It’s over! It’s finally over! The NFL regular season is done! I know I’m supposed to feign excitement for the fans of playoff teams who still have football to watch, but this week isn’t for you, happy fans. Your gift comes next week, a reward for months of exciting football, with teams that offer hope and joy.
There are more of us than you, and Week 17 is our time, the realm of fans who have suffered through garbage-ass football to reach this point. While you’re presented with the possibility of a Super Bowl, we get to chill until the draft like the suffering idiots we are.
Today, we’re going to do a New Year’s wish list for a handful of the 20 teams that won’t get a chance to lift the Lombardi Trophy this year.
NFL New Year’s Wishes
Cincinnati Bengals want … for this whole thing to not blow up in their faces.
It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to tank the way the Bengals did, and they deserve the No. 1 pick for their effort. The draft picture has changed a lot during the year, but we end up now with this scenario that seems almost too on the nose.
Let’s not play dumb for four months: The Bengals are going to take Joe Burrow from LSU with the first overall pick. So a guy from Ohio who became a tiger is going to return to his home state to be a tiger again.
This is that kind of beautiful draft symmetry that scares me, and deep down it should scare Bengals fans too. It’s so perfect it feels like this was made to explode in their faces. All year Tua Tagovailoa was the lock No. 1 pick, and then he got injured. Burrow has become the top pick by default (though he’s had an unbelievable season, to be fair). Now it’ll be on Cincinnati to hope he becomes Carson Palmer 2.0, that the Bengals don’t become the next team picking the wrong QB. Patrick Mahomes says hi, Bears — just FYI.
Washington wants … to lose about 190 pounds.
Unfortunately, team owner Daniel Snyder isn’t going anywhere.
Detroit Lions want … some damn defense.
Matthew Stafford was on pace for a FIVE THOUSAND-YARD SEASON with 38 touchdowns. It would have been the best season of his career — and finally the kind of signature year that got him the respect he deserved.
Then he got hurt, which is part of the tragic unfairness of the NFL, but also a reminder that this amazing season still wouldn’t have meant anything because the Lions allowed 400 damn yards and 26 points a game.
We always talk about QBs needing help in terms of the offensive line or receiving corps. In this case, please just get Stafford some help on the other side of the ball.
New York Giants want … I dunno, some big dude?
There’s so much that’s promising about the future of the Giants, but with Dave Gettleman still at the helm, it’ll come down to him picking a lineman, or something else boring when it comes to the draft. That said, it actually might make sense here.
Miami Dolphins want … a little bit of luck.
Perhaps the most astounding thing about the Dolphins is how their season didn’t come close to the joke it looked like it was going to be. To the credit of the coaching staff, this team went a lot further than talent dictated, and it actually puts Miami in a pretty good position moving forward.
Now it’s about finding the quarterback of the future. The Dolphins have the No. 5 pick and could still be in a position to draft Tagovailoa. They’ll get the guy we all thought they were tanking for anyway. Presuming his hip fully heals, all the Dolphins need is for him to be healthy and they’re set for a while.
Carolina Panthers want … literally everything.
The friend who makes 30 wishes. Quite frankly, the Panthers are a mess. The team needs a coach, a prayer Cam Newton will be OK, to address injuries that plagued the defensive line, and to build an offensive line.
This all sounds daunting, and it is. It doesn’t mean things can’t fall into place, but it begins and ends with Cam Newton. If he’s healthy, they can be good. If not, they won’t. It’s that simple, and also means there will be another year of quarterback speculation in Charlotte, which the city is not prepared for.
New York Jets want … Adam Gase to shut up.
Good luck with that one. He doesn’t mind though, because he’s rich dammit.
Dallas Cowboys want … everyone to leave them alone.
From crushing defeats and underperforming seasons, to forcing Skip Bayless to make an obviously staged video for clicks on his sad Twitter account. This is the “get your popcorn ready” offseason in the NFL.
This one is going to be even more angst-ridden than usual, and frankly we can’t wait.
And now, other fun things I liked this week.
Jameis Winston’s 30-for-30 documentary is going to be the best.
In case you missed it, Winston became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in the same season — making if the most definitive Jameis Winston season in history.
His matter-of-fact appreciation of the feat was one of the best parts.
#Bucs QB Jameis Winston after the game: “When you look at my numbers, I’m balling. I just gotta stop giving it to the other team… I gotta get better.”
— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) December 29, 2019
I am absolutely behind this celebration.
It’s important to showcase your best assets. In this case, it’s the Giants accepting they’re better a flip cup than football.
I think I’ve worked out what’s happened to Tom Brady.
There’s been this assumption that the never-aging quarterback is finally aging, but that’s too expected, too obvious.
Remember when Brady had a cameo in Living with Yourself on Netflix, which intimated that he got a clone of himself made so he could keep playing forever?
The show established the Brady has done this multiple times, which must means he knows that he’s aging and breaking down. Well, Brady made his clone again, but the original (much like Paul Rudd’s in the show) broke loose.
Now the old Brady is playing for the Patriots and being bad, and the new, perfect Tom Brady is probably running an avocado ice cream collective outside of Portland.
This call was so clutch, and so amazing.
Kevin Harlan called two games at the same time. This man is a national treasure. pic.twitter.com/HfvDWVhqR3
— Jeff Eisenband (@JeffEisenband) December 29, 2019
This is some next-level announcing the likes of which we never see. And to make it all the better, he even had time to throw in some jokes along the way. Protect Kevin Harlan at all costs.
The Browns finally decided to remodel their kitchens.
Just got off the phone with an emotional Freddie Kitchens. He believed he had organizational support. He did not. https://t.co/6263Mmh7c0
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 30, 2019
“Believed he had organizational support. He did not” is both an incredible sentence, and a whole mood. For me, just change “organizational” with “emotional” and I’m oversharing aren’t I?!
Good luck, Browns. I hope you find whatever it is you’ve been searching for. For years. For decades. I can’t believe y’all are still searching for the thing. The thing is “good football.” How is this still not possible? Be better, Browns. Seriously though, don’t hire another guy whose main attribute is “he grew up loving the Browns!”