Almanac NFL: The 2023 Jim Caldwell Cup – Week Ten


Greetings Tipsters

We had an NFL record this week, five games decided by a walk-off field goal. With scores tied or within 2 points, five teams marched downfield in the last minute or two, managed the clock to perfection, five kickers nailed it with 1 second left.

Bailey Zappe tried a fake spike in the last seconds of the New England Patriots’ disastrous game in Frankfurt against Indianapolis Colts which, naturally, didn’t work. Dan Marino made that work, but Dan is an alltime great. The Patriots used to be great but not any more. As Zappe evidenced.

American Football doesn’t have much penetration in Australia. Consequently, most folks who’ve heard of it know the San Francisco 49ers, cos of Superbowl wins in the 1980’s, Dallas Cowboys, Superbowl wins in the 1990’s, and New England Patriots, six Superbowl wins and nine Conference Championships from 2001 to 2018. It’s an extraordinary record, especially in an era where the salary cap and free agency was supposed to ensure that such dominance didn’t happen.

Robert Kraft bought the team in 1994 cos he owned the stadium. In 2000 he hired Bill Belichick, who’d won a Superbowl when DC for Giants, and the team drafted a skinny bloke from Michigan U in the sixth round. Week Two, 2001, Drew Bledsoe copped a serious injury, Bill put the skinny third-string backup quarterback in to start Week Three and he and Tom Brady made history.

Since Tom left New England and won a Superbowl in his first season with Tampa Bay Buccaneers, there’s been a lot of silly talk about who was most responsible for that incredible streak of success. As Tom said “I can’t coach and Bill can’t play quarterback.” It was a match made in football heaven.

Bill’s dad was a football coach and scout, he was studying game films when he was in elementary school. He became a genius defense coach, which gave Tom more opportunities to drive the team downfield for another touchdown. If you ever meet an Atlanta Falcons fan, say “28 to 3?” and you’ll hear all about it.

All things must pass. Tom is (almost) a minority owner of Raiders and looking a bit weird, thanks to plastic surgery. Bill is still HC and defacto GM in New England and the team is lucky to have won two games this season.

2021, Pats drafted quarterback Mac Jones. His rookie season showed promise. 2022, he was saddled with Matt Patricia and Joe Judge, neither had any experience at running an Offense, but did have terrible records as HC. It worked as well as you’d expect. Bill O’Brien became a proper OC this season and it’s gotten worse. Mac throws idiotic passes that get intercepted. So Belichick pulls him for Zappe, who does even more idiotic things.

Drafting and recruiting has been disastrous. Patriots now 2/8, last in the AFC, probably hoping Carolina Panthers get another win so they can get a top two draft pick. But, with Bill in charge, few Pats fans would expect anything other than a random selection of a linebacker or running back expected to go in third round.

Robert Kraft is a billionaire, unlikely to accept embarrassment week after week. A recent vid of him talking to his son at a game had lipreaders noticing that F word. He probably wants to sack 71 year old Bill but that aint gonna be easy – six Superbowl rings and all.

Most teams have a GM and a HC. Pats have Bill. Pats desperately need a young and smart GM to start building a decent, competitive roster. Close second, a young and smart coach. Robert will call Bill in for a private meeting this week, he’ll be polite, gracious, he’ll be firm when it matters.

“Bill, I want you to have a farewell game. We’ll have Tom and Rob and Wes here, get some F-16s to do a flyover. I’ll give you a few weeks to announce your retirement before we go public with the new GM.”

Professional sport is brutal. When you’re an alltime champion, it can be worse.

Cheers Tipsters

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About Earl O'Neill

Freelance gardener, I've thousands of books, thousands of records, one fast motorcycle and one gorgeous smart funny sexy woman. Life's pretty darn neat.


  1. Delete “New England Patriots”. Insert “West Coast Eagles”. Works.
    We’ve sacked the GM and Don Pyke is the best thing to happen to the club for 4 years. Love Adam Simpson and the guy can seriously coach. But players need a new voice and new ideas.
    Sentiment has no place in pro sports.
    Great to have you back Earl. Need Perky Girl updates – this NFL stuff is too serious.

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