With ten seconds left in Vikings/Saints, I was staring down a 4-4 opening to these playoffs. Then it happened. Now I’m 3-4-1 and need to hit more than I miss over these final three games to end up in the black. Can I do it? Probably not. Because football done lost it’s damn mind.
One note on the end of Vikes/Saints: enough with the babying of pro athletes. Marcus Williams blew a playoff game. Often these playoff games are decided by a single moment, a single play, and in this case Williams committed one of the biggest gaffes in the history of the sport. For those saying “his career won’t be defined by this moment” I ask you this: how the hell do you know? Bill Buckner had one hell of a baseball career. What’s the most defining play of Tony Romo’s career? Williams is a safety. He’s not going to get too many opportunities to change this legacy. And the “Whiff Six” is his legacy.
On to the games…
Jacksonville at New England
Sunday – 2:05 pm CT
Pick: Patriots -9.5
- Doug Marrone and Nathaniel Hackett picked the Steelers apart last weekend with one of the most dynamic play-calling exhibitions you’ll see in a postseason game. This wasn’t a “we’ll line up and do what we do” performance. Blake Bortles may have only completed 14 passes but he utilized 9 different receivers. Tommy Bohanon had 5 catches all season long. So did Ben Koyack. The Jags have decided to use their entire roster this postseason. And it’s working. But did they empty the cupboard?
- Frankly, enough with this Jags defense. They talk a ton and make some big plays but the last two actual quarterbacks they faced – Jimmy G. and Big Ben – totaled 711 passing yards and 86 points. Jags defense built a reputation this season picking on bad quarterbacks and an historically awful early-season performance from Roethlisberger. They’re facing the best that ever did it this weekend.
- But Jacksonville does have one element on defense required to make Brady’s life difficult: pass rush. And they have a man in the front office who knows that better than any other individual who has confronted the Belichick/Brady dynasty. But if Jax doesn’t get to Brady, lights out.
- The most surprising development of the Divisional Round? Pats pass rush. They brutalized a very good Titans line, even with the loss of Jack Conklin, to the tune of 7 sacks and 5-7 more pressures. If the same pressure is present Sunday, Mr. Bortles is going to have one of those games that makes Coughlin and Caldwell start pricing out Kirk Cousins.
- My buddy Josh, a bitter Bills fans, has started texting me “Wheels” every time Bortles gains a first down with his legs. Well, don’t think for a second the Patriots aren’t well aware of this newfound dimension in the Jags attack. Wheels ain’t beating Matt Patricia’s boys.
Patriots 30, Jaguars 16
Minnesota at Philadelphia
Sunday – 5:40 pm CT
Pick: Eagles +3.5
- Here’s what I don’t see happening in this game: (a) either team running the ball effectively or (b) either team throwing the ball effectively.
- Here’s what I do see happening in this game: (a) lots of short, easy, risk-adverse throws and (b) two coaching staffs attempting to make life as easy as possible on their quarterbacks, both of whom will have never faced pressure like this in their football lives.
- Trust-o-meter: Jake Elliot – 81, Kai Forbath 60. And I think this game is coming down to a big kick late.
Eagles 13, Vikings 10