2016 Year Coming to Thankful End Before the National Football League Gets Any Stranger. Let’s take a year-end look at some of the 11 stranger things that we’ve witnessed this year in the 2016 NFL Regular Season.
Hunter S. Thompson once said, “It never got weird enough for me,” but the 2016/17 NFL Regular Season has been stranger than strange and may quite possibly be under the influence of something. Soild samples have been sent to the Commissioner's office. We’d all have to agree that the year 2016—Prince's death, David Bowie's death, Leicester City, the Chicago Cubs, Donald Trump—has been one weird-ass mother and the National Football League has been no exception.
And we’ve seen much Strangeness everywhere, in the Uniforms—those perennial Steelers Bumble Bee uglies—the Cleats, some of the Hairstyles and Fashion employed by the league’s players. Here are 11 strange things which have stuck with me.
1—From Super Bowl Participants to Really Average Just Like That...
The defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos (8-7) and the NFC-champion Carolina Panthers (6-9) will both be watching this year’s NFL Playoffs from home without any pads on. Seldom do both teams which play in the Super Bowl fail to make the Playoffs, let alone have a combined 14-16 Record heading into Week 17.
2—Cowboys, Raiders Resurgence...Just Like That
Last season, the Dallas Cowboys (+585 to win Super Bowl, 5Dimes) were 4-12 SU while the Oakland Raiders (+3759 to win Super Bowl, BookMaker) were 7-9, and just improving this Regular Season and maybe making the Playoffs were the humble goals of these two historic and once great NFL franchises. Well, maybe they’re both great again as in just one year, the Cowboys are 13-2 and Oakland is 12-3—a combined 25-5—with both potentially earning 1st Round Byes in the coming Playoffs. So what gives? Now-injured QB Derek Carr and Rookie QB Dak Prescott—who could become the winningest Rookie QB ever—are a huge part of this magical rebirth for the Silver and Black and America’s Team. And on that note...
3—The Oakland Raiders Suddenly Know How to Win in Eastern Time Zone
The Raiders have always had trouble playing after traveling east, losing 3 Body Clock Hours and usually having to endure kickoffs that happen at 10 a.m. their time—a Circadian Rhythm nightmare. Have you ever cleaned your basement at 10 a.m.? But now quite suddenly—we can blame Charles Woodson—Oakland dominated in the ET for the first time in two decades, going 4-0 SU/ATS, averaging 28.3 ppg and outscoring foes by 6.5 ppg this season after going an abysmal 3-17 from 2012 to 2015, averaging just 16.9 ppg and being outscored by 11.6 ppg.
The Silver and Black ended a 16-game Losing Streak in the Eastern Time Zone in the 2015 Regular Season at Cleveland and were 1-18 SU in games played in three Time Zones away since 2009, being outscored 548-336 in the process, making Oakland an automatic go against in those spots for both Sharps and the Public. Not anymore.
4—The Season of The Tie...And in Back-to-Back Weeks
Much like some locusts (cicadas) and their 17-year cycles, every 17 years there may be a pair of Ties in the NFL—1997 was the last year it happened—and this season we kindly exported one of them to London (Week 8, Bengals 27 Redskins 27). The Seahawks (+879 to win Super Bowl, BookMaker) and Cardinals played to a thrilling 6-6 tie on Sunday Night Football in Week 7 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Tempe as neither team could find the end zone and one in which both Kickers had chances to win the contest in OT with really short FGs—Seattle’s Steven Hauschka from 27 yards out and the Cardinals’ Chandler Catanzaro from 24. So will there be a Tie on Sunday in Week 17? No way, José.
5—Darnell Dockett’s Facemask
6—Brock Osweiler Throws a 7-yard Fumble...
...against his former team of all things. New Houston Texans QB Brock Osweiler lost control of the football while trying to pass it downfield against his former teammates, the Broncos in Week 7 in Houston, making fans, sports bettors and other temporarily forget about the pathetic numbers he was putting up with his ne team at QB, throwing the ball shorter downfield than most QBs in league history.
The $37 million Osweiler has 14 TDs, 16 Interceptions and has the NFL’s worst completion percentage on balls thrown more than 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage before being replaced last week by Head Coach Bill O’Brien with Tom Savage just in time for the Postseason. So maybe the Texans have won so far in spite of Osweiler? It sure seems so.
7—346-Pound Lineman Throws a TD Pass, Rushes For TD
Bears’ legend William “The Refrigerator” Perry ain’t got nothing on the Kansas City Chiefs 346-pound NT Dontari Poe who became the heaviest player in NFL history to throw a TD Pass (2016 vs. DEN) and rush for a TD (2015 vs. SD). Poe became the first Defensive player to throw a TD pass since Saints DB Tom Myers in 1981.
8—Two NFL MVP-Candidate Rookies on the Same Team in the Same Backfield?
Say it ain’t so if it’s not for our own favorite teams And they’re—Dak Prescott (20/1 to win MVP, Bet365) and Ezekiel Elliott (4/1 to win MVP, Bet365—playing for America’s Team, the Dallas Cowboys?
I’m calling my Congressman. And starting a hunger strike. This is unfair. Very lucky, Jerry. Very lucky indeed, you sly dog you.
9—Positive Point Differential Less Important Than One’s Division
The Bills (389 PF-348 PA), Broncos (309 PF-291 PA) and Ravens (333- PF-296 PA) all scored more Points than they allowed but failed to make the Postseason while the Texans (262 PS-304 PA) scored less points than their opponents, yet won the AFC South and will be playing on Wild Card Weekend.
The Dolphins (125/1 to win Super Bowl, 5Dimes) and Lions (63/1 to win Super Bowl, BookMaker) could also enter the NFL’s Postseason with minus Point Differentials while the Cardinals, Saints and maybe the Vikings in the NFC could all miss out on the Playoffs ending with positive Point Differentials.
10—The Seahawks Ugly, Day-Glo Color Rush Uniforms They Wore on TNF vs. the Rams
If baby-puke green is your color sister, then you must have loved the Seahawks garb in their 24-3 win.
11—44-year-old Adam Vinatieri is Still a Kicker in the NFL...and a Great One
The oldest—he turned 44 on Wednesday—player in the NFL, Indianapolis Colts PK Adam Vinatieri has won three Super Bowls and the Rapid City, South Dakota native is still plying his wares in the NFL, having just wrapped up a season where he went a brilliant 26-for-29 on FG Attempts (89.7%) and a perfect 41-for-41 on XP Attempts—even in a season in which the league moved the Extra Points distance from 20 to 33 yards.
After missing his first 2 FG Attempts in 2015, Vinatieri went on to bang his next 25 straight for Indianapolis who re-signed him last year to a 2-year deal, meaning we’ll be seeing him for a 22nd season in 2017/18. And with just 3 FG and 0 XP misses in a strange season like this which asked more from its Place Kickers and continued to evolve into a younger man’s game, Old Man Vinatieri strangely became Mr. Automatic again. In the four major professional sports, only the NHL’s Florida Panthers’ 45-year-old Jaromír Jágr is older than Vinatieri.