Fourth and goal

Jan. 2, 2017Posted by NawFuL

 
Week 17 results

Glenn

wins By

8

164-90-2
11-5
156-98-2
7-9
146-108-2
7-9
Sunday, January 1, 2017
Baltimore @ Cincinnati Baltimore Baltimore Baltimore
Houston @ Tennessee Tennessee Tennessee Houston
Carolina @ Tampa Bay Carolina Carolina Carolina
Jacksonville @ Indianapolis Indianapolis Indianapolis Indianapolis
New England @ Miami New England Miami New England
Chicago @ Minnesota Minnesota Chicago Chicago
Buffalo @ N.Y. Jets Buffalo New York Jets Buffalo
Dallas @ Philadelphia Dallas Dallas Dallas
Cleveland @ Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Pittsburgh
New Orleans @ Atlanta Atlanta New Orleans Atlanta
N.Y. Giants @ Washington Washington Washington Washington
Arizona @ Los Angeles Arizona Arizona Los Angeles
Oakland @ Denver Denver Oakland Denver
Kansas City @ San Diego Kansas City San Diego San Diego
Seattle @ San Francisco Seattle Seattle Seattle
Green Bay @ Detroit Green Bay Green Bay Green Bay
© 2016 Gehlke Bros. Football

There are few plays in football more dramatic than the Hail Mary pass. In one last desperate act, the trailing team's receivers sprint to the end zone as the quarterback throws up a bomb that he hopes will miraculously be hauled down by one of his teammates for the game-changing score. Occasionally it succeeds. Most of the time it fails. For the first time in three years, the Gehlke Bros. Football championship came down to a Week 17 finale, and with just 4 games separating the brothers and 16 division rivalries on the schedule, the potential of a thrilling upset loomed. Sean, with his back to the wall, needed the NawFuL equivalent of a Hail Mary, and with six splits up for grabs he had his shot.

But as Week 17 proved, being able to throw the long pass does not guarantee it will hit its target. You have to have some other things go your way. The Junior Bro needed to win five of the six games merely to tie for the title, all six to win it outright. And those hopes were dashed in short order on Sunday morning. New England, playing for home field advantage throughout the playoffs, spoiled Miami's home finale, 35-14. Minnesota similarly barely worked up a sweat in defeating visiting Chicago, 38-10. And just like that, the Senior Bro had secured the 2016 Surfy Trophy — his fourth consecutive title.

But there was one other goal Glenn hoped to complete, and that was to finish the final week on a winning note — something he hadn't managed to do in either of the past two championship years. He got his wish when Atlanta defeated New Orleans, 38-32, Denver handled injury-plagued Oakland, 24-6, and Kansas City locked up the AFC West with a 37-27 win over San Diego. In the end, Sean needed to finish at least 5-1 with his splits, and he wound up 1-5 — the lone victory coming off the New York Jets' 30-10 win against coachless Buffalo.

The 4-game lift the Senior Bro received in the final week of the season doubled what had been his largest lead of the year, but the 8-game margin of victory belies just how competitive 2016 was, and how drastically different the outcome might have been had a couple other close games earlier in the year turned out differently. (More on that in a moment.)

Glenn celebrated his fourth championship by winning Week 17 with an 11-5 record — his fifth straight winning week. Sean and Ben tied for second with 7-9 records. Our collective correct predictions included Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Seattle and Green Bay. We all missed out on winners Cincinnati, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, and the New York Giants.

And now it is time for our traditional final word with a few YEAR-END STATS...

QUIET RALLY: It was noted mid-season that Glenn was off his pace of 2015, which itself was down from his prediction success a year earlier. But the year-end statistics tell a different story. The Senior Bro wrapped up 2016 with a 164-90-2 record (64.5%), vs. his 2015 record of 160-96 (62.5%), a 5-game improvement. The biggest turnabout was Sean's 156-98-2 record (61.3%), vs. 140-116 (54.7%) in 2015 — a 17-game improvement. Ben, meanwhile, faded off his fast start as the season wore on. He finished 146-108-2 (57.4%), still a 7-game improvement from 2015's 140-116 (54.7%).

LET'S BE PICKY: There will likely never be a year for splits like we saw in 2015, when the Bros combined for 90 of them. Things returned to a more normal pace in 2016, with 61 splits over the course of the season. And for the first time in recent memory, one of those splits ended in a tie: the London game of Week 8 when the Bengals and Redskins played to a 27-all stalemate. Of the rest, Glenn took 34 while Sean won 26. Every week featured at least one split, and three weeks saw a high of six splits. We had an even number of splits in 10 weeks, an odd number in the other seven. The Senior Bro was stronger by far in odd-split weeks, winning five of them.

WINS, TIES AND WEEKLY RECORDS: Although he came in as the defending champ, Glenn's performance through the first 12 weeks looked fairly pedestrian; he managed just two winning weeks and a pair of ties while Sean went 3-2 in that same period to notch a 2-game lead. But the Senior Bro made up for the slow start in a big way, winning the final five weeks for a 7-2 mark overall. Ben's performance was just the opposite; he won three of the first four weeks, then sputtered down the stretch to finish 4-1, his last victory coming in Week 9. Sean had the single best weekly performance at 13-3 in Week 12. His worst was a 6-8 in Week 10, a low Glenn also shared that same week. The Senior Bro's best mark was 12-4, which he saw in Weeks 14 and 15. Ben lived up to his "Chaos Kid" moniker and went from a personal best of 12-4 in Week 1 to a low of 6-10 in Week 16.

SILENT NIGHTS: The 2016 season was notable for its lack of splits in night games, with just seven splits coming in games played under the lights. Sean had the edge in all of them, going 1-0 on Thursday and 2-1 on both Sunday and Monday. Last year there were 21 splits of non-Sunday morning or afternoon games.

ONE HELLUVA GAME: If the 2016 GBF season were reduced to a single football game, it would have looked something like this: two great defenses going at it, exchanging field goals and swapping the lead, until the eventual victor cranked up the offense with a methodical game-winning touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.

Coming off two crushing defeats in 2014 and 2015, Sean came onto the field confidently in 2016 and grabbed an early 1-game lead that held up until Week 3, when Glenn jumped on top and remained there for the next eight weeks. Although the Senior Bro was able to widen the gap to four games after a strong performance in Week 5, any similarity to the blowouts of the previous two seasons ended there. Showing a penchant for success in the early games, opportunities for Glenn to build on the advantage were short-circuited by his failure to find similar success in the afternoon games. Sean managed to whittle the 4-game gap down to three as the bye weeks dragged on, but it was mostly a stalemate.

The tide appeared to turn for the Junior Bro starting in Week 8 with the London game between Washington and Cincinnati that ended in a tie. He went on to win the week because of it, and then held his ground in Weeks 9 and 10 before a breakout Week 11 saw him retake the season lead on a 5-of-6 splits performance — his strongest week in three years — knocking four games off his big brother's advantage. He added another significant victory in Week 12, when Kansas City beat Denver on a Sunday night in the week's only split, to take a 2-game lead. Unfortunately for Sean, it would be the end of his highlight reel.

Down but not yet out despite having given up six games over five weeks, the Senior Bro staged a comeback fitting of a quarterback in a 2-minute drill. It began with a 3-split sweep in Week 13 that put him back on top for the second time in the season, then continued as he added a game each of the succeeding three weeks, including backbreaking wins with the Giants over the Lions in Week 15 and a missed Cincinnati field goal in Week 16 that brought a division title to Houston. Glenn's fourth consecutive Surfy Trophy was secured after he won Week 17, taking five of six splits to finish 8 games up.

The Senior Bro's current run of success that has found him with his first-ever four-title run now matches that of Sean's dominance from 2005-2012, when the Junior Bro also won six of eight championships. In the 25 seasons we have played since 1992, Sean still holds a 14-11 edge. No one has ever won five straight titles, so we'll have to wait until next season to see if Glenn becomes the first or if Sean can at last put the streak to rest. See you in September!

Somewhere, Mike Nugent is laughing

Dec. 27, 2016Posted by NawFuL

 
Week 16 results

Glenn

Leads By

4

153-85-2
9-7
149-89-2
8-8
139-99-2
6-10
Thursday, December 22, 2016
N.Y. Giants @ Philadelphia New York Giants New York Giants New York Giants
Saturday, December 24, 2016
Miami @ Buffalo Miami Miami Miami
Tampa Bay @ New Orleans New Orleans Tampa Bay Tampa Bay
N.Y. Jets @ New England New England New England New England
Tennessee @ Jacksonville Tennessee Tennessee Tennessee
Minnesota @ Green Bay Green Bay Green Bay Minnesota
San Diego @ Cleveland San Diego San Diego San Diego
Washington @ Chicago Washington Washington Chicago
Atlanta @ Carolina Carolina Atlanta Atlanta
Indianapolis @ Oakland Oakland Indianapolis Oakland
Arizona @ Seattle Seattle Arizona Seattle
San Francisco @ Los Angeles Los Angeles Los Angeles Los Angeles
Cincinnati @ Houston Houston Cincinnati Houston
Sunday, December 25, 2016
Baltimore @ Pittsburgh Baltimore Baltimore Baltimore
Denver @ Kansas City Kansas City Kansas City Denver
Monday, December 26, 2016
Detroit @ Dallas Dallas Dallas Dallas
© 2016 Gehlke Bros. Football

Christmas came early in the NawFuL this year, and because the schedule makers figured no one would be watching games while opening presents and celebrating with family, they decided to pack a whole Sunday's worth of action into Saturday instead. Think of Thursday Night Football on steroids, with its collection of typically unwatchable games presented in pretty paper and bows and stuffed under the tree like some ugly sweater. It's the gift you have to try on even though you'd rather it had stayed at the store where it came from. Throw in a handful of games with playoff implications as stocking stuffers and you have a recipe for an unpredictable, crazy mess. Do you believe in Christmas miracles? The Junior Bro was hoping for a big one in Week 16.

Down three games in the Surfy standings and with opportunities to gain ground slipping away, Sean admittedly rolled the dice and the result was five splits on Christmas Eve — morning, afternoon and night. With our picks set, Sean said he planned to do his best to avoid watching football the rest of the day. Had he watched, he would have witnessed the (somewhat) shocking upsets by the league's three worst teams: Jacksonville, San Francisco, and Cleveland. The meek may not have inherited the Earth, but they did all manage to halt lengthy losing streaks. The other thing they had in common is that we didn't split any of those games. The ones we did provided their own surprises.

The lone morning split featured Atlanta at Carolina. No trap game here for the Falcons, who embarrassed the Panthers, 33-16, to lock up a playoff berth and secure a win for the Junior Bro. The afternoon offered up three games, and again Sean managed to cash in when Arizona defeated Seattle, 34-31, in a rematch of two teams that tied back in Week 7. That left Glenn in a position of needing to win the remaining games to avoid losing ground heading into the season's final week. Wait, what's that mystery gift peeking out from behind the tree? Why, it's from Santa...

The Senior Bro pulled out the other two afternoon games — New Orleans' 31-24 victory that likely derailed Tampa Bay's playoff hopes, and Oakland's costly 33-25 triumph over Indianapolis that came at the expense of quarterback Derek Carr, out for the season. That set up a Saturday night finale between the Bengals and Texans, with a division title on the line for Houston and a 2- or 4-game spread for the Gehlke Bros entering Week 17. It was an anemic display of offense by both teams, with Cincinnati up 3-0 at halftime, thanks to a field goal from Randy Bullock who was hired less than two weeks ago to replace the inconsistent Mike Nugent.

If the Christmas Eve eggnog and chocolate chip cookies weren't enough to induce heartburn, then watching the second half play out surely was. A pair of Houston field goals gave them a 6-3 lead in the fourth quarter before the Bengals got an 86-yard touchdown from Brandon LaFell minutes later for a 10-6 advantage. Houston answered with its own TD but had the extra point blocked to leave the Texans with a precarious 12-10 lead and the ball in Cincy's hands with time ticking away. Andy Dalton drove the Bengals deep into Houston territory to set up what should have been a game-winning chip shot from Bullock — except that it wasn't. The kick sailed wide to the right of the goal post as the clock wound down to zero, and in perhaps the biggest miracle of the tension-packed Saturday, the Senior Bro escaped with a 4-game lead and his fourth consecutive winning week.

But overall, there was a lot of coal in the Gehlke Bros' stockings in Week 16. Glenn "won" the week with a mediocre 9-7 record, while Sean took second at 8-8. Ben, who has faded in a big way down the stretch, fell 14 games off the overall pace with his 6-10 finish in third. We all correctly picked Miami and New England, but we all missed out on the upset wins of Jacksonville, Cleveland and San Francisco, as well as those of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.