The NFL regular season is now in its decisive stage. With only a few more weeks to go before the playoffs start, the upcoming games will separate the contenders from the hopeless underachievers and determine who will compete in the Super Bowl. December is always a crucial month in the NFL. The best is yet to come.
Of course as pay-off to that opener I'm about to rattle off a snappy list of the best things that have happened so far: All the big plays, hot streaks and bizarre developments that have made the 2016 campaign so fun to watch. So forget the post-season for a second and get ready to look back, because this has been a regular season to remember. Let's start with a question...
Image credit: Press Association
Thanks to the incredible play of rookies Dak Prescott (Quarterback) and Zeke Elliot (Runningback), and an offensive line who could probably floor a rampaging elephant, the Cowboys have only lost one game. This is terrible news for anyone who hates the Cowboys, which is roughly 99 percent of people who follow the NFL. The above video features Elliot, the league's current leading rusher, making the opposition look like amateurs.
In fact, they're actually really good. Oakland have spent the past decade or so in the NFL's basement, presumably maintaining a fanbase only thanks to their historic connection to West Coast hip hop. But this season they're dominating, in large part due to the form young players like QB Derek Carr, RB Latavius Murray and Wide Receiver Amari Cooper.
Everyone remembers Odell Beckham's catch from two years ago, but I'd say Mike Evans' snag in early November was even better. Mainly because he held on despite getting smashed into the shadow realm right after.
In October, the Giants faced off against the Rams at Twickenham, London. The Giants won, largely thanks to Landon Collins' interception return for a touchdown. I've watched the NFL for a long time, and I can't remember a better pick-six than this.
Every office has one. The mild-mannered guy who you refer to as 'mate' or 'man' because you immediately forgot his name when you first met him a year ago. His contribution can't be important because you don't know what he does, but then it must play a role as he hasn't been fired. He's on the team, but he's not part of it.
For the longest time, the Punter was the NFL equivalent of that guy. But not anymore. Punters are rockstars. They're athletes, they showboat, and, in the case of the Raiders' Marquette King and the Rams' Johnny Hekker, their leg can place the ball with the accuracy of a sniper. King can also fly, too.
Spare a though for Steelers kicker Chris Boswell, who figured he'd try a Rabona on an onside kick. For Chris' sake, let's hope they bring a Sunday League team to Pittsburgh.
If you're still single and want to feel even worse, remember that a kicking net is currently engaged to a man. And not just any man, but famous NFL player Odell Beckham Jr. - man, hating life right now.
I do realise that the Miami Dolphins' Jay Ajayi moved to the US when he was seven. This isn't exactly a story of a British teen swapping a young person's railcard and binge-drinking for NFL Superstardom. But he was born in London, he's a huge Arsenal fan, and he does adopt a soft English accent whenever he talks to British press, so we claim him as our own.
He's also been one of the best runningbacks in the league this season, clattering through opponents with a satisfyingly violent running style. And because of that, he's basically a British national treasure.
If I was a fan of indulgent metaphor, I'd say that this sound guy is all of us. His struggle is our struggle; like when you ignore problems until they all hit you at once; when you'll 'do it tomorrow'; when procrastination turns into a failing grade; when 'first warning' quickly becomes 'court summons', and 'just one more' results in a night in a cell. It's thinking you're fine when you're not fine at all; crossing the road without looking; going into it blind.
But I'm not, so all I'll say is that this sound guy getting annihilated by the Vikings as they exit the tunnel is absolutely terrific banter! Here's to you, Bernie.
In Week 4, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones caught 12 passes for 300 yards and a touchdown. That's like bowling a perfect game, or sinking every shot in beer pong. It's also not like that at all, but you know what I'm getting at.