More Money for Marketing – Budgets to Increase Again

Good news for companies with products that target Marketing groups. There should be more money to go around this year. According to a Gartner report published in October of 2016, the average Marketing budget is now up to 12% of company revenue.

The numbers don’t vary too greatly between B2B and B2C companies, with B2B companies receiving 12.3% of the company’s revenue vs 11.6% for B2C brands. Unsurprisingly, high tech companies devote the largest percent of revenue to marketing, at 13.3%

The key in the budget escalation is that large enterprises have accepted the new world of marketing. For many years, social media was a place where the smart and hungry start-ups could out-maneuver their established competitors for a fraction of the cost of a traditional marketing budget. But according to Gartner, enterprises have adapted. “Large established brands must out-market startups. As scrappy disrupters threaten the hard-earned franchises, these more established companies are forced to compete defensively, which may necessitate higher investments in everything from customer insight to innovation to advertising.”

One traditional marketing tactic appears to continue its importance. 65% of marketing leaders surveyed said they plan to increase spending on digital advertising, with 23% expecting a significant increase. This is being led by the increased importance of video, which is more expensive than other digital techniques for both media and production.

But many people ask, “With all the marketing automation tools and programmatic advertising designed to decrease marketing costs, why do budgets need to increase?”

“The problem with marketing automation tools is that everyone has access to them,” says Marketing Consultant Elizabeth Case. “So instead of competing for a customer’s eyeballs in a landscape of 100 touchpoints, we’re all competing to attract that same eyeball in 100,000 touchpoints. Thus, while they may get more for their money, they still need to spend more money to find the eyeballs.”

However, the news is not all good across the board. While the average marketing exec expects a bigger checkbook, a higher percentage than ever before (14%) expect to see a cut back. So why the contrarian approach from this group? Ironically, it’s the media companies that are cutting back their marketing spend. The industry that is most reliant on advertising to survive, is being forced to slash their own marketing budgets.

Also, marketers at smaller companies are being asked to do more with less. “CEO’s of small to mid-sized businesses read the articles and believe the promise that whatever technology they invest in can save them 10-50%,” says Derek Merdinyan, CEO of video production company Video Igniter. “So the marketing folks at SMB’s are being asked to run premium campaigns on a shoestring budget. Meanwhile, the enterprises are now spending more so they can catch up to the ways they’ve been traditionally outmaneuvered by start-ups.”

So what kind of technology companies benefit from this shifting landscape?

  • First, Gartner sees a tighter integration between sales and marketing teams. Marketing programs that easily integrate with CRM’s are likely to be adopted.
  • Next, the CMO is gaining responsibility. According to Gartner, in more than 30% of organizations, at least some aspects of sales, IT and customer experience report into the CMO.
  • Finally, Gartner states that Marketing leaders will set aside 10% of the marketing budget for innovation. Customer experience and digital commerce are the top two areas of innovation projects marketing leaders say they’re currently pursuing — 53% for customer experience and 51% for digital commerce.

So in the end, there’s more money to be had from Marketing departments. But it’s not a simple gold rush. Companies must be wise in what they offer and who they target. If they have the right use case for the right audience, they should be able to grow their own revenues.

Meet Your New 2017 Sounders

The MLS season is a long one, running a full 9 months from early March to early December. So before the ink was even dry on the papers forever documenting the 2016 Sounders MLS Cup win, the wheels of progress were underway to form the 2017 version. Many of the players who played a decent sized role in the title run found themselves trading their Rave Green uniforms for flights back to their home countries. Meanwhile, a new set of Sounders filled out change of address forms, and made plans to move to Seattle.

Here’s a quick snapshot of the turnstyle over the last 3 months. (For a full review, read this article from SounderAtHeart.)

frauen kennenlernen lübeck Who’s Out?

The MLS has some pretty onerous salary cap rules. Add in 2 new expansion teams this year in Minnesota and Atlanta, and it makes it hard to keep a team together. Here are the http://shortcreek.us/?enfiors=www.mtn-dating-.co.za&6b0=ba 18 names you won’t see wearing a Sounders uniform this year:

  • Nelson Valdez (released because he was too expensive and signed with a team in Paraguay)
  • Tyrone Mears (released and signed by Atlanta)
  • Dylan Remick (released and redrafted by Houston)
  • Erik Friberg (released and signed by a team in Sweden)
  • Andreas Ivanschitz (released and signed by a team in the Czech league)
  • Zack Scott (retired)
  • Herculez Gomez (retired)
  • Some guys you may or may not recognize were also released and signed with minor league teams (or retired): Darwin Jones, Charlie Lyon, Jimmy Ockford, Victor Mansaray (loaned out) Michael Farfan (retired), Nathan Sturgis (still unsigned), Oalex Anderson (still unsigned)

watch Who’s New?

New Sounders are often guys we’ve never heard of. So, for these http://hongrie-gourmande.com/frensis/949 8 new players, I’m sharing the 0-100 ratings the video game FIFA 2017 gives them.

  • Clint Dempsey, F, (Back from Disabled List): 80
  • Gustav Svensson Mid, / Def (from Sweden and Chinese League): 72
  • Will Bruin, F, (from Houston): 69
  • Harry Shipp, Mid, (from Montreal): 68
  • Bryan Meredith, GK, (from San Jose): 61
  • Nouhou Tolo, Def, (Sounders 2): NR
  • Henry Wingo, Mid, / Def (Homegrown): NR
  • Seyi Adekoya, F, (Homegrown): NR

http://adamsisco.com/?mikity=rencontre-ocean-atlantique-et-indien&1c3=c2 Who’s Back:

Check and make sure your favorite players are still here. mujer busca hombre locanto neza Just 14 remain from the team that won in Toronto, but 9 of them started that night.

  • Tony Alfaro, Def: 62
  • Osvaldo Alonso, Mid: 79
  • Brad Evans, Def / Mid: 70
  • Alvaro Fernandez, Mid:  70
  • Oniel Fisher, Def: 61
  • Stefan Frei, GK: 73
  • Joevin Jones, Def: 66
  • Aaron Kovar, Mid: 62
  • Nicolas Lodeiro, Mid: 78
  • Chad Marshall, Def: 74
  • Tyler Millar, GK: 58
  • Jordan Morris, For / Mid: 68
  • Cristian Roldan, Mid: 65
  • Roman Torres, Def: 72

Now I’m no math genius, but if you lose 18 players and add 8, you should still have some roster space available. In fact, an MLS team can carry 28 players on their roster at one time, so since the Sounders only have 22 on the current sheet, logic dictates you’ll see 4-6 more players either get signed from Sounders 2, or come in a late transfer window signing. The primary MLS transfer window runs from Feb 18 – May 11.  Then, the secondary one opens from July 10 – August 9.

The Sounders still do have one ‘Designated Player” spot available, meaning they can essentially sign a player for any amount of money they want and not have it hit the salary cap. (Dempsey and Lodeiro are the other two. Valdez was the 3rd, so they cut him to get that Designated Player spot back.)

So there you go; that’s your 2017 Sounders squad. See you at Century Link.

Top B2B Marketing Whitepapers and Reports

If you’re like me, your Facebook and LinkedIn feeds are inundated with articles, whitepapers, and industry reports. Now most of you probably skip them, but I find these much more enlightening than the latest political argument my friends and colleagues are engaged in. So to make life easier on all of you, I’ve listed a few of the reports I think are worth a read.

(Note: Most of these will require you to provide an email address to the company that wrote it. Be a good marketing person and reward the content team for their hard work.)

  1. ligar gratis pela net para celular Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for CRM Lead Management: The market for CRM lead management applications continues to grow, evolve and mature. This Magic Quadrant evaluates 17 providers to help IT leaders find the right choice for their company, in collaboration with marketing, sales and digital commerce leaders.
  2. site de rencontre femmes de l'est 2016 State of Marketing, from Salesforce: Trends and insights from nearly 4,000 marketing leaders worldwide.
  3. source site The State of Inbound 2016, from Hubspot: HubSpot’s 8th Annual Report, Tracking the Future of Inbound Marketing and Sales
  4. http://yuktung.com.my/esnew/1187 The Ultimate List of Marketing Statistics for 2016, from Freely: 347 marketing statistics for 2016 that you can use in your own content.
  5. partnervermittlung joanna Inbound Marketing Examples, from Hubspot: Hubspot Academy-approved examples of what others have built with the platform.
  6. my ex is dating a model Digital Marketing Resources, from Salesforce: A library of Salesforce’s most popular pieces on topics like list growth, Facebook marketing, mobile marketing strategy, customer lifecycle marketing
  7. Mobile Messaging Report 2016, by Mobile Ecosystem Forum and mblox: The MEF indexes the messaging habits of nearly 6000 respondents across nine countries worldwide.
  8. The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to B2B Marketing, from LinkedIn: Learn how to leverage LinkedIn’s marketing solutions, including content marketing campaigns, native advertising, sales lead generation, and brand awareness.
  9. The State of Facebook Advertising, by Marin Software: Year-over-year trend charts detailing spend, clicks, and CTR, the growth outlook for Facebook on mobile devices, and why Facebook is paying so much attention to its video ad formats
  10. 2016 Mobile App Retrospective, by App Annie: App Annie details the markets that saw the most growth in 2016 for downloads and usage, the growing monetization opportunity for publishers across categories, the top industries that are being transformed by mobile apps, and the trends publishers must stay on top of.
  11. Top 10 Big Data Trends for 2017, by Tableau Software: Tableau highlights the top big data trends for 2017.
  12. Mobile Messaging Report 2016, by Mobile Ecosystem Forum and mblox: The MEF indexes the messaging habits of nearly 6000 respondents across nine countries worldwide.
  13. How to Nail a Mobile Campaign Using SMS and Mobile Apps, by mobileStorm: Mobile apps now give your brand limitless choices on how to communicate, but this whitepaper details how to incorporate them into a larger mix that includes SMS.
  14. Mobile First Brand Loyalty Strategy Guide, by Punchkick Interactive: Learn how your brand can use mobile to build a more effective customer loyalty or rewards program.
  15. Top App Marketing Agencies List 2016, by mobyaffiliates: Need a Mobile Agency? Use this as a handy starting guide.
  16. B2B Marketing Strategies by 2020, by Sundog Interactive: Predictions for the future from an interactive agency.

Ask a Performance Psychologist

A few months ago, I mentioned that my sister, Dr. Elizabeth Boyer, had launched Northwest Performance Psychology.

As you may imagine, the two of us tend to have a lot of spirited discussions about the differences between the theories of performance psychology and how they apply in high-pressure workplaces such as technology companies.

Well we’ve decided to expand the conversation. We’re going to start a little series where we look at topics relevant to high performing professionals, and have a little Q+A. I’ll ask most of the questions, but we also want to open it up to others.

So if you have questions about peak performance, business coaching, competitive environments or anything about performance psychology, feel free to email me. We’ll weave the the questions and answers together in a coherent way.

Looking forward to your questions.

Andreesen Horowitz on Product Market Fit

Andreesen Horowitz recently syndicated an article written by Tren Griffin of 25iq.com. The topic was Product Market Fit, and Griffin does an outstanding job of detailing 12 important points, drawing quotes from some of Silicon Valley’s biggest names.

You should read the whole article here or here, but I’ve put together a quick 30 second synopsis. I highlighted some of the points that resonated with my personal experiences over years of marketing B2B and B2C products. I think it’s easy for many of us to forget some of these high-level concepts when we’re grinding it out in the weeds.

(Note: Bold headlines are my personal takeaways, and the quotes are straight from Griffin’s article.)

  1. The Market always wins. “When a great team meets a lousy market, market wins. When a lousy team meets a great market, market wins. When a great team meets a great market, something special happens.”
  2. All the marketing tactics in the world – pricing, branding, lead nurturing, content, etc – are useless if no one needs the product. “If you address a market that really wants your product — if the dogs are eating the dog food — then you can screw up almost everything in the company and you will succeed. Conversely, if you’re really good at execution but the dogs don’t want to eat the dog food, you have no chance of winning.”
  3. If you take your blinders off, you can usually know if you have a fit without looking at the numbers.“You can always feel when product/market fit isn’t happening. The customers aren’t quite getting value out of the product, word of mouth isn’t spreading, usage isn’t growing that fast, press reviews are kind of ‘blah’, the sales cycle takes too long, and lots of deals never close.”
  4. You have a product market fit if you don’t actually need to market the product. “You know you have fit if your product grows exponentially with no marketing. That is only possible if you have huge word of mouth. Word of mouth is only possible if you have delighted your customer.”
  5. The market will tell you when you have a product they want, not the other way around. “In a great market — a market with lots of real potential customers — the market pulls product out of the startup.”
  6. The “Idea” is 5% of the battle. You win when the idea you want to build evolves into the product the market wants to buy.“First to market seldom matters. Rather, first to product/market fit is almost always the long-term winner.”
  7. You never win at launch. You win when launch turns into scale.  “Getting product right means finding product/market fit. It does not mean launching the product. It means getting to the point where the market accepts your product and wants more of it.”

I’m sure everyone will takeaway something different from Griffin’s article. Give it a read and let me know what you think.

Will John Kasich Challenge Trump in 2020?

I was scrolling through some morning shows on Sunday and stopped when I saw a familiar face I had forgotten about. There was John Kasich live on CNN from the Munich Security Summit.

Election 2020 was still on my brain from a discussion I had earlier in the week about Mark Cuban. An idea crossed my mind. So I reached out to my left-leaning political expert in Phoenix to get his thoughts. We were in lockstep agreement. And then I turned to a right-leaning friend in Seattle. And he agreed with me as well.  Once is an occurrence, two times coincidence, three times a trend.

Here’s what we were thinking. John Kasich will run against Trump for the 2020 Republican Nomination. This is why it’ll happen and why he’ll win.

  1. It doesn’t happen often, but it’s not unheard of in years when the sitting president seems vulnerable in the General Election. In 1976 Reagan ran against Ford in the Republican primaries. In 1980 Ted Kennedy ran against Jimmy Carter in the Democratic primaries. In 1992 Pat Buchanan challenged H.W. Bush. Each sitting President survived his primary but lost the election to a challenger from another party.
  2. It’s unlikely any GOP Senators and Representatives will challenge a sitting President of their own party. Running as an outsider is one thing. Dividing your own Congress – when you already have a majority – is not a smart political move. Kasich is a Governor. He has nothing to lose by challenging for the nomination.
  3. His liabilities in a 12 person race are minimized in a 2 person race. For all his strengths, charisma is not one of them. And while Cruz and Trump were trying to out-nasty each other, Kasich became an afterthought. He could not get enough attention in a wild and crazy circus. He was like the smart guy at a party where people were doing kegstands and jump off roofs into pools. No one notices the smart guy. But in a race against Trump, the narrative changes. It’s now Good vs Evil and he’s the super hero wearing the cape. He gets to own the “anti-Trump” side of the Republican Party just for being able to breathe. Then he has a puncher’s chance at going after Trump voters because…
  4. The people in the states where won Trump the Presidency will either be richer or poorer than when they voted before. If they’re poorer, they’ll switch in a heartbeat. They will have no allegiance if their situation is no better than it was previously.
  5. He can lob subtle grenades from the sideline. Again, while people like Cruz, McConnell and Ryan have to somewhat toe the line with support for the President, Kasich does not. He can spend the next three years setting up his policy attacks with a media that might like to have a friendlier person to work with.

Thoughts? Objections? Agreements? Email me.

Mark Cuban 2020?

Mark Cuban set about to troll President Trump, in what was surely the only newsworthy event from the NBA’s Celebrity All-Star game.

Source: USA Today

But wait a minute, does a Mark Cuban presidency make sense? Have the times changed so greatly, that this something we should consider? Let’s speculate a little for fun.

  1. He’s not beholden to a single ideology. Cuban has self-identified as a Republican. Living in Dallas, that makes perfect sense. But he also has called himself fiercely independent and supported Hillary Clinton in 2016. So while so many want to force people into binary positions of Democrat or Republican, it’s fair to say that Cuban has pro-business values while also respecting the social causes and rights of all Americans. That’s a pretty good set of qualities for a leader of the free world.
  2. He identifies with everybody. He’s a Billionaire who really did scrap and claw from a middle class upbringing. He became a reasonably successful millionaire, then managed to see the future, leveraging some simple technology deals into a $6 billion payday for his company. He is the guy the middle class high school student can look to and say, “I can do that too.”
  3. He’d be able to assemble an incredible cabinet and set of advisors. Cuban runs in entrepreneurial circles, regularly engaging with the best and brightest minds around. But he’s also part of the business establishment, being part of venture capital groups and working with the key influencers in many industries. And most importantly, he seems to value the input and opinions of others to help him make his decisions. That’s someone who could recruit a top-notch team.

So, could he win?

Well, that would probably be up to the Democrats in power today. Will the DNC have the same pollsters and strategists who mishandled the Clinton campaign running their 2020 program? So for the sake of argument, let’s say the DNC didn’t get in the way of a populist Mark Cuban campaign in the primaries and just let it play out.

Primaries:

I don’t know enough to know who the leading Democratic challengers will be. I assume Elizabeth Warren will be a front runner. So let’s focus the conversation on Cuban vs Warren and a bunch of wild cards.

  1. Cuban has his own financial resources and doesn’t need to rely on donations from fringe groups. He can buy a talented team and build a ground game. I don’t know if Warren could raise the same amount of money.
  2. He’ll win Texas, and probably all the midwest and rust belt states that Obama and Trump won. That’s a good starting point.
  3. Can he take Warren in New York, California and Florida? I don’t know.
  4. I don’t think he has an issue with women voters. He seems to have mainstream appeal across all genders.

General Election:

  1. There will never be an election in which more Democrats come out to support whoever is running against Trump. So he’ll have that going for him.
  2. After 4 years of being beaten up by Trump, every media outlet in the world would be giving Cuban free air time.
  3. He can be a unicorn – a Democrat who wins Texas. Assuming Democrats also win New York and California, he’s almost halfway home at that point.
  4. Then he wins the middle of the country, the people who didn’t get what they were promised by the current President.

It’s a far out scenario, but reasonable at the same time. The question is if it’s a job he’d actually want.

Stories You Missed – January 2017

We all can’t read everything, and our Facebook feeds are now overrun with political arguing. So to make things easy for you, I’ve assembled some of the stories from last month about tech, marketing, sports and Seattle that you may find interesting.

  1. Three Sounders FC Departments Honored with 2016 MLS Club and Executive Awards: Congrats to the team members who don’t wear jerseys. Sounders FC tied for the lead among all clubs with its three awards: Corporate Partnerships Team of the Year, Marketing Team of the Year and Public Relations Team of the Year. I don’t know how these awards are judged, but if you enjoy your time at Sounders games, these groups probably play a big role.
  2. After Buyouts, Layoffs, 23 Staffers Exit ‘Seattle Times’: Well if you think that the national newscasts are a series of partisan wonks arguing talking points back and forth, then you won’t like this article. The newspapers still can’t figure out a business model, which means more cuts to local journalists. If you have an idea for how to save local news, you’re running out of time to share it.
  3. Dramatic video footage shows drone circling and then crashing into Seattle’s Space Needle: Well I guess this is why we can’t let everyone just fly their drones around all the time…
  4. The latest Amazon-occupied building sale shows how far Seattle real estate has come in last decade: If you think your house or apartment is expensive, imagine trying to buy an office building in Seattle these days. One of Amazon’s 290,000 square foot office buildings just sold for $269 million – or about $925 a square foot. That compares to $1.85 Million for your 2000 square foot house.
  5. Venture Investment in Seattle Area Companies Falls 27 Percent in 2016: It was a mixed bag of news about how much money investors poured into Seattle companies in 2016. On the downside, for the full year, investors poured just over $1.5 billion into 282 local deals, down 27 percent and 23 percent, respectively, from 2015. But on the upside, the fourth quarter of 2016 saw 77 local deals completed, totaling $561.3 million, compared to 81 deals totaling $190.6 million in the same period of 2015, and the final six months of 2016 saw a combined 157 deals, up 26 percent from the first half of the year, and $919.7 million invested, up 58 percent.

Oh and the Seahawks lost. But we don’t need to rehash that.

Have a good story to share? Email me and let me know.

Should We Provide Free College Tuition

I’m seeing this topic brought up more and more. College is too expensive and even the middle class can’t afford it anymore. And those who come out of school with a mountain of debt will never be able to own a house, much less have enough discretionary income from the low paying jobs they’ll earn with their degree.

So the easy answer is to make college cheaper – or even provide college for free. It works in countries like Sweden, so could it work here?

Well the 1st thing that would have to happen would be a gigantic increase in taxes. Someone still has to pay the professors, administrators, janitors, etc… who make the school run.

But suppose in the short-term, we had a hybrid model that solves a specific problem for one sector of U.S. Business.

Let’s provide education that is free – but on loan – to people who choose to enter a track specific for math, science, engineering or computer programming. Here’s how it would work.

  1. Test into a program for aptitude or potential ability in the subjects, not existing grades or knowledge. Any age.
  2. Choose a specialized track includes some General Education but really focuses on the technical subject matter.
  3. Like the military, mandate required service time to pay off the loan. One suggestion: within 8 years of graduation, require 2 years of part-time teaching at a community college, high school or workshop level. This will help with the burden that we have a lack of professionals who can teach these subject matters. It also gives graduates a full 6 years to get their career situated and mature as adults who can mentor others.
  4.  If the graduate has made enough money to pay off the loan, they can spend money rather than time in service. That money would be able to hire others who wanted to teach.
  5. The tech companies would be asked to underwrite some portion of the project. You’d want to make the numbers work so that overall, the cost of recruiting technical talent would decrease even after their financial commitment. They’d be investing smart money to grow the labor pool rather than paying premium salaries and recruiting commissions in a battle for scarce resources.

I don’t know how the numbers would net out, but I’m not in government. Maybe someone will read this and see if the math works.

Any other thoughts? Email me.

A Conspiracy Theorist’s Predictions for the 2017 NFL Playoffs

We all know the NFL playoffs aren’t rigged. But if they WERE being written by a team of storytellers in New York, here’s how it would go down.

Houston: No NFL team has ever won a Super Bowl in the year their city hosted the game. The host city needs the tourist revenue. So no Houston this year. 1st round out.

Oakland: Their QB is out so they should have no chance. BUT, that wasn’t supposed to happen. The NFL needs the Raiders to become America’s favorite team so that either Oakland or Las Vegas will build them a new Billion Dollar stadium. Oakland is going to the Super Bowl behind a rookie QB who has never started an NFL game. Cinderella plus history + need for stadium = NFL preference.

Seattle: This is a tough one. The NFL finally had a team full of interesting characters a few years ago. Richard, Marshawn, Earl, Russell, Kam, and everyone’s favorite grandpa coaching them. But then something happened and the storytellers saw their characters go off script. Beast Mode quit, the goody-two-shoes QB married 50 Cent’s ex, Earl got hurt and spoke of retirement, Sherman seems to have lost his cool. This isn’t a team the NFL loves anymore. This is the team that goes down inexplicably this year.

Detroit: The Cavaliers, Cubs, Indians, Donald Trump… notice a trend? The world is conspiring to provide some relief to the Rust Belt. Detroit gets a cinderella win this year, even though they stink.

Miami: No one cares about the Dolphins, including Miami. If a team loses a playoff game and no one in the city notices, did they actually lose? Doesn’t matter. 1st round out.

Pittsburgh: I’m pretty sure the Rooneys and Maras have a deal with the NFL that one of them gets to win the Super Bowl every 4-5 years. They also fit well into the Rust Belt conversation. I see them to the AFC Championship where they do what is best for the league and lose to Oakland.

Giants: The Giants vs Cowboys rivalry is going to be THE rivalry for the next 3 years. But it starts in earnest next year. This year is the appetizer where we learn how important the regular season will be to each team. The Cowboys get a bye, the Giants go down in the best game of the 1st round. OR, they win a few games and end up losing to Dallas in the NFC Championship where home field matters. This is a tough one.

Green Bay: Is it the end of an era? Or is this the transition year where Aaron Rodgers gets a new cast of characters to make great? Once Tom Brady is gone, Aaron Rodgers will have another 5-7 years. I think Green Bay gets a win but goes on a Super Bowl drought until Rodgers’ final year when he gets to have his Peyton Manning Swan Song. OR, they have to bow to New York and let the Giants vs Cowboys NFC Championship game take shape.

New England: Every year, they could be the team that wins it all. They’re the guys you know will get there one or two of every three years. And this year they are simply going to need to take one for the league and let Oakland get to the Super Bowl. It’s just good business sense to let Oakland beat them.

Kansas City: Blah. No one outside of Kansas City cares about Kansas City. A league that saw TV ratings go down this year needs a HUGE Championship weekend and Super Bowl. Neither of those lead to Kansas City success. Out as soon as possible.

Atlanta: The Falcons have managed to get tax payer money to get a new stadium built. That was rewarded with a trip to the playoffs. But the idea of Aaron Rodgers vs Dak Prescott is too good to pass up.

Dallas: GOD the NFL needed Dallas this year. It’s a ratings bonanza. Kids love Dak and Zeke. Old guys love Dez and Whiten. This is NFL gold. Pencil them in to go all the way to the Super Bowl.

Round 1:

AFC: Oakland (5) over Houston (4) and Pittsburgh (3) over Miami (6)

NFC: Detroit (6) over Seattle (3) and Green Bay (4) over New York (5) (or vice versa)

Round 2:

AFC: Oakland (5) over New England (1) and Pittsburgh (3) over Kansas City (2)

NFC: Dallas (1) over Detroit (6) and Green Bay or New York (4 or 5) over Atlanta (2)

Championship Round:

AFC: Oakland (5) over Pittsburgh (3) in a classic AFL battle that makes the old people happy.

NFC: Dallas (1) over Green Bay or New York (4 or 5) in a classic NFL battle that makes old and new young people happy.

Super Bowl: TBD.