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Wild Card Round…

Sweet week for the Blowhard last week as the NFL wrapped up its regular season.  But we will save the comparisons to last years picks until we are all said and done, however.  We will also save any analysis of the New England Patriot/New York Jets “barnburner” as well.  Because, quite frankly, the J-E-T-S were pathetic per usual this year and no one cares to even revisit that blowout win as good as it may have made some people feel.

We will also not waste any time figuring who the Patriots may play next week.  Cross that bridge when we get to it.  Instead, let’s focus on this weeks’ slate, which looks like to be a good one:

Indianapolis at Houston (-1.5)

Third battle of the year between these divisional foes.  Pair of close ones were the first two, both teams winning on the road each by a margin of three points.  Indy has been red hot, winning 9 out of its last 10, including basically a playoff game in the last NFL regular season game of the year against the Tennessee Titans.

But let us not forget the Texans started 0-3, so they went 11-2 the rest of the way.  Their only 2 losses in that span was a three-pointer to the Colts and a two-pointer to the Eagles at Philadelphia the second last week of the season.  Not too shabby.

Houston looks to be in at least a slightly better position health-wise, especially with the Blowhard seeing Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton hobbling around on the field against the Titans.  Lamar Miller returned last week and DeAndre Hopkins is a beast.  Andrew Luck is on some kind of roll along with his team, but Deshaun Watson has been no chump himself.  We also think (know?) that the Texans have the better defense.

Could (should?) be another exciting game to open the weekend, but this time the home team wins.

Houston 31, Indianapolis 27.

Seattle at Dallas (-2.5) 

I’m honestly not sure I can take either of these teams seriously.  The ‘Boys have won 7 of their last 8.  But their last three games include getting whitewashed by the Colts, barely beating Tampa Bay, then also barely beating the New York Giants with several of their starters playing the entire game, despite it meaning absolutely nothing to them.  Ok, Ezekial Elliott did not play, but still.

The Seahawks last three games include losing to the 49ers, then beating the “mighty” Kansas City Chiefs.  Then closing out the season by barely beating a wretched Arizona Cardinal team.

So who wins?  Your guess is as good as mine.  Seattle is not the same dominant defensive team as they have been over the last decade or so.  The Cowboys appear to have some young studs on D so they may have a little bit of an edge there, for whatever that is worth.

My best guess is that we see a lot of running plays and kind of a boring tilt, to be honest.  But I am also guessing that at least it will be another close one.  So this alone should be worth the watch.  Dallas is 7-1 at home.  That may be the deciding factor for me, believe it or not.

Dallas 24, Seattle 20.  

Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore (-2.5)

The Chargers won 5 of their last 6 to close out the regular season.  The one loss?  At home two weeks ago…to the Baltimore Ravens!  Coming a mere 10 days after LA’s thrilling win against the Chiefs in Kansas City that gave them a shot at the division win…and #1 seed.  KInd of a letdown, wouldn’t you say?

I don’t have a problem with Philip Rivers.  I used to hate the guy, but now I am just kind of indifferent toward him.  He’s a good player.  But one thing I can say is that I have never really trusted the guy in the postseason.  Or the Chargers in general actually.  San Diego or Los Angeles.

The Chargers seem to be a little more banged up than the Ravens.  But you know what I have found funny?  People have been getting overly excited about the possibility of Hunter Henry returning this week.  First off, the guy has missed all season after blowing out his knee in May.  May?  And all of a sudden in early January he is going to make a significant difference?  How many plays is he going to get in?  Against arguably the best defense in the league?  Please stop it.

The Ravens are 6-1 since Lamar Jackson took over at QB.  And the one loss was a game they kind of choked away at Kansas City.  Sure, Jackson can’t really throw worth a lick at this point in his career.  But can Joe Flacco throw a lick at THIS point in HIS career?  Ok, that may be kind of harsh towards Flacco.  But Joey is about as average as you can get as a QB.  He did the Ravens a favor by getting hurt and getting Jackson in the flow.  John Harbaugh probably thinks so.  He was getting fired 6 weeks ago and now he appears to be back in good graces with the team and the fans.

The Ravens won by 12 in LA two weeks ago.  I’m thinking this may be about right this time around too.

Baltimore 27, Los Angeles Chargers 17.  

Philadelphia at Chicago (-6.5)

The Bears won 9 of their last 10 to finish 12-4.  Their defense gave up the fewest points in the NFL, 4 less than the Ravens.  Therefore, their defense has gotten some accolades and perhaps deservedly so.

Their offense actually scored the ninth most points and they were only a handful of points out of the top five.  Really?  Wait, their defense may have had some part of that point total, but I am not going to go too far into those numbers.  Regardless, the team scored more points that I would have thought they would have.

Especially considering who they have.  Mitchell Trubisky seems to have gained a lot of fans this year.  I am not sure why.  Well, admittedly, I have not watched a ton of Bear football.  But the amount I have seen, I can’t say I have been thoroughly impressed with ol’ Mitch.  Running game?  Jordan Howard has been pedestrian, at best.  Tarik Cohen is explosive, but how many touches can you give a guy of his stature?  Their receivers are nondescript.

I don’t see it.  I haven’t seen the infatuation all year.  Look at the 9-1 finish too.  Not exactly a Murderers Row.  A nice Sunday Night win against the Los Angeles Rams for sure.  But maybe the warm weather Rams didn’t enjoy playing a mid-December night game in Chicago.  Hmmmm…

In the meantime, an underachieving Eagle team finished strong under the guidance of last year’s playoff hero Nick Foles.  Deja vu anyone?  Hate to say it, but it is entirely possible.  I may even have to put some money on it.  Does anyone else in the NFC scare you?  None of this weekend’s combatants do, I can tell you that much.  The Los Angeles Rams?  Kind of coming back to earth down the stretch and how healthy is Todd Gurley?  The New Orleans Saints?  Drew Brees has looked human recently.

I’m guessing this is where the Bears get exposed.  Saint Nick!!

Philadelphia 27, Chicago 20.  

Week (against the spread):  13-3

Week (straight up):  12-4

Season (against the spread):  142-114

Season (straight up):  163-93

Week Fifteen…

What a game Thursday Night.  There have been some good ones on Thursday this year.  Remember when those games sucked EVERY week?

But I’m sure it pissed off New England Patriot fans.  If the Pats didn’t lose last weekend, it would have put them in a pretty good position for the #1 seed with the Kansas City Chiefs losing.  Sure, the Los Angeles Chargers would still be in the way as well.  But still, things would have looked up no doubt.  Only one of the teams out West could have been the prime competition.  Regardless of records, the other would be the top wild card team.  Unfair?  Maybe.  But thems the breaks…

In any event, there has been some crazy NFL action lately.  Wouldn’t mind seeing it again, even if it costs us wins.  Well, as long as the Pats win in Pittsburgh.  But…

Houston (-6.5) at New York Jets 

Houston’s 9 game win streak ended last week.  Methinks they get right back on the horse this weekend.  Yeah, going out on a limb here, I know.

Houston 33, New York Jets 17.

Cleveland at Denver (-3.5)

The Browns are still somehow (barely) in the mix for a playoff spot with a mere three games left in the season?  Is this some sort of miracle?

Cleveland 27, Denver 20.

Washington at Jacksonville (-7.5)  

Hard to even fathom laying this many points with the Jags, but the ‘Skins may be throwing high school players out there this weekend with all their injuries.

Jacksonville 30, Washington 7.

Oakland at Cincinnati (-3.5) 

I know the Bengals have lost five in a row and are playing with some dude named Jeff Driskel at QB.  And the Raiders had a big win against the Steelers last week.  But…

Cincinnati 24, Oakland 20.

Arizona at Atlanta (-8.5)

Kind of a big number here too for a Falcons team that has lost 5 in a row and hasn’t scored more than 20 points in any of them.  But they CAN score.  And the Cardinals simply can’t.

Atlanta 27, Arizona 9.

Tennessee at New York Giants (-2.5) 

I don’t think much of the Titans, that much has probably been pretty clear.  The G-Men have won 4 of 5 (too little, too late, however) and have put up some points in the process.  No ODB?  Believe it or not, I’m not sure it will matter.

New York Giants 30, Tennessee 20.

Miami at Minnesota (-8.5) 

Another big number for another team that probably doesn’t deserve it.  But guess what?  We are going with the favorite again.  The Dolphins had a miracle win last week, as the whole world knows.  But really aren’t that good.  1-5 on the road to boot.  The Vikings fired a coach this week and maybe that kicks them in the arse.  They should be better.  Maybe they finally show it this week.

Minnesota 28, Miami 17.

Dallas at Indianapolis (-3.5)

Gut feeling here, nothing more.  The Cowboys D has been much ballyhooed in recent weeks.  Have a feeling Andrew Luck gets it done here.

Indianapolis 31, Dallas 23

Green Bay at Chicago (-5.5)

The Bears have had a nice year.  9-4 is nothing to sneeze at.  It was a helluva win against the Rams last Sunday night.  But is there a more overrated team in the NFL?  Every time I see Mitchell Trubisky play, he looks average at best.  Yet everyone is fawning over him for whatever reason.  And their schedule?  These are the other 8 teams they have beaten besides the Rams:  Seattle (Week Two, when the Seahawks were scuffling, but I’ll give you that if you want), Arizona (by TWO), Tampa, Jets, Buffalo, Detroit, Minnesota, and Detroit again.  Not exactly Murderer’s Row.  Maybe the Rams loss has more to do with a fast, warm weather team not adjusting to the cold very well.  Just a thought.

Green Bay 34, Chicago 24.

Tampa Bay at Baltimore (-8.5)

This is another high number that we should go with the favorite here.  Especially after the Ravens played the Chiefs so tough in Kansas City last week…and probably should have won.  Have a feeling there could be a little letdown here though.

Baltimore 23, Tampa Bay 20. 

Detroit at Buffalo (-2.5)

I hope to see zero “highlights” from this one.

Detroit 13, Buffalo 10.

Seattle (-5.5) at San Francisco  

The ‘Hawks should continue rolling.  Not much more to say.

Seattle 31, San Francisco 17.  

New England (-2.5) at Pittsburgh

I know the Steelers just lost to Oakland.  I know they have lost 3 in a row.  I know Big Ben and their top RB are banged up.  I know the Pats usually handle Pitt…or seem to anyway.  I’m just not feeling it.  I’m sure the Pats will once again prove me wrong.  But maybe this year is different.

Pittsburgh 34, New England 31. 

Philadelphia at Los Angeles Rams (-9.5) 

Are we really expecting another Nick Foles miracle run?  Just because he is apparently playing Sunday and facing the Rams in the same spot of the schedule as last year?  Please.  The Rams were embarrassed on the road last week, as noted above.  They are back in their friendly confines where they are undefeated.  I expect this one to be ugly.

Los Angeles Rams 41, Philadelphia 17.

New Orleans (-6.5) at Carolina 

People start anointing the Saints as the next champs and then they throw in a couple of mediocre games in a row?  Sure.  Carolina is 5-1 at home, though they have lost 5 in a row.  These two teams are in the same division but haven’t played each other yet this year.  Two times in the last three weeks  Seems like a bizarre scheduling quirk.  I’m rambling because I still don’t know what I am going to pick for this game.

New Orleans 34, Carolina 24.  

Week (against the spread):  0-1

Week (straight up):  0-1

Season (against the spread):  112-97

Season (straight up):  129-80

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!

So we are up to the annual Turkey Day games.  The New England Patriots had a bye this past week…so nothing to talk about there.  We could talk about that Monday Night Football instant classic between the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs.  Wow…what a game!  Old school fans will probably tell you that the game was a joke, with all the offense and guys running wide open all over the place.  That it was an Arena Football League-type game.

And they may be right.  But you know what?  Who cares!

Very entertaining game.  And in today’s NFL, where you can’t breathe on either the quarterbacks or wide receivers, get used to it…especially if you don’t like it.  Since this will be more of the same as the weeks and years go on.  Offense at an all-time high.  And I’m ok with it.

Let’s see if these two teams have a rematch in the Super Bowl.  If the Pats can’t get there, sign me up for this kind of shootout in February.

As for the picks?  The Blowhard may have learned their lesson.  Only completely sober picks from here on in.  Last week’s record is quite embarrassing.  I blame the mai tais.  It’s ALWAYS their fault, regardless of the situation.

Chicago (-4.5) at Detroit

As of this writing, it appears Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky may not play.  Trubisky isn’t exactly a Hall of Famer at this point in his career.  But he may be compared to his backup, Chase Daniel.  The Lions had a nice win last week (thanks Cam Newton!) and of course host the annual Thanksgiving game.  That counts for a little something.  The Lions kind of need this one to stay in the playoff mix as well.

Detroit 24, Chicago 17.  

Washington at Dallas (-7.5) 

Another team with its QB missing…though the ‘Skins will be missing theirs a little longer.  What with Alex Smith’s gruesome injury last week.  I can’t believe that it was 33 years to the day after Joe Theismann’s own gruesome injury.  Same team.  Other coincidences include each QB’s Pro Bowl left tackle missed the game, it happened around the same yard line and in both cases, a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year was involved in the play, the only three-time winners (Lawrence Taylor, J.J. Watt).  The final score of the game had the same two numbers.  There are probably other similarities if one was to dig deeper.  But that is F’ing CRAZY!  As for the game, the spread seems a bit high regardless of the Smith injury.  The Cowboys have been inconsistent after all.  But does anyone have any confidence in Colt McCoy?  Nope.  And if he goes down…Mark Sanchez?!  Yup…

Dallas 27, Washington 13.

Atlanta at New Orleans (-13.5)

The Saints are right up there with the Rams and the Chiefs.  They demolished the defending champs last week.  Though the Philadelphia Eagles stink this year.  I hope Lane Johnson is having fun though!  Speaking of teams that stink…the Falcons!

New Orleans 38, Atlanta 24.  

Week (against the spread):  6-7

Week (straight up):  6-7

Season (against the spread):  85-76

Season (straight up):  100-61

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