The regular season is in the books and the National Football League’s Wild Card weekend will be here before we know it. Or in other words, before we can fully recover from our New Year’s festivities.
The New England Patriots (12-4) and Denver Broncos (12-4) finished the regular season by claiming the top spots in the AFC while the Seattle Seahawks (12-4) and Green Bay Packers (12-4) hold those same positions in the NFC.
On Saturday it’s Arizona at Carolina and Baltimore at Pittsburgh followed by Cincinnati at Indianapolis and Detroit at Dallas on Sunday in matchups that’ll advance winners to the divisional round.
Below is a breakdown of the wild card games this weekend. My predictions are included at the conclusion of each summary.
The slim postseason chances the Cleveland Browns still have now rest solely on the shoulders of rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel, who will get his first NFL start Sunday in place of Brian Hoyer against the Cincinnati Bengals. Manziel will become the 21st different starting quarterback for the Browns since the franchise returned to the league in 1999.
I talked to Waiting For Next Year co-founder Scott Sargent on Saturday about the impact Manziel may have on the franchise over the final three weeks of the season and beyond. We also attempted to pinpoint which of the previous 20 starters at quarterback are most beloved by Browns fans. The only problem: there’s just not too many good ones to choose from.
Just seven days after being born Faine was adopted by parents who provided stability for a lifetime, ensuring he’d never be shuffled between foster homes throughout his childhood.
After a four-year career as a student-athlete at Notre Dame, the 2003 NFL Draft pick (21st overall) embarked on a 10-year professional playing career. Today he helps kids aging out of the foster care system by giving them a chance to transition positively into adulthood at The Faine House, which opened its doors a little more than a year ago.
Faine joined the show Saturday morning to talk about The Faine House and his playing days at Seminole High School in Sanford, Fla., with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and in the National Football League while with the Cleveland Browns, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cincinnati Bengals.
On Saturday I spent some time talking to Charlie Bernstein of Football Insiders about a number of topics from around the National Football League. Bernstein shared his thoughts on the state of NFL teams in Florida, gave his opinion on how Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater may fare as they make their first professional starts on Sunday, and provided insight on the current unbeaten teams in the league.
The only running back worth a first round pick in the 1990 NFL Draft turned out to be Emmitt Smith. At No. 17 overall.
Blair Thomas (RB, New York Jets) 1990 Topps Traded rookie card – No. 34T
Despite being the second selection in the draft out of Penn State, by the New York Jets, Blair Thomas was outdone in the National Football League by nearly every contemporary picked after him. His pedestrian 2,236 yards rushing and seven touchdowns (533 carries) over six years trails a number of other moderately memorable guys, even some worth remembering. Terry Allen was taken by Minnesota in the 9th round before going on to rush for 8,614 yards and 73 TDs. Chris Warren, selected in the 4th round by Seattle, rushed for 7,696 yards and 52 TDs.
Maybe Thomas would’ve been better off with a different team. He entered the league at the same time as New York’s first-year head coach Bruce Coslet, who would last just as long with the Jets as Thomas did before going on to finish his NFL career with a worthless 47-77 record over nine years. It’s worth mentioning that Coslet never knew a season better than 8-8 while on the sideline with either the Jets or Cincinnati Bengals.
Thomas rushed for just 2,009 yards (468 carries) and five touchdowns for the Jets from 1990-93. He carried the ball at least 15 times in a game only eight times during that stretch and rushed for 100 yards or more just two times. Career highlights include 20 carries for 100 yards in a loss to the New England Patriots in his fourth career game, and then going for a career-high 125 yards on 27 carries against the Chicago Bears just four games into his second season.
That brief moment of excitement I feel each year when preparing to watch the NFL Draft doesn’t linger for too long. I’m usually ready to channel surf or dip in and out of the room by the eighth pick. But this year I realized it’s all in the way you approach it.
I spent much of the draft last night in a recliner with a laptop, smartphone and remote control nearby. First thing I realized was that ESPN has been ruining this event for me for years. It wasn’t until I committed to the NFL Network’s broadcast that I no longer had the urge to throw my television through a wall due to the rabid jaw-flapping.
Then I got caught up in the information overload world of Twitter and Facebook, reading and responding to online posts about fan’s draft triumphs and despair, with plenty of doses of humor thrown in at each other’s expense.