Manning is old and Russell Wilson is not.” — Their 13-year age difference is pretty remarkable, all jokes aside.
25.) “And that Wilson used to play baseball.” — I really just wanna know if he’s gonna cut his hair now.
26.) “And that he loves Jesus.” — Speaking of Hova, did you see Wilson sitting courtside with Jay-Z and Beyonce Monday at the Nets game? Yeah you did. Throw the Roc up, Russell! Get that Cano money!
27.) “And that Manning loves Papa John’s.
28.) And getting them checks.” — Manning not appearing in a Super Bowl commerical has another huge upset.
29.) “There will be roughly 37 promos for some awful new Fox show that will get canceled after 4 episodes.” — No new Fox show this winter? Really?! I feel cheated.
30.) “The ‘celebrities-at-the-game’ montage will be hilarious because they all will look freezing cold and completely miserable.” — This montage was great because everyone was shown inside a box! No one wanted to brave the elements?!My favorite was David Beckham, who had a fantastic white sweater on but was sitting by himself, looking at his phone, which prompted a friend of mine to say that was like me. Apparently I’m on my phone a lot. Who knew.
31.) “We’ll all be warm and full from eating tons of delicious food in the comfort of our homes.” — I’m still eating leftovers four days later!
32.) “Julius Thomas will catch a touchdown pass.” — I think we all expected the Broncos to score more than a single touchdown.
33.) “We’ll hear more than a few times how much the Broncos defense misses Von Miller.” — Was Von Miller mentioned during the broadcast? That was pretty shocking to me.
34.) “Legion of Boom will be said 17 different times.” — I think I have Richard Sherman’s screaming “L-O-B!!” burned in my brain at this point.
35.) “Troy Aikman will express his discontent for the bravado at which Seattle plays defense.” — Don’t think this happened but I’m sure Aikman was complaining somewhere, sometime about Sherman and his crew. Let it go, Troy.
36.) “We will be reminded that Seattle’s fans are called the ’12th Man.'” — BUT DID YOU HEAR HOW LOUD THE 12TH MAN WAS ON SUNDAY!!?!
37.) “The coin toss will come up heads.” — I think this was right? I still can’t believe Joe Namath’s coat. What a legend.
38.) “The Gatorade doused on the winning head coach will be yellow.” — Thanks to the second bathing I got this one. Yellow is always the safest choice.
39.) “The first points of the game will be a field goal.” — Do I get some credit if the second points of the game where a field goal?! Two of the last three Super Bowls Tom Brady and Peyton Manning called for safeties result in the first points of the game. Unreal.
40.) “You will all wish you were at my house for the game.” — We had a GREAT time at Trojan Manor. In fact, I still have some leftovers if you’re in the LA area this week.
41.) “But don’t worry, I’ll be live-tweeting the festivities.” — Hope you enjoyed my tweets as much as I did.
42.) “Kurt Warner and Ben Roethlisberger will be mentioned.” — I thought this might be the case because when these two faced off in Super Bowl 43 it was the last time there was such an age discrepancy. I was wrong.
43.) “So will Madonna. Just cause.” — Eh, shot in the dark.
44.) “There will be a special teams touchdown.” — Oh boy did I nail this one. Really proud of this prediction. Well done, Percy Harvin. Whatever the Seahawks paid you this year was worth it.
45.) “And at least two missed field goals.” — OK, so I missed on this one.
46.) “There will be some kind of precipitation in the second half.” — It appeared that Bruno Mars was getting slightly misted on when he was out there doing his best Little Richard impression, so that counts.
47.) “A big defensive play will be made late in the 4th quarter to all but determine the outcome.” — Turns out the big defensive play in the game came much sooner, and it’s play-maker, Malcolm Smith, was named the game’s MVP.
48.) “The Seahawks will win the game, 23-20.” — So I was a little off.
LOS ANGELES — It was Halloween this week; such an interesting “holiday.” Kids obviously still love it and department stores still set up months ahead of time with candy and decorations. Since I’ve lived in Los Angeles, I’ve warmed to the idea of dressing up and going out to enjoy it with other adults. I still don’t feel right about it, but clearly I’ve participated and enjoyed myself. Past costumes have included Bill Belichick, Al Capone, Tim Tebow and Mr. Blonde. While I’m sure the Halloween celebration across the country has its own unique flavor, here it really is like another big holiday. City streets close off, neighborhoods go all out and parties are sponsored by liquor companies. Halloween takes people watching to the next level. It’s really interesting to me to see, with all the creative people in such a small area, what these artistic minds come up with in terms of intricate and unique costumes. It’s hard to explain but one of those things you need to experience to appreciate.
Let’s see who’s dressed up as The Man.
32.) Kansas City Chiefs (1-6) (32) –– For the second week in a row, there will be no change in the bottom of these rankings and the three teams you’re about to read about have 3 combined wins. Now stop me if this sounds a little wacked: Jamaal Charles, who rushed for 233 yards in a game earlier this year, had just 5 carries for 4 yards this weekend against the Raiders, when you started Brady Quinn at quarterback. Romeo Crennel’s days are numbered in K.C.
31.) Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6) (31) — Saw some tweets floating the Twitterverse last night about how the Jaguars offense is better without Maurice Jones-Drew and how Blaine Gabbert looks better without MJD in the backfield. I hate to go all 2010 on everyone, but CHILD, PLEASE! If Blaine Gabbert can’t succeed with a Top 5 running back in the backfield that’s on HIM, not the Top 5 running back.
30.) Carolina Panthers (1-6) (30) — This week in “Let’s Blame Cam Newton For Everything”: 5th straight loss, 20-for-39, 314 yards, Zero TDs, 2 INTs and a 57.0 Passer Rating. Cam did conduct himself better at the postgame press conference
29.) Cleveland Browns (2-6) (29) — SOMEONE BREAK UP THE BROWNS!! Not sure if you saw this game on Sunday, but there was a monsoon in Cleveland and the only thing worse than Norv Turner calling plays dry is Norv Turner calling plays soaking wet. 7-6 is kinda setting today’s pass-happy game back a few decades, but that was a game made for Trent Richardson (122 yards, TD) and he delivered.
28.) Buffalo Bills (3-4) (27) — Let’s be honest, a bye week was just what the doctor ordered in Buffalo.
27.) Arizona Cardinals (4-4) (18) — You know how much I love stats. Here’s one for ya: three teams have started the year 4-0 and then lost the next four games. The 1993 Philadelphia Eagles, the 2002 Oakland Raiders … and the 2012 Arizona Cardinals. The ship, be a sinkin’. #FreeFitz
26.) Oakland Raiders (3-4) (28) — Don’t look now but the Raiders are only a game back of the Broncos for the AFC West division lead. OK, no one really thinks they have a shot, not with how Peyton Manning is playing, but still. This team was a mess a few weeks ago, and now Carson Palmer has strung together a couple solid performances in a row the #FreeDMC campaign has sunk faster a lead balloon. Which is a good thing. The league is better when the Raiders are competitive. Let’s hope this continues.
25.) Tennessee Titans (3-5) (24) — Heartbreaking loss by my brother Matthew’s team on Sunday after a third-straight win was lost when Vick Ballard leaped towards the pylon in overtime. Ballard’s amazing play aside, the Titans have looked much better in recent weeks. Hasselbeck has averaged a respectable 233 yards per and a TD in 4 starts, and has only turned it over twice in that span. Chris Johnson has averaged 102 yards in his last 4 games. So it’s coming back.
24.) St. Louis Rams (3-5) (23) — I have yet to travel abroad in my 32-year existence (I plan to get to it at some point, please don’t deride) but it appeared to me that the Rams left their game back in St. Louis. And did anyone find it odd that Wembley fans cheered for the Patriots? Ya know, U.S. Revolution and all that stuff?
23.) Philadelphia Eagles (3-4) (21) — So getting boat raced in the pouring down rain by the Atlanta Falcons is Juan Castillo’s fault, too, I’m guessing? Right, Andy Reid? And now we’re talking about Michael Vick being benched for Nick Foles? Seriously? Someone panicked in my fantasy league and actually picked up Foles. If Nick Foles starts a game this year I’ll be more shocked than that time I was shocked about something shocking.
22.) New York Jets (3-5) (19) — I’m not gonna say I predicted this, but I did pick up the Dolphins defense with Houston on a bye because I felt a Mark Sanchez game coming. And lo and behold: 4 sacks, a couple of turnovers, 2 blocked kicks, a TD and 29 points later and I had myself an upset fantasy win. And what’s with this news Tim Tebow is taking some actress? Yup, this’ll end well.
21.) Cincinnati Bengals (3-4) (22) — I really hope during this bye week the Bengals figured out what’s going wrong with their defense that’s given up 58 points in their last two games.
20.) Dalllas Cowboys (3-4) (17) — No one gets blown out, comes back, only to blow the game in stupid fashion quite like the Cowboys. I know this has been asked all week, but the the hell, Tony Romo? It’s funny to me people are trying to figure out if he can ever lead the team to the Super Bowl. These guys like Romo and Rivers give us so much evidence that they are who they are. Romo blew a playoff game back in 2006. We had hard evidence 6 years ago! He’s never gonna get it and Dallas is never going to win with him. Period.
19.) San Diego Chargers (3-4) (14) — Groundhog Day in the NFL is every year around this time the talk around the league is how the San Diego is in the tank, Norv Turner and A.J. Smith should be fired and Philip Rivers isn’t as good as everyone thinks he is. Then the Chargers rattle off 5 wins in 6 weeks, save their season, finish 9-7 and sneak into the playoffs.
18.) Detroit Lions (3-4) (25) — Fact: I had no idea who Ryan Broyles was until the third quarter of Week 7. Fact: I picked him up and started him this week. Fact: He scored a touchdown for the second straight week. Fact: I won this week. I’m not sure where I’m going with this, but Calvin Johnson has to be hurt or something. That’s the only explanation I’m accepting.
17.) Indianapolis Colts (4-3) (20) — Is that the play of the year from Vick Ballard? Take a look. Watch it again and again. Have you ever seen someone hit the pylon with his head?! A leap is one thing, but a leap, eskimo roll into the head off the pylon. Ridiculous. And don’t look now, but if the playoffs started today, the Colts are in.
16.) New Orleans Saints (2-5) (16) — Really surprised the Saints didn’t play better in Denver last week. Brees has looked a little off all season and that defense, I mean, I didn’t think there was a worse secondary than the Patriots, but good golly. New Orleans is porous. They couldn’t stop my high school, which has it’s Western Maine Class A semifinal playoff matchup this Saturday. Go Trojans.
15.) Minnesota Vikings (5-3) (13) — Pretty bad loss by the Vikings, at home, on Thursday night against the Bucs. This season, home teams have dominated the Thursday games and I was expecting more of the same. The Purple Pistol hasn’t looked great in the last 4 games, throwing 7 interceptions. I still think this team can make the playoffs, but a brutal schedule awaits. “Seriously? WTF” was all Jimmy had for me this week.
14.) Washington Redskins (3-5) (12) — This team is close, but still shows signs of not being that close. Alfred Morris has been out of this world good but you get the feeling against good teams they don’t know how to win yet. It’ll happen. My Good Friend Robert is too special.
13.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4) (26) — Yes, I have the Bucs jumping up 13 spots this week. Yes, that is a record in the 9 weeks of this poll (I think). Yes, this may be an overreaction. Yes, Doug Martin is fast, and yes, Josh Freeman has a snake named Eisen.
12.) Miami Dolphins (4-3) (15) — As much as I feel for Lauren Tannehill’s husband for getting injured, I’m really glad for Matt Moore, whom I always thought got a raw deal down in Miami. Good to see him come in and play well. And like I said earlier, big ups to that defense for getting me a win in fantasy this week.
11.) Seattle Seahawks (4-4) (8) — The SeaChickens better hope they win the NFC West and get homefield, because that’s the only way they have a chance of winning a playoff game. Never seen a team struggle so much on the road. They’re the Bizarro Giants.
10.) Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3) (11) — I don’t know who Jonathan Dwyer is or how much he weighs, but he sure looks like Jerome Bettis, doesn’t he? Runs like him, too. Could be dangerous for opponents going forward if they start playing like the Steelers of old.
9.) Baltimore Ravens (5-2) (6) — When you’re coming off a bye week, I generally don’t have much to say about you. But by no fault of their own, the Ravens have gotten skipped over by a few teams who just have that mojo working right now.
8.) Denver Broncos (4-3) (10) — We may be witnessing the greatest Peyton Manning season in his 15-year career. Call me crazy, but what he’s doing is incredible. I was on record, here and everywhere, that I thought Manning should have retired. Four neck surgeries. A season off. I didn’t think there was any way he could come back and be the Peyton we’ve known. All he’s done lately is 4 straight 300+ yard, 3+ TD games and has the Broncos in the driver’s seat in the AFC West.
7.) New England Patriots (5-3) (9) — The Patriots brought their full artillery to the motherland and put down a full musket whooping of the Rams. Tom Brady leads the league in passing yards (2,408) and Stevan Ridley is 5th in rushing (716 yards). Sure, we all say the former coming but no one saw the latter. If that maintains, and this Thursday trade for Aqib Talib pans out. Look out.
6.) San Francisco 49ers (6-2) (7) — I know the Cardinals have gone in the tank since starting the season 4-0, but dang did the 49ers put the bang thing (@richeisen voice) on them this Monday. And nice of Randy Moss to dust off the cleats and show us some of that 2007 speed.
5.) Houston Texans (6-1) (5) — Arian Foster was out in California last week to have his jersey retired by his high school. That’s pretty awesome, but shouldn’t every player in the NFL have their jersey retired by their high school? It goes to figure if they made it to the NFL, they’re at least in the 99.9% of players who’ve EVER played at their high school? What in the hell took so long for Foster? What is taking so long Thornton Academy? Oh, right, I wasn’t any good.
4.) Green Bay Packers (5-3) (3) — Aaron Rodgers is still ballin’ out of control right now, and as long as that’s happening, who cares if the Packers only beat the hapless Jaguars 24-15?
3.) New York Giants (6-2) (4) — Only the Giants are good enough to go on the road and rack up a 23-0 lead against a division opponent who beat them earlier in the year. And only the Giants are bad enough to blow that lead and then hold on to win the game because the opponent’s star receiver’s fingers are an inch too long. They’ll probably win the Super Bowl again.
2.) Chicago Bears (6-1) (2) — Before the season we made preseason prediction on the Rich Eisen Podcast and for Coach of the Year, I said Lovie Smith and was laughed at. I said, if the Bears have a good season, which they could with a healthy Jay Cutler (they were on their way last year before he got hurt), then Lovie was going to get serious consideration. I think I’m sitting pretty at the season’s midway point.
1.) Atlanta Falcons (7-0) (1) — The Falcons showed no rust coming out of the bye week; going on the road and putting it down on the Eagles. Matty Ice (or the Mattural) strengthened his MVP campaign with 3 more TD passes as Atlanta remained unbeaten. It hosts the Cowboys this week in what will either end their season or keep their chatter on our tongues for some time to come. Please let it be the reaper (Frasier Crane voice).