- Only FOUR Eastern Conference teams have a winning record against the West: Atlanta (10-2), Toronto (9-5), Chicago (9-6) and Washingon (8-5)?
- SIX Eastern Conference teams are above .500? That’s Atlanta (27-8), Toronto (24-10), Chicago (25-11), Washington (24-11), Cleveland (19-17) and Milwaukee (19-18).
- EIGHT Western Conference teams are above .500? Golden State (28-5), Portland (27-8), Memphis (25-10), Dallas (26-11), Houston (24-11), LA Clippers (24-12), San Antonio (21-15), Phoenix (22-16).
- Golden State is a perfect 11-0 against the Eastern Conference this season?
- Minnesota Timberwolves has as many wins (2) against their conference (The West), as the Knicks and Sixers have against the West combined?
Blake Sims’ INT in the red zone late in the second half
- Sims had his tight end OPEN and yet he threw a flat pass (pictured above), which was easily picked off and killed a potential TD drive that could’ve turned into a razor-thin Bama lead.
Absence of the run game
- With only TJ Yeldon to carry the ball consistently, with backup Henry not completely healthy, Kiffin stuck with the passing game and didn’t use a lot of time on the clock.
- That hurt Bama’s defense, which was tired of having to chase Ohio State around the field.
- This also let Ohio State dictate the pace of the game.
Bama’s BAD 3rd down conversion rate
- Bama went 2-for-13 in the game, when Ohio State went 10-for-18!
- You don’t win games with stats like those.
Cardale Jones’ precise TD throw to Devin Smith to the front corner of the end zone
- He showed why he went to OSU and how good he really is.
- Jones threw it to where his receiver Devin Smith could be the only one to get it. WOW!
- Side note: I’m loving this potential QB controversy in the brewing with THREE starting quarterbacks for the Buckeyes!
The Oregon offense kept scoring at will (and off turnovers) in the second half!
“The second-seeded Ducks (13-1) scored six straight times they touched the ball in the second half, with five of the touchdowns covering at least 21 yards and the last four coming after Florida State turnovers.”
Fluky Jameis fumble, returned for TD by Oregon
- With under 2 minutes to go, and down 39-20, Jameis Winston fumbled away the game. It led to a Randy Orton RKO meme:
- On a serious note, the play summed up the game. It was yet another turnover and it sealed the game for good.
After the Percy Harvin trade to the New York Jets, I said that this season and their Super Bowl hopes were done. I was wrong. Why?
- Their defense stepped up and helped create turnovers and win SIX straight games to end the season
In their six-game winning streak, the defense only gave up 39 points! That’s pretty dang good in my book, an average of 6.5 points per game scored by their opponents.
Their roster is getting healthy at the right time, with the timely return of Bobby Wagner jumpstarting their winning streak.
Also, their defense’s mojo has been discovered again with their ballhawk, hard-hitting defense led by the likes of Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman.
- Their offense was timely and was cohesive, went back to the basics of the run game featuring Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch
Lynch has rushed for 1,306 yards on 280 carries for 13 rushing touchdowns, with a so-so 4.7 yard-per-carry average. But, his bruising style will get you the necessary yardage to keep drives alive. He’s rushed for over 100 yards six times this season, as well.
An interesting stat is how Lynch rushed most on first and second down, with 250 rushing attempts on those downs, combining for 10 of his 13 touchdowns.
- Injuries to their division foes at key positions (i.e. QB)
Arizona Cardinals were rolling… until their QB Carson Palmer went down with an ACL tear and was out for the rest of the season. Drew Stanton was an adequate replacement, but when he got injured before the season’s end, the Cardinals had to turn to their third QB Ryan Lindley. Sorry, Ryan, but you don’t scare anyone.
The St. Louis Rams lost their starting QB earlier than that, in Sam Bradford, and have not been looking good since with career backup QB Shaun Hill or undrafted rookie Austin Davis.
Guess the Seahawks got lucky on that one, but injuries happen every season. Still, this turnaround shocked everyone, at least the commentators, and good for the Seahawks; way to go.
1. Marcus Mariota, Oregon
He is very accurate in the spread system, can throw while on the run pretty accurately, and has a great knack for feeling holes in zone defenses. But, my major concern is his deep throw and accuracy. Still, he is very clutch and determined, and will not turn over the ball in his offensive system (he has a career TD-to-INT ratio of 103-to-13!). He should be the top pick in the NFL draft to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers under coach Lovie Smith.
2. Jameis Winston, Florida State
Famous Jameis, Crab Legs Jameis, Publix, all that controversy is off the field. But, he has a live NFL arm, can fit passes in seams, throws the receiver open. Yet, he had turnover problems all year with an inexperienced receiving corps (aside from Rashad Greene and Nick O’Leary) and a bad offensive line. His crucial-yet-crazy fumble against Oregon in the national playoff semifinal game at the Rose Bowl was just bad luck, but he has thrown 18 picks this year to 25 touchdowns. Last season, when Florida State won the title with NFLers like Kelvin Benjamin, Jameis threw 40 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions! Crazy how NFL talent helps out.
He will be the second quarterback taken off the board in the draft, possibly in the top 10 since NFL teams need quarterbacks. He could go to the Redskins at number 5 overall, or even to the Titans at number 2.
3. Brett Hundley, UCLA
He was the next great quarterback off to the NFL, but he failed to impress. Happy feet (i.e. bad footwork) due to a bad offensive line, not trusting receivers to get open, taking unnecessary sacks…you name it, Hundley probably did it this year. But, he has a decent arm, good size (6-3, 227 pounds) and he really got better late in the season.
But, NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks pointed out he finished the season strong.
Since a disappointing performance against Utah, the Bruins’ star quarterback has been arguably the best player in college football. He has completed 71.6 percent of his passes (151 of 211 attempts) for 1,563 yards with a 11:3 touchdown to interception ratio during the team’s last six games. Hundley has rushed for 444 yards and six touchdowns during that span while guiding the Bruins to a 5-1 mark.
Yet, there are scouts who say Hundley will be a “bust“:
“He’s going to be a bust,” the scout said. “He’s one of those guys who seems to lock in right away. His shortcoming is accuracy.”
I think he goes in the first round as a project, like a Johnny Manziel-waiting-in-the-wings type player (but without the drama).
4. Bryce Petty, Baylor
The pass-happy offense at Baylor definitely inflated his stats, but he could be a good backup in the NFL. I personally don’t see him as a NFL starter, unless he can be taught pocket presence and how to avoid the pass rush better. He is accurate in the Baylor’s coach Art Briles’ offensive system, but he is not very mobile. But, don’t count out Petty’s smarts and IQ since he didn’t have pure athleticism to rely on (unlike Robert Griffin III). Briles even called him this year’s Blake Bortles (the UCF QB who was Jacksonville’s top pick last year).
But, CBS Sports had the following to say about Petty’s downfield throws:
Petty tests a lot of vertical throws with a lot of bucket tosses, but he doesn’t throw for a high percentage downfield and often throws up passes that can be best categorized as 50-50 balls.
5. Garrett Grayson, Colorado State
With Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott officially out of the picture, returning to school for another year, Grayson shot up the draft boards. He had a great season under the tutelage of former Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain (who left for Florida at season’s end) and put up great stats. He put up 32 touchdowns to 6 interceptions for the Mountain West’s surprising 2014 team in the Rams before their bowl game.
Early in the season, NFL.com reported that scouts were getting higher on Grayson:
Still, Grayson didn’t perform well in their bowl game against the Utah Utes, going 20-for-34 for 227 yards, no touchdowns and 1 interception. He was pressured all day, forced to rush passes and to scramble even when Utah did not blitz often. Reports indicate that he’ll go between the 3rd and 4th rounds and could be a steal.
If you want to see a good list of potential QB’s in the 2015 draft, check out CBS’s rankings HERE.
It’s always humbling to look back at your predictions and just think, “What the heck was I thinking?!” But hey, that’s blogging and writing in general, so whatever. Let’s take a look at what I said at the start of this past NFL season.
- NFC East: Philadelphia “Barnstorming Chip Kelly Offense” Eagles
- NFC South: New Orleans “WHO DAT DREW BREES” Saints
- NFC North: Green Bay “It’s Freaking Cold and We’ll Beat You Anyway” Packers
- NFC West: Seattle “We Grab You and Will Get Flagged for It” Seahawks
- Wild cards:
- Washington “We Don’t Care About the Media-Created Nickname Controversy”
- Atlanta “Matty Ice Means Only One Playoff Win” Falcons
- AFC East: New England Patriots, or just the Bill Brady’s or Tom Belichicks
- AFC South: J.J. Watts, Jadeveon Clowney and Houston Texans
- AFC North: Cincinnati “We Have a Ginger as our QB” Bengals
- AFC West: Denver “Let’s Win Peyton Another Title” Broncos
- Wild cards:
- Kansas City “Our Coach Looks Like the Kool-Aid Guy” Chiefs
- Indianapolis “Cue the LUCK-Y Headlines” Colts
Think those picks were bad? Check out my playoff bracket:
NFC Conference Championship: Eagles-Saints
AFC Conference Championship: Patriots-Broncos
Super Bowl match-up: Broncos-Eagles
Super Bowl Champion: Broncos
So here’s what I got right:
- The Packers won the NFC North (and Jordy Nelson made a case this season to have a statue at Lambeau Field, next to Aaron Rodgers)
- The Seattle won the NFC West
- The Patriots won the AFC East
- The Broncos the AFC West
What I got wrong? LOTS:
- The Cowboys won the NFC East, not the Eagles
- The Redskins and Falcons crashed in spectacular fashion and didn’t even make .500
- Colts won the division and the Texans barely missed out
- Cincinnati couldn’t beat Pittsburgh for the AFC North division title
- The New Orleans Saints are doing their best “Aints” impression the last couple seasons
- The Ravens squeaked into the playoffs and the Chiefs did not
VERDICT: THE NFL IS SO UNPREDICTABLE AND I LOVE IT!
*Editor’s note: I erroneously said the Chiefs made the playoffs, but the Ravens and Bengals did instead. Thanks to Garrett for pointing that out!