…so it was an interesting Divisional Round weekend. “Interesting”, meaning, the picks here sucked again.
But then again, who saw the Titans beating the Ravens? I’m not sure many did. And if they said it after, I am sure they were lying. Glad the Ravens players had been working on their Super Bowl plans. That always goes well. Sigh…
I guess most people thought the Niners would trounce the Vikings. I was convinced it would be closer. But that’s just me being an idiot.
Packers/Seahawks went as expected…for most. The Pack were 4.5 point favorites and won by 5. Funny how Vegas hits that number pretty good a ton, eh?
And everyone in the world knew that Houston was not keeping that 24-0 lead against Kansas City for long. The Chiefs are explosive after all. And Texans coach Bill O’Brien also predictably wilted. I know, the Chiefs helped the Texans build up that lead in the first place. But O’Brien helped the Texans give it back…and then some.
The fake punt call? Atrocious. Yeah, it would have been genius had it worked. And BOB probably knew he had to score as many points as possible to have a chance, I will allow for that much. But seeing that the Chiefs defender seemingly sniffed it out (the claim is that he didn’t necessarily, but was just trying to be ready just in case and is something he had been doing all year apparently), perhaps a timeout was necessary to change the play? Or take a delay of game and then actually punt and pin the Chiefs back? I’m no NFL coach, not even by a longshot. But once that play happened, I said that is the type of play that changes games (duh!). Like everyone else said as well.
But holy crap, to offer NO defensive resistance after that? Seems impossible, doesn’t it?
In any event, looks like we have a couple of good ones on tap for this weekend.
And yeah, it still feels weird that the New England Patriots are not involved in Conference Championship Sunday. The rest of the country is surely overjoyed at that fact. But even they have to feel weird the Patriots aren’t playing in the game.
Tennessee at Kansas City (-7.5)
I am actually not sure we can call this one a “good one”. I mean, the Chiefs look like the team to beat here. After they shook off some early rust, they outscored the Texans 51-7. They overcame a 24-0 deficit in less than a quarter. To say the Chiefs offense is explosive is perhaps not even doing them justice. But the Titans are rolling, especially on the ground. Tennessee QB Ryan Tannehill has thrown, what, like 12 passes in the entire playoffs? I know, hyperbole. But it’s probably not far off. Titans RB Derrick Henry is steamrolling defenses. And the KC defense, though improved during the year, still kind of stinks. The Titans are a great story. But let’s also face it: The NFL wants no part of this team in the Super Bowl. Not sexy enough. That won’t win the Chiefs the game. But it won’t hurt perhaps having some “extra” home cooking from the zebras.
Kansas City 34, Tennessee 24.
Green Bay at San Francisco (-7.5)
Seven and a half points seem a little excessive here. I am not all in on the Packers for sure. But even with the Niners at home, it’s hard to lay that much against Packers QB Aaron Rodgers I would say. I also think Niner QB Jimmy Football may be a little bit of an X-factor here. Big spot for him and the team, who I would guess most of have never been to this point before. Jimmy G as a starter no doubt. If the Packers can stop the run and make Garoppolo beat them through the air, that could be a good thing for the Pack. In fact, this is what I think is going to happen. I’m guessing SF is going to have to wait one more year to take that next step.
Green Bay 27, San Francisco 24.
Week (against the spread): 1-3
Week (straight up): 2-2
Lock Of The Week (season, ATS): 10-7
Season (against the spread): 134-130
Season (straight up): 169-95
Another (somewhat) abridged (but not so last-minute) holiday edition. Tough sledding here, as plenty of teams will be resting guys for the playoffs, shutting guys down period, playing some young kids to see if they are worth hanging on to for next year and any other scenario in-between. We will see what happens. If we go 1-15, we finish the year over .500 still. So that’s good enough for me anyway. Happy New Year!!
Cleveland at Pittsburgh (-13.5)
Cleveland is shooting for 0-16. I think they can do it, even though the Steelers are apparently not playing any of their key guys…well, Big Ben and Le’Veon Bell anyway…with Antonio Brown still out too. Landry Jones and Stevan Ridley anyone? Sure. They could (and should) probably still beat the Brownies.
Pittsburgh 17, Cleveland 13.
Green Bay at Detroit (-7.5)
The Lions actually should win this one going away…but of course they won’t.
Detroit 20, Green Bay 17.
Chicago at Minnesota (-12.5)
I believe Minnesota still has to play its way into the second seed and the bye over in the NFC. Therefore…
Minnesota 30, Chicago 10.
Dallas (-2.5) at Philadelphia
Philly is apparently going to play their starters for a bit. Which Nick Foles will show up? Who cares?
Dallas 27, Philadelphia 17.
Houston at Indianapolis (-3.5)
Speaking of “Who cares?”, 7-23 between these two squads. The only intrigue will be after the game to see if either of the two coaches keep their jobs. They both honestly probably should, based on their respective teams’ injury concerns this season. But I’d keep O’Brien and fire Pagano. Then again, Billy O’B and the Houston GM apparently despise each other. Kind of thinking both are going, right or wrong. Oh, I have to make a pick?
Houston 13, Indianapolis 10.
New York Jets at New England (-15.5)
It’s apparently going to be 50 below in Foxborough Sunday. The Jets are likely ready to hit the offseason, despite their competitiveness this season. Because the Pats still need to win (or have the Steelers lose) to sew up the #1 seed, I’d say that they will probably just try to do enough to get the W and get the hell outta there unscathed. But they may only have Dion Lewis and Brandon Bolden at running back…and I’d prefer not to give Lewis 30 carries on the eve of the playoffs. Maybe Pro Bowler (?!) James Develin gets some carries too. I’m starting to think the Patriots come out throwing and take a little bit of a lead and then ride Bolden to victory in the second half!
New England 27, New York Jets 16.
Washington (-3.5) at New York Giants
The brand new Giants GM said he is leaning towards keeping Eli as the starting QB next year. Yeah, until he finds someone better this offseason…likely with the #2 overall draft pick. The Giants owner also seemingly wants to bring cornerback Eli Apple back too, because you “don’t give up on talent…” or some nonsense like that. That should go over well in the locker room. Not to mention the Giants interim coach is playing Eli Sunday “start to finish”. Why? He says they already know what they have in third rounder Davis Webb…despite Webb getting zero game experience this year. All of the above is kind of irrelevant for Sunday…even Eli playing the whole game…but it does make me laugh.
Washington 14, New York Giants 13.
Cincinnati at Baltimore (-9.5)
The Bengals winning on Marvin Lewis’ way out? Nah. The Ravens need this one. Though the spread is probably too high. I’m still doing it.
Baltimore 27, Cincinnati 17.
Carolina at Atlanta (-3.5)
This may be the one game worth watching. The Falcons need this one more. That of course makes me nervous…but I’m still gonna do it here too.
Atlanta 27, Carolina 20.
New Orleans (-7.5) at Tampa Bay
The Bucs are bringing back Dirk Koetter next year? Yaaaay! Wait, what happened to all those Jon Gruden rumors? Anyway, the Saints should roll here either way.
New Orleans 37, Tampa Bay 23.
Kansas City at Denver (-3.5)
The Chiefs are resting everyone and the Broncos are starting Paxton Lynch (I think). I should be taking the Broncos defense here, but I’m not.
Kansas City 17, Denver 13.
Jacksonville at Tennessee (-3.5)
This may be the second best game of the week…if the Jags play their regulars…which their coach said they were going to. But we will see, since the game doesn’t mean anything to Jacksonville. Other than to get revenge on a Week Two beating the Titans handed to them. Since that point was mentioned specifically by Dougie Marrone, I’ll take my chances with the Jags this week. The Titans have continuously underwhelmed and I really don’t expect anything different here…even with a playoff berth staring them in the face.
Jacksonville 31, Tennessee 20.
Arizona at Seattle (-8.5)
The Cards are 7-8? Hard to believe. The Seahawks have been inconsistent, but still have a chance. Based on their inconsistency, laying 8.5 seems aggressive, but the feeling here is that they come out ready to go.
Seattle 34, Arizona 23.
Buffalo (-2.5) at Miami
Two times in three weeks for this marquee matchup, with the Bills winning by eight in the first one in Buffalo. The Bills are still remarkably in the playoff mix and therefore need it more. Despite the Bills not actually being very good. Throw in the fact that Miami isn’t good either, I am not expecting the ‘Phins to go all out to knock the Bills from the playoff chase. I don’t know…
Buffalo 27, Miami 17.
Oakland at Los Angeles Chargers (-7.5)
The Raiders actually gave the Eagles a game last Monday. Both teams were kind of inept though. Chargers have a chance. Raiders do not. That’s all I can say really.
Los Angeles Chargers 24, Oakland 13.
San Francisco at Los Angeles Rams (-2.5)
The oddsmakers apparently have not been watching the Jimmy G show. Of course the Rams are the better team, but when your coach has already said your best players aren’t playing and the rest of the starters aren’t playing much, one wonders how the Rams could still be favored in this game.
San Francisco 27, Los Angeles Rams 16.
Week (against the spread): 6-10
Week (straight up): 13-3
Season (against the spread): 128-112
Season (straight up): 163-77
…mercifully. Everyone knows Week 1 of any NFL season can be unpredictable. No one knows anything about the teams yet, sometimes not even the coaches of the teams themselves. I know, sounded kind of silly. But the point is, coaches are still tinkering around with things even after the preseason is over. New players are being integrated into systems. Starters are finally playing real snaps. Rookies are getting their first real action. And all that.
And of course the injuries. Happens to every team every year. Some are bigger than others. For instance, not only did David Johnson’s wrist kill a ton of fantasy football seasons, it seriously put a dent into the Arizona Cardinals prospects for the season. One player can do that? In this case, yes, quite possibly. I think we’d have to say it had some effect on their game on Sunday for sure. Johnson was exactly lighting the Lions up, as he is certainly capable of doing. But the Cards collapsed after he left the game.
Going back to not knowing who a team actually is in Week 1, you saw all the results. We’ve been through the Chiefs beating the Patriots. But the Steelers and Falcons barely beating the Browns and Bears, respectively? The Giants not even showing up at Dallas? The Colts we knew would not be great, but getting hammered by the Rams, a team that had an anemic offense last year? Jared Goff looked like…er, Tom Brady out there or something.
There were two other somewhat alarming results from last weekend. We will get to those in a second.
So, the Blowhard took it on the chin in Week 1, but don’t say I didn’t warn you! There was one genuinely stupid pick (Saints on the road, what was I thinking??). There was some bad luck (Denver missing a cover by a point when they allowed the Chargers to get back into the game in the fourth quarter). A couple of road team gambles that didn’t pan out (Giants, Seahawks and I guess we can say the Falcons here too). But overall about .500 was what I expected out of the gate. I guess we will have to live with .400 though. Cuz…that’s what happened.
Let’s hope for some better results in Week Two. But we of course have this beauty to lead us off:
Houston at Cincinnati (-4.5)
I said above that there were two other somewhat alarming results from last weekend. After further review, I am taking away the word “somewhat”. The losses by the Bengals and Texans were borderline shocking. The Bengals were shut out at home by the average Baltimore Ravens. The Texans were embarrassed at home by the still putrid (we think) Jacksonville Jaguars. I am not changing my mind on the Jags…yet, anyway.
Listen, I am no Marvin Lewis fan. This is probably at least the 5th consecutive year I have uttered at some point during the season, “why is this guy still coaching the Bengals?” Well, we know why he is, because the owner is cheap. But you know what I am saying. But even though they were 6-9-1 last year, they usually are fairly competitive under Lewis. They do have some talented players on offense. I believe they have some skilled guys on D too…though admittedly they were missing 2 guys due to suspension…Pac-Man Jones and that certifiably insane Vontaze Burfict.
Anyway, they should have had enough on the field, at home, to at least be competitive with the Ravens. Maybe it was all Andy Dalton’s fault. Could be. 4 interceptions and 5 sacks taken can kind of present that image.
The Texans? Wow. Their defense is supposed to be what wins games for them this year. And they got torched by the Jags. Jacksonville allegedly improved their roster this offseason. They canned a historically bad coach in Gus Bradley…though one can only wonder if Doug Marrone is an upgrade. But their QB is still named “Blake Bortles” and they lost top wideout Allen Robinson during the game. That the Texans gave up 29 points to this offense is laughable. OK, 22 points, as there was one defensive TD. But my point still stands.
Let’s not even talk about their QB fiasco. Nah, let’s talk about it. You think Blake Bortles is bad, I present you…Tommy Savage! Yeah, I have no idea if Savage can play or not. But he was atrocious in the first half. Sssssoooo…that is why he got yanked. But from the parts of the game I saw, he wasn’t exactly getting a ton of time to throw. I am actually kind of on board with Savage’s agent ripping the team for their handling of him (“31 snaps…31 snaps!! How can you tell anything from that…” or something like that).
I can see why Billy O’Brien benched Savage though. Team was lackluster and needed a spark. QB is where to start. Especially when you have a first round draft pick ready to go. But since Deshaun Watson didn’t really light it up either, you may as well go back to Savage. Since, you know, you went all offseason and preseason saying the job was his. Then Savage loses it halfway through the first game? I know, Watson was going to get the job at some point in the season anyway. But to panic like this right away seems like a bad sign.
I can’t believe I talked this much about both of these teams. Gotta fill space I guess. Anyway, this week? Pac-Man is back. I think the Texans are sticking with Watson. Dalton can’t be that bad…he’s better than Bortles anyway. Houston lost its top THREE tight ends to concussions last week. Cincy is at home. Someone has to win.
Cincinnati 23, Houston 13.
Week (against the spread): 6-9
Week (straight up): 9-6
Season (against the spread): 6-9
Season (straight up): 9-6