Submitted by Jim Feist on Tuesday, December 5, 2017 at 12:00 AM
The Final Four of the College Championship is set and we get to see a rematch of the two teams from last year’s final game as Alabama takes on Clemson in one semifinal contest and Oklahoma and Georgia matchup in the other semifinal. These are great matchups and I look forward to what is expected to be very hard-fought battles.
Alabama is about a 2 ½ point favorite over Clemson as of this writing. I disagree with that line and actually believe that Clemson to be the better team, though rankings mean little among this group. The Crimson Tide fell short against Auburn and I’m not sure that Auburn isn’t the best team in the nation. However, the Tigers had to run the gauntlet of Georgia and Alabama in a tight window and it was just too much for them as they fell short against the Bulldogs in the SEC Championship, 7-28. In any case, we have four very good teams set to compete for the title.
Some may argue that Ohio State should have been in this group and not Alabama. However, when I look at the Buckeyes I see that glaring loss to Iowa back in early November where they lost 24-55 to the Hawkeyes. That just isn’t a representative game of a team that should be in the final four. We don’t see that blemish on the Crimson Tide report card. Alabama dominated every team this year but Auburn and that game resulted in a 14-26 loss. While some can argue that Ohio State should be in, I think the selection of Alabama is the correct one and earned the right to be in this elite group. Be sure to take into consideration the fact that Ohio State got left out here as they play USC in the Cotton Bowl. Will they show up? That remains to be seen.
Those bubble teams will always get the argument that they should have been included. Ohio State had a great season and their fans are upset they got snubbed. Whatever happens, the team that emerges from the final four will be a worthy champion, no matter which team that might be.
Turning to the NFL, I’m excited by the teams we have competing down the stretch. The AFC looks to be coming down to either the Patriots or the Steelers. These are arguably the two best teams in the AFC. The AFC West is a mess and the South has the Titans and Jags, but both fall just a bit short of the Pats and Steelers.
The NFC is bit more difficult as we have a much deeper field of teams and anything can happen here. The Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles look like the best right now with the Rams hot on their collective heal. None of these three even competed last year. In addition, we have to include the Seattle Seahawks and the New Orleans Saints along with the Carolina Panthers – all teams that have legitimate shots.
The Saints can’t be overlooked when you consider they have world-class quarterback Brew Brees at the helm and a pair of running backs that is unprecedented in the NFL in Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. Most teams are happy to have one solid back, but here we have the Saints with a pair of backs and Brees calling the signals. The Falcons are down this year and may just have too many teams to climb over to get back into the playoffs. Atlanta had the highest scoring offense last season, but have dropped off by over 12-points this year. Much of the blame for this offensive downturn has been put squarely on the shoulders of offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. Sarkisian was brought in from San Francisco to continue the Falcons offensive juggernaut from last year, but that has not been the case. Moreover, with one of the toughest schedules down the stretch, the Falcons look to be on the outside of the playoff bubble.
The NFL is in the home stretch and it’s going to be an exciting finish with a number of teams that could punch their tick to the Super Bowl. Enjoy the show!