2017 Divisional Playoff Weekend Trash Talk

Thank you to Marcy for handling Trash Talk last weekend. That was one hell of a NCAA Championship game between Clemson and Alabama. I was at the 1997 Rose Bowl, which I thought previously was the greatest college football championship game I had ever seen, whether live or on television, and I think the last second Clemson win eclipses that pretty easily. Wow.

But now we are into week two of the NFL playoffs, and there are four games on tap. First up is Seattle at Atlanta. On the surface, this seems like a great game and you would have to think the Squawk’s savvy and playoff experience winning games is every bit the match for Atlanta, and their history of losing them. I don’t think so this year. Something is deferent about these dirty birds. I’ll take Matt Ryan and his crew today.

The night game for Saturday is the Texans at the Pats. I am not sure this is the total mismatch a lot of the national sports media are making it out to be, because the Houston defense has really grown and coalesced since early in the season. Yes, Bill Bel and the boys waxed them early in the year, even with Jacoby Brissett at QB. Houston is better now. But that ain’t enough, irrespective of the final score, just cannot see the Pats not moving on.

First up Sunday is, now thanks to heavy weather in KC, the game that was supposed to be the late Sunday featured NBC game, the Packers at Cowboys. I honestly don’t know what to think about this one. Both the Cheese and Boys have serviceable, and at times good, defenses. But neither are world beating; slight edge to the Cowboys because the Pack secondary is being manned by a few Game may well come down to the QB’s, as NFL games usually do. As good as Dak Prescott has been, that edge goes to Mr. Rodgers, who has been on a roll of all time historic proportion lately. But, if Prescott avoids turnovers and Elliott gets going on the ground, that can keep Rodgers off the field. In Lambeau, I’d take the Pack easy, In Big D, I dunno. No clue what turns out, a serious pick em in my book.

The new finale is Scribe’s Steelers in KC to face the Chefs. The weather has been so foul that the NFL moved the game time. What kind of bad weather can this be? Thanks to Peterr, we have the official forecast:

PERIODS OF SIGNIFICANT ICING ARE LIKELY ACROSS THE AREA THIS WEEKEND…STARTING FRIDAY MORNING ACROSS AREAS MAINLY SOUTH OF HIGHWAY 50 AND SPREADING NORTHWARD THROUGH THE AFTERNOON AND EVENING. PERIODS OF FREEZING RAIN WILL CONTINUE THROUGH SUNDAY EVENING ACROSS NORTHERN MISSOURI. THE MOST SIGNIFICANT ICING IS EXPECTED SATURDAY NIGHT INTO SUNDAY MORNING.

ICE STORM WARNING NOW IN EFFECT FROM NOON FRIDAY TO MIDNIGHT CST SUNDAY NIGHT…

* TIMING…LIGHT PRECIPITATION WILL BEGIN FRIDAY AFTERNOON… WITH PERIODS OF FREEZING RAIN THROUGH SUNDAY AFTERNOON OR EVENING.

* ICE ACCUMULATIONS…TOTAL ICE ACCUMULATIONS DURING THE MULTI-DAY PERIOD OF ONE-QUARTER TO THREE-QUARTERS OF AN INCH.

* MAIN IMPACT…MAJOR IMPACTS TO TRAVEL ARE LIKELY AS ICE ACCUMULATES ON AREA ROADWAYS. BRIDGES AND OVERPASSES WILL BE MOST SUSCEPTIBLE TO ICE ACCRETION. ICE ACCUMULATION ON TREES AND POWERLINES MAY RESULT IN SCATTERED POWER OUTAGES.

Gulp, that doesn’t sound good! But presumably the game goes on anyway, even if at a new time. Like Houston/NE and GB/Dallas, this is another rematch of an in season game. Early in the year, the Chefs were blown out by the Stillers, at Heinz Field. (Thanks for the editing Peterr!) Lot of people think KC can, and will win at home against the AFC North Champs. Not me. Big Ben, Bell and Brown are healthy and clicking in synch better than they ever have. That is saying something. KC is a great team, and Andy Reid is a seriously underrated great coach. But that is not enough with the way Pittsburgh is rolling right now. And Harrison, Bud Dupree and the Steel Curtain, while maybe not what that name once implied, are still pretty damn good, and playing well together. Stillers move on.

So, that is it for now. Have a GREAT Martin Luther King weekend and holiday folks. And, may I point out that John Lewis is an American hero for all ages, and Donald Trump is a worthless piece of shit.Music this weekend by Stanley Clarke, Al Di Meola and Chick Corea, i.e. Return To Forever.

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.
43 replies
  1. Peterr says:

    Early in the year, the Chefs blew out the Stillers, at Heinz Field, badly.

    You’ve got that backwards, bmaz. Early in the year, the Chefs got blown out by the Stillers. You got the “badly” part right, though.

    Andy Reid always seems to take about four games to get a feel for his team each year, and after than things get better. Given the weather, I’m guessing long passes will not be a big feature of either team’s game plan. Stillers on the ground vs Chefs and short passing will be the basic plan.

    More important, though, will be the turnovers and special teams. Fumbles, interceptions, and punt/kickoff returns will be what decides this game.

    Put me down for Chefs by 4, with Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill playing a pivotal role on offense.

    [And just for fun, I’d love to see defensive lineman Dontari Poe line up for a punt return, then take it to the house to go with his rushing and passing TDs earlier this season.]

    • rosalind says:

      so people will be able to get to the Stadium? watched a car over Xmas go sliding down the hill on just a little ice, am wondering how you all deal with a bunch o’ice.

      • Peterr says:

        That’s a very good question. Short answer: not well.

        But diehard Chefs fans will no doubt deal with it, one way or another.

        They are opening the gates to the parking lot at 2pm, which is about when the freezing rain is expected to switch over to ordinary rain according to the latest forecast. Hardcore Chefs fans will probably creep across the ice to line up at the gates earlier in the morning, and they’ll have the roads to themselves. (All day, I’ve been watching the list of church closings get longer and longer – and yes, mine is on the list.) Hell, some of these fans will probably drive out to Arrowhead this evening before the worst of it starts, with triple the amount of tailgating supplies, and just camp out and party through it.

        These are NOT well individuals. They do know how to tailgate, however.

        Before the decision was made to change the game time, the average price of tickets on reseller sites like StubHub had fallen to something like $20 — cheaper than the cost of parking ($35 in advance; $60 cash at the gate, IIRC) — because of the predicted ice storm. Once the gametime was moved, average prices shot up to $70. That’s still got a steep weather-related discount for a playoff game, but not as bad as it was earlier.

  2. scribe says:

    Odds and ends.   Burnt ends.  From the BBQ pit.

    Word from friends in NE is that Ace Ticket, the authorized reseller/clearinghouse for Patsies tickets, is already pitching AFC Championship Game tickets.  For Foxboro.  A week from now.  I remember the ’64 Phillies printing, selling and distributing World Series tickets, only to collapse.  Once visited a house in Philly where, over the mantel, they had a ’64 Phils team picture and a pair of World Series tickets for old Connie Mack Stadium.  Framed and matted in black.  Lesson on the downstream effects of pride and hubris.  Cheatin’ Bill and the Krafts ought to know better than to tempt fate that way.  While the Oilers Texans are capable of an upset and a 16 point line is way out of line, I’m inclined to believe TB12, Cheatin’ Bill, and Blunt29 manage to pull it out and host another AFC Championship.  But I’m willing to bet the Texans cover the spread.

    In case anyone doubted me last week when I pointed out the dangers of partying with the OB (Original Bieber), that Odell Beckham Jr. and Friends are watching football on TV tonight is all the further warning one might need.  I heard a report that Young Mr. Football, formerly #2 for Your Cleveland Browns (some irony in there), was also on the OB Party Boat.  If this was the case, one is compelled to wonder what a density test of the G-men’s receivers’ heads might yield.  Wouldn’t be pretty,  and probably something along the lines of “neutronium”.  Y’gotta be an idiot to hang with Johnny Football.  So, of course, some pizza chain has entered into a promotional deal for the week of King Roger the Clown’s Festival of Greed LI with said Young Mr. Football.  He’ll make personal appearances and even sign autographs, charging money all the way.  He’ll be right down the aisle from Pete Rose’s booth at Cooperstown.

    Falcons-Squawks? Tossup.  Maybe advantage Ryan.

    3/4 inch of ice is no picnic.  That’ll drop trees and powerlines in their tracks.  I think the weather will marginally favor the Stillers, given they like to pahnd da Rawk.  I think Andy Reid’s Clock Management will come back to bite the Chefs in the ass.  Now that going to the videotape exonerated Joey Porter, he can go back to coaching Silverback Harrison. While past is no indicator of future performance, Alex Smith should fear a linebacker who got 10 tackles, 1.5 sacks and 6 QB pressures al by his lonesome.  Tossup.

    Pack Owboys?  Puhleeze Mr. DIscountDoublecheck, puhleeze.  Send Jerry and his Owboys home tomorrow.

     

    • bmaz says:

      Actually meant to mention the Porter arrest. Assault on cop is the most overcharged and overwrought BS in criminal law, or very close thereto. Glad the prosecutors got a grip after watching the video.

    • Peterr says:

      Odds and ends.   Burnt ends.  From the BBQ pit.

      *wipes mouth*

      You’re talking my language there, scribe.

       

        • Peterr says:

          You poor, poor, deluded man.

          *wipes mouth*

          But that just means more of the truly best for me. You go right ahead and enjoy that second class ‘cue. It’s not bad, mind you, but it is definitely second to KC.

          • bmaz says:

            Psych!!

            Hey, this IS still trash talk, you know.

            Just checking to see how much libation advantage you were taking of your snow day status tomorrow….

            (PS: Of all the BBQ’s, Texas is the lamest)

            • Peterr says:

              Troll.

              But now that you mention it, I am enjoying some very nice scotch, as a precursor to Mrs Dr Peterr’s wonderful dinner, to be accompanied by a fine Viognier, followed by an incredible local Blackberry Mead.

          • Peterr says:

            The counterman just pushes them over to the side and anyone who wants them helps himself. I dream of those burned edges. Sometimes, when I’m in some awful, overpriced restaurant in some strange town, trying to choke down some three-dollar hamburger that tastes like a burned sponge, a blank look comes over me: I have just realized that at that very moment, someone in Kansas City is being given those burned edges free.

            Calvin Trillin

            On burnt ends.

            In KC, there is a great battle among classic BBQ joints, akin to Chicago pizza places arguing about the best deep-dish pizza, or Napa and Sonoma arguing about the best winery. One of these classic BBQ joints in KC is Arthur Bryant’s.

            First thing you will see are the pictures on the wall. They are of presidents and celebrities and sports stars who have eaten at Bryant’s. Everybody eats at Bryant’s. There are some places that put up such photographs in ostentatious ways to let you know that you ARE somewhere. At Bryant’s, it looks like someone put these photos up the night after finding them in the attic: “Hey, Charlie, I found this photo of Harrison Ford under an old electric fan. Shouldn’t you put that on the wall somewhere? And we’ve got like 10 of President Obama, you want to keep these? Where do you want the Sarah Palin ones?”

            The only photo that really matters, though, is not a photo at all but an editorial cartoon that ran in the Kansas City Star on the day after Arthur Bryant died. He was 80 years old, and he died in his restaurant, and the cartoon is of Bryant at the pearly gates. St. Peter says to him, “Did you bring sauce?”

            Move through the line quickly. You could get distracted by the photographs or the incredible aroma or the fact that the people working behind the counter might or might not be wearing gloves. The last part should concern you the least. Calvin Trillin, the doyen of Kansas City barbecue, once wrote a letter in response to an actual negative mention of Bryant’s in the New York Times Magazine. He wrote that when this distinguished couple walked in, the counterman had thought tongs were appropriate. “What nobody told them,” Trillin wrote, “was that 40 percent of the taste was in the counterman’s hands.”

            Distracted or not, you have to move through the line quickly — the line often stretches well into the street — and you must, by local custom, talk sports with the people around you. The topic of the day is, of course, the Royals but at other times of year it is also acceptable to:

            1. Complain about Chiefs coaching (year-round).

            2. Talk about how terrible Kansas football is (September/October only).

            3. Argue whether Kansas basketball has enough to win it all (October to March).

            4. Ask when Kansas State coach Bill Snyder will finally hang them up (year-round)

            5. Grumble/rejoice about Missouri being in the SEC (year-round)

            6. Complain about Chiefs coaching (year-round)

            If you do this properly, the line will move quickly . . .

             

  3. bloopie2 says:

     
    UConn women hoopsters have now not lost for two straight years, with no end in sight, even after losing All-Americans each year.  One commenter said “That’s good for the sport because it’s something neat and when they do lose it will make headlines”.  Right, and you’re not biased on account of your making a living writing about women’s basketball.
     
    Reminds me of that New Jersey prep football team a few years back that imported the best players from across the country.  Their players were so good and so big (college size) that other teams in their league started forfeiting games, to avoid getting creamed (both in points and in injuries).
     
    I guess the odds do favor outliers once in a while, but when the best teams have unlimited recruiting ability, the results suck.

    • bmaz says:

      UCLA went though a period like this in the late 60’s early 70’s. But it worked out okay. And it  brought the rest of college basketball up overall in the process. Auriemma and UConn are doing the same for women’s basketball. His, and Pat Summitt’s teams before, have almost singlehandedly skyrocketed the level of play and the popularity. All in all, a pretty great thing.

    • emptywheel says:

      I wondered what would happen if you gave BillBel and Geno both a third-sport team to compete against each other, who would do better. Would make a good reality show.

  4. bloopie2 says:

    Okay, I didn’t realize that popularity had gone up, so that’s good, thanks.  And if the level of play gets anywhere near what we just witnessed from the Atlanta Falcons, now That would be something to write home about.

  5. Jim White says:

    My dislike for the Cheating Cheater sportsball team knows no end. Not a fan of the Houston team, except for today. I would love nothing more than a deflating loss in Gillette to the Texans.

    • Peterr says:

      Trying to compete with the circus coming to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in DC this week would have been very, very difficult for them.

  6. bloopie2 says:

     
    So on the Seattle safety, it appears that the QB sort of kept his right foot forward and moved back with the left, while the lineman (up and to his right) planted his right foot and moved back and to the left with his left foot—collision course.  For sure, is that the lineman’s fault?  I’ll bet that every step a lineman takes is drilled into him for every situation he faces.  But are Wilson’s feet always so far forward under the linemen, risking this occurrence?  Does the protocol require a lineman io adjusts in such a circumstance?  Maybe I’m just itchin’ to blame the veteran, not the rookie.
     

  7. bmaz says:

    Not gonna retreat from picking the Steelers, but Andy Reid is 19-3 lifetime with two weeks to prepare because of a bye week.

    That is…..impressive.

    • Peterr says:

      Oddly, Alex Smith is one of a very few QBs who has better stats in the post-season than in the regular season. From Pro Football Reference:

      QB rating (reg vs post): 85.3 vs 99.1

      TDs & INTs:  157 and 91 [1.73:1] vs 11 and 1 — yes, just one playoff INT

      For comparison’s sake, here’s Big Ben:

      QB rating: 94.1 vs 85.0

      TDs & INTs:  301 and 160 [1.88:1] vs 24 and 21 [1.14:1]

      Weather is right on the line between freezing rain and liquid rain right now, switching back and forth. Checking the traffic cameras around Arrowhead, there are very few cars on the highways, and they are moving well under the speed limit. There have been a couple of bad accidents this morning, but by and large folks are staying off the streets until the freezing rain switches over completely.

      Everyone is praising the NFLs decision to push the game into the evening, but this morning a new wrinkle has come up. There’s another front coming through tonight with a wave of heavier rain, right around 9:30pm or so. If that happens, this would mean that the end of the game would be played in a 33 degree rainstorm.

      Wet + cold + exhaustion = unpredictable mess.

       

      • bmaz says:

        Big Ben has won two Super Bowls and taken his team to a third.

        Yep, nice little statistic about Alex Smith, but am awaiting Scribe to come comment further on this comparison.

  8. scribe says:

    Well, King Roger was thwarted.  This, despite the best efforts of Mr. #90 Clowney, Mr. #59 Mercilus and the team of zebras whose ability to miss late – egregiously late – hits on Biebs was fully deserving of a Magoo Award With Distinction.  The most surprising thing along that line was that the ref did not flag TB12 for some flavor of unsportsmanlike conduct for berating referee malpractice.

    After a long, restless night pondering yesterday’s games, King Roger retired to the throne room of his lair, reached to the side of his mouth and attempted to twirl the ends of his moustache, Snidely-Whiplash-fashion, only to find himself thwarted yet again.  This time, it was is own lack of testosterone precluding him from growing facial hair.  Or something.  No moustache to twirl.  He then proceeded to look ahead and see whether he could devise some other scheme to avoid having to face Biebs, Cheatin’ Bill and the Krafts next week, when the Hunt and Halas trophies get handed out.  “Those”, he thought, “are easy dodges.  I just get some third-generation granddaughter of the namesakes to do the handing out while I preside from a skybox.”  Breathing a sigh of relief, he went back to the TV room with his reproduction bridge-of-the-Enterprise chair, complete with pushbuttons in the arm, to watch today’s games.

    Pack at Owboys.  Tough call.  Both sides have some injuries, both sides have strengths.  Look to see whether the Owboys’ O-line can keep #4 safe long enough for plays to develop.  Similarly, look to see whether Mr. DiscountDoublecheck can check down to non-lame receivers against a pretty good Owboys’ D.  Leaning Owboys but I really, really, really want to behold the power of cheese.

    Stillers at Chefs.  Another tossup.  I’ll give a nod to the weather meaning the Chefs have many seats filled by the Rabid Fans who ordinarily can’t get near Arrowhead.  Whether that helps, who knows?  We’ll see, won’t we.

     

    • Peterr says:

      I think you left out the part about King Roger the ‘Stashless pondering the soon-to-be-filed paperwork, whereby the Rayduhs will seek permission to move to Vegas. If Adelson backs out of funding his portion of the stadium (word is he wants an ownership stake, but the NFL doesn’t allow casino owners to own teams), the Vampire Squid has agreed to put up the money to keep the stadium deal moving ahead. My favorite part of this story is the end of it:

      Raiders owner Mark Davis has said publicly that even if the team moves, he plans on playing for the next couple seasons in Oakland while his new stadium is built.

      I can only imagine what those lame duck seasons will look like in Oakland, especially given the history of Old Al Davis taking the Rayduhs to LA. The Bay Area can be pretty creative in crafting protests, and I would imagine that Young Davis would make a lovely target for that creativity.

  9. bmaz says:

    Jeebus. Give Jason Garrett and Scott Linehan some real credit. They came with a real game plan to attack the GB defense.

    And it appears to be a very good one.

    • Peterr says:

      The Cheese seem to have come with a real game plan to attack the ‘boys, too. Perhaps an even better plan.

      Where’s the camera trained on Jerry’s skybox, to show us his reaction?

  10. bmaz says:

    Ooof. Think GB should have run another play before the two minute warning.

    This game seems destined for overtime, and that is far better for the Boys than the Pack.

      • rosalind says:

        after all this Cheese talk i just looked at the time and had an immediate want of BBQ. *sigh*. stay warm!

        • bmaz says:

          There “may” be people dancing around the big screen here. “May”. Also, there is an eerie gloaming look with heavy and low cloud cover, moon etc. Something magical happened here tonight. Hope there is some positive mojo left for the Cheese in Atlanta next Sunday.

  11. Peterr says:

    Four Stillers FGs vs one Chefs TD. This is going to go down to the last possession.

    And that last possession will likely be in the rain. The line between freezing rain and liquid rain is just north of Arrowhead right now, and not likely to move south, but still. It’s cold and wet, and going to get wetter before we’re done.

    [Football aside, I hate 33 degrees and rain. If it’s colder, I can put on my long underwear, another sweater, a second scarf, and more — but 33 degrees and rain just soaks into everything and make life miserable.]

  12. Peterr says:

    Damn. A penalty on the 2 point conversion takes points off the board, and that’s it.

    The Chefs kept the Stillers out of the end zone all night, and it wasn’t enough.

  13. scribe says:

    This Stillers fan smiles.

     

    One of the 3 stars of the game, as designated by TV:  James Silverback Harrison.

    Why no Harrison love, EW?

     

    This Stillers fan smiles doubly because my hierarchy of rooting interests rules:

    Stillers – WIN

    Who’s playing Dallas – WIN

    [Iggles, G-Men, Who’s playing the J-E-T-S … for those who forgot the rest].

    And I smile again b/c a friend who, inexplicably, roots for the Owboys just lost a bet with me on whose team goes further.  $5 coming my way….

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