Cercone’s Commentary is nothing more, or nothing less, than a compilation of words strung together to make sentences to form an opinion on things and stuff going on in the world around us. At no point in this upcoming narrative do I expect to earn points for what I say, do, or feel. Simply, I’m out to entertain and shed light on certain situations…even if that light comes from a flashlight slightly dimmer than most others. Feel free to leave comments and start some discussion so I don’t start thinking the voices in my head are actual people. Much obliged.
Time for Some Weather Forecasting…
Actually, before yours truly dissects this weekend’s action and gives you some sure-fire predictions destined for backfire, here’s my take on the results of “Black Monday” as several head coaches were handed their pink slips.
Tony Sparano, Dolphins – This inevitable beheading came prior to the end of the season. Sparano was nothing more than Bill Parcells’ poster boy and when he left the team to begin his 638th stint in the broadcast booth, Sparano’s days were numbered. The ‘Phins underachieved under Sparano his entire tenure, and ultimately his only real contribution to the game was the short-lived Wildcat offense. Thank you Tony for giving announcers something to drool over other than Tom Brady’s hair length. Or Tebow.
Todd Haley, Chiefs – This had to be something personal. The front office had to hate this guy. I mean, he doesn’t exactly strike me as the most vivid crayon in the box, but you’d think he’d get some slack. Last year, he took the Chiefs to a division title (with a winning 10-6 record, I might add. See: Denver 2011). But he lost Tony Moeaki in the preseason due to a questionable decision to play starters through the final meaningless game. Then he lost Jamaal Charles. Then Eric Berry. Then Matt Cassel. Now he’s relying on Tyler Palko. Ugh. That dude could swallow Drew Brees and still suck in high-def at QB.
Steve Spagnuolo, Rams – 10 wins over three seasons. Yeah, firing sounds about right. He also dealt with injuries all season, but when your strength as a coach is defense and your unit looks like the floor of a butcher shop after four quarters, something about that just doesn’t add up. Seven of those 10 wins came last year, so that means there’s a 1-win and a 2-win season on Spagnuolo’s resume. That’s special. Happy trails, Steve.
Raheem Morris, Bucs – What a hot mess Tampa became this year. Another guy known for defense whose defense set new levels of futility in 2011. Over 25 points a game on average…worst in franchise history. A QB who looked like he was on the rise in Josh Freeman looked like a guy who’d lose a training camp battle to Quincy Carter. It’s amazing what a year can do.
The Polians, Colts - They built it, and everyone came. Now, looks like Indy is ready to usher in a new era all around. Still up in the air whether Peyton will be back, looks like Andrew Luck all but has a blue and white jersey in mass production, and there will be a new GM in the house. Somehow, Jim Caldwell is still employed.
Norv Turner & AJ Smith, Chargers – They’re still employed too. People collecting benefits nationwide look pissed.
And now, onto the Wild Card games!
Cincinnati at Houston – Poor Texans. This year had success written all over it and if you measure success by finally breaking through with a division crown and playoff berth, then this was the year. But Andre Johnson has been banged up all year, they lost Matt Schaub, and they’re relying heavily on strong defense, a rookie QB in T.J. Yates, and Arian Foster. A future beyond the first couple weeks of the playoffs looks non-existent.
The Bengals backed their way into the 6th seed by way of Oakland’s loss to San Diego, but the 6th seed has had luck as of recent years in the AFC. Sadly, despite an absolute FREAK in A.J. Green, I don’t think they can go on the road with the lack of a good running game and pull off a W. In the matchup of rookie QBs, the outcome will come from the backs, and all signs point to Houston in that department.
PROGNOSTICATORY: Houston 34 – Cincinnati 24
Detroit at New Orleans – You can talk all you want about the Packers’ 15-1 season, but if you’re looking for the NFL’s “en fuego” team, look no further than the Saints. Drew Brees has been an absolute legend in his conquering of QB records worldwide, and all signs are pointing to another February party in N’Orlins.
But Matt Stafford has been on a bit of a hot streak himself. The Lions finished out about as strong as you can and despite getting the short end of the stick against Green Bay in a world-class shootout, their offense is looking peaked and primed to make a run.
Since Brees and company took money from my bank account in fantasy, and Stafford and company added money to it, my wallet and heart wants to go with Detroit. I guess that’s why I’m not a financial advisor.
PROGNOSTICATORY: New Orleans 45 – Detroit 28
Atlanta at New York Giants – Both teams enter after big wins to conclude the season. Both offenses are performing at a high level. Both teams will take the field, one will leave it primed for a clobbering next weekend on the road.
Of the four games this weekend, this is the one I’m looking forward to the least. Just saying. But, it has the potential to turn into a shootout. Victor Cruz has been a monster all season for New York. Surely he’ll catch some bombs to light up the sky.
Eh, let’s give the nod to the home team…
New York 28 – Atlanta 19
Pittsburgh at Denver – Was anyone else entertained by Denver’s blatant and utter disgust with how they won the West? Champ Bailey said it best: “There’s nothing on our team you can call our strength.” Basically, what this means is FINALLY, someone within the Denver bubble realizes that Tim Tebow is MEDIOCRE!!!
I’m leaving my Steelers bias at the door on this, but you can bet the farm the Steelers D will follow the blueprint Kansas City used last week that makes Timmy rely on his arm. Keep him contained in the pocket, eliminate his ability to scramble, and force him to make a decision that involves finding a downfield target. When that happens, he skips passes off the ground five yards short.
The Steelers aren’t exactly a juggernaut entering the playoffs with all the injury issues, but solid execution on defense should be enough to capture a win.
PROGNOSTICATORY: Pittsburgh 17 – Tebo…Denver 6
Like the Greased-up Deaf Guy says on Family Guy, “See y’all next week!!”