Some thoughts on last week's football before moving on to this week's predictions.
- I felt bad for the Vikings kicker Blair Walsh after he missed what would have been a game winning field goal against the Seahawks. Even his coach threw him under the bus in his post-game comments. Never mind that Walsh had already kicked three FG's in the sub-zero temperatures, and that these were the ONLY points that the Vikings crummy offense were able to produce that day. On the other side of the field in Minnesota was Russell Wilson, who, it should be remembered, threw a ridiculous interception on the goal line that cost his team the Super Bowl last year, but Wilson somehow gets a pass on this (it was the coach's fault!). Walsh, on the other hand, will carry that Wide Left miss him for the rest of his life, and it will probably be in the first paragraph of his obituary. Not fair.
- The Steelers won the battle in Cincy last week, but it certainly could cost them the war, as Antonio Brown has now been ruled out for the Broncos game, and an impaired Ben Roethlisberger will be at the helm on Sunday.
- Congratulations, I think, to Hue Jackson on being named the head coach of the Cleve Brownies. As is always pointed out, there are only 32 such jobs like this in the world, so when the opportunity presents itself, you have to take it, but Jackson surely goes to perhaps the most dysfunctional organization in football, if not in all of pro sports in America. On the other hand, he goes to a team at rock bottom, so there is no where to go but up. Still, what are the odds that he's still there in 2018?
- Chip Kelly, after screwing up in Philly, gets another shot as a HC in San Francisco (another dysfunctional organization). I'm betting that this won't end well for the 49'ers. Or Kelly.
- The best game of the weekend turned out to be that CFP Championship game between Alabama and Clemson. Just a fabulous game. Clemson's DeShaun Watson was the best player on the field, but the most valuable person on that field that night was clearly Nick Saban. Like a lot of successful college coaches, Saban is not a lovable and maybe not even a likable guy, but man is he a great coach. Clemson put it to the Tide on Monday night, and Saban truly had to "coach 'em up" to win that game. The early call for an onside kick was brilliant, and it set the tone for the Alabama victory. Plus, that kickoff return for a touchdown. Fabulous game.
- Is Saban the greatest coach in college football history? It's hard to proclaim anyone THE GREATEST in any endeavor, but Saban certainly belongs in the conversation with the Rocknes, Leahys, Bryants, and Paternos of years past.
Okay, on to this weekend. Last week, The Grandstander went 3-1 in his predictions (4-1 if you count the CFP game). Pretty good. As for this weekend....
Steelers at Broncos. All things being equal, I would take the Steelers in this one. After all, they handily beat the Broncos less than a month ago, so why shouldn't they do so again? All things are not equal, though. As mentioned above, Brown will not play and Roethlisberger will be less, and perhaps far less, than 100%. Oh, and while that Bronco QB may be close to washed up, he is still Peyton Manning and he will be well rested. Sadly, I call for a Broncs win in this one. I also predict that the first call to The Fan calling for Mike Tomlin's firing will come within 30 minutes of the final gun. The first call for it on Facebook will come early in the second half.
Chiefs at Patriots. The Chiefs thoroughly thrashed Houston last week, they are the hottest team in the NFL, and the Pats are ravaged by injuries. However, using similar logic to my predicting a Bengals loss last week, I simply can't call for a Patriots and a Tom Brady loss until they actually, you know, lose a game like this. Patriots to end the Chiefs 11 game win streak this weekend.
Seahawks at Panthers. Seattle got a bit lucky last week against the Vikings. The Panthers are 15-1 on merit. Seattle's Super Bowl appearance streak officially ends this weekend. Panthers to win.
Packers at Cardinals. Two weeks ago I said they the Cardinals will play in the Super Bowl this year. That means that they have to start by beating the Packers tomorrow night, and, Aaron Rodgers notwithstanding, they will. Remember, they beat the Packers by thirty points just a few weeks ago. It may not be that decisive this week, but the final result will be the same.
As always, watch, but don't bet.