Tuesday, January 29, 2019

53 Stops to Super Bowl LIII

Every year since Super Bowl XL, I have used this blog for my "Stops To Super Bowl" list.  Every year, I create a list of smart, dumb, inane and chat worthy items for you to use in any banter leading up to and during the Super Bowl.

This year, it is 53 Stops to Super Bowl LIII and I'm back with some more (and some of the same) little items for you about the upcoming big game.

#53-FOOTBALL AND BASEBALL RIVALS: The Patriots and Rams will meet for the Super Bowl just months after the Red Sox and Dodgers met for the World Series. It is the first time since Baltimore faced New York in the 1969 World Series and Super Bowl that two cities have had their NFL and MLB teams face off for the titles in the same season or calendar year. In 1969, the New York Mets beat the Baltimore Orioles for the World Series title while the New York Jets beat the Baltimore Colts for the NFL title. 

That's good news for the Patriots as the Red Sox beat the Dodgers in last fall's classic.
#52-PATRIOTS AND RAMS DO IT AGAIN:  The Patriots and Rams will play in their second Super Bowl against each other. This will be the seventh pair to have a Super Bowl rematch and the seventh game to be a rematch.

These two met in Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans with the Pats winning, 20-17.

Other Super Bowl rematches are the Dolphins-Redskins, 49ers-Bengals, Cowboys-Bills, Giants-Patriots, Patriots-Eagles and Steelers-Cowboys. Only the Steelers-Cowboys have met three times in the Super Bowl.

History doesn't tell you much about who will win. The 49ers beat the Bengals twice, as did the Cowboys over the Bills and Giants over the Patriots. The Steelers beat the Cowboys twice before Dallas beat Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XXX. The Redskins would win their rematch with the Dolphins ten years after their first meeting. And the Eagles and Patriots split their two meetings.

.The Los Angeles Rams are trying to become the third franchise to win a Super Bowl in two different cities. The St. Louis Rams won Super Bowl XXXIV and lost Super Bowl XIV when the franchise was in Los Angeles. Only the Raiders (Oakland, Los Angeles) and the Colts (Baltimore, Indianapolis) have won Super Bowls in two cities. 
#50-BELICHICK KNOWS SUPER BOWLS:  Bill Belichick heads to his ninth Super Bowl appearance as a head coach. Belichick's ninth appearance and five Super Bowl titles are best all-time.
Belichick was also the defensive coordinator for the Giants in Super Bowls XXI and XXV and an assistant head coach for the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI. That's twelve Super Bowls he's coached in.
Amazingly, in his 19 seasons as the Patriots head coach, Belichick has taken his team to 13 AFC Championship games including a current streak of eight in a row.  If Belichick wins, he will be the oldest head coach to win a Super Bowl, passing Tom Coughlin (only Marv Levy was older when coaching in a Super Bowl). 
Rams' head coach Sean McVay has no prior Super Bowl experience, but his grandfather was John helped construct five Super Bowl champions as the vice president/director of football operations for the San Francisco 49ers. Sean McVay was a sophomore in high school with Brady and Belichick won their first Super Bowl in 2002.
The Patriots are in their third straight Super Bowl. That ties them with the Miami Dolphins of 1971, 1972 and 1973 for second all-time in consecutive Super Bowl appearances. The 1990-1993 Buffalo Bills hold their record with four consecutive Super Bowl appearances, though they never won the championship.
Prior to the Super Bowl era, the Packers (1960-1962; 1965-1967), Giants (1933-1935; 1961-1963), Browns (1950-1955), Rams (1949-1951), Eagles (1947-1949) and Bears (1940-1943) all went to at least three straight NFL championship games. 


Sean McVay is seen as an offensive savant of sorts and there are plenty of weird facts about him that are fun to look at. McVay was a high school sophomore when Tom Brady won his first Super Bowl in 2002. McVay won the Georgia 4A High School Offensive Player of the Year ... beating out Calvin Johnson (by the way, this Super Bowl is being held in Georgia). The Rams' lone Super Bowl title was when they beat the Tennessee Titans, who were coached by Jeff Fisher. McVay attended that game. McVay took over the Rams in 2016 after Fisher was fired.

#47-SUPER BOWL SQUARES: Everyone participates in Super Bowl squares. You pay your money, write your name in the square and let fate decided not only what numbers you get but if they are any good. The digit you probably don't want? Two. That has been the final digit in the final score just four times ever. The number you want? Zero, obviously.  There has been 208 quarters in 52 Super Bowls and here are the six most likely combinations:

20: 0,7
17: 0,3
16: 0,0
15: 3,7
12: 0,4
11: 4,7

The most common numbers for the first quarter is 0,0 (13 times), halftime is 0,7 and 3,7 (5 times), third quarter is 3,7 (5 times) and final score 4,7 (5 times).

There have been 13 different number combinations that have never appeared at the end of any quarterback in Super Bowl history. 

These are: 1,1 ... 1,2 ... 2,3 ... 2,5 ... 2,6 ... 3,5 ... 4,5 ... 5,5 ... 5,6 ... 5,8 ... 7,8 ... 8,8 ... 8,9.

The Super Bowl will be held on February 3rd.  Since the first February Super Bowl in 2002, the AFC is 10-6 in those games held in the calendar's shortest month:

Super Bowl XXXVI: Patriots beat Rams on February 3, 2002

Super Bowl XXXVIII: Patriots beat Panthers on February 1, 2004
Super Bowl XXXIX: Patriots beat Eagles on February 6, 2005
Super Bowl XL: Steelers beat Seahawks on February 5, 2006
Super Bowl XLI: Colts beat Bears on February 4, 2007
Super Bowl XLII: Giants beat Patriots on February 3, 2008
Super Bowl XLIII: Steelers beat Cardinals on February 1, 2009
Super Bowl XLIV: Saints beat Colts on February 7, 2010
Super Bowl XLV: Packers beat Steelers on February 6, 2011
Super Bowl XLVI:  Giants beat Patriots on February 5, 2012
Super Bowl XLVII: Ravens beat 49ers on February 3, 2013
Super Bowl XLVIII: Seahawks beat Broncos on February 2, 2014
Super Bowl XLIX: Patriots beat Seahawks on February 1, 2015
Super Bowl 50: Broncos beat Panthers on February 7, 2016
Super Bowl LI: Patriots beat Falcons on February 5, 2017
Super Bowl LII: Eagles beat Patriots on February 4, 2018

: Getting on the board early in the Super Bowl means you have a 67% chance of winning.

*The team who scores first in a Super Bowl is 35-17.

*Teams who score at least 30 points are 27-3. Only the Cowboys (SB XIII), 49ers (SB XLVII) and Patriots (SB LII) scored at least 30 points and lost.
*Teams that score the first TD are 38-14.
*Teams leading at the half are 38-11 (there have been three ties)

  The New England Patriots are making their record 11th Super Bowl appearance.  That is three more than the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys. New England is 5-5 in their appearances, beating the Rams, Panthers, Eagles, Seahawks and Falcons and losing to the Bears, Packers, Eagles and Giants twice.  The Los Angeles Rams are making their 4th Super Bowl, beating the Titans and losing to the Steelers and Patriots in their previous appearances.

A lot is on the line, historically, for the Patriots in this one. A Super Bowl victory would tie them with the Steelers for most all-time. A loss would give them six, breaking a tie with the Broncos for most all time

An Rams loss makes them the seventh franchise to lose three Super Bowls (Broncos, Patriots, Bills, Vikings, Cowboys and Dolphins). A win makes them the 13th franchise to win multiple Super Bowls. 

: Since Super Bowl XXXVIII (a span of 16 years), the AFC has been represented by Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger 15 times. Brady is making his record 9th in that time (Manning has 4 appearances have been in that time, Big Ben 3). The lone off year was Super Bowl XLVII when the Ravens' Joe Flacco won it.

In that same 16 year span, the NFC has had 14 different QBs. The only repeats on that side are Eli Manning and Russell Wilson, who each went twice. Those four AFC quarterbacks have won 10 of the 15 previous Super Bowls.

Brady is trying to win his 6th Super Bowl, two more than quarterbacks Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana.

 I know people grow weary about hearing the greatness of Tom Brady, but these Super Bowl stats are unreal:
Most attempts in a game (62). He owns the top two passing yards records for Super Bowls. He has thrown 357 passes in the Super Bowl (Jim Kelly is 2nd with 155). He has completed 235 passes in the Super Bowl (Peyton Manning is 2nd with 103). He's thrown for 2,576 yards in Super Bowls (Kurt Warner is 2nd with 1,156). He's thrown 18 TD passes (Joe Montana is 2nd with 11). 

This will be the 20th time CBS will televise the Super Bowl, breaking a tie with NBC for most all-time by a network. CBS televised the first Super Bowl. Jim Nantz and Tony Romo will call the game, Tracy Wolfson and Evan Washburn will be the sideline reporters and Jim Nantz will perform the trophy ceremony. 

Nantz will be making his 5th appearance as the play-by-play voice for a Super Bowl and is also known as the voice of the Final Four as well as the Masters. Romo will make his first Super Bowl appearance as a color analyst and never went to a Super Bowl as a player. John Madden is the only person to have called Super Bowls on all four major networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC).

 Every Super Bowl has that moment.  That one moment.  Sure, some have several memorable moments, but each has that one.  Whether it is Wide Right.  Or David Tyree. Or Julian Edelman. Or Lynn Swann's catch.  Or Jackie Smith's drop.  Doug Williams' 2nd quarter or One Yard Short.

Check out my list of
 each Super Bowl's top moment.  

 John Parry. Parry will be starting his second Super Bowl. His last Super Bowl as a referee was Super Bowl XLVI when the Giants beat the Patriots. He was also a side-judge for Super Bowl XLI when the Colts beat the Bears.  This season, Parry reffed the Rams' wins over the Lions in December and their playoff win over the Cowboys. He also worked the Patriots' loss to the Steelers in Week 15 -- the last time New England lost a game this season. .

 The only divisions that don't have all of their members with appearances in a Super Bowl are the AFC North (Browns), AFC South (Texas, Jaguars) and NFC North (Lions).

The NFC East is the only division that has all their members with Super Bowl championships. The AFC West (Chargers) and AFC East (Bills) have seen three of their four members win a title. The NFC East is the only division to have each of their members in multiple Super Bowls. The Cowboys have been to eight, the Redskins and Giants have been to five and the Eagles have been to three.

  The NFC East easily has the most Super Bowl champions than any other division. The 13 titles won bests the AFC North and AFC East for the top honors. The NFC East dominated from 1986-1995. In that span, the Giants ('86, '90), Redskins ('87, '91) and Cowboys ('92, '93, '95) went to and won 7 of 10 Super Bowls during that decade. The only other Super Bowl champ was San Francisco ('88, '89, '94).

Here's a rundown of the divisions:
13-NFC EAST (Cowboys-5, Giants-4, Redskins-3, Eagles-1)
8-AFC NORTH (Steelers-6, Ravens-2)
8-AFC EAST (Patriots-5, Dolphins-2, Jets-1)
7-NFC WEST (Niners-5, Rams-1, Seahawks-1)
7-AFC WEST (Raiders-3, Broncos-3, Chiefs-1)
5-NFC NORTH (Packers-4, Bears-1)
2-AFC SOUTH (Colts-2)2-NFC SOUTH (Buccaneers-1, Saints-1)

As for Super Bowl appearances, the NFC East and AFC East are tops:

21-NFC EAST (Cowboys-8, Redskins-5, Giants-5, Eagles-3)
21-AFC EAST (Patriots-11, Dolphins-5, Bills-4, Jets-1)
16-AFC WEST (Broncos-8, Raiders-5, Chiefs-2, Chargers-1)
14-NFC WEST (Niners-6, Rams-4, Seahawks-3, Cardinals-1)
12-AFC NORTH (Steelers-8, Ravens-2, Bengals-2)
11-NFC NORTH (Packers-5, Vikings-4, Bears-2)
6-NFC SOUTH (Falcons-2, Panthers-2, Bucs-1, Saints-1)
5-AFC SOUTH (Colts-4, Titans-1)

Note that this is under the current divisional format. Prior to 1970 merger, divisions were vastly different. Since the merger, the 1970 Colts won in the AFC East and the 1998 Falcons went to the Super Bowl as a member of the NFC West. That would technically give the AFC East 21 Super Bowl appearances and 9 Super Bowl titles ... and the NFC West 14 Super Bowl appearances. 

Also, from 1970 to 2001 both conferences had a Central Division. Now, those divisions are essentially the makeup of the current North divisions (Buccaneers left the NFC Central for the NFC South; the Titans and Jaguars left the AFC Central for the AFC South) so there really isn't any real differences there. But for informational purposes, here is what those now defunct divisions did:

Super Bowl championships

6-AFC CENTRAL (Steelers-5, Ravens-1)
2-NFC CENTRAL (Packers-1, Bears-1)
Super Bowl appearances
9-AFC CENTRAL (Steelers-5, Bengals-2, Ravens-1, Titans-1)
6-NFC CENTRAL (Vikings-3, Packers-2, Bears-1)

 There have been 51 Super Bowls to date yet there are 52 Vince Lombardi Trophies (given to the Super Bowl winning team) out and about. How is that?

Well, that little ditty comes to light after the passing of Rams owner Georgia Frontiere. Frontiere's husband, former-Colts and Rams owner Carroll Rosenbloom, is the reason behind the story.

When Colts owner Carroll Rosenbloom, Frontiere's late husband, traded the Colts for the Rams in a franchise swap in 1972, he decided he wanted to keep the Lombardi Trophy the Colts won in Super Bowl V. When Super Bowl VII took place in Los Angeles, Rosenbloom told the Colts he was going to put on a display of Super Bowl trophies and asked them to bring it to the West Coast. They did. There was no display, and Rosenbloom never returned the trophy. After the Colts complained to the league office, former NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle had a duplicate made for the Colts, which remains in Baltimore (it was originally shipped to Indianapolis when the team moved but a deal was struck and it was returned to Maryland). The original Super Bowl V trophy? It presumably was in Frontiere's possession and now belongs to her heirs.

So, there are two Vince Lombardi trophies awarded for Super Bowl V yet neither are with the franchise that won it. The original was in St. Louis with Frontiere with the other in Baltimore, the Colts old digs. Meanwhile, Indianapolis can only show off the trophy they won over the Bears.

Of the 20 most watched television broadcasts in United States history, 19 of them are Super Bowls. Super Bowl XLIX leads the pack as the most watched all-time (that's the Patriots-Seahawks Super Bowl). The only telecast that wasn't a Super Bowl? The M*A*S*H series finale in 1983. That is currently 9th all-time.

: This is the first time that two No. 2 seeds meet in the Super Bowl. .

Prior to this season, four of the last five years saw the two top seeds faces off. The lone top seed that didn't make it to the Super Bowl in that span was the 2016 Dallas Cowboys. Here is the most likely seeding matchups in Super Bowl history:

13: #1 vs #1

13: #1 vs #2
5: #2 vs #4
4: #1 vs #4
3: #1 vs #3
2: #1 vs #51: #2 vs #2
1: #1 vs #6
1: #2 vs #3
1: #2 vs #6

Tom Brady will be the oldest quarterback to start a Super Bowl passing his own record set last year. Brady is the only 40-year old quarterback to start a Super Bowl. He joins Matt Stover, Jeff Feagles, Matt Bryant, Mike Horan, George Blanda and Jerry Rice as the lone 40-year olds to play in the Super Bowl. Brady joins Rice as the only non-kickers.

New England and Los Angeles have had their fair share of championship teams.

In fact, the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers faced off in the 2018 World Series with the Sox winning. 
The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers have met in the NBA Finals 10 times (an 11th matchup between the two franchises took place when the Lakers were in Minneapolis).

The New England Patriots are looking for their sixth Super Bowl victory, which would tie them for 1st place all-time (Steelers). The Boston Red Sox have won four World Series championships since 2004 and the Celtics have 17 NBA titles -- best all-time -- and the Bruins won the 2011 Stanley Cup. In fact, since 2001 when the Patriots won their first Super Bowl, the Boston pro sports franchises have been to 16 title games/series (Patriots-8, Red Sox-4, Celtics-2, Bruins-2).

Los Angeles is looking for its first professional sports championship since 2012 when the Kings beat the Rangers for the Stanley Cup title. 

 Atlanta is hosting their third Super Bowl. They hosted Super Bowl XXVIII when the Cowboys beat the Bills, 30-13, and Super Bowl XXXIV when the St. Louis Rams beat the Titans, 23-26.

Their previous two Super Bowls were held at the old Georgia Dome, while this one will be at sparkling Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

 19 quarterbacks have started multiple Super Bowls, including Tom Brady. Brady will be making his ninth start as a QB for a Super Bowl (for perspective, only Peyton Manning, John Elway. Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, Jim Kelly and Roger Staubach have all started as many as four). Three of the last four Super Bowls (and four of the last seven) have been won by a quarterback who had won a Super Bowl before.

  Super Bowl LIII will be held in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA. Atlanta will be hosting its third Super Bowl. 

Super Bowl LIV will be at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens for the sixth time (only the Louisiana Superdome has hosted more) and the 11th time in the Miami area. Super Bowl LV will be at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium; the new Los Angeles Stadium will host Super Bowl LVI; State Farm Stadium in Glendale, AZ will host Super Bowl LVII and the Superdome in New Orleans will host Super Bowl LVIII.

 CBS will air the premiere episode of "The World's Best", a talent competition show hosted by James Cordon. 

The trend recently is for the network broadcasting the Super Bowl loves breaking in new shows or extended shows following the game.  "Undercover Boss" (CBS, 2010), "Extreme" (ABC, 1995), "Homicide" (NBC, 1993), "Davis Rules" (ABC, 1991), "Grand Slam" (CBS, 1990), "The Wonders Years" (ABC, 1988), "Hard Copy" (CBS, 1987), "The Last Precinct" (NBC, 1986), "MacGruder and Loud" (ABC, 1985), "Airwolf" (CBS, 1984), "The A-Team" (NBC, 1983) and "Brothers and Sisters" (NBC, 1979) as shows who debuted after the Super Bowl.

Some other big-time heavyweights have also appeared right after the game. "Lassie," "All in the Family," "60 Minutes," "CHiPs," "Archie Bunker's Place," "Friends," "The X-Files," "The Simpsons," "Survivor," "Grey's Anatomy," "House", "This Is Us" and "The Office" all have been post-Super Bowl shows.

 There have been 23 Super Bowls where one starting QB comes in with Super Bowl experience while the other one doesn't. Does experience matter? Well, the QB with the experience is just 12-10 in those games.

However, in five of the last seven occasions of this happening the new guy won. Nick Foles (new) beat Tom Brady (old), Russell Wilson (new) beat Peyton Manning (old), Aaron Rodgers (new) beat Big Ben (old), Drew Brees (new) beat Peyton Manning (old) and Eli Manning (new) beat Tom Brady (old) in their first Super Bowl matchup. Last two years, Peyton Manning (old) beat Cam Newton (new) and Tom Brady (old) beat Matt Ryan (new).

Brady will be making his ninth Super Bowl start while Jared Goff makes his first.

Some nice stats for you:

8 million: Total pounds of popcorn consumed on Super Bowl Sunday.
28 million: Pounds of potato chips consumed.53.5 million: Pounds of avocados consumed.
222,792: Number of football fields worth of farmland to grow all that corn, potatoes, and avocados.
11.8: Depth, in feet, of guacamole consumed if it were spread across the football field.
293,000: Number of miles of potato chips, laid end to end, consumed during the game.
1 billion: Number of chicken wings consumed on Super Bowl Sunday.
325.5 million: Gallons of beer drank by Americans that day.
493: Number of Olympic-sized swimming pools that could be filled with all that beer.
20%: Increase in anti-acid sales the Monday after the game.
7 million: Number of employees who will not show up to work Monday.

#25-STICK WITH THE FAVORITES: New England enters Super Bowl LIII as the favorites. Yeah, there are upsets, but don't count on them. The favorite has won 11 of the last 20 Super Bowls. In fact the favorite is 33-19 in the Super Bowl. Teams favored by at least seven points are 19-6.

 Over the past 13 Super Bowls, six of them had a team whose playoff seed was either 4, 5 or 6. Those teams are 5-1 when they get there (only the 2008 Cardinals didn't win – and they nearly did) with those teams beating either a No. 1 or No. 2 seed. Here is a short list of some notable Super Bowl upsets: 

Super Bowl III: The Baltimore Colts came in as 18-point favorites. They left watching the Jets' Joe Namath fulfilling his prediction of an upset. Super Bowl IV: The Kansas City Chiefs spanked the Minnesota Vikings, despite being a 12-point underdog.

Super Bowl VII: 
Oddly, the undefeated Miami Dolphins entered the game as 1.5-point underdogs to the Washington Redskins.

Super Bowl XXV: 
The Buffalo Bills would begin their four game Super Bowl losing streak by succumbing to the Giants, who were 7-point dogs.

Super Bowl XXXII:
 The Denver Broncos, an 11.5-point underdog, ended the AFC's thirteen game losing streak by beating Green Bay.

Super Bowl XXXVI: 
These New England Patriots began their dynasty by beating the St. Louis Rams, who were 14-point favorites.

Super Bowl XLII:
 The 12-point dog Giants ended the Patriots perfect season with a magical game. See, it can happen. Just because we all think one way doesn't mean we cannot be shocked. After all, those 2001 Rams were juggernauts who were former champions and were heavy favorites. They left without the trophy.

 The NFC has won 18 of the last 21 coin tosses, including a 14 year winning streak mixed in. The team that wins the opening coin toss is just 24-26 in the game. That averages out to, well, the flip of a coin. Also, the coin has landed on heads 24 times and tails 27 times.

The coin toss winner has been the Super Bowl loser in 15 of the last 21 games and is 24-28 all-time.

SB 52: Patriots won the toss, lost the game
SB 51: Falcons won the toss, lost the game

SB 50: Panthers won the toss, lost the game
SB 49: Seahawks won the toss, lost the game
SB 48: Seahawks won the toss and the game
SB 47: Ravens won the toss and the game
SB 46: Patriots won the toss, lost the game
SB 45: Packers won the toss and the game
SB 44: Saints won the toss and the game
SB 43: Cardinals won the toss, lost the game*
SB 42: Giants won the toss and the game
SB 41: Bears won the toss, lost the game
SB 40: Seahawks won the toss, lost the game
SB 39: Eagles won the toss, lost the game
SB 38: Panthers won the toss, lost the game
SB 37: Buccaneers won the toss and the game
SB 36: Rams won the toss, lost the game
SB 35: Giants won the toss, lost the game
SB 34: Rams won the toss and the game
SB 33: Falcons won the toss, lost the game
SB 32: Packers won the toss, lost the game
SB 31: Patriots won the toss, lost the game

*A little aside to this is that the Arizona Cardinals won the toss and deferred to the second half. The Steelers chose to receive which means the Cards were the first team in Super Bowl history to win the coin toss and kickoff. Since then, deferring to the second half is now the norm. The Seahawks would do the same in Super Bowls XLVIII and XLIX, Panthers in Super Bowl 50, Falcons in Super Bowl LI and Eagles in Super Bowl LII.

 Some more little stats for you:

- There has been at least one successful field goal in 50 of 52 Super Bowls. 

- Teams that have been shut out for one half (either the first or second) are a combined 1-19. The lone winner was those 1972 Dolphins who went scoreless in the second half of Super Bowl VII.
- Only one Super Bowl featured teams from the same state. Super Bowl XXIX between the Chargers and 49ers. The Giants and Bills both are "New York" teams, but the Giants play their home games in New Jersey. 
- Also, teams that intercept a pass for a TD are 12-1 in the Super Bowl. The 2016 Falcons were the first team to have a pick-six and lose a Super Bowl.

#21-NFC WEST vs AFC EAST: Super Bowl LIII matches up teams from the NFC West and AFC East. This will be the 4th time these two divisions have met for the Super Bowl. Here is how the other meetings turned out.

XIX: 49ers beat Dolphins

XXXVI: Patriots beat Rams
XLIX: Patriots beat Seahawks

#20-THINGS NON-FOOTBALL FANS CAN SAT TO FIT IN:  Look, I know that there are people in America that will be attending Super Bowl parties because... well, they love to party. Some won't know who's playing in the game until they get there. Don't worry. So the diehards around the party who actually care about the game won't think you're a newbie, I'm here to help.

Here are a few vague quotes that you can use so you fit in among the football fans. You don't have to engage in a conversation with these, just drop these in from time to time you will at look somewhat informed. 

"The Patriots are back again, eh?"

"Is Brady the best quarterback ever?"
"You just gotta convert those third downs!"
"Don't sleep on Robert Woods!"
"Todd Gurley needs a lot of touches."
"Third and long? I'd blitz."
"Remember the Bud Bowl?"
"I got a few bucks on this game."

"Damnit! I left my squares sheet at home!"
"It's nice to see the Rams back in the Super Bowl!"
When there is a penalty called for holding, just say, "yeah, he was tackling him!"
"Wouldn't it be crazy if Brandin Cooks beat his old team?"
"Bold prediction: Jared Goff as MVP!"
"Who is worse: LA fans or New England fans?"
Use only in a close game: "This could come down to who has the ball last."

#19-WEARING WHITE IS KEY:  Since the Rams are designated the home team, they get to pick their jerseys for the Super Bowl (they chose blue after wearing white in their previous three Super Bowl appearances). Typically the road team will wear white for the game but in recent seasons, some teams have been bucking the trend and went with their white jerseys. Good choice. In fact, the team that has worn white uniforms has won the last 12 of the last 13 Super Bowls (Patriots, Broncos, Patriots, Seahawks, Ravens, Giants, Saints, Steelers, Giants, Colts, Steelers, Patriots). The Packers won Super Bowl XLV wearing green. The Patriots won last year's Super Bowl victory while wearing white.

White jerseys are 33-18 in Super Bowl games.

: Not interested in the Super Bowl? Well, here are some alternatives to watch. Remember, there's not only the Puppy Bowl, but a Kitten Bowl and Fish Bowl as well.

ABC: "America's Funniest Home Videos" and "Shark Tank" marathon
NBC: "America's Got Talent" marathon

FOX: Reruns of their normal Sunday lineup
A&E: "The Mummy", "The Mummy Returns"
AMC: "Karate Kid Part II", "Jurassic Park III"
ANIMAL: Puppy Bowl XV
BET: "The Bobby Brown Story"
BRAVO!: "Real Housewives of Atlanta" marathon
CNN: "The Radical Story of Patty Hearst" marathon
COMEDY CENTRAL: "The Office" marathon
ESPN: Boxing
FOX SPORTS 1: Bowling
FX: "Now You See Me 2"
FXX: "The Simpsons Movie"
HGTV: "Beachfront Bargain Hunt" marathon
E!: "Botched" marathon
FOOD NETWORK: "Worst Cooks In America" marathon
GAMESHOW: "Family Feud" marathon
IFC: "Fast Times at Ridgemont High", "Crocodile Dundee"
LIFETIME: "The Stepfather", "Enough",
LOGO: "Three's Company" marathon
OXYGEN: "Snapped" marathon
OWN: "Police Women of Dallas" marathon
PARAMOUNT: "Cops" marathon
POP: "Charmed" marathon
SYFY: "Futurama" marathon
TBS: Hunger Games marathon
TLC: "Dr. Pimple Popper: The Poppy Bowl"
TNT: "Titanic"
TRU: "Impractical Jokers" marathon
VICE: "Slutever" marathon
WE: "Law & Order" marathon
WGN: "How I Met Your Mother" marathon

#17-THE NO. 1 DRAFT PICKS: Jared Goff joins an impressive list of No. 1 overall picks to reach a Super Bowl. Super Bowl 50 was the very first Super Bowl where both quarterbacks were No. 1 overall draft picks (Peyton Manning, Cam Newton).  

Only Terry Bradshaw, Jim Plunkett, John Elway, Troy Aikman, Manning and Eli Manning have been top overall picks that also won a Super Bowl as a starting QB. Paul Hornung, Bubba Smith, Terry Bradshaw, Jim Plunkett, John Matuszak, Ed Jones, George Rogers, John Elway, Troy Aikman, Russell Maryland, Drew Bledsoe, Keyshawn Johnson, Orlando Pace, Peyton Manning, David Carr and Eli Manning have all been No. 1 picks who also won a Super Bowl.

However, Hornung, Bledsoe and Carr were just roster guys for their titles. Bledsoe did start and lose a Super Bowl.

#16-LIST OF SUPER BOWL NO-NAMES: Below are guys that made their names in the Super Bowl. Some of these guys were pretty good NFLers before their breakout games ... some we haven't heard of before or since ... but performing well on the biggest of stages makes them legends.

Doug Williams (Redskins): 
It wasn't that Williams was a no-name as much as things really didn't pan out for him. Dude really came off the scrap heap. Williams did nothing much of note in his first years at Tampa Bay or in his USFL stint. Redskins coach Joe Gibbs (who coached Doug in Tampa) gave him a shot in 1986 to back up Jay Schroeder. In '87, Schroeder had some shoulder issues late in the season and Williams did a good job taking over. So much so that there was a QB controversy. Williams got the nod and the rest is history.

What Williams did in the 2nd quarter of Super Bowl XXII is nothing short of remarkable. He was 9-of-11 for 228 yards and 4 TDs. Again, that was just in the 2nd quarter! Williams would win the game's MVP and become the first (and only, so far) black quarterback to win a Super Bowl.

Timmy Smith (Redskins): 
If Doug Williams didn't win the MVP, Smith would have. Smith rushed for 204 yards (still a Super Bowl record) and two TDs. Coming into the game, Smith had rushed for just 129 yards that season. His career lasted just 15 games after the Super Bowl.

Max McGee (Packers): 
McGee is famous for his pre-Super Bowl I partying. With Boyd Dowler injured early in the game, a hung-over McGee would step in and catch the first TD pass in Super Bowl history. He would go on to catch seven passes for 138 yards and two TDs ... three more receptions than he had all season long.

Jeff Hostetler (Giants):
 People forget that Phil Simms didn't start the G-men's second Super Bowl title. Simms hurt his ankle late in the season and Hoss took it the rest of the way. He had the least amount of playing time of any QB to start a Super Bowl. He held up well, throwing for 222 yds and a TD.

Dan Bunz (49ers): 
The linebacker was instrumental in the greatest goal line stand in Super Bowl history, stuffing the Bengals four times with goal to go. The defining play was Bunz' tackle on a swing pass to Charles Alexander on third down (he was also in on the stop on fourth down).

Larry Brown (Cowboys): 
The running joke after Super Bowl XXX was that Brown was the Steelers' Neil O'Donnell's favorite target. Too bad he played for the other team. Brown picked off two O'Donnell throws ... his final game with Dallas. He used the MVP award to get a nice fat contract with the Raiders and did nothing much of note after the fact.

Dwight Smith (Buccaneers): 
If Brown won an MVP award for picking off two passes ... why didn't Smith win won for taking two picks back for TDs? He was a nickelback used a lot in a game where (a) Oakland's offensive attack warranted it and (b) the Raiders were so far behind that they had to take chances. Why ....

Dexter Jackson (Buccaneers):
 ... because Smith's second TD came in the closing seconds after the ballots had already been counted. Jackson had picked off two passes himself (none that went for TDs) that were momentum changers. And Jackson wouldn't have won the award either if not for fan voting taking place in the game (Simeon Rice was the press' pick).

Percy Howard (Cowboys):
 Never heard of him? Well, Howard came into Super Bowl X and caught a 34-yd touchdown pass from Roger Staubach. That was the only reception he had in his entire career.

Don Beebe (Bills):
 Beebe has been on six Super Bowl teams ... but will be remembered most for running down Leon Lett and stripping the ball right before crossing the endzone in Super Bowl XXVII.

David Tyree (Giants):
 Tyree will always be a legend for his amazing catch in Super Bowl XLII. A guy pretty much no one had heard of before and hasn't done anything since will be immortalized with possibly the greatest play in Super Bowl history.

Mario Manningham (Giants): 
He only caught 5 passes for 73 yards in Super Bowl XLVI, it was a huge 38-yard reception on the Giants' final, game-winning drive that will stick among the Super Bowl's greatest moments.

Malcolm Butler (Patriots): 
 Butler was an undrafted rookie when he made one of the biggest plays in Super Bowl history: intercepting Russell Wilson in Super Bowl XLIX with the game on the line.  

James White (Patriots):
 Coming into Super Bowl LI, White had rushed for just 260 yards, caught for 984 yards and scored 11 total touchdowns in his three seasons in the league. In that Super Bowl, White caught 14 passes ... a Super Bowl record ... for 110 yards and three total touchdowns. He is the only player to score in overtime of a Super Bowl. 

 Winners of 25 Super Bowl MVP awards have gone on to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. You have Bart Starr (twice), Joe Namath, Len Dawson, Roger Staubach, Larry Csonka, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, Fred Biletnikoff, Randy White, Terry Bradshaw (twice), Joe Montana (three times), John Riggins, Marcus Allen, Richard Dent, Troy Aikman, Steve Young, Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith, Kurt Warner, Terrell Davis and John Elway. Other winners, like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Ray Lewis can look forward to seeing their busts in Canton one day (that hikes the number up to 29). Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees also have a shot at the Hall.  So could Eli Manning.

From Super Bowl 1 to Super Bowl XX, 16 of the 20 Super Bowl MVPs were elected to the Hall of Fame. 

Granted, not all winners of the Super Bowl MVP award go on to anything much. Guys like Larry Brown, Harvey Martin, Dexter Jackson, Desmond Howard, Mark Rypien, Deion Branch and Jake Scott have also won the award and the Hall is no where in their future.

:  Look, they aren't all winners. Some Super Bowls just aren't very good. Whether they are blowouts or just poorly played, some are just duds.

1. Super Bowl V: This one was nicknamed the "Blunder Bowl" for good reason. There were 11 turnovers in the game with the Colts – who won – committing seven of them. The Dallas Cowboys were called for 10 penalties. This game stunk so badly that the MVP award was given to Chuck Howley of the losing Cowboys (the only time the Super Bowl MVP played for the losing team). Sure, Jim O'Brien kicked the game winning field goal at the end of the game, but even that was set up by a turnover.

2. Super Bowl XII: Dallas was in yet another sloppy game. Good thing the Broncos were sloppier (Denver turned the ball over eight times and completed just eight passes).Denver QB Craig Morton was horrible – he completed just four of 15 passes for 39 yards and four interceptions. Yikes! (There was also lingering questions about the IRS checking into his tax returns.) Both teams combined for 20 penalties.

3. Super Bowl XL: It was a ho-hum game that's only excitement came on an Antwaan Randle-El touchdown pass to Hines Ward. That's pretty much all the Steelers had: three big plays that ended up with TDs (the above play, a Willie Parker 75-yd TD run and an awkward pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Ward). Seattle shot themselves in the foot with bad penalties, bad red zone efficiency and turnovers. The game is one of the most controversial as many people felt that the Seahawks had a lot of bad calls go against them. Big Ben's QB rating is the lowest by any Super Bowl winning quarterback.

4. Super Bowl XX: The Bears dominated and we all loved seeing the Fridge plop into the end zone. Still, this looked like an exhibition game against a local high school team than a Super Bowl. Chicago dominated this game with their defense and made Pats QB Tony Eason look foolish (he is the only starting QB to not complete a pass). There have been several blowouts in Super Bowl history, but this is the only one where the losing team looked like it had no business being there. The saddest thing is that Walter Payton didn't get a shot at running in a TD. Jim McMahon snuck in a TD twice and the Fridge got a shot, but not Walter. A shame.

5. Super Bowl 50: One of the worst offensive showings in Super Bowl history. Denver, who won the game, gained under 200 yards of offense and had only 11 first downs. Quarterbacks Cam Newton and Peyton Manning were sacked a combined 12 times and both had quarterback ratings around 55. The teams combined to go 4-of-29 on third down and turned the ball over six times. Sigh.

No team has ever played on their home field in the Super Bowl. It has never happened. Never. Most fans know that. But if you really look into it, it hasn't even been close. First, some stats on this.

- Of the 53 Super Bowls, 46 of them were played in a stadium that was a home field for an NFL team.

- Since the Jets and Giants share MetLife Stadium, they were both hosts of Super Bowl XLVIII
- Super Bowl VIII was played in Rice Stadium in Houston. The Oilers used to play there but at that time playing at the Astrodome.
- Five Super Bowls were played at the Pasadena Rose Bowl and one was at Stanford Stadium. Neither was home to an NFL franchise at the time.
- The Los Angeles Rams did play in Super Bowl XIV which was in Pasadena. The San Francisco 49ers played in Super Bowl XIX in Stanford. Those are the closest examples of a team playing a "home Super Bowl." Neither were their home fields but both were certainly in their geographic footprint.
- Not only has no team hosted a Super Bowl, of the 47 teams who could of... only eight even made the playoffs that year! Amazing. Of those eight, only four won a single playoff game and only the 2017 Vikings even made the conference championship game. 

Of the 13 most pass attempts in a Super Bowl game in history, ten were for the losing team.

Tom Brady threw 62 passes in Super Bowl LI to complete a comeback overtime win. Jim Kelly threw 58 passes for the Bills against the Redskins in Super Bowl XXVI, Eagles' QB Donovan McNabb is 3rd with 51 passes in their Super Bowl XXXIX loss. The lone winning QB in that mix is New England's Tom Brady who won last year, threw 48 passes in their Super Bowl XXXVIII victory over the Carolina Panthers and 50 passes against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX.

Also, of the top 10 player rushing attempt games in Super Bowl history, only Eddie George in Super Bowl XXXIV played for the losing team.

#11-DON'T TRAIL BY DOUBLE DIGITS: Teams that are facing a double-digit deficit are 4-44. A couple things are interesting about that stat. First, the only teams to come back from a 10-point deficit or more and win are the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XXII, the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV, the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX (all three of them by 10 points) and the New England Patriots' magical 25-point comeback in Super Bowl LI.

The Patriots trailed 28-3 to the Falcons in the third quarter of Super Bowl LI before reeling off 31 straight points to end the game. 

The Skins trailed 10-0 before scoring the next 42 points. The Saints scored 31 of the next 38 points after trailing 10-0. That also makes those two Super Bowls the only ones where both teams faced a double digit deficit.

Also, it is quite amazing that 46 of 52 Super Bowls have seen one team go up by at least 10 at some point in the game.

 Here are just a few dumb notes about Super Bowl dates. Super Bowl XXIX was and will always be the only Super Bowl that was played on the same day (29) as the Roman numeral of the game. January 26th is the most popular date for a Super Bowl as a record four games have been played on that date. And, if you go in order from the earliest date (January 9th) to the latest (February 7th), the only days to not have held the Super Bowl are January 10, 19, and 23.

This will be the second Super Bowl held on February 3rd.
Jan 9-XI

Jan 11-IV
Jan 12-III, IX
Jan 13-VIII
Jan 14-II, VII
Jan 15-I, XII
Jan 16-VI
Jan 17-V
Jan 18-X
Jan 20-XIV, XIX
Jan 21-XIII
Jan 24-XVI
Jan 27-XXV
Jan 29-XXIX
Feb 4-XLI. LII
Feb 5-XL, XLVI
Feb 7-XLIV, 50

#9-STILL HAVEN'T WON ONE: There are now four franchises that have never appeared in a Super Bowl (Lions, Browns, Jaguars and Texans). But there are eight others that have never won the Super Bowl in any of their appearances. They are the Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Tennessee Titans, San Diego Chargers, Minnesota Vikings, Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons. The Bills and Vikings have lost four games apiece; the Panthers and Bengals have each lost two. The rest lost on their only trip.

And while the Jaguars (1995) and Texans (2002) haven't been to the big game, they don't have quite the drought as some other franchises. The Jets haven't been to the Super Bowl since the 1968 season. The Chiefs went to two of the first four Super Bowls but their last appearance was after the 1969 season.

It's been a while since the Vikings (1976), Dolphins (1984), Bengals (1988) and Redskins (1991) have been there as well.

#8-FOR YOUR ENTERTAINMENT: Gladys Knight will sing the National Anthem prior to Super Bowl LIII. 

Maroon 5 will be the halftime performer. Joining him will be OutKast's Big Boi (from Atlanta) and Travis Scott. Artists like Bruno Mars, Cardi B, Aerosmith and Ludacris will be performing at events in the days leading up to Sunday.

Ten NFL MVPs have gone on to win the Super Bowl. The illustrious ten:

I-Bart Starr (Packers)
XIII-Terry Bradshaw (Steelers)
XVII-Mark Moseley (Redskins)
XXI-Lawrence Taylor (Giants)
XXIV-Joe Montana (49ers)
XXVIII-Emmitt Smith (Cowboys)
XXIX-Steve Young (49ers)
XXXI-Brett Favre (Packers)
XXXIII-Terrell Davis (Broncos)
XXXIV-Kurt Warner (Rams)

Starr, Bradshaw, Montana, Smith, Young and Warner would also go on to win the Super Bowl MVP that season.

#6-SIX BEST SUPER BOWLS: Here are what I believe are the six best Super Bowls, ever. You can debate this all you want (which is fine), but these six were all great games with exciting finishes and are memorable in one way or another.

1. Super Bowl LI: I mean, the first and only overtime game in Super Bowl history. The Patriots trailing 28-3 in the third quarter then scoring 31 unanswered points to win the game. Julian Edelman's amazing catch. All the passing records set. Just the stunned feeling you had all game that the Falcons could be crushing New England like that and then seeing Tom Brady and company buzzsaw to the win. Simply one of the most amazing games in NFL history.

2. Super Bowl XXV: This was a great matchup in every way. With a backdrop of war, this game had all kinds of emotion as the game began (thanks, Whitney). That vaunted Bills offense against the stuffy Giants defense. The lead changed times on four occasions. In the end, an old guy like Ottis Anderson ate up the clock and Scott Norwood missed the only time the winner of the Super Bowl came down to the final play (even if Vinatieri missed those Pats FGs, the games would've went into overtime). Giants defensive coordinator Bill Belichick's defensive gameplan for this game in enshrined at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

3. Super Bowl XLII: Yes, the Giants take another top spot. Their amazing run just to get to the Super Bowl and matching the undefeated Patriots blow-for-blow. Eli Manning's escape and David Tyree's catch has become one of the top plays in Super Bowl history. Second biggest upset ever.

4. Super Bowl XXXIV: Not only was this a surreal matchup (remember that St. Louis and Tennessee weren't NFL cities six years earlier), but some cat named Kurt Warner was shredding up this game. The Titans staged one heck of a comeback (they were down 16-0) to have it ripped away from them on a bomb to Issac Bruce. Also, it had one of the greatest endings any football game could ever have.

5. Super Bowl XXIII: There were so many game changing moments in this one. Remember that the only times the 49ers led this game was at 3-0, and after Joe Montana's pass to John Taylor at the end of the game. Cincinnati had this one, but Super Joe took it away.

6. Super Bowl XXXVIII: The problem with this Super Bowl is that the 1st and 3rd quarters were terrible. However, the 2nd and 4th were just outstanding! In the fourth quarter alone, there were 37 points scored, which is a Super Bowl record for points scored in a quarter. It was just the second to have five TDs scored (the Redskins did that by themselves 16 years earlier). And it ended with an Adam Vinatieri field goal with :04 left. Oh, and we got a little nipple action at halftime.

The Patriots and Rams have met 13 previous times, including Super Bowl XXXVI. New England holds an 8-5 advantage and won the last five meetings between the two (which dates back to their previous Super Bowl matchup). The series is extremely streaky -- the Patriots won three of the first four meetings, the Rams won the next four straight before the Patriots current five game winning streak. The last time these two met was in 2016 when New England won 26-10 in Foxborough. 

These two will next meet in the regular next season in 2020 in Los Angeles.

 If you are looking for some other sports to whet your appetite, you have a few options. The NBA has a national televised game on ABC, as the Thunder takes on the Celtics at 2pm ET (the Grizzlies-Knicks and Clippers-Raptors are available on League Pass).

The NHL will have three games, with the Bruins facing the Capitals on NBC at 12:30pm ET (Oilers-Canadiens, Flames-Hurricanes are the other games).

There are 12 NCAA basketball games scheduled. The big games on tap are Georgetown Hall at Villanova (FOX),Wake Forest at Clemson (ESPNU), Minnesota at Purdue (BTN), Stanford at Cal (ESPNU) and Xavier at Creighton. New Hampshire plays Maine in a New England-themed battle

As I touched on before, Tom Brady will start his ninth Super Bowl and looking to extend his record Super Bowl championships. A New England loss would also put Brady with Jim Kelly as the only as four-time losers of the Super Bowl.
Brady is 41-years old while his counterpart, Jared Goff, is just 24-years old.  That is the largest age gap between quarterbacks in Super Bowl history. In an eerie coincidence, Brady was 24-years old when the Patriots won Super Bowl XXXVI against ... the Rams.

There have been Twenty quarterbacks to start multiple Super Bowls. Of those 20, only Kelly, Tarkenton and Craig Morton never won at least one game. While not a starter in Super Bowl V, Earl Morrall did play most of the game for the Colts after Unitas was knocked out of the game in the 2nd quarter. Morrall started for the Colts in the legendary Super Bowl III loss to the Jets. Steve Young didn't start but threw three passes in Super Bowl XXIV (he started Super Bowl XXIX). Peyton Manning is the only quarterback to start and win two Super Bowls with different teams.

 The Patriots are the first team to return to the Super Bowl the year after they lost the big game since the Buffalo Bills lost four straight Super Bowls in the 1990-1993 seasons. New England is attempting to become the first team since the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VII to win a Super Bowl the year after losing one. The Dallas Cowboys (Super Bowl VI) are the only other franchise to accomplish that feat.
With a loss, the Patriots would join the Bills (SB XXV-XXVIII), Broncos (SB XXI-XXII) and Vikings (SB VIII-IX) to lose consecutive Super Bowls.

  So we have all this information but what does it mean? Although all these neat stats and crazy trends make it seem like fate will determine the winner.  But does past trends really matter when the ball is kicked?  Really, these stats are just trends. The players and coaches will determine who wins on Sunday and that's basically it. Nothing against the Eagles at all but I like the Patriots to win. They have all the experience.

Is experience everything? Not really. We have a franchise in the Patriots that have been to nine of the last 18 Super Bowls against a franchise that hasn't been there in 17 years and is coached by a 33-year old and is quarterbacked by a 24-year old. Plus, the Los Angeles fan base hasn't been in a Super Bowl since the Raiders won Super Bowl XVIII ... 35 years ago

There are a couple of things that people really aren't talking about heading into this game. One is the fact that these Patriots aren't the juggernaut that most of the other teams were. New England was 11-5 this season with all five losses coming to non-playoff teams. New England lost two of their last four games heading into the postseason. Not to dismiss them being here, but this isn't the same team that dominated seasons.

The other point is the Rams' defense. Sure, they are certainly capable of giving up yards, but they are aggressive and physical and can be disruptive. Everyone knows the gameplan to beat Tom Brady is to get to him and make him uncomfortable ... and the Pats have countered with quicker passes and better offensive blocking schemes. If Los Angeles' defensive backfield ... which is good ... can get in the receivers' faces and reroute guys than it can buy time for Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh to get to Brady. The Rams can run the football, throw the football and has shown the faith they have in their kicker.

I think the Rams win this one, 34-30.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Schedule Could Make 2019 Jay Gruden's Final Season With Redskins

I'm all on board with Jay Gruden continuing to be the head coach of the Washington Redskins.

All signs point to 2019 being Gruden's sixth season with the Redskins which would make him the longest tenured Redskins coach since Norv Turner at the turn of the century. Strangely enough, that may be a parallel comparison and both coaches typically kept the Redskins around the .500 mark but just couldn't get them back to Super Bowl contention.

After a 4-12 season in Gruden's first year, he has gone 9-7, 8-7-1 and now a pair of 7-9 seasons. While the last two seasons have been disappointing, injuries completely ravaged the team. It isn't a stretch to think that the Skins could have hit at least 9 wins in both seasons.

Still, you are what your record says you are and Gruden's Redskins have been 35-44-1 over these five years. Again, Gruden deserves to stick it out in DC but will 2019 be his final year there?


It may not be his fault. The 2019 Redskins schedule will be brutal and the team must find a way to improve on a defense that started great and ended with a thud. They must figure out what Alex Smith will be able to do heading into the future as well as improving the skill positions. Oh yeah, health must be a factor in what the team can do next year. No matter who is wearing the burgundy and gold they will face up against a schedule that could be damaging to any success Washington can have.

Let me preface this with the obvious fact that just because a team looks like it should be good doesn't mean they necessarily will be next year. If you would have told Redskins fans back in August that they'd have a better record than the Packers, Panthers, Jaguars and 49ers ... yet a worse record than the Browns ... they'd be stunned. Still, you can make some assumptions going foward. So let's look at who we play:


Of course there is the six games against the fellow NFC East foes. While the NFC East isn't really world beaters in the standings, the division does house the defending Super Bowl champion as well as two of the six NFC playoff teams. There isn't any reason to think the Eagles or Cowboys are going to stink it up next year and the Giants steadily improved as the season went on. Philadelphia is sitting on two capable quarterbacks and may have to make a decision on who leads them going forward. Dallas has the NFL's leading rusher and are a few skill guys away from having a dynamic offense. New York has a lot of issues to sort out at the quarterback spot but still has Odell Beckham Jr and Saquon Barkley.

When compared to what the Redskins are heading into next year, Washington has no idea who will be able to be the quarterback and will have a rookie running back who missed the entire season after shredding his knee (or bring back an old Hall of Famer) with a lot of questions everywhere else.


In the conference rotation, the NFC East will play the entire NFC North next year (the Redskins played the South this year). The Bears and Lions come to Washington while we head out to Green Bay and Minnesota.

The NFC North is tough. The Bears surged to a division championship this year a season or two ahead of schedule.  Their defense is wicked and young Mitchell Trubisky seems to be developing quite nicely. It is an old school NFL battle when the Bears and Redskins share a field. Same goes with the Lions, though they are tough to figure out game to game, let alone season to season.  Heading to Green Bay and Minnesota is tough as both teams underachieved this year. Aaron Rodgers will have a new head coach to guide him with the Packers and should look to avenge their loss in Washington this season. This will be the fourth time in five years the Redskins and Packers play but the first in that stretch at Lambeau. And, of course, heading to face the Vikings means facing off against former quarterback Kirk Cousins. Do you think he'll "like that"?


Next year, the NFC East faces off against the AFC East in the rotation. That means the Patriots and Jets will come to FedEx Field while the Redskins will travel north to Buffalo and south to Miami.  The AFC East has a lot of fluidity to it right now. The Bills and Jets will be going into year two of their young quarterbacks. The Dolphins and Jets will have new head coaches heading into next season. The Patriots seem to be pretty much in dynastic form as they've been for nearly two decades but there may be some question marks heading into the offseason. New England wasn't as dominant as usual and there are some out there that wonder if Tom Brady may hang 'em up after these playoffs.

I'm guessing Brady will be back again and, while he won't be the MVP that he's been in the past, he's better than 2/3 of the quarterbacks starting next year. As of right now, it is hard to gauge what the AFC East teams will look like next year, but there are certainly some opportunities there.


Since the Redskins finished in 3rd place in the division, they'll play the Carolina Panthers (away) and San Francisco 49ers (home). The Panthers were a legit playoff team this year before a shoulder injury clearly affected Cam Newton and Carolina crashed and burned over the second half of the season. The Niners lost Jimmy Garrappolo during the season and never recovered. Certainly these two teams will be much better with healthy quarterbacks and could find themselves back into contention for an NFC title.

To recap, here is the Redskins' 2019 schedule:

HOME: Patriots, Bears, Cowboys, Eagles, 49ers, Giants, Lions, Jets

AWAY: Cowboys, Eagles, Vikings, Panthers, Packers, Giants, Dolphins, Bills

Six games against playoff teams isn't bad (even the easiest schedule guarantees you play four games against playoff teams), though seven is the max next year. You can argue that the 49ers, Packers, Panthers and Vikings underperformed and could be tougher next season.

In any event, the Redskins must bulk up the roster and get things in order or next year could be a 5-11 affair (or worse) and lead to Gruden's dismissal as head coach.

Or we can Hail to the Redskins and Hail Victory!