Joseph Ossai’s Mistake Reveals Who The True Cincinnati Bengals Fans Are

We need to talk about Cincinnati Bengals defensive lineman Joseph Ossai.

In the last minute of the AFC Championship, with the game tied at 20, and the Kansas City Chiefs needing 10-15 yards to put Harrison Butker in position to kick a field goal that would send the Chiefs to the Super Bowl, the game’s best passer, on a busted ankle, broke toward the sideline to pick up a first down and stop the clock. 

Joseph Ossai sprinted toward the sideline as if the entire season depended on it, and got a hand on Patrick Mahomes, pushing him into the Bengals bench.

The problem? Ossai was late, and the ensuing 15-yard penalty gave the Chiefs exactly what they needed. 

As the confetti dropped in Arrowhead stadium, Ossai sat on the bench, sobbing. Some teammates attempted to console him. Many others, wrapped up in their own emotions of disappointment, did not. 

Every game has a hero, every game has a goat. That’s the beauty of sport. It’s a different formula of our favorite narrative. A winner and a loser. Gratitude and grief. Elation and sorrow. 

Small minds often get lost in the simplicity of the narrative, and are consumed with what it means for them. 

Let’s get into the complexity of the story of last night’s “villain.”

Joseph Ossai came to this country at the age of 10. He picked up football in high school, and became good enough to have every school in Texas fighting over him. His mother, praying over his future, had a dream where he became a Longhorn. Trusting the faith of his mother, he chose Austin

Three years later he’d be hearing his name called in the NFL Draft, spending his rookie season watching his teammates come up just short in the Super Bowl because of a knee injury.

Last night was his chance to make sure his team went back. And for 59 minutes and 50 seconds, anyone who knows ball will tell you he was one of the best players on a field that includes more than a few future Hall of Fame players. 

On one play, he wasn’t the best version of himself, and he’s paying the price for that. Not only in the media and in the locker room, but he injured his knee on the play as well.

Some of you are mad at Joseph Ossai for his mistake. Being upset is natural. His own teammate, Germaine Pratt, was caught screaming “why would you touch the quarterback?” in the tunnel

But some of you decided his error was a license for sending him messages, and calling him every name in the book, and wishing harm to his career, or even his body, for how his play affected you.

So let’s talk about you- the person who didn’t see the irony in lashing out at Joseph Ossai after the game was over, for his hit after the play was over. 

How are you going to wish harm on somebody for their inability to handle the moment when YOU can’t? 

And it’s not even your moment. He was the Man in the Arena. Not you.

While he sobbed on the sideline, and faced reporters in the locker room after the game, you were in your mom’s basement shouting so loud that she probably had flashbacks to the time you got in her face for not cutting the crust off your PB&J.

Championship sports is a high wire act. The amount that has to go right for someone to be in a position to make a mistake on this large of a stage is mind-boggling. And forget what has to go right, think about what had to go wrong.

Buffalo Bills GM Brandon Beane recently said that he doesn’t want to have to suck bad enough to end up with a guy like Ja’Marr Chase falling to him in the draft. And he brings up a good point. Think about everything that had to go wrong in the Bengals organization for things to start going right. The real fans of this team understand that, and know that the possibilities for redemption for a still 22-year old Joseph Ossai are plenty. 

And those fans, those good and faithful Bengals fans that suffered through decades of lean years, will be there to lift Joseph Ossai up as they move into the future. 

I feel sorry for the ones that are stuck in the emotion of the moment, that lashed out and said hateful things. Because for most Bengal fans, the sweet moments will be that much sweeter because of the times that were sour. 

But when it’s the person that’s sour? Nothing will ever be sweet. 

Let that sink in.

Is The New York Jets Hiring Nathaniel Hackett Enough To Lure Aaron Rodgers To The Big Apple?

We need to talk about the Jets trying to lure Aaron Roders to New York.

Robert Saleh says he interviewed over 15 candidates for the open offensive coordinator position for the J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets. He used to work alongside the NFL’s most innovative offensive mind in Kyle Shanahan. So surely this hire was going to be based on what’s best for the offense with the personnel they currently have in place, right? 

Wrong. The New York Jets hired Nathaniel Hackett, also known as the only head coach besides Urban Meyer in the last 45 years to be fired before the completion of his first season as an NFL Head Coach. 

And why would they bring in someone fresh off a 4-11 run that had people wondering if the MonStars stole Russell Wilson’s talent?

Well, before he stunk things up in Denver, Hackett was responsible for calling the league’s top scoring offense in 2020, and two consecutive top ten yardage seasons, with none other than the perpetually disgruntled Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. 

That’s right, the New York Jets are trying to do the same thing the Denver Broncos failed to do last offseason- use Nathaniel Hackett to entice Aaron Rodgers to request a trade. 

Why else would they make this hire?

Granted, as bad as the Broncos offense was in 2022, producing just 14 passing touchdowns in Hackett’s 15 games, Denver’s production last year would actually be an upgrade over 11 of the last 12 sorry excuses for an offense that the New York Jets have rolled out. 

The Jets have had a bottom quarter offense since before Donald Trump was elected president, and a move like this shows that they’re desperate for a change. 

But is Aaron Rodgers the answer? He’s definitely an improvement, but we saw this past season that the Packers didn’t have enough talent surrounding Rodgers to even capture a playoff spot. The Jets are going to have to give up this year’s #13 overall pick, and perhaps a lot more since the Packers have every ability to hold the Jets hostage for being this transparent. 

What is going to be left on this roster for Aaron Rodgers to try and take on one of the best divisions in football?

Breece Hall coming off a torn ACL? Mekhi Becton coming off of two consecutive missed seasons? A permanently pissed off Elijah Moore?

And what if the Packers ask for rookie sensation Garrett Wilson in addition to this year’s first round pick in exchange for A-Aron? Can the Jets afford to say no?

I respect that the Jets are being decisive about not thinking Zach Wilson is the guy, and not letting it drag on for a third year like they did with Sam Darnold. 

We all remember Wilson refusing to accept responsibility for letting the NFL’s #4 ranked defense down with his play, or the rumors that were spread about his dating preferences.

But if you’re trying to change the culture away from people that don’t point the finger at themselves, or have endless articles written about their personal life and dating preferences…

Is Aaron Rodgers the guy you want?

I guess we’ll find out.

Let that sink in.

NFL Conference Championship Weekend Best Bets

Before we talk about the NFL Conference Championships, let’s pour one out to the season. There are only two days of NFL football left before it goes on a hiatus. Enjoy it, and more importantly, bet it (responsibly).

*Lines as of 1/27 at 2:00 p.m. ET on FanDuel

NFL Conference Championship Best Bets

49ers +2.5 vs. Eagles

If you had doubts about the health of Jalen Hurts, those quickly disappeared last week against the Giants. Hurts was a man possessed in the first half, leading the Eagles offense to touchdowns on four of their first five possessions. The Eagles offensive line is the best unit in football, especially with Lane Johnson back in the lineup. Johnson and Jason Kelce have not given up a sack since Week 6 of the 2021 season. It’s 2023! Philly’s defensive line is also a top 3 unit in football after registering 70 (!) sacks in the regular season. Plus, Get Up had a stat this morning – Philly’s 3rd-down sack percentage is 18.2%. The league average is 9.6 %.

All signs point to Philly, but I’m siding with San Francisco’s all-star roster with a rookie QB. Last week was Brock Purdy’s worst start of his career with 214 yards passing and a QBR of 87.4. Yet, he didn’t turn the ball over and made the necessary plays to win against a stout Cowboys defense. The 49ers defense is ranked first overall in DVOA. I also prefer the 49ers playmakers (non QB) – CMC, Deebo, Kittle, Aiyuk – over the Eagles skill guys – AJB, Sanders, DeVonta, Goedert. When push comes to shove, I trust Kyle Shanahan, even with his clock management deficienes, more than Nick Sirianni. Shanny is 7-1 ATS in the playoffs. Hopefully, it’s 8-1 after Sunday.

Bengals +1.5 vs. Chiefs

Is Joe Burrow “him?” He might be! Since his historic season in 2019, Burrow has shown up in big game after big game. In six playoff games, Burrow has thrown for over 1500 yards with eight touchdowns, two interceptions, and a passer rating of 98.4. Cincy’s confidence is skyhigh, considering they’ve beaten the Chiefs in three-straight games, including last year’s AFC Championship. In those three wins, the Bengals have outscored the Chiefs 47-20 in the second half. Lou Anarumo’s ability to adjust the Cincy defense in the second half has been the difference.

All that being said, this game comes down to Patrick Mahomes and his ankle. Mahomes has been tremendous in 12 playoff games – 3500 yards, 30 touchdowns, seven interceptions, and a passer rating of 106.2. However, the high ankle sprain scares me. Mahomes will be shot up with god knows what in his ankle to play on Sunday. I’m sure he’ll be effective at times, but the typical recovery for this injury is 4-6 weeks. He’s playing on this ankle 8 days after the injury. I don’t trust his ankle to hold up. Therefore, Cincy gets to their second-straight Super Bowl.

NFL Conference Championship Teaser

6 POINTS: 49ers +2.5>+8.5, Bengals +1.5>+7.5

The teasers have not been kind to me this postseason. I can’t say that I’m thrilled to be trusting two underdogs to cover the tease. However, I’m expecting two close games, which is perfect for a teaser.

2022 NFL Season So Far

Bets of the Week: 17-14-1

Underdog of the Week: 8-8

Teaser of the Week: 9-7

Total: 34-29-1

2023 Wild Card Round

Bets of the Week: 4-2

Teaser of the Week: 0-1

2023 Divisional Round

Bets of the Week: 2-2

Teaser of the Week: 0-1

Dear Mike Vick- Lamar Jackson Did the Right Thing By Not Coming Back From his Knee Injury Too Early

We need to talk about Lamar Jackson’s injury, and the reaction to it.

I’m still struggling with the audacity of anyone, including you Michael Vick, to say that Lamar Jackson needed to slap a brace on his grade 2 PCL strain and go out there and win the Ravens a playoff game.

This isn’t an MCL, Mike. And even then, that would have presented its own set of risks. I didn’t let my MCL heal properly. I came back too quick, shed the brace too early, and immediately tore my ACL. 

When your PCL isn’t stable, your whole leg can fall off like Robert Griffin III’s did, and for a dual threat quarterback, there’s no coming back from that. 

Lamar Jackson’s teammates have said that he’s having trouble just walking around the facility. They knew he wasn’t going to play, which was reflected in the fantastic gameplan John Harbaugh put together that had a Tyler Huntley-led offense outperform the defending AFC champions on the road! 

Lamar Jackson didn’t let anyone down. He certainly didn’t harm the day-to-day existence of the armchair QB that calls in sick with seasonal allergies, or pretends to have the flu to take advantage of discounted weekday tee times at the local golf course. 

We have to outgrow some of the outdated ideas that have permeated and poisoned this sport for decades. 

Is the best ability availability? Sometimes. Sometimes the best ability is the most athletic QB the NFL has ever seen being able to be himself. Would you want Randy Johnson on the mound without his slider? Or Aaron Judge at the plate when he’s only able to bunt? Hell no. Why throw Lamar Jackson out on one of the worst playing surfaces in all of football when he’s having trouble walking?

Are some issues of pain tolerance more about a change in mentality? Sure. But one of the dumbest things about this sport has always been that there are 60 year old coaches that stir fiber supplements into their morning beverage to keep their anus from rupturing on the toilet that equate bodily injury with character concerns.

Even last week on this podcast I pointed out that Ronde Barber should be included in this year’s Hall of Fame class in part because he played his last 13 seasons without missing a game. Now I feel the need to clarify that it was a reflection of his preparation combined with good fortune to make sure that people aren’t gleaning that I, of all people, think that physical health makes you a better or more worthy individual.

Believe it or not, the athletes you see on television are just like you. If you’re a construction worker, and you lose your father, you’re not getting thousands of messages from strangers telling you the best way to honor him is to go out and lay a concrete slab. 

If you’re a minister and you have pneumonia, no one is questioning your dedication to your faith if you decide to take a Sunday morning at home instead of coughing into a microphone. 

If you’re a schoolteacher in the last week of school, and your contract for next year isn’t settled, but you’re not healthy enough to be around the students, no one is going on TV to talk about “maybe you’re not the franchise educator the district thought you were.”

I know not everyone thinks this way, but we need to find a way to get the people that do released from their self-imposed prison of idiocy. Start asking people if they’d want their surgeon or their airline pilot at 60%. 

Everyone involved with the Ravens franchise has a job right now because almost every other team, including Baltimore, passed on Lamar Jackson in the first round of the 2018 Draft. If and when they wake up and pay him what he’s worth, they’re going to be relevant and competitive for the next decade.

The idea of throwing the next 10 years out the window for the temporary glory of seeming tough to people with an outdated mindset and zero skin, or ligaments, in the game is completely insane. 

It’s even more insane when that mindset is coming from people inside football. 

Let that sink in.

We Need to Slow Down the Hype on the Brock Purdy “Linsanity” Moment

We need to talk about Brock Purdy and his Linsanity moment.

Brock Purdy has been good, I’ll give you that. But like Clyde Carson saysSlow Down.

The reason for the hype is simple. Brock Purdy is playing expectation-free football. Every other quarterback in this year’s playoffs outside of Skylar Thompson, and maybe Geno Smith, is locked into the struggle of trying to justify their draft position, paycheck, desired paycheck, or status amongst the NFL’s elite.

If any other quarterback in this year’s playoffs had a zero touchdown game in a divisional round win, we’d be talking about them like they’re the weak link.

Brock Purdy was the last pick in last year’s draft. No one expected him to rattle off 8 wins in a row. No one expected him to have seven consecutive multiple touchdown weeks heading into the divisional round. And when I say no one, I mean literally no one except for Brock Purdy himself. 

Just after being drafted as the NFL’s “Mr. Irrelevant,” he told an interviewer “I’ll embrace the role and have some fun with it, but at the end of the day you know I’m trying to go and help a team win a Super Bowl, so that’s where my mindset is at with it.”

Well, Brock. Here you are. You’ve done enough to make sure you have a chance to make a Super Bowl. And you and I both know that eight games is enough for one of these defensive coordinators to figure you out. And you and I both know that not every ball that hits a defender’s hands is going to magically fall to the turf.

I suspect that’s what was on your mind when Erin Andrews and George Kittle celebrated a divisional round victory and spoke glowingly of you, while you stared straight ahead, emotionless.

I like that you get the gravity of the moment. I like that you’re not just here to have fun and enjoy the ride.
Because that ride is about to get bumpy. And no one throws a wet blanket on a feel good story quite like the people of Philadelphia. Let me put it this way, you won’t be the first beloved character wearing red and white to find a hostile wintertime crowd waiting for you in the city of Brotherly Love.

And since we’re comparing Brock Purdy to St. Nick; let me offer some advice. Kyle Shanahan’s offense is the sleigh that got you here. The running game is the reindeer that gets that sleigh off the ground. All you have to do is worry about getting that package into the hands of the players that are on every fantasy football player’s “Nice” list, and out of the hands of those grinches in green.

And if you do that, Mr. Irrelevant, you’ll get your post-draft wish. A chance to help your team win a Super Bowl, in front of your friends and family back in Arizona, at just 23 years old.

And that’s a feel good story.

Let that sink in.

NFL Divisional Round Best Bets

Trevor Lawrence throwing a pass.

The best football weekend of the year is upon us as the NFL Divisional Round kicks off on Saturday night. It was a winning Wild Card Weekend for me, so let’s keep the train rolling.

*Lines as of 1/20 at 3:30 p.m. ET on FanDuel

NFL Divisional Round Best Bets

Chiefs -8.5 vs. Jaguars

Everyone and their mother will be throwing the Chiefs in a teaser this weekend. Why? For starters, Patrick Mahomes is undefeated in the Divisional Round (4-0). In Mahomes’s four Divisional games, the Chiefs have scored 36.5 points per game with an average margin of victory of 12.25 points. Not too shabby! Andy Reid is also dominant off a bye week as his teams are 27-4 (including the regular season). I love where the Jaguars are heading. Last week’s comeback victory over the Chargers set this franchise in the right direction. The Jags are on a six-game winning streak with a 5-1 ATS record in that timeframe. Jacksonville needs to get off to a fast start for them to have any chance at winning. However, #15 in red loves fast starts as the catalyst to the third-highest scoring first-half offense in the league on a per-game average (15.6). It’s a close game at the half, but the Chiefs pull away to cover.

Giants vs. Eagles over 48.5

As I mentioned last week, I am a diehard Giants fan, so I’m rooting for the Giants. I also don’t put any money down on the Giants because of my poor record betting on the teams I love. If I were to bet on this game, the over is the play. The Eagles are the highest-scoring first half team in the league (17.4 points). During the season, the over was 10-7 in Eagles games. Do you know which team has been one of the hottest over teams in the second half? The New York Football Giants, with the over hitting in seven of their last nine games. Go Giants, but the safer play is to root for points.

Bengals +5.5 vs Bills

The hardest game to handicap is the contest between the Bengals and the Bills. It’s an overused phrase, but I truly believe whoever has the ball last will win the game. Both teams were not particularly impressive in their wins during Wild Card Weekend. The Bengals needed a miraculous defensive touchdown to beat Tyler Huntley, and the Bills needed to come from behind to defeat third-string quarterback Skylar Thompson. The Bengals missing three starting offensive linemen shouldn’t be swept to the side. Josh Allen committing the most turnover at the QB position is something that also shouldn’t be taken lightly. Both teams should be able to score, so the over is a solid play. Because I think this will be a close game, the Bills will win by a field goal so take the Bengals and the points.

49ers -3.5 vs. Cowboys

The two most impressive teams in the Wild Card Round will now face off in the last game of Divisional Weekend. You know where I stand on the Niners. If I wasn’t a Giants fan, I would be a Niners fan. This roster is stacked beyond belief. During this 11-game winning streak, the Niners offense is second in EPA per play. As long as Brock Purdy doesn’t turn the ball over, the Niners can win the Super Bowl. However, the Cowboys are pretty damn good as well. Dak Prescott played the game of his life against Tampa, throwing for 305 yards and four touchdowns. The Niners offense will also play the best defense they’ve seen in months, but that works both ways as the Niners are the best defense in football, surrounding the fewest yards per game (300.6). I liked the Niners to win the game before they knew their opponent. After seeing Brett Maher miss four extra points, I feel better that the Niners will cover the three and change.

NFL Divisional Round Teaser

6 POINTS: Chiefs -8.5>-2.5, Bengals/Bills Over 49.5>Over 43.5

As I stated at the beginning of the article, the entire world will tease the Chiefs to under three points. The question lies with who (or what) to tease them with. Honestly, it’s not a week for teasers. However, getting the total to 43.5 in the Bengals-Bills seems to be the best option. The Bengals haven’t scored under 20 points since October 9, and the Bills haven’t scored under 20 points since November 6. Both teams average over 25 points per game. That’s good enough for the over.

2022 NFL Season So Far

Bets of the Week: 17-14-1

Underdog of the Week: 8-8

Teaser of the Week: 9-7

Total: 34-29-1

2023 Wild Card Round

Bets of the Week: 4-2

Teaser of the Week: 0-1

NFL Wild Card Weekend Best Bets

And with that, the 2022 NFL regular season comes to an end. For my gambling stats, I started hot, nose-dived in the middle, and regained my composure at the end. The final record was 34-29-1, which comes out to approximately 53%. I’ll take it after the 1-4 weeks I was putting up in the middle of the season. Now, it’s a new season as we head into NFL Wild Card Weekend. With only six games, I will share my predictions for every game. Spoiler alert: I LOVE my teaser the most.

*Lines as of 1/14 at 12 p.m. ET on FanDuel

NFL Wild Card Weekend Best Bets

49ers -9.5 vs. Seahawks

In the preseason, my Super Bowl prediction was the Bills over the Niners. People jumped off the bandwagon when James G was ruled out for the season, but I trusted Kyle Shanahan to right the ship and bring this team to the playoffs. 10 straight wins later, the Niners are primed for a big postseason run. During this winning streak, the offense has averaged over 30 points per game while their defense surrenders the least amount of yards per game. Rain is expected in Santa Clara so it will be a wet one, which helps Seattle. Is it hard to beat a team three times in a season? Yes. However, the Niners are much better than a Seattle team who probably shouldn’t be in the playoffs. Niners will run away with this game in the second half.

Jaguars +2.5 vs. Chargers

Are you ready to Jag off? Because I am! The Jaguars ripped off five straight wins to make the playoffs, capped off by an ugly 20-16 win over the Titans to win the AFC South. As a Trevor Lawrence believer, the young QB played poorly last week. I don’t expect that to happen two weeks in a row. The Chargers want teams to run on them (145.8 yards per game), so if you want a prop bet, Travis Etienne over 78.5 yards rushing looks good. The main reason I like the Jags is the coaching advantage they possess. I trust Doug Pederson more than Brandon Staley. Mike Williams should not have been playing last week. One back injury later and the Chargers best WR is out for the playoffs. That’s indefensible, and the Chargers’ offense will suffer. Jags pull out a close win on Wild Card Weekend.

Bills -13.5 vs. Dolphins

I don’t want to waste too much time on this game. If Tua was playing, this would’ve been a good game. If Teddy Bridgewater was playing, it would be less fun but still manageable. I have zero faith in Skylar Thompson. The Bills should blow the Fins out of the water.

Giants +3 vs. Vikings

*BIAS ALERT* I am a diehard Giants fan, so I will keep this short and sweet. I actually don’t put money on the Giants because I’m afraid I will jinx them. Yes, I’m an 8-year-old with that mindset. However, I’m also 0 for 253 when betting on the Giants, so I stopped doing it a few years ago. That being said, this matchup will be a one-score game either way. By all stats, the Vikings might be the luckiest team ever. They’re still good, but 13 wins and a -3 point differential is as lucky as it gets. I’m scared that everyone loves the Giants, too, but the Giants will show up and deliver. (Please)

Ravens +8.5 vs. Bengals

The Bengals are going to win this game. I wanted to get that out of the way first. However, I like the Ravens to cover because of one man and one man only, Roquan Smith. The entire defense changed when Smith became a Raven. The First-Team All-Pro linebacker has anchored a Ravens defense that has allowed the NFL’s second-fewest points, 14.7 points per game, since his arrival. In that same span, the Ravens are third in defense DVOA, 10th against the pass, and 2nd against the run. Smith earned that contract extension. Even with Lamar Jackson out, Tyler Huntley should do enough to make this a 13-9 game going into the fourth quarter. Once again, Burrow finds a way to win, but the Ravens keep it close (and ugly).

Bucs +2.5 vs. Cowboys

The Cowboys stunk up the joint a week ago, losing to the Commanders 26-6. Dak Prescott played arguably the worst game of his career, completing 14 of 37 passes for 128 yards, one touchdown, and one pick-six. Do you trust the Cowboys, a team with three playoff wins since 1997, to bounce back against Tom Brady in the biggest game of the season? I don’t! It’s Tom Brady. The Bucs offense unlocked something two weeks ago in the fourth quarter of the Panthers game. They let Tommy sling it and opened up the field, which resulted in 20 points. The Cowboys will probably go into the half with the lead, and they might have it heading into the fourth quarter, but when it comes time for Brady to make a comeback, he’ll deliver in crunch time. Not for nothing, these two teams played in Week 1, and the Bucs won 19-3. I’m just saying…

NFL Wild Card Weekend Teaser

6 POINTS: Niners -9.5>-3.5, Jaguars +2.5>+8.5, Bills -13.5>-7.5

Why will this lose? I keep asking myself that question, and I don’t have an answer. The Jaguars would be the team to ruin the teaser, but I don’t see the Chargers winning on the road by more than a touchdown. If you swap out the Jags for the Bengals, I wouldn’t blame you at all. In fact, I’m going to make another teaser with Niners-Bills-Bengals.

2022 NFL Season So Far

Bets of the Week: 17-14-1

Underdog of the Week: 8-8

Teaser of the Week: 9-7

Total: 34-29-1

6 Players That Should Be Inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on the 2023 Ballot

Zack Thomas

We need to talk about the 2023 Pro Football Hall of Fame finalists, and who should be getting in.

This class is stacked. 

First and foremost, Darelle Revis needs to be the first one in. He had his own damn island. Not only was he probably the best cornerback of his era, he’s one of the best corners of all time. He’s definitely a first-ballot guy.

And I feel the same way about Dwight Freeney. There was nobody I played against that caused more trouble for offenses. Two blockers? Three? Never made a difference. Dwight Freeney was an unstoppable game wrecker with that dumbass spin move.

Joe Thomas should be in on the first ballot, but I think it’s fair to objectively admit that there are levels to being a Hall of Fame player, and I’m not sure I put Thomas on the same level as a Walter Jones or an Orlando Pace. But timing matters, and Joe Thomas was probably the best offensive tackle of his era.

I’m also including Zach Thomas, and you’ll never convince me that as a linebacker, even though he was four inches shorter, Thomas had a career any less praiseworthy than Brain Urlacher. And Urlacher got in on the first ballot. 

My fifth inductee is Ronde Barber. 47 interceptions. Didn’t miss a game for his final 13 seasons. Scored 10 times on defense, and that’s just in the regular season. If you don’t remember his touchdown in the 2002 NFC championship game, stop this video and go look it up. Donovan McNabb probably still has nightmares about this man. He’s also the best pass-rushing corner the NFL has seen outside of Charles Woodson.

Before I give you my sixth person I’d include in this year’s Pro Football Hall of Fame class, let me talk about some of the players I think are on the cusp of getting in. 

Devin Hester is an interesting one. He’s one of, if not the best returner of all time, but the NFL Hall of Fame has a long precedent of ignoring specialists altogether. Ray Guy is the Hall’s only punter, and it took 28 years after he retired, after he’s already been forced to sell off his Super Bowl rings due to financial difficulties, to get him in. I’m hoping the Hall doesn’t treat Hester the same way, but I wouldn’t be surprised. 

Patrick Willis feels a lot like Gale Sayers, Jim Brown, Terrell Davis and Calvin Johnson. Yes, they had short careers, but they were undeniably great. Willis was arguably the best defensive player in the NFL for a seven year stretch. And like I said, there’s levels to the Hall of Fame- outside of a very select few, players are included for what they accomplished in their prime stretch, and Willis’ career just happened to be all prime stretch. 

Jared Allen and Demarcus Ware are part of the 100 sack club, I have no doubt they’ll get in eventually. 

And this year’s crop of receivers are all probably stealing votes from each other. Andre Johnson deserves it, but the idea of him getting in before Torry Holt doesn’t make sense to me. 

Now for my sixth inductee. One that isn’t even on this list, but everyone that ever had to play against him knows he damn well should be. 

I’m talking about my old teammate Fred Taylor. 

Of the 16 running backs in NFL history that had more rushing yards than Fred, 14 are in the Hall of Fame. The other two, Adrian Peterson and Frank Gore, aren’t eligible to even be nominated yet. 

And of those 14 Hall of Fame running backs, only Barry Sanders and Jim Brown averaged more yards per carry than Fred.

If Fred Taylor played in a different market, he’d have been in already. I’d say make it make sense, but you can’t.

So to recap, if it were up to me, your 2023 Pro Football Hall of Fame class would be Darrelle Revis, Dwight Freeney, Joe Thomas, Zack Thomas, and Ronde Barber.

And if the world made any sense, you’d have Fred Taylor in there too. 

Let that sink in.

NFL Week 18 Best Bets

We have reached the end of the NFL regular season. Where did the time go? This weekend is the last full slate of games until September. Savor every moment. Watch every snap. Hell, bet every game (responsibly). After a 1-3 record in Week 17, I’m going out on top in Week 18.

Before you place a bet, check to see if the team is resting any players. Some teams need to win to improve their playoff seeding, and some teams need to lose to receive a better draft pick. Take advantage of these elements.

*Lines as of 1/7 at 12 p.m. ET on FanDuel

NFL Week 18 Best Bets

Vikings -5.5 vs. Bears

After getting their doors blown off by the Packers, the Vikings dropped to the 3-seed in the NFC. If the 49ers defeat the Cardinals, the Vikings will be the 3-seed. If the 49ers lose and the Vikings win, Minnesota is the 2-seed. San Fran is a 14.5-point favorite, so the odds of losing are slim to none. What does this mean? The Vikings are going to rest their starters in the second half. Should I be worried? No, because Nathan Peterman is starting for the Bears, not Justin Fields. Yes, the same Peterman with three touchdowns and 13 interceptions in his career. If the Bears lose and the Texans win, the Bears get the number-one pick. The Bears are tanking, and the Vikings would like to win. It’s the perfect storm.

Steelers -2.5 vs. Browns

Death, taxes, and Mike Tomlin finishing the season over .500. After a disastrous 2-6 start, Pittsburgh has won six of their last eight, including a crucial divisional win over the Ravens a week ago. Is Kenny Pickett knocking my socks off with his three touchdown passes in five games? No, but he’s not turning the ball over (1 INT over that same span), and the Steelers are winning one-score games. For the Steelers to make the playoffs, they need to win, and the Patriots and Dolphins need to lose. That’s not far-fetched. The Browns have nothing to play for, but they also don’t have a first-round pick in 2023, so they will be looking to play the role of spoiler. Give me the Steelers at home by a field goal.

NFL Week 18 Underdog of the Week

Raiders +9.5 vs. Chiefs

The Chiefs are a good team. They have the MVP at quarterback. In all likelihood, Kansas City will make the AFC Championship Game for the fifth straight year. However, Kansas City has a fatal flaw. They don’t cover. The Chiefs’ record ATS is alarmingly bad. The Chiefs are 5-10-1 ATS, second-worst in the NFL. Against AFC opponents, the Chiefs are a league-worse 1-10 ATS. Not good, Mike! Let me lay out the situation. The Chiefs need to win to lock up the one-seed in the playoffs so they will defeat the Raiders. However, the Chiefs are on the road playing a division rival who just scored 34 points on the ‘̶8̶5̶ ̶B̶e̶a̶r̶s̶ 49ers. The chiefs win by a touchdown, but the Raiders cover.

NFL Week 18 Teaser of the Week

7 POINTS: Vikings -6.5>+.5, Bills -7.5>-.5

The entire world will be rooting for the Bills in their first game after the terrifying situation with Damar Hamlin. The medical staff is heroes for saving that young man’s life. It’s a miracle that Hamlin will pull through, and I couldn’t be happier. Emotions will be high in Buffalo as they’re looking to secure the two-seed. Josh Allen owns the Patriots. Since 2020, Allen is 4-1 with ten touchdowns and one interception. The Bills are going to pull this one out.

2022 NFL Season So Far

Bets of the Week: 15-14-1

Underdog of the Week: 8-7

Teaser of the Week: 8-7

Total: 31-28-1