It's Friday. We're alive. Life is good. Let's crack open the first End Around Mailbag and see what's on your mind.
Thanks to everyone who submitted questions and don't hesitate to send more on Twitter. Use the hashtag #EndAroundMail. Let's get to it.
You're worried about the wrong AFC quarterback. Derek Carr is a rising star on a young team with talent on both sides of the ball. General manager Reggie McKenzie survived a rocky start and now appears to have Oakland positioned for a competitive future. Jack Del Rio has onions for days. Derek Carr, on balance, is cool.
The guy to worry about is Andrew Luck. What the hell is going on Indianapolis right now? What are they building toward? In which direction are they going? Here are some frightening nuggets from our great NFL Media research team:
» The Colts' offensive line has allowed 15 sacks this season, the most in the NFL. The line has also given up 31 QB hits in four weeks, ranking them 31st in the league. Luck is on pace to be sacked 60 times this season. That's David Carr madness.
» The Colts average 88 yards per game on the ground, ranked 24th in the league. They have just five rushes of 10 or more yards, which is tied for last in football.
» The Colts haven't had a 100-yard rusher in a game since Week 15 of the 2012 season. The 54-game drought -- 54 games! -- is the longest active streak in the NFL.
» The Colts are one of four teams that have allowed more than 30 points per game on average this season.
» In Luck's 23 career losses, the Colts have allowed 34.1 points per game. That's the most PPG allowed in losses attached with one quarterback since 1991.
What do these numbers tell us? Andrew Luck is out there competing without a decent offensive line ... or running game ... or defense. He's being asked to do it all himself and it ain't happening. These aren't new problems, either.
The good news: Luck is still just 27 years old and should have 7-to-10 prime years left, assuming the Colts' line doesn't get him killed first. There is time to figure this out. But time is wasting. To get 20-plus years of Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck and only come out of it with one title would be an abuse of riches worthy of criminal prosecution.
At a certain time in your life, smack talk is not just encouraged, but mandatory. My long-running league made up of high school and college buddies used to be a straight-up viper pit. The smack talk came from a real place, feelings were hurt, lines were crossed. We had one guy who would leak stories about one guy not liking another guy's girlfriend. This stuff wasn't always pleasant, but it was part of the bedrock of the fantasy experience. When you defeated an opponent in the midst of a blood feud, it made the victory that much sweeter.
As the group has aged into 30-something dadhood, this stuff has mostly evaporated. We're all still invested in our teams, but there's not as much time to plot against each other when you have a wife, two kids and a job you absolutely cannot get fired from. So if you're in school or an idiot in your 20s, embrace the trash talk. Say things you can't take back. Because one day it will all be gone.
F--- no! But what are you going to do about it? If you're a diehard, the team is already in your bloodstream. There's no way out. Unless they move on you. That would suck.
And Richard's right: The Chargers have been killing their fans for decades now and it's kind of flown under the radar on a national level. I wonder if people take less pity on San Diegans because they live in one of the most pleasant cities in America. This is a place where it's always 77 degrees and sunny -- how bad can your life be? Just doesn't have the same optics as a Browns meltdown on a cold and rainy November afternoon in Cleveland. I'm not innocent in this -- the Chargers didn't even make my Pain Rankings series. I plan to rectify this eventually.
This season has been especially nuts. The Chargers are 1-2 when holding a lead of 13-plus points in the fourth quarter. The rest of the NFL is 28-0 in this situation. These meltdowns have happened during a period when Philip Rivers, confoundingly, has been better than ever. The quarterback is on pace to throw for 4,440, yards, 28 touchdowns and just four interceptions. And the Chargers are on pace to go 4-12! This makes no sense. Buy your Chargers fan friend a drink tonight.
I assume the universe would collapse into itself. If it didn't, I assume the two grinders would eventually fight to death. NFL Network could air it live and everything.
Oh, no ... Bills fans are getting sucked back in! Be careful, guys! As a certified Rexpert®, I must warn you about this Rams game on Sunday. A Rex team coming off two wildly impressive victories against presumed Super Bowl contenders is a near lock to suffer a maddening letdown effort. The good news? The Bills are playing against a 3-1 Rams team perfectly set up to fall flat at home behind Lt. Fisher. Hey, it's Letdown Bowl I!
This depends on what kind of fan you are. For me, I like to be in a place of extreme comfort and safety for an important Jets contest. That puts me on my own couch, with trusted allies, solid snacks, a full handle of Tito's and windows closed so as to not alarm the neighbors with my primal screams. I don't mind being the over-the-top invested guy at the bar if I have to be, but it's not the best look. Attending a big game is an obvious rush, and perhaps the most popular answer here, but I'm going with The Couch in an upset.
Man, Vikings fans seem crazy confident about the Sam Bradford era, don't they? I need to see more first. It wasn't so long ago that the Bennett brothers were mercilessly mocking Bradford and nobody thought it was off-base at all. These Vikings prime-time games have been such joyous celebrations in that bad-ass new stadium that victory felt preordained. I need to see more before getting on The Bradford Express.
No. It will always be a thorn in the side of your relationship. It represents a wound that won't heal. The resentment will grow and infiltrate and metastasize until it can no longer be ignored. It's a powder keg just waiting to go off. She'll start spending more and more time at the country club, putting in serious hours with Sergio, the handsome, bronzed tennis instructor who's never seen a down of American football in his life. The writing is on the wall if you care to read it. Winter is coming.