Friday, January 12, 2024

The FGR NFL Wild Card Round Picks

Back in its heyday, the FGR used to be almost as heavy on football content as it was on golf. Somewhat regular picks, power rankings and even mock drafts were key components of a thriving writing machine that redlined and blew itself out sometime in November and December of 2018 after eleven (ELEVEN) football posts during that span. Now you'd be lucky to see eleven golf posts between New Year's Day and The Masters. (And yes, the word "lucky" is doing some heavy lifting there).  

The timing of this sudden loss of interest in the NFL was not coincidental. It came the week before the Ravens hosted the Chargers in the first round of the playoffs and spotted them a 23-3 lead thanks to dreadful offensive play calling, five Mike Badgley field goals and a typically douchy effort by Phillip Rivers before ultimately losing 23-16. And if that didn't completely kill the mood, then a 13-3 win by the Patriots over the Rams in arguably the most unwatchable Super Bowl ever provided the death blow. 

I could no longer devote meaningful attention to a world that constantly rewarded Brady and Belichick. By that point I had already written a post entitled Things I Used to Hate More than the Patriots because they had managed to surpass everything that I had ever hated before. Of course Brady would win yet another Super Bowl with Tampa Bay two years later when Andy Reid and company rolled-over to get a three hour belly rub. That year the Ravens actually managed to win a playoff game before posting 3 measly points in a 17-3 loss at Buffalo in a game we jaded Baltimore fans recognized was over in the second quarter. 

But now I'm back for more Ravens playoff soul crushing with the assurance that it can't happen this week which is probably the main source of my renewed inspiration. As you peruse these picks, know that I have lost 13 of the last 14 bets I've made on college and professional football games (seriously). Maybe I'm an idiot or maybe I'm due. (Hey let's not rule-out both). We're about to find out. 

Cleveland -2 over Houston: The Pick - Browns

This is simply the next step in Joe Flacco's dramatic return to Baltimore where he will either: (a) throw two early picks and give-up a strip sack fumble touchdown en route to a 27-6 loss, or; (b) throw three second half touchdown passes en route to a 31-27 come from behind win. There is no other scenario in play. If the latter occurs, all of the Ravens fans who Ronnie from Baltimore crushes here will exit a somber stadium with the mild sense of satisfaction that comes with telling yourself you've been right all along.  

Kansas City -4.5 over Miami: The Pick - Chiefs

In addition to losing Bradley Chubb because he was inexplicably still on the field at the end of a 56-19 loss to the Ravens, the Dolphins are all kinds of banged-up in the secondary and at wide receiver. Meanwhile, the only notable entry on the Chiefs' injury report is the Phillips Norelco 9800 of point shaving, Kadarius Toney. Even the human crying emoji and his fellow insurance salesmen should be able to handle a team that hasn't won a game on the road against a team with a winning record since September 18th . . . of 2022. 

Buffalo -10 over Pittsburgh: The Pick - Steelers

For those wondering why this line is so high, it's because T.J. Watt is out and the Steelers are something like 1-10 in games where he doesn't play. With that being said, no coach gets more out of his players than Mike Tomlin who has STILL never had a losing record. So on one side you have Josh Allen with his 3+ turnovers and on the other you have the best coach in the league at finding ways to win. Oh yeah, the second guy is getting 10 points. 

Dallas -7 over Green Bay: The Pick - Packers

The reason I like to leave the TV on in the background (aside from chasing away the deafening silence) is to learn things I did not know like the fact that the Packers have won six of their last eight games and, during that stretch, Jordan Love has thrown eighteen touchdown passes against one interception. He's also run for two more. Sure some of those wins are against dogshit teams but trying to find quality opponents in the NFL these days is like doing a Yelp search for dining options on Richie Highway (local Maryland humor).   

And then there are the Cowboys who should've lost three of their last four if not for benefitting from the refs having deciding more games this year than a Russian figure skating judge. The only analysis necessary here is Mike McCarthy giving points. Run away. Don't walk. Run.   

Detroit - 3 over Los Angeles: The Pick - Rams

Sorry Detroit. You are still who you are for at least one more year. And despite how big a fan I've become of Dan Campbell since believing that this tweet would represent the peak of his coaching career, he's still the second best coach in this game with the second best quarterback and that's the wrong recipe for playoff success.

Philadelphia -3 over Tampa: The Pick - Eagles 

Everything feels wrong about this pick. The Eagles have lost five of their last six. The Bucs have won five of their last six. I've already picked four road teams. Jack Reacher just let the bad guy get away (for now). It's going to be another week before he kills him. I WANT VENGEANCE FOR FRANZ NOW!!! (Sorry, I'm back). 

The reason I can't get behind the Bucs (besides the Baker Mayfield/Jake Delhomme vibes) is that they played six playoff teams this year and the only one they beat was Green Bay. Their other eight wins were against the dregs of the league with half of them coming against the NFC South which was this year's shopping cart with the crooked wheel. 

Meanwhile, despite the recent sucking, the Eagles were 6-2 against playoff teams. Also, their fans are going to overrun Tampa even if it's just to get the fuck out of Philadelphia to go get pissed drunk and boo Jalen Hurts in a warmer climate.      

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