It’s getting to that time of year where NFL playoff-clinching scenarios start showing up on sports websites. Phrases like “if the season ended today” and “X can clinch a playoff spot with a win this week” begin to fill up websites like ESPN and NFL.com. You are probably wondering “well, what’s my team going to have to do to make the playoffs? What sort of chance do we have?” Have no fear, because the students and staff of AHS believe they have the answer.
Mr. Schmitz (Social Studies, Ravens)
Mr. Schmitz says that Lamar Jackson, despite his lackluster arm, has overall benefited the team “because of that run option,” elaborating that “the running game has benefited as well as the offensive line and the defense has seemed a little bit more jazzed up because they’re well rested throughout the game, so it’s been better for the whole team [to have Flacco out].”
As much as I hate to say it, he’s right. In their games against Oakland, Atlanta, Kansas City, and Tampa Bay, their longest scoring drives went for 17, 14, 14, and 16 plays, and ate 8:53, 8:02, 7:15, and 8:10 off the clock, respectively. Coincidentally, the defense has scored twice in the past four games; the former time right after their longest scoring drive, and the latter coming after a 6.5 minute long drive that ended with a 47 yard field goal from Justin Tucker. The Ravens’ rushing game has gone crazy as well ever since Alex Collins, who, coincidentally, was the starting running back when Flacco was around, got placed on injured reserve. Over the past four games, the Ravens have accrued a combined total of 885 yards rushing. Let’s crunch the numbers… that’s 221.25 yards per game.
Regarding their playoff aspirations, Mr Schmitz declared: “Well, the good news about Lamar Jackson is he just started and won a game in Atlanta this weekend, which will be the first of two games that he starts and wins in Atlanta this year.”
Alex Gaspar (Freshman, Redskins)
Gaspar was, like most people with common sense, “disappointed in some of their roster moves,” especially with Reuben Foster. His three counts of domestic abuse were enough to get him a spot on both the Skins’ roster and the Commissioner’s Exempt list, which is a list controlled by Roger Goodell, obviously, that prohibits players on said list from playing games in the NFL. He is still signed to the roster, but because he is on that list, he is unable to practice with the team, attend, or play in games. Doug Williams, the Senior Vice President of Player Personnel for the Skins, defended their decision to sign such a notorious figure, and got blasted for it by fans and the media. Seems par for the course for a team owned by Dan Snyder.
Regarding the team itself, it has been injured beyond compare, which reinforces the recurring narrative of Dan Snyder being the polar opposite of Midas. This year, the injury bug’s first victim was Derrius Guice, a promising rookie running back out of LSU drafted in the third round. Many were hyping him up to be as good as his predecessor, Leonard Fournette. He tore his ACL in the preseason. Alex Smith was their replacement to Kirk Cousins and was coming off of a huge year where he slung the ball much more than he usually did. He shattered his leg and suffered the exact same injury Joe Theismann suffered 33 years ago to that very day while he was, get this, on the Redskins: a broken tibia and fibula. Smith will most likely never play football again. Even this year’s “Mr. Irrelevant”, Trey Quinn, is on injured reserve. They are practically down to a Division III-level offense. This is the same organization that single-handedly ruined Robert Griffin III’s then-promising career. You could argue that Mike Shanahan, not Dan Snyder, was at fault, but Snyder kept him around for a couple of years after that infamous Wild Card game and, as a result, the Skins played absolutely terribly. Dan Snyder has effectively ruined just about any good prospect or top player he’s signed, and until he is no longer the owner of the Redskins, I will refuse to have any sympathy for the team.
Andrew Sage (Junior, Steelers)
Sage believes that the Steelers’ record is “what they deserve because that’s what they’ve won,” and says that the black and yellow “should’ve beaten the Browns.” That controversial week 1 bout was only a tie because T.J. Watt was able to step up and block that field goal. The Steelers have been the most controversial team around for a while, with a crazy amount of organizational drama ranging from the Le’Veon Bell saga to the hubris of Antonio Brown to Big Ben blaming others for his own actions, and I’m just scratching the surface here. As Sage said on Le’Veon, “it’s all about the money [for him].”
Sage also is a fan of the AB-Big Ben connection, and that duo has still been effective after a sluggish start to the year between the two, totaling 85 completions on 134 attempts for 1,028 yards and 12 touchdowns. The thing is, however, the leading receiver for the Steelers is not Antonio Brown. It’s JuJu Smith-Schuster, the second year wideout out of USC who leads the Steelers in receptions and reception yards, garnering 1,104 yards on 83 catches with a longest reception of 97 yards. The man who has really been a standout for the Steelers has been James Conner. A total fan favorite and media darling, Conner has found all this fame because, according to Sage, a combination of things happened: “Conner went to [University of] Pitt[sburgh], survived leukemia,” and added Conner “doesn’t have that big ego like Bell did.” In addition, his stats back him up as a bona fide starting running back. He’s ran the ball 201 times for 909 yards and 12 touchdowns. That’s approximately 4.5 yards per carry, and while that isn’t necessarily close to the best in the league, it’s a very admirable stat considering the circumstances, from the drama festering within the organization to the “James Conner beat cancer” narrative being jammed down our throats for a good month or so.
To finish, Sage thinks the Steelers will finish at a record of “about 9-6-1.”
Mr. Richman (Administrative, Redskins)
It’s back to the eternal misery of DC sports teams after that incredible stroke of luck the Capitals got by winning the Stanley Cup. A brief digression, but it was mildly amusing to see the Capitals, in particular Alex Ovechkin, give the Stanley Cup nightmares. Back to reality: Mr. Richman was in defeatist mode, saying things like they don’t have “even a chance” and “Mark Sanchez cannot get a team to the playoffs.” I wouldn’t blame him. The wheels fell off the wagon in every way imaginable, as discussed earlier.
The one bright spot both Richman and Gaspar talked about was Adrian Peterson’s resurgence. He has gotten 923 yards on 221 carries, including a long run of 90 yards and a high single game total of 149 rushing yards, all while he is at 33 years old. Richman elaborated that “running backs in the NFL don’t do what he does at that age, it’s almost unheard of.” Regardless of how well Peterson is doing, the elephant in the room is their QB scenario. The Redskins will still owe Alex Smith $31 million in guaranteed money while he recovers in tandem with McKenzie Milton and will most likely retire to become a member of a 1 PM NFL Network talk show. Richman believes that, due to this logic in tandem with not having a bona fide starting QB in any of their backups, the Skins “need to find somebody in the draft” due to not having the cap space “to get a free agent for a quarterback.”
Max Crider (Junior/not the writer of this article, Steelers)
To say that the Steelers have had a rollercoaster year would be the understatement of the eon. After starting out the year with a 1-2-1 record, we were able to manage to rattle off six straight wins, including a 52-21 blowout of the then-red-hot Carolina Panthers. The roller coaster amped up the adrenaline over the past month, as the Steelers lost three straight games to the Broncos, Chargers, and Raiders, only to beat their main rival, the New England Patriots, in rather convincing fashion. Regardless, the Ravens are still breathing down our neck, as they still have an 8-6 record compared to ours: 8-5-1. We both have very similar levels of difficulty in our schedules, as the Ravens play arguably the hottest team in the league in the Los Angeles Chargers in a rare ninth home game, then finish by playing the Browns, who just barely beat the Ravens back in Week 5; whereas the Steelers play the Saints for their third straight 4:25 P.M. game, then finish with a Bengals squad that is dead in the water. The Ravens “play better in December” and “in January” in the eyes of Mr. Schmitz, but after crunching the numbers, the Ravens have gone 8-10 in those two months since their last playoff berth, including an 0-3 record in Week 17 during that stretch. Still, I shiver in fear about the possibility of Mr. Schmitz’s absolutely insane prediction of the Ravens winning the Super Bowl coming to fruition.
Based off of these takes from your students and staff, here is how the playoffs will go, by their combined logic: While the Redskins fail at everything, including tanking, the Ravens will coast to a 73-0 Conference Championship win over the Steelers and win the Super Bowl 62-0 with Lamar Jackson at the helm. Jackson, as a result, will wind up with an 11 year, $300 million dollar fully guaranteed contract and will win the Super Bowl every single year of his contract and will not be traded and the Ravens will become the next New England Patriots. Now sit back and watch as that actually happens and I lock myself in a bunker for a decade.