Wildcard Weekend, Kitties Prayers Welcome

bmaz and I are both frantically busy today, but I wanted to put something up where we can start trashing. So here are my thoughts:

Rayduhs at Texans: It’s kind of funny how you can have a playoff game with no real QBs, what with Derek Carr out and Osweiler still a bust. Matt McGlowin will back up MSU’s Connor Cook in his first start, against a finally playing up to talent Texans D. I think the Raiders win this because Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree and Oakland’s O line will make Cook look reasonably good.

Kitties at Squawks: I’d love to be wrong, but the Kitties are not going to beat the Squawks. Sure, Earl Thomas is missing for Seattle, but so is Theo Riddick for Detroit (and possibly DeAndre Levy, who will be necessary for containing Wilson. Ultimately, this comes down to playoff experience, and the Squawks know how to win.

Fins at Stillers: The Fins want to go to Heinz Field and beat Big Ben’s offense when it’s clicking, and without Tannehill to boot? Nuh uh.

Gents at Cheese: This one is tough, in part because I sentimentally want to see Tom Brady face the Gents in another Super Bowl so he can finally exorcise his last demon. The Tundra will be cold, the QBs will be hot. If Good Eli shows up, though, I think the Giants win this, as their D is a playing really tough right now.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

34 replies
  1. bloopie2 says:

    “It’s kind of funny how you can have a playoff game with no real QBs”. Tell that to Cook and Osweiler, and then run for your life. It’s a hellaciously difficult position to play at an A level, and simply because they are backups or whatever doesn’t mean they aren’t “real” players. It’s actually quite boring these days to watch everyone’s beloved Patriots, because Brady is so dominant. Perhaps we will get to see which “team” is better, rather than just seeing who has the better QB. That would make for a good weekend of viewing. Anyhow, I’m pulling for all four of the wild card entries today, so disappointment is likely in store.

    • spaceLifeForm says:

      My picks:

      Da Raiders. No one would pick a rookie qb in first start against the top defense. Right?

      Seahawks. Lions are better than expected, but their Center is out. Look for a Turnover-6 late.

      Da Steelers – much healthier on offense than when they lost to fins earlier this year. Over.

      Giants – tough battle in the cold but eli hot there. Under.

      • bmaz says:

        I think that is just about exactly right. If it was anybody but the Giants, I’d take the Pack and Rodgers right now. But Eli and the Gents just have some weird ability to win at Lambeau.

        As to the Kittehs, they are actually missing two starting o-linemen, including the aforementioned center. That is brutal against the Squawks in that noise pit in Seattle.

  2. bloopies says:

     
    So if I get into an argument with Carson Wentz, and he gets angry at me, am I entitled to assault and/or kill him, to save myself from what I believe to be the imminent danger of being shot (“grievous bodily harm”)?  I mean, I would believe he was ready to kill–after all, that’s what shotguns are for, right?  (Note, I am still just a bit ticked off that my Brownies didn’t draft him.)
     

  3. bloopie2 says:

    So if I get into an argument with Carson Wentz, and he gets angry at me, am I legally entitled to assault and/or kill him, to save myself from what I believe to be the imminent danger of being shot (“grievous bodily harm”)? I mean, I would believe he was ready to kill–after all, that’s what shotguns are for, right?

  4. Bay State Librul says:

    Looks like The Patsies will be playing Houston. No respect for Belichick since he endorsed Don the Con. I can’t even look at that arrogant prick

  5. jo6pac says:

    Well the raiders drop passes, penalties, and the kid did all right.

    I vote for the comrades team tomorrow.

  6. emptywheel says:

    Scribe tried to post this earlier, but it didn’t work. Obviously it’s from him, given the Harrison love.

    It’s been a while since I’ve signed on, for a whole lot of reasons.  The regular season is over now.  Fat Rex and his brother are back to busting the floor joists at Casa Ryan, wolfing guacamole and medium-sized cattle while saying “I’ll never coach again”.  They might be saying it in the spirit of an alcoholic giving up the bottle or a smoker his cancer sticks, knowing in their lizard brains that that don’t really mean it.  But, for owners and general managers, those words are greeted with sighs of relief.

    I will miss the scandals of foot videos and pickup trucks painted to mimic Bills helmets, though.

    Now on to looking forward and not backward.

    The AFC results pretty much came in the way I thought they might.  The Patsies blew away the League behind Angry Brady.  I was predicting for quite some time that teams had every reason to recognize and consequently fear that there were three ways the Pats could play:  behind the serviceable talents of Garop and Brissett managing the games and winning more than they lost, behind Regular Brady numbers and winning about 1.5 to 2 games for every loss (10-6 to 11-5), and behind Angry Brady.  AS it turned out, Cheatin’ Bill and his Cheating Cheaters of Cheatertown came out 14-2.  And that was without the estimable contributions of Gronk the Fragile, who got his mug in too many Dunkin Donuts ads pitching 87 cent coffee and had the wheels fall off again.  They went 3-1 behind Garop and Brissett.  Brissett, in particular, impressed me as a Cam Newton type.  Watch for him to give Garop a real run for the backup behind Biebs.  But after Game Four all that screwing around with backups ended, Biebs stepped in, strapped on his brain bucket and, well, went 11-1.  King Roger the Clown pissed him off royally and it will take the combined efforts of the entire NFC and every game official putting their overstuffed thumbs on the scales to stop him.  I anticipate King Roger finding some flunky from history to take his place when it comes time to hand over the Lombardi to Biebs, Cheatin’ Bill and The Rightly-pissed-at-being-betrayed Krafts.  It would befit a moral and physical coward of Roger’s stature to pull a stunt like that.

    This is not to sell my Stillers short.  I felt all through the season that they would wind up 10-6 or 11-5.  It got pretty tough to stay the course on that when they went into that 4 game losing streak.  Why they did that is beyond me.  The Steelers could have beaten the Patsies but for a couple things, first among them Martavis Bryant’s selfish dope-smoking that cost him a whole season.  With that added receiver, Ben could have gotten a good bit more offense.  That would have been worth a good 3 or 5 points a game, in turn enough to bump them up a win or two to the #2 seed they should have had.  It was a real pleasure to see them pound the rock in LeVeon Bell’s hands but, having seen the Burficts and recently-rearrested PacMan Jones (clueless as to why hitting cops and spitting on nurses leads to cuffs on wrists) play in their typically dirty ways, it would not have surprised me had they gone out of their way to injure him again.  I wish they would spread the running game around – DeAngelo Williams is a darn good RB in his own right, as his performance during Bell’s suspension last year proved.  Between making videos impressing on his sons the necessity of winning (if they wanted to come home), my hero Silverback James Harrison continues to play a lot of downs and terrorize quarterbacks.  The man is a national treasure.  Rightly, his #92 jerseys are showing up in numbers starting to rival those of #43 Polamalu and even #58 Lambert.  Landry Jones, the QB who filled in admirably when Ben was out hurt and then made a very nice OT drive last week to win the Browns game leading the Stillers’ second-string, has a future in this league.  If you watched his games carefully, you saw him dropping passes into receivers’ hands in a manner reminiscent of Ol’ Noodlearm Peyton Manning throwing timing routes to Pierre Garcon.  Sad to say, Ben is getting older and does not seem to be as mobile let alone as daring when a play blows up.  This year might be his last chance and Silverback’s, too.  I just don’t think they can get past Biebs and Cheatin’ Bill. 

    I would be remiss if I left the Stillers without paying some serious tribute to their offensive line.  They have done one hell of a job all year.  Without them doing that well, the black and gold would be watching football on TV.  Pouncey, their center, has somehow managed to not blow up a knee, to not get caught wearing Free Aaron Hernandez gear and has played well all year.  Their guards have done a great job busting open holes for Bell and closing out rushers.  But the one player I want to highlight is their left tackle, Alejandro Villanueva.  You might have seen him in the USAA commercials, but there’s a lot more to him. 

    The son of a Spanish Navy officer, he was born in Tennessee while his dad was stationed there on a NATO gig and is therefore a native-born American citizen.  He made his way through rugger to football while at the American high school at NATO HQ in Belgium and was then encouraged to attend West Point.  While there, he played end – defensive and tight – and WR.  Yes, at 6’9” he can handle the ball.  Imagine, a bigger version of Gronk.  Then, like all graduates of Hudson High, he went on active duty.  In his case, as an infantry lieutenant in a Ranger battalion.  To get there he had to get through Ranger school and do so as one of the top graduates to be invited to the Ranger battalion.  It’s plain hard to even think about Ranger school for a normal-sized individual but for the Big Guys its worse.  They wind up getting to carry the heavy stuff all the time and have to throw their oversized bodies through some of the more brutal obstacle courses known to man.  He did it.  He then led Rangers in battle and received two Bronze Stars for valor under fire.  Not since Steeler icon Rocky Bleier got his butt half blown off in ‘nam and then paired with Franco…..  The Eagles gave him a tryout then decided he would be too much work, so they dropped him.  The Steelers picked him up and then, to their credit, gave him the time to develop (and bulk up to NFL spec size) before giving him Ben’s blind side.  He’s done a hell of a job there, quietly leading and giving Ben the protection and time to make plays.  I’m inclined to doubt Tomlin will let him declare as an eligible receiver because he’s too good and too valuable protecting Ben.  When you watch the Steelers, watch him.

    Heard a good one about Miami filling in the sixth seed.  They (correctly) anticipate Steelerwetter tomorrow, as in 20 F and a breeze, maybe some snow.  So, to prepare themselves for playing in that weather, they put their practice footballs in a freezer.  All well and good.  Then, when they took them out for practice, within minutes in the 85 degree heat the balls were all thawed and useless to simulate the frozen rock they’ll encounter tomorrow.  As long as the Stillers O line reminds that thug named Suh that dirty play will hurt him (or, rather, for dirty play they will hurt him), not a problem.

    Watching the ESPN crawl as I write this, I see that in a year or two when Berman says to some chick “you’re with me, leather”, he’ll get slapped instead of laid.  Pretty soon, he’ll be the comic relief old guy sitting next to Ditka in his Santa beard and orange t-shirt, and younger viewers will wonder why those old farts are on TV in the first place. 

    The Chefs.  Hmmm.  They played really well under Andy Reid, who’s managed to show he’s still the coach who took the Iggles to the playoffs year after year and the Super Bowl, too, before being run out of Philly because, well, they were tired of him.  In the back of my head, though, is the sneaking suspicion that Reid’s clock management skills still have not improved and that they will jump up and bite KC in the ass just at the most inopportune moment.  I’m anticipating the Stillers beating a Tannehill-less Miami team (vengeance is sweet, and will be served cold in Steelerweather this weekend), then having to travel to KC.  I rate that game a tossup, intervening injuries not being part of the equation.  The Chefs slid into the #2 slot on the grease of shattered Oakland QB fibulas, about which more anon, but they are a legit team with a great record.  They might beat the Stillers but, even if they do, Reid will succumb again to Cheatin’ Bill’s Jedi mind tricks and they will not come out of Foxboro winners.  Kelce is really good and might not be stoppable on a consistent basis.  But he alone is not enough.

    Lions at Squawks:  I think the Kittehs will run into a wall, reduced Beast Mode notwithstanding. This game really doesn’t interest me.  Dee-troit’s craptacular playoff record almost guarantees a loss.  Keep in mind, as one sports commentator noted the other day, that the Lions have not won a road playoff game since the Eisenhower Administration. 

    Texans and Rayduhs.  Same blah for me.  If the Raiders had not busted up a pair of QBs in the last couple weeks this would be compelling theater.  Actually, it wouldn’t be happening because it would be the Chefs in this game.  Houston is, to my eye, the most marginal of playoff teams.  They’re in the postseason not b/c of any great merit, but rather because they play in the horribly non-competitive AFC South.  They’ll beat the Oakland third-string – starting his first NFL game in the playoffs – and go to Foxboro to run into a rested Angry Brady.  Results will be ugly.

    Gents and Pack.  Well, like the man said when Justin Bieber was terrorizing a SoCal neighborhood raising hell in a Ferrari:  “Don’t let Keyshawn Johnson be the voice of reason.”  Apparently Eli’s receivers didn’t get the memo.  Partying with the OB (Original Bieber) is a bad idea if only because it gives the tabloid writers something to chew on, but usually worse things happen.  About the only good thing to come out of this is a tape of one G-man receiver turning down an Adderall.  I’m sure King Roger is ensconced in his lair, perched high on a seaside cliff in Maine (every great villain has a lair high on a seaside cliff, y’know), rubbing his palms together anticipating the ecstasy he’ll feel when squads of his flying monkeys of piss testing land in the Giants locker room.  Today, most likely.  Between spoonsful of lobster stew or something.    I see a battle royal between Discount Doublechecking Mr. Munn and Eli, with the fate of the planet decided by whether it’s Good Eli or Bad who shows up.  There’s a reason the games are scheduled the way they are, with this one getting the marquee treatment Sunday evening. 

    Enough trash for now.  If you’ve read this far, your eyes are as tired as my fingers.  Let the games begin.

    • bloopie2 says:

       
      Excellent post, thank you; you point out that there is so much involved, each week, each game, in whether any given team wins (against the odds, of course).  Too bad the NFL is so quarterback-centric and the Tannehill-less Dolphins are going to lose because they are, well, Tannehill-less.  I pine for a rulebook that allows teams with #2 quarterbacks to prosper; so many more games would be watchable.  There’s got to be space for a champion who doesn’t have a Brady or Rodgers, or even a Carr, in the backfield.  In my lifetime?  Or are the NFL ratings (all powerful) too reliant on star power?
       

  7. Bay State Librul says:

    Scribe is a helluva scribe.
    He has labeled My Pats as a “cheatin” team. After that vicious jaw hit can I call his Steelers “dirt bags”?

    • scribe says:

      Just don’t call them late for dinner.  If you do Silverback Harrison will be chasing you, distinguishing waking from dreaming through your pain as he tackles you.

  8. Pete says:

    Here in freezing South Florida hoping the Steelers don’t decide to come on down to Miami after the game and also raze the city.

  9. scribe says:

     
    So it was written, a reading from the Book of Joel:
    28And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
    And so it did come to pass. . . .
    two Sundays before Christmas, amidst the winds, snows and bluster of Buffalo-by-the-lake, a sight …  a vision, that made the young cry out with joy:
    Granpa!  GRAN-Pa!  GRANPA!  LOOK!  Tha Stillers!  They’re pahndin’ the rawk!  THEY’RE PAHNDIN’ THE RAWK!
    And the old men did stir from their slumber, the warmth of their recliners, believing at first it was a dream, a dream of days gone by, to behold a sight foretold long-ago but whose long absence led even the most faithful to the Vale of Doubt, testing their souls as they had never been tested …
    and they then wiped away tears of joy
    For their faith had been rewarded, their prayers answered and they had been granted the Grace (if only for that week) to see
    Tha Return of Tha Crushin’ Grahndt Game.

    And the Faithful rejoiced in the vision of Bell running, and running, and running left, right through and over the minions of Fat Rex and, in their rejoicing, redoubled their prayer and faith.

    And then came the Playoffs.  And the Faithful prayed and prayed….
     

     

    • Bay State Librul says:

      For my thoughts are not your thoughts. Neither are the Steeler’s way, my way declareth the Lord.”

      Watch out for the Prophet Isaiah

      • scribe says:

        You mean this part:

        54:17, No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper….

        or this

        3:10 Say to the righteous that it will go well with them, For they will eat the fruit of their actions

        Tastes like victory to me….

    • Peterr says:

      Beware of your pride, and of boasting in the strength of your running backs.

      Indeed, Jesus is not happy with scribe and his Stiller family. A reading from the good news according to Matthew:

      And Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. [ed. See Rothlesberger, rape and] It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!

      “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean. [ed. And don’t even get me started about how you dry the cups with those terrible towels.]

      “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth. So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

      “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous, and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your ancestors. You snakes, you brood of vipers! How can you escape being sentenced to hell?”

      Meanwhile, the Chefs hear the word spoken by Mary, the highly favored one, in the gospel of Luke:

      “. . . the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.  He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.”

      Beware of your pride and your riches, O Stiller Family. After years of feeding others, the lowly Chefs are hungry. Very, very hungry.

       

  10. bmaz says:

    Welp, Eli is already openly chowing down on the depleted swiss cheese that is the Pack secondary. This could get ugly.

  11. Jo6pac says:

    Another bowl game? Players receive education until? How many colleges, if players receives a career injury with an education? That’s in Women and Mens sports at this level right?

    On to Dinner and Whine

  12. greengiant says:

    In other weekend news, Gen Mattis now confirmed to be a dupe and full fledged figurehead of the hegemony resigns from the board of Theranos. With David Boies, Schultz, Kissinger, William Perry and Sam Nunn on the board in 2015, what was the Council on Foreign Affairs thinking?

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