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Well the picks competition is over and for a second consecutive year since he started competing, Dan’s Dad is pick champion whilst I slipped back to third.

Dan’s Dad: Week 17:   6-10 Overall:   143-113
Dan: Week 17:   6-10 Overall:   136-120
Gee: Week 17:   7-9 Overall:   130-126

Looking back at last year I am three points worse whilst Dan has increased his score by eleven (I suspect through not blindly picking the Dolphins) whilst Dan’s Dad added a modest six to beat Dan by seven, which is a three point increase on his lead over me last season.

The moral of all this is that Dan and I will need to really step are games up next season if we’re stop the blog permanently being purple and gold. I’ll let 3D fill in the rest in his trivia write up, whilst I take a run through the teams from the NFC who left us this week.

The Disappointed Twenty: NFC Edition

The Dallas Cowboys have plenty of talent on the roster, but couldn’t convert good statistics into wins with clear issues in coaching. However, there is still no word out of Dallas about Jason Garrett losing his job despite everybody thinking it would happen. His contract doesn’t run out until later this month, but with a series of solid drafts the big question for next season is what is going to happen with the coach and until we know that, you can’t say too much about the Cowboys’ plans for next year, although they do have to make big decisions on who to re-sign.

The New York Giants had a tough season with a few scattered bright spots from rookie quarterback Daniel Jones, but clearly had a disappointing season finishing 4-12. After two consecutive losing season this has cost Pat Shurmur his job, but interestingly not Dave Gettleman. I mention Gettleman not because I have any wish to campaign for someone to be fired, but the Giants have not won for two season and Gettleman was responsible for picking Saquon Barkley with the second pick two years ago rather than taking a quarterback or even listening to offers. Even in last year’s draft he took Daniel Jones at a position much higher than he was predicted to go when he had a second pick in the first round to use on him. It’s hard to know what is going to happen in the off-season, but I don’t have a lot of faith in this franchise to make enough of the right decisions to improve drastically next season.

The seasons of failure continued in Washington, but Dan Snyder has certainly wasted no time in making changes having fired Jay Gruden earlier in the season. Gone from the front office is Bruce Allen whilst the news of new head coach Ron Rivera’s hiring was broken Monday and made official on Wednesday. There is a lot of work to turn around the culture in Washington and a lot will depend on who the new GM is and who has final say in drafting players and roster moves, but they do at least have an experienced coach who has always had a great relationship with his locker room.

The Chicago Bears finished 8-8 with third year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky failing to develop from last season. There are some big decisions coming with regards to their signal caller, and certainly the move to get him is not justifying itself yet so all eyes will be on him until he either proves himself or another player is given a go. It will be worth watching the Bears in the off-season to see if they make any moves at quarterback.

The Detroit Lions hired Matt Patricia to put them over the top having missed out on the playoffs with a 9-7 record under Jim Caldwell. Unfortunately, Patricia decided an overhaul was needed and the Lions have been rewarded with first a 6-10 season and now 3-12-1 so next season is a big one for Patricia who has kept his job. It may be that the saving grace for him was quarterback Matt Stafford being out for the latter half of the year, but the defence hasn’t been good (it’s never good for a head coach if their side of the ball is not great) and I imagine there will need to be a dramatic turnaround next season for there not to be big changes.

The Atlanta Falcons started the season 1-7 but managed to finish 7-9 and come second in the NFC South as the players seemed to rally round their head coach Dan Quinn and were successful in keeping him his job. However, I don’t know if they can turn things round in the off-season given that things haven’t really been right since they were in the Super Bowl and at some point there may need to be a change to get back to winning ways.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers also finished 7-9, although they started 2-6 but their season can be summed up in the performance of Jameis Winston who threw for over five thousand yards and thirty touchdowns, but he also threw thirty interceptions. It feels like the positive statistics means that you have to re-sign Winston, but unless Bruce Arians can find a way to limit the turnovers it is hard to see the Bucs consistently win.

The Carolina Panthers had a rough season, starting with two losses before Cam Newton was sat with injuries that ultimately didn’t see him return to the field. The Panthers turned to backup quarterback Kyle Allen who was able to get the team back to a 5-3 record before things truly fell apart and they could not win another game this season. This led to Ron Rivera being fired before the end of the season, and has overshadowed the remarkable feat of running back Christian McCaffrey who managed to amass over a thousand yards rushing and receiving. New owner David Tepper says he wants to meld old school football toughness with modern analytics and is also overhauling the front office so we shall just have to see what this results in next year.

The LA Rams finished with a winning record, but could never quite compete with the Seahawks and 49ers in their division. They never fell below .500 but Todd Gurley does not look the same running back and as a result for much of the season Sean McVay couldn’t find the right balance on offence. He is still a really good coach, but there are now structural problems with the roster as they have a lot of money tied up Todd Gurley and Jared Goff. Neither player have really lived up to them, and there are other players who also need signing and not many draft picks to refresh the roster. The front office think they have a different formula to compete, but next season will be key to see if the franchise can bounce back or if things are going to go badly.

Finally, we have the Arizona Cardinals who got five wins in Kliff Kingsbury’s first season as an NFL head coach with rookie quarterback Kyler Murray showing promise. Given how much work was needed to improve the roster, it was no mean feat to improve their season record by two wins and a draw from last year given the quality of the other teams in the NFC West. However, they will need Steve Keim to have a good off-season if the Cardinals are to get enough talent for them to challenge for the playoffs and if they fail to make it for a fifth season then perhaps the position of Keim is the one that will need examining.

Wildcard Trivia

‘Greetings Friends

Week 17 has come and gone and the end of the Regular Season has delivered what we hope will be a juicy playoff series.

I will be keen to see if the Vikings can reverse their recent collapse of momentum against the Saints, but with the 49ers lying in wait this will be a big ask. Equally attractive is the Seahawks and Eagles vying for a match up at Green Bay. Yet again the NFC seems to deliver some meaty games.

In the AFC I am less excited by the Wildcard games, although never rule out the Pats is one lesson I’ve learned. The excitement though will be in the next games when the oft-unfancied Ravens and the Chiefs re-enter the battle.

I feel that the week’s gap for 4 teams can go either way. Momentum or recovery time can be important and this is one area where a coach earns their corn.

I’ll stick my neck out now and predict that Superbowl LIV will be contested between the Saints and the Chiefs with Kansas running out narrow winners. There, I’ve given you a stick to beat me with. Ho Hum never mind.

Talking of predictions the Picks competition also ended on Sunday and I agree with Gee’s comments in Thursdays post that week 17 is very difficult to call as some teams have nothing to play for while others would be desperate to position themselves well for either the Play-offs or, don’t forget, who will be on the roster for next year. Already we have seen the coaching merry-go-round starting up and I see this being a very busy closed season.

I think the mixed agendas contributed to one of the lowest scoring weeks we have had. What is pleasing though is that as a group we have increased the total of wins by 9 over last season. Dan and I managed a disappointing 6 each but the week was won by Gee on 7. But how I achieved a rank of 2253 in the whole competition I will never know. Maybe it proves I have a smarter pin than I thought.

One thing that is still running through the post season is the trivia quiz and in week 17 I set 2 questions both around LA Quarterbacks. They were:

I was the quarterback that led the Rams to a victory in the 2000 Super Bowl against the Tennessee Titans. I lost my starting job after I fumbled six times in the first game of the 2003 season. Who am I?

This was correctly identified by both Dan and Gee as Kurt Warner

Which Charger quarterback bounced back from a dismal 2003-04 season, winning the Comeback Player of the Year Award, throwing 27 touchdowns to seven interceptions, and landing himself a spot in the 2005 NFL Pro Bowl?

Here too they both named Drew Brees.

So 4 points each being Gee up to 19 and Dan 22.

This week I will drop in at 3 teams and again there is 2 points for each.

First we are at the Miami Dolphins, so no pressure here Dan.

After the Dolphins made it to Super Bowl VIII after the 1973 season, what was the next season they saw Super Bowl action?

Next we relocate to the Twin Cities to ask this about the Vikes.

Who did the Vikings play in their first Super Bowl, which was Super Bowl IV, played on January 11, 1970?

Finally this week it is the New England Patriots,

The Patriots moved and changed their name in 1971. What was the home city and their name prior to that?

Right then, that’s 2019 done and we look for a vision for 2020. Catch you next week’