So my continued sense of shame carries through to this week with the quitting of Fireman Ed.
Fireman Ed was the guy who, every Jets game, would get on his brother’s shoulder and lead the fans in the ‘J-E-T-S-Jets-Jets-Jets’ chant. He did this for years, and was pretty much Gang Green’s unofficial mascot. He was such a familiar figure in the stands that he’s one of the Super Fans enshrined at Canton.
(Yeah, that’s right. The Football Hall of Fame has a wing devoted to Super Fans, and Fireman Ed is in it. Deal with it.)
Anyway, this past weekend, in the wake of the horrific loss to The Sucking Black Hole of Evil, Fireman Ed announced he was walking away from his position effective immediately. It wasn’t this awful and frustrating season that spurred him to walk away; it was the behavior of the fans. Apparently, according to Ed, this season–the first season he swapped out his old jersey for a Mark Sanchez one–he was frequently confronted by fans under the belief that he was an employee of the Jets seeking to argue with him and pick fights. These knuckleheads, not having access to, let’s say, Rex Ryan or Sanchez, frequently blamed him for the struggles of the team–and let’s not get started with the Football Jebus Supporters, who apparently chose not to emulate their hero’s behavior (as much as I can’t stand Tebow as a player, I will admit that he’s a humble and pleasant man) and harassed Ed because Sanchez remained the starter.
And to add insult to injury, his announcement was met with derision amongst fans in the internet.
Look, people–Fireman Ed’s quitting was important because Football is a game of traditions, and The Super-Fan is a major tradition. Fireman Ed is as important to the mystique of the Jets as Bird Man is to the Eagles, Arrow Man is to the Chiefs, The Black Hole is to the Raiders, The Dawg Pound is to the Browns…well, you get the idea. The reason he made his quitting public is because his presence at every game was important, and his leading the cheer is part of the iconography of the Jets. This week, the first week he won’t be around (he’ll still be at the game, just not in his signature seat) to do so will be sad for me.
Oh, I’m sure there will be someone else who’ll rush in to stand for The Jets–that ‘Captain Jet’ character I see in the stands is a prime example–but we lost a part of our tradition, and it’s because of the fans.
Shame on you, New York Jets fans. Shame on you.
Before we begin, you’ll notice the grid has changed a bit. Since we’re now in the Playoff Hunt of the season, I’ll be adding the potential Seeds for teams that may qualify. This information is taken from NFL.com. Keep in mind, not everyone that could be a Wild Card is mentioned, as there are some teams (and I’m looking at you, Paper Planes) who mathematically could make the playoffs but really are nowhere in that hunt.
And since we’re no longer doing Bye Weeks, I’ve Added a ‘Firing Train Itinerary’ so you can see which coaches are getting ready to ride off into the sunset.
On to the games…
Firing Train Itinerary
Andy Reid, Norv Turner, Ken Wisenhunt, Chan Gailey, Ron Rivera
Sunday Games, 1:00 p.m.
Seahawks (6-5, lost v. Dolphins, 6th Seed NFC West ) vs. Bears (8-3, won v. Vikings, 3rd Seed NFC North)
This is going to be a tough little game. Pete Carroll’s Seahawks has surprised a lot of people, especially considering how their choice of Russell Wilson as their starting quarterback has resulted in their invincibility at home. No one expected them to be good, let alone contending for a Wild Card spot.
Of course, the upshot of this is that this team needs this game badly to retain their position or, even better, nudge the 49ers out of first place (this isn’t so far-fetched a concept, given San Fran’s tie game). They’re going to need to play super-hard in a hostile environment, trying to punch holes in an extremely tough, extremely experienced defense. And I think ultimately it will be the whole Soldier Field factor that will lead to a Seahawks loss by a possession or less.
Texans (10-1, won v. Lions, 1st Seed AFC South) vs. Titans (4-7, lost v. Gerbils, Potential AFC Wild Card)
This is an easy game to pick–after all, we are talking about the Texans, which features one of the most elite running backs, one of the most elite wide receivers, a kick-ass quarterback and the human rejection machine that is J.J. Watt. And the Titans…don’t. Expect Houston to go all David on this Goliath, winning by two to three possessions.
The Sucking Black Hole Of Evil (8-3, won v. Paper Planes, 3rd Seed AFC East) vs. Dolphins (5-6, won v. Seahawks, Potential AFC Wild Card)
This, however, is not such an easy game. The Dolphins are a much better team than we expected, and the Sucking Black Hole of Evil is not as good as their record indicates. Sure, the Sinister Sweatshirt, his Crybaby Quarterback and pretty much are guaranteed the AFC East Title…but they have been beatable by teams they should have lost against; it’s one of the reasons they’re back to running up scores again. I think Miami may be able to exploit the weaknesses in the defense of The Sucking Black Hole, and might be able to pull out a win by a possession or less.
Gerbils (2-9, won v. Titans) vs. Our Bitch (4-7, lost v. Colts)
And talk about Not An Easy Game To Call…the Gerbils are simply a much different team under Chad Henne. Unlike Gabbert, who always looks like he’s lost at sea, Henne has game smarts that were blunted when he was in Miami by the ministrations of The Repeater Tony Sporano. He’s potentially a good game manager, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s got both of the Gerbils’ wide receiver threats, and the team just picked up Jason Babin from the floundering Eagles. Even with being sacked seven times, Henne led the team to a victory against the Titans, who are better than they are.
So imagine how they’ll drub Our Bitch, who is just as bad–if not worse–than the Titans. Henne can certainly out-think Ryan Fitzpatrick, and the anemic offense will get themselves slammed by a team that’s suddenly found their balls. I figure the Gerbils to spank Our Bitch by about a possession and a half in an ugly, ugly game. And if they continue to behave like, you know, an actual football club, I may give them their original nickname back.
49ers (8-2-1, won v. Saints, 2nd Seed NFC West) vs. Rams (4-6-1, won v. Cardinals)
And so the great tie-ers meet again. No matter how you look at St. Louis’ team, you have to give the Rams credit–they gave San Francisco the one game that will give them fits when the playoff seeding comes. And this time the 49ers are coming to the Ram’s home ground, which means there’s going to be a lot of noise they’ll have to deal with. It’s going to end up being a tough game, with lots of lead changes…but I suspect that San Fran, still hurting from that tie that was handed to them, is going to eventually pull out the win by a possession or less.
Colts (7-4, won v. Our Bitch, Potential AFC Wild Card) vs. Lions (4-7, lost v. Texans)
I really had a lot of hope for Detroit, but it looks like they will be on the outside looking in. No matter how hard they try, it doesn’t look they’re going to repeat their entry into the playoffs. And now they’re going up against the team no one expected to be this good, as Indianapolis is re-energized thanks to Andrew Luck’s skill and leadership. And because it’s Indy, another dome team, their potential home field advantage is nullified. I expect that Indianapolis will end up winning by a possession and a half.
Vikings (6-5, lost v. Bears, Potential NFC Wild Card) vs. Packers (7-4, lost v. Giants, Potential NFC Wild Card)
This game could very well dictate which NFC North team becomes a Wild Card. Minnesota has been surprisingly good, even if Christian Ponder has been regressing in the last few weeks. And the Packers have been sputtering a bit, losing their games where they shouldn’t have. Green Bay is going to stumble a bit, especially given how banged up they are. This will be another close game. Expect a couple of lead changes–albeit very brief ones. But in the grand scheme of things, I think Adrian Peterson will be able to punch through the Pack’s D-line, resulting in a win by a possession or less.
Panthers (3-8, won v. Eagles) vs. Chiefs (1-10, lost v. Broncos)
Oh, boy…imagine you’re Cam Newton. Imagine you just beat the stuffings out of the Eagles. What do you think could be the perfect palette cleanser that would build up your confidence and keep you from making weird Hello, Kitty references?
If you said going to visit Kansas City so you could beat down the Chiefs, give yourself a point.
This is not a contest. Expect the Panthers to roar once more, and maybe pull Ron Rivera off the platform where the Firing Train is going to arrive. I expect Carolina to win by a possession and a half.
Cardinals (4-7, lost v. Rams) vs. Paper Planes (4-7, lost v. The Sucking Black Hole Of Evil)
The Cardinals are terrible. So are the Paper Planes. The Cardinals have Larry Fitzgerald, but no one who can accurately pass to him. The Paper Planes don’t have a single offensive weapon worth a damn. The Cardinals have a swiss cheese offense. The Paper Planes also have a swiss cheese offense, but it’s a baby swiss, so there’s smaller holes.
I am going to let my fanaticism fly and say the Paper Planes will pull another one of those massive wins out of their ass, convincing people they’re back on track until they lose miserably to the Chargers in about three weeks. Expect Coach Ryan to do cartwheels as they take it by two possessions or more.
Sunday Games, 4:30 p.m
Buccaneers (6-5, lost v. Falcons, Potential AFC Wild Card) vs. Broncos (8-3, won v. Chiefs, 4th Seed AFC West)
This is a closer match-up than it may seem on paper–remember, the Bucs are in a division with both the Falcons and the Saints, while the Broncos are the only team worth a damn in their division. And the Bucs have a really strong defense, which might be what plays in their favor. If they can bend-not-break, keeping Fetus Head Manning out of the end zone enough times, Tampa Bay will win…and I think it’s a greater than average possibility. Give it to the Bucs by a possession.
Steelers (6-5, lost v. Browns, Potential AFC Wild Card) vs. Ravens (9-2, won v. Chargers, 2nd Seed AFC North)
And so the honored rivalry begins again…and I don’t see anything changing this time around. The Ravens are just too good a match for a Big Ben-less, injured Pittsburgh. The Purple and Black will knock the Wild Card hopes right out of the Steelers mouth by two possessions.
Bengals (6-5, won v. Raiders, Potential AFC Wild Card) vs. Chargers (4-7, lost v. Ravens, Potential AFC Wild Card)
Believe it or not, Norv ‘Good Enough For Government Work’ Turner might find himself saved from a ride on the Firing Train if he can get San Diego to the playoffs. Granted, it doesn’t look likely, but knocking off another potential Wild Card in Cincinnati could do the trick–but for that to happen, Norv has to prevent the Bengals from getting into Philip Rivers’ head. The Chargers’ biggest weakness is their quarterback–get him rattled, and the offense falls apart. And I think the Tigers can hurry up and hit Rivers enough times early on to make San Diego fall apart, resulting in a win by about a possession and a half.
Browns (3-8, won v. Steelers) vs. Raiders (3-8, lost v. Bengals)
As much as I want to pull for Oakland here, the Browns are simply the better 3-8 team. They simply play harder, which is why they beat the Steelers. They will find a way to overcome the Raiders’ attack and triumph by less than a possession.
Sunday Game 8:30 p.m.
Eagles (3-8, lost v. Panthers) vs. Cowboys (5-6, lost v. Native Americans, Potential NFC Wild Card)
Here, Dallas…have a free win!
What’s going on in Philadelphia has the weird, horrific fascination of a ten car pile-up. The reign of Reid is all but over, and no amount of firing coaches and trading away problematic defensemen is going to stop that. There’s a strong chance the Eagles will not win another game between now and the end of the season, and that just makes Dallas all the happier while they dogfight for the right to be an NFC Wild Card. Dallas may be in the best position to get that Wild Card if there is one in the NFC East, and smacking around Philly goes a long way towards that goal. Expect the ‘Boys to win by two possession or more.
Monday Game 8:30 p.m.
Giants (7-4, won v. Packers, 4th Seed NFC East) vs. Native Americans (5-6, won v. Cowboys, Potential NFC Wild Card)
As you know, the Giants seem to have this talent for getting really, really hot in December. And even though the Native Americans are pretty strong right now, they still are going to fold before Big Blue. It’ll be a close game, but the Giants will pull ahead by a possession.
Thursday Night Game (Week 14) 8:20 p.m.
Broncos v. Raiders
Hey, look–it’s too teams that just don’t like each other much, the West Coast Equivalent of the Paper Planes and the Sucking Black Hole! I can’t think that the Raiders, who are totally lost in this Post-Al era, could possibly win this. For that matter, I can’t think that the Raiders will win much with Spaghetti Arm Palmer behind center. Fetus Head and company should blow the Black and Silver out by two and a half possessions easily.
See you next week.