Welcome to the inaugural Brash & Burn. Caleb Brasher and Tyler Raborn, Brash & Burn respectively, will answer five questions, which will eventually be decided in the coming weeks. Once every question has been determined, we’ll tally up the score and present a monthly winner. Let the games begin…
#1: Who will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl?
Brash: Out of all the questions, this one was the easiest for me. I have seen no more consistently impressive team than the Broncos- except recently the Seahawks, but more on that in a minute. Granted Denver had their growing pains at the beginning of the season starting 2-3 trying to adjust to a quarterback who people were not sure would ever be able to play again. But what have they done since then? Oh they just won 11 straight on their way to a number 1 seed and clinching home field through the playoffs. Their offense is very good but what makes me pick this team is the defense, which is ranked third in both rushing and passing yards allowed. Combine that with arguably the greatest quarterback to ever throw a football, and I believe that soon the Bronco faithful will be booking their plane tickets to the Big Easy.
Burn: Conversely, this question was not an easy one for me. I struggled between selecting the red hot Broncos and the ever-consistent Patriots. In the end, I took the Patriots. Two variables eventually tipped the scale enough for me to select the Patriots: Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. When it comes to playoff time, there is no duo that I trust more. They’ve won 3 Super Bowls together and were 2 plays away from 2 more. And, I know, they haven’t won a Super Bowl since 2004, but they’ve gotten there 5 times since 2001. Also, one final note on this selection, the fact of the matter is that football is a game of inches and any team can win on any given day. Thus, I want to pick the team that gives me the highest probability to be correct- and I see that in the New England Patriots.
#2: Who will represent the NFC in the Super Bowl?
Brash: This was much trickier. There is no clear-cut leader in this conference for me You could say San Fran, but did you see that game against Seattle? That was the most shocking game of the year for me. What about Atlanta? They are just terrible; I won’t even go there. So for me, I am going with the hottest team in the NFL right now: the Seattle Seahawks. Their defense is nasty (again I’m a big believer in defenses when it comes to the playoffs), and their QB is the surprise of the year in my opinion. Add in Pete Carroll and I think you have a Super Bowl contender. Now to get there they have to play every game on the road, but you know what they say travels well…running game and defense. Both of which Seattle possesses.
Burn: Aaron Rodgers. But, but, but… no. Aaron Rodgers. Can you outscore the Packers? Scoring will be the name of the game this postseason for teams facing Green Bay. Defenses win championships… unless you’re the Green Bay Packers. Then, Aaron Rodgers wins you championships.
#3: Who will win the Super Bowl?
Brash: So you have two great defenses and two good offenses. I believe the difference in this game is the experience of Peyton Manning. I think it is a close, fairly low scoring game that Denver eventually takes over in the fourth. Is there any way Manning could win Comeback Player of the Year, MVP, and Coach of the Year? I’d vote for him.
Burn: Have I mentioned Tom Brady and Bill Belichick? I have? Well… I think I will again. Actually, I’ll just copy and paste my last sentence from my answer to Question #1… “I want to pick the team that gives me the highest probability to be correct- and I see that in the New England Patriots.” So, I think I’ll stick with that theme. Patriots. Super Bowl Champs.
#4: Who will win the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year?
Brash: This is a quarterback’s league. In what has undeniably been the most successful skill position rookie draft in recent memory, I believe that RG3 will take this honor from among the likes of Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, Doug Martin, and teammate Alfred Morris. The stats speak for themselves: 3,200 yards passing, 814 yards rushing, 6.8 yards per carry, 27 total touchdown’s, and only 7 turnovers. He also became the leader of this young and surprisingly successful Redskins team.
Burn: This was the easiest question for me. Robert Griffin III has been incredibly impressive. Actually, he’s been phenomenal. Doug Martin has played head and shoulders above what anyone expected of him. Alfred Morris has been a beast, though some may argue that he’s a product of Shanahan’s system. And finally, Russell Wilson is 5-foot nothing- so, I have a special place for him in my heart. But, when discussing Rookie of the Year, I can look no further than Andrew Luck. To take a 2-14 team and mold them into an 11-5 team as a rookie is insane. Further, he did it with a change at the head coaching position. Some may make the argument that Pagano’s leave was “motivation” for the team, which I agree with- to a point. It wasn’t enough motivation to make a 2-14 team 11-5. This is still the NFL. Emotion can only go so far. At some point, talent, ability, and preparation factor into a team’s success. Thus, I attribute some of that success to the arrival of Andrew Luck- my Rookie of the Year.
#5: Who will win the NFL Coach of the Year Award?
Brash: This was again very difficult for me with all of the unexpected success of teams like the Redskins and the heart-wrenching, tear-jerking story of Chuck Pagano, Bruce Arians, and the Indianapolis Colts. But this year give the coach of the year honors to Pete Carroll. What makes me pick him over Arians and Shanahan is that in the past few weeks, Seattle is not just winning; they are dominating. He has taken a team that had a good defense and has turned them into a legitimate Super Bowl contender. As much as I love Bruce Arians and RG3, neither of those teams are contenders yet. And it makes it difficult to vote for Arians when he did not even coach a full season. Meanwhile, John Fox had all the talent and makings of a Super Bowl team in front of him and managed it great. But Carroll has taken a 5’10’’ QB and a tough D and is now on their march to New Orleans.
Burn: Expanding on my answer to question #4, the Colts improved from 2-14 to 11-5. There were several factors that attributed to this vast improvement. And, while it is impossible to put a finger on exactly what was responsible for the change, it’s obvious that the arrival of Andrew Luck and a new head coach had a lot to do with it. But, the Colts head coaching situation was far from normal. Head coach Chuck Pagano took a leave of absence in September after being diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia, so offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was named interim head coach. In his first tenure as an NFL head coach, Arians did not disappoint. He humbly assumed Pagano’s role, and he deflected all of the credit for his success to the team and Chuck Pagano. For the best story in sports this year- My NFL Coach of the Year Award goes to Co-Winners in Bruce Arians and Chuck Pagano. #ChuckStrong
So, to sum up…
|#1: AFC Champion?||Denver Broncos||New England Patriots|
|#2: NFC Champion?||Seattle Seahawks||Green Bay Packers|
|#3: Super Bowl Champion?||Denver Broncos||New England Patriots|
|#4: NFL Rookie of the Year?||Robert Griffin III||Andrew Luck|
|#5: NFL Coach of the Year?||Pete Carroll||Bruce Arians/Chuck Pagano|