NHL Trade Deadline Roundup

The trade deadline this year has been pretty interesting. It’s been an arms race for most of the East, while the West has lost a lot of talent, with one or two teams bulking at the others’ expense. This year, most big-time trades happened before the deadline, some even a month in advance. Let’s review what each team has done on the trade block in the past month and change, shall we?

Boston, predictably, was loading and loading some more this deadline. They were linked to Columbus for a while, but their big trade came about two weeks ago when they reached down and got Dimitri Orlov and Garnet Hathaway for a cap dump in Craig Smith. They then got Tyler Bertuzzi on deadline day to make that forward core even deadlier. They’re a wagon going into March and April, but the playoffs are always a different animal. If they don’t make it at least to the conference finals this year, this will be a massive, massive failure. Just saying.

Toronto is, yet again, bolstering their latest attempt at winning a playoff series for the first time in the cap era. This time, they’ve gone for one of the big fish of the Deadline in Ryan O’Rielly. They also exiled Pierre Engval to Long Island in a cap dump move. This was to make space for depth adds like Erik Gustavson from Washington, Sam Lafferty from Chicago, and Luke Schenn from the Vancouver tirefire. Another year of miserable failure will not be tolerated in Ontario. Kyle Dubas and Sheldon Keefe, consider this your Pickett’s charge. Win or forever live in infamy.

Tampa Bay is also getting into the mix but doesn’t need to do much adding to maintain their championship roster from years past. This year, they’ve returned to the well in the form of their big annual trade. This time, it’s for Tanner Jeannot. FOR A FIRST, A SECOND, CAL FOOTE, AND FIVE TOTAL DRAFT PICKS? Jesus Christ, I know Poile is stepping away after this year, but you didn’t need to double his retirement fund! Tampa is cooked if they don’t make it back this year. All those lost picks will be significant assets for Nashville should they come up short.

Buffalo is a team that’s in the middle of an identity crisis. They’re a talented team, there’s no doubting that, but consistency has been a major issue. They’re sitting 4 points out of a playoff spot, and are doing what every up-and-coming team does in their position: Trade late-round draft picks for depth pieces to try to make a run at the wild card. Boston would destroy them in the playoffs, but Buffalo wasn’t supposed to even be in this position this year. Just take this season as a learning experience.

Ottawa is another team in the Buffalo situation of being right on the cusp of greatness. They have a talented roster but are sitting a few points out of a playoff spot, but unlike the Sabres’ dumpster diving, they have chosen to go big game hunting. Enter Jacob Chychrun, the Arizona refugee who has spent the last two years demanding a trade out of that desolate hellhole. Chychrun is a talented player and will bolster a roster in dire need of defensive help. Senators, you may be getting out of the woods this year. A first-round exit awaits!

And then we get to the Panthers. Another fringe team that has come nowhere near expectations is the reward for South Beach this season. They’ve been struggling all season and aren’t even in playoff position. What did the Panthers do at the deadline to rectify this? Nothing! Because a group that has underachieved dramatically doesn’t need a shakeup, am I right? The Panthers are back to being the league’s gong show, and this year proves it. It’s just a continuation of last year’s playoffs, nothing to see here.

Detroit is in a similar situation to the three teams above but has chosen a different course in selling off most of their valuable assets at bargain bin prices. Tyler Bertuzzi, we don’t need to extend him. Let’s ship him off to Boston for a 4th round pick. Jacob Vrana, we don’t need you either. Pack your bags for St. Louis, buddy. They want to buy now for some reason. Detroit will just finish this year and build for the next. You might as well write off this last month, as they’ll have a lot of cap space to work with this offseason. The empire might rise again.

Montreal is the only team in the Atlantic that is utterly out of the playoff race. Most of their core pieces are either injured or underachieving, and they did next to nothing to try and add to it. I approve of such actions. Joel Edmundson is a fan favorite and a core piece of their team, which will be great next year once they bring in actual players to support him, Wifi and Caufield. They’re probably out of the Bedard hunt, so they might as well play these last games and try to play spoiler.

Carolina didn’t do much this deadline, but they didn’t need to. The only things they did were add Shane Ghostisperre and Jesse Pullijarvi. They were on a roll even before this and are gearing up for what they hope will be another deep playoff run. They won’t screw this up… right?

Two points behind them are the Devils. Jersey has been very busy this trade deadline, unlike their division overlord in Carolina. They started by confirming what hockey fans had been discussing for weeks by adding Timo Meier in a trade with the Sharks that included over 15 players and assets. They also brought Curtis Lazar from the Canucks, a nice depth piece that should shore up their bottom six going into the playoffs. They’re in a dogfight with Carolina for the Metro Division crown right now, and it’ll be interesting to see how everything shapes up.

Then we get to the Rangers. They’re sputtering a bit, but they’ve tried to rectify that through huge splash moves. They started in early February by bringing in Vladimir Tarasenko, but they weren’t done yet. They capitalized on Chicago’s desperation to acquire Patrick Kane for a ridiculous sum that didn’t even include a first-round pick. They also added a depth piece in familiar face Tyler Motte and exiled Vitali Kravtsov to the Canucks in a cap dump to clear space for Kane. The goal is clear: Stanley Cup or bust. There’s no option C here.

The other New York team has been making moves too, but most were before deadline day. Right around the All-Star Break, they got Bo Horvat from Vancouver, and on deadline day, they got Engvall from the Leafs for a cap-dump discount of a 3rd round pick. The Isles are currently in a Wild Card spot and are storming the Metro after a disastrous start. They’re interesting going into the playoff push. Interesting.

The Pens made moves too, but they were mainly focused on adding depth pieces. They brought back the old playoff hero Nick Bonino and reached down to nab Mikail Granlund from the Predators. They were linked to JT Miller for a while, but their deal with Vancouver fell through, and the Pens came away with nothing. It might even be better in the long run. They’re on an absolute heater right now, and it might be best not to change that. A first-round loss to Boston in 6 awaits!

Washington is nearing the end of an era. They will retool this offseason and started it already by trading away Garnet Hathaway, Dimitri Orlov, and Erik Gustafson to contenders. They can still make the playoffs but have nowhere near the horses for a deep run. This offseason will be critical for maintaining their prolonged regular season success.

Then there’s the Flyers. Chuck Fletcher has a lot of eggs to deal with this deadline. Carter Hart, Travis Konecny, and James Van Riemsdyk were all rumored to be on the trade block. Did the Flyers trade any of these guys? No, because, of course not! Tortorella believes in old-school, hard-nosed tactics, and trading away potential franchise cornerstones isn’t a part of that. But that’s not to say Chuck Fletcher didn’t try. He had a deal in place with the Red Wings involving JVR, but talks broke down, and the Flyers filed the trade after the 3:00 PM Deadline. Well done, sir. This guy is going down as one of the worst GMs in NHL history, and this entire season backs up that claim.

Then there’s Columbus. They’ve had more issues this season than the Broncos in the football realm, and their shopping of top defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov backs that up. Apparently, they had several high-profile deals in place but balked in favor of sending him to LA in a package that included their best goalie in Jonas Korpisalo. They had to acquire Kings legend Jonathan Quick to make the trade work. However, after Quick stated that he wouldn’t even report to the Jackets after being banished to Ohio by Rob Blake, the Jackets quickly flipped him to Vegas for a ridiculous sum, and will you look at that, he’s spry and ready to play for the Golden Knights. Mission accomplished, boys. You get nothing. You lose. Good day sir. Kindly report to the draft lottery to also take the L in the tank bowl. God, this team can’t catch any breaks, can they?

Leading the Central is Dallas. They’ve had a bit of a slide lately and have been knocked off the #1 seed by Vegas. They haven’t done much, but their one move involved a nice top-six anchor in Max Domi. Hopefully, this will put them over the top and take them on a deep playoff run. It’ll be interesting to see how everything clicks when it comes to them.

Right behind them are the Minnesota Wild. Overcoming a slow start, they have surged back to contending status and have been busy this trade deadline. They started by trading away perennial underachiever Jordan Greenway to Buffalo and getting depth pieces in MoJo and Oskar Sunqvist. The Big Fish, though, came at the end of Deadline Day. They reached down and acquired John Klingberg from Anaheim for several picks. Klingberg is a good player and will bolster that defense for the playoff push in front of an increasingly overpowered Filip Gustavsson. Perhaps they can take this franchise to uncharted territory: The Conference Finals.

If they do, it’ll have to be through the Avalanche. They seem to have woken up from their cup hangover and are again making the rest of the league their piñata. For a team that has been this inconsistent this year, though, I’m surprised by the moves they made, or lack thereof. They did next to nothing at the deadline besides a random prospect swap with the Rangers. We all know what they can be if they click, but who knows? Dallas and Minnesota look excellent right now, and they’ll probably have to face both if they are to defend their title.

The Jets are in freefall. Once atop the Central Division in December, they have since nosedived to the point where they’re barely clinging to a playoff spot. The Jets’ thing has always been to go after a nice top-6 piece to bolster their scoring. This year, Nino Niettereiter was stolen from Nashville for several draft picks. He should be an immediate boost to their forward core and an excellent addition to pair with Wheeler, Schieffle, Connor, and co. Maybe they can win another playoff series this time.

Nashville is in an era of transition, and a soft rebuild is underway. There’s no doubt about it. This year, they were sellers at the deadline, and they did it in style. They traded away Nick Bonino, Mikhail Granlund, and Nino Nietereitter. Unfortunately, David Poile, the franchise’s only GM throughout its history, will be abdicating to the Eggman at the end of the year. He went out in a blaze of glory by committing highway robbery on Tampa for Tanner Jeannot and securing his retirement fund for the next 20 years. They probably won’t make the playoffs, but they had the best deadline possible. Nice work on that front.

St. Louis, this is the sound of your playoff-contending window slamming shut on your fingers. Many major pieces of the 2019 Cup Squad were shipped off weeks before the deadline for middling returns. These were guys like Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko. Come deadline day, the Blues added to the pile of lost souls by dealing Ivan Barbashev to Vegas for a bargain-bin rate. They did get Jacob Vrana from Detroit, but this is a hollow victory. Binnington will probably never get back to his peak form, and the entire roster has gone through a nuking over the last month and now has to deal with the fallout. This includes Craig Berube, who will probably find himself under a guillotine this offseason for reasons of the NHL shuffling through coaches like a deck of cards. We’ll see you back here in another 50 years.

ROLL IN THOSE BEAUTIFUL TANKS, THE SUN DEVILS, I mean COYOTES, ARE PLAYING SIX-DIMENSIONAL CHESS THIS DEADLINE. The latest genius strategy from the Disaster in the Desert is in attempting to assemble the 2014 All-Star team. They traded away Jacob Chychryun for scraps, gave Carolina Shane Ghostisperre for even less of a return, and took on dead cap like nobody’s business. The newest members of Arizona’s franchise mode crew? The contracts of Shea Weber and Patrick Kane and the LTIR tragedy that is Jacob Voracek. They join other Coyotes pressbox legends like Pavel Datsyuk and Marion Hossa to go back in time and contend for the Chel 14 title. And Bettman has the audacity to claim there isn’t tanking in this league. At this point, why even deny it? It’s beautiful for 31 other fanbases to witness. The Coyotes only have like eight fans anyway, so who even cares?

Another group of tank enthusiasts is the Blackhawks. Unlike Arizona and the clown show they’re dealing with, Chicago has gone for a more traditional approach. Trading away pending free agents Patrick Kane, Max Domi, and Sam Lafferty will do that. But Jonathan Toews he’s not getting traded. He wants to stay in Chicago! Translation: You get nothing. You lose. This is karma for Kyle Beach, guys. Get used to losing.

Vegas has been on a tear since the turn of the new year. The Golden Knights have regained their form from the beginning of the season and are showing no signs of stopping. Rather than go after big splash names this deadline, Vegas chose to bulk up by acquiring depth in Ivan Barbashev and trading away Shea Weber’s contract to the aforementioned All-Star team. They look dangerous going into these playoffs.

Close behind them are the LA Kings. Like they were expected to do, they’ve leaped into their cup-contending window in style. Unfortunately, this is not what they’re known for anymore. Let’s say they took a longtime face of the franchise and completely screwed him over. Jonathan Quick wanted to retire a King. He’s said it himself. So why on earth did they flip him to Columbus? A team he had no interest in playing in? And wouldn’t you know it, the Jackets flipped him to Vegas, so not only is he back in the division, but they will probably face him in the first couple rounds of the playoffs. This scandal will follow LA around for the rest of the season and enraged a good portion of the fanbase. Well done.

Then there is the Kraken. Their torrid start has tapered off, but they’re still a good team and are in playoff contention. The lifeless bore turned Jack Adams candidate Dave Hakstol has turned this team into one of the scariest in the West. These guys are exactly what a city like Seattle needs to embrace the Kraken, and some playoff games in April and May will do the trick on that front, too. In terms of deadline moves, Seattle did nothing. Perhaps they realized that there are flaws on the team and that it’s probably going to be a learning experience year for them, and decided not to give up assets for a team that will be doomed in the later rounds if they make it that far. Still a great season by expansion standards, though. Keep it going.

Edmonton has always struck me as a team one piece away from greatness. Their issues have never been in scoring but in being scored on. In defense, besides the pylon albatross of Darnell Nurse, there’s really not much else back there. The Oilers hope to fix that by bringing in a proven commodity from Nashville in Matias Ekholm. He should be an immediate boost to their top four back there and provide needed reinforcement and locker-room presence after Edmonton exiled Jesse Pullijarvi to Carolina for crimes against the Boys’ Club.

Calgary has horrifically underachieved this year, but that can all be fixed with some Playoff Hockey. Jacob Markstrom hasn’t been his Vezina self this year, and the Flames have fallen off with him. They didn’t do much this deadline besides nabbing Nick Ritchie from Arizona in exchange for his brother Brett Ritchie. It’s okay. They’ll just swap apartments now. Nothing to worry about.

The Canucks are not in the situation like the rest of the conference above them. They spent the deadline dangling JT Miller around like bait, only to refuse a trade to the Penguins at the eleventh hour. They are in a state where it’s in their best interest to lose to attain infamy with the first overall pick. The only good thing they did this deadline was acquiring Kravtsov from the Rangers for a cap dump discount.

The smaller-market California Teams are battling it out for who gets the prize of worst in the Pacific division. Up first is Anaheim. Instead of trading any former rangers who have been problems this year, they traded John Klingberg to Minnesota for peanuts. This was a horrible deadline for them, and it firmly cemented their place as this league’s greatest tank other than the Disaster in the Desert.

Speaking of disasters, the Sharks are begging not to be left behind in the tank race. Timo Meier had been rumored to be dealt for a while, and he eventually was to the Devils in a huge trade that didn’t even get any good prospects out of Jersey. There were rumors that they would trade Erik Karlsson, but talks fell through, and San Jose held onto him. They are in a long, arduous rebuild right now, and who knows when they’ll get out of it. Please free Logan Couture from this hell for all of us.

Girls Champs, Prep Runner Up in Northwood Tourney

The Girls Hockey Team with the championship trophy at the 2023 Northwood Invitational Hockey Tournament (Photo: Mr. Michael Aldridge).

The 43rd Annual Northwood Tournament was held February 10-12 at the Lake Placid Olympic Center. The tournament was held over three days and consisted of a Girls’ division, a Varsity division, and a Prep division. Northwood had three teams compete in the tournament, one in each division. Below are the division orientations for the tournament.

Girls Division


Boys Prep Division


Varsity Division


The Varsity team went into the tournament riding high off a 4-1 win the previous weekend. Even better, goaltender Drew Donatello returned from his bout with Mono to attempt to backstop them to glory. This would not be the case. The first game was a 6-5 barnburner, resulting in a Northwood loss. Two 4-1 wins would put the Varsity team back in the running for a championship berth, but they would ultimately lose 1-0 to C.P. Dynamo to cost them their berth in the finals in a game that was decided late after almost 40 minutes of no score. In Varsity’s division, Stanstead College’s U16 team won it all, defeating South Kent in the finals to secure the hardware. Captain Cam Abel said this about his team’s performance: “It was pretty good for us. We came out strong, but we lost our first game by 1, so that was tough, but overall we played some pretty good hockey. We struggled with scoring, but we had a pretty good tournament overall. Obviously not the result we wanted, but it was a good experience to play in front of our friends and family.”

Tournament Photo Album

The Girl’s team fared considerably better than Varsity. Sure, it may have been a light schedule, but the Huskies’ girl’s crew probably set some records in terms of what utter domination could look like. It started with an 11-0 rout in a game where they switched to a running clock as a mercy rule. The next two games were smooth sailing, resulting in 3-0 and 7-1 wins against Thetford and Nichols, respectively. Then, in the semifinals, they won 4-2 against Winchendon White, before facing Nichols again in the Finals and winning 4-1. The Girls’ team was the only one of the three Northwood teams to win hardware from this tournament, bouncing back from last year’s shootout loss in the finals to the same Nichols team.

Tournament Photo Album

The Prep Team, meanwhile, looked to be on track to winning the title at first. It went a perfect 4-0 through the group stages, with wins against Thetford (4-1), Mount Academy (5-1), the Little Flyers (5-3), and Nichols (4-0). However, another team had an undefeated record; their buddies from down south in South Kent. They also went 4-0, and the finals game was a good look at what happens when an almost unstoppable force meets an immovable object. They were defeated 3-2 in a game that felt nowhere near as close. South Kent’s defense was suffocating, and for a team that relied heavily on dump-and-chase, the Huskies sure got beaten to a lot of pucks.

Tournament Photo Album

Overall, though, it was a good tournament for all 3 teams, as they gear up for the home stretches of each of their seasons.

Humans of Northwood: Cam Abel ’23

“I started playing hockey when I was really little because my dad played in college. I’ve loved hockey since I started playing, I’ve always been excited for hockey season, and when I saw an opportunity to come here and play year-round, I decided to take advantage of it. I came midway through my sophomore year because my old team chose not to have a season because of COVID, so I decided I needed somewhere to go in January. My dad played with Mr. Spear in college, and that’s how I found out about Northwood, and I never looked back. I’m pretty happy I came.

“Just being in Lake Placid is pretty amazing. It’s also one big turn-on for the school that it’s here. I used to come up for hockey tournaments and loved it, and having the ability to be up here almost year-round has been really fun. I love the outdoors and being in a place where basically all you do is be outdoors – I love that! I love skating on the lake, hiking up mountains, and mountain day is pretty fun. It’s one of my favorite parts of the year. Last year I hiked up Marcy, and it was awesome. But yeah, just being in nature a lot and having the friends you meet in town, just doing all that has been fun.

“I’m going to Providence College [next year]. Hopefully, I will play club hockey there, but I’m really looking forward to being in the city. It’s a much different environment. It’s a pretty small college, so hopefully, it’ll be a lot like Northwood, where you know a lot of people and you sort of say hi as you pass them. Hopefully, I’ll have a good time there. I have no idea what I want to do after that. I’m excited for Providence.

“My hometown Williamstown [Massachusetts] is a lot like Lake Placid. Really small town with lots of tourists. College students make it interesting when they’re there. The town gains about half its population when the students are here, which is fun, and I couldn’t be happier growing up there. It’s a lot like here. You know everyone, it’s safe, you can be outside, your parents can just let you go free, and they don’t have to worry about you. I’m thankful I got to grow up in a place like that. Especially growing up, being able to use the college facilities, messing around on the turf, the basketball court, and the hockey rink has been pretty awesome. I’m lucky to have grown up there.

“In these last few months, I really want to focus on just the friends I’ve made here, finishing out the time with them, and just hanging out and enjoying my last little bit here because I’ve loved this place, and I mean, I would stay here another 3 years if I could. I’m finishing hockey season in a few weeks and playing some golf this spring. I want to enjoy the outdoors a little more. I want to have some fun with my friends and try and enjoy these last few months together.”

As told to Gus Garvey ’25. Photo by Mr. Michael Aldridge.


Kilimanjaro LEAP a “Once in a Lifetime Experience”

Photos from the second day of the LEAP Kilimanjaro NOC hike in January 2023. (Eric Adsit adsitmediaworks.com)

This past January, the FISU Games were held in Lake Placid. Northwood was used as a venue to house the participating athletes, meaning students would have to be off campus for a month. During this time, LEAP programs, which would usually take place in May, were offered in January. These January LEAP courses were heavily subsidized by the revenue from FISU, making them more affordable than usual. One of these trips was the Kilimanjaro LEAP trip. On this trip, ten students traveled to Tanzania with three faculty, a former Navy medic, and a professional photographer, and successfully made it up to the highest summit in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro. This article will tell the story in depth, day-by-day, not only of the Kili expedition but also of the other experiences that made this a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

The preparation for this trip started over the summer. Around mid-July, the loose details of the trip were shared with six returning Northwood students who had experience in the Northwood Outing Club from the previous year. All six expressed interest in the trip, and the majority selected January as the preferred date for holding the expedition. Come September, when more of the details were ironed out, LEAP Director Ms. Marcy Fagan invited other students who wouldn’t have athletic obligations during the January break. Ten students signed up, including myself.

Then training began, consisting of an initial run up Cobble Hill, behind the school, and progressed to hikes up various High Peaks, and later in the season, ski tours in the surrounding glades and up the Whiteface Toll Road. The final logistical issues, including required vaccinations, were settled in December. After a final briefing on the gear required, the students went off to break. The actual trip began on the morning of January 14th. Two flights beginning at JFK, with a layover in Nairobi, Kenya, before arriving in Tanzania at Kilimanjaro, made for an almost 30-hour travel day. Upon landing, the group traveled to the hotel, where we got a much-needed good night’s sleep.

On our first full day in the country, we had our final briefings on how the trip would go, provided by our guides with Boma, the company organizing our stay in Tanzania. We explored the neighboring town of Arusha, ate lunch at a local restaurant, and went to the Masai Market, where we gained some experience bartering for souvenirs. Afterward, we returned to the hotel, where the Boma guides did final gear checks to determine what the group would need to rent.

This is a good time for me to introduce the guides. Prosper, the head guide, had grown up on the mountain, starting as a gear porter, and gradually worked his way up the ranks, going to school and becoming one of the most knowledgeable guides on the mountain. Joining him were guides Tim, Chris, Joyce, and my favorite, Safara, who carried around a speaker from which he would play music throughout the trip. After being introduced to the guides, we went to bed, preparing for an early departure to the trailhead gate.

The following day, we finished packing up our gear and had roughly a 3-hour bus ride to the Londorossi Gate, the trailhead of the Lemosho Route, which we would take up Kilimanjaro. On Kilimanjaro, there are a variety of routes to reach the summit. The easiest route, the Marangu route, known as the Coca-Cola route for its popularity, approaches from the east and takes eight days; it is the only camp where fixed shelters house clients. The second-most popular, the Machame Route, takes five days and approaches from the Southwest. The Rongai Route is the only one that approaches from the North and uses separate camps from the rest. The Umbwe and Mweka routes come from the South and have the steepest verticals of the trails on the mountain. Finally, our route, the Lemosho Route, takes seven days, approaches from the West, and is the longest and most gradual of the routes. Lemosho also allows for the best body acclimatization to the high altitude, which is why our group chose this way.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After arriving at the gate, we ate lunch and then hiked a short 2 hours up to the “Tall Trees Camp,” gaining 2,000 feet of elevation in the process. This was the only one of our camps located underneath a tall canopy, and we saw groups of white monkeys jumping around in the trees above us as we arrived at camp. After eating dinner, we climbed into our tents and slept.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After an early breakfast the following day, what would end up being the longest hike of the trip commenced. On that day, we hiked 10 miles, gained 4,000 feet of elevation, and went to Shira 2 camp at 12,750 feet. We ate lunch at 11,000 feet along the way and crossed part of the East African Rift. We reached camp around 5:00 p.m. and got our first view of the summit soon afterward. This was also the first time we could see below the mountain at night; the lights in Moshi shone up to the camp as it was a clear night.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The next morning, we began the most challenging day up to that point. That day, we were to hike from Shira 2 camp to Barranco Camp, at roughly the same elevation. However, the route to get there would take us up to 15,000 feet, where we would eat lunch at the same elevation as the summit base camp, Barafu. This “climb high, sleep low” tactic helps the body acclimatize to the altitude. The route to the lunch spot, known as the Lava Tower, was almost straight uphill and took us about 5 hours to complete. On our final approach to Lava Tower, it began to rain, and by the time we reached our mess tent, it had changed to hail. The hail stopped as we finished lunch, and we were smoothly on our way down to Barranco by around 1:30 p.m. Our hike to Barranco took about 2 hours and involved a scramble down a waterfall and then a 2,200-foot descent to camp. We got in around 4:00 p.m. As we got to camp, we had a view down the valley and of the Barranco Wall, which would comprise a large part of the next day’s hike. We also got an even better view of the summit, including a vast avalanche crown (which also shows up on satellite maps).

At this point, one of our group members, Mrs. Carmichael’s husband, Chis, got sick, and our guides determined they could not continue. However, to leave the mountain, they would have to go up to the next camp, where they could access the descent trail.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The next day, we hiked from Barranco to Karanga camp, the last leg before Summit Base Camp. The hike began up the infamous “Barranco Wall,” the most technical part of the climb. “I thought it was very fun and tested our strengths since it was a couple of days in. It was one of my favorite parts of the entire hike. It was interesting how the porters and our group had to work around each other, but it was impressive how they could climb the wall with all the stuff on their back,” said Avery Novia ’24, one of the students who summited. The wall took about an hour to scramble up and over. The porters made it look easy; some did it without holding onto anything. It was a nerve-wracking part of the climb but also surreal to experience.

Once we made it to the top, it was a series of ups and downs in the pouring rain, culminating in a 600-foot scramble up to camp. We got in around 1:00 p.m. when the sun finally came out. We spent the afternoon lounging outside, taking photos in front of the sign at the camp, and playing cards. We even built a rudimentary bench (which consisted of two piles of rocks and a 2×4) at the camp.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On the final day before the summit push, we completed a short hike from Karanga to Barafu, the summit base camp. We gained 2,000 feet of elevation, which put us at 15,100 feet to start the final ascent. We lounged around that afternoon, and the sun came out again. Many people brought their sleeping pads out of their tents, lying on the flat areas near the campsite. That night, we ate an early dinner and had our final summit briefing from our guides. We went to sleep around 6 p.m. and got some rest.

Later that night, we were woken up around 11:00 p.m. and proceeded to the Mess Tent for tea and biscuits before our final push. We organized our gear and then began our push close to midnight. We started the slow climb up 5,000 vertical feet to the summit. Hour after hour, switchback after switchback, the wind picked up, and the dust swirled, illuminating in our headlamps. We reached Stella Point, outside the crater and on the same ridge as the summit, as the sun rose around 6:15. After a quick stop at the point, we continued to the summit.

The elevation gain from Stella Point to the summit is only about 200 feet, but it was the most mentally challenging part of the trip for me. Any uphill, even if it was a slight incline, felt horrible. Moving barely faster than a crawl, we reached the peak. Immediately, packs came off, and cameras came out. We took pictures on our own, then with the guides, and finally, a whole group picture with help from another group.

The mood at the top was not one of jubilation but of exhausted relief. Most of us were just happy that it was all over. As we began our descent, it still didn’t dawn on us what we had just accomplished. We got back to Barafu around 10:30, where we slept. We were awakened at 11:15 a.m. and got moving toward the descent trail. Like most other itineraries on the mountain, our descent trail was via the Mweka route. We would pass by Millenium Camp, at 12,000 feet, en route to the sprawling Mweka Hut Camp, where we would eat our next three meals, along with our last night on the mountain. When we arrived at Mweka Hut, everyone was beaten to a pulp. Some of the group’s older members, including NOC director Bobby O’Connor’s uncle, had their knees take a beating on the descent. We hung out at the camp until dusk and then slept at 10,000 feet.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The following day, we awoke, had a quick breakfast, and immediately got on the trail. Once again, we descended back into the canopy. After walking steadily downhill for around 3 hours, we reached the Mweka Gate, and our hike was finally over. We collected our certificates, proceeded to a souvenir shop, where we got lunch, and then moved to the hotel. We arrived there around 5:30 and chilled out for the rest of the night.

After a relaxing rest day at the hotel, it was back on the move two days later. This time, it was west, to the town of Mto Wa Mbu, where we would camp for the final night before leaving the country. When we got there, we did a day-long safari in the Ngorongoro Crater, where we saw 4 of the “big five” (Lions, leopards, water buffalo, rhinos, and elephants). We also saw other animals like Gazelles, Wildebeest, Hippos, Zebras, and Warthogs. Afterward, we went to our camp and set up for the night. The camp was a hotel in all but name and accommodation; we slept in tents, but all equipment, including food, was provided. There was running water and electricity in all the common areas, which included a bar, restaurant, and an infinity pool.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The following morning we left for the airport after lounging till around 11:00 a.m. Before leaving, though, we made one last stop at a souvenir shop and then made the 3½ hour drive to Kilimanjaro International Airport, back in Arusha. We flew out around 8:30, made a tight connection in Nairobi, had a 15-hour flight, and were stateside around 6 in the morning. After clearing customs, Mr. Weaver was waiting with a bus, and we were at school, moving into our rooms around 2 p.m.

All in all, it was an incredible trip. It was historic in terms of the magnitude attempted. All 10 students and 15 of the 17 in our group made it to the summit.

Those who summited in our group were, by seniority:

  • Captain Bill O’Connor, U.S. Navy veteran
  • Marcy Fagan, director of LEAP at Northwood and biology teacher
  • Tait Wardlaw, former Alaskan mountain guide and current Northwood parent
  • Bobby O’Connor, director of the Northwood Outing Club (NOC)
  • Eric Adsit, professional photographer and owner of Adsit Media Works
  • Finley Donahue ’23
  • Avery Novia ’24
  • Wyatt Wardlaw ’24
  • Ashley Guevara ’24
  • Brian Brady ’24
  • Gus Garvey ’25
  • Colton Cushman ‘25
  • Alex Randall ’25
  • Sophia Sherman ’25
  • Uma Laguna-Curtis ’26

Die, Eagles, Die: A Step-By-Step Guide to Losing a Super Bowl

Greetings, young fellow. Welcome to Glendale, Arizona, where the names in the building are hot and the temperature is even hotter. You’ve just witnessed one of the greatest Super Bowls of all time. But why did the losing team end up on the wrong side? Let’s hop into the metaphorical classroom for a moment and let me regale you on how Philadelphia blew a 10-point halftime lead in the Super Bowl to lose to a 1-legged quarterback.

The first part of the formula involves its offense humming along like a song. Apart from a fluke defensive touchdown by Kansas City (thank you, vaunted offensive line, for your expert protection on that play), everything went according to plan. 24 points were scored on that Swiss-cheese defense by halftime. Even better, the Eagles’ defense showed us the secret to their recent success by injuring the other team’s quarterback for roughly the 3rd time these playoffs.

Everything was roses and sunshine for Philly fans at halftime: up by 10, as Mahomes was injected with a black-market cocktail of painkillers and chucked to the wolves, where he scored a touchdown on the opening drive of the 2nd half, wait, what? This isn’t part of the script. So, we’ve got a game again, haven’t we? This is when the Birds’ offense continues its domination by marching into the red zone but stalls out and kicks a field goal. Injured Mahomes responds with another touchdown to take the lead.

Hey, defense? Are you gonna do something or what? Don’t just stand there and try to break his ankles again, Jesus! No, I didn’t mean your defense, Kansas City! Because of this misplaced encouragement, Philly did something that is all but verboten in a shootout like this; they punted. The penalties for punting are often severe in these games. In this case, it came in the form of a 60-yard return by Gettleman’s baby and an arduous 5-yard touchdown drive by Kermit the frog to extend KC’s lead to 8 points. This is where Sirianni probably threatened to put out a hit on the offense if they didn’t wake up, so cue a long touchdown drive with a 2-point conversion to tie the game up with 5 minutes left. Unfortunately, Sirianni failed to motivate his defense while making his sideline threats. They bend, bend, and bend as the Chiefs push into field goal range. However, with 1:48 left in regulation, the Eagles have KC on a 3rd and 9. Even better, Mahomes threw it incomplete! Now, what could ruin this?

A fringe holding penalty to give KC an automatic first down and let them burn the Eagles’ timeouts. Sure, the call itself may have been entirely valid, but the refs seriously chose this moment to interfere? When there was so much backlash after the ending of last year’s Super Bowl? Kansas City, predictably, boots the game-winning field goal, and Mahomes breaks the internet for no reason for approximately the 36th time this season. One of the most obnoxious fanbases in sports gets their laurels to lord it over the rest of us, while another obnoxious fanbase gets to loot and pillage their home city in their version of the Wells Fargo rage room. The only positive to come out of this is that I wasn’t wrong when I predicted the Chiefs to win in my Super Bowl preview. Eagles fans, this is called Karma. Now run off to Cancun with the rest of the fallen, you bums.

I have another pick-me-up under the mistletoe for you guys, too. The Eagles now join an illustrious group of teams to have a double-digit lead at halftime of the Super Bowl, and still lose. The other team to have earned this dubious honor. Yes, the architects of 28-3, and 2016 Atlanta Falcons. Now that’s some fine company. Eagles, you deserve this failure. Now go jump off a pier.

NFL: Eulogizing the Teams That Didn’t Make It

Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Yes, some made the playoffs and then faltered, but some missed the playoffs outright. These teams range from the glorious tanks to the mediocre, the injured, and the underachievers. Let us eulogize those that bowed out early this season.


New England Patriots

When Matt Patricia is your offensive coordinator, chances are you won’t make the playoffs. The haters and pundits were proven right this season and then some. To the delight of the rest of the league, the Pats were horrible and sluggish all season long. This included the worst play in NFL history made by the offense against the Raiders and the special teams imitating the Hindenburg in a season-ending loss to the Bills. That’s not the end of the laughter. Meet their new offensive coordinator. The legendary quarterback whisperer, Bill O’Brien! Buttchin is back, baby! Maybe he can ruin Mac Jones as he did Watson.


New York Jets

The Jets’ season went from shocking promise to another butt-fumble by losing 7 of 8 and six straight to close the year. The main culprit of its demise is, unsurprisingly, the offense. No one envies its quarterback situation. Its options are the Hollister model Zach Wilson, the ribless Mike White, or the washed-up check-down sensei Joe Flacco. They might have fired the offensive coordinator to improve it, but the faulty part in this machine has always been the one under center, just like the last 50 years of the Jets’ history. Robert Saleh has pledged faith in helping Wilson develop, but the Jets pick 13th in this year’s draft. Now watch them trade up and completely renege on this statement.


Cleveland Browns

Aren’t you guys so proud, Cleveland? You guys have officially one-upped the Raiders as the NFL’s resident penal colony. They bring in Deshaun Watson amidst a bevy of accusations, immediately sign him to a $300 million extension, and then watch as he gets suspended for 11 games, essentially tanking their season. Even when Watson returned, he was unsurprisingly out of sorts and rusty. No one feels sorry for them over this. Their high draft pick is now Houston property. Enjoy an offseason of hell.


Pittsburgh Steelers

This year was the rebuilding year for the Steelers; that cannot be denied. It’s disappointing to miss the playoffs via a tiebreaker, but this team has so much potential. That defense, just like the last few years, is stacked. I expect Kenny Pickett to make some strides next year, turn the Steelers into playoff hopefuls, and complete one of the fastest rebuilds in NFL history. Unfortunately, given its habit of not firing coaches, Matt Canada will be around next year to bumble around on the sidelines pretending to be a competent coordinator. The rest of the division thanks them for the trouble.

Houston Texans
Yet another year where the Texans imitate the tank of tanks by completely sucking at all things related to football. This year was another rebuilding year for them, which cannot be denied, but Houston was the worst team in the league by a country mile. It all culminated in a 32-31 win in week 18 to completely ruin their tank and fall to the 2nd overall pick behind Chicago. For his tank-destroying buffoonery disguised as a gutsy play call, Lovie Smith was fired after just one year, the second straight head coach for the Texans to suffer this fate. Bill O’Brien sold this franchise’s soul down the river, and it won’t recover for a while. Thanks to the Bears trading the first pick, I am enjoying missing out on Bryce Young.


Indianapolis Colts

This year for the Colts will go down as the year where it was exposed for the organization that it truly is. Frank Reich may have had his flaws, but he gave the Colts a calming, competent presence that served to veil the true nature of the organization. Reich was undoubtedly a reason why Indy was mired in mediocrity but firing him only exposed the true elements holding back the Colts. Let’s be real; they’re still the NFL’s Glue Factory. They haven’t learned a thing from the Luck situation, and Irsay is content with it being this way if he makes money and doesn’t get stripped of the team. It shows in who he brought in to replace Frank Reich: Jeff Saturday. A dude off of TV who had won a Super Bowl with the Colts, sure, but had never been a head coach past the High School level. The dude may have been a charismatic leader of men, but his tactics and game management were terrible, as everyone but Irsay predicted. He got hired as a yes-man and will probably be around next year, as Indy does the same thing. I feel bad for Chris Ballard. The team and roster he carefully cultivated over the past few years have been completely blown up by the previous regime ruining their franchise quarterback. He will also probably be out of a job next year. What a waste of a contending window.

Tennessee Titans

A team with a four-game lead in its division going into Thanksgiving usually makes the playoffs easily. Guess what the Titans decided to do. They lost seven straight to end the year after starting 7-3. Does ownership recognize the symptoms yet? This is a collapse for the ages. The ’18 Steelers and ’08 Bucs can only cringe in disgust at their failure. Their season started ominously, with Fat Randy choking the game against the Giants and getting massacred by the Bills the following week. Then, they rattled off 7 of 8 in a stretch that had them looking like Super Bowl contenders. Their one loss was with a backup QB to Kansas City.

Then, the collapse. They blew the game against Cincinnati after a lineman ran into the kicker. They got owned by the Eagles the following week, and ownership got so jealous that they fired Jon Robinson. It only got worse from there. Jacksonville destroyed their hope by lording over them and injuring Ryan Tannehill. They lost to the Texans in a game they were favored to dominate. They were dominated against the Cowboys in primetime and then lost on a defensive touchdown against the Jaguars to miss the playoffs. Titans fans can complain about how Dobbs’s arm was going forward all they want, but at the end of the day, the only ones they can blame are themselves. They deserve this failure. Now, it’s time to clean house. Their hack of an Offensive coordinator in Todd Downing has been deservedly axed, but I don’t think that’s enough. The issue with the Titans is Vrabel. Sadly, I don’t trust ownership to do the right thing this off-season. Once again, One Yard Short. Or about five on that last check-down they threw.


Denver Broncos

What a complete and utter disaster. A team hailed as a Super Bowl contender before the year was exposed for who they really were; the biggest frauds in the league. Russ’s cooking had worn off before he even entered the Mile High Kitchen. All he produced were burnt turnovers. In trading for him, they gave away the 5th overall pick in the upcoming draft to Seattle. You’d think his offensive play-caller would coach it out of him, right? Now try saying that about Nathaniel Hackett. The Hack was so bad in his brief stint as head coach that the fanbase castigated him after the first game, and then he was fired before the season was over.

You think the Football Gods would show mercy on them after this? Wrong. Ungodly amounts of injuries befell Denver to the point where they were dressing a rec-league team by the end of the year. Even Chef Russ himself went down with a scary concussion. The crazy part is they had the pieces to go far. They just grossly mismanaged them. Their defense was one of the best in football, but everyone else couldn’t do a thing to back them up. Here’s a telling stat. If the Broncos had scored just 18 points in each game they played, they would have finished the year 10-7. Instead, their offense sputtered around and imitated parking cones as defenses ate them alive all year. Now they have backed up a brinks truck onto Sean Payton’s driveway to salvage the situation. For the sake of everyone else’s sanity, I hope they fail. I need my laughs and punching bags.


Las Vegas Raiders

Well, I bet this was a disappointment for Raider Nation. Rather than keeping around the guy the team responded to in Rich Bisaccia, they went for a proven snake in Josh McDaniels. The results were predictable. Let’s be real: Vegas had next to no chance with that clown at the helm. He has ruined Derek Carr, and who knows where he’ll end up next year. This team is Al Davis’s corpse: rotting under the Vegas Strip and decaying into dust. Such a tragic end.


Washington Football Team

Yes, I know they’re the Commies now, but the memes of the Name Redacted franchise will never die. This year, their perennial failure to launch was brought about by a sluggish start and a furious push to make the playoffs, only to lose to the Cleveland Browns and get eliminated from the playoffs. Ron Rivera may have beaten the stuffing out of cancer, but his expiration date with the team has long passed. Do the right thing this offseason. Sincerely, the rest of the NFL.


Detroit Lions

Sure, they may have missed the playoffs in the end, but I don’t think many Lions fans are too upset over how this season went. They overcame a dreadful 1-6 start, storming back with an 8-2 swing, and only missed the playoffs via a tiebreaker. Even better, they swept the Packers for the first time in 5 years, knocking them out of the playoffs in Week 18. This offseason is going to be an interesting one for the Lions. They will pick 6th overall in this year’s draft, and it’ll be interesting to see what they do with that selection. At least they brought joy to us all by knocking out Green Bay. Speaking of which…


Green Bay Packers

The entirety of the football world dances on their grave. The Packers are uninspiring and mediocre once again. They technically were after getting embarrassed by the Niners last year, but Green Bay’s season was god-awful by their standards. They started 3-1, hope abounded, and then they lost 7 of 8 to knock them almost to the brink. Then, they rattled off four straight to make it to a win-and-in game against Detroit. They beat good teams on this stretch. They looked like a contender. And then they got flat-out exposed by a team that doesn’t have a great defense. This season leaves the Pack with more questions than answers. Yes, their young receiver talent showed promise last year, but Aaron Rodgers is upset and wants out for roughly the third straight off-season now. The Raiders and Jets are potential destinations, but who would want that baggage? The last time a Rodgers trade was rumored, he ended up staying put and signing a 9-figure extension. Green Bay better hope they can get something done in the draft, or he will be playing this year with one foot out the door.

Chicago Bears

Behold, everyone, the 2023 TANK BOWL CHAMPIONS!!! Fortunately for the Bears, they already have their franchise quarterback, so they will probably trade down, potentially fleecing a team desperate for QB help. Redemption for the 2017 draft, I guess? Regardless, this will be a massive off-season for Chicago. Their defense showed promise even after being gutted to hell and back, but their offense was flat at best. Their only means of achieving any moment were 60-yard scrambles by Justin Fields, and that’s just not sustainable. Get an interior line and wide receivers, and they’ll be good. Otherwise, it’ll be the same old ineptitude and tanking next year.


Atlanta Falcons

This season leaves Atlanta with more questions than answers. Things looked promising with a 4-4 start. They beat contenders. They would have been leading the division at their bye week if not for Grady Jarrett existing incorrectly in the same backfield as Tom Brady. Then, everything fell apart. Mariota got hurt again, forcing them to trot out 3rd round pick Desmond Ridder as their starter for the end of the year. He was revealed to be rawer than sushi. Incredibly skittish, making questionable choices and rookie mistakes, and needing serious development. They’re going to have an interesting draft. Drake London is less of a game-changer than Pitts and is also in need of development. I’ll await their choices this offseason.

Carolina Panthers

They tried. That’s all that can be said about their season. At 1-4, their season looked done after they got rid of Matt Rhule. Then, they finished the year in a .500 stretch and made Tampa sweat for the division title. The Panthers are at an exciting point. Darnold isn’t their long-term option, but they could trade up to get their quarterback in the draft. Steve Wilks, for his efforts, will not be around as head coach. Instead, they bring in their old quarterback, Frank Reich, to hopefully recreate the magic of his first few years in Indy. They’re interesting going into this off-season. Really interesting.


New Orleans Saints

Imitations rarely live up to the original, but that’s exactly what the Saints did in replicating last year. Like other seasons, they had a strong start, and injuries and Famous Jameis derailed their season. I said it when they got eliminated, and I’ll say it again: When Andy Dalton is getting first-team reps under center in this day and age, you’re done. They will probably go for a quarterback this draft, since Jameis has shown he isn’t ready to be their long-term answer. At least their defense looks good.


Los Angeles Rams

What a mess. The defending champs’ season was over by week 5- literally. Everyone remaining from last year’s Super Bowl got injured or underperformed dramatically. Matthew Stafford, their golden gunslinger under center, was knocked out of action with a neck injury and never returned to play. Their backup, John Wolford, copy-pasted Stafford’s injury, and he, too, was out for the year. With their 3rd string option in Bryce Perkins flopping, they were forced to claim Baker Mayfield off of waivers. He did okay, but the damage was already done. You think the injuries are done? Oh no, there’s even more of a price for that Super Bowl. Next up, their skill positions. Cooper Kupp went down with a high-ankle sprain. Ben Skowronick suffered the same injury. Aaron Donald was struck down midway through on defense and would never return to the field. What’s even worse? Typically, the Rams would receive a high draft pick considering how bad their season was. But remember last year, when they traded all their picks to buy rentals for their Super Bowl run? Guess who’s picking 6th overall in their place this year? Detroit. They laugh in the background as Stafford might not play another down. But they got their ring, though! That’s all that matters, right, Kroenke?

Arizona Cardinals

The injury bowl is a prestigious award that I give at the end of every football season. Unfortunately, I forgot to award it in my week 18 recap along with the Tank Bowl title, so this will have to do instead. Behold one of the most banged-up teams in the NFL. Their entire offense was suspended or injured for most of the year. It got so bad that they were forced to start Colt McCoy on multiple occasions. The coup de gras was Kyler Murray tearing his ACL on a non-contact play. And now he might not be able to play until the middle of the season next year, meaning he will be stuck on his couch playing Call of Duty instead of watching film. Cardinals, you can have no nice things. Kindly go back to being mediocre and uninspired.

A Flyover of the Western Conference at the All-Star Break

The west is much more intriguing than in years past, if only because there aren’t that many true favorites to make it out over the others. The playoff contenders in this conference are all relatively balanced, which should make for an exciting finish to the season. Here’s how the 16 teams in the west are doing this All-Star Break.


Dallas Stars

Dallas is experiencing what San Jose and Vegas did in their first years under Pete DeBoer. This Stars team has finally found the scoring touch that they’ve been lacking for the better part of a decade now. Dallas is one of the most electric teams in the league this year, with Jason Robertson emerging as a superstar and guys like Roope Hintz starting to come out of their shells as well, with several hat-tricks to boot. In goal, their brick wall from the playoffs in Jake Oettinger has chosen to maintain his stellar form by stopping everything in sight once again. They’re an exciting group headed into this playoff push. A deep playoff run might be on the menu if everything goes right for them.


Winnipeg Jets

I can’t tell if this team is legitimately good or if everyone is playing way over their heads. The scoring being dominant, I get, it’s Winnipeg, but the defense? Wasn’t that one of their more considerable weaknesses over the past few years? Having Connor Hellyebuck recapture his 2018 form helps with that, but the Jets have been giving their Vezina-caliber goalie more help than usual this year. They’re hitting a bit of a skid going into the All-Star Break, but barring a collapse, they should make the playoffs. Don’t even think about it, Jets.


Minnesota Wild

I need Minnesota to tell me what they are before I judge them. Are they the team that starts the year unable to play defense? Are they the juggernaut that rattles off 6 in a row? Or are they the mediocre squad that couldn’t hold onto a lead for their lives? So far, we’ve seen all three of these, and there’s no telling which version we’ll get for the second half of this season. They’ll probably buy at the deadline again, but those Parise and Suter dead-cap hits loom large. They might have convicted Chuck Fletcher of sins in absentia, but they can’t recover. Maybe they’ll win more than two playoff games this time around.


Nashville Predators

The Preds, despite all of the offseason moves, are still the mediocre washup that doesn’t want to admit the glory days are over. They’re still a talented team, but they’re by no means a cup contender right now. The west is too stacked for them to do anything this year, so their only options are to sell at the deadline or limp into the playoffs to get massacred by Dallas or Winnipeg. The catfish will rain down with impunity soon. Maybe they can make a chant about how much everyone besides Jusse Saros sucks this year.


Colorado Avalanche

Cup hangover? The Avs are still blacked out well into the next day if that’s the case. The whole team has had enough injuries to rival North Korea, but the team has struggled to round into form this year. They’ll have these moments where they look like the juggernaut of last season, only to lay a massive egg and fall apart against inferior competition. I’m not that worried, though. They’ll probably buy at the deadline, and even if they make it in as a wild card, they’ll still have a chance. We all know what can happen if they get rolling. The question is if they can figure out how.


St. Louis Blues

Nazem Kadri broke this team last year. This season has been nothing but toxicity and arrogance from the Blues, but they haven’t done a thing to back it up. Jordan Binnington is once again elite… in the antagonizing department. Taking cheap shots at unsuspecting players, trying to fight opposing goalies, and getting in the grill of other teams when they’ve done nothing wrong is a surefire way to end up on the good-guy list. The Blues have lost the fire they’ve had in seasons past, and the rumors swirling have them as deadline sellers, too. Craig Berube may be on thin ice soon, and Tarasenko and O’Reilly will probably be dealt this march for some peanuts. It’s too bad, St. Louis. You guys have one cup, and then you’re back to the incredible failure of years past. See you in another 50 years.


ASU Coyotes

Behold, the NHL’s rendition of the Chargers moving to LA! It’s easy to sell out every home game when you can only fit 5,000 fans in the “arena.” Even then, opposing teams’ fans still dominate the Coyotes’ games. This team is deep in a tank, and the only thing they’ll win this year would be Connor Bedard. Trade for Taylor Hall at the deadline. You can thank me later.


Chicago Blackhawks

Sadly, a team with Toews and Kane on the same line is as bad as the Blackhawks are. This team was supposed to take a step forward this year; instead, they’ve fallen to the point where they’re out-tanking the Coyotes. This is another team taking a deep dive for Bedard, and Toews and Kane are likely to get dealt to real teams come this deadline. Chicago is in a sports dark age right now, and it doesn’t look like the Hawks will help with their plight. Cheers.


Seattle Kraken

Now we’re seeing why so many people last offseason were so high on the Kraken. It’s taken a year, but the hype they had after their expansion has finally been realized. The most significant difference, though, has been in the net, which seems to be the piece that has fit the entire puzzle together. Last year, Phillip Grubauer experienced a massive regression, turning into swiss cheese and giving up endless goals to the opposition. This year, he’s recaptured the form that made him a Vezina finalist in Colorado. The rest of the team, and their young core, are starting to emerge to the point where they are leading the division going into the All-Star Break. Even the optimists didn’t see this out of them. Impressive.

Vegas Golden Knights

Early in the season, this team looked unstoppable. Vegas had all their injured guys back from last year, and Thompson was playing way over his head. Alas, they had to regress to the mean, to the delight of all hockey traditionalists against putting the team there. Vegas has lost control of the division to Seattle and are playing .500 hockey going into the All-Star Break. At least they’ll have those future considerations to cling to, as they will probably be a second-round exit this year.


Los Angeles Kings

I thought this team had what it took to make the next step this year. This year reminds me a lot of last year, except this time they actually have expectations of being more than a bottom-feeder. Their rebuild got a big shot in the arm this offseason by getting Kevin Fiala from Minnesota, and so far, he’s been everything he was advertised as at the beginning of the year. However, their Achilles heel this year is goaltending. Quick looks like he’s finally starting to fall off, and his replacements have been substandard. His backup, once given the starting role, was a dumpster fire. But Phoenix Copley, am I right? Nope. He was chased out of a game after giving up two to Nashville in the first 40 seconds. They’ll need to get that part of the machine fixed and fast. The grace period is finite, and the Kings will be at the end of it pretty soon. The bandwagon Angelinos will not tolerate more playoff futility for very long. The Ducks can tell you how that goes.


Edmonton Oilers

Wasn’t this team supposed to be good this year? I guess not. Unfortunately, you need more than one competent line and no overpaid albatrosses of defensive contracts to succeed in this league. McDavid and Draisaitl are beasting, but the rest of the roster has been lacking. That playoff run last year is looking more and more like a fluke. The Jay Woodcroft luster has worn off, and he has been revealed to be in the same boat as most Oilers coaches before. With how insufferable Oiler fans were last year during their run, no one feels sorry for them.


Calgary Flames

Cup contenders. We thought the Flames would be cup contenders this season. Why does this team take every single expectation and completely defecate on it? It happened last year when they got to face Mike Smith in the playoffs, and it’s happened before then in pretty much every other season. Remember over the summer when we were all fawning over Brad Treliving and his brilliance when putting together this year’s roster? Turns out we all drank the Kool-Aid on this team. The Flames have, once again, produced nothing in the regular season but horrific underachieving. They can’t even use not having Johnny Hockey as an excuse; he’s been horrible with Columbus since being traded. This team got carried on Markstrom’s back for most of last year, and it shows. I’ll await the inevitable first-round exit.

Vancouver Canucks

Typically, in this segment, I’d talk about how Vancouver failed to take off. I’d be talking about how the new management made the first good move of their tenure by fleecing the Isles for a rental in Bo Horvat. I would also mention how the underachieving of the core, in large part, led to the Horvat trade. That is all irrelevant. You can’t talk about the Canucks these days without mentioning BBQ Bruce. The way top brass dragged their feet when choosing to part ways and hung him out to dry for over three weeks is grounds for all the abuse under the sun. They realize the entire fanbase lost faith in them over this debacle, right? There’s zero trust in Aquilini and his minions to do the right thing anymore. The Canucks, even without Trader Jim Benning, are still being run by a bunch of clowns. This move is their magnum opus. Enjoy being unlikeable and mediocre for the next half-decade.


San Jose Sharks

The Sharks are roughly in the same predicament as the Penguins and Capitals. The only problem is that the fossils they’re keeping around have completely sucked instead of using necromancy to revive the glory years. Most of the team sucks this year, but the main culprit for this team is its goaltending — if you could even call it that. Devan Dubnyk retired before the season, so the Sharks have been stuck with an aging James Reimer and the perennial backup Kappo Kahkonen. In terms of performance and metrics, this is one of the worst goalie tandems in the league. The sieves they call defensemen aren’t doing a good job helping, either. Besides an unprecedented throwback year from Erik Karlsson that probably does nothing but increases his trade value at the deadline, there’s nothing back there. This team will be spinning the tires for a while, and the SAP center will continue to be a cavern on a nightly basis. Timo Meier and Kevin LeBanc will also probably be gone. Such a tragic end.


Anaheim Ducks

Picture the scene in front of you. A majestic tank comes rolling down the street toward you. You are already dazzled by its awe and might, but then it sprouts several limbs and appendages and turns into every field marshal’s dream. That would be the Ducks. Behold one of the most hilarious tank jobs this year in the NHL. The tanks are beyond rolling into view. It’s gotten to the point where they’re driving themselves off cliffs—such epic failure. The funniest part is that Anaheim treated the offseason like they were contenders. They saw the overachieving last year and decided to add to it. Adding all those former Rangers only turned Anaheim into a watered-down version of them. They were devoid of scoring touch and defense and were carried to their few wins by John Gibson. Even then, his back is close to breaking again from his imitation of Atlas lifting the Ducks organization. This team has been the worst in the league this year. It was so bad that they didn’t even get a regulation win until Thanksgiving. They haven’t scored more than five goals in a game all season. That’s near historical failure. It’s gotten to the point where the fans hope they lose so they can ruin Connor Bedard next season. Congratulations, you’re the 2014 Buffalo Sabres. Enjoy the rest of your pathetic season in limbo.


In terms of playoff predictions, it’s anyone’s race. The only teams that are really out of it are Chicago, the Sharks, and Anaheim. Everyone else at least has a shot. The divisional berths will go to Winnipeg, Dallas, the Avs in the central, and the Kraken, Kings, and Vegas in the Pacific. The wild cards are, well, wild cards. I see Minnesota and Calgary making it this year. See you at the deadline.

A Flyover of the Eastern Conference at the All-Star Break

I haven’t talked a lot about hockey this year. My main focus when writing these has been the cascade of football around every corner and the blip in the radar that was the World Series. However, the All-Star Break is upon us in the hockey realm. This is an excellent time to take a step back and look at the 16 teams in the East and where they stand. Every team is alive besides Columbus and Montreal, so it’s an intriguing time for the Conference. Let’s unpack it.


Boston Bruins

At the beginning of the year, I thought keeping the gang around for one more year was a colossal mistake for Boston. I had them missing the playoffs to give you an idea of how wrong I was. The only thing I’m doing now is eating heaps of crow, thanks to the Bruins reverting to 2019 form. The entire team is performing at a level we haven’t seen in a good bit. Pasta is raking, Charlie McAvoy has slotted in as Chara’s genuine replacement, and old man Bergeron hasn’t been a total liability. Couple that with a goalie tandem that is solid and doesn’t break, and you have an unstoppable wagon going into the bye. This team looks scary, but I wonder if they can keep up the gas until playoff time. Better teams than them have fallen off a cliff come April. Just look at the last few teams in NHL history that were playing at this pace and how they did.


Toronto Maple Leafs

The Leafs look to enjoy the last few years before cap hell in 2024 by hopefully making it past the first round at least once in that timeline. Toronto is boasting the best roster to have been iced by them in a long time. I’m not impressed. You see, we say that about them every year. They’re going to make the playoffs. That part is a given. The only thing I care about with these guys is the playoffs. Wake me up in April when they choke again.


Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa sputtered a little to start the season, but I’m not worried. They’re going to get third in that division, and if they even make the playoffs, they’re fine. They are similar to the Leafs in that the regular season has meant nothing to them for a long time. However, unlike Toronto, that is due to consistent success in the playoffs rather than repeated flopping and failure. However, with that said, they have looked much more mortal than in seasons past. It might be time for a changing of the guard soon.


Buffalo Sabres

Well, this is a shocker. It is mid-January, and the Sabres are in contention for the playoffs. Those words haven’t been uttered for a decade and a half. Buffalo managed to mostly avoid their trademark November collapse, mitigating its effect by having Tage Thompson turn into a demigod. Their roster is electric, and they’re an exciting team to watch going into the playoff push. The Bills may have diverted the city’s attention for a few months, but that has only distracted from how surprisingly good the Sabres are this year. Buffalo is entering an era of sports that we haven’t seen before. Let me put it to you this way. The last time the Sabres and Bills have both been on 6-game winning streaks at the same time was… never. This past January was the first time that happened.


Detroit Red Wings

I was wrong about this team at the beginning of the year. Contrary to being an absolute tire fire as expected, the Wings jumped from utter trash to mediocre in about a year. The Yzerplan is beginning to bear its fruits, but it’s going to be a couple of years before they can contend again. All in all, nothing else really of note to talk about.


Ottawa Senators

I had this team finishing 3rd in the Atlantic this year. What has happened to the Sens is a return to before 2017, when they had a bunch of skilled pieces that would never gel together. Pierre Dorian’s dream team isn’t even in playoff position at the All-Star Break and is spinning the tires of mediocrity this year. The only positive you could say is that they’re a team.


Florida Panthers

Behold, the self-proclaimed champions of the offseason! Because Matt Tkachuk solved all of your issues, right? How is trading two of the better pieces of your core working out for you, Florida? The Panthers, far from competing for the playoffs as was expected before the year, are currently on the outside looking in. You better hope you can rebound and catch up with Tampa and Toronto because you won’t make it in as a wild card with how stacked the Metro is this year. Perhaps Paul Maurice could resign again to spark the team.


Montreal Canadiens

“This is going to be different from last year, Habs fans. We’re going to be competitive. We’re going to make some noise, and…Nope, just kidding, we’re tanking! We suck! Ignore us, please! See you in six months when there’s a draft where we can win something besides a Slovakian draft bust!”


Carolina Hurricanes

This team was hyped to be the class of the Eastern Conference at the beginning of the season. So far, they haven’t disappointed. Carolina is playing at a level we haven’t seen out of them since their ’06 vintage. Every piece on their roster has been at optimal production, and the Canes are a wagon going into the All-Star Break. However, I must warn them. Another second-round exit will probably result in heads rolling in Raleigh.


New Jersey Devils

I had them making the playoffs before this year, but this was a bit of a surprise to me. After their torrid start, they are beginning to falter, but the Devils are still a strong team that boasts some of the best depth in the East. Jack Hughes is finally producing at the rate he was hyped to when he was drafted, and New Jersey is in a dogfight with the rest of the Metro in terms of playoff seeding. A playoff berth is likely in their future, but with how good their division is this year, I wouldn’t call that a given. Check back at the deadline.


New York Rangers

To say this season has been a roller-coaster would be like calling the explosion of the Hindenburg a minor malfunction. The Rangers started strong, as the Cup contenders they were supposed to be, but then hit a month-long slump. However, since Jacob Trouba chucked his helmet on the ice in that game against Chicago, the Broadway Blue have been on a tear and taking no prisoners. The Rags have finally started playing up to their potential despite choking enough to be mistaken for the Falcons. A 6-2 drubbing of Florida right before my writing of this is evidence of such.


Pittsburgh Penguins

Dear Yinzers, this is what it feels like to have a window close after perpetually wanting more. Yes, three cups won over this decade-long window of contention, but in between, it’s been disappointment and mismanagement. They had to deal with Dan Bylsma for a while. Sully is way past his expiration date and is holding the team back. This team’s hopes died when Burkie Boy decided to keep the gang around this past offseason to try and relive the glory days. Remember how that worked out for his Leafs and Flames teams of old? The same has happened here. The Penguins are a fringe-playoff contender and are more of a natural history exhibit these days than a hockey team. They had their moments in the sun, though. No one feels bad for them.


Washington Capitals

This is how we know that a new age is beginning in the Metro. The Pens and Capitals have taken their perpetual battle for playoff seeding and, soon, the draft position from the top two spots in the division to the fringes of playoff contention. At the very least, Washington still has some stuff left in the tank this year. They’ve put together some outstanding performances, and old man Ovi hit the 800-goal mark. I’m interested to see if this Caps team can get it together and make noise come April and May, but this is good enough for now, considering the expectations before the season.


New York Islanders

I remember hearing all the excuses about why the Isles missed the playoffs last year. “Oh, but the new arena!” “We had a monthlong road trip and had the least rest!” Everyone got covid and derailed our season!” “Barry Trotz must have been holding us back. Lou knows what he’s doing”. What’s your excuse now? Maybe it’s time to accept that the Islanders’ two deep playoff runs may have been lightning in a bottle, pun intended. The reality is that this team is mediocre, lacks talent outside its first line, and was getting carried by Sorokin earlier in the year. The magic has seemingly run out. The Isles are currently on the outside looking in at the playoff picture, and as a fan of a division rival, I hope they stay that way. Let’s see who they will desperately overpay for this— Bo Horvat? For two starters and a first?!? Dear god, Lamoriello, get a grip!


Philadelphia Flyers

This team has exceeded expectations this year. They are solidly mediocre instead of the tire fire we expected. This is a team that caters to John Tortorella’s strengths. Not that much talent, but many good depth players buy into his system and play as a fleshed-out unit. The lack of said talent is why the Flyers aren’t competing for a playoff spot. Still, given how badly Chuck Fletcher mangled the roster this past offseason, I think anything besides a total disaster is a pleasant surprise for Flyer fans. They have real teams to root for in Philly.


Columbus Blue Jackets

Replacing Philly as the resident Metro division tire fire is Columbus. Dear god, they are awful. I had them pegged for mediocrity this year, but I didn’t think they’d be dead last in the Eastern Conference halfway into the year. The entire season has been a complete trainwreck for them. Their big free agent signing in Johnny Hockey has morphed from a young star exuding confidence to one showing up at press conferences looking like the living embodiment of Ohio. His production hasn’t been much better, either. In addition, we probably need to send out an amber alert for Patrick Laine… wait, never mind, he’s probably just at home playing Fortnite because there’s nothing better to do in a college town like Columbus. The Jackets were supposed to compete for playoffs this year, yet they’re out-tanking the Sharks and Coyotes. That takes skill to implode like that.

NFL Playoff Aftermath and Super Bowl Preview

The amount of salt harvested from NFL fan bases this season would be enough to melt every flake of snow off Whiteface and the rest of the high peaks. Before we get to the two finalists for Lombardi, let’s see how everyone else did.


Seattle Seahawks

Going into Santa Clara hungry for blood, they weren’t given much of a chance, to begin with. I’ll give them credit for keeping it close for three quarters, but this game still isn’t that painful for Seattle. They did much better than expected this year and have solid players at every position besides quarterback. This off-season will be very intriguing as to the future of this team. They’ll pick fifth overall in this draft. It’ll be interesting to see what they do with that pick.

Los Angeles Chargers

Leave it to the Chargers to take a gift situation and defecate on it, thanks to the clowns running the show. Let’s not lie to ourselves. LA choked because of the guy with the universal headset. They can fire all the assistants they want, but when a supposed defensive mastermind chokes a 27-0 lead in a game they were dominating, heads at the top need to roll. I have no confidence in LA doing anything of note with Staley at the helm. His faux analytics and fraudulent defenses won’t win a thing. I need another article to discuss the Chargers’ problems in more detail. For now, though, all 13 Charger fans can cry themselves to sleep.


Miami Dolphins

I would usually have sympathy for a team in Miami’s situation going into the playoffs, but the blame for their predicament lies squarely on team management. If you hadn’t guessed by now, Tua was out of this game with roughly his 4th concussion of the season. That Cincy game broke him and turned him into a vegetable. His future in doubt, the Dolphins were forced to trot out Skylar Thompson at quarterback for the wild card game, on the road, in Buffalo. In a game where the Bills looked horrible and sloppy all game long, Miami couldn’t capitalize. Good. The 7th seed shouldn’t exist, and if the 7th seed manages to win a game sometime these next few years, the NFL will have an excuse to continue it. Miami has promise, but Tua’s health will be the key to any prolonged success.

Minnesota Vikings

This team has been dancing through the raindrops all season long. Against weaker competition, they could get away with winning because of a drive or two at the end of the game. Weren’t close games supposed to be right up their alley? How did the New York Giants, a team that historically sucks with two minutes left, out-clutch them on the road? It’s fitting how Minnesota died, with a checkdown on a 4th and 8 in man coverage. The unfortunate thing is that the 4th down will be Cousins’ legacy with the Vikings, like Farve throwing the interception and Blair Walsh missing that kick. Another painful notch on their ringless history.


Baltimore Ravens

This would have been a good game if Lamar had been playing. Even with Huntley in, Baltimore stayed in it, thanks to outstanding defense. It was carrying so much that the Ravens were leading at halftime. Unfortunately, this is where the offense decided to self-destruct at the worst possible time. It’s a tie game at 17, and Baltimore is at the opposing goal line. How about a fumble by Huntley on an attempted QB sneak, leading to a 99-yard runback for a Cincinnati touchdown?! Even with the Bengals repeatedly trying to hand them the game, Baltimore couldn’t capitalize, costing Greg Roman his job. It honestly happened six weeks too late. Good riddance.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

As a New Yorker, it brings me immense joy to say this to a Tampa team: You’re done. You suck. Tom Brady will leave this offseason, and Tampa will have to scramble for a new option at quarterback. The only reason they even made it into the playoffs is that the rest of their pathetic division sucked even more than they did. Tampa is soon going into a sports dark age, and this game is more proof. I have no sympathy. How’s that for a boat parade, you entitled Floridians?


Jacksonville Jaguars

This is one of those losses you feel proud of if you’re a Jags fan. Sure, they may have lost to Mahomes throwing off one leg, but the Jags had such an impressive season by their standards that nothing else matters. This is going to be a massive offseason for them. Lawrence has made strides since the Urban Meyer disaster, and the Jags will be good for a few years. I’m proud of them, in a way.


New York Giants

This team was punching above their weight all season long. It’s one thing to face a team like Minnesota but another to face a juggernaut looking to make a statement. If Philly was the locomotive, New York was the unfortunate soul tied to the tracks. In a thunderstorm. The Giants were utterly outclassed in this game, but I don’t think many of their fans are that upset over it. They did much better than expected and had to face a team with things like “talent” and “expectations.” The results were predictable. This is going to be a very telling offseason for them. They’re staying the course with Daniel Jones and Saquon for now. Get him weapons to catch the ball, and he’ll be better next year.


Buffalo Bills

I was wondering when the Jenga tower was going to collapse. Three months straight of playing uninspired football against mediocre teams? They had trouble taking out Skylar Thompson, but then, unfortunately, they had to face a team that wasn’t starting a practice squad QB. They met one of the QBs that might be better than Allen. Even then, there’s nothing to be mad about. There was no choke; there was no ref controversy. The Bengals were just the better team, and they showed it all day long. This may have been their best shot at a Super Bowl, and it sucks that they’re out, but with the ungodly number of injuries and other hijinks this season, I’m not that surprised. Hey, but they lost by 3 scores for Damar Hamlin! Go draft more useless defensive ends this April. It helped this game, didn’t it, guys? And also fire both coordinators.


Dallas Cowboys

Hooray, you won a playoff game. What do you want, a medal or something? You beat an injury-riddled team playing a 46-year-old quarterback in one of the ugliest games I have ever seen. That game deserves an asterisk beside it. Unfortunately, you then had to play a real team. Are you trying to become the Washington Capitals or something? This is the 9th straight playoff appearance where they’ve failed to make it past the second round. That last play alone, just like last year, if you recall, should be enough to fire McCarthy and Moore into the sun this offseason. But, knowing Jerry Boy, he’ll stand pat and refuse to do anything because he’s making money. What a waste of Dan Quinn’s defense. They played their hearts out this game and then some.


San Francisco 49ers

Even when you overlook the ungodly number of injuries for San Fran in the first quarter, they probably still would have lost this game even if they had their full 53 from the start of the year. They were nowhere near the level of the Eagles. Philly did what they had to do on offense, and their defense dominated all day. It’s ironic how they could finally play a complete and efficient game against a team begging for mercy. I know this run was house money because of their quarterback situation, but this is anticlimactic. This game shows they need more, but where do they get it from? Brock Purdy? Possibly. Just take it as a learning experience. They did very well this year. I have a feeling they’ll be back here again.


Cincinnati Bengals

I know you probably think my first instinct will be to blame the refs for this and call it a day, but in reality, this game needs a deeper dive than that. The Bengals may have gotten screwed over by the officials on quite a few occasions this game, but they still had their chances and failed. Think about it for a second, and you will see that Refball was not the leading cause of death. Is the entire fanbase turning into arrogant twelve-year-olds leading up to the game? Their fault. Burrowhead? Their fault. The mayor making a proclamation declaring Burrow to be Mahomes’s father? Their fault. Their offense being lifeless during the first half? Their fault. Chucking 60-yard prayers on 3rd and short two times in the 4th quarter? Their fault. Their rookie linebacker pancaking Mahomes on a late hit and giving them the win. You already know what will be said. Sadly, this team is more gross and unlikable than the Chiefs now. Do you know how hard that is to do? NFL, congratulations, you have your manufactured drama and storylines for the Super Bowl. As for Eli Apple? Cancun on 3, buddy. Perhaps you could learn to cover a bar tab better than opposing receivers, but I have my doubts.


The killing fields are strewn with the blood and guts of the fallen. Let’s see who rises from the ashes in the AFC.


Kansas City Chiefs

Really? All of the alleged parity this season, only to have these entitled fans blessed with yet another Super Bowl berth? Hasn’t this team been given enough over the past five years? Think about it. Look at all of the special teams this season. Teams coming out of nowhere, groups looking to end painful ringless legacies- and then the Chiefs. They are the jobbers who don’t care for any storyline that isn’t theirs. Jacksonville hadn’t been to the playoffs in five years, likable to the core, and had one of the best bounce-back seasons we’ve seen in recent history? Dead on arrival. Once the lovable underdog turned juggernaut, Cincinnati loaded at every position, searching for their first Super Bowl? Oh, they fell to their blade painfully, didn’t they? They are far from the likable, hard-luck team of 2019 that everyone was happy to see win it all. They are football’s version of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The perennial juggernaut that makes mediocre roleplayers look godlike, dominating their conference and pulling incredible voodoo magic to make their third Super Bowl in four years. The reasons behind this run aren’t exactly secrets. Their quarterback needs no introduction. Patrick Mahomes has been playing on a bad ankle the entire postseason and has been good enough to keep the Chiefs in games. Most of his weapons from years past may be gone, but they’ve been replaced by castoffs looking to make a name for themselves. MVS and midfield logo TikTok star Juju Smith-Schuster was brought in in free agency. A midseason trade for Gettleman’s baby Kadarius Toney bolstered this core even further. However, unlike past seasons, their wideouts aren’t the show’s stars. That award goes to another one of their weapons, one that has emerged as a superstar this season: Travis Kelce. This man is the heartbeat of the Chiefs’ offense and is nearly impossible to cover.

Opposing defenses can only shudder when he lines up opposite them. At running back, they are aided by budding star rookie Isaiah Pacheco. He has been wearing #10 this season after Tyreek Hill left. Let’s say he will start filling his shoes these next few years: blazing speed, running with authority, and the ability to catch out of the backfield when needed. He has been an elite pickup for Mahomes this year. Their offensive line is sturdy and is highlighted by guys like Creed Humphrey and Orlando Brown. Their defense has improved considerably this season. Their D-line is imposing their will this year, led by Chris Jones, Frank Clark, Melvin Ingram, and veteran Carlos Dunlap. Willie Gay has done an excellent job anchoring the linebacker core. They shut down the Bengals effectively in the secondary, even without their top safety in Lajarius Sneed. At kicker, the successor to Gostkowski is the cyborg kicker Harrison Butker. It’s a team built for January, but they will now face their biggest test.


Philadelphia Eagles

I’ve had some takes this year that have aged very poorly. I picked the Colts to win the AFC South. I had New Orleans making the playoffs. But I think this next one might take the cake. The Philadelphia Eagles have made the Super Bowl. The team I called soft, mediocre, and overrated in my season preview is the front-runner for the NFC. I was harsher than most on the Eagles before the season, but to be fair, no one saw this performance out of them. Everyone had them making the playoffs, but not like this. I’d say the point when I realized they were legit was when they took Dallas out back and sent Cooper Rush back to his spot on the bench. Philly was a machine all season, but the pieces weren’t that well-known before the season. At quarterback is the former 2nd round pick Jalen Hurts. When he was benched by Alabama in the title game a few years ago, many people thought that would be it for his professional prospects. Not so fast. Hurts has been playing on a level this year rivaled by few, and his dynamic, dual-threat style of play keeps defenses on their heels for all 60 minutes. Hurts has been great this year, but it’s worth noting he wasn’t as good last year. What was the difference? An elite wide receiver. Last year, he had to throw to an inconsistent and often handless Jalen Reagor as his 2nd option. Philly took advantage of Jon Robinson’s idiocy to go out and get a superstar- AJ Brown. Other teams can only dream of how he opens up the passing attack. Another weapon at his disposal is Devanta Smith, another player from that ’18 Bama crew that has emerged as a solid #2 option this year and then some. At tight end, a late bloomer in Dallas Goedert, playing the best football of his career in his 5th season. Their running game is by committee. In addition to Jalen Hurts’ designed running plays, they have a solid back in Miles Sanders, who has re-emerged to be a dynamite bellcow, harkening back to their Super Bowl run from 2017. In a timeshare with him is Boston Scott, a former 6th-round pick who has been solid his entire career, but this year, he’s been utilized in a way no one else could. They have the best offensive line in the league, with Jason Kelce anchoring it at center. Their quarterback sneaks are nearly unstoppable, even when it’s obvious what’s about to happen. This makes 4th and short almost a gimme for them. Their defense has turned the clock back to its shutdown days as well. Their defensive line boasts veterans Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Javon Hargrave, and Josh Sweat. Depth acquisitions of Ndamukong Suh and Robert Quinn around the Trade Deadline made it even deadlier. Their linebackers are imposing and are Swiss army knives at their position. Hassan Reddick anchors it, flanked by TJ Edwards and Kazir White, rounding out one of the best front 7s in the game. Their secondary? Loaded. James Bradberry and Big Play Slay are covering the edges. Safeties Marcus Epps and CJ Gardner-Johnson are roaming around back there as well. Avante Maddox as nickel corner. It’s a group that does enough to aid the electric offense, but it’s been finding ways to beat teams on their own these past few weeks. They’ve given up 14 total points these playoffs. Granted, they faced the Giants and a 4th string quarterback, but those are still impressive numbers. Philly, in this game, will be looking for closure. Not for their first title. They got that one five years ago. It’s on the sidelines. Almost 20 years ago, the Eagles made their first Super Bowl, only to fall on a final drive to Tom Brady and the Patriots. Who was the Eagles’ head coach for that Super Bowl run? Oh yes. Andy Reid. This team is a juggernaut, and I’m hoping for a good game. With that said, let’s take a closer look at the actual matchup.

Game Preview and Prediction

In my opinion, what this game will come down to will be Patrick Mahomes against the Eagles’ defense. Mahomes has looked iffy and mortal these past couple of weeks, and he will get no favors as he’ll get to face a unit that has ruined many other quarterbacks this year. You cannot deny the power of the Chiefs, though. I think this game will come down to the wire and result in a 31-28 victory for Kansas City. Philly, you may kindly begin greasing the streetlamps.

NFL Playoff Preview

The best time of the football season is upon us. January is a special time in the NFL. The expanded playoff format doesn’t seem to be doing any better. Let’s review the 14 teams vying for this year’s Lombardi trophy.

Miami Dolphins
Since its inception, the 7th seed has only served to be the slot for a mediocre squad to make it in and get curb stomped by a real team upset over losing their first-round bye. This year, the Dolphins are the NFL’s honorary whipping boy. Injuries have ravaged this team, like the Potato Blight on Ireland, and they get no favors as they are running into a steaming hot Bills team looking for the next sacrificial lamb to beat up on. Knowing the Dolphins, they will probably load Tua Tagovailoa up on enough painkillers to knock out an elephant, only for Matt Milano to give him his fifth concussion of the year. If Skylar Thompson is their starter, lord have mercy on their souls.

Baltimore Ravens
Much like last year, this team is a morgue of injuries again. Unfortunately, they had a cakewalk schedule to close out the year this time, meaning Baltimore managed to sneak in with a 10-7 record. The biggest question with this team is Lamar. The Ravens have a chance if he’s healthy and ready to go. If not, just like everything Poe loved, the team would get Tuberculosis and die again.

Los Angeles Chargers
I expected this team to straddle .500 like a mechanical bull, but LA surprised us all by going on a winning streak to end the year to make the playoffs with a 10-7 record. Sure, that winning streak may have been against terrible teams or teams that self-destructed. Yes, they lost to the Broncos. Yes, their defense is still injured and unreliable. The fact that the Chargers even made it should be a cause for celebration, but I can’t root for them. Any success from them this year will only be further justification for ownership’s laziness in keeping Brandon Staley around. Sorry, he doesn’t wow me.

Jacksonville Jaguars
Like I said in the Week 18 Recap, the Jags are an exciting team going into January. Sure, they have their flaws, but they mask them with good situational football and by playing as a team. This team competed in one of the first tank bowls I did, and now they’re competing for Lombardi. This year might not be their year, but it’ll be a learning experience for Lawrence and that young defense. Beating the Chargers could be a start. No one will blame them if they get whooped by Kansas City afterward.

Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals did considerably better than I thought they would this year. I figured the hangover from losing in the Super Bowl would hurt them. To be fair, it did, but then the team woke up and began rattling off wins. They’ve won 8 straight going into the playoffs and are an exciting team to watch. For my sake, though, I hope they lose in the first round. I’m scared of them.

Buffalo Bills
With all of the things that Buffalo went through this season, no one would blame them if they didn’t make it to the Super Bowl this year. Unfortunately, this is where my condolences end. This is easily the most complete team the Bills have fielded in a very long time. The offense needs no explanation. Josh Allen slinging the ball to much success, with Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis wreaking havoc in opposing secondaries. Their running game has finally come alive for a somewhat underrated two-headed attack led by Devin Singletary and budding star James Cook. The Bills’ time to win is now. In two years, they’ll have to pay everyone. Micah Hyde might be back, too. It’s also only a matter of time until the fanbase grows restless from repeated failure in the playoffs. The time is now for them to get the monkey off their backs. A deep run is expected out of them, at minimum.

Kansas City Chiefs
Hooray, yet another year where the Chiefs are kings of the AFC, said no one outside of Missouri. I had the Chiefs winning that division again this year, but I didn’t think it would be as much of a blowout. I figured they would take a step back after losing Tyreek Hill. I was unfortunately proven wrong. Kansas City is imitating a certain Evil Empire of years past by filling the missing slots with decent roleplayers to help Mahomes thrive. The defense, though, is a concern. It has been between wet plywood and seaweed for most of the year. Unless the offense is otherworldly this postseason, they will look much more mortal than in years past. When they do fall, and it’s not if, it’s when, since nothing lasts forever, 15 conference rivals will be dancing on their graves. Please happen soon.

Seattle Seahawks
You probably think I’m going to throw the book at this team for straddling mediocrity like a mechanical bull, but I respect the Seahawks. They’ve surpassed the preseason expectations and then some just by getting here. Geno Smith is finally in a system that suits him, and he’s developed into a serviceable quarterback who has quickly become a fan favorite in the Emerald City. That defense is also pretty stout, too. These guys are playing with more house money than anyone else in the tournament this year, and they will pick in the top 5 thanks to Denver’s desperation to get a quarterback. Even then, they’ve limped into the postseason and only got in because Green Bay self-destructed. Enjoy being cannon fodder for the Niners in Santa Clara.

New York Giants
The Giants are evidence of what good coaching can do to a team. Brian Daboll is the NFL’s equivalent of Ted Lasso – if Ted Lasso was coaching a sport he knew something about. The dude seems like he could motivate a snail to run like Usain Bolt, and he has the G-Men playing as a proper unit and thriving in the chaos. Word of advice: try not to be too reliant on Daniel Jones this time. The last time a Daboll QB made his postseason debut was… well, the lateral. Bills fans do not speak of that game.

Dallas Cowboys
To the chagrin of everyone else in the league, the Cowboys are in the playoffs. Not only are they the Cowboys and just hated by default, but Dallas has limped into the postseason, laying some massive eggs against teams like… the Commies. The Cowboys must not go to Tampa Bay and defeat Brady. I don’t know who to root for in this match. Regardless of the outcome, America as a whole loses. We either have to deal with the Cowboys winning a playoff game and robbing us of glorious memes or Tom Brady. God help us all, and speaking of which…

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There’s a feeling in the air. It’s eerie, but it’s hilarious at the same time. You don’t belong here. Why didn’t we revoke the NFC South’s playoff spot and give it to a team like Detroit or Green Bay? Enough complaining from me, though, this team has one job, and it’s to bring joy to us all by humiliating Dallas again. And then getting their butts whopped by Philly or the Niners in the second round.

Minnesota Vikings
I don’t want to hear the “oh, we’re 13-4” nonsense. This team’s record is inflated. Their wins have come against some of the worst teams in the league. When they win, they do it unconvincingly at the last minute, with a combination of ridiculous luck and Greg Joseph freeing himself from the shackles of Zimmer and turning into one of the most clutch kickers in the league. Minnesota has a tall task in facing the Giants. They will win on the final play or get blown out of the water. There is no middle ground here.

San Francisco Giants
In my opinion, this is the scariest team in the league going into this postseason. San Fran has such a sound system that they could put James Corden in at fullback, and he’d still rush for 100 yards in a game. Their defense is stacked. All 11 guys on the field are insanely clever, buy into their coaches’ scheming, and also happen to run like cheetahs. That defense is the backbone of anything the Niners do this year. They’re the consensus pick to make it out of the NFC this year, but with a rookie quarterback, you never know what could transpire.

Philadelphia Eagles
Behold, everyone, the supposed class of the NFC… according to everyone within Philadelphia city limits. The Eagles started the year strong but have struggled immensely to end the year. They started 13-1, only to lose 3 of 4. Fortunately, they had enough cushion to barely hang onto the #1 seed and get a much-needed bye week for Hurts to nurse his banged-up shoulder. These guys might be dead men walking after these past few weeks, but you have to remember that the last time the Eagles were the one seed, their season played out the same way, and they ended up winning the Super Bowl with a backup quarterback. Gotta keep all options open, especially with Sirianni.

I will try something a little different, and I will predict the wild card round in this segment in addition to my super bowl matchup prediction. This is mainly because I’m tired of having to eat crow, and this weekend is so lopsided that there are only one or two picks that I could get wrong. I’m picking the Niners, Buffalo, and Cincy from the more prominent games to go through. Now for the toss-ups. My picks for the closer games are the Jags edging out the Chargers, the Giants finding a way to beat Minnesota, and the Cowboys getting humiliated on Monday Night by the Buccaneers.

For my Super Bowl matchup, you probably know where this is going. Bills vs. 49ers in a fight to the death. The high–powered offense against the high-powered defense in San Fran’s second home in Arizona. If you’re reading this, Justin, I want a full written apology for ballyhooing about the Niners so much if my prediction turns out to be wrong on the NFC side. Cheers.

The Mirror was established in 1927
© 2015-2022 by the Staff of The Mirror
The Mirror's Policy Manual and Style Guide.
The Mirror is funded by gifts to the Northwood Fund. Thank you.

%d bloggers like this: