Playoffs Time

I love the NFL Playoffs. A simple 11-game tournament gives us a Super Bowl champion. Here’s a good playoff trivia question, name the seven teams that have not appeared in a conference championship game this century? (Hint- you’ve got more than 1 multiple-winning Super Bowl teams on the list). I’ll answer at the end of this column.

There are some great matchups this weekend, and I suspect we will see at least one upset, but here are my picks against the spread.

Bills +2.5 over Texans The Bills played great defense on their way to a 10-6 season. The Texans didn’t, actually allowing more points than they scored- the only playoff team to do so. I think that’s the difference in a close game and I want the points.

Patriots-5 over Titans Do you think Bill Belichick has been beating the fact that they choked last week into them all week?  Do you think it will happen again?  I sure don’t and I expect an angry New England to take that out on Tennessee.

Saints-7.5 over Vikings I don’t like that 1/2 point, but the Saints will be extremely motivated after they got robbed in the NFC Championship game last year and found out that a 13-3 record only got them a 3 seed.

Philadelphia+1.5 over Seattle Yeah I know, the Seahawks had a much better season, but they have lost all their RBs in the past few weeks and had to turn to Marshawn Lynch last week for 12 carries. Home underdogs are a pretty good bet in the NFL and I’m going to ride the Eagles here.

And the answer to the trivia question is in alphabetical order- Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Miami, and Washington. (Note- Seattle is listed as last appearing in the AFC championship game in 1983, but they relocated to the NFC in 2002 and have appeared in 3 since the move)

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  • blmeanie  On January 4, 2020 at 8:55 am

    on that list, only Dallas is a bit of a surprise.

    I like the Texans if JJ makes a play in his return, one play, one sack, something that provides spark and energy.

    The Patriots find themselves in their first truly nothing to lose situation in memory. Nobody, truly nobody expects them to make any kind of run, many expect it to be over tonight in fact. Lack of expectations, I’ll take them this week.

    The Vikings are hard to understand, two straight losses to end 10-6, injuries but all teams have injuries. I think the Saints run away in this one.

    The Eagles are a team I don’t like, probably from the SB the other year. The attitude and Ertz and for the life of me I don’t get the worldly praise for Wentz. They have shown the ability to win big games though. Different year, yeah, but Seattle isn’t thriving right now. Eagles win this one.

  • blmeanie  On January 5, 2020 at 10:20 am

    I nailed the Texans prediction but flopped on the Patriots. The thing is, the expectations are crazy among the fan base, 12-4, with obvious problems, but with significant pieces hurt, problems that can be fixed, if TB12 doesn’t retire and doesn’t go to another team, they will be fine next year.

    • nysportsfanatic  On January 5, 2020 at 10:39 am

      I was convinced he would retire, but I can’t see him willing to have a pick-six as his last play ever. The thing is, the stats show his 2019 season as average at best, so New England might be smart to move on.

      • blmeanie  On January 5, 2020 at 1:50 pm

        so place a reasonably healthy Gronk on the roster this season, say he plays 10 games and in the playoffs. The Patriots go at least 13-3 if not better and would not have played yesterday and with the defense as-is would have been business as usual and all the talk of Brady being let go to another team or retire never happen. Supporting cast is a real thing, granted he isn’t MVP material anymore but Romo was correct last night, Brady was still capable of throwing darts around when needed.

        I think the line improves next year, if they get a receiver and/or good tight end they are fine to go another year and prolong the separation.

      • nysportsfanatic  On January 5, 2020 at 4:34 pm

        You can play the “put x on y” game with any team in the league. He’s 42, there’s no shame in saying time is catching up to him.

  • blmeanie  On January 5, 2020 at 9:29 pm

    I’m just saying, he isn’t done, he may be declining but isn’t done and their losing wasn’t solely about him

    • nysportsfanatic  On January 5, 2020 at 9:47 pm

      I would flip that around and suggest they are winning in spite of him. The Pats are in a tough spot with him as it will be very hard to move on from him unless he wants that, and he probably won’t be a better QB next season than he was in this one. If I were running things, I would put a premium on getting his replacement this offseason.

  • blmeanie  On January 5, 2020 at 10:28 pm

    If you don’t already have his replacement in place then he is your quarterback next year. That being said, with normal roster overhaul that happens, they easily could be 12-4 again next year.Give him a tight end, things are fine enough. what is wrong with that?

    • nysportsfanatic  On January 6, 2020 at 1:02 am

      Nothing, but that division could be tougher than it’s been in years. Bills made the playoffs. Jets went 6-2 over final 8 games. Dolphins playing for nothing pulled off a pretty big upset in Week 17. The days of assuming a 6-0 romp through the division may be over and that will matter with non-division games against, KC, Houston, Baltimore, 49rs, and Seahawks among others.

  • blmeanie  On January 6, 2020 at 7:55 am

    Agreed. Here is a thing that keeps me encouraged. Yes the Bills are on a very real upswing, maybe the Jets are coming too. The likelihood that two or all three division opponents stay on the upswing is low. Take all the great young QBs right now, Jackson, Mahomes, Allen, Mayfield, Prescott, Darnold, Wentz, Jimmie G, Winston, Trubinsky. . How many of them are on a path that they are very good or better for a 5-7 year period? I would bet on Mahomes, Jimmie G and pass on the rest. Does that mean the rest of the list won’t have a good/great/very good season here and there? Nope, they will, and the 2nd coming of Peyton, TB, Elway and Montana will be called out by the media and fans. Half of these guys I listed won’t be starters in 3 years. Who has staying power, that includes staying healthy?

    The predictability of well coached, well constructed teams with unselfish talent generally beats the highs and lows around them. Is it possible the Patriots, with Brady, regress to 10-6 next year, yup. The likelihood of them doing better than 10-6 with someone else at quarterback is debatable too.

    Run it out there, if the bottom falls out you have the answer, that the dynasty is over and start to figure out what is next. If the 12-4 is/was smoke and mirrors, it will show next year.

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