First, this was definitely not my most successful fantasy football season. I was in four leagues this year (which I will not do again) and only made the playoffs in two of the leagues (and neither of those teams advanced past the 1st round). Overall, my team's were fairly decent, they just perform when I needed them to.
On the college side of things...I've been a Michigan fan since the Anthony Carter days, so my loyalty runs pretty deep. But this year was probably one of the most disappointing years for the maize and blue in recent memory. We were a preseason top 5 team with high aspirations, but just couldn't get it done. It seemed as if every game came down to the fourth quarter in which we would invariably blow a lead. The Michigan State and Penn State games were highlights, but the Notre Dame, Ohio State and especially the Nebraska games were just heartbreaking.
You see, Michigan can play with anybody in the country...they just can't actually beat everybody. It is fair to say that Mike Hart's injuries really hurt the team (it's a much different team with him in there), but he played the whole Alamo Bowl and we still blew that. There has been a lot of talk in the past couple of years for Lloyd Carr's firing. And I've never bought that. The guy's won a national title, won five Big Ten titles and is a great recruiter. His average season during his eleven years is 9-3 and a New Year's day Bowl. But is that really good enough for the winningest team in college history who consistently have one of the best recruiting classes in the nation?
Like Joe Paterno has done, I think Carr needs to shake things up with the play calling. He needs to bring in an offensive guru that will take advantage of the talent that the Wolverines possess. U of M has a number of starters returning at the skill positions and there's no reason they shouldn't be able to hang with the other big boys next year. And I'm really not enjoying losing to Ohio State every year. I really didn't like it when the Buckeyes hired Jim Tressel...I knew this was going to happen. Why didn't they just keep John Cooper? We had a good little rivalry going there where OSU won once every 10 years. Now they've got the upper hand. Hopefully, 2006 will produce a Wolverine victory.
Onto the Detroit Lions...What a sad state of affairs. You know it's bad when you're the laughingstock of the league and there are actually a number of teams worse than you (can anyone say Texans, Niners, Saints, etc.). I don't think firing Mariucci was the answer. They really need to get rid of Matt Millen and wouldn't it be a wonderful gift to the city of Detroit if the Fords sold the team. There's been one constant over the past 40+ years of losing and mediocrity and it isn't Steve Mariucci -- it's the Ford Family. Why would they reward Millen for having the worst record in the league over the past four years with a contract extension?!
Since the Rams fired Mike Martz, I'd like to see the Lions go after him. He's a proven offensive genius, has led a team to the Super Bowl and could really take advantage of the Lions talent at the skill positions. In regard to the quarterback position...Let Garcia and Joey go. I'd go after Jon Kitna, Cincinnati's backup. He's a proven starter in the NFL, has no chance at all of playing again in Cincy with Carson Palmer there, and could fit in nicely in Detroit. Here's my suggestion for the Lion's motto for this upcoming year: "Let's win more than six in 2006!"
My predictions for the NFL playoffs:
- Wildcard Round: New England over Jacksonville; Cincinnati over Pittsburgh; New York Giants over Carolina; Washington over Tampa Bay
- Divisional Round: Indianapolis over New England; Denver over Cincinnati; Seattle over New York; Washington over Chicago
- Conference Championships: Indianapolis over Denver; Seattle over Washington
- Super Bowl: Indianapolis over Seattle with Edgerrin James as MVP