All season, two teams stood head and shoulders above the rest of the NFC: the Dirty Hippies and Hard Targets. They were rewarded with the top two seeds and a first-round bye in the playoffs. After beating the AMMODOGS and Arrogant Americans, respectively, the Hangovers and DARC NARCS took a swing at the Hippies and Targets . . . and missed.
Regular Season Result: Week Four
Because the OIL plays a balanced schedule, these teams played each other in the regular season. Finch won that matchup by 14.
The teams are largely unchanged since that week four matchup. Since then, Finch lost Stevan Ridley to IR and added Josh Gordon via trade with Duffy. Meanwhile, Trovillo traded away T.Y. Hilton and Devin Hester, promoted Jarvis Landry to WR2, and added Giovani Bernard and Odell Beckham, Jr. Here's how the current Dirty Hippies lineup fared in its week 15 semifinal matchup.
Dirty Hippies Semifinal Result
In one semifinal, the Hangovers' Cinderella season ended when they ran into a buzzsaw otherwise known as the Dirty Hippies. After falling to 2-5, Duffy pulled off some risky trades to shake things up (including trading for Packers QB Aaron Rodgers), and it worked. They won five of their last six regular season games (including a Rivalry Week rout of the Arrogant Americans) and then knocked out the AMMODOGS in the first round of the playoffs.
In the week 15 semifinal, Duffy got 24 points from Demariyus Thomas, 18 points from Eddie Lacy, 28 points from late-season pick-up Jeremy Hill, and 23 points from Devin Hester. It should have been enough to seriously challenge the Hippies. But Aaron Rodgers let Duffy down for the first time this season in a shocking loss to the Buffalo Bills (scoring 7.95 points). And Rodgers's and Davante Adams's (1.6 points) disappointing performances doomed the Hangovers in spite of the great outputs by the remainder of the roster.
The Hippies, for their part, overcame a disappointing TNF performance from Tre Mason (1.3 points). They got 43 points from Odell Beckham, 20 points from fellow LSU rookie WR Jarvis Landry, 18 points from Roddy White, 28 points from Le'Veon Bell, and 18 points from Rob Gronkowski. The Hippies QB points are not included in their 164-point total, as Jay Cutler plays Monday night. But the Hangovers players are all done. In turn, although they put up a very respectable 147 points, the Hangovers were sent home by a dominant Dirty Hippies team heading to its first OIL Bowl.
Hard Targets Semifinal Result
In the other semifinal, Henderson's even more improbable run ended as his DARC NARCS lost to the number one seed one week after posting his highest score of the season. In the first round of the playoffs, the NARCS upset the Arrogant Americans behind 43 points from Cam Newton, 42 points from Julio Jones, and 30 points from Joique Bell.
But that kind of luck is hard to keep going. Two days after leading the NARCS to victory, Cam Newton got into a car accident and was ruled out for the semifinals. Then Julio Jones was ruled out for week 15 after suffering an injury late in the fourth quarter of his game in week 14. And Joique Bell put up a pedestrian 10 points. It wasn't enough.
Henderson also turned to Kendall Wright to pick up the slack for Julio Jones. But Wright, who missed week 14, was again ruled out and Henderson got zero points from a pivotal position. The zero from Wright was matched by Jermaine Gresham, who was an unexpected inactive himself. It wouldn't have mattered though. Not even Henderson's optimal lineup would have won this matchup as Jordan Matthews (who had been hot as of late) scored zero points himself on Sunday Night Football.
On top of all that, Henderson replaced Cam Newton with Ryan Fitzpatrick . . . who broke his leg in the first half of Sunday's game. So, all in all, this week was a cavalcade of horrors for the NARCS. With all of their players done with for week 15, they trail the Targets by 40 points with Mark Ingram and Alshon Jeffery yet to play for Finch. A team like Finch's Hard Targets doesn't need any help to beat a team like Henderson's . . . but it got it anyway en route to an easy victory and their first OIL Bowl berth.
So, it wasn't how we expected to come to it, but we now have the OIL Bowl we've expected all season. Enjoy.