Unpopular Opinions  

 

Unpopular Opinions: Rams-Jaguars among dream SB matchups

Print

Listen, I don't try to live my life as a contrarian. That's not true -- I kind of do. I spend a lot of time in public houses and taverns, and I have a two-hour commute that allows me to hear a lot of the sports world's most popular opinions. Sometimes, I think it's best to take a look at the other side.

In this space, I'll be articulating a handful of positions that are the opposite of what most people think -- unpopular opinions, if you will -- and explain why, well, my unpopular opinions are right and everyone else is wrong. Below are my unpopular opinions for Week 9.

The World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros was pretty fun, even though it wasn't the "classic" matchup a lot of folks wanted -- Dodgers vs. Yankees. But that's the thing: You don't always need a marquee matchup for a showdown to be super fun. Take the Patriots and Falcons in Super Bowl LI. Most folks probably wanted to see New England and Green Bay (well, not me and the rest of the Bears fans), or even the Patriots and Cowboys. But we settled for the Falcons -- and got a rather entertaining Super Bowl.

With that in mind, I would love to present three sort-of-random super-fun matchups for Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis that don't include the usual suspects like the Patriots and Cowboys. These are matchups that could actually happen: Forgive me, Browns vs. 49ers truthers, but you're not going to make the cut. (Although I don't think either team has been mathematically eliminated yet. But the roadmap to the Super Bowl for Cleveland and San Francisco is pretty rough. That's fair to say, right? I mean, the 49ers did trade for a two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback on Monday.)

Three fresh (and plausible!) potential Super Bowl LII matchups

-- Philadelphia Eagles vs. Kansas City Chiefs. Yes, this one seems a little too easy. Any time a coach goes up against his former team, it's automatically a great storyline. But this would be even better than normal. The Eagles got rid of Andy Reid way too quickly for a trophy coach, Chip Kelly. And that relationship was a failure (to put it mildly). While we're happy the Eagles have found something with Doug Pederson -- whose previous job, of course, was under Reid in Kansas City, and who served on Reid's staff in Philly before that -- let's be honest: They never should have broken up with Reid.

-- Buffalo Bills vs. Minnesota Vikings. These are two of the most hard-luck NFL franchises when it comes to Super Bowl futility. The Vikings took turns being beaten by all of the best AFC teams of the 1970s: the Steelers, Raiders, Dolphins and Chiefs. The Bills lost four Super Bowls in the 1990s. Somebody would have to win this one. (I mean, they would, right?) This would also be fun because Buffalo quarterback Tyrod Taylor is one of the best players in the league nobody is talking about. Bills coach Sean McDermott makes Eddie Guns look like Screech. And could you imagine a better story than the Vikings' Teddy Bridgewater returning from a horrific knee injury to be the first quarterback to start a Super Bowl in his home stadium?

-- Los Angeles Rams vs. Jacksonville Jaguars. This would be my jam, right here. Before he became the Jaguars' owner, Shad Khan was in line to purchase the St. Louis Football Club, but then Stan Kroenke swooped in at the very last minute. Khan has gone on to do some great things in Duval County, investing in the stadium and community. This matchup would give you Sean McVay, the youngest coach in the NFL, on the Rams' sideline, facing off against Doug Marrone, who blew a sweet gig in Buffalo. In addition, this would be the first Super Bowl title for either team (shut up), and it would be quite a redemption story for both teams, when you consider how bad these squads were just a few years ago. Finally, this game would have some international flavor. Both teams play games in London every year and have strong followings out there. Who would London be rooting for? If I could book a Super Bowl, this would be it.

UNPOPULAR OPINION: AFC South has the best divisional race in football

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Hours after this column was published, news broke that Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson suffered a torn ACL in practice Thursday and will miss the rest of the 2017 season.)

Speaking of those Jaguars, I'm loving what is happening in the AFC South right now. Sure, some might look at how compact the AFC East is. But seriously, do you see the Patriots losing that division? It's fun -- I love what the Bills and Jets are doing -- but the AFC South is wide open.

(All right, the Colts are in danger of falling out of the race. And by in danger, I mean, we are at DEFCON 5! Or DEFCON 1. Whichever the bad one is. Actually, let's play it safe and say DEFCON 3, because it will at least show that we are on high alert for the Colts.)

Let's start with the most-talked-about team in the NFL right now, the Houston Texans. We speculated in this space recently that even though the Texans' defense has been ravaged by injury, rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson gives this team the best chance it's had at winning, like, ever. I'm really impressed by what he was able to do up in Seattle in Week 8. The Texans lost, sure. But Watson put on a show against a defense that, while not the same as it once was, is still pretty damn good. I know the NFL doesn't count moral victories, but Watson was awesome (and on my fantasy bench). Watson set a record for most passing touchdowns by a rookie in a five-game span with 18. That's five more than the previous record-holder. So, yeah, he's been pretty good.

You know I love the Jaguars. I want to caution people from comparing this Jacksonville defense to the 1985 Bears, but there is a reason people are talking in such terms. The Jags are first in points allowed (15.7), passing yards allowed (161.7), sacks (33) and passer rating against (62.3). Oh, and the team went out and traded for Marcell Dareus. Really? That's like when you take an excellent pizza and then throw some bacon on it. You didn't know that you wanted bacon on a pizza, and really, you might start to wonder why it took you so long to do it. But damned if you're not glad that you did.

Let's also not forget the Tennessee Titans. They've treaded water a bit while Marcus Mariota has recovered from a hamstring injury -- and they're in first place. I wish I could "struggle" like that. Look, I wasn't really all that impressed with their Week 7 game against the Browns. But let's be truthful here. It's the Browns. And it was the week before their Week 8 bye. It's like being at your office on the last day before you're taking a boys trip to Las Vegas for March Madness. How motivated are you that day? Exactly. So why don't you cut the Titans a little bit a slack. I'm sorry first place isn't good enough for you, fake contrarian I've conjured in my head.

Finally, there's the whole round-robin aspect of this divisional chase. The Titans lost to the Texans but beat the Jags. The Jags have beaten the Texans. And the Colts have beaten the NFL's two winless teams, the 49ers and Browns. So there's that.

UNPOPULAR OPINION: Almond Joys are great.

Hey, stop leaving your kid's Halloween candy in your office kitchen. Maybe you don't need to go trick-or-treating at that many homes. Also, I'm ashamed at all of you who leave Almond Joys out there. They are the Tyrod Taylor of candy -- criminally underrated.

Follow Adam Rank on Twitter @AdamRank.

Print

Headlines

The previous element was an advertisement.

NFL Shop