It was a fun three or so years, but it's over.
As Thursday night's blowout proved, the Niners-Seahawks rivalry is no more. To be fair, it hasn't really been all that competitive since the heat between the NFC West's twin titans -- and more specifically, Richard Sherman and Michael Crabtree -- peaked in the moments just before and after the final gun of the 2013 NFC title game in the C-Link.
Likewise, Brady v Peyton has been a grand 21st-century mano a mano, but it's gently slowing down like an abandoned rocking chair. Luck v Brady seemed like a natural replacement, but so far, the on-field intensity hasn't come close to matching the inflated intensity off of it.
Dallas and D.C. each have featured some good teams over the last couple decades, but rarely have they both been good at the same time. The Packers and Bears have provided excitement over the last several years, but a drama can only be so exhilarating when Jay Cutler is one of the leading men. Steelers v Browns? As my old pal Don said, that one's better described as a hammer versus a nail (save the once-or-so-a-decade Cleveland victory). Sure, we still have Pittsburgh v Baltimore, but even that duel looks diminished in 2015, with a banged-up Roethlisberger and the one-win Ravens. And the alleged acrimony of Eagles v Giants? Yeah, that resulted in two spoonfuls of NyQuil-level fever last Monday night.
Yes, some of pro football's would-be rivalries haven't exactly delivered of late, but fear not: There's hope for those of us who like our NFL with some bloodlust.
This weekend's Raiders-Chargers clash probably won't impact 2015 playoff seedings, but if both those teams wind up playing each on each other's L.A.-based home field in 2016, the rivalry comes baked in. Conversely, the Rams' potential return to Southern California would heat up the region with biannual matchups against Phoenix's rising bunch. The young Vikings are shaping up as a legitimate threat to the Packers' NFC North dominance, but it feels premature to expect them to get there this season.
The bad news is, you'll have to wait 'til December to see 2015's best emerging rivalry. The good news is, your patience will get you not one but two games between these divisional foes. At stake? A playoff bye as the potential prize if either can pull off the sweep. I'm of course speaking of ...
Ice v Superman, Julio v Norman, Devonta v Kuechly, the high-flying Falcons offense v the rugged Panthers D ... Yes, like Ali v Frazier, the opposing styles will makethese upcoming matchups. Best of all, both teams are largely built around young talent, which means, once the candle is lit, it oughta burn for at least the next few years. And for those of us who are sad to see the Seahawks-Niners wars fading away, the rising tide of acrimony in the NFC South couldn't come at a better time.
Let's get to the picks.
WARNING: Do NOT continue reading if you don't want to know the final scores of the Week 7 games.
(1-0 this week, 9-5 last week, 56-35 on the season)
S. McCoy: 130 yds/ scrimmage, TD
D. Robinson: 45-yd TD run
A. Verner: 40-yd INT TD
K. Cousins: Cousinsy
J. Jones: 140 yds, 2 TDs
D. Green-Beckham: 30-yd TD rec
B. Cooks: 60-yd TD rec
T. Hilton: 125 yds, 2 TDs
H. Miller: 6-yd TD rec
T. Kelce: 6-yd TD rec
J. McCown: 2 INTs
T. Gurley: 110 yds, TD
A. Foster: 105 yds, TD
L. Miller: 60 yds
C. Ivory: 110 yds, TD
R. Gronkowski: 2 TDs
M. Crabtree: 35-yd TD rec
S. Johnson: 45-yd TD rec
M. Cassel: 2 TDs, INT
R. Jennings: 100 yds/scrimmage
R. Matthews: 2 TDs
C. Newton: 3 INTs
J. Forsett: 80 yds, TD
M. Floyd: 120 yds rec, TD
Enjoy Week 7! I hope your team wins (unless they're playing my team).