Every year we learn something new about football and the game we play. I hope we do, anyway. Otherwise we'd be stagnant and never get wiser, right?
Okay, so sometimes I have to learn lessons a few times. But most of it sinks in eventually. Here's what I learned this season:
I learned that moving the extra point back is good for Super Bowl squares. It used to be that the "7", "3" and "0" were really the only numbers you'd want. Now, with missed extra points, new numbers are coming into play. Misses turn into two-point conversions later in the game, and next thing you know the "2," the "6" and the "8" become viable numbers through all four quarters.
It won't make Atlanta feel any better, but it makes a traditional diversion a little more interesting.
I learned that when it comes to dynasties, it's the system. With Tom Brady on suspension, the Patriots went 3-1 with Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett.
I also learned that it's the player. The Patriots went 14-1 when Tom Brady returned. A legendary system and a legendary player? Not fair, guys. Not fair at all.
I learned that teams follow where (they think) the money is. San Diego loved the Chargers. They just didn't want to pay for a new stadium. So the team moved to a city that doesn't want them, slashed its own fan base and will play in a makeshift facility for a couple of seasons before sharing a world-class stadium that Los Angeles also wouldn't fund themselves. Maybe it will pay off, but it sure doesn't sound like a smart business plan to me. I don't see them winning LA fans over.
I learned that even when the NFL doles out second chances, the acts wear thin very quickly. Rex Ryan had six seasons with the Jets before getting fired, but just two with the Bills. Chip Kelly had three in Philadelphia, but just one in San Francisco.
Maybe taking a couple years off would be good for everyone involved.
I learned the NFL sure is pushing this London thing. Remember when it was just one weird morning game each season? Then it was two, and then three. Next year the league will have four games across the pond, plus a game in Mexico. With TV ratings hurting, shouldn't they focus on games here for a while?
I learned that the meaningless preseason might not be completely meaningless. Over the past two seasons, all four Super Bowl participants have gone 3-1 during the preseason.
Then again, that stat could be misleading. The New Orleans Saints have gone 0-4 the last two preseasons, and look how well they've done! On second thought, don't look.
I learned that making the playoffs doesn't mean much by itself. Yeah, Detroit was technically in the postseason. But were they ever really in that game? Losing to Green Bay in week 17 ended their year. They just zombie-shuffled their way to Seattle.
I learned that not making the playoffs can still produce some optimism. Tennessee and Tampa Bay both rebuilt their teams with rookie quarterbacks in 2015, and both had winning seasons the following year. It wouldn't surprise anyone to see both in the playoffs next season.
I learned that some teams have too much luck at quarterback. Watching Aaron Rodgers gut out some amazing performances (again) reminds me that the Packers haven't had quarterback problems for 25 years. Think about that. Two world-class quarterbacks in a row, giving you stability at the most important position for a quarter-century. Oh, and Rodgers is 33.
Finally, I learned that winning always makes the season better. There are a number of things that bother me about the state of the game, but I made the playoffs in both of my leagues and won the title in one of them. So, like Sinatra said, it was a very good year.
The NFL is practically year-round now, so before you know it free agency and the draft will have talking heads talking, fans wishing and fantasy owners strategizing. In the meantime, catch some hockey and feast on new episodes of "The Walking Dead." I'll see you in the summertime.
What did you learn this season? Share your thoughts below.