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.



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.


logo01Pittsburgh @ New England (-6), Sunday, 6:40 pm

The Playoffs are back!!  Hot damn!  Those Divisional Games were awesome.  Aaron Rodgers moved from ‘Elite’ to ‘Legendary’ status with one throw.  Seriously.  Moving to his left, throws a 37 yard rope along the sidelines to a sliding/kneeling Jared Cook.  Nice catch too…but that throw!

The Steelers-Chiefs game was compelling in its own right; what with the touchdown, made-two-point-conversion-called-back-due-to-holding followed by a failed two-point conversion in the last two minutes.  Good stuff.  But the highlight came about 7 minutes after the game, when Antonio Brown (genius) decided to Facebook Live the Steelers lock room.  Thanks for this gem AB:

It’s mostly just AB running his hands through his hair, flashing the “call me” sign and showing teammates bragging, dancing, swearing, undressing and just goofing around.  15 of the 17 minutes basically goes like this….”God is good man….we at fucking 42k…..bang bang bang….we live…God is the greatest”…Oh, and Antonio thought it’d be a great idea (which it was) to keep the video rolling during coach Tomlins postgame address.  You know, the one where he calls the Patriots a bunch of assholes (more on that in a bit) among other things.  But the best part is Tomlin literally telling the guys to “keep a low profile….be cool on social media” and “keep your mouth shut”.  At one point LeVeon Bell turns to Brown and snickers something about keeping it cool on social media.  Brown is unfazed, continuing to stream away.  It’s ridiculous and glorious at the same time.  Social media is going to be a torn in the NFLs side for a long time to come.

Tomlin, Brown and the Steelers went to work on damage control.  But honestly, the comments were pretty harmless and much ado about nothing.  Seriously, how can that be considered “bulletin board material?”  The Patriots are assholes!!  I know it, you know it, hell even they know it. Tom Brady is a giant asshole, but he’s just following the lead of his lying, cheating asshole coach.  But it starts at the top; Bob Kraft is a walking, talking live-action asshole.  Come to think of it, the city of Boston is filled with only assholes.

And you thought that foul smell was from all the beans they eat!

And you thought that foul smell was from all the beans they eat!

With all that said, on to the game!

What a matchup.  Two prolific offenses.  Two HOF quarterbacks.  Two dynamic running backs.  Two bend-but-don’t-break defenses.  While everyone is expecting a shootout between the Packers-Falcons, this one certainly could go down that road.

The matchup to watch

The matchup to watch

This game will be a rematch of Week 7….sort of.  The Patriots won, 27-16 in convincing fashion.  Much has been made this week that Belichick used Malcolm Brown to shadow, and contain Antonio Brown (57.4 passer rating when thrown to, 0 TD, 1 INT ….@NFLReasearch).  I’m going to go ahead and take that game- and those stats- with a giant Himalayan rock crystal of salt for one reason: Ben Roethlisberger didn’t play.  Landry Jones was on the other end of those AB throws.  And Brown still finish the game with 7 REC for 106 YDS.  More impressive however was the Patriots containment of LeVeon Bell, whom only average 3.9 yards per carry.  Bell did most of this damage through the air (as a result of playing from behind), adding 10 REC for 68 YDS.  Meanwhile, Tom Brady was his ever efficient self, going 19/26 for 222 YDS and 2 TDS.  LeGarrette Blount carried the mail with 27 carries for 127 YDS and 2 TDS.

Like I said, the Steelers were without Big Ben.  And the Patriots had Gronk in that game.  Week 7 was a long time ago.

12 to 11, all day

12 to 11, all day

The Patriots have had an easy playoff run so far: bye week and a cakewalk past the Texans.  On the other hand, the Steelers faced a feisty Miami team and a tough Kansas City team in hostile territory.  The Patriots are going to try to wear the Steelers defense away with their intermediate passing attack that features Julian Edelman and a healthy Dion Lewis.  I’d be shocked if Edelmen doesn’t catch 10 balls this week.  Blount could be in for another heavy usage game if the Patriots can build an early lead.

The Steelers do have weapons galore on offense, so they should be able to keep it within striking distance.  But they aren’t going to beat the Patriots by settling for FGs like they did against the Chiefs.  I’d expect Tomlin to be aggressive all day, particularly in the redzone.

We’ve been crowning the Patriots the AFC Champs for 3 weeks now (it makes us nauseous too).  It seems like a forgone conclusion.  Bettors agree, pushing the line to NE -6.  I think it’ll be much closer than that and I won’t be shocked if Pittsburgh wins this game outright!

Pittsburgh 25, New England 27

Who ya got?

Who ya got?


KCPITTHey, what do ya know, an AFC Playoff game that actually looks good on paper!  The Steelers high-power offense travels to Arrowhead to take on the Kansas City’s Chiefs dynamic defense.  What could possible go wrong?  Oh, maybe just a giant fucking Midwestern ice storm!  I’ve been to Kansas, it’s a terrifying place on the best of days.

You say "Ice Storm", we say "Good Football weather"

You say “Ice Storm”, we say “Good Football weather”

Pittsburgh @ Kansas City (-1.5), Sunday, 8:20 pm

The Steelers walked all over the Dolphins last week.  Bell, Ben, Brown, they all got theirs.  To that point (rant alert!) how the hell do guys like Anthony Lynn and Sean McVay score head coaching gigs and Todd Haley can’t even get an interview.  Sure, he’s got a great quarterback and weapons to work with, but that’s not held against Josh McDaniel’s, whom is everyone’s favorite “hot” coordinator.  Haley does a great job of involving and maximizing the players’ talents on the roster, not to mention he has head coaching experience.   He must be a giant dickhole.

HALEYNAABAnyways, the Steelers avenged their Week 6 loss to the Dolphins.  As we mentioned last week, that game was the turning point of the Steelers offense.  Similarly, the Chiefs turned their season around after their Week 4 dismantling in Pittsburgh.  In that game, which KC lost 43-14, Ben Roethlisberger tossed 5 TDs before the Chiefs found pay dirt.  Since that game, the Chiefs went 10-2.

The Chiefs remind me quite a bit of the Broncos from a season ago.  Aggressive defense that pressures the quarterback and takes the ball away (first in the league in interceptions).  Their offense, led by the perpetually underrated  Alex Smith, has been well-balanced.  Travis Kelce is a match-up nightmare over the middle and down the seam.  The Chiefs find creative ways to the get the ball to Tyreek Hill, who is as explosive and creative in the open-field as he is on Twitter! Hill has also made a significant impact on the return game.

KCs dynamic duo

KCs dynamic duo

Big Ben tweaked his ankle late in the game against the Dolphins.  Like, really late when the game was out of hand.  I like Tomlin and all, but when are these coaches going to use their damn brains?  Protect your assets!

Speaking of assets!

Speaking of assets!

Offensively, the Steelers average almost a full touchdown less on the road this season; while KC allowed less than 16 points on average at home.  KC’s defense is more than capacble of hanging with Ben & Co.

This game is going to be close and probably come down to the final few drives.  I give a slight edge to Kansas City due to their defense, the extra week of rest and special teams.  Either way, one of these teams will be on to Foxborough!

Kansas City 18, Pittsburgh 13


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


nfl01The playoff games are going to get more exciting, competitive and fun to watch; I promise.  After Wildcard Weekend kicked off with a thud….the Machine did go 3-1 SU and 2-2 ATS)….the Divisional Round has much more enticing matchups…..the exception being this dud:

Houston @ New England (-16), Saturday, 8:15 pm

Is it me, or does it feel like New England has finished the last 15 seasons with a 13-3 record (or better), with a first round bye, with home field throughout and inevitably end up hosting the AFC Championship.  I’m not even going to bother looking up how close I am, and not because I’m lazy (well, sort of because I’m lazy), but mostly because I know I’m close.

So instead of doing an analysis of both teams, and how they match-up, and who will defend whom and yadda yadda yadda, I just want to focus on one thing: -16.

Can this Patriots team really cover 16 points?!  Can the Texas keep it within two freaking touchdowns?!

I’m taking the points, because it is too many.  The Patriots will win, make no mistake.  But even if they win 27-12, it’s not enough to cover.

money-throwingLook, we all know the storylines, right?  The 9-7 Texans basically slept walked through their game against the reeling Raiders, who were down to their third string rookie quarterback making his first ever start.  Not exactly a confidence booster.  Speaking of third string quarterbacks, it was the Jacoby Brissett (remember him, yeah, me neither) lead Patriots that shutout the Texans earlier this year in Foxborough.  The betting public hasn’t forgotten that game, and has wagered a considerable amount of bank on the Pats this week.  Nearly 85% of the money has come in on NE -16.  So, if the Patriots do win big and cover the spread, Vegas will take a beating.  It’ll be a bloodbath.  Guess what, the only thing more bankable than the Patriots in Foxborough in January is Vegas winning money all the time.

This is getting old

This is getting old

I’m picturing a cold, frozen field.  The Patriots win the coin toss and Hoodie defers, because he always freaking defers.  Osweiler looks lost and the Texans go 3-and-out.  The Patriots start with excellent field positions, because they always have excellent freaking field position.  They dink and dunk, complete their first 7 passes, flawlessly execute a hurry-up quarterback sneak on 3-and-1 picking up 3 yards and eventually score a touchdown because they always freaking…..okay, you get the drift.  But after they build their two TD lead they start hammering away with Lego Blount.  They are effective at running the ball, which shortens the game (and makes a significant blowout less likely).  Now, all we need is one or two scoring drives from Brock.  I know, it’s a tall task, but not unreasonable.  Maybe the Texans defense didn’t forget their embarrassing Week 3 performance and manage to get some pressure on Brady.  Maybe they score a special teams touchdown.  There are plenty of ways they can be down by 20 points and come up with a backdoor cover (hey-oh).

So there it is.  Any given Sunday (or Saturday Night).

New England 31, Houston 17



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.


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.



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]


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.


nfl-wild-cardAnother AFC playoff game, another team starting a backup quarterback.  Woof.  Ginger King was right; can we just skip to the part where the Patriots win the AFC?  And how long after Belichick retires until they change the name of the Lamar Hunt trophy?

Miami @ Pittsburgh (-11), Sunday, 1:05 pm

This game is a rematch of Week 6, were the 7 point home underdog Miami Dolphins upset the Pittsburgh Steelers, 30-15.  That game was the turning point of the Dolphins season.  Entering the game with a 1-4 record, the Dolphins won 9 of the next 11 to secure a playoff berth.

Of course, there are quite a few differences between then and now.  For starters, it’ll be about 70 degrees colder.  The Dolphins can downplay the weather all they want, but they are kidding themselves if they think it won’t affect them.  Of far bigger concern is the Week 15 MCL injury that has sidelined starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill.  Tannehill doesn’t exactly scare defenses, but he was quietly putting together a solid season (3,000 yards, 19 TDs) under the tutelage of quarterback-whisperer Adam Gase.  Next man up is journeyman Matt Moore.  Best descripted as a “gamer”; meaning he isn’t shy to throw it around…whether it’s his guys or the other team catching it is another story.

Where's the clipboard?

Where’s the clipboard?

The Steelers are going to be looking for redemption from the Week 6 matchup as it was their worst offensive game of the season.  Ben Roethlisberger got knocked out of that game early and missed an offensive series before returning, but was never quite right.  As a result, the entire offense was in a funk and never could snap out.  These are highly uncharacteristic stat lines:

Week 6

Roethlisberger :  19/34, 189 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs

Bell: 10 attempts, 53 yards, 0 TD

Brown:  4 catches, 39 yards, 0 TD

The Steelers have been red-hot, winners of their last seven games.  They are 6-2 at Heinz Field and average nearly a touchdown more at home as opposed to the road.  They will move the ball on the Dolphins and score points.  The Dolphins won’t be able to shutdown Ben, Bell and Brown this time around.

Defensively the Steelers should sellout to stop the run and force Matt Moore to beat them.  Jay Ajaji gashed them for over 200 yards.  Ajaji has a bit of Beastmode in him and seems to get stronger as the game wears on.

The house that Ketchup built

The house that Ketchup built

I don’t think the Dolphins can keep pace with the Steelers at Heinz Field.  I’ve got the Steelers cruising to victory, putting them in Arrowhead next week.

Final Score: Pittsburgh 34, Miami 17

Miami Dolphins v Pittsburgh Steelers

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.


nfl-wild-cardIt’s not how you start, it’s how you finish!  Welcome to the 2017 NFL Playoffs.  The kickoff game isn’t exactly get-your-popcorn-ready material.  This unwatchable match-up (which probably pulls twice the rating of the Cubs/Indians World Series Game 7) features the team that drafted Khalil Mack (Oakland Raiders) and the team that should have drafted Khalil Mack (Houston Texans).  Vegas agrees,, this game has the lowest total (37) of the weekend….but hey, it does have the smallest spread (HOU -3.5), so maybe it’ll be close?!



A lot of people thought the Texans were crazy when they signed Brock Osweiler to an $72 million dollar contract in the offseason…..and those people were right.  Through 15 games, “B.O.” completed under 60% of his passes, threw more picks (12) than touchdowns (11) , took 27 sacks and fumbled a handful of times.  In other words, good enough to win the AFC South!

Not surprisingly, the Texans skill players collectively turned in a down year.  Lamar Miller barely cracked a 1,000 yards; a threshold DeAndre Hopkins couldn’t even reach.  Safe to say Nuk wasn’t on many fantasy championship rosters this year.



Despite losing their best player before the season began, defense is the name of the game in Houston.  JJ Watt was too busy creating his own logo and filming Bose commercials to train in the offseason and promptly blew out his back, missing the entire season.  Ironically, if you look at his logo upside down you can kind of see an inflated ego. #hiddenmessage.  That has left the 2014 No. 1 overall pick, Jadeveon Clowney as the face of the defense.  For his career, The Clown has amassed 72 tackles, 10.5 sacks and 1 forced fumble….or what we like to call a “down year” for All-World Khalil Mack (University at Buffalo shout out).

The Texans defense ranks first in yards allowed.   Or is it last in yards allowed??  Either way, teams had trouble moving the ball for positive gains against the Texans.  I guess they can hang their oversized cowboy hats on that…..oh and the fact that they don’t have to face….

Might want to mix in a few squats to the workout routine

Might want to mix in a few squats to the workout routine, just saying.

Derek Carr was in the MVP discussions before he broke his leg in half on Christmas Eve.  Not to be outdone, backup Matt “The other Red Rifle” McGloin broke his McShoulder the following week.  To top it all off, starting Left Tackle Donald Penn has been ruled out with a knee injury.  When the Raiders move to Vegas any chance they change their logo to a black cat breaking a mirror with an upside down horseshoe under a ladder?

Soulless embrace. #14

Soulless embrace. #14

Truthfully, the McGloin injury is a blessing in disguise considering he’s 1-7 as a starter.  That’s bad, right?  The Raiders at least get to trot out the “element of surprise” in 4th round rookie Connor Cook.  The Texans are literally going to have to breakdown his college tape to game plan for him.  Have fun with that.

The 3.5 point spread makes a ton of sense.  The Raiders are going to protect Cook as much as possible (translation: run the ball) knowing that the Houston offense isn’t exactly going to blow the doors off the hinges.  Turnover machine Osweiler will see to that.  This game feels like it is going to come down to a fluky special teams play or a missed extra point.

Since I’m practically the president of the Khalil Mack fan club (is it that obvious?), my pick here may be slightly biased, but I’ll take the RAIDERS +3.5.

Final Score: Houston 24, Oakland 22