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Thirty-Two, One More Time

Where does the time go?

It was just 16 weeks ago when The Encyclopedia recapped Week 1, here.

32 teams with varying hopes and dreams.

Most succumbing to the harsh reality of not being very good.

Or not being very good, and also unlucky.

But for every franchise that’s down on their luck, there’s a couple that might just mess around and win the whole thing this year.

And now the Holiday Season is upon us, December football has finally arrived, and like those first 16 weeks of the season, it’ll all be over before we know it.

Jaguars 19 - Jets 3

For some reason the NFL didn’t include the Jags Jets game into their holiday graphic. As you can see from two pictures above, I fixed that.

The highest compliment you can pay the Jacksonville Jaguars is that they may be once again, a competent NFL franchise. Dougie Peterson’s crew has come a long way since they lost to the Commies in Week 1, and don’t look now…but the Jags might be Jaggin’ Off right into the postseason.

What can you say about the Jets?

From Joe Flacco, to this Tim Tebow/Taysom Hill hybrid they’re calling “Chris Streveler”, for a minute the New Jersey Jets looked like they might takeoff, but their plane is still boarding for the foreseeable future.

Bills 35 - Bears 13

You can’t take away the Bears Week 1 rain game win vs. the Super Bowl contending 49ers.

You can’t take it away, but you also can’t give Chicago much else either. Other than more praise for their uniforms, and a likely top 5 pick in the draft.

…And as for the other team at Soldier Field on Christmas Eve.

That’s three straight AFC East titles. With two games away from locking up the 1 seed, it’s difficult to not think this is the year.

Saints 17 - Browns 10

Where is Jameis? Here’s another question to ponder…remember Michael Thomas?

Both Saints starred in their Week 1 comeback win against Atlanta. This Week 16 matchup in Cleveland’s abysmal weather was a different story, as the aforementioned Taysom Hill and Alvin Kamara got after it in the ground game to eat a dub.

The Browns won the Baker Mayfield reverse-revenge game in Week 1. But for a variety of reasons, mostly revolving around losing and Deshaun Watson, they seem like a completely different team now.

Seahawks 10 - Chiefs 24

Geno and the Seahawks may’ve not wrote back in the Russell Wilson Bowl, but with three straight losses, and clinging to their playoff hopes there’s gotta be a rough draft in the works.

For teams at the top of the league the margins are razor thin. At 12-3 overall, two of the Kansas City’s three defeats came at the hands of Buffalo and Cincinnati. If there’s one team who can win the AFC without home field advantage throughout, it’ll probably be Mahomes and company.

Giants 24 - Vikings 27

Starting the year at 6-1, one of the feel good stories of the league this season is beginning to feel a bit dull. At 8-6-1 the Giants are still in the hunt, to, ironically end up playing the Vikings in Minnesota again.

It’s a bold move to pull out the all white uni’s on Christmas Eve, but Kirk Cousins is a bold guy. Enough about the point differential stats, the Vikings are the 2 seed, and their road back to Philadelphia for the NFC Championship game is all but nailed on.

Bengals 22 - Patriots 18

Getting turned over in Week 1 at home against the Steelers had some questioning whether the Bengals were dealing with a Super Bowl hangover, but at 11-4 Cinci seems to be a lock to win the AFC North and host at least one playoff game.

The Patriots losing is the gift that keeps on giving. The only thing better than seeing Mac Jones get sacked, was seeing him try and tackle Chandler Jones two weeks ago.

Lions 23 - Panthers 37

Since losing to the Eagles in Week 1, the Lions managed to go on a 5-game losing streak, and then improbably win 6 of 7. Unlikely to make the playoffs after dropping a key game in Charlotte, the fact they’ve been in the hunt after their first half of the season is impressive for Dan Campbell’s crew.

The Panthers are another team that’s virtually had two seasons in one. It wasn’t that long ago Baker Mayfield was set to resurrect his career for Matt Rhule’s Panthers. Now Steve Wilks and Sam Darnold are at the helm, and have kept pounding to one game out of first place within the putrid NFC South.

Falcons 9 - Ravens 17

This season has been just out of reach for the Falcons. Holding a puncher’s chance for the entirety of the year, their TKO finally came in the form of a Ravens physical and un-aesthetically pleasing run game.

As stated after their Week 1 win at MetLife Stadium. The Ravens only know painful long-term injuries. The Tyler Huntley experiment has yielded a solitary hypothesis, the Ravens desperately need Lamar Jackson back if they want to do anything in the playoffs.

Texans 19 - Titans 14

Two teams falling fast, and neither deserving of a Week 1 photo combination. Houston’s Week 1 draw in Indianapolis set the tone for the tragic-comedy that is the AFC South.

Tennessee dropping 4 straight is a surprise though. With no Ryan Tannehill, the hard-nosed Titans now lack the mirage of an appealing offensive game. It feels like in two weeks the Jags will be hosting a playoff game…think about that for a second.

Commanders 20 - 49ers 37

The up and down Commanders have been down bad these last three weeks. And right when we all assumed we wouldn’t see Carson Wentz again, he pops up to relieve the reliever in Taylor Heinicke. Ron Rivera is yet to make the call on the starting QB for Week’s 17 & 18, but whether it’s Wentz or Heinicke, they’ll not only be playing for the franchise’s postseason hopes, but likely their future as a starting play-caller in the league.

The 49ers were built for this. Losing the rain game in Chicago, then losing Trey Lance, then losing Jimmy G., it does not matter, because San Francisco just wins games. Holding the longest win-streak in the league at 8 games, Kyle Shanahan’s group is in an elite class that can win the title this year.

Eagles 34 - Cowboys 40

The best team in football by record showed signs of weakness in Dallas on Christmas Eve. Playing their first game of the year without Jalen Hurts, it was less Minshew-Mania, and more just plain manic by the backup QB. At 13-2, Philly’s main priority now is getting Hurts and Lane Johnson healthy for the postseason tournament.

Cooper Rush did enough to keep the Cowboys above water, with Dak back, Dallas could make some noise in the playoffs. Conceding the division to the birds means they’ll likely end up in Tampa for Wild Card weekend, squaring off against the same team that beat them in Week 1, only this time on the road.

Raiders 10 - Steelers 13

Oakland…I mean Las Vegas is in the running for most disappointing team of the season. Josh McDaniels managed a way to get Vegas to 6-8, mostly by giving the ball to Pro Bowlers Josh Jacobs and Davante Adams. Not exactly rocket science for the former Pats coordinator, but it’s all too little, too late for the underachieving AFC West club.

The Steelers and their black air force ones are in the mix again. On a cold night where the Immaculate Reception, and Franco Harris were honored, it only felt right that Pittsburgh is back playing meaningful games in late December.

Packers 26 - Dolphins 20

Up until threes weeks ago the Packers were essentially a dumpster fire. But then the weather turned, the schedule fell in their favor, the teams loitering around them began to lose, and now Green Bay is jockeying for postseason position with two home games against divisional rivals to finish their season.

Frank was right. Frank deserves better. Miami was 8-3, and now they’re 8-7. Bill Parcells told us that you are what your record is. The Tuna’s simple football philosophy sums up the fish this season too. It doesn’t seem like Jaylen Waddle, or Frank will be dancing come the playoffs.

Broncos 14 - Rams 51

The second matchup in Week 16 that is undeserving of Week 1 combination pictures. Although, the above picture of Wilson is from this year’s preseason. Before he became miraculously stranger as a person, and shockingly worse as a quarterback…also before Nathaniel Hackett got fired too. For a franchise that’s historically competitive, this year could be the beginning of the end for the foreseeable future in Denver.

Hey look, there’s Baker Mayfield again. This time in a Rams jersey, and is it just me or does he look shorter and chubbier every time you see him these days? Either way, the Rams stink, but who cares, they won the Super Bowl last year. I’d be remissed if I didn’t call attention to Sean McVay and his horrible Chunky Soup commercials though. It wasn’t the injuries that undid L.A. it was McVay’s acting…I don’t like that guy.

Bucs 19 - Cardinals 16

The third matchup in Week 16 that's undeserving of Week 1 combination pictures.

What do you get a guy that has it all like Tom Brady on Christmas? I’m not gonna insert any, “a family” jokes, or “an offensive line” jokes…I’m not gonna do that.

Good thing this isn't promptly coming out right after the Colts - Chargers game, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to break the news that J.J. Watt is retiring after this season. Watt’s been balling as of late, even though his picture doesn’t show it. He was and is a great player, and while he’ll never touch the Lombardi Trophy, he’ll have a gold jacket soon enough.

Chargers 20 - Colts 3

The Chargers Week 1 win against the Raiders showed us nothing new. But something has changed for Brandon Staley’s Bolts, as the season’s progressed they’ve been playing good defense. This squad will have to go on the road in the playoffs, and even though they have soft winter jerseys, they could be this year’s Wild Card team.

Having already brought up the Texans - Colts Week 1 draw, I don’t have to say anything else about Indy…but I will.

It doesn’t matter what day of the week Jeff Saturday coaches on, as long as he’s steering the ship the Colts are destined to lose, and lose a lot. Having a coach that doesn’t know what he’s doing, paired with a roster that’s the void of talent is a recipe for disaster.

So, where do we go from here?

Like all of us, I'm just hoping my team can win.

Just the one time.

I had to say it one more time, to try and will it into existence.

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