Between all of my friends who I talk football with regularly, there is a ton of diversity when it comes to football.
Growing up in northern Illinois, it’s no surprise that the large majority of them are Chicago Bears fans. But we also have a Minnesota Vikings fan, a Dallas Cowboys fan, an Atlanta Falcons fan, and, of course, I’m a Green Bay Packers fan.
I also speak regularly with a Kansas City Chiefs fan and an Oakland Raiders fan.
I know fans of other teams, but that about covers it.
During the 2007 season, despite all our rooting differences, we all came together for a good cause. We all built up all of our sports hatred and placed it on the New England Patriots.
It started with ESPN and their New York Yankees-esque treatment of them. I remember them having a bottom line topic called “Persuit of Perfection” that kept track of the team. They were constantly being compared to the Miami Dolphins, and you couldn’t stop hearing about how great Tom Brady was and how great Bill Belichick was.
They reached Yankees/Red Sox territory and that automatically made us hate them.
For Super Bowl XLII a group of us got together all with the understanding that we were rooting for the New York Giants. It was myself (Packers), and five of my friends (three Bears fans, one Vikings fan and one Falcons fan).
It wasn’t discussed that we were rooting for the Giants. We all just knew that’s how it was going to be. We also knew the Patriots were going to win and were prepared to bitch and moan about them after the game.
To this day, all of us are convinced we helped sway the outcome of that game. (OK, not raelly, but bear with me). We didn’t say “Hey guys, let’s root for the Giants as hard as we possibly can, OK?” We just did it, and it was incredibly fun.
When Plaxico Burress caught the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, all six of us got up and started running around the house screaming as if our favorite team had just won the Super Bowl. It was the first and only time we all had the same rooting interest in a football game, and it was really, really fun to watch. We weren’t Giants fans that night, we were Patriots haters.
Four years later, the hate still lingers, but it isn’t as prominent because the Patriots haven’t won, or been in, a Super Bowl in some time. It’s kind of like how Yankees haters weren’t as hardcore toward hating them in the 10 years between World Series titles.
I bring up this hatred for one reason, and that’s because I’m going to type something that makes me want to throw up. It’s way harder for me to say this than it was for me to say the Bears were the NFC favorites. My fingers might fall off before I’m able to actually hit these letters on the keyboard, but here goes nothing…
Bill Belichick MIGHT be the best head coach in NFL history.
(waiting to be struck by lightning)
OK, so here me out as to why.
Who would the other “best in history” candidates be? The obvious candidates would be: Bill Walsh, Chuck Noll, Don Shula, Vince Lombardi, George Halas, Tom Landry and Belichick.
Of those seven, I’m going to take Lombardi and Halas out of the argument because comparing guys whose hay days were before 1970 is very difficult to those who coached most of their careers after 1970. That’s not taking anything away from those two, but it’s like comparing an offensive lineman from that era to one from this era. Impossible because of the evolution of the game.
You could put the remaining five coaches in any order and likely make a solid argument for them, but here’s one for Belichick. (Excuse me, I’m dry-heaving).
Taking Belichick out of the equation, Walsh, Noll, Shula and Landry all have a lot in common. All of them innovated the game in some way, all of them won consistently and all of them had great players at one point or another.
That’s why these guys are so highly regarded. Landry invented the 4-3 defense, Walsh invented the West Coast offense, Shula won over and over again and Noll built the scariest defense in NFL history.
So why should Belichick be ranked ahead of any of them? Because his level of difficulty is tougher.
Innovation has always been an argument for the likes of Walsh and Landry, but I think it’s a negative argument when comparing them to Belichick.
Sure, they won with it, and inventing something nobody else has seen before AND works is incredibly difficult, but if you come up with an incredible idea, that makes the game that much easier. Walsh won because nobody had ever seen the West Coast offense before. Landry won because nobody had seen the 4-3 defense before.
In today’s game, everyone knows what’s coming. The newest phenomenon is the spread offense, but everyone knows it. Belichick has to win without inventing anything new. That’s tough.
Another argument people make for guys like Walsh or even Bill Parcells is that other coaches branched off from him and became successful. With Belichick, his assistant coaches who have become head coaches (Romeo Crennel, Josh McDaniels, Eric Mangini, Charlie Weis in college), have all failed thus far. That should be a knock on Belichick, right?
Wrong. Coaches failing after they leave New England makes Belichick’s genius even more impressive. It leaves the impression with me that he controls more with his team than any other head coach. He makes assistants irrelevant. Of course, this is all hypothetical, but it at least makes you wonder.
I still don’t think the Patriots are going to win the Super Bowl this year. I hope they don’t. But if Belichick gets his fourth title this year, he’ll have to be in the discussion as one of the top three head coaches in NFL history. As much as I hate to admit it, it’s probably true.
Week 14 predictions:
Indianapolis Colts (-4.5) at Tennessee Titans
I’m going to keep picking the Colts to cover and live in denial that they are who they appear to be. Colts to win and cover.
Atlanta Falcons (-8) at Carolina Panthers
I was going to pick this game as the road game where the Falcons survive a scare, but last week covered that for me. Falcons to win and cover.
Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers (-8.5)
The line in a divisional game like this should never be this high. Steelers to win, Bengals to beat spread.
Cleveland Browns at Buffalo Bills (-1)
When two sucky teams play each other, go with the home team. Bills to win and cover.
Green Bay Packers (-7) at Detroit Lions
The Lions always play the Packers tougher than they should. Not this time. Packers to win and cover.
New York Giants (-2.5) at Minnesota Vikings
The two-game cushion for Leslie Frazier is officially over. Giants to win and cover.
Oakland Raiders at Jacksonville Jaguars (-4)
Games like this always seem to be a really close and exciting. I just have a hunch. Jaguars to win, Raiders to beat spread.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2.5) at Washington Redskins
Don’t discount the fact that the cutting of Albert Haynesworth will give the Redskins a boost. Redskins to win outright.
Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers (-5.5)
The Seahawks have quietly been one of the worst teams in the NFL over the past month. 49ers to win and cover.
St. Louis Rams at New Orleans Saints (-9.5)
The Rams are getting no respect. I like them in this game, but not quite enough to win. Saints to win, Rams to beat spread.
Denver Broncos (-5.5) at Arizona Cardinals
The Broncos begin their post-coach-firing two game winning streak. Broncos to win and cover.
Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers (no line)
I have no idea what to think of the Chargers anymore. Screw them. Chargers to win.
Miami Dolphins at New York Jets (-5.5)
Big rebound week for the Jets against a really bad team. Jets to win and cover.
New England Patriots (-3) at Chicago Bears
I really can’t pick against the Patriots until they give me a reason to. Patriots to win and cover.
Philadelphia Eagles (-4) at Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys will make a game of this somehow. Also, Dez Bryant may have derailed me as I go into the playoffs as the No. 2 seed on a six game winning streak. Eagles to win, Cowboys to beat spread.
Baltimore Ravens (-3) at Houston Texans
I think Vegas is giving the Texans way too much credit with this line. Ravens to win and cover.
I’d also to make note of the fact that I won my straight-up picks pool for the first time last week. I went 13-3 and was tied with three other people going into Monday Night Football, and all four of us picked the Patriots so it was likely going to come down to point totals for the tiebreaker.
Why do I bring this up? Not to gloat, but to mention what an idiot I am. CBSsports.com runs our pool and, seeing these picks, I went in and tried to change my pick to the Jets to make it easier to win if they won. It wouldn’t let me because picks were locked. So then, I went and tried to change my points “Price is Right” style so if everyone went over, I’d win. It wouldn’t let me do that, either.
And it’s a good thing, because my point total was 48, and the Patriots won 45-3.
Week 13 – 13-3 (10-6 against spread)
Overall: 113-77 (95-92-3 against spread)