03 Nov Stromme’s Takes: NFL Mid-Season Award Gala
By: Mike Stromme
With Halloween and The World Series behind us and the calendar turning to November, we to can turn the page on the first half of the 2016 NFL season. But don’t let the melancholy take hold just yet, for we still have a whole second half of the season, postseason and Super Bowl to look forward to.
And what a hell of a first half it was! As per usual, the NFL was far from predictable. We had rookie QBs leading the way, a rookie RB looking like he might “run” away with the rushing title, a man who quite easily be the MVP sit-out the first quarter, a proposal between a man and his net, a 300-RECEIVING yard game, the sharp decline of a Super Bowl contender, multiple ties and too many kickers breaking too many hearts…
Did I mention that we had another month to go?
Riveting stuff. There’s a reason why this league has a licence to print money, and it’s because this league provides more drama than Real Housewives, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Real World, Fantasy Island, Survivor, the WWE and Jersey Shore combined. It’s just good TV. Plus, we can bet on this reality show. Not sure what book would take action on the over/under Kardashian teary cut-aways, but if they do I’d suggest looking elsewhere for action.
Ahh, who am I kidding? I’d make a Kardashian wager if the opportunity presented itself.
ANYWAYS! Let’s now pay tribute to those who we have lost over the first half of the season:
The prospect of an undefeated season (Week 1-Week 7):
I was incredibly bullish on the Minnesota Vikings all preseason long (just ask Lou Landers @LouLandersII). Behind my beloved Los Angeles Rams, they were my “adopted team”. What wasn’t there to love? Young playmakers all over the defense, a young QB ready to find his stride, a former MVP running back looking to finish his career on a high note and one of the better head coaches in the NFL in Mike Zimmer.
Fewer teams went through more player personnel adversity than the Minnesota Vikings. They
lost their young, athletic signal caller in Teddy Bridgewater on a freak knee injury in training camp and the face of the franchise, Adrian Peterson, was lost in Week 2.
The front office stepped-up, and brought in the first overall pick of the 2010 draft, Sam Bradford. The move went swimmingly for about six weeks, that was until the team marched into Philly following a Week 6 bye. A team that did not commit a turnover to date, turned the ball over a whopping FOUR TIMES. They would drop that game, and the next one on Monday Night Football in Chicago. Long-time Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner resigned following the loss, and the ’72 Dolphins once again, popped bottles like Pitbull in Miami (MR. 305! MIAMI!).
Watching the Chicago Bears in Prime Time (Week 1-Week 8):
Who the hell in the NFL scheduling department decided that it would be a capital idea to have the Chicago Bears play under prime time lights FOUR TIMES in the first half of the season??? I understand that the league needs the big TV markets playing in prime time every now and then; I mean, its the TV ratings that drive the league… BUT FOUR TIMES IN EIGHT WEEKS!? Everyone and their mothers knew this team was going to be bad going into the year. There was no preseason buzz, no hype, no appeal about this team coming into the season. Alshon Jeffery aside, they had no marketable stars, no intrigue, no real chance to compete. WHY BOOK THEM IN FOUR TIMES?
I understand that every team has to play on Thursday night, I have no issue there. And, I guess an appearance on Monday Night Football wouldn’t hurt. But TWO Monday Night games and a Sunday-nighter?? C’mon NFL, give you’re head a shake. You thought that you could give us football junkies any old game and we’d eat it up… For the most part, you’re right. I (reluctantly) watched, I’m sure my other football colleagues here at SportsCrew watched every down, but the casual sports fan didn’t. Rating are down, and a big reason is bullshit like this. Get your shit together! There’s no way in hell that football fans should have this much exposure to a 2-6 football club.
On a positive note, the Bears have nothing but 1PM EST kickoffs from here on out. So, there’s that?
The NFC “Least”:
Remember when the laughing stock of all NFL divisions was the NFC East? Well one half of a season is in the books, and all four teams in the money-tv market division are all above .500.
Leading the way at 6-1 are the Dallas Cowboys. Lead by rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot, the Cowboys look legit! They run the ball, avoid turnovers and are tied with the defending Super Bowl Champs for the third-best point differential in the league. Don’t look now, but America’s team could be the team to beat in the NFC.
And now, for the first award of the night:
Team to Beat through Eight Weeks: New England Patriots (7-1)
Honourable Mentions: Dallas Cowboys (6-1), Minnesota Vikings (5-2)
No Brady? No problem! Bill Belichick reminded the world why nobody ever gets rich betting against his New England Patriots. With Brady suspended, the team went a staggering 3-1 while dominating the first three games with second and third-string QBs.
Upon the return of Touchdown Tom, the Pats won their next four games by a combined score of 136-71. Brady has
averaged 329.8 passing yards/game, owns a 12-0 TD-INT ratio and a passer rating of 133.7. Watch out, NFL. Brady, Belichick and co. are coming in hot, pissed off and ready for action.
New England’s second half opponents: Seattle, San Francisco, NY Jets (twice), Los Angeles, Baltimore, Denver and Miami. We might as well give them the first round bye now.
Team to Meet through Eight Weeks: Cleveland Browns (0-8)
Honourable Mention: San Francisco 49ers (1-6)
To quote the late, great Dennis Green… “THEY ARE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE!”
However, the context of this rant is a little misrepresented as nobody is letting this team off the hook. In America’s newest city of champions, the Cleveland Browns are the Hans Moleman of the Cleveland sports scene. If the Cavs, Indians, UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic, Drew Carey and the Cleveland Monsters (American Hockey
League affiliate of the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets) all got together to assemble a football roster, made cuts and fielded a team to play the Browns, the Browns would win… But the game would be closer than you think.
Seriously though, all jokes aside; the Browns have been awful this season. Sorry, I did say all jokes aside. But seriously, an 0-8 record, a -80 point differential, a star receiver in rehab, SIX different QBs taking a snap under center, one poorly-planned banner and no end in sight. Well, at least the Cavs are back?
Gambler’s Choice Team of the First Half: Dallas Cowboys (6-0-1 ATS)
Honourable Mentions: New England Patriots (7-1 ATS)
If you have bet on the Dallas Cowboys against the spread in every game this season, you wouldn’t have lost a dime. After a three-point loss to the New York Giants that resulted in a push in Week 1, the Cowboys have not only won, but covered every game since then. Dak, Zeke and Dez have been nothing but money this entire season.
The Degenerate’s Choice Award for Money Burning, First Half Edition: San Francisco 49ers (1-6 ATS)
Honourable Mentions: Cleveland Browns (2-6 ATS), Chicago Bears (2-6 ATS)
After beating up on the Los Angeles Rams on the second leg of the Monday Night Football double-header in Week 1, the 49ers have not won, nor covered a spread since. They were 9-point dogs or more in three of those seven games. This team is not only getting beat, but beat handily. In their six losses, the closest they came to winning was 24-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys at home; they lead that game 14-0 at one point. Jim Tomsula or Chip Kelly, Blaine Gabbert or Colin Kaepernick, it really doesn’t matter with this team. They flat-out suck.
DraftKings Daily Fantasy Player of the Half: David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals
Honourable Mention: Matt Ryan, QB Atlanta Falcons
Despite trailing rushing leader Ezekiel Elliot by 94 yards, David Johnson has been the highest-scoring player in Draftkings. His 199.2 total Draftking points are the most of any NFL player this season. The man has not had a single
game this season where he failed to reach 100+ all-purpose yards. He’s clearly living up to his first-round pick status in season-long fantasy leagues and has been nothing but money in daily fantasy.
And now for some mid-season predictions:
NFC North: Minnesota Vikings (sticking with my guys)
NFC South: Atlanta Falcons
NFC East: Dallas Cowboys
NFC West: Seattle Seahawks
Wild Cards: Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles
AFC North: Cincinnati Bengals
AFC South: Tennessee Titans
AFC East: New England Patriots
AFC West: Oakland Raiders
Wild Cards: Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers
MVP: Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Ezekiel Elliot, Dallas Cowboys
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Keanu Neal, Atlanta Falcons
NFC Championship: Packers over Falcons
AFC Championship: Patriots over Raiders
Super Bowl: Patriots over Packers