FOOTBALL: Cardale Jones + NFL Championship Weekend Picks
Yesterday, Cardale Jones (he of the three starts and the national title and the amazing tweet) announced in a high school gym that he’d be returning to THE Ohio State University for another season of MeyerBall. Unlike what these festering wounds on the face of sports journalism would have you believe, he is not the first player to announce that he’s staying with an event. Hell, he’s not even the first Urban Meyer quarterback to do it. Remember Tim Tebow, walking journalist wet dream and weirdo evolution denier? He did this in The Swamp, and you’ve got a problem with a kid doing it in a high school gym?
Having dismissed problems with the delivery of this announcement, I’m of two minds of the actual announcement itself. On the one hand, it’s always a good thing when kid makes his education paramount, and that should be applauded. I personally made my college choice based on post-graduate opportunity (and now I’m writing for you people. Ball dropped, past Daniel), so maybe I should support this return to school. Hell, this kid said he wasn’t here to play school, and now he sees the value of education. On the other hand…
Cardale Jones was given a lottery ticket and he just didn’t cash it
— KFC, Kevin Clancy (@KFCBarstool) January 15, 2015
He wasn’t just handed a lottery ticket, he was handed an actual CHECK. People got mad about the ‘not here to play school’ tweet, but his scholarship says FOOTBALL, and this was the best situation he could have hoped for. Three games equals small sample size, but you want to tell me NO TEAM would take a flier on this kid? The only thing scouts love more than proven commodities is a prospect with a limitless upside that they can sell to their bosses. “Strike while the iron is hot” is the well-worn saying, not “Let hot irons cool, and hope they heat up again via a similar unforeseeable, unprecedented series of events”.
Why come back? J.T. is going to be the starter, since he’s Urban’s recruit and Cardale isn’t. Which means he’s going to spend ANOTHER year on the bench learning Meyer’s offense for free, as opposed to learning an NFL offense and getting paid to do so. He’s going to be a 23-year-old back up on a VERY good football team who will be hoping all this goodwill he’s gained through his play has a 1 year shelf life. Good luck with that.
On to this weekend’s games. As always, home team in bold:
Green Bay at Seattle
When We Last Saw Green Bay: Aaron Rodgers carried his team past
America’s Team the Cowboys on a leg and half. Much has been made of the Dez Bryant catch/non-catch, but what no one is talking about is that even if Dallas had scored, they had yet to demonstrate an actual ability to stop and/or slow down the Green Bay hydra offense. Let’s say Dallas scores there; anyone want to bet against Rodgers in crunch time on a big stage? That’s what I thought.
Week 1 saw the defending champs take the Packers out behind the woodshed, and that was with a healthy Aaron Rodgers. I think he’ll be better in regards to attacking the secondary, but this is a Seattle team in full Spurs playoff ass-kicking mode. Eddie Lacy has taken more of the load down the Packers’ stretch run which should help tire out the Seattle defense, but Rodgers’ health and willingness to challenge the secondary will make the difference in this game.
When We Last Saw Seattle: Kam Chancellor and company were reminding the Panthers front office that they really need to build their skill positions more thoroughly to make their team more competitive. The Seattle octopus defense was in full display, slowly chocking the life out of Carolina over the course of a few hours. Offensively, Russell Wilson did Russell Wilson things, and the coaches were able to hold Marshawn to 17 touches, presumably so he can do things like this against Green Bay:
Lost in the domination that was the Seattle win last week, Carolina did put up a fight and more than few numbers. Cam Newton completed 23 of 36 passes and two touchdowns, and Green Bay is better offensively in every way to Carolina. A lot of the effect of the octopus plays out via intimidation, and it appears Rodgers has passed the point of being able to be shook.
THE PICK: Let’s not bury the lede: the Seattle defense is like Devestator, and is appropriately terrifying for opposing offenses. Especially on the biggest stages. Especially IN Seattle. But this Green Bay offense is the perfect storm; there’s no way to cue on a single receiver, they have a punishing running back who is an effective receiver in the passing game, and the offensive line does a great job against a 4-man rush. Seattle wins, but the smart play is that Green Bay is going to cover. This is going to be the best game of the weekend, and I can’t wait.
Packers (+7.5) over Seahawks
Indianapolis at New England
When We Last Saw Indianapolis: The Colts were presiding over the funeral pyre for Peyton Manning, and getting John Fox fired in Denver. I watched this game, I’m staring at the stats as I type this, and it still makes no sense to me. Luck turned in a very Luck-ian performance (not great, but with high points), ending up completing 63% of his passes for 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Adding in a running game that could be generously called anemic, and…nope. Still makes no sense.
Logical or not, this Colts team spent the year beating up on the AFC South (congrats on winning your division by having a quarterback!), and now they’re in the AFC Title game. There’s much to be said about Andrew Luck vanquishing the quarterback standard bearers of the AFC on his way to a Super Bowl. Sounds like a great story. But, that’s a real tall order.
When We Last Saw New England: Baltimore and New England met again, and again produced another instant classic, where the Pats erased two 14-point deficits to take the win. This time, it took New England pulling out all the stops; getting a touchdown pass from Julian Edelman, and exploiting a loophole to confuse the Baltimore defense as to who was a legal receiver. If you ain’t Belicheatin’, you ain’t tryin’!
The biggest variable for the Patriots this year has been the health of Rob Gronkowski, as their entire offense seems to hinge on that giant meathead’s ability. He clocked in last week at 7 catches for 108 yards and a touchdown, so it’s safe to assume he’s feeling fine. If this were some other team, their lack of a running attack would worry me and any other logical observer of football. Since it’s the Patriots, I’ll assume this is the logical evolution of football, and I’m just behind.
THE PICK: Last week, these two teams ran the ball for a combined 41 times, with neither team breaking a hundred yards. I don’t know what game these two are playing, but I bet it’s built on a passing attack and being super watchable and entertaining. Points are going to come in bunches, and I’ve learned about betting against Tom Brady.
Patriots (-7) over Colts
Love this? Hate it? Think I’m an idiot? Don’t just curse at me under your breath, head to the Dude You Podcast iTunes page, and leave a 5-star review to make sure I know it, and have your voice heard on the air.
Looking for Georgia Bulldogs football highlights on your phone? Download the UGA Vault for free from the iTunes App Store. Just click here. It’s that easy.