New Yorkers- the Best Voters.

I like to talk about how smart New Yorkers are, but last night they proved it. Cynthia Nixon is completely unqualified to be Governor of New York. Her lack of experience, her tendency to back whatever the furthest left position is, without critical thought, and running her campaign on the issue of subways was all pretty appalling. I’m also not a fan of Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, so their candidate losing is helpful. I’m really happy that New Yorkers not only backed Governor Cuomo to a comfortable nomination win, but also re-nominated Lt. Governor Hochul and Tish James for Attorney General. Competency beat pure ideology.

I’m also glad that New Yorkers rectified the mess that is their State Senate, and shook up the Albany establishment a bit. Seven incumbent Democratic State Senators lost their primaries. Six of the eight members of the former “Independent Democratic Caucus” (IDC) lost, and the other two nearly did. While there have been more Democrats elected to the State Senate than Republicans for eight years, these eight members have refused to caucus with the Democrats, handing control over to the GOP. The result has been a giant blue state in New York being essentially at the mercy of upstate conservatism. Last night, New York Democrats made them pay for it. Even IDC Leader Jeff Klein is out this morning.

New York voters channeled their inner anger with a government that doesn’t represent them last night. Rather than a wholesale vote to penalize everybody, they went after those who can and should be competently replaced. Most change electorates can’t focus that way. New Yorkers did it perfectly.

For the Republic…

I never thought Paul Manafort would flip, but he did this morning. He plead guilty in Washington and agreed to cooperate with Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. For Mueller to allow this, he must both have had Manafort dead-to-rights, and felt he had useful information to the prosecution. Manafort was already guilty on eight counts in Virginia and facing a long prison sentence. Mueller didn’t need this deal as bad as Manafort.

I’m still very skeptical of the Mueller probe getting Donald Trump. He’s going to be hard to impeach and remove, there’s no good reason for Republicans to go along, politically, as long as their base loves Trump unconditionally. They probably will indict him and try him after his Presidency, but there’s no guarantees of a conviction. Today certainly moves the ball forward. Manafort was the head man of a campaign that took aid from Russia. I think Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner should be terrified. Manafort can probably put them at the middle of it. If Mueller can convict them, the Republicans in Congress *might* start pushing Trump to get out of the way and let Pence govern.

It is important that we don’t lose sight of the bigger issue here though, which is not Donald Trump himself. The problem of Russian meddling and a fractured society that can fall victim to their misinformation is the issue. The gulf between the two sides allowed one side to fall victim to a con-man and Kremlin stooges, and the other side could fall victim too, if other stooges re-affirm what they want to hear.

I’m glad to see Manafort flip. He deserves jail, and the people he is exposing deserve this fate too. Hopefully this investigation will expose the traitors among us. Even if it does though, our civil society needs work.

The Pressing Phillies Questions, Re-Visited

A few weeks ago, I wrote of the “most pressing questions facing the Phillies” for the remainder of this season. With the team playing badly, and with Seranthony Dominguez letting them down in what should have been an easy win last night, I feel like it’s at least time to update the answers to the questions I had.

Number one, I wrote:

Is Seranthony the closer moving forward? My answer is no. He’s a guy with high velocity, sure, so he’s probably a major league reliever. His command hasn’t been impressive though, and the movement on his ball has diminished as the Summer went. I think he was lightning in a bottle, not our Kenley Jansen.

I’m more sure of this than when I wrote it. I’m not ready to DFA Seranthony, but it’s clear the league has figured him out. He’s not ready for this role.

Number two, I wrote:

What’s Odubel’s future in Philadelphia? It’s not looking great. His stat line usually comes out good, he’s shown impressive power this year, and he does make some amazing plays in center. He’s super streaky though, and sometimes really stinks. He makes bonehead mistakes. He’s a liability when he’s off. With the Phillies needing to open up a spot if they sign Bryce Harper this Winter, Odubel’s second half is making him expendable.

I’m pretty much sticking by this, too. Odubel is a really likable, fun player. He’s also been terrible since the beginning of June. You can’t be that streaky.

Number three, I wrote:

What’s Roman Quinn’s future? As bad as Odubel has been, he’s opened the door for Roman Quinn to get a chance. I see Quinn limited to being a fourth outfielder at this point, as he gets hurt too much. He should get to play right now though, as long as he keeps hitting.

I’m sticking with Quinn as a fourth outfielder. He’s played well, but he broke a toe and is limited right now. I like Quinn, but my opinion isn’t moved.

Fourth, I wrote:

Should Carlos Santana start over Bour? Right now? No. Bour is hitting better, right now. We need to win games, right now. You deal with the contracts in the Winter. For now, give me Bour.

For the moment, I have to admit some error here. Bour got hurt right after I wrote this, and after his return, the Phillies have been able to get him at-bats by sticking Santana at third. Santana has been hot as well. The future at first base is murky though, not unlike what it was from 2012-2016, where a big contract controlled baseball decisions.

Fifth, I wrote:

Can Jerad Eickhoff save the Phillies? This is a sleeper story on the horizon. Eickhoff was so good in 2015 and 2016 that many fans saw him as a cornerstone. Then in 2017 the Phillies seemingly tried to pitch him through pain/nerve damage, and messed him up bad. Now he’s rehabbing back towards the majors, just as several starting pitchers are hitting career inning highs, and several relievers look cooked. They very much need Eickhoff to be right.

This was unfair of me to write. I got right that the Phillies starters were getting tired- Eflin particularly stinks right now. Eickhoff save the team after missing most of two years with injuries that the team seemingly mishandled? Best case is he gets in some work and is ready for 2019. Gabe’s not even starting him.

Sixth, I wrote:

Is the back end of the Phillies rotation cooked? Eflin, Pivetta, and Vince are looking really inconsistent lately. Could they be out of gas? It sure looks it. The Phillies need some reinforcements.

I think I nailed this, mostly. Eflin is done, and shouldn’t be sent out there to fail anymore. Pivetta has been very unlucky this season, and should finish the season out to help continue his maturation process. Vince has actually made a good impression on me this season, but isn’t going to save us right now.

Seventh, I said:

Why does Scott Kingery still start games? No, for real, why? He’s terrible offensively. He’s not a good shortstop. We sent Crawford down after he came off the DL, but Crawford at least can man the spot defensively. Cabrera should be playing shortstop every single game remaining, and if it weren’t for his contract, Kingery belongs in AAA. I don’t think his whole career will stink, but the Phillies rushed Kingery up early. He’s not someone who should be playing in a 2018 pennant race.

Ok, imagine this- I’m re-thinking my position on Kingery. I don’t see what the Phillies do. I don’t think it works out. They get paid to be right though. Since I think the Phillies are toast, play him somewhere- like second base. I have been a Cesar Hernandez fan, and I still think he’s better than Kingery, but his second half has left me wanting more. Let’s see Kingery play there too.

Eighth, I wrote:

Can the Phillies win games when Rhys Hoskins isn’t hot? It seems no. Rhys is having a really good season, and I’m a fan, but he’s been a bit streaky this season. When he’s in a funk, or even is just normal, the Phillies struggle. They’ve put a lot on a first year player this year.

Let’s rephrase this- can they win at all? He homered in every weekend game to reach 30, and the Mets won twice. Rhys is a really good hitter that played out of position this year, and I get why, but he’s not going to carry this bucket of slop offense to the playoffs on his own. The Phillies need to commit to him, but they need to add too.

Ninth, I wrote:

Will Nick Williams be back in 2019? I think this comes down to Williams and Odubel trying to hang on. Right now, I’d pick Williams. If we sign Harper, I think Odubel would lose his job, even though he’s the best center fielder in the group.

You know what, I have no idea here. I like a lot about Williams, but I’d like his glove more in left, and his bat in the lower part of the order. Is he back? I don’t know.

Tenth, and finally:

What’s with Gabe’s line-up card? Not starting Bour and Cabrera against de Grom is a sin. Making sure he gets Kingery at-bats is a sin. Throwing Seranthony out to close is a sin. Gabe has to do better, this team can win right now.

I’m actually more positive than not about Gabe Kapler. Really. But, I got this right.

Be Bold?

9/11

Time comes and goes without prejudice, and the seasons change for us all. I was once a senior at Easton Area High School, sitting in second period Latin one, as airplanes flew into the World Trade Centers, the Pentagon, and a hillside in Shanksville, PA. A younger girl named Tarin was sitting next to me, and I immediately remember telling her “it’s Bin Laden.” I clearly consumed too much news for my age.

That morning was beautiful. I’m talking a perfect blue sky, the slightest twinge of Fall in the air, the music bumping in my car on the way to school. Gas was under a dollar at the gas station down the hill, and my friends were in the car with me on the way to school. It was a cross-country meet day, a race we would not run that day. I was excited though. I was most mornings that year when I went to school.

I remember the crazy rumors that day, of planes heading towards Philadelphia, the White House, and the Empire State Building. I remember being sent back to home room in the band wing, then being at lunch in the senior cafeteria, sitting with a group of athletes, listening to our principal, Dean Jones explain to us what happened, and helping us make sense. It finally made sense, just how big of a world event we were watching.

I remember the days and weeks after too. I remember watching funerals right here in our communities, just over an hour from New York City. I remember going to the Monday Night Football game between the Eagles and Giants in the Meadowlands, just weeks later. I remember going past the crash site in Shanksville, PA just weeks later on the long, winding trip to Pittsburgh to visit Pitt. I remember going to Washington, DC and looking at the Pentagon from across the highway, in horror. I remember being tested for anthrax after a trip to the Capitol, days later, because another girl (her name was Carrie) I was there with got sick after we were exposed. I remember how long the Q-tip was they stuck up my nose to test me, too (it was scary and funny at once). I remember going back into Manhattan for the first time that Fall. I remember when the first friend of mine came home from Afghanistan that Winter, critically injured.

I remember the years that would follow, too. I remember falling in love with New York after that, for the first time in my life (even after years of disliking my parents former home). I remember the respect I suddenly found for people there, watching them recover. The events of 9/11 made me realize what a great, big, important deal Washington was too. I remember how the events of 9/11 actually lead me to oppose the Iraq War, and how that galvanized me to go into politics. I remember years later living in Washington, and how I celebrated with total strangers on my first night there, because America had killed Osama Bin Laden. Just months later, I went into Manhattan on 9/11/11, ten years after the attacks, simply as a point of national pride. The sound of the bagpipes, and of the toasts in Lower Manhattan to fallen cops and firefighters shook me up.

I am not naive to the events of 9/11/01, or how they happened. I am not a conspiracy theorist either. I understand the role the United States had in training Osama Bin Laden and the Mujahideen through the CIA, and in creating the Taliban, and how the aftermath of the first Gulf War helped create the conditions for al Qaeda. I understand the follies of the Iraq War, the Patriot Act, and much of the War on Terror. I fully understand that 9/11 wasn’t some inside job, but that our government, and particularly our White House, missed the signs. We made mistakes before 9/11. We made mistakes after, too. We shouldn’t view 9/11 through purely red, white, and blue glasses.

Seventeen years have gone by, and much has changed. Tarin who sat next to me in Latin one, she’s married and lives up by New York. Principal Jones is long retired. One of my friends who rode to school with me that day, she died in a plane accident in Colorado. That Marine that grew up in my town and was the first person I knew to come back from Afghanistan injured, is married, has kids, and is in a television commercial. One of the girls with me in the anthrax scare, a classmate of mine at Easton, Meghan, is in politics too. I’m definitely not running a cross-country race today either. I still love New York. I’ve fallen back in love with DC.

Time passes everything by. Seventeen years is not a significant milestone in the time since 9/11/01, but yet I remember it more vividly today than I have in some times past. It means different things to me now. I miss those two big buildings. I felt weird walking past the memorial at the Pentagon when I lived in Arlington, but I also felt peaceful. I spent this 17th anniversary at home in Easton, listening to Bruce Springsteen. I have “Atlantic City” stuck in my head. I think it fits my feelings today perfectly.

Seventeen years after I was an 18 year old boy, making sense of the most world altering event of my life, all I can do is think. Time truly passes. I pondered today if America could be that united today, if we squandered that unity on the wrong things, if we have the leaders and political will to even unite now. Then I reminded myself, this time too, shall pass.

On Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams, and Referees

I decided to comment on the US Open Women’s Tennis Final/Serena vs. the ref/ Naomi Osaka thing via Twitter. Here’s the tweet-storm-

Forecasting the 2018 Senate Midterms

The U.S. Senate is virtually evenly divided- 51-49. That two seat Republican Majority might as well be a bigly wall though, as Mitch McConnell has continued to cement his legacy as the man who destroyed the Senate. He used the filibuster at unprecedented levels and denied President Obama a fairly won seat on the Supreme Court when he wouldn’t even give Merrick Garland. Now he’s gutted the filibuster’s use on Supreme Court nominees. The Senate is more partisan under McConnell than at any point in our history.

So who will control the chamber? A few numbers to consider-

  • Ten (10)- the number of Democrats defending seats in states Donald Trump won in 2016.
  • Nine (9)- the number of Republican Senators up for election in 2018.
  • Two (2)- the net number of seats Democrats need to win the Senate.

There seem to be three strong possibilities for this election in the Senate. In order of probability, in my opinion:

  1. Republicans narrowly hold on and maybe even pick up one to three seats.
  2. Blue Wave- the Democrats pick up at least two, maybe four or five on the high end, and take the Senate.
  3. Red Wave- Republicans pick up five or more seats.

That’s the range of possibilities, and it’s not that easy to predict which one it will be. About 18 months ago I would have listed the “Blue Wave” option in third, because they had too many tough defenses. Now it’s plausible, though I still doubt it.

So let’s rate these seats out. Here’s my current ratings:

Safe Democrats-

California, Hawaii, Maryland, Delaware, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, Washington

Likely Democrats-

New Mexico, Minnesota (Klobuchar), Maine, Virginia

Lean Democrats-

Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota (Smith), New Jersey

Toss-Ups-

Nevada, Tennessee, West Virginia, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Florida, North Dakota

Lean Republican-

Arizona, Texas, Mississippi (Hyde-Smith)

Likely Republican-

Mississippi (Wicker), Nebraska, Utah

Safe Republicans-

Wyoming

Current Conclusions-

I would currently take a guess of the Republicans holding 53-47. That can move, but just the sheer volume of Democratic toss-ups gives them the edge. In fact, I almost moved Florida and North Dakota the GOP’s way, but held off for now. There is a pathway forward for Democrats though, and it begins with wins in Nevada and Tennessee. While I’m skeptical they can run the table, that is the base of their chances. Ultimately, I think they will need a tough win- in one of Texas, Arizona, or the Mississippi special election- to really have a shot though. The good news is they have somewhat “pros” running in each seat (Beto, Sinema, and Espy). Right now though, I’d be more likely to be on the GOP winning Florida, North Dakota, and Missouri, than the Dems rolling these seats up.

How an Unpopular Trump Can Beat the Democrats, Again

There are 195 Democrats in the U.S. House right now. The emerging wisdom of the political class is that there will be more of them next year, probably a majority actually. Democrats need 23 seats to get to the 218 they need, and most people now think they will get there. The presumption is that this is good for them. I’m not absolutely sure of that, yet.

I am imaging a 2018 Election right now where Democrats do incredibly well. In 2006, they won 30 seats in the anti-Bush wave, and I think that’s a fair neighborhood to predict them ending up in again. A win of that magnitude would give Democrats a 225-210 Majority. While Democrats may pick up the U.S. Senate as well, no one is going to win the Senate comfortably. Whether Democrats pick up control with two seats, or lose a seat or two, the Senate will be divided 53-47 or closer, either way.

This narrowly divided Congress will be very difficult to navigate. I’m not as concerned about the fight over Nancy Pelosi being Speaker or not, in part because I think it will be a real struggle for whoever gets the gavel. A majority with 225 members can’t afford to lose more than seven votes on any particular vote, or they lose. There will probably be seven or more members representing extremely competitive seats, members who will fear tough votes. There will almost certainly be seven or more Democrats on the other end of the spectrum, seven Alexandria Ocasio Cortez type members who will be in an energized, militant left. They’ll have demands too.

This kind of divided House will produce a Democratic version of the Boehner or Ryan speakerships- a caucus on the left like the Tea Party, who make demands of their leadership. What may they demand? I’m sure they’d get a vote on a clean DACA bill, and other mainstream Democratic initiatives. I’m sure they’d also get a vote of a Bernie Sanders style single-payer health care bill, one that would be dead on arrival in the Senate, but would serve both parties goal of energizing their base. This is probably the tip of the iceberg though. There would probably be a demand for a vote on abolishing ICE, among other less mainstream initiatives of the further left-wing of America. Obviously, I’ve left out the big issue settling over all of this as well- a potential vote on impeachment. Sure, there’s virtually a zero chance of getting enough Republicans (probably between 14 and 20) in the Senate to vote to convict and remove Donald Trump from office. The truth is, almost everything in the Democratic platform, besides maybe a minimum wage increase or infrastructure bill, would either die in the Senate or on Trump’s desk, so all of this is about political theatre, not actual governing. It’s all really a question of what face the Democrats want to put on ahead of a 2020 Election.

All of this is a great reason to make Nancy Pelosi the next Speaker, since she skillfully used the gavel in 2007 and 2008 to position the Democratic Party for a 2008 sweep to power. This isn’t 2007 though, and Pelosi is far less popular than she was then. Some of the Democrats running this year are running on a far less compromising agenda than the more moderate 2006 class. I’m not sure even Pelosi will be able to hold the left flank in line, and I’m not sure the members in more moderate districts will be able to not cave in to the left flank. If those in more competitive districts kill off the agenda of the further left, the Democratic base may revolt. They could face competitive primaries that virtually insure their defeat in 2020, one way or the other. Or they could go along with the left, and insure their defeat that way. Democrats could look conflicted and inept, or militantly ideological. Neither work very well.

It’s very hard to run the House with a small majority when you don’t have the White House or ability to govern. It’s really hard to do when you have a very motivated, agitated base. You end up spending most of your time posturing for the optics, balancing the base against the broader electorate. Doing that during the 2020 Presidential race may be impossible.

So, what does all of this have to do with the title of this piece, and President Trump? Well, it gives him a contrast. It makes the Democrats relevant again, and allows him to position them as only trying to destroy him and his Presidency. He can point to their infighting and call it inept, or to their more progressive successes and call it extreme, or to their efforts to hold his feet to the fire and play the victim. It gives him a way out.

I know where those on the left would go in responding to me here- they obstructed us from Congress in the Obama era, and it turned out fine for them. That’s true, but that’s the difference in the two parties voters. Republicans rally together when attacked, and play the victim quite well. They are most united in their hate of the Democratic base. Democratic voters want to govern and achieve things, and are largely turned off by the fighting. We just can’t do what they can.

Democrats need to win Congress in 2018- both houses. They need to maximize their victories, and try to get to 240 House seats. Once in power, our new Congress members need to rally to our leaders and stand together in the fight. If we are a chaotic mess, we will be handing Donald Trump a pathway to victory.

On Kaepernick and Nike

I own a pair of Nike shoes, and I’m proud to say I’ll buy more. I also must confess that I am not a fan of Colin Kaepernick. I wasn’t much of a fan while he played, and even now I have some serious issues with him. As I take stock of Nike deciding to use Kaepernick in their “Just Do It” anniversary campaign though, I have to say I support it.

I’m not a Colin Kaepernick fan. The man wants to hold himself up as a social justice champion, but has admitted he didn’t vote in 2016. That he didn’t see the importance of voting in that election, and was critical of Hillary Clinton (who spent her life fighting for the causes he claims to champion), makes me very suspicious of him. While I agree with his kneeling during the national anthem, I found his depictions of police as pigs to be childish. I find Kaepernick to be a very flawed leader and spokesman of his cause.

Let’s also be clear here- kneeling during the anthem is an expression of free speech, our highest ideal as a nation, and the NFL blacklisting him for it is disgusting and UnAmerican. Kaepernick did lose his livelihood in support of a cause bigger than himself. I don’t have to like him to support him for that. That he made some bigots uncomfortable is no vice, but a badge of honor. Nike makes a lot of money selling shoes- and many of their customers are African-Americans who support Kaepernick in his cause. There is nothing wrong with Nike celebrating him for that.

I’m not a Kaepernick fan, but what I do love about him is how he exposes the bigotry in so many of my fellow white people. It would be easy to take Kaepernick as a flawed individual who is using his first amendment rights in our society and take it for what it is. Some of these folks can’t though. They lose their mind when he is honored by those who agree with him. They cut the swoosh off of their socks and burn shoes and jerseys. It’s as though the idea of a black athlete speaking out against racism is unacceptable to them (spoiler: I know that is what they actually think). They can’t contain their inner bigot and have to make a spectacle of themselves, instead of ignoring him like they do everyone else who tries to speak on the subject of race. I’m glad they do this though, it exposes who they are for everybody else to see.

Crazytown

There’s enough news most days right now to fill a normal week, but we shouldn’t lose sight of how crazy Trump’s Washington is- someone senior to his administration wrote an anonymous op-ed that essentially says Trump is immoral and incompetent. This is simply unprecedented. At the height of Bill Clinton or George W. Bush’s difficulties, people resigned and left them, but they did so publicly, and citing a specific issue they had with the President. This person is publicly calling the President an imbecile, but doing so anonymously because they believe the nation needs them to continue serving, and thwarting the President. That is astonishing and remarkable. It is possibly the most chilling thing I have read.

The problem with this, of course, is that it is confirmation bias for everyone, but especially Trump’s base. It is an admission that there are people within this government working against Donald Trump, and that they are using the New York Times and press as a whole to spread information that is damaging to the President. While it also confirms that the President is a buffoon, as many of us knew, that’s not the part his base will hear. As long as his base hears what they want, they paralyze Republicans across Washington into inaction on the President’s insanity. It’s great that we know he’s an idiot, but we can’t do anything about it.

It’s absolutely horrifying that someone this insane, this inept, and this immoral received 46% of the national vote for President. That there was such a large market for his brand should terrify us. It is cold comfort to know there are some in this administration who see what a problem he is and are thwarting him- because this won’t end with Trump. His voters won’t all go away when he leaves, this line of thinking won’t die. What happens when they elect a competent, but equally immoral version of Trump? What happens if Mike Pence actually does get into office?

We can’t live in hypotheticals though, we live in now. Where we are now is troubling. We have a President that is so terrible that members of his administration are writing op-eds anonymously trashing him. Bob Woodward is writing a book that essentially says the same thing- our incapable President doesn’t even control his own administration, because his senior team is undermining his worst impulses. Our system of government is being stressed to it’s limits. Our republic is in actual danger. “Small D” democratic norms are being trampled. Things are really bad.

Unfortunately I don’t expect things to get better quickly. I expect the President and his supporters to rage at this discussion of his ineptitude. I expect members of his administration to publicly rally around him and do things to affirm their loyalty to the President. I expect terrible things, and for people to get hurt.

But the good news in all of this- there’s a chance our republic survives this. There’s a chance the people undermining the President from within will succeed. That’s at least somewhat comforting.

Oh- by the way- this didn’t go on when Barack Obama was President.

The 2018 NFL Preview

It happened. Hell froze over. For the first time since my 61 year old father was three, the Eagles are champions. For the first time ever, the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl. 41-33 happened. We beat Tom Brady.

But now it’s over. Tomorrow, football season will kick off. The Eagles will put up their banner. They’ll play a game then, probably a game they won’t win, I might add. They have injuries, they have obvious distractions, the Falcons are a good team, and many defending champions lose the opening game. Just look at last year’s Patriots, who ended up fine. It’s just one game.

I’ll go on the record and predict the Eagles to go 12-4 and win the NFC East, claiming the #2 seed in the NFC. Here’s my predictions, by division:

NFC East

  1. Philadelphia Eagles 12-4
  2. Dallas Cowboys 10-6
  3. Washington Redskins 8-8
  4. New York Giants 7-9

This division will be relatively competitive, after the Eagles. Nobody is really awful.

NFC North

  1. Minnesota Vikings 11-5
  2. Green Bay Packers 10-6
  3. Chicago Bears 7-9
  4. Detroit Lions 4-12

The Vikings won’t cruise like last year, but their defense gets them through, again. Aaron Rodgers carries the Packers to ten wins, while Chicago’s defense makes them competitive.

NFC South

  1. New Orleans Saints 11-5
  2. Atlanta Falcons 10-6
  3. Carolina Panthers 10-6
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3-13

This division is truly stacked and deep. It was hard to decide who’s what.

NFC West

  1. Los Angeles Rams 13-3
  2. San Francisco 49’ers 9-7
  3. Arizona Cardinals 6-10
  4. Seattle Seahawks 5-11

The Rams are the runaways here, with a stacked team on both sides of the ball. San Francisco moves up, and becomes elite next season.

AFC West

  1. Los Angeles Chargers 9-7
  2. Denver Broncos 8-8
  3. Kansas City Chiefs 7-9
  4. Oakland Raiders 5-11

This is anybody’s ball game, but not in a good way. I take Rivers to pull it out.

AFC South

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars 10-6
  2. Houston Texans 10-6
  3. Tennessee Titans 7-9
  4. Indianapolis Colts 6-10

I’m taking the Jags to show us Sacksonville wasn’t a fluke. I also think Watson contends for MVP in Houston.

AFC North

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers 12-4
  2. Baltimore Ravens 7-9
  3. Cleveland Browns 5-11
  4. Cincinnati Bengals 4-12

Pittsburgh should roll to this one, even if the Bell saga rages on. Nobody else is even close. Cleveland will show improvement though.

AFC East

  1. New England Patriots 13-3
  2. Buffalo Bills 9-7
  3. Miami Dolphins 7-9
  4. New York Jets 5-11

Just another season here.

Wild Card Playoff Round-

Saints 35 Packers 21

Vikings 21 Falcons 17

Jaguars 24 Bills 17

Texans 27 Chargers 24

Divisional Playoff Round-

Rams 31 Vikings 21

Eagles 24 Saints 21

Steelers 34 Jaguars 21

Patriots 38 Texans 17

Conference Title Round-

Eagles 24 Rams 21

Patriots 28 Steelers 17

SUPER BOWL-

Eagles 41 Patriots 33 😏

Let’s play some football.