By: Allan Erickson
As we ring in 2019, we take a look back at some of the best NFL moments from this season- I’ll give you the biggest disappointments, the biggest surprises, pick an MVP, and a Super Bowl Winner.
We’ll start with the bad, I’ll give you my top 5 disappointments of the 2018 season.
5- The Carolina Panthers- yes, I’m biased, but the Carolina Panthers looked incredible 8 games into the season. They were sitting at 6-2, Defense was 3rd in the league in points. Cam Newton was playing the best football of his career- he had his highest completion percentage and QBR through any stretch of 8 games in his entire career. However, something happened. Cam got hurt, the Panthers were walloped by the Steelers on National Television, and the Panthers ended the season losing 7 of their last 8 games. To say this team underachieved after the outstanding start would be an understatement. The Carolina Panthers have some work to do, and they’re my number 5 disappointment of the 2018 season.
4- Aaron Rodgers, Derek Carr, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Jimmy Garrapolo- You may be wondering what these 5 players have in common? Well, these are the highest paid quarterbacks in the NFL, and they all have 1 thing in common-no invitation to this year’s postseason. The more and more we watch, the easier it is to respect Tom Brady and his approach and dedication to winning. Brady and many more quarterbacks have taken pay cuts so their respective teams will have more money to bring on more quality players for playoff runs. It’s too early to judge Garrapolo, because he was injured. That being said, the other 5 have some explaining to do. A lot of money is being thrown at quarterbacks, Ryan and Rodgers had good years, but it’s inexcusable for those guys not to lead their team to the postseason. Derek Carr has a pass, because Gruden got rid of everybody on the roster. We really look at Stafford and wonder- should he be higher paid than Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Phillip Rivers? Absolutely not.
3- The Pittsburgh Steelers- man oh man. What a nightmare of a season for the terrible towels. They went from “please play this season, LeVeon.” To “we don’t need Bell, we’ve got Conner, we’re fine” to not participating in the playoffs. This team is way too talented to be sitting at home watching as rookie Lamar Jackson lead the Ravens to the AFC North Championship. No offense to Lamar, but there’s no way the Steelers should have allowed anyone else to win that division. They are by far the most talented roster that didn’t make the postseason. Another year of Ben and Brown wasted away.
2- NFL officiating- For this season was worse than when we had the replacement refs. From week 1 to week 17, there were some of the worst calls I’ve ever seen in my life. Clay Matthews just got flagged for roughing the passer because I wrote that the officiating was poor. In all honesty, Green Bay was robbed 2-3 games, the Steelers deserved to beat the Saints in New Orleans, and it was the first time in my life I’ve been able to blame officials directly for results of games. I can look at 1-2 bad calls and say “if it weren’t for those 2 calls the outcome of this game would be different.” With so many camera angles, we shouldn’t have so many judgment calls now. Pass Interference penalties should be reviewable, judgement calls cannot continue to alter outcomes of the games.
1- You guys ready? The number 1 disappointment from the 2018 season is: Kirk Cousins and Case Keenum. Basically- 2 quarterbacks who had pretty good years last year, tested free agency, were brought in to be “the guy” and paid like a true franchise quarterback, and they both crapped their pants. Honestly, I’m disgusted for both Viking and Broncos fans, because they listened as media (myself included) raved about these hires, said how great these teams could be with competent quarterback play and the defenses they brought to the table. Now, Kirk Cousins and Case Keenum run away from their teammates because they’re afraid of a butt-whooping from the likes of Von Miller and Harrison Smith.
The positive surprises- There are always a few silver linings here are the positives from the 2018 season. First and foremost we have to give it up one more time for Nick Foles. How many more times can this guy bail out the Philadelphia Eagles? It’s amazing we’ve watched him do this 2 years in a row, and you know what they say about the playoffs- get in the tournament, and ya never know what happens. Secondly, let’s give some credit to the Dallas Cowboys- after a horrendous start where Dak Prescott looked like he belonged nowhere near an NFL roster, the Cowboys managed to righten the ship, with the help of Ezekiel Elliot, and a stout defense, the Cowboys could be a tough out this postseason. Last but not least, it’s time for y’all haters to shut up about Baker Mayfield. Everybody wants to criticize this guy, you know what’s worse? You wanted to criticize him before he took a snap in the NFL. “Why did the Browns draft him first overall?” And “Browns blew another first round pick.” Well, Baker went out and set an NFL record for most touchdown passes in a season by a rookie, most consecutive games in a season with a touchdown pass by a rookie. This kid is the real deal, and he looks like he’s going to be a great football player for a franchise that hasn’t had many of those lately. Good for Baker Mayfield, silencing the haters his first year.
And the MVP goes to…….
Not much suspense here. The Most Valuable Player of 2018 is Patrick Mahomes, quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs. There’s an old saying around sports, it goes like this “men lie, women lie, numbers don’t.” That really ought to be all that needs to be said about the MVP award this year. I know all you old timers want Drew Brees to win it this year because who knows whether he’ll sustain this level of play, or how much longer he’ll play… blah blah blah. Mahomes had an enormous amount of pressure on him. Andy Reid traded away Alex Smith and put all of his eggs in Patrick Mahomes’ basket. He turned it into 5,097 passing yards, 50 passing touchdowns, 2 more rushing touchdowns, 3 game winning drives, 2 come from behind wins, a 12-4 record, and a number 1 seed for in the AFC.
All the praise for Patrick Mahomes, you’d expect me to pick the Chiefs to come out of the AFC… And, you’re right. I believe there’s no dominant defense in the AFC except the Ravens, so unless they run into the Ravens, the Chiefs can outscore everyone in the AFC and will march to the Super Bowl. Here’s where I’ll shock you- I’m picking the Seattle Seahawks to represent the NFC this season in the Super Bowl. After a rocky start, the defense has made great strides, the running game is back to where it was when Marshawn Lynch was manning the backfield, and Russell Wilson has been playing some wonderful football in the past 10-12 weeks. Defense travels, and there are only 2 teams that can go to New Orleans and beat the Saints- the Bears, which I don’t yet trust Mitch Trubisiy, and the Seahawks, and they will be the ones who get it done.
Tune in next time, where I’ll break down, and predict the winner of my Super Bowl matchup. Until then, Keep Pounding.