CHARGERS MOVE A 360 LOSE

screen-shot-2017-01-16-at-1-09-59-am
Los Angeles Chargers

You can take sides, but there is no winner in the move of the San Diego Chargers to Los Angeles, where they will play the next two years in a 30,000 seat soccer venue.

The City of San Diego is angered and devastated and Los Angeles welcomes the Chargers like the arrival of a Wal-Mart. The National Football League also cannot be happy about a franchise that has become a failing pile of garbage.

I will not use this space to destroy Dean Spanos, whose family had the money to build a stadium on their own dime – many other loyal fans and writers have already done that.

The final end game came when the latest stadium referendum was overwhelmingly rejected in November. Voters triple-dog-dared the team to move, and Dean Spanos was more than happy to stick his tongue to the flagpole. The move was made final not with the decency of a press conference, but a Dear John letter and makeshift logo on social media.

At least Stan Kroenke said straight out that in his mind the NFL would not work and continue to take a backseat to baseball in St. Louis, a city that would had made more sense for Chargers relocation.

It was now or never for Spanos to prove his threat not to be a bluff. The Chargers had until Tuesday to give the NFL its answer, at which time the Raiders would have the opportunity to set up shop in Inglewood.

So Spanos has decided to swallow the $550 million location fee and move to Kroenke-land, where they only have to pay $1 per year to be a second-class tenant.

Deano has made his bed and now must lie in it, and do not let the bedbugs bite.

I would like to apologize to Eli Manning, who I was not happy with when he requested the Chargers not to draft him number one overall in 2004. The Manning family identified the San Diego organization as an outfit to steer away from even back then.

Eli wound up with the New York Giants, has had a solid career and has won two Super Bowls. Ben Roethlisberger would be drafted by the Steelers and has three Super Bowl appearances and two rings, and can add to that resume with a win in Sunday’s AFC Championship in New England. Philip Rivers career has been arguably as spectacular, but has just one conference championship game appearance to show for it, to nearly no fault of his own.

And Drew Brees also got out of Dodge and made his legend along with a Super Bowl title in New Orleans.

The Chargers move will really hit home in this year’s Hall of Fame balloting, where LaDainian Tomlinson is likely to be elected first ballot, possibly alongside former Head Coach Don Coryall. Think those enshrinement speeches might be awkward?

Franchise relocations tend to be ugly. The Colts moved to Indianapolis under cover of the night. Art Modell did the unthinkable when he moved the Browns. Eagles owner Leonard Tose tried to move his team to Arizona once after he squandered his fortune at gambling tables. Seattle remains bitter after seeing their NBA team become relevant in Oklahoma. Older baseball fans still don’t forgive the Dodgers and Giants moves to the West Coast or the Milwaukee Braves relocation to Atlanta.

I give the Chargers one sellout at LA Galaxy Stadium this year, when Raiders fans take over the place on what will be an annual basis. In the future their will be more fans driving to Las Vegas to see the Raiders than invest in the Chargers.

As for San Diego, they possibly face a lost generation without NFL football, as the city can now earmark money to expand the convention center to ensure the annual Comic-Con convention does not move to Los Angeles, along with a smaller stadium for San Diego State football, bowl games and possibly MLS soccer.

Yes, America’s Finest City opted for comics over pro football. But I give the LA Chargers experiment 5-10 years. At some point the Spanos family finally begs uncle and sells to owners who then move the team back where it belongs – in the 619.

San Diego – the Chargers will be back.

 

WHO RUNS TABLE TO SUPER BOWL LI?

eli_manning_2008

Aaron Rodgers made good on his six-week promise to ‘run the table’ towards a division title, and it was nice.

A win over Philadelphia, followed by home wins over Houston and Seattle before the Packers swept through the remnants of the NFC North.

But will Rodgers and Green Bay double-down and run the table straight through January and first Sunday in February?

My heart roots for a Chiefs/Packers Super Bowl, 50 years after the original. But my gut say it is turn for someone else to run the table, a movie we have seen before.

Trust me, I deeply root for this to be dead wrong.

WILD CARD

  • Oakland (11-5) at Houston (9-7) – In a switch from last year, all four home teams on Wild Card Weekend actually come in favored. I congratulated the Texans back in October for earning their annual place on ESPN’s 4:40 p.m. Saturday telecast, the NFL’s version of March Madness’s First Four. At this point a Ravens/Broncos pairing holds more intrigue, in their current state the Raiders and Texans represent the two worst playoff participants. Who do you have, Connor Cook or Brock Osweiler? I take Khahil Mack. WINNER: Raiders
  • Detroit (9-7) at Seattle (10-5-1) – The Lions limp into Seattle as eight point underdogs, I say they cover. This will follow the script of most Seahawk home playoff/prime time games. Matthew Stafford has a huge night on a depleted Seattle secondary but Pete Carroll’s proxy army ultimately escapes with their patented psy-op/roller derby-like finish. WINNER: Seahawks
  • Miami (10-6) at Pittsburgh (11-5) – The Dolphins also likely go into postseason with a backup quarterback, and anything beyond this stage would be a bonus. The Steelers have lost at home to lesser opponents in postseason in the past, but not this time. WINNER: Steelers
  • NY Giants (11-5) at Green Bay (10-6) – Packers fans flooded Vegas and have bet Green Bay down to 8-1 to win the Super Bowl, yet only find themselves as 4 1/2 point home favorites against the Giants, who the bookies have at 20-1. This feels just like 2008 and 2012.Temperatures are expected to climb all the way to 12 degrees at Lambeau come game-time, that may be too warm for Eli Manning and Odell Beckham, who torch what’s left of the Packers secondary. WINNER: Giants

DIVISIONAL

  • Seattle at Atlanta (11-5) – The NFL stuck the Falcons in the early Saturday window, another franchise the league cannot see eliminated as possible. This one could go either way, but look for the Seahawks luck running out in the divisional round for a second straight year. WINNER: Falcons
  • Oakland at New England (14-2) – You know a 15th anniversary of the Tuck Rule game has to happen. And how do the Patriots get away with signing Michael Floyd straight off a DUI arrest? Anyone for Sheriff Joe as NFL commissioner? This will serve as a scrimmage on the Pats yellow-brick road to the AFC title game. WINNER: Patriots
  • Pittsburgh at Kansas City (12-4) – The teams met early in the season, with Al Michaels forced to dig into his blowout material early after the Steelers hung 36 points in the first half. And why does Mike Tomlin go for two? Because he cannot go for three. Tyreek Hill returns an early punt for a score, other than that I do not see too much that has changed. Add this to the list of Kansas City postseason disappointments. WINNER: Steelers
  • NY Giants at Dallas (13-3) – The league predictably puts the top-seeded Cowboys in the late afternoon window, as they have for more than 40 years. Here Jason Garrett, Dak Prescott and company meet their worst nightmare, the one team that has their number. Eli Manning also tore through Dallas in 2008 and left Terrell Owens in tears. Do not tell Skip Bayless, but history repeats. WINNER: Giants

CHAMPIONSHIP

  • NY Giants at Atlanta – Anyone think the Giants would tear through Green Bay and Dallas, only to lose in Atlanta? New York condemns the Georgia Dome and the Manning family qualifies for their sixth Super Bowl in 11 years. WINNER: Giants
  • Pittsburgh at New England – The Jim Nantz special sees the latest playoff scrum between the Steelers and Patriots. Tom Brady gets his vindication and punches his franchises seventh Super Bowl ticket in 16 years. WINNER: Patriots

SUPER BOWL LI

  • New England v. NY Giants – Fans have feared a Patriots/Cowboys Super Bowl all year, a.k.a the Skip Bayless Bowl. This would be worse, but who thinks Eli Manning rolls over and just be satisfied tied with his older brother with two Super Bowl rings. A late Patriots drive ends in controversial fashion, the final karma on Tom Brady and the team signing Michael Floyd. Eli gets another title and quickly returns to relative obscurity for another four years.

 

SUPER BOWL LI CHAMPIONS: New York Giants (run to the window now!)

2016 GREEN BAY PACKERS PLAYOFF SCENARIOS – WEEK 16

screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-2-54-26-am

On Sunday the Packers won while the Bears, Lions and Vikings all lost as Aaron Rodgers added to his legend. It was a good day, and vastly improves Green Bay’s chances to qualify for postseason.

Colin Cowherd now endures another week without digging dirt from ex-teammates about Rodgers. The Packers now ‘control their own destiny’ for the NFC North crown should they beat the Vikings and Lions over the next fortnight and finish 10-6. Green Bay would likely finish as a four seed and host the New York Giants in a first round playoff game.

The Packers could finish as high as a number two seed and earn a first round bye. Green Bay would have to win out coupled with two Seattle losses, two Atlanta losses and possibly one Tampa Bay loss. That is asking a lot.

Should Green Bay defeat the plummeting Vikings at home on Saturday, look for the Week 17 game in Detroit to air on Sunday Night Football.

CAN GREEN BAY WIN THE DIVISION AT 9-7?

A home loss to Minnesota does not necessarily doom the Pack, provided the Lions lose at Dallas next Monday night. Then Week 17 still decides the division. The Vikings can finish 9-7, but are eliminated from division title consideration. Should the three teams finish at 9-7 the Packers would prevail due to a 4-2 divisional record. In head-to-head play, the Vikings would have swept the Packers who swept the Lions who swept the Vikings.

Minnesota needs monumental help on multiple fronts to get a wild card spot, which includes two Packers losses.

screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-2-53-28-am

CAN GREEN BAY GET A WILD CARD AT 9-7?

If the Packers beat Minnesota but lose in Detroit, the waters become much murkier with Washington and Tampa Bay in the mix.

Starting with Monday night’s home game v. Carolina, Washington would have to lose two of their last three contests to finish 8-7-1. The Dan Snyder-owned team will also be slightly favored in Chicago and against a Giants team likely be locked into the number five seed.

The Packers would also need Tampa Bay to lose at least once. Should Green Bay and the Buccaneers finish tied at 9-7 the scenario becomes complex as both teams finished 3-2 against common opponents and would be 7-5 in conference.

The next criteria involves ‘strength of victory’ and currently too close to call. Should Carolina beat Washington, both the Pack and Bucs would have 49 1/2 wins over the eight teams they have beaten. Should strength of victory end tied, strength of schedule would be the next determining factor, Green Bay holds a slight edge there (115 wins of their 16 opponents v. Tampa’s 111).

Combined conference rankings (or league rankings if necessary) for net points scored and allowed would be the tie-breaker after strength of schedule . The criteria of net points was deemphasized by the league following the 1999 season when the Packers and Carolina Panthers ran up the score in their respective season finales played simultaneously.

However, it is highly unlikely much math will be needed to determine the Packers ultimate playoff fate.

THE 2017 NFL ‘BOWL SEASON’

dak_prescott_cowboys

As writers and college football executives clamor for an expanded College Football Playoff, someone has to wonder if it is actually the National Football League that must change course.

I feel the NFL product must ensure that their best products appear in the Super Bowl. Based on the standings, chances seem good for a Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks or Oakland Raiders to make an appearance in the big game.

That would be good, all four franchises bring either tons of recent success and/or huge fanbases. But a 12-team playoff can jeopardize that possibility. What if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers dare crash the party?

That can be solved with a ‘Pro Football Playoff’ along with a bowl season. Four teams get a chance at the Lombardi trophy while nine other games give the majority of teams a taste of the postseason life and massive bowl playoffs paid by the television networks.

Through Week 13, 20 teams stand ‘bowl eligible with 6-6 records. That can be stretched into an 11-game bowl season over one weekend, perfect for the daily fantasy industry.

Here is the projected model:

Pro Football Playoff:

  • PlayStation Bowl: No. 2 New England Patriots (10-2) v. No. 3 Seattle Seahawks (8-3-1)
  • Chick-Fil-A Bowl: No. 1 Dallas Cowboys (11-1)  v. No. 4 Oakland Raiders (10-2)

The Patriots and Seahawks return to Phoenix for a sequel of their Super Bowl XLIX classic while two of the league’s flagship franchises square off in Atlanta. The winners square off in Super Bowl LI, which for the first time could feature two conference rivals.

Can their possibly be a better format!

‘Week After New Year’s Six’:

  • Rose Bowl: Kansas City Chiefs (9-3) v. Detroit Lions (8-4) – The Raiders/Chiefs Thursday night game in frigid Arrowhead Stadium already looms large. But imagine if a PFP spot was on the line? It would be the NFL version of Michigan v. Ohio State. Whatever the case the game and setting sells itself with its traditional ‘West Division’ v. ‘North Division’ matchup.
  • Sugar Bowl: Atlanta Falcons (7-5) v. New York Giants (8-4) – The Sugar Bowl committee gets its ‘SEC’ team in the Falcons while Odell Beckham makes his New Orleans homecoming.
  • Orange Bowl: Miami Dolphins (7-5) v. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) – The Orange Bowl often has problems selling tickets. That would be solved this year with the hometown Dolphins and the Steelers traveling fan base.
  • Cotton Bowl: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5) v. Denver Broncos (8-4) – The Bucs late season surge lands Tampa into the Week After New Year’s Six while Cotton Bowl officials are overjoyed to see the Broncos still available.

Rest of the Bowls:

  • Citrus Bowl: Baltimore Ravens (7-5) v. Washington (6-5-1) – The newly sponsored B-Dubs bowl lands the two Beltway teams, not bad for the local hotel business.
  • Outback Bowl: Green Bay Packers (6-6) v. Tennessee Titans (6-6) – The Packers late-season surge earns them a postseason bid where they try to avenge a regular season humiliation at the hands of Marcus Mariota and the Titans.
  • Holiday Bowl: Arizona Cardinals (5-6-1) v. Indianapolis Colts (6-6) – That tie against the Seahawks could come back to haunt the Cardinals although their APR score (least amount of suspensions and fines) should help Arizona get in at 7-8-1 if necessary.
  • Pinstripe Bowl: Minnesota Vikings (6-6) v. Buffalo Bills (6-6) – The Vikings really need to finish the season at 8-8 because the franchise usually does not do well on APR. Meanwhile Buffalo fans will be overjoyed to make the trip downstate for postseason action.
  • Independence Bowl: Houston Texans (6-6) v. New Orleans Saints (5-7) – In real life, the Texans could very well host an AFC Wild Card Game at 4:30 ET on Jan. 7. Here their 6-6 record only gets Brock Osweiler and company a short trip to Shreveport to take on New Orleans in a regional clash.

FANTASY FOOTBALL PICKUPS – WEEK 4

terrelle_pryor_sr

Quarterbacks –

Trevor Siemian (DEN) – Mentioned in this space last week, Siemian completed 23-35 passes for 312 yards and four scores in his first road start in Cincinnati – a sign that the former seventh-round pick is emerging as more than a game-manager. On the season Siemian is on pace for 25 TD’s and has Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Thomas among the weapons at his disposal. Siemian remains on many waiver wires as much of the focus remains on running backs and wide receivers. As bye weeks come into play this is the last chance to grab Siemian.

Sam Bradford (MIN) – Also a repeat from last week, Bradford got off to a slow start against Carolina but he and his team came away with a win to improve to 3-0. In his short stay with Minnesota, Bradford has completed 40 of 59 passes. He at least works as a streamer at home against the Giants on Monday night.

Running Backs –

Jordan Howard (CHI) – In serious leagues, Howard has already been snatched by speculative owners. With Jeremy Langford out 4-6 weeks, the former UAB/Indiana product becomes a major player to jumpstart the Chicago offense. He should also be an asset in PPR formats, he caught four passes for 47 yards last week. A $350-$400 bid will be needed at this point in auction formats and Howards also comes dirt cheap in daily ($3,700 on DraftKings).

Dwayne Washington (DET) – Ameer Abdullah is done for the year and the leash was short on Theo Reddick after he struggled early last Sunday. Washington performed better later on in the game and is projected to see more work against Chicago in Week 4. Washington has also been spoken for by speculative owners.

Wendell Smallwood (PHI) – If Howard and Washington is not available in your league, you should have better luck with Smallwood. With Ryan Mathews banged up, the fifth round pick from West Virginia rushed 17 times for 79 yards in the Eagles Week 3 win over Pittsburgh. Do note the Eagles have a Week 4 bye.

Orleans Darkwa (NYG) – For about a week last year this time Darkwa was also waiver wire relevant. With Rashad Jennings out and Shane Vereen now out for the year, Darkwa rushed 10 times for 53 yards in Week 3. Rookie Paul Perkins and journeyman Bobby Rainey could also work their way into the mix.

Wide Receiver

Terrelle Pryor Sr. (CLE) – The Browns are already down to their third quarterback, while they possibly lost a game because they signed a lesser kicker to save a few bucks. Starting lineman Alvin Bailey also picked up a DUI charge shortly after his teams return from South Florida, he claimed to had been drinking on the team flight. Just Cleveland Browns culture for the past 15 years in microcosm. Through this disaster I ignored Pryor, who has had an opportunity to do just about anything. Not only did Pryor catch eight passes for 144 yards and a TD, healso completed three of five passes at QB. Pryor is now Kordell Stewart circa 1995, a Swiss Army knife who helps in multiple areas.  He comes in at $4,300 on DraftKings this week.

Adam Humphries (TB) – Their has been a changing of the guard in Tampa as Humphries caught 15 passes for 167 yards over the past two weeks. His ceiling is limited but carries extra value in PPR formats.

Coby Fleener (NO) – If one of the few who watched MNF the other night, Fleener caught seven passes for 109 yards and a score. He now has chemistry with quarterback Drew Brees.

Cameron Brate (TB) – Austin Seferian-Jenkins was recently shown the door (U-Dub tight ends have such high character!), and Brate jumped on the opportunity, catching five passes last week, two for touchdowns. Should be available without breaking the FAAB bank.

 

FANTASY FOOTBALL PICKUPS – WEEK 3

dennis_pitta

Pitta’s back – literally.

QUARTERBACKS

Trevor Siemian (DEN) – In my 12-team league the QB pickings have become slim. Available quarterbacks include Blaine Gabbert (pass), Joe Flacco (good pickup if available), Jay Cutler (even if you want him, he’s hurt) and Case Keenum. Enter Siemian, who has proven to be more than a seventh-round pick who stumbled into a starting job. He has completed 67.8 percent of his passes and statistically quickly proving to be better than last year’s Brock Orsweiler/Peyton Manning tag-team. I expect the training wheels to come off as time rolls on.

Sam Bradford (MIN) – Purple Drank, Purple Drank. Bradford may have finally found his home after he stepped into the fire and completed 22 of 31 for 286 yards. With Adrian Peterson down, the Vikings will turn to the pass game more which makes Bradford a QB2. On the downside, Bradford has an extensive injury history that dates back to 2008.

RUNNING BACKS

Jerick McKinnon (MIN) – As Adrian Peterson was constantly stuffed behind the line of scrimmage, I prayed AD could make it through the game and break off a couple decent runs before McKinnon became a hot commodity. That ended when Peterson was helped through a stadium bar en route to the locker room with a MCL injury. McKinnon tore up the SPARQ training rankings when he came into the league two years ago, but faces the same situation as when he helped spell Peterson two years ago. McKinnon will get increased playing time, but Matt Asiata will be the preferred choice for goal line carries. I would choose McKinnon first but would not go beyond $200 of a $1,000 FAAB budget.

Devontae Booker (DEN) – I am not a fan of handcuffs but the Broncos will not run C.J. Anderson into the ground. Booker rushed nine times for 46 yards in Week 2 after he fumbled in the previous game. Booker should get further opportunities in upcoming weeks.

Kenneth Farrow (SD) – The NFL’s version of Designated Survivor. Farrow is asked to stay home while Melvin Gordon, Danny Woodhead, Branden Oliver and Keenan Allen attend a charity event where they all manage to get whacked by a character straight out of Gotham. Gordon is still upright, but Oliver’s Achilles rolled up in the preseason and Woodhead and Allen are likewise out for the year. The undrafted Farrow graded as the fourth-highest overall running back out of the University of Houston. His talents have been considered ‘unsexy’ but he has fast become handcuff material for Gordon.

Jay Ajayi (MIA) – If you are looking for a one-week fix, Arian Foster is out and Ajayi draws the Cleveland Browns. But Ajayi does not come highly recommended and Kenyan Drake or Damien Williams could just as easily play a major role come Sunday.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Quincy Enunwa (NYJ) – Comes recommended in PPR formats with 13 catches the first two weeks and Brandon Marshall (possible MCL) hurting.

Nelson Agholar (PHI) – Looks like he has an increased role in the Eagles offense and quarterback Carson Wentz looks like the real deal, who the Rams passed up on because someone who went to school in Fargo just can’t cut it in LA.

Michael Thomas (NO) – The second-round pick has 10 catches on the year and draws Atlanta next Monday night. Catching passes from Drew Brees not bad work if you can find it.

Tyrell Williams (SD) – He actually got picked up in my league a week ago. As is the case with Kenneth Farrow, the Chargers annual roster decimation will lead to increased opportunities for Williams.

TIGHT ENDS

Dennis Pitta (BAL) – His career seemed over after missing most of the last two years with hip injuries, but has returned with vengeance, with 12 catches for 141 yards over the first two weeks. Pitta should be at the top of the waiver wire if available, if he were to get hurt again you can always turn to Crockett Gilmore.

DEFENSE

Miami Dolphins – One-week streaming special playing the Browns.

 

ON KAEPERNICK AND ANTHEM ETIQUETTE

Kaepernick_headphones

In 1990, San Diego Padres owner Tom Werner (an ABC television executive) thought it would be a bright idea to bring Roseanne Barr in to sing the national anthem before the second game of a doubleheader. A local radio station promoted the event as ‘Working Women’s Night’.

What occurred was predictable. Knowing Barr’s role as a top comedian of the day, her performance met expectations – complete with a spit and crotch grab at the end.

I attended that game and for two innings myself and others around me talked about what we had witnessed, and wondered if it would be mentioned in the postgame radio coverage. Ultimately I concentrated on the game and forgot about Roseanne and wrote her off for what she is.

Then I turned on the car radio for the short drive home.

“The Padres swept a doubleheader, but I think that is not what we will be talking about.”

Made it home in time for the 11 p.m. news. One station started with an ongoing sensationalized local murder case. The other two opened with Roseanne Barr.

I scanned the radio to hear Barr being talked nationally and realized the instant media firestorm, long before the internet and social media. The next day President George Herbert Walker Bush chimed in and called out Roseanne.

Which leads us to Colin Kaepernick’s antics, when he sat the anthem to protest the recent social climate of racial unrest.

What will the San Francisco 49ers do – fire him? His $12.3 million salary for 2016 became vested in April just for being on the roster. That makes staging a protest a little easier, even if it overshadows his football exploits from 2012-13.

Kaepernick, who reportedly converted to Islam, has been debated plenty on social media. Former NBA player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (Chris Jackson) also protested against the anthem during his career.

Yes, there is the First Amendment and freedom of speech, but sit the national anthem at your own peril.

Like his commercial where he faces angry faux-Seattle fans throwing bananas (just to get the racial angle in) and everything else as he sits on the team bus, I guess Kaepernick puts on the headphones and tunes everything out.

Most of us know the drill attending an event. Someone who keeps a hat on when the anthem hears about it. I attended a game last fall when bumped from behind during the anthem by someone holding his son trying to reach his seat.

He would hear about it immediately.

“Disrespectful!”, a fan said.

I saw both sides, it was bad timing. It was a parent concerned that his son remained safe.

Over the years I have tried to be careful with this etiquette. In a concourse most stop movement when the anthem is played. Activity also ceases at  concession stands and ticket windows. Many do not know that when a color guard is involved they should remain standing after until they walk off the field and retire the colors.

When LeBron James wants to wear ‘I Can’t Breathe’ shirts during warmups or a WNBA team refuses to answer basketball questions at a postgame press conference or if St. Louis Rams players emerge from the tunnel with hands up gestures to protest happenings in nearby Ferguson, they have made their point. Pro athletes can make a statement provided they don’t cross a line. How many people in other professions can keep their jobs by doing or saying something that disrupts the workplace.

Dissing the anthem is not worth the trouble.Many wondered if Kaepernick would dare repeat for the regular season opener, when most teams play on the 15th anniversary of something called 9/11. The 49ers happen to play at home on Monday night, Sept. 12.

Considering the distraction caused in his own locker room along with rapidly declining play on the field, there is a good chance Kaepernick will not be active that night.

But he just likes to hear what he wants to hear.

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 8.12.50 AM