A Clock Dodgers Weekly Feature Article
NFL Split 10
(Top 5 – Bottom 5)
Written By: Eddie Cepeda (@eddiecee23)
It never starts fast enough, and it never stays long enough. For the unfortunate fan bases of 20 teams, your season is over. For the rest of you lucky fans, congratulations! The playoffs are here and all we have to do is ignore the AFC games if we really want to be entertained. Seriously, Brock Osweiler vs Connor Cook is an actual playoff matchup. Can anybody remember a playoff game less desirable to watch than this one? Oh well, the NFL playoffs never seem to fail once you get to the divisional round. We can always find a game that’s worth watching.
This week is a special edition of the Split 10. I’ll be presenting my usual rankings, but I’ll also backtrack to my preseason Split 10 and offer up what exactly went wrong in my predictions. It should be fun to see how vastly different my imagination and football reality really are. Without further ado, here’s the final Split 10 of the 2016 season!
1. New England Patriots 14-2
WHAT?! A last minute change after such a steady ride by the Cowboys? Simply put, the road to Superbowl 51 bodes far better for New England than it does for the boys in Dallas. More than likely the Patriots will be facing the winner of that Houston/Oakland Toilet-bowl. Hats off to Bill and the boys, there’s no doubting they’ll be in the hunt come January every year that he has his elite signal caller.
Preseason Pick: Carolina Panthers
I have no idea what you’re talking about. There’s no way I said that losing Josh Norman wouldn’t matter to a guy like Ron Rivera. Although I may have said something about Kelvin Benjamin making the offense even better than it was last year, but there’s NO WAY I said they’d go 13-3……….. Fine, I said all of it. Huge swing and a miss on my first real shot at rankings. In my defense(something Carolina didn’t seem to have this year), almost everybody thought the Superbowl loss would fuel a revenge tour. Better luck next year boys.
2. Dallas Cowboys 14-2
Probably the biggest surprise of the season for most followers of professional football. The Dallas offense is a well-oiled machine that continuously puts their defense in a position where they are not asked to perform above the already low expectations we all had for them. It’s been a great deal of fun to watch two rookie skill players lead the charge into home-field advantage throughout the postseason. Now we wait to see how far they can actually go.
Preseason Pick: Seattle Seahawks
Not as terrible as the Panthers pick, but still not a pick that lived up to the high ranking they were given preseason. It seems Seattle’s issues became very apparent after the loss of defensive leader Earl Thomas. After the up and down season Seattle has had, they go into the playoffs as a huge question mark for most people. Can Russell Wilson work some late season magic and get his team through to the Superbowl?
3. Kansas City Chiefs 12-4
They may be a slight surprise as a top seed in the AFC, but more often than not the Chiefs are simply overlooked. A great Head Coach, Stout defense, and capable Quarterback leads us to wonder how we always overlook the Chiefs. At any rate, they have finally become division champs and may have what it takes to oust whoever comes to town in the divisional round. The real question is whether or not they can get over the New England hump, should they get the opportunity to play them in Foxborough.
Preseason Pick: Green Bay Packers
A team still worthy of a Top 5 spot. We have all had the pleasure of witnessing Aaron Rodgers call his shot as the Packers ran the table and finish atop the NFC North. In a battle of teams nobody wants to see in the playoffs, Eli and Aaron will duke it out to see who gets their shot to go on the road towards a Superbowl berth. I’d like a scenario where both get their shot to go into Dallas and fight for that right.
4. Green Bay Packers 10-6
Only one spot off! A lesser journalist would just bump them up to be right, but this guy has some integrity! On a serious note, it’s been amazing to watch Aaron Rodgers make a fool of any and everybody that doubted whether he was still a top player in the league. Green Bay is riding the hot streak of that baaaad man and it looks like they could really do some damage in the postseason.
Preseason Pick: New England Patriots
WHATEVER, so what if I was crazy to have them anywhere below two? I’ve learned my lesson guys. I will NEVER doubt hoodie’s ability to make me look like a fool. I get it, next year just predict they’ll go 16-0 and then explain why they didn’t because the league hates them. Seriously though, the Patriots have proven to be the most consistent NFL franchise of this era. At this point you have to put them as a top contender every year until they prove us wrong.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers 11-5
Are they ready? Can they finally get back to the big game? This will be the first time the Pittsburgh “Big Three” will all play in a playoff game together. I expect Le’Veon Bell to play a huge role in this teams success, or demise. Pittsburgh will have to make a deep splash(you like that Mike Tomlin?) this year, or it may be time to question whether or not leadership is the cause for the consistent short-fallings of this team.
Preseason Pick: Denver Broncos
Yeah….. So uhhhh…… Turns out this was a homer pick. The Broncos failed to make the playoffs for the first time in 6 seasons. As Gary Kubiak has retired, Denver faces a crossroads in searching for the next coach that will be able to take this talented roster back to compete for a Lombardi trophy.
28. Chicago Bears 3-13
That’s about as Bears as it gets. Minnesota is nowhere near to the contender we all made them out to be earlier in the season, but boy did the Bears make them look like they were. They now will look to who will lead their offense(and quite possibly their team) going into next season. There is some talent on the roster here and there, but there is MAJOR work to be done if the Bears want to compete in the North again.
Preseason Pick: Cleveland Browns
I got the record right, but the team wrong. I was far more optimistic(A whole two games more) for Cleveland than I should have been. There will be big front office changes, but the coaching staff will get another shot. Hue Jackson may yet be able to put his stamp on this franchise.
29. New York Jets 5-11
Just a real question mark of a Bottom 5 team. At times they can fool you into thinking they’re a few pieces away from success. At this point, we should all know it’s fools gold.The Jets will make some questionable offseason moves, and give us just enough to think they can squeak out a wildcard berth. Only to show us by Week 3 that we were all wrong.
Preseason Pick: San Diego Chargers
It’s tough to be a Charger fan. As the son of such a fan, I know all they do is break your heart. However, this year it may be a little more than their own inadequacies. With a million players on the IR and having to deal with the dominant AFC West, it’s not hard to see why the Chargers were so abysmal. Happy New Year Chargers, New Coach New you………. Right?
30. Los Angeles Rams 4-12
So they won two more games than predicted. At least they got rid of that cancer known as Jeff Fisher. If the Rams can pull of the rumored trade for Sean Payton, they may actually have a chance. There are quite a few items on the offseason checklist, but that would be a huge check mark for them.
Preseason Pick: Tennessee Titans
A rare yet pleasant surprise on this list. Tennessee showed real signs of progression this year. They may be able to attract a few free agents and take another big step forward in the 2017 season. Prayers go out to Marcus Mariota that he may have a speedy recovery and be back to start the next season.
31. San Francisco 49ers 2-14
You almost had it all. If not for the Browns being the Browns, the 49ers may very well be on the clock today. Oh well, as many San Francisco fans have said, “It’s not like they’d know who to pick first overall any ways.” The real question is, who will they pick to fill the Head Coach and General Manager vacancies?
Preseason Pick: San Francisco 49ers
I GOT ONE. It may not be much, but it’s a correct prediction. The 49ers looked just as terrible as I thought they would. Mostly because of the terrible roster they had to start the season. There is an unholy amount of work to be done before this team can even sniff the playoffs.
32. Cleveland Browns 1-15
It’s ok Cleveland. You can win at everything. Enjoy watching LeBron and company dominate while you pray this offseason brings serviceable free agents, and good draft picks. I won’t lie to you, next year won’t be good either, but you have to take baby steps with these things. Next year, maybe you shoot for two wins?
Preseason Pick: Los Angeles Rams
So I was wrong, but was I really? I mean, I’ve seen mascot games that had more complex offenses than the Rams. Los Angeles would be wise to hire a coach that will be able to groom that quarterback they’ve invested so much in. Perhaps a man who has coached a future hall of fame quarterback through the best years of his professional career? Sean Payton anybody?
Written By: Eddie Cepeda – Follow Eddie on Twitter:@eddiecee23
There it is! The final Split 10 of the season. I can’t tell you how much fun I’ve had creating this article week after week and seeing it grow into something I am truly proud of. It’s been a great season and I can’t wait to start this up again next season. If you have any suggestions or criticisms, please hit me up in the comments below OR at @eddicee23 on Twitter and Instagram. The writing is for me, but the readers are the reason we grow and change as needed. Enjoy the playoffs everybody.