Saturday, January 14, 2017

The NFL Divisional Round Picks

During last week's 2017 PGA Tour Preview we made a half-assed commitment to keep the momentum going so in an effort to fulfill that half-assed commitment with a proportionate level of effort, we're going to do some NFL Divisional Round picks. We probably should've done this last week but let's face it, those weren't even real playoff games and we knew that going in. When half of your starting quarterbacks are Connor Cook, Brock Osweiler, Matt Moore and Matthew Stafford with an iffy finger, that smacks of a second preseason game. To make matters worse, two of those turnips were playing against each other meaning one of them inevitably got to add NFL playoff game winner to his resume.*   

Look, this dearth of quality writing isn't really my fault. I'm coaching like six of my kids teams which I manage to sucker myself into every fall and winter based on the fairly accurate premise that I'm more qualified than the dad who shows-up in a turtleneck and baggy jeans and then wastes half of every practice on fitness and ball skills. Here's the scoop Skip. When you get the kids once a week for an hour, you better focus on teaching them not to stand in one place while yelling "I'm open, I'm open, I'm open . . ." as their teammate gets mauled by the defense like a clumsy gazelle on the Serengeti a/k/a the Texans in Foxborough this weekend but we'll get to that in a minute.

Hey, that felt like a segue. Let's go in order of gametime:

Atlanta by 4.5 over Seattle: The Pick - Seahawks

We're hoping Atlanta moves
on because there's more
where this came from. 
After a really shaky 0-3 start to his playoff career, Matt Ryan started to right the ship in the 2012 season with a win over Seattle followed by a great game against the 49ers that the Falcons wound-up losing. That's the good news. The bad news is that the Falcons haven't been back to the playoffs since which, at a minimum, has to make you ask "what the fuck?" Quarterbacks of the caliber that Matty Ice is supposed to be don't have three year droughts. The longest such drought by any of the other established quarterbacks in the playoffs is two years by Ben Roethlisberger and that was because he used to be a meathead who didn't know how to get out of harm's way so his injuries cost the Steelers a couple postseasons. Ryan hasn't missed a game since 2009.

The Falcons should still win this game the way their offense is clicking but it's got 27-24 written all over it. Even if the Seahawks are down by 10 with five seconds left, Russell Wilson is going to pull a Paul Crew to get the ball into the endzone for the cover. (If you don't immediately get that reference, there's a gaping hole in your sports movie resume).

New England by 16 over Houston: The Pick - Patriots

We've actually already seen this show back in Week 3 when Tom Brady was still suspended and a fired-up Houston squad rolled into Foxborough ready to throw a Full Metal Jacket blanket party for the Patriots backup to their backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett. The Texans then played like someone tied their shoes together by turning the ball over three times and it became readily apparent why John Elway treated Brock Osweiler's departure with slightly less concern than losing a $5 Chipotle gift card. Now they get a rematch only this time New England will have a well rested Brady who is on a fuck you campaign that won't end until Roger Goodell hands him both the Lombardi and the Super Bowl MVP trophies. As much as I despise the Patriots, I do appreciate a good vengeance story. 

Kansas City by 1.5 over Pittsburgh: The Pick - Chiefs

This is a total contrarian play because betting on Andy Reid in January is like betting on Marty Schottenheimer in January (cash flow negative). Not to mention, the Steelers have been on a serious roll since hanging twenty-one fourth quarter points on the Ravens in the game that ruined Christmas evening. (This year we learned that the only thing worse than talking politics with your in-laws is watching football with your in-laws). 

There are, however, three reasons the Chiefs are appealing: (1) They're at home and Arrowhead is about as welcoming as a truck stop toilet seat; (2) Roethlisberger is a tad gimpy and, if you take away his mobility, he goes from great to very good; and (3) Despite his sketchy playoff history, Andy Reid is one of the smartest coaches in the league and he's had an extra week to get ready to shut down the Steelers. Don't be surprised if they stymie Le'Veon Bell and force a couple of picks. If they can do that, they'll win. That is assuming of course that Reid's clock management "skills" don't cause the Chiefs to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory (shit, can I change my pick?). 

Dallas by 5 over Green Bay: The Pick - Packers

Despite the great run the Cowboys have been on, how can you bet against Aaron Fucking Rodgers when he's doing Aaron Fucking Rodgers things and the quarterback on the other side is a rookie? Especially when you're getting five points. The answer is you can't but let's see if we can get another paragraph out of this so it looks like we're trying. 

Green Bay doesn't have
cheerleaders, however . . .
Aaron Fucking Rodgers!
The "X" factor in this game is Ezekiel Elliott (Captain Obvious reporting for duty sir) and, if the Packers can slow him down and hold the Cowboys to around 24 points, that should be enough to win and certainly enough to cover. That is, however, easier said than done against arguably the best offensive line the league has seen since the last time the Cowboys were any good (back when Jimmy Johnson was picking the players). You know, we could go on about the matchups in this game for hours but we wouldn't really know what we're talking about (which qualifies us for our own ESPN morning show) and, more importantly, we'd just keep coming back to Aaron Fucking Rodgers so ultimately, that's the analysis. Aaron Fucking Rodgers!    

Footnote

* Picturing Osweiler at the NFL Playoff Game Winner's Club and Terry Bradshaw constantly yelling, "HEY BROCK, TELL US ABOUT THE TIME YOU OUTDUELED CONNOR COOK" and then giggling in the corner with Brett Favre and Jim McMahon.   

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