The nineteenth week of the Tri-City Record’s annual Armchair Quarterback competition has been contested, as our pigskin diehards attempted to pick the winner of eight collegiate bowl games and two professional games that occurred. In terms of final records, our panelists always strive to put on a winning performance, which they hope will lead to more green checkmarks (wins) than red crosses (losses) on their weekly examinations.
When all was said and done, a slight majority of our expert pickers mostly received positive reviews, as four of our six gurus took home winning records to end the calendar year. Our contest has only five weeks of games remaining and every position in the overall standings are still for the taking!
Recapping the games from week nineteen of our competition, the third week of bowl season for college football was played, with a total of twenty-four games having been contested. However, the biggest game for local fans saw Michigan play Alabama in one of the CFP Semifinals at the Rose Bowl, and what a magical game it was. Down seven late, the Wolverines (14-0) scored late in the fourth quarter to tie the game, before scoring in overtime to take the victory, 27-20. They move on to face Washington for the national championship next Monday night. In another game of note, Notre Dame took on Oregon State in the Sun Bowl and the Fighting Irish finished their season with a dominating victory over the Beavers, 40-8. Notre Dame finished the season with a record of 10-3.
Finally, in professional action, both of our local teams, the Chicago Bears and the Detroit Lions, took the field last weekend with just two games remaining in their regular seasons. First off, fans of the Lions (11-5) are probably still steaming mad after the result of their game in Dallas on Saturday night in which the Cowboys won, 20-19, but it has spurred plenty of controversy over officiating between fans and pundits, alike. Meanwhile, fans of the Bears (7-9) must be happy for two reasons this week – they not only put up a 37-17 home victory over the Atlanta Falcons (which is their fifth straight at Soldier Field), but thanks to Carolina clinching the worst record in the league this year, the Bears will earn the #1 pick in this spring’s NFL Draft.
When the final whistle blew and all the scores were verified, the best mark of the last seven-day stretch stood at 9-1. That record belonged to the one and only legend of our contest, Greg Krell, who takes home another weekly victory and stands alone on the top step of the podium this week. His victory was helped by being the only panelist to correctly pick both Ole Miss and Washington, but he’s still quite upset the officials in Dallas screwed him from perfection!
Just one game back in the weekly standings was RoxAnn Rodney-Isbrecht, whose 8-2 mark during the stretch solidified her runner-up finish. After a couple tough weeks, it appears she may be recovering just in time to make her move for another hat in a few weeks time. She was perfect in her two professional selections and had to be disappointed with Penn State’s poor performance, but should her pick, Texas, have won – she’d be our weekly champion.
Regular readers of this column know that typically there is at least one tie between panelists at some point; that tie for this edition will come at the 6-4 mark, as both Rodney Lynch and Bill Whitney will dual it out in the tiebreaker for the final spot on our weekly podium. The two gurus were quite close with their incorrect picks, as they lost the same three bowl games, while also going 1-1 in professional games, albeit in different ways.
Because there is a tie in the weekly standings, that means going to the dreaded tiebreaker scenario to determine the results for third and fourth place finishers. The tiebreaker matchup, which featured Alabama and Michigan, was the thrilling overtime game that finished with a total of 47 points. Based on their highly educated guesses, the two panelists were separated by just two points; but Rodney, who predicted 44 total points, earned the final step on the podium in third place, while Bill (who predicted 42 total points) will have to settle for a fourth place finish.
While winning records seemed easier to come by than in recent weeks, two of the armchair quarterbacks still managed to be on the outside looking in, starting with Mike Banic, whose 5-5 mark split the difference between winning and losing, and earned him a fifth place finish in the weekly race. Mike missed on three collegiate bowl picks and both of his NFL predictions, but knowing him, all he wanted this week, as a diehard Michigan fan was a win – and he got it!
Unfortunately there is always one panelist to finish as the “cellar dweller” each week and the title must go to Maureen Ovington, as one of the two newbies to the panel this year. Mo finished this stretch with a 4-6 mark, earning her a sixth-place finish. Like everyone, she’s had her fair share of wins and losses in the contest this year; she was on the wrong end of that spectrum this week. However, should a few breaks have gone her way, the outcome is much different.
Weekly records are kept from the beginning of the high school season through Super Bowl Sunday, with each week’s edition of the paper reporting on the progress of each participant. At the conclusion of the football season, the panelist who has the best overall record will earn the right to wear the 2023-24 Tri-City Record Armchair Quarterback hat and claim bragging rights until the next season begins.
In the event there are multiple armchair quarterbacks that have the same weekly or season-long record, their place in the weekly or overall standings will be determined by a weekly “tiebreaker” game. In addition to trying to pick the winners of each week’s slew of games, they will also predict a total score from a specially selected game, one that usually stands out on a local or national level. The quarterback that predicts closest to the actual number of points scored by both teams will receive the higher position in the standings.
In the season-long race for the hat, there have been weekly changes in overall positioning virtually each week since this contest began. To continue with that fact, we will not alter from tradition this time around. In fact, the changes this week revolve around a familiar name going back on top of the standings… it is starting to feel like watching a NASCAR race with these lead changes!
In terms of the overall classification, RoxAnn regains the lead in the race for top honors, with her overall record sitting at 125-65 through our first 190 games. The leader for the past couple of editions, Rodney, dropped back to second place, with his overall record of 124-66 leaving him just one game back. Greg remains within striking distance in third place, with his overall record sitting at 122-68. The final three positions in this race feature Mike in fourth place, with an overall record of 114-76, Bill in fifth place, with an overall record of 113-77, and Maureen in sixth place, with an overall record of 111-79. The race continues to see the pressure spike as the season nears the end and with fourteen games separating the top and bottom of the standings (including just three games between the top three), each game is going to be watched to the greatest detail!
Pigskin action continues this week with all eyes fixed on the College Football Playoff National Championship game, which will be played in Houston on Monday, Jan. 8. Also, this week is the eighteenth week of the NFL campaign, which brings the conclusion of the regular season. So, our final ten-game slate will feature the college football national championship game along with nine NFL games. Now, here are your week twenty games that our qualified panelists were tasked with picking:
Michigan vs. Washington
(Mon. - CFP National
Houston Texans at
Indianapolis Colts (Sat.)
Pittsburgh Steelers at
Baltimore Ravens (Sat.)
Atlanta Falcons at
New Orleans Saints (Sun.)
Buffalo Bills at
Miami Dolphins (Sun.)
Chicago Bears at
Green Bay Packers (Sun.)
Cleveland Browns at
Cincinnati Bengals (Sun.)
Denver Broncos at
Las Vegas Raiders (Sun.)
Los Angeles Rams at
San Francisco 49ers (Sun.)
Minnesota Vikings at
Detroit Lions (Sun.)