Sunday's Panthers/Falcons game was kind of like watching a baseball game where your pitcher Matt Cain is going up against your pitcher Daniel Hudson, while your third baseman Pablo Sandoval is playing, as is Desmond Jennings.
Except in this instance, Cain is Matt Ryan, Hudson is Cam Newton, Sandoval is Jonathan Stewart, and Jennings is Julio Jones.
As I have noted this year, I have Newton on a couple of teams--one that also has Ryan and Stewart--while Jones is on two other rosters, one of which also includes Stewart. Which makes all this kind of like following a soap opera.
Of my four leagues, one does not have playoffs, but rather just goes all 17-weeks worth of H2H to determine a winner, but all three of my other squads made the playoffs in some kind of unprecented--for me--fashion that still has me shaking my head.
So, naturally, I wanted to set my best lineups everywhere, as always I hope.
In the NAIFFL--curated by my mate Lord Zola--I did indeed start Newton over Ryan because, well, that Newton guy just generates so many points it is really hard to justify not playing him.
The problem is Ryan is arguably my favorite player in the NFL. So cool, and competent. And smart. From his first completed pass--which also happened to be a 40-plus yard TD--I have just seriously enjoyed watching Ryan play. Even when he has gone up against the Bears, for whom I have already sworn an irrational emotional attachment.
I did play Stewart in every format, but sat Jones opting instead for the dartboard approach among my wideouts. Pierre Garcon, Lance Moore, Wes Welker, Marquis Colston, Smiths Torrey and Steve, they would pretty much be. And, generally good they all are, but, they have also all been "all or nothing" this year, either grabbing 163 yards and a couple of scores, or 17 yards and pretty much nothing else.
So, as I watched Cam and Matty Ice duke it out Sunday morning, I was busy flinching in those ways we do when our pitcher allow a walk and double, just as I would fist pump a 16-yard completion.
And, I wanted Cam to have a good game because I played him, but Ryan to have a good game because I like him and his team.
I mostly got what I wanted, and if you watched the contest the game itself was Dickensian this holiday season, being a "Tale of Two Halves," the former dominated by the Panthers and Cam, the latter by Atlanta and Ryan.
Matty did have the better day with four TD passes, two to Jones who sat on my benches, but in the end it did not matter that much as all squads were productive enough for all three squads to advance to the next level.
And, aside from the fact that neither of my hurlers was pulled, I am lucky enough to have have either Carolina nor Atlanta as a defensive squad anywhere.
So, in the end I got what amounted to a 2-1 win between my pitchers Newton and Ryan, with a couple of hits by Stewart, and a homer and swipe from Jones, even if those numbers did not count.
I guess baseball season never ended in some way.