The Stretch – Week 9
By: Connor Lenahan
I realize that every week I hit upon the same points when discussing the XFL. Things stopped making sense long ago. I gave up on predicting anything. Everything was crazy. Well everything still is. This week was a clear representation of it.
Sean Albright’s Minnesota put up it’s second 2000+ game in a row. Ben Roethlisberger followed his 910 game with 760 more points. The Kansas City Killers, at one point seemingly doomed, wiped the Tigers off the face of the Earth and jumped into the 8th playoff spot in the process. Half the teams in the league did not break 1000 points, a number that would have climbed to 9/16 if Las Vegas hadn’t hit the total on the mark.
What’s becoming clear is that seemingly almost every team around has at least some potential at throwing up a giant performance. Waverly lost last week but scored the third highest total in the league. Kansas City decided to explode and that was without Jordy Nelson playing. Minnesota continues their warpath behind an active-volcano-hot Tom Brady recently. At this point the only thing that can be locked in is that Minnesota and Seattle are the top seeds while New Orleans and New York are going to miss the playoffs. At this point there are enough crazy possibilities to have the entire playoff landscape change. Las Vegas just lost Nick Foles for the year and have no backup quarterback. Seemingly this will kill their season unless a replacement comes through in massive proportions. Chicago, Green Bay, and Pittsburgh are now thrust into must win situations. Green Bay will be down Philip Rivers this week which suddenly leaves Green Bay’s season in total limbo.
The most exciting development however came off of the field. All the scenarios and match ups above pale in comparison to the joyous news that my grandfather Bub has come out of retirement to lead the Miami Typhoons towards the playoffs and a potential title run. Bub hasn’t played in a few years, retiring for Sean Albright from Minnesota. However, much like Michael Jordan before him, you cannot keep legends away from the game for long. Bub inherited a team with Matt Ryan, Steve Smith, Golden Tate, Brandon Marshall, and Andre Ellington. In other words, he can step toe to toe with everyone in the league and have a real chance of winning. Not many teams have this nowadays. In fact, when asked about his new group of guys in his return press conference, Bub had only this to say: “I’ll be seeing whichever of you wants to be my victim in December in the title game. Peace,” before dropping the microphone and leaving the room to roaring applause – mostly from me.
Weeks 10-13 offer intriguing scenarios from now on. Every week has the potential to wreck playoff chances – Green Bay, Chicago, Pittsburgh. It also will throw constant monkey wrenches into playoff seeding – Washington, who I pegged as a dark horse last week, sits at the 9th seed and will be back at full strength following Andrew Luck’s bye this week (Note: Given that Cary is playing Philadelphia there is a chance he will return to .500 without his best player, which would make his playoff push exponentially easier). Seattle and Minnesota play one another in Week 13 to decide the number one seed for the playoffs. This could be dangerous, as the difference between hitting Kansas City or Houston at 7 & 8 is recognizable given some of the underperforming records. Bye weeks obviously play into what will happen from here out, as do teams like New York that could play spoiler given their talent (Matt Stafford). But we all recognize what then happens.
This season, more than any, has shown that any team can beat another. Save for the two top seeds everyone is kind of around .500. This creates, from an entertainment standpoint, the potential greatest playoffs ever. Seriously, if every team has a fighting chance then that means there are constantly unpredictable games up until the final snap is made. I want all of that. This is even coming off a year in which the title game went into overtime because the first game ended in a tie between father and son. I want that again. I think we are going to get it. Get your popcorn ready – we aren’t done yet. We aren’t even close.