Draft King Analysis|
October 30, 2013
Lou Pickney, DraftKing.com
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Late October is here, and this is the time of the year when the landscape starts to become clear in the NFL. The early surprises and disappointments can be misleading (e.g. 2012 Arizona Cardinals starting 4-0 including a win at New England) but when you get to the midway point things begin to become more obvious. And that in turn sets the landscape for the upcoming stretch run and the playoffs.
Speaking of playoffs, it's too bad that college football won't debut its Mini Playoffs until next season. As bad as the BCS is, if you can believe it pre-1998 was actually worse. In the final season before the BCS, 1997, there were two huge unbeaten teams: Nebraska and Michigan. But because of the way things were, it was Nebraska vs. Tennessee in the Orange Bowl (Peyton Manning's final college game, which I attended in person) while it was Michigan vs. Washington State in the Rose Bowl. They split the national championship, which was horribly anti-climatic.
As much as there are rules that have been put into place in college football that have driven me bonkers, from changes to the clock rule (allowing for kneel-downs with two minutes to go, which never happened in the old days) to touchdowns being called back for guys celebrating before they reach the end zone (coming soon to the NFL), at least they did away with ties and have the top two teams playing and more games on TV (and in high definition) by far than ever before. But if things hold up the way they have to this point, between Alabama and Oregon and Florida State (or Miami) and Baylor, there are multiple teams that will end up in the 2004 Auburn spot: unbeaten and lacking a shot at playing for a national championship. That's already a given for Northern Illinois and Fresno State.
Some other thoughts from college and the NFL:
-It's a sad state of affairs in Tampa Bay. It was no secret that Greg Schiano was a prototype bully head coach when the Bucs hired him last year. And while Schiano deserves credit for turning the Rutgers program into a winner and recruiting some great talent there, the asshole authoritarian approach hasn't worked for the Buccaneers, like what so often happens for most coaches who come in from the college level.
From the Josh Freeman debacle (and the media leaks that underminded the trust) to MRSA to attendance issues to Doug Martin's season-ending injury, this has not been a good season for the Buccaneers. How the club chooses to move forward in 2014 and beyond will be interesting.
-In case you missed it, Jerry Jones said that he is fine with the Cowboys playing in London, but that he would never give up a home game to do so. This shouldn't surprise anyone -- NFL large market teams are never the ones who have to give up a home game for neutral site matchups. This is the same league that in 2005 made the Saints play a "home game" against the New York Giants at the old Meadowlands stadium following Hurricane Katrina. I've written about this before (and note that I was also skeptical of Schiano in that column), but the real losers with the London games are the season ticket holders.
Under the current system, NFC teams only play at AFC teams once every eight years and vice-versa. It really sticks it to smaller-market teams that are having a challenging selling out games to pull a true rare drawing card out of the mix. Tom Brady and the Patriots should have played the Rams in St. Louis in 2012. Jacksonville fans should be able to see the Cowboys come to down in 2014. But instead season-ticket holders get double-screwed, losing a top opponent and having their preseason-to-season ticket ratio cut from 2-of-10 to 2-of-9. For a league that otherwise (and rightfully) promotes parity so much, this is what I consider to be a weak spot for the league.
-It took me a few days to decide who I was going to slot as the top QB between Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater and Oregon QB Marcus Mariota for the top spot. And as much as I have disdain for AP voters (and even more for lazy coach voters) who maintain the status quo from preseason projections, I don't want to keep Bridgewater in the top spot simply because of momentum. My estimation is that it's very close between Bridgewater and Mariota at this point.
-If Carl Pelini was 15-5 instead of 5-15 at Florida Atlantic, would he have lost his job today? I don't know, but I suspect it would have made the decision harder. It's fitting that him getting the ax for something so innocuous that didn't involve an arrest (allegedly smoking marijuana) happened on the same day that New York City raised the age to buy cigarettes to 21 in the country with the highest incarceration rate both per capita and overall in the entire world.
Land of the free is just a lyric in a song they sing before football games -- it's not a statement of fact. Not even close. Of course, if the FAU brass had been looking for a way to can Pelini without having to buy out his contract, this might have afforded them an easy opportunity to do so. It's a sliding scale in most cases.
-On the flip side, former Oregon TE Colt Lyerla getting busted on a charge of cocaine possession last week is about the worst thing short of Aaron Hernandez that he could have done after parting ways with the Ducks football team. Perhaps he took suggestions that he get his mind right the wrong way? But, all kidding aside, it seems highly unlikely that he would be drafted even in a best case scenario at this point, but his talent should get him at least a look from an NFL team. We all make mistakes -- hopefully he can learn from his.