Divisional Playoffs 2018

Four more games, two today, two tomorrow. Win or go home. All the platitudes. I have been spending a great deal of my time the last week with the porcelain god in the bathroom, and nearly all of it the last 24 hours. Also have a pretty important little trip have to make here early this morning, so one and all please feel free to fill in background and predictions on the games.

First up for Saturday is Atlanta at Philadelphia. The weather will be freezing cold, and temp expected to keep dropping during the game. Atlanta is a southern dome team with not much, uh, exposure to such conditions. That heavily favors the Eagles, and their superior defense, who are. But the Falcons have Matt Ryan at QB and the Iggles are stuck with backup Nick Foles. A great kid, who can be pretty good on occasion, but Foles is no Matt Ryan. The trendy pickers seem to all be taking the Falcons. And I will too. Philly needs to open up their offense and see if Foles can’t get on a run. Again, he is capable of that streakiness. But if they go conservative, they are toast. Play to win the game.

Late game Saturday is Tennessee at Patriots. More cold weather will be in store in Foxborough. Keep them balls inflated boys! Seems like every year that the Pats are the Saturday night game in Divisional week. Go figure. Marcus Mariota is young, talented and mobile. The kind of QB that can give New England fits. The Pats’ secondary has really come along nicely since the start of the year. So, really, this will come down to the ability of their D-Line to pressure and contain Mariota. James Harrison should get significant opportunity to help them out in that regard. The Titans are a nice story, and look like a team growing a solid core for the future. Hard to see them slaying the Pats tonight though. Also, how can a team win a history on their team name like this?? (c/o our wonderful friend @StephStradley)

Early game Sunday is Jacksonville at Steelers. This could be a great defensive struggle….or not. I tend to think not. Pittsburgh defense may not be what the Jag’s currently is, but it is not bad at all. And it is just really hard to see how the Jags are going to produce enough offense to keep up with Big Be and the Bumblebee Boys. In fairness, the passing game may be more check offs and mid range stuff if Antonio Brown is hobbled or out. But I expect Brown to suit up and do fine. This is Pittsburgh and the playoffs dammit, not some meaningless late season game. The Steelers are itching to get back to the Patriots in Foxborough, and I think they are going to get their wish.

Last game standing will be Saints at Vikings. Vikes are 4 point faves at home. Seems about right I guess. That said, this is the one game that truly looks like a pickem to me. Case Keenum and the Vikes have been quietly excellent on offense, and scoring plenty of points this year. And the Minnesota defense is fantastic. Saints are a little up and down this year, but did seems strong down the stretch for the most part. The Nawlins defense is quite improved over what they have suffered for many years. But it is not on the level of the Vikings. If the Saints are going to win this, and there is a path for that to happen, will have to be by Drew Brees and Alvin Kamara running wild. Hey, it could happen, but not putting hard money on it.

Okay fans and fannys, that is it. Hoop it up. Music this week is by Stevie Nicks playing with Bob Welch and his band. May be the best version of Gold Dust Woman around. For some reason, and never seen this before , the video is not interacting well with our blog. So here is the link. It is worth a watch.

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.

53 replies
  1. Trent says:

    Fixed now.

    Welch got screwed out of the hall of fame, but for my money Lindsay’s lead guitar makes Fleetwood Mac and is one of the greatest of all time.  GDW is my favorite song by FM and Stevie wails on this one in particular, nice choice.

    I’m hoping Atlanta doesn’t pull an Atlanta today.  I got a bad feeling about this one.  Sucker bet might get over on all the trendy pickers.

    Rise up dirty birds!!!

    Reply
  2. Bay State Librul says:

    Why the fuck would anyone drive to Foxboro, take hours to find parking, and then freeze your arse off?

    “By Saturday night in the Boston area, the low temperature is expected to be about 12 degrees — 46 degrees colder than the high temperature Saturday morning.”

    Who knows, we might have to deflate the footballs

    Reply
    • scribe says:

      Good day for ducks[, not football].  If I’m reading the website properly, the season’s still open in MA.  If you feel like taking your life in your hands….

      Reply
  3. scribe says:

    Me like Iggles, Pats and Stillers.

    I suspect AB84 will be a decoy more than a threat – the calf injury kept him out a couple games and still is likely to hobble him. But, that having been said, Ben has enough arrows in his quiver to pick and choose. The league seems to have gotten wise to Bell’s juke and stutter, so we’ll see how that works out. They’re going to miss #30, rookie James Conner (local kid made good) who’s out for the year and could have spelled Bell.

    Biebs will have to deal with freezing cold post, as The Weather Channel tells us, a flash freeze or something. All I know is, it’s supposed to have been 56 or so in Beantown this morning and forecast 24 by gametime. After somewhere between 1 and 3 inches of driving rain. And gale force winds. Worth noting the Patsies seem a bit thin at RB, so if the wind starts playing havoc with the passing game, it could be a little closer. Even though Mariota proved Giselle wrong last week, showing one can throw and catch the ball at the same time, they’ll always be Oilers to me and my antipathy toward them, dating back to the 70s, remains.

    Agree on Foles having to get on a roll early if the Iggles are going to win. The gloom which descended to well below Billy Penn’s hat atop City Hall when Wentz went down is palpable hundreds of miles away. The Iggles are playing hard but not like they were.

    Favor the Vikes, slightly, though Drew Fookin’ Brees and Friends put on a clinic last week of how they could make a run for it all. Tossup.

    Now, inquiring minds (mine) want to know. What is the distinction that causes the script editors to choose between “Ancient aliens theorists believe…”, “Ancient aliens theorists assert …” and “Ancient aliens theorists contend”? Yesterday the TV had a binge of those wildly informative shows on (while I was cleaning up old files and such) and used those constructions repeatedly. But I could not discern how they chose one over the other. Sadly, the guy with the hair has gotten so big he’s leaving the shows to others, so he wasn’t available to explain. Can anyone here help sort this out? I’m in a real quandry….

    Reply
  4. Bay State Librul says:

    After two months, and with the help of the FISA court, we have finally unmasked “Scribe”

    Scribe is really Joe Rexrode, a columnist for the USA Today Network — Tennessee.

    On January 11th, he writes “Bill Belichick is one of the greatest coaches in NFL history. And a cheater. Tom Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. And probably a cheater. Both statements can be true of both men, the most successful coach/quarterback combo in league annals and the duo the Tennessee Titans must defeat Saturday…..”

     

    Reply
      • Bay State Librul says:

        Glad I could help.

        In fact,  I think you might be the “voice'” and “pen” of folks outside the 617, 781, 413, 978, and 508 area code, but couldn’t you have come up with a better alias? I mean “Joe Rexrode.

        Reply
  5. Peterr says:

    Interesting little item — or not so little item — in the Guardian the other day:

    The NFL’s international development manager believes the league’s “11-year tease” with London will lead to a permanent franchise, potentially as soon as 2021.

    Speaking at the announcement of this year’s three NFL games in London, Mark Waller, the league’s executive vice-president, said the economic case had been proven and it was now only a case of persuading any relocating team it would not be at a competitive disadvantage.

    Having staged 21 games in London since 2011, Waller told Press Association Sport there was “no decrease in the enthusiasm for London” among the league’s 32 team owners and “they all know the numbers stack up”.

    The “it was now only a case . . . ” line strikes me as a bit of highly optimistic speculation. I can easily see 32 owners saying “Yes, the numbers add up, and the league should do this,” but that’s a far cry from an owner saying “Oh, I’d love to pick up my team and move to London.” The owners might have ideas about which other team they’d like to send there, but I don’t see anyone clamoring to be that team.

    Two teams strike me as possibilities. First would be the Bolts, as they don’t want to have Kroenke as their landlord, but even more strongly don’t want to be in San Diego. If the league were persuasive enough (i.e., threw them enough relocation money), they might go for it. Instead of being an afterthought in LA, they’d be the talk of London (at least in NFL circles).

    Alternatives, would the J!-E!-T!-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! be a possibility? Their owner and present US Ambassador to the Court of St. James might decide he kind of likes London, and choose to stay even after Trump leaves office.

    Reply
    • Trent says:

      Fun story about the NFL in London:

      I spent the weekend there a few years ago while doing some work in Nottingham. After taking the wrong tube line on my way to the Maida Vale Marriott I had to hike a ways.  Stepped in to a pub to dry out from a driving rain and chatted up a guy in a black concert tee.

      Turns out he was waiting on his mates to go to Motorhead at Wembley arena.  So I down a few pints and head over to check in, put on dry clothes and head to Wembley to scalp a ticket without knowing that not only is scalping not a “thing” over there, they police and prosecute it.  I was late and it was deserted but lucky for me there’s one guy headed out.

      He sold me the only ticket to be found for a hundred pounds.  So I saw Lemmy just before he went to play the great gig in the sky.  Killer show and as I got back to the hotel bar I noticed some Jaguar jerseys and more than a few beautiful ladies.  Turns out it was the cheerleaders’ hotel.

      Fun night had by all.  One of those that you can’t plan if you try.  That’s the NFL tie-in, in case you were wondering.

      Sure is cool seeing these FDL folks at Marcy’s place.

      T-

       

      Reply
      • bmaz says:

        Motorhead was awesome. And listening to their albums never gave the measure. Had to see them live, it was glorious.

        Sadly, last the surviving member of the main years classic lineup, Fast Eddie Clarke, died Friday.

        Reply
        • Trent says:

          Damn. Didn’t know about Fast Eddie. What’s even cooler about MH live is that they raise all that hell as a 3 piece. I have a whole different level of admiration for bands that can pull it off.
          Sorry for hijacking your thread, Rev.

          Reply
  6. Bay State Librul says:

    Chad Finn, a good old Irishman from Maine, has become a favorite of the Patsies scene

    “Welcome to Season 6, Episode 17 of the Unconventional Preview, a serious-but-lighthearted, often nostalgia-tinted look at the Patriots’ weekly matchup that runs right here every weekend.

    Excluding times when the conversation was dominated by topics with a -gate suffix, this has to have been one of the most annoying weeks of the Patriots’ two-decade run of dominance.

    ESPN writer Seth Wickersham’s compelling long feature on the state of the relationship among Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and Robert Kraft dropped at a time when the Patriots were on what is more or less their annual first-round bye.

    Then, when the Tennessee Titans rallied to beat the Kansas City Chiefs Saturday with a decent comeback that still left absolutely no one believing they’d have a chance against the Patriots, the ESPN story left the window open for what the majority of local sports media around here savors: a chance to pick at the Patriots carcass even though they are very much alive.

    We heard countless theories on the Brady-Belichick-Kraft dynamic, conjecture on Wickersham’s sources and methods, and worst, speculation that Brady was the bad guy in all of this, as if we didn’t have 18 years of evidence that he’s everything you could ever want a franchise cornerstone to be, on and off the field. (Minus his faithful affiliation with dubious lifestyle guru Alex Guerrero, I suppose.)

    What we rarely heard was anything about the Titans. In some way, that’s understandable. They were outscored in the regular season, their quarterback, Marcus Mariota, threw more interceptions than touchdown passes, and the Patriots probably will have the 13½-point spread covered before the first quarter is complete.

    The Titans are not a compelling opponent unless Mariota and running back Derrick Henry can morph into late-’90s Steve McNair and Eddie George for a few hours Saturday night. Otherwise, the Patriots will win this game with ease.
    After all the talk this week about anything but football, I can’t wait to see how it plays out, even while it plays out in the blowout we expect. Forget the soap-opera nonsense. Finally, football.”

    Reply
  7. Bay State Librul says:

    “High above Courtside”
    Havlicek Stole the Ball!”, Havlicek Stole the Ball!”, Havlicek Stole the Ball!”,
    “Oh, My”
    and now “Whoa Nellie”
    RIP Keith Jackson

    Reply
    • fastenbulbous says:

      Yeah, I can’t even watch football anymore. Might as well just televise gladiator battles to death.

      My youngest son wanted to play high school football and I said no. I don’t want my child to be maimed playing a stupid, meaningless game.

      So I stick to watching NBA….

      (I am so sick of the violence of American “culture”)

      Reply
  8. Minnesota Chuck says:

    After cowering in a crouch all week trying to fend off a head cold, with partial success, I ventured out to Costco and a supermarket here in Twin City burbland today and I thought Christmas had come again! The parking lots were nearly full, the aisles were congested and the checkout lines were as long as two days before the holidays. Based on a couple of conversations and eavesdropping everyone was stocking up for a two day playoff watching binge. A few, I suppose, also have actual tickets to the game tomorrow afternoon, by which point the outside temp is predicted to be nearly +15. At present it finally touched zero after several days below.  I don’t know what the temp set point inside the stadium is for a game however; if I had to guess I’d say somewhere in the low 60s.

    Reply
  9. bmaz says:

    Now we are having fun. CBS just played the quintessential Boston band on the last break away. J. Geils Band. That’s some good work guys.

    Reply
  10. burnt says:

    five sacks and it isn’t even the 4th quarter. I think it is time to link to this favorite: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ufwukWgKfI

     

    Reply
    • bmaz says:

      OH YOU DID NOT DO THAT!! Haven’t you noticed we are trying to curb antisocial commenting here??

      Burnt, absolutely great to see you again. Been a long time. Hope everything is well with you guys.

      Reply
      • burnt says:

        We are reasonably well. Bittersweet is lucky to be alive after getting hit by a car while cycling in Berkeley the day after Christmas. She was tossed in the air and crushed the windshield with her helmet–yet she suffered no head injury. She has two clean breaks in the pelvis and a long recovery ahead. Driver 100-percent at fault.

        We watched the Vikings for the first time this year and witnessed the ridiculous miracle play. Even if the Vikings don’t win next week our neighborhood, the North Loop, is guaranteed to be crazy during Super Bowl weekend. We had purchased tickets to escape but mountain biking is not in her near future. At least they were Southwest so changing will be easy.

        Reply
  11. Rapier says:

    New England’s dominance is a strange thing. Exemplified not by individual greatness but rather by so many individual plays in game after game, year after year, which simply go the way they are drawn up.  Everyone just doing their job.

    The Hall of Fame is not going to be filled with Patriot’s from this era. There will be Brady Gronk and Belichick, that’s it pretty much.  I am not even aware of any ex Pats who have even attempted to explain how or why this simple efficiency happens or are even aware that it does.

    Reply
  12. Bay State Librul says:

    This is not a drill

    El Presidente speaks

    “Listen Pittsburgh can’t beat the Patriots. Not this year. Not ever. Belichick is too smart. Tomlin is too stupid. Brady is too handsome. Big Ben is too ugly. And mix in the fact James Harrison was just run out of Pittsburgh and wants to prove to all the fans that burned his jersey that he can still play and all signs point to another Patriot blowout victory.” Boston Barstool, January 12, 2018.

    Unfair and unbalanced, but true

    Reply
  13. Bay State Librul says:

    More from Joe from Tennessee on the refs
    “And it was a terrible call, made worse by the fact that the correct call was initially made. Trawick flinched but did not cross until the offensive player moved first. As annoying as all the conspiracy-screaming Pats haters can be, this one was made for them. And of course Brady took advantage by driving his team down the field to make it 21-7.
    Other calls and non-calls fed the screamers, and NFL officiating simply can’t be this bad. That doesn’t mean the Pats didn’t earn this win. They eventually asserted themselves and left no doubt. The Titans did not respond well; they shrunk in the moment. Mariota said he was “embarrassed” by the performance and added that he didn’t think the Titans played a “complete” game all season”
    Do you think screaming Pats-haters will ever have a “change of heart”?

    Reply
  14. bmaz says:

    Welp, the Steelers Jags game has been fairly eye opening. Has not gone the way I thought.

    Bottles is no Big Ben, bus has done a hell of a job today.

    Reply
  15. scribe says:

    A couple things:

    You spot the other team 14, you lose.

    I missed the first half because I had a meeting to attend.  Didn’t miss much, it would appear.

    If I hear “…yet another questionable decision by Todd Haley” again, well, I won’t say.  That quotes the TV guys from after the incomplete pass to JuJu on a 4th and 2 (where the defender did  a good bit of jersey-tugging and got away with it.  Fuck the NFL).  If I was Ben, I’d put it to the Rooneys plainly:  “next year, only one of this pair – me and Haley – will be here.  Take your pick.”  Give them a week, then say the same in a radio interview.

    Turned off the game after it went to 35-21.  Knew it was over.

    Fly, Eagles, Fly.

    Reply
  16. scribe says:

    Drew Fookin’ Brees not having his best day.  And stadium  management in Minny is gonna wind up wearing out that damned Viking rams horn thing.

    Reply
    • scribe says:

      Todd Haley is the Steelers Offensive Coordinator.  He sucks.  That’s what I’ve been saying for several weeks now.

      “… give Bell the ball three times in a row when the Pats knew it was coming …” – remember that?

      Should have been fired this morning such that, like Ben McAdoo at the Giants, his key card stopped working.

      Reply
      • scribe says:

        Pittsburgh papers say a couple interesting things:

        1.  Haley’s future with the Stillers not clear.  His contract is up now.

        2.  Ben says he’s coming back.

        3.  They have all 5 of their O-line signed at least through next year.  (This, one of the reasons for #2 above.)  In case you hadn’t noticed, 3 of the 5 O-line got, or deserved, All-Pro team or Pro Bowl selections:  LT Villanueva and C Pouncey for the Pro Bowl,  RG DeCastro 1st team All-Pro and Pro Bowl.

        4.  Villanueva (who knows something about leadership) gave an interesting interview in which he said talent isn’t enough to win championships, or words to that effect.

        Reply
  17. Pete says:

    Jags and Iggles in the SB????  Even Jags and Vikes would be a nice change.

    I too am among the stunned, but it’s all good.  Some great football today (and yesterday’s Falcons-Iggles). Almost college like.

    Reply
      • Avattoir says:

        A number of the NFL team sites feature weakly video attempts at humor. This past week the Vikings site had a short featurette of DE Brian Robison with a mike in hand and a camera man trailing, interviewing various fellow Vikings in their dressing room on the subject of ‘Which Viking team member is most in touch with his feminine side”. So many teammates immediately picked Diggs, Robison just acclaimed him the ‘winner’, then gave him a shot at rebuttal, which just provided further evidence of the wisdom in that choice.

        And now he does this. I expect there to be a heck of  lot of praise for “being in touch with [one’s] feminine side” emanating from the Vikings for quite some time to come.

        Reply
  18. Bay State Librul says:

    Jags brain

    “Vince Lombardi taught high school chemistry, Bill Walsh could have been a college professor, and Paul Brown qualified for the Rhodes scholarship. Tom Coughlin is in that mold. It’s his intelligence and football knowledge that has made him successful.”
    NY Times, 2012

    Tune in next Sunday @ 3:00PM for the next episode of Sherlock Holmes brain teaser:
    How can you out coach the Patsies — maybe Romo will provide the answers.

    Reply
  19. Bay State Librul says:

    Scribe,

    Tomlin must go.

    It’s the coach.

    Make a pitch for one of the Patsies coaches…

     

    “As a team, the Steelers are a young Skywalker. Always looking to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was… what he was doing. Winning takes preparation and focus, something Jedis have but very few Steelers seem to have much interest in. Besides, apparently, David DeCastro. So I hate to break it to him, but as long as the Rooneys keep insisting on bringing back the same coach who puts more emphasis on talking shit and letting his players do likewise than he does on prepping for the game at hand, nothing’s going to change in Pittsburgh. At least now Bell will have time to play as many rounds as he wants. Just not of football”   Jerry Thornton, Barstoolie

    Reply

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