I’m sure college basketball, the NBA, the NHL, and scholastic winter sports are sharing space in each of your heads in January, but in my brain, the Shield, another moniker for the NFL, takes up most of the space in my brain while the other aforementioned seasons are tucked into cozy spaces.

The topics will shift, but each will be Shield-centric.

I was annoyed listening to the media – during and after the Monday night conclusion to the NFL’s Wild Card Weekend – as they were excessively excited about Jacksonville’s comeback from a 27-0 deficit against the LA Chargers, and the Dallas Cowboys’ convincing 31-14 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Both the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Cowboys will be on the wrong end of the two “sure things” I expect to see, so I hope they savored their Wild Card Weekend victories Saturday and Monday, respectively.

Trevor Lawrence will get off to another rough start against the Kansas City Chiefs’ defense this weekend, and the Chiefs’ offense will not sputter in the second half in the fashion the Chargers’ offense did last Saturday night.

Dallas, who probably landed on the tarmac around 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. Tuesday - after doing what a 12-5 team is supposed to do against an 8-9 team in the wild card round of the playoffs – lost some practice time against their upcoming opponent, the San Francisco 49ers, a foe who will outcoach and outplay the Cowboys this weekend. San Fran is better rested, to boot.

The prospect of rain in Santa Clara, California doesn’t help Dallas’s cause either.

I’m certain if Buffalo quarterback, Josh Allen’s aim doesn’t improve from last weekend’s passing performance, the Cincinnati Bengals will advance to an AFC title rematch against Kansas City when all playoff games are complete this weekend.

It will be interesting to see what the Monday night stifling of Tom Brady and his offensive compadres will do for his stock value among teams looking to lure him to their location.

There is talk of Miami – perhaps not secretly this year – and San Francisco among suitors for TB12. How much sense does this make after Monday night, though?

Not all of the playoff teams’ quarterbacks were as mobile as Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes, but it was clear one signal caller was considerably less mobile than the rest of the field marshals in the playoff pool.

*cough* TB12

You don’t have to be as fleet as Justin Fields, Kyler Murray, and Lamar Jackson, but you certainly need to be able to move around quickly enough in a dirty pocket much better than Brady was able to move Monday night.

I’m an accountant, not a NFL franchise general manager, so what I don’t know about comprehensive football operations I can, instead, compensate somewhat with conventional wisdom.

With this said, who wants to turn over their franchise for one year to an immobile quarterback even if he has seven Super Bowl rings?

San Francisco, under the direction and leadership of offensive stalwart Kyle Shanahan, managed their offense quite well with Brock Purdy under center.  

Let’s recap how I finished in my divisional regular season predictions - by exception - so I can keep this column – excluding the headline – barely less than 1,000 words.

I landed correctly guessing finishes for the AFC North and East as well of the NFC South, the latter with an asterisk. I knew Tampa Bay would win the NFC South, and all three of the Bucs’ division dwellers finished with the same record: a testimony to collective mediocrity.

Who knew the Jags would finish atop the AFC South. Indy’s 4-12-1 record was disappointing and surprising, highlighted by blowing a five score lead against the Comeback Kids, Minnesota.

I was also wrong about all four AFC West teams finishing with at least a 9-8 won-loss record. The Chiefs (12-4) and Chargers (10-7) finished as expected, but who knew Denver would wind up in the cellar with Russell Wilson under center?

The Vikes won the NFC North, and I guess this was not as hot a take as it felt like it was in the late weeks of summer. The Lions, though were a complete surprise at second place, and the Bears landed where I believed they would land.

I did not think, however, “Chicago the clock is running” is what I’d hear NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell say to start the 2023 draft. My guess at the start of this year’s NFL campaign was the Texans would have this dubious honor instead.

Flip flop the bottom of the NFC North and I would have had the top-to-bottom finish correct, but I still viewed the division as improved but still collectively weak. Instead, THIS division – not the AFC West – was comprised of all four teams finishing at 0.500 winning percentages or better.

My prediction, placing the LA Rams ahead of the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC West was correct, technically, but the two teams finished on the bottom half of the division in this accurately (?) predicted order.

Who know the Rams and the Cards teams would only muster nine wins between them. Talk about a Super Bowl Hangover. It was a rough season in the City of Angels.

Finally, it’s not cliché to say home field matters.

The NFC, with the exception of one team, hosted opponents in nine games this season. They’ll flip-flop those nine home games with the AFC in the 2023 campaign.

Only five NFC teams had losing home records in the most recently completed regular season. The AFC, a superior conference on the other hand, had four teams with losing home records. Notably, since they had the even 8-game slate, four additional teams finished with 4-4 home field records. This makes sense since the distribution of team talent is not as disparate as the NFC carried this year. It will be interesting to see how many teams will exceed the break-even line when 15 of these 16 squads have nine home games.