"Action" Jackson here, and I hope you all missed me as much as I've missed you. I've taken some time off to focus on the important things in life (school, work, personal life,etc.), but I'm back. There's been a lot going on in the past few weeks in the worlds of College Football and the NFL, and in this article, I'll highlight the major points and provide my own analysis/thoughts on the matter. Sorry for the wait, but I'm back.
The Raiders are 7-2 and look awesome. This was worth the wait.
In case you hadn't heard, the Oakland Raiders hosted the Denver Broncos and won 30-20 in primetime on Sunday Night. I'll say that again. The long-maligned and extremely young Oakland Raiders hosted the Super Bowl champion and high favorited Denver Broncos and won 30-20 on national television, and the result honestly should've been 30-13 if not for a wonky play in garbage time that only the Raiders would let happen because we're the Raiders and football is fun. This was a coming out party to show the rest of the NFL and the sports media exactly what the Raider Nation faithful have known all year: these Raiders are damn good, they are hungry for respect, and they are ready to prove themselves to everybody.
Let's put the hype in perspective: this is a team that is undefeated on the road this season, with a 25 year old quarterback who is in the Most Valuable Player race, a 22 year old receiver who is practically impossible to cover, and a 25 year old linebacker turned defensive end who could end up winning Defensive Player of the Year. That and a smart front office translates to a lot of success over the next 8-10 years at the very least. If the season ended today, our head coach would win Coach of the Year and our general manager, who built this roster from the bottom up with very young and very talented players, could very well be Executive of the Year.
The rest of this season will tell us if the Oakland Raiders will be the playoff and Super Bowl contenders the media is hyping them up to be. With a very winnable batch of games after this week's bye, including a couple more primetime games, it is very possible the Raiders could go 13-3 at the most, 12-4 in many people's eyes, and 11-5 at very worst. 11-5 is still a Wild Card team that makes the postseason, and 13-3 is hosting a couple playoff games in Oakland before contending for the Lombradi Trophy in Super Bowl LI. No one believed me when I said we would be a legit team very very soon, but after 14 long seasons, here it is. Was it worth the wait? Yes. And it feels so damn good.
My thoughts on the College Football Playoff Rankings and where I think they'll end up
Last week, Texas A&M was ranked number 4 in the initial list of College Football Playoff teams. I disagreed with this, since Washington had yet to suffer a loss, while A&M had a loss to Alabama on their resumé. After the this week's rankings list was released, I think the committee got it right. Ohio St. and Louisville looking into a group of undefeated teams from conferences around the country is an excellent list, with both outliers having chances to make the top four spots. Based on my predictions during the summer, 3 out of my 4 guesses are on point so far. I feel that this list should stay the same for the remainder of the season; below, I'll break down the choices and how I view their probabilities of making the Final Four.
At #1, Alabama belongs there. No one in the country has played better than them, and they have consistently come out on top of talented opponents with a Freshman quarterback, a platoon running back system, and a suffocating defense. Basically, they are the college football Patriots. The offense is a lot more explosive than I predicted, and that makes them extremely dangerous. Although they have so far rolled over their competition from the SEC, I think things will heat up once they begin playing teams they aren't that familiar with (Big Ten, ACC, and/or PAC-12) in the playoffs. High level games against Auburn (The Iron Bowl) and the SEC Championship game stand between them and a third straight playoff appearance; head coach Nick Saban will have this team prepared and ready to compete. He's the best college football coach in the past 50 years for a reason. Chances: 100%
At #2, Clemson is an interesting choice. I chose to put them second in my projected rankings because they had teams such as Florida St. and Louisville in prime time match-ups scheduled. I feel like Michigan has looked like the more dominant team this season, albeit playing weaker teams so far, but I do agree with the main points made by the committee in their initial rankings: Clemson has a more complete team, with a defense capable of winning late in the game (as seen against Louisville) and an offense that can score via passing or rushing thanks to their dual-threat quarterback, and they've done so against ACC powerhouses all season long. Chances: 80%
At #3, Michigan looks like an NFL level defense with a college level offense. Just like Jim Harbaugh has always done, he is winning games with a pretty conservative offense (ball control, gimmicky formations, West Coast/play action passing attack, and running the ball often) and a swarming, highly athletic defense full of NFL-caliber talent. They've yet to really face high-level competition, only playing one tough game against Wisconsin at home in the middle of the season, but their schedule culminates with a trip to Columbus to play Ohio St. in a major rivalry game that will impact both team's playoff chances. If Michigan wins that game against a younger and not as skilled Ohio St. team, their seat in the playoffs is guaranteed. Chances: 70%
At #4, Washington has replaced Oregon and Stanford as the PAC-12's media darling. High flying offense, hard-hitting defense, and some sweet uniforms is always fun to have in the postseason playoffs, especially when the team puts up scores like 70-21 (Yikes, Oregon!) Washington will face some West Coast bias (weaker opponents, poor media coverage, "not a real team" ESPN arguments) but I feel that the next few games hosting a skilled and motivated USC team and a trip to hated rival Washington St. to play for the PAC-12 North title would go a long way to cement their status as contenders. Chances: 40%
This is the first of my new weekly postings; Wednesday's will be my football day. Sorry for the wait once again, but "Action" Jackson is back.
Everything you need to know about the yay.