…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
…so a lot has been discussed already this week about the New England Patriots’ unceremonious exit from the NFL playoffs. There will be a new Super Bowl champion.
And, in general, it appears to be the end of an era.
I know, most of the country (world?) is celebrating this fact. It’s been a good run for Pats fans though. Nothing to complain about. Even the falling way short thing of this year.
We will dive into the future of the New England Patriots full force in an upcoming piece.
For now, a short chat about what went wrong against Tennessee last weekend. Short, because these things have been discussed and analyzed ad nauseam all week…everywhere. But, we officially need to get things off our chest.
So here goes, in no particular order:
*Horrific play calling, specifically the three straight runs near the goal line, when they haven’t been able to run the ball in from there all season. Also, the handoff to linebacker Elandon Roberts on third and short earlier in the game. And Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels will still get a head coaching job, perhaps before I am done writing this. Not to mention the defensive play calling. Everyone knew Titans running back Derrick Henry was going to tote the rock a lot. How was he able to carve up that defense right from the get go?
*Julian Edelman’s crucial drop late, when he was wide open. There was still third down to get the job done, but the air felt out of the tires by then. Hard for me to get on Jules, with him playing through all sorts of injuries. But that drop was MASSIVE.
*Offensive guard Shaq Mason being downfield at the wrong time.
*Mohammed Sanu adding nothing. N’Keal Harry seemed clueless. And Joe Judge is the head coach of the New York Giants now.
*Hate to even go after the head coach with all the wins Bill has given us. But he got burned when Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel pulled the same thing with the penalties on the punt that ate up a lot of clock. Belichick pulled this the same move against the Jets earlier this year when the game was out of hand. Maybe Vrabel knew the rule all along too. But why would Bill pull that out in a game where it wasn’t needed? Then he was pissed when it went against him. Hard to fathom. Also, the late punt with no one back to receive it, letting the ball roll all the way to the one-yard line. Couldn’t Edelman have caught it at the 20ish yard line and gotten a few yards to put the team in a better position? Head scratcher. Hoping for a blocked punt seems a little “pie in the sky” to me. I guess it was a little too late then anyway.
*The fraudulent defense that was supposedly full of Pro Bowlers and All-Pros not being able to stop anyone when they needed to.
That’s enough. It was a disappointing end to the season. That’s an extreme understatement. Losing to Miami and losing the bye pretty much sealed the deal for me. I picked them to lose to Tennessee, but wouldn’t have been shocked if they pulled this one game off. But no more than that for certain. Playing the extra week was never a good idea for this team. I was actually pretty calm as the Titan game was going on. I had zero faith, even if they managed to win. No lofty Super Bowl expectations here for sure.
The team gave me some false hope after the Buffalo win in Week 16. But I also think they had some talent to go further than they did. I never thought they were an 8-0 (first half) team. But I didn’t think they were a 4-4 (second half) team either. I didn’t think the defense was a record setting one like they looked like when they played a bunch of bums in the first half. But I thought even against good teams that they could get a stop when they needed one. I never thought the offense was as explosive as the Randy Moss/Wes Welker years (duh!). But with Edelman, James White, Sanu, Rex Burkhead, Sony Michel and with a sprinkle of Benjamin Watson and maybe N’Keal Harry and a smidge of Phillip Dorsett from time to time, the offense would have enough. After all, there have been years with lesser weapons, in my opinion.
In any event, the Patriot season is over. But hopefully, there is still some good football left to be played. Let’s move on to that:
Minnesota at San Francisco (-7.5)
The Niners are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2013. Week off. Rolled through 2019 to the tune of a 13-3 record. The Vikings had a nice win against the heavily favored New Orleans Saints on Wild Card Weekend. But there are injuries all over the place on that team. And if receiver Stefon Diggs gets past his illness and plays, he will likely pull another temper tantrum if the Vikes choose to ride the running game and Dalvin Cook to offset the injuries. Which is what they should do. The Niners should probably win big, but they won’t. But they still should win.
San Francisco 31, Minnesota 27.
Tennessee at Baltimore (-9.5)
Looks like RB Mark Ingram is going to play. Expect TE Mark Andrews to play as well. Will the bye week and the last week of the regular season where the regulars didn’t play create rust for the Ravens? I am betting no. Maybe at the start. But not much more. The Ravens defense was pretty good by season’s end. And although Derrick Henry is a beast, I would say the Ravens put up more resistance than the Patriots. Force Ryan Tannehill to throw the ball, which he didn’t at all last week. Tannehill has apparently been reborn in Tennessee. But the guess here is that he has less success against Baltimore. Ravens QB Lamar Jackson was abysmal in last years’ playoffs. This should be a complete 180 from that game. How can it not be?
Baltimore 34, Tennessee 17.
Houston at Kansas City (-9.5)
I don’t hear too much Chiefs hype. Haven’t heard much this season, to be honest. I get that Baltimore had a great year, no question about it. But I feel like the Chiefs have just as good a chance to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. That game the Texans played against Buffalo last week was wretched. Both of those teams were…no one wanted to win. Even though Houston beat KC way back in Week 6 (yes, Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes DID play), I have a hard time seeing how they do it again in this spot.
Kansas City 27, Houston 13.
Seattle at Green Bay (-4.5)
Green Bay ended up 13-3 and secured a bye. I’m still trying to figure out how that happened. They won games down the stretch but played kind of uninspiring ball from what I could see. The Seahawks stumbled a little bit at the finish as well. They had trouble beating a 40 year old backup QB with a torn hamstring in the Wild Card game. The ‘hawks also have pulled a few guys off the street to play running back the last few games. Including The Artist Formerly Known As Beast Mode. But they seem to always keep games close. And are an amazing 8-1 on the road. Gut feeling here.
Seattle 24, Green Bay 20.
Week (against the spread): 3-1
Week (straight up): 3-1
Lock Of The Week (season, ATS): 10-7 (since we forgot to do one last week, let’s be done with it for the year. Pathetic record for a Lock Of The Week anyway).
Season (against the spread): 133-127
Season (straight up): 167-93
…took it on the chin last week. Thankfully, there is time to recover this season.
Once again, no sense in covering last week’s New England Patriots game. Although the two turnovers for TD’s killed the sure cover and with it also killed the undefeated hopes of the “Lock Of The Week”. In reality, the Pats should have won that game by 40-50 points, injured receivers or no injured receivers. But that’s the way it goes sometimes.
I really don’t have much to say about the Patriots upcoming game against the undefeated Buffalo Bills either, but we will get to that with the rest of the games.
For now, let’s just get through the normal Thursday Night stinkfest…
Philadelphia at Green Bay (-4.5)
…or will it be? The Thursday tilts have not been great thus far this season. We’ve been through that already. But for some reason, I have high hopes for this one. The Eagles are banged up but hope to get wide receiver Alshon Jeffery back. That can’t hurt. It also wouldn’t hurt if receiver Nelson Agholor was a little more consistent as well. I guess Nelson invited that dude that ripped him on social media…you know, the dude that was apparently catching babies from a window to help save them from a fire. Nice work, Hakim Laws! Laws won’t be at this game I don’t think, but maybe it will light a fire under Agholor. See what I did there? Ok, maybe that was somewhat in poor taste, but I couldn’t resist. In any event, Philly is too good a team to go 1-3. And I am not sure the Packers are that good a team to go 4-0. The Pack has only given up 35 points this year, but haven’t exactly played stout offensive teams thus far. Not to mention the offense has only scored 58 points. Doesn’t seem like typical Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers fireworks, eh? People who watch the Packers say something is missing so far as well. New coach, new system, I suppose it is bound to happen. Just a gut feeling with the Eagles on the road here.
Philadelphia 27, Green Bay 23.
Week (against the spread): 6-10
Week (straight up): 10-6
Lock Of The Week (season, ATS): 2-1
Season (against the spread): 23-25
Season (straight up): 34-14