We have at last reached the culmination of the 2022 season, the 20th year of The League’s illustrious history. The stage is set as we prepare to crown not only this year’s champion, but to place the toilet seat of shame around the neck of this year’s Toilet / Anthem Bowl loser. The stakes are as high as it can get. Who will claim (or reclaim) Ol’ Glory? Who should take it easy on those vocal chords this offseason? Let’s take a look at the matchups.
The League Championship Game
1. Dear Leader (10-5) vs. 2. Frank The Tank (10-5)
In Frank’s rookie League season way back in 2007, he put together what is still to this day the best season of his career, a 13-2 romp to the Championship. The owner he beat that day? None other than the Commish.
Of course, no one would blame you for not knowing or remembering that detail. Nor would anyone blame you for not remembering that Commish started Willie Parker at RB that day, who broke his foot in the 1st quarter. I didn’t even remember it; I had to look up why slick Willie put up a goose egg just now. But everyone remembers Frank starting Peyton Manning and Randy Moss, and winning the title in his debut season. Not only because he never lets you forget it, but because in this game of ours we remember the winners. The losers become just a bit of trivia.
Fast forward 15 years to the present day and once again these two teams will face off with the Championship on the line. There is a lot at stake here legacy wise of course, with Frank looking to become just the second back to back champion in The League’s history and Commish looking to equal the mark at the top of the Championship standings. But when you boil it all down, it really just comes down to that same old question: which team will be remembered, and which team will be forgotten.
The projectors and Vegas are having a hard time figuring that out as well. Currently the Commish is a slightly less than 4 point favorite, which may as well be a toss up. That line would almost certainly be bigger if not for the main story heading into tonight’s Thursday night matchup, the benching of Dear Leader’s team MVP Derrick Henry because of a scheduling quirk that essentially makes tonight’s game meaningless for the Titans. The Commish will likely turn instead to Isaiah Pacheco, who of course shares the backfield with Frank The Tank’s RB2 Jerrick McKinnon. It will be fascinating to see how that matchup breaks out.
Henry was Commish’s counter to Tank’s RB1 Josh Jacobs, but with Henry out there is some question about who will slide into the RB1 role for Dear Leader, a proposition that was laughable just a few short weeks ago. Season long Rb2 Aaron Jones had given Commish one of the top backfield pairings in The League, but with Jones’ role and health seemingly up in the air it looks like it will be a game time decision at whether Jones or AJ Dillon gets the nod. Frank obviously doesn’t have a choice but to start Jacobs, but there is some uncertainty in that matchup as well with the Raiders benching Derek Carr in favor of Jarrett Stidham, which should up Jacobs workload but may wind up with him facing stacked boxes all day.
Under center, the defending champ will be trotting out the tried and true Patrick Mahomes, holder of the mythical high floor, high ceiling status. The Commish got burned last week by getting a floor game from Justin Fields, but appears to be ready to gamble on Fields ceiling again in this one given the game script uncertainty for backup Dak Prescott.
If The Commish is going to stop Frank The Tank in his tracks, it will likely have to come from the strength of his receiver trio of Chase, Lamb, and St. Brown. Chase’s Monday night matchup might be must see TV if the game is still in play. Frank will counter with DeVonta Smith, who had seen his production steadily creeping up before his eruption on Christmas Eve with Minshew under center. Frank will hope the pairs chemistry continues, while hoping the Thielen/Cousins connection turns back the clock and finds pay dirt. Frank is currently lining up Courtland Sutton in the flex, in a matchup where he should at least see a very positive game script.
At TE, even with Commish’s Kittle on a hot streak, you just can’t pick against Travis Kelce. The clear League MVP, Kelce continues to show week after week that anyone questioning that pick was foolish. Hell, he may go even higher next year (seriously, can we not let Frank get him again?)
Big picture wise this is a fascinating matchup between two teams who have pretty clearly been two of the best if not the best teams throughout the course of the season, but who achieved those results in very different ways. Frank bludgeoned teams with Kelce and Mahomes, a combo no one could match, while finishing them off with Josh Jacobs explosions. Commish attacked from all angles, getting just enough from the QB and TE positions that Frank thrived in while being primarily driven by top end talent at the skill positions. The Tank will try to roll to a second straight title using the same formula he has all year, while The Commish will have to use his depth and rely on his air support to but a final end to Frank’s assault upon The League. The battle begins tonight.
The Anthem Bowl
7. 2Cups1Bladder (formerly known as MiddleOfSpineHurts) (7-9) vs 8. So Much Honey (7-9)
Now to the matchup everyone REALLY cares about, the 2022 Anthem / Toilet / Last Place / These Guys Suck at Fantasy Bowl. For the first time, the two turds racing to the bottom when The League hits the flusher are the 7 and 8 seeds, who missed the playoffs on a tiebreaker loss and have continued to collapse further into a den of despair and misery of their own making.
When you get to this point in the season, desperation is the name of the game, as evidenced by Ya Boy hitting us with the 11th hour name change in an attempt to shake things up. Lets hope he didn’t resort to any animal homicides as well.
In the other corner is Mr. Honey himself, who’s found himself in a bit of a sticky situation by blowing his load way too early in the season and finding himself unable to get back up to par as time runs out on 2022.
The downward spiral these two find themselves in is shocking, given where they found themselves in the standings not too long ago. But the season can flip in an instant, and flip it has, with Cody dropping 5 of his last 6 and Mark catching the L in 6 of the last 7.
Vegas has Mark as a 15+ point favorite in this one, on the back of Josh Allen, Ekeler and Chubb. Cody will counter with Waddle, Zeke, and Mark Andrews. But question marks litter the rest of each squad, with Mark’s weak point being wide receiver and Cody’s being at RB with the loss of Pollard.
Mark did put up a good fight last week but took a tough loss to Vaf while Cody has been out and out bad, so if we’re judging based on recent performances give the edge to Mark. A loss would push Cody into the exclusive multi-Anthem club of Jay, Vaf, and BJC. But funny things tend to happen in the Anthem Bowl, and if Mark does manage to lose his 7th out of 8, he will find himself singing for his country and the rest of The League’s amusement for the first time come late August/early September.
Good luck to the participants, and let’s all hope the race to the bottom provides some fireworks on Monday night.