Mock Draft 3.0 (Ginger King)

We’re inside 2 weeks.  There are some big changes here as edge closer to the Draft.  So many questions, so little time.  But that’s why we’re here.  To answer all your questions, until we change the answers next week.  Enjoy.

Round 1 Team Pick Position
1 Cleveland Browns Myles Garrett (Texas A&M) DE
2 San Francisco Solomon Thomas (Stanford) DE
3 Chicago Bears Jamal Adams (LSU) S
4 Jacksonville Jaguars Leonard Fournette (LSU) RB
5 Tennessee Titans O.J. Howard (Alabama) TE
6 NY Jets Jonathon Allen (Alabama) DE
7 Los Angeles Chargers Malik Hooker (OSU) S
8 Carolina Panthers Dalvin Cook (FSU) RB
9 Cincinnati Bengals Mike Williams (Clemson) WR

Paired opposite AJ = matchup nightmare.

10 Buffalo Bills Marshon Lattimore (OSU) CB
11 New Orleans Saints Derek Barnett (Tennessee) DE
12 Cleveland Browns Mitchell Trubisky (UNC) QB
13 Arizona Cardinals John Ross (Washington) WR
14 Philadelphia Eagles Marlon Humphrey (Alabama) CB
15 Indianapolis Colts Reuben Foster (Alabama) LB
16 Baltimore Ravens Corey Davis (Western Michigan) WR
17 Washington Redskins Jabrill Peppers (Michigan) S
18 Tennessee Titans Tra’Davious White (LSU) CB
19 Tampa Bay Bucs Ryan Ramcyk (Wisconsin) OL
20 Denver Broncos Garett Bolles (Utah) OL
21 Detroit Lions Taco Charlton (Michigan) DE
22 Miami Dolphins Zach Cunningham (Vanderbilt) LB
23 New York Giants David Njoku (Miami) TE
24 Oakland Raiders Caleb Brantley (Florida) DT
25 Houston Texans Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech) QB

The successor to the Brock Osweiler era.

26 Seattle Seahawks Haasan Reddick (Temple) DE
27 Kansas City Chiefs Christian McCaffrey (Stanford) RB
28 Dallas Cowboys Jarad Davis (Florida) LB
29 Green Bay Packers TJ Watt (Wisconsin) LB
30 Pittsburgh Steelers Josh Jones (NC State) S
31 Atlanta Falcons Cam Robinson (Alabama) OL
32 New Orleans Saints Gareon Conley (OSU) CB

 

Instant Anlaysis:  Mitchell falling to 12 would be the dream scenario for the Browns, but chances of that working out are iffy.  In fact, I’m not sure he’ll make it, as there are a few teams (Jets, Saints, and even the Bills as a dark horse) that could take Trubisky.  But for now, we’ll give Cleveland some LeBron magic.  Elsewhere, speed sells, as Mr. 4.22 John Ross keeps moving up and up.  He’d fit in perfectly in Arizona, a true deep threat to open up the underneath for (suddenly old) Larry Fitzgerald.  This, in turn, moves Corey Davis up a few slots.  It’s a deceptively deep draft for receivers, but only 3 are first round worthy.  After that, it’s a muddled mix of maybes and could-bes, guys like Ju-Ju Smith-Schuster, Zay Jones, Dede Westbrook, and Curtis Samuel.

On the defensive side, secondary rules.  As many as 8 cornerbacks/safeties (a quarter of the first round) could go on Day 1.  When you think about it, as the league continues to change to a pass-first offense, defenses adjust accordingly.  Thus, corners and safeties become more of a priority.

Mock Draft 2.0 (Ginger King)

NFL Draft 2017

Happy April Fool’s Day!  Did you enjoy scarring your children for life by pretending to throw the family dog into oncoming traffic (Sparkles, no!!!)  Honestly, is there a dumber day out there that people celebrate (not including anything Canada celebrates that we don’t, because really, what the fuck is Boxing Day.  And don’t even get me started about Victoria Day.

Anyway, there’s no fooling around with The Draft.  We’re inside a month.  It’s time to get real.  The first wave of free agency has come and gone, and that has dramatically shaped the first round.  Check out our updated First Round.

Round 1 Team Pick Position
1 Cleveland Browns Myles Garrett (Texas A&M) DE
2 San Francisco Solomon Thomas (Stanford) DE
3 Chicago Bears Jonathon Allen (Alabama) DE
4 Jacksonville Jaguars Leonard Fournette (LSU) RB
5 Tennessee Titans Jamal Adams (LSU) S
6 NY Jets Mitch Trubisky (UNC) QB
7 Los Angeles Chargers Malik Hooker (OSU) S
8 Carolina Panthers Dalvin Cook (FSU) RB
9 Cincinnati Bengals O.J. Howard (Alabama) TE
OJ may be the best offensive player in The Draft.

OJ may be the best offensive player in The Draft.

 

10 Buffalo Bills Marshon Lattimore (OSU) CB
11 New Orleans Saints Mike Williams (Clemson) WR
12 Cleveland Browns Cam Robinson (Alabama) OL
13 Arizona Cardinals Reuben Foster (Alabama) LB
14 Philadelphia Eagles Tra’Davious White (LSU) CB
15 Indianapolis Colts Ryan Ramcyk (Wisconsin) OL
16 Baltimore Ravens John Ross (Washington) WR
17 Washington Redskins Jabrill Peppers (Michigan) LB
18 Tennessee Titans Corey Davis (Western Michigan) WR
19 Tampa Bay Bucs Caleb Brantley (Florida) DT
20 Denver Broncos Garett Bolles (Utah) OL
21 Detroit Lions Taco Charlton (Michigan) DE
22 Miami Dolphins Zach Cunningham (Vanderbilt) LB
23 New York Giants David Njoku (Miami) TE
24 Oakland Raiders Marlon Humphrey (Alabama) CB
25 Houston Texans Forrest Lamp (Western Kentucky) OL
26 Seattle Seahawks Kevin King (Washington) CB
27 Kansas City Chiefs Christian McCaffrey (Stanford) RB
White Lightning.

White Lightning.

28 Dallas Cowboys Haasan Reddick (Temple) DE
29 Green Bay Packers T.J. Watt (Wisconsin) LB
30 Pittsburgh Steelers Charles Harris (Missouri) DE
31 Atlanta Falcons Jordan Willis (Kansas St.) DE
32 New Orleans Saints Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech) QB

Instant Analysis:  Biggest mover is OJ Howard.  Once thought to be available in the late first round, Howard is flying up draft boards.  He’s a two-for one…he’ll improve your passing game and blocking game.  Another riser is John Ross.  Speed sells, and 4.22 is pretty damn fast.  Some fallers include quarterbacks, specifically Deshaun Watson and DeShone Kizer.  Simply put: this is weak QB class, and, when that’s the case, teams are finding that they can get success at QB in later rounds (Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott).  Barring some teams trading back up into the first round (don’t forget about that 5th year team option for 1st round picks), I can’t see more than 2 qbs going in the first.

Another big winner is running backs.  The modern trend puts less value on running backs, however this Draft figures to be different.  Fournette is a bruiser (has Tom Coughlin guy written all over him) and Dalvin Cook and Christian McCaffrey are the dual-threat backs teams cream over.  It’s been 5 years since 3 backs were taken in the First Round.  We like the chances this year.

Mock Draft 1.0 (Ginger King)

NFL Draft 2017

Is your bracket busted?  Yours truly was looking great until Wisconsin just ruined it all!  Oh well, it’s time to focus on what’s really important.  The NFL Draft!

We’re almost a month away (but you knew that) from the most important (not actual) sporting event.  Teams looking to rebuild (Cleveland, again), reload (New England, again), and just fill in the last remaining pieces to a championship run.

Now, if you’ve looked at mock drafts thus far, good for you…but they are utterly meaningless.  Any mock you see pre-Combine is worthless.  Ditto for anything pre-free agency.  I don’t know how many times we’ve stressed this to anyone that will listen, but teams are built through free agency, and then supplemented via the draft.  You think Philly’s going WR after signing Alshon Jeffrey???  You think Chicago’s drafting a qb after signing Mike Glennon (possible, but unlikely).  Anyway, it’s still too early for a full mock, but let’s give you a flavor for our Top 10.  Here.  We.  Go.

Round 1 Team Pick Position
1 Cleveland Browns Myles Garrett (Texas A&M) DE
2 San Francisco Mitch Trubisky (UNC) QB
3 Chicago Bears Jonathon Allen (Alabama) DT
4 Jacksonville Jaguars Solomon Thomas (Stanford) DE
5 Tennessee Titans Jamal Adams (LSU) S
6 NY Jets Malik Hooker (OSU) S
7 Los Angeles Chargers Mike Williams (Clemson) WR
8 Carolina Panthers Dalvin Cook (FSU) RB
9 Cincinnati Bengals Leonard Fournette (LSU) RB
10 Buffalo Bills Marshon Lattimore (OSU) CB
Congrats on being the best player in the Draft.  Your reward is a trip to Cleveland and a losing season.

Congrats on being the best player in the Draft. Your reward is a trip to Cleveland and a losing season.

Instant Analysis:  I think the Browns are locked on to Garrett.  Let’s be honest:  The Browns need a lot of things.  Yes, they need a quarterback.  Yes, they need a running back.  But what they really need most is a sure thing…and Garrett is the only sure thing in this Draft.  Plus, the Browns also have the #12 pick (finally, they are doing this draft thing right and stockpiling picks).  It’s possible that Trubisky, Fournette, or Cook fall to #12.  It’s not possible that Garrett does.  Try all you want, but defenses still win championships.

Stock is falling.

Stock is falling.

Other notables:  The Jets (wisely) pass on a RB in the first round and shore up their secondary.  LA splashes with a WR (hey, they need to sell tickets, defense may win championships, but offense sells luxury boxes).  For now, I have Fournette going in the Top 10…but that slow 40 may drop him.  I do think that he will be the second running back taken, as Dalvin Cook fits the modern day running back mold (dual threat running and receiving).  And Buffalo switches gears and goes with the best cover corner in the draft, after losing Stephon Gilmore to free agency (see how that works).

As we get closer to the real deal, we’ll give you a full analysis of the first round.  For now, enjoy this taste.

SUPER BOWL 51 : WHY THE FALCONS WILL WIN

Oh yeah!  Are you ready?  The greatest game in American all of sports is set to be played Sunday night in Houston.  Seriously, after the Super Bowl, we fall off the sports cliff (but pitchers and catchers report on zzzzzzzzzzzz).

Anyway, the high-flying Atlanta Falcons take on the New England Patriots.  Yes, the same Patriots that are always in the Super Bowl.  With the same cheating quarterback, same cheating coach, and same cast of bit-players and discarded running backs and receivers who somehow become great once they put on that stupid uniform.  I’m looking at you Chris Hogan!  Hilariously, Roid Rage has to tell you why the Patriots will win the Super Bowl.  For a devout Buffalo Bills fan (is there any other kind?) that must be the most painful experience since the Music City Miracle (sorry, bro).  Well, if you’re like 99% of Americans (and 100% of Americans who can pronounce the letter r) there’s only one to root for come Sunday.  So let me tell you why the Atlanta Falcons will win the Super Bowl.

Let’s start with a video, shall we:  I call this one, Julio-ma-god!

Everyone loves to talk about quarterbacks, but I like to talk about the most dominant player on the field.  That is Julio Jones, who has absolutely lit up the field in the postseason.  Here’s Julio’s stat line this postseason:  15/247/3.  In two games!  He is unstoppable.  Even when he’s doubled, or guarded with safety help underneath, he’s a threat (watch that video again).

Next stop:  endzone.

Next stop: endzone.

Julio’s an atypical wide receiver, in that he’s not a complete self-absorbed diva.  You’ll never see him taking videos in the locker room, or partying with Bieber.  His laid back, unassuming attitude might not get him headlines, but he’s not looking for that.  He’s looking to win.  That doesn’t mean he lacks confidence, he just doesn’t need to be a dick about it.  During the (annoyingly long) media day, Julio was asked if anyone can guard him.  In a very polite, yet matter-of-fact tone, Julio responded.  “One-on-one, no I do not.”  Period.  And we believe him.

Don’t forget about us.

Julio is only the beginning of the problem for the Patriots.  Simply put:  the Falcons have a more complete offense than the Patriots.  Both running and receiving are (by far) superior to New England.  Stick that in your Wahlbahgah!  Mohammed Sanu has scored a touchdown in each playoff game this year, and Taylor Gabriel continues to display is “X-factor” [draft day drinking game term…chug!].  He hasn’t scored in the postseason (yet), but we love his work on the inside.  That’s where the Patriots D is most vulnerable.  They’ll work to contain Julio and Sanu outside, which should leave lanes for Gabriel and his ridiculous speed.

Don't forget about me, either.

Don’t forget about me, either.

Who’s the receiving game’s best friend, you ask?  A running game.  And the Falcons succeed there too.  Devonta Freeman’s so, good, he’s talking contract extension BEFORE the Super Bowl.  That’s either insanely naïve or confident, and based on his play, we’ll go with the latter.  Devonta hasn’t rushed for many yards in the playoffs, but he’s scored a touchdown in each playoff game, and he’s a [cue draft day drinking game term] dual threat, as he can catch the ball out of the backfield.  In their Divisional Playoff game against Seattle, Freeman was the Falcon’s leading receiver.  That just adds another defensive scheme wrinkle…if the Pats double Julio and drop two safeties in coverage to stop the pass and shadow the slot, that will leave Devonta one-on-one in the flat against a linebacker.  We like those odds.

But let’s not just talk about the offense.  The defense gets their props too.  While obviously overshadowed by the offense, the defense is no slouch.  And, more importantly, they match up really well against the Patriots.  If history is any indicator, the recipe against the Pats is front 4 pressure, close the pocket, and get in Brady’s face.  Like this:

Or this:

Speed on the edge and pressure up front.  Atlanta’s all over that.  The Falcons are the second coming of the Legion of Boom, which is no surprise, seeing as how Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn was the defensive coordinator in Seattle prior to taking the job with Atlanta.  Long, aggressive, and quick, and it starts up front, with NFL leading-sack man Vic Beasley.  He’s listed as a linebacker, but don’t be surprised to see him with his hands on the ground up front.  For true defensive ends, the Falcons have a good blend of youth and experience, with Adrian Clayborn, Tyson Jackson, and Dwight Freeney (what is he, like 50?).  The Patriots O-line will have their hands full.

In the secondary, things don’t get much better.  Yes, they’re inexperienced, but 2nd year stud Jalen Collins is quickly establishing himself as a lockdown corner, and rookie Keanu Neal adds even more speed in the safety spot.  Speed and length in the secondary allows for an aggressive game plan for the front seven.

MVP! MVP! MVP!

MVP! MVP! MVP!

Oh, yeah, and we didn’t even talk about (soon to be) MVP Matt Ryan.  Ryan followed up his brilliant regular season with an even more brilliant performance in the playoffs.  He’s thrown for 730 yard and 7 touchdowns…in 2 games!  Those are Madden-esque numbers.  Plus, Matt’s got one more trick up his sleeve to help him in the Super Bowl.  Advice from the only man that’s beaten Tom in the Super Bowl (twice).  You know I can’t write a Super Bowl winning article without mentioning Eli.

You can talk mystique and hoodies all you want, but these Patriots are riding on the coattails of the past.  The loss of Gronk will be felt even more now that Martellus Bennett is limping.  He’ll play, but he won’t be near 100%.  Look, they’re still the Patriots.  This game will not be a blowout.  Tom Brady is still Tom Brady, with his perfect little arm, perfect wife, perfect family…dammit we him.  But Atlanta’s got too much firepower for the Patriots to handle.

One more thing:  Bet.  The.  Under.  We know the Falcons have scored 30+ points in six consecutive games.  We know the Patriots score in bunches too.  We know we told you to bet the over in the NFC Championship Game against Green Bay when it was a jaw-dropping 61 (you’re welcome).  We know everyone is expecting a shootout.  But hear us out.  First, the over/under is at a historic high for the Super Bowl at 59.  Second, only 4 times has the over/under for a Super Bowl been over 50 points.  The under has hit all 4 times.  Defenses gel as the playoffs move on, and playcalling gets more conservative as the stakes get higher.  Look for the under to be successful for the 5th time.

Final thoughts:  Not for nothing, but you should root for the Falcons.  With all the gut shots America’s taken over the past month, another Patriots Super Bowl will just put us over the edge.

This ginger’s flying high with the Falcons.  Let’s make Football great again.

Final Score:  Atlanta 31, New England 27

NFC CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP

It's go time!

It’s go time!

While the AFC may be a foregone conclusion (Roid Rage does his best, but if even he is picking the Patriots, then it’s a sure thing), the NFC is wide open.  Both teams are playing top level football.  The Falcons dismantled the Seahawks last week, and Green Bay won an instant classic against the Cowboys (thank you).  Is there any doubt that kicker is the most intense, pressure-packed job in all of sports?

Wait, can we talk about that Dallas/Green Bay again for a second?  That’s everything you want in a game.  Home team down 15 in the fourth quarter, they claw back, tie it up, and then Green Bay hits a pair of 50+ yarders.  And that throw and catch.  Hot damn.

Damn.

Damn.

The best part?  All of these videos (and believe me, there are tons of them)

Seriously, I could (and did) spend a whole day watching the misery of others passionate football fans commiserate a loss.  What does that say about me?  And then seeing this tweet from Skip Bayless, sad, sad, Cowboys homer.

Is there anything more annoying than a pompous sports writer who won’t accept defeat?  Joe Buck?  Just kidding Joe, we love you.

We love you, Joe!

We love you, Joe!

Anyway, let’s get right to the matchup, which should be a good one.

Green Bay at Atlanta (+6), Sunday 3:05 pm

Three words:  Bet.  The.  Over.  What’s that, you say?  The O/U is 61?  I don’t care.  Bet.  The.  Over.  Need proof.  In each of their last 5 games, Atlanta and Green Bay have scored at least 30 points (Atlanta topped 40 twice).  Not surprisingly, the teams are a combined 10-0 over those games.

And the scoring will not let up come game time.  Forget what you’ve heard that defense wins championships.  Both teams are ranked in the 20’s in overall defense.  Sure, that’s a risky strategy that’s ultimately unsuccessful, regardless of the sport (see 2016 Golden State Warriors), but hey, it’s worked so far for both teams.  Why stop now?  Ride that pony.

Get it?

Get it?

On paper, the edge goes to Atlanta.  They have the most offensive balance (read:  they actually have a running game).  Don’t call Devonta Freeman a change of pace back.  He’s a legit #1 back, and he and Tevin Coleman form the best 1-2 punch in the league.  That keeps the defenses up front, which opens up the passing game for Matty Ice (it’s cool to call him that again).  And that passing game is more than just Julio Jones, although you don’t really need much more.  Mohammed Sanu is a solid #2, and we love what Taylor Gabriel brings.  He’s the real X-factor in their offense, and he tied with Julio for most receiving touchdowns.

For Green Bay, it’s all about Aaron Rodgers.  Everyone wants to talk about his home life, and his estrangement from his parents (note:  I’d choose Olivia Munn over my family too), but Aaron Rodgers is the hottest quarterback in the game.

Totally worth never talking to your parents anymore.

Totally worth never talking to your parents anymore.

The Packers are riding an 8-game winning streak, during which Rodgers has thrown 21 touchdowns passes and only 1 interception.  Daddy may not love him anymore, but who needs your parent’s approval with numbers like that.  Papa don’t preach!

Replacement Dad.

Replacement Dad.

Oh yeah, these two played each other, Week 8, in Atlanta.  The Falcons won 33-32, on a late touchdown pass to Sanu.  Green Bay was up for most of the game, but Atlanta scored with 31 seconds left to squeak out a one point victory.  In that game, the Packers shut down Julio, who only had 3 catches for 29 yards.  The Pack will have to contain Julio again.  He’s got to be doubled plus you got to keep Clay and linebackers up front to respect the run.  That will leave lots of open space in the middle and one-on-one coverage for Sanu and Gabriel (nerd alert:  I love the chess match aspect of the NFL).

So who will win?  This one is tough to call, but there’s a reason we’re paid the big bucks.  To make these sorts of decisions.  Because we’re super reliable.  Like, it’s 3 in the morning.  Do you know where our kids are?  Probably at the neighbor’s house.  Anyway, we just can’t trust the Falcons.  Kyle Shanahan already has one foot in San Fran (good luck with that clusterfuck of an organization) and [NFL conspiracy theory alert] what better way to get ratings up than to have the Packers back in the Super Bowl, the beloved franchise from the heartland.  The Machine’s money is on Green Bay to win straight up.  But if you want a real bet, keep reading.

Bet of the Week [only true gamblers need read on]:  Tease the Packers and the over.  Then you get Green Bay +13 and O/U 54.  For the truly degenerate devoted, tease the Packers and the under too (+13 and O/U of 68).  Print that money, homie.  Not to toot our own horn (read: totally tooting that shit) but if you’ve been betting on our playoff picks, you’ve been cleaning up (you’re welcome).  We were 2-0 last week ATS (and straight up).  Time to start making that money!  That deck ain’t gonna pay for itself.

Final Score:  Green Bay 34, Atlanta 30

Insert Farmer's daughter fantasy.

Insert Farmer’s daughter fantasy.

DIVISIONAL WEEKEND – NFC (SUNDAY)

Can we have a close game please?

Can we have a close game please?

As I sit here and watch the Patriots well on their way to covering a 16-point spread, I think:  Sweet baby Jesus, are we going to have a close game ever this playoff season?  All 6 playoff games thus far have been double-digit victories by the home team.  Where’s the parity?  [stands up on soapbox] Where’s the “any given Sunday” bullshit?  [speaking aloud now]. The NFL can blame the presidential election all they want, but, if you ask me, ratings are down because the meaningful games aren’t close.  There’s no drama.  No intrigue.  The biggest story this week was the Chargers moving to L.A., and no one really gives a shit about that.  L.A. fans are already booing.  Ouch, that’s cold.

But fool me once, shame on me.  Fool me 6 times, and shame on me still.  Because, like a dog in heat, I know there’s some good action right around the corner.  I just got to keep at it.  And speaking of good action, let’s break down the Cowboys and Packers.

Green Bay at Dallas (-5.5), 4:40 p.m.

God dammit.  The Cowboys are the Number 1 seed [commence head getting ready to explode].  I can’t take hearing Jerry Jones scream, “How ‘bout them Cowboys!”  As if that a-hole had anything to do with it.  Yes, the Cowboys have drafted brilliantly over the past couple years…solidifying their o-line with picks like Travis Frederick, Zach Martin, and Tyron Smith.  And obviously, they hit a couple of homers this past draft with Ezekiel Elliot and Dak Prescott Anyway, the only thing Jerrah did right was shutting up (to the extent that’s possible).  Remember when he wanted to draft Johnny Football?  He’s at least smart enough to learn to stay out of the way…but not humble enough to give the credit to others.  Anywho, let’s get to the game.

Not all of Jerry's decisions are bad...

Not all of Jerry’s decisions are bad…

While everyone thought that Ezekiel Elliot had the potential to hit the ground running (pun intended) no one thought the same of Dak.  In fact, nothing was expected of Dak, who was drafted in the 4th round, 135th overall, and the 7th qb taken.  He wasn’t even expected to play, let alone succeed.  And succeed he did, tying for the most wins by a rookie QB.  But here’s the worst part about Dak:  we like him (note: we will deny this in public).  He doesn’t make mistakes.  Doesn’t get rattled, even under pressure.  He progresses through his reads like a veteran.  And he seems like a good guy, someone you would probably root for if he were on any other team.  If there’s any silver lining, it’s that Tony Romo is now a has been.  He’ll look great in Buffalo!

Out with the old, in with the new!

Out with the old, in with the new!

While Dak was a pleasant surprise, everyone had high expectations of Elliott, who was drafted #4 overall.  Zeke lived up to those high expectations and then some…leading the league in rushing with 1,631 yards, over 300 yards more than the next running back.  He made defenses look foolish.

Simply nasty.

Simply nasty.

How can a rookie running back and quarterback win 13 games and be the number 1 seed?  What happened to the NFL learning curve?  It certainly helps to have a championship caliber line to open up monster running lanes.  Offensively, the Cowboys don’t have great balance.  They are only 23rd in the league in passing at 226 yards per game, but they are second in rushing at 149 yards per game.  Having a dominant running game will always (yes, always) trump the passing game.  It keeps your offense on the field, controlling the clock and managing drives.  The fewer chances the other team has with the ball the fewer opportunities they have to score.  So can this rookie duo propel Jerrah back to the Super Bowl?  Enter Green Bay.

Another touchdown pass.

Another touchdown pass.

The Packers are the hottest team in the playoffs right now.  Aaron Rodgers and company put on a show last week against the Giants.  They bend but don’t break.  They were down early, hung around, and then did this at the end of the first half:

After that, the party was on.  Green Bay poured it on in the second half, outscoring the Giants 24-7, and winning by 25 points.  And the Discount Doublecheck was in full effect.  Rodgers threw for 362 yards, 4 tds, and 0 ints.  Sure, they only ran the ball for 75 yards, but when you’re hot, you’re hot, and Green Bay can and will ride Aaron Rodgers.

Yes, the loss of Jordy Nelson in this game is huge.  He leads the team in receptions, yards, and touchdowns.  But Randall Cobb and burgeoning superstar Davonte Adams still provide sufficient firepower.

Basically, what this game comes down to is who do you trust more?  Aaron Rodgers or Dak Prescott?  Dak has had a solid season, but he’s never played in a playoff game before.  The stage is that much brighter.  The pressure that much greater.  Sorry, but I’m a prove it to me type of guy, and I don’t believe it until I see it.

Aaron Rodgers is playoff battle tested.  Green Bay’s been in the playoffs 8 years in a row.  They know how to handle themselves.  For his career, Rodgers has thrown 31 playoff tds (and only 8 ints).  I’ll take that body of work over the rookie.

And on defense, Green Bay will load up the box and dare Dak to beat them deep.  Look for Clay Matthews to shadow Elliott.  Zeke better have his head on a swivel if Dak throws a check down pass, because this will be coming at him full steam.

No concealed carry permit required for these guns.

No concealed carry permit required for these guns.

Bottom line:  It is unreasonable to expect a rookie quarterback (and running back) to have this much success.  While the regular season learning curve may be going away, there’s still a playoff learning curve, right?  The Machine thinks so, and thinks that Green Bay will walk out of Cowboys stadium winners.

Final score:  Green Bay 31, Dallas 24

DIVISIONAL WEEKEND – NFC (SATURDAY)

Wow, what a collective dud last week’s wild card games were.  All home teams won easily.  Now, things get a little trickier (unless you’re the Patriots).  Seriously, a 16 point favorite???  I hate New England.  Anyway, let’s look to today’s NFC matchup.

Seattle at Atlanta (-4.5), 4:35 p.m.

Can Atlanta finally translate regular season dominance to post-season success?  Atlanta won 7 of their last 8 and ran away with the NFC South title, and they did it with the one thing this team has lacked in past years:  balance.  You knew Julio would get his…ending the year 2nd overall in receiving yards with 1,409.   But now that have a running threat.  Devonta Freeman is a legitimate running back.  He ran for over 1,000 yards, good for 9th overall.  And, Matt Ryan had a fantasy career resurgence, throwing for 4,944 yards, bested only by Drew Brees.  Take note, NFL:  You have a Top 10 rusher, receiver, and passer.  That equals balance, and balance gets you a bye and a home playoff game.

Change of pace back my ass.

Change of pace back my ass.

You know what also helps?  Scoring a shit ton of points.  The Falcons lead the league averaging over 33 points a game.

Oh yeah, and let’s not forget the defense.  Perhaps more importantly, the Falcons have found balance defensively as well.  Vic Beasley lead the NFL with 15.5 sacks.

Interestingly, the Falcons have not been dominant at home.  They were only 5-3 at home this year, and had a better road record of 6-2.

Seattle has a losing record on the road this year.  However, they are piquing at the right time.  They looked dominant last week in their playoff win over the Lions, and found some balance of their own.  Russell Wilson threw for 2 scores, Thomas Rawls ran for 161 yards, and Doug Baldwin topped 100 receiving yards.  But they will have a much tougher task against the Falcons.  No doubt the matchup of the week will be these two:

The Machine thinks, despite Matt Ryan’s wretched 1-4 playoff record, that Atlanta just has too much firepower for the Seahawks to contain.  The Legion of Boom is down a member, and will have their hands full with Julio and Co.  The spread is set perfectly at 4.5 (it’s like these Vegas guys know what they’re doing).

Final Score:  Atlanta 28, Seattle 24

I love the South

I love the South.

WILDCARD WEEKEND – NFC (SUNDAY)

New York @ Green Bay (-5.5), Sunday, 4:40 pm

Wildcard Weekend ends with the game everyone will be watching.  Both teams enter the playoffs on the rise.  The Giants haven’t been in the playoffs in 4 years, and their defense is poised again to make another run.  Oh yeah, and this guy.

Money!

Money!

Ok one more:

You know he caught that, right?

You know he caught that, right?

If there’s any team hotter than the Giants, it’s the Packers.  At 4-6, the Pack were left for dead and everyone was wondering is this the end of Aaron Rodgers, and when will Mike McCarthy get fired.  Perhaps folks got a bit ahead of themselves, as Green Bay won their final 6 games and clinched the NFC North and a home playoff game.  And Aaron Rodgers threw 40 tds and he and Jordy Nelson are still a lethal 1-2 combo.  Once again, the discount double-check is cool.

Wait, that's not the discount double-check.

Wait, that’s not the discount double-check.

This game is going to be close.  You’ll hear a lot of the “experts” talk about how neither team runs the ball well, but that’s a bit misleading.  Sure, no one on the Giants or Packers ran for more than 600 yards this season, but the running game for both teams has improved as of late.  Last week, the Packers ran for 153 yards.  The Giants ran for 161 yards.  Establishing a running game will be important, as controlling the clock will be key.  In that department, we give the edge to the Giants.  Look out for Paul Perkins, the Giants rookie (5th round) draft pick out of UCLA.  He could be the difference maker.  For Green Bay, converted WR Ty Montgomery has stepped up huge in Eddie Lacy’s absence.

These teams played each other this year (at Green Bay) in Week 5, which seems like ages ago.  The Packers won 23-16, but the game wasn’t even that close.  Green Bay dominated, running for 147 yards, and Rodgers threw 2 touchdowns.  But throw that out the window.  We’re talking playoffs.

And while we’re talking playoffs, the edge goes to the Giants.  In each of their last two Super Bowls, the Giants won on the road in Green Bay.  Who could forget those cheeks?

Ain't nobody got time for the cold.

That’s not normal.

So who wins?  Well, we’ve talk about some of the difference makers…Rodgers, Odell, Jordy, but there’s one guy we didn’t mention yet [cue: Superman music]

eli-manning-playoffs

That’s right.  Playoff Eli.  He will be the difference maker.  The stage is perfectly set for him.  Eli’s had a so-so year, which has led many to questions whether he still has it (or ever had it), and that his role is changing to that of a game manager.  [sidenote: does any two time Superbowl MVP get more shade than Eli?]  But if Eli loves one thing, it’s proving people wrong, and the playoffs is where he’s done that.  Over his last 9 playoff games, here’s Eli’s stats:  15 tds, 4 ints, 8-1 with 2 Superbowls.  Oh yeah, and the Giants were after thoughts in both the ’07 and ’11 Superbowl runs.  We pray, hope, stay up at night wondering whether it will ever happen again, think that Eli’s got some gas left in the tank, and he and his dad bod are ready for another run to glory.

Final Score:  Giants 24, Green Bay 20

Who wants to build sandcastles?  We can use my Superbowl rings as shovels.

Who wants to build sandcastles? We can use my Superbowl rings as shovels.

Wildcard Weekend – NFC (Saturday)

 

Are you ready for some (mildly entertaining) football?

Are you ready for some (mildly entertaining) football?

Hell, yes!  We’re back, and ready to take on the New Year!  Our New Year’s resolution (drink more Coors Light) is going really well.  #achievablegoals.  And the best part about the New Year??? PLAYOFF FOOTBALL!  As usual, Roid Rage will handle the AFC (just put the Pats in already, ok?) which leaves me with the crapshoot that is the NFC.

Detroit @ Seattle (-8), Saturday, 8:15 pm

This is a game of two teams heading in different directions.  Seattle is entering the playoffs on the rise.  Let’s be clear:  Russell Wilson had a down year.  He (quietly) threw for over 4,000 yards, but threw a career high in interceptions, and also had career worst QB rating and QBR.  Reasons vary for why Russell was off this year…but The Machine knows.  Once he got a taste of the high life, his concentration suffered.

Totally understandable

Totally understandable.

But none of that matters anymore.  Except the still banging my super hot wife.  That’s continues to be pretty important.  Anyway, winners of 3 of their last 5 games, Seattle seems to have gotten their old swagger back.

And then, we did it again!

Detroit, meanwhile, got into the playoffs the wrong way.  They had a chance to make their recent struggles disappear last week, with a home game against the Packers for the NFC North.  But alas, the Lions lost (at home), which capped off a disappointing 0-3 end to the season.

Detroit seems to be stuck in the same loop (sorry, I just got done binge watching Westworld).  Every three years or so they get to the playoffs, only to be summarily beaten.  Their last 7 playoff games (dating back to 1993), the Lions are a scrappy 0-7.  Mathew Stafford has played in 2 of those games, throwing for over 300 yards in both losing efforts.  Will the Lions continue in their path of one and done playoff appearances, or will they gain consciousness, take control of their lives, and re-write their story (seriously, go watch Westworld).

If only this guy were still around...

If only this guy were still around…

We’re not buying it.  Although The Machine’s already exposed the fraud that is the 12th Man, Seattle is still tough to beat at home.  They were 7-1 at home on the year, and that one loss was a last second field goal.

Glad they kept the 12th Man an organic, fan-created idea, and didn’t go all corporate.

Here’s another fun fact:  The Lions haven’t won a road playoff game since 1957.  That’s right, since the Eisenhower administration.  And that streak’s not going to end this weekend.  Eight points is a big spread to cover in the playoffs, but we like Seattle’s chances.  Maybe it’s our East Coast bias, or our general apathy for the Mid-West, but it’s tough to get excited for this matchup.  This game will rival the Raiders/Texans for least watched playoff game.

Final Score:  Seattle 27, Detroit 17

Actual footage from last Detroit Lions road playoff win.

Actual footage from last Detroit Lions road playoff win.

Tuesday Teabag, July 12, 2016 – The Kevin Durant Free Agency Freak Out

Kevin DurantThat’s right!  We’re back with a brand new Teabag!  We receive millions, thousands, hundreds, tens, many emails and tweets (if you’re not following us on Twitter, you’re doing it wrong), and they all want to know the same thing:  Why haven’t you written a Teabag in so long?  Are you still hungover from the Draft Party?  Busy playing Pokemon Go?  Do you no longer like to give Teabags?

No, no, and no.  True, we may have drunk our weight in Coors Light at the Draft Party, but we’re not going soft on you.  In fact, we’re busy gearing up for another for another (wildly successful) fantasy football season.  Also, if we catch any of you playing Pokemon Go (and yes, we’re watching) we will openly shame you.  And we’ll never stop loving teabags.  So with that, let’s get right to our Teabag du jour.

You may have heard that Kevin Durant signed with Golden State last week.  The signing is beyond huge.  KD is a Top 5 player…a Top 3 player if you really know your NBA.  League MVP.  He’s spent his entire career with the OKC franchise, and after (multiple) unsuccessful postseasons, decided to take his talents to Oaktown.

Now, not surprisingly, OKC fans freaked out…burning his jersey, crying in the streets, essentially erasing his name from the City.  Some of that’s to be expected…at least from the fans.  Fans are, by nature, fanatical, and have a weird sense of ownership over the players that play for their team…well, at least the good ones.  Pretty sure no one would freak out if Cameron Payne left the Thunder.

A bit much.

A bit much.

Anyway, what’s odd is that KD is getting shit from journalists and other “knowledgeable” sports writers.  Notable blowhard Stephen A. Smith (a past Teabag recipient) said it was “the weakest move I’ve even seen an NBA superstar commit.”  He then tried to explain his reasoning as follows:

“You are riding the gravy train. You’re jumping on the bandwagon. They don’t need you. They’ve won without you. Chances are, they’d win again, without you. You are jumping on their coattails to do what some would say you should have done already. Considering the great talent that you are. That’s my issue with Kevin Durant. Nothing else. Not him choosing to leave Oklahoma City. Not him choosing to go someplace else. Not him choosing to depart from Russell Westbrook.”

Think about that for a second.  He’s not upset KD left Oklahoma City.  He’s upset he left to go to Golden State, a more successful team.  Where was he supposed to go?  Milwaukee?  Why would he go to a worse team?  If he took more money from a worse team, wouldn’t that make him more selfish?  Instead, he decided to go to a (much) better team.

But more than just Stephen, other people have come out against this trade.  Michael Rosenberg wrote a long-winded, get your ball off my yard article, incredulously wondering “where is Durant’s competitive spirit?” Mike Lupica whined that Durant took “the path of least resistance.”

The Machine is here to say, you guys are out of your fucking minds.  Path of least resistance?  Guess what team is going to have the most pressure to win next season?  Golden State.  If they don’t win the title, the season will be a waste.  Shit, if they don’t win more than 73 games, the season will be a waste.  Where’s his competitive spirit?  Umm, he was sick of losing in the playoffs and waiting for OKC to bring in more talent.  He made this move because of his competitive spirit.  He wants to win, and wants to win now.  The NBA is a young man’s game.  He’s in his prime, but he won’t be there for long.  He can’t keep wondering if the Thunder will put together a championship caliber team.  They’ve been unsuccessful in 9 years.

If OKC really wanted to keep KD, then they wouldn’t have let James Harden leave.  Yes folks, the writing’s been on the wall since 2012, when OKC traded Harden to the Rockets.  The Thunder were just coming off a Finals appearance…Harden was a budding superstar (he won the NBA 6th man of the year in 2012) and they were poised to get back to the Finals.  Instead, OKC hit reset, traded Harden, and put it all on KD and Westbrook’s shoulders, which isn’t enough.  Why?  Because if any of the past, say, five NBA champions have taught us anything, it’s that’s you need more than 2 superstars on your team to win.  Here’s some math equations:

Duncan + Manu + Parker = Championship.

LeBron + Kyrie + Love = Championship.

Wade + Bosh + LeBron = Championship.

Wade + Bosh = NO Championship.

What could'be been.

What could’be been.

Durant and Westbrook were never going to win a championship together, and OKC didn’t do enough to bring in a third championship-caliber player.  Which leaves to my next point.

Guess where Russell Westbrook is going to be after next season?  Answer:  Not Oklahoma City.  Should KD sit around and wait for Westbrook to bail and be left holding the bag?  That’s absurd.  Leaving now is the smartest decision he could make.

You know what else is smart?  The contract Durant signed.  Durant signed a two year, $54 million contract.  But the beauty is that the second year is a player option…meaning Durant will be a free agent again after next season.  This sets him up perfectly for the projected salary cap increase.  If you recall, LeBron James has been milking the one year player options as well.  Durant has put himself in the best position possible.  He can win a championship, and then land a max contract.  Not a bad deal.

And, while we’re talking about money, let’s be clear that his decision was not motivated by money.  Per NBA rules, his best option money-was would’ve been to sign a 1 year deal with OKC and then a max out contract.

This isn’t about money…it’s about winning.  And spare me the bullshit, nostalgia talk of yesteryear.  Larry Bird would never play with Magic Johnson…blah, blah, blah.  You know what KD owes OKC?  Not one god damn thing.  He balled for them, brought them to the Finals, won an MVP, made the franchise relevant.  He deserves to enjoy the fruits of his labor.  A fan’s loyalty runs only as deep as the talent.  And, not for nothing, but THAT’S WHAT FREE AGENCY IS FOR!  Gone are the days when superstars stayed with their team for life.  LeBron, Wade, Dwight Howard, Kevin Garnett…all left.

This is also perfect for Golden State (so much for the big market cities dominating free agency).  There is uncertainty with Steph Curry’s ankles, and who knows what’s going to happen with the nut-ninja Draymond Green.  This move gives the Warriors the ability to rest Curry so that he’s not limping into the playoffs next year.

Kevin Durant, The Machine says bravo.  The Warriors are going to score 400 points a game next year.  All the KD bashing is just nonsense, we’ve yet to hear one credible argument.  Somehow, the fun loving, small market team turned into the enemy overnight.  That’s alright…KD will laugh all the way to the NBA Finals.

Enjoy your teabag.