Let me explain something before we get into last weekend’s AFL action. I have an hour and twenty minutes before I head out on vacation, and – aside from wrapping up that mascot post – I’ve had to spend my day making sure the Bankingdrome wouldn’t collapse in my absence. I swear to God, I might come back to find everyone dead of forgetting to breathe. I’d celebrate for days. I’ve already made it abundantly clear that the only way I’ll take their calls or answer their e-mail is if I’m in some altered state, and then I’ll probably tell them to do something anatomically unlikely. But, because there’s something wrong with me, I’m still compelled to make sure everyone knows how to fax things for themselves and what number to call if their game of “Why are you hitting yourself?” turns tragic. Plus, making sure they have all their marketing materials is critical. These are the people who requested I print out the sum total of our marketing material for easy access. It was on the Internet, organized by category. It doesn’t get any more convenient than that. But, now we have a large black binder with out-of-date advertising flyers. So, there are piles of things for them to assemble. I hope they get papercuts and forget to clot.
That being said, Week 16, as I whistle the theme from The Great Escape:
Games That Didn’t Matter:
NEW ORLEANS 66, Austin 61. With both of these teams out of the playoffs, it’s nice to see that they both wanted a competitive game. It is, of course, possible that this game was played on the Road to Glory video game, because nobody gave a rat’s ass. Except for Steve Bellisari, who scored 8 touchdowns, and forced some unsuspecting fans to sing Hang On Sloopy.
Games That Mattered Slightly More:
SAN JOSE 66, Arizona 26. San Jose’s actual defense, combined with Arizona’s stumbling, Bonner-less offense, made this one rather uncompetitive. Useful information: San Jose has a first-round bye in the playoffs already, and may make me look like a genius. All I know is that I’ll put some money on them during the Vegas leg of my vacation.
Georgia 55, ORLANDO 44. Holy crap, The Scrappy Chris Griesen is up to 111 touchdown passes, shattering Dr. Dolezel’s single-season record. Curiously, Griesen was Dolezel’s backup the last two years, setting the stage for a “When I left you, I was but the learner, now I am the master,” moment, or something. And yes, everybody’s mentioned this when mentioning his bazillion-touchdown season, but nobody’s quoted Star Wars. And it’s those sorts of quotes that may suggest why I was bumped from the Ladies… tournament after but three rounds. Sooooo, there’s that.
Tampa Bay 69, GRAND RAPIDS 40. Brett Dietz passes (4 TDs) to set up the run (3 TDs). Brett Dietz’ theory about the end of The Sopranos ends every discussion thereof to the satisfaction of all parties. Brett Dietz. Brett Dietz, instead of using “Hut,” in his snap count, uses “Bork.” Even though the snap is always on three, he has drawn thousands of defensive players offsides. He often declines the penalty, because he is Brett Dietz. Also, this just in: Adrian McPherson remains not very good. Both Tampa Bay and Orlando now both sit at 8-7, a fact which both fan bases would’ve be shocked and appalled by as recently as mid-season.
Chicago 66, COLORADO 57. Colorado had the schedule of death to close the season, and now is staring down the barrel of a 4-game slide into the playoffs. Once again, Chicago (Bobby Sippio) does just enough to win (Bobby Sippio), and, assuming nothing throws off their rhythm (Bobby Sippio), they look like they’ll be a sturdy playoff Bobby Sippio. Colorado, on the other hand, has to make sure the wheels haven’t totally fallen off. Simply not getting murdered by Dallas could be considered a moral victory.
Games That Meant Something and Were Sort of Interesting
LOS ANGELES 60, Las Vegas 42. I’d give up on bolding and properly capitalizing Las Vegas, but I’m afraid that would be bad juju for my vacation. Los Angeles just got the win they needed to get into the playoffs, and used the league’s irredeemable doormat to do it. Who cares who got what stats? LA could’ve played the second half with a malfunctioning JUGS machine at quarterback, and it wouldn’t have mattered. (Though it was Sonny Cumbie, who continues to be my dividing line between “Decent Quarterbacks” and “Stroke Victims.”)
DALLAS 67, New York 13. Case in point: Rohan Davey may, in fact, be operated by space aliens who have not read the instruction manual. If you have more interceptions than touchdowns in the AFL, you’re like a doctor who’s left foreceps in his patients. Yeah, you may still have your license, but probably not for long. The good news is, this sets up a great “Win Or Go Home” scenario for the Columbus/New York game this weekend. New York not only has to win, but because of Hilarious Tie-Breakers, they have to win by more than 9. If there’s any justice, that’ll be the line, and if Garcia plays, I’ll take it. And probably lose.
Games That Were Kind of a Big Deal
PHILADELPHIA 56, Columbus 53. The fact that Philadelphia had to come back from 12 down to win this one should probably give Jon Bon Jovi/Jaws the creeping heebie jeebies with regard to their playoff chances. On the other hand, Tony Graziani showed some grapes in making a successful 2-point conversion with 7 seconds left to put them up 3; 7 seconds being a long time in the Arena Football League. Soooooo, the question is, does this bode well for a deep Philadelphia playoff run? They’re going to run into Dallas or Georgia rather soon, due to their mid-season lack of Graziani and ensuing swoon, so it looks like trouble to me. BUT! Philadelphia locks up the – recently in-doubt – playoff spot, and sets up the Two Teams Enter, One Team Leaves Bowl between Columbus and New York, which always makes sports fans giddy in the final week of the season.
KANSAS CITY 66, Nashville 63. Close call sets up do-or-die for Nashville, who I don’t particularly like for reasons that I don’t even remember anymore. Kansas City’s win means Chicago has to win this week to get a first-round bye, and that Utah is in over Nashville if Utah beats LA or Nashville loses to Grand Rapids.
I know I’m leaving off here, and there’s things I didn’t address. Consider it a cliffhanger, and one that I’ll resolve at, like, 12:30 tonight when I still haven’t packed for my ass-o’clock flight tomorrow. Cheers.