Up The Gut: NFL Wild Card Weekend

Shaun Morash previews Wild Card weekend and offers picks for all four games

The DA Show
January 02, 2020 - 9:22 am
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By Shaun Morash

Cold Open
    
How could it happen? Those were the words uttered by an elderly New Englander, plaid shirt tucked in his jeans as his arms waved frantically in the air in December 2018 when the Miami Dolphins beat the New England Patriots on a last-second play.
    
Sadly that man's grandkids did not have their phones recording this man on Sunday because if losing on a last-second play in a game that had no real impact on his Patriots season a year ago warranted that many curse words, I can only imagine what this loss to the Dolphins did to the old man. A Bill Belichick team is as prepared as any team in football, week in and week out. They knew the stakes on Sunday, played their starters, and faced a team that never wins in New England. So really, how could it happen? 

This Patriots team, despite having 12 wins, are as flimsy as my promises to not eat a french fry in 2020. New England has never made a Super Bowl when playing on Wild Card weekend. Can they pull one last rabbit out of a hat and laugh in all of their haters’ faces? I highly doubt that with the road they have now paved for themselves. An AFC Championship Game without the Patriots would be refreshing, but how could it happen?

Ten Yard Gain

1-Philip Rivers is likely done as a Charger, and his final act was classic Rivers. Team is in the game versus an opponent. Rivers pulls usual baby act yelling at an opponent for something Rivers started, and then an underwhelming outcome. I will never understand the fact people want to paint Rivers as the better quarterback out of his 2004 draft class. He is a distant third. 

2-In the realm of something I would only care about, Sunday was the last time we will ever wee "OAK," in the NFL score box of a game. Las Vegas will be cool, a trip I am sure to make, but football in Oakland done once and for all just seems so bizarre. 

3-The shocker of Black Monday is that Doug Marrone is staying as Jaguars head coach. Reports are out there that Shahid Kahn likes Marrone and wants to see him perform without Tom Coughlin breathing down his neck. The first order of business for Marrone is making sure the right quarterback decision is made ahead of September.

4-Credit to Christopher "Mad Dog" Russo for calling out FOX for their decision to send their "A-Team," of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman to Dallas for Redskins-Cowboys and then distributing it to 71 percent of the homes in America. Granted if you have Sunday Ticket or are a RedZone only fan, this didn't bother you, but the Eagles were win-and-in and at the same time. It is inexcusable to play the Cowboys card where they needed help to get in. 

5-The NFL playoffs are wide open, and the Ravens are deservedly the favorites as the tournament begins. A great stat by Kurt Warner, however; of the 40 teams since 1990 that elected to rest their starters in Week 17 despite having a first-round BYE, only three of them won the Super Bowl. Meaning 18 Super Bowl Champions, 40 options of teams essentially giving themselves a double BYE, and just three have won it all. Resting to prevent injury is nice in theory, but sometimes it is hard to flip the switch. 

6-The New York Giants continue to be lost in modern football as far as running the organization goes. They fire Pat Shurmur, who was a good man, but obviously not head coach material, yet keep the old school, defiant GM in Dave Gettleman, who bought the groceries. Maybe they will luck out and make the right head-coach hire, but if the GM fails, then having to hire a new GM and force the new HC on that GM is such a backwards way of running things. 

7-The Browns have cleaned house by letting go of Freddie Kitchens and John Dorsey. We now enter 2020 having no idea, truly, if Baker Mayfield will be a star in this league beyond those commercials that mercifully should be coming to an end this offseason. Let the 2019 Browns, and before that the 2011 Eagles, be a lesson to everyone this offseason: Don't declare champions of March as favorites. 

8-Adam Gase was asked about the future of Le'Veon Bell in New York and all he had to do was lie, even if he didn't believe it, and say, "Le'Veon is a workhorse for us, can't wait for next season." Instead, Gase told the media to ask GM Joe Douglas, prompting Le'Veon Bell to respond to the video with an emoji on Twitter. If you have no people skills, you have no business being a head coach. Why did Peyton Manning vouch for this guy again?

9-Congrats to Mike Vrabel and the Tennessee Titans for having the stones to sit down their once face of the franchise in Marcus Mariota earlier this season. That choice to turn to Ryan Tannehill catapulted this team to the playoffs and how differently they now look entering this postseason. Sure, New England may beat them at home, but the way both of those teams looked in the second half of the year, this Titans team winning in that spot is no longer crazy talk. 

10- The Packers still have nobody believing in them after a clunky game versus the Lions. They still have a BYE, will still be in frigid Green Bay until at least the AFC Championship Game, and have a better defense than Aaron Rodgers has ever had. Do not be stupid and sleep on this team in January. 

My Picks

I sputtered in December, with yet another 1-2 week, I am 25-25-1 on the year. For The playoffs, I will be picking every game:

Bills +2.5 @ Texans: Twenty years to the weekend after the Music City Miracle, the Bills are again on the road, having played just one playoff game between then and now. Sean McDermott's defense can fly, and Deshaun Watson, for all the accolades, still has rather inconsistent moments throughout big games. Can Josh Allen be accurate enough to keep critical drives going? One can only hope, but ultimately in a game with two teams very evenly matched, I will trust McDermott as the better head coach than Bill O'Brien. 

Patriots -4.5 vs Titans: The whole world will be rooting for a Patriots meltdown Saturday night. As much as I have been all in on the Ryan Tannehill train, their final three games versus playoff teams would worry me as a Titans bettor. They could have easily been 0-3 down the stretch had the Texans gone all out in Week 17. Winning in New England is never easy, and despite the Titans beating a better Pats team in Nashville a year ago, I think Belichick will not let Mike Vrabel get the best of him in his own building in primetime. 

Vikings +7.5 @ Saints: This game feels right on the number, and full disclosure If I was only picking three games this weekend, this would be the one I would stay away from. The Saints may be down to their last stand with Drew Brees for a Super Bowl after heartbreaking losses in each of the last two postseasons, including to the Vikings 24 months ago. Trusting Kirk Cousins in a big game, in a loud building, is laughable. For me, this is more about Dalvin Cook turning in a couple huge runs and the Vikings defense with a key play or two that keeps this game uneasy in the Big Easy for Saints fans in the fourth quarter. 

Seahawks -1.5 @ Eagles: The Eagles are simply too injury-riddled to get the magic of 2017 going. The Seahawks were a yard away from hosting this weekend, but luckily are not playing in the early time slot Sunday to throw off their clocks. Fletcher Cox may have a thing or two to say about Marshawn Lynch's return to the playoffs, but Russell Wilson should pick apart that beat up secondary. This will be a key game for Clowney as any pressure on Carson Wentz is not just what you want, it is what you need. 

Football Food of The Week

Twix-Pudding Pie. When everyone zigs, I zag. Why start the New Year off with kale smoothies when you can pound your face full of sugar? Simply get a bigger sized box of Vanilla Instant pudding made by Jell-O. Purchase a graham cracker pie crush, and three Twix bars (both the left and rights in each), throw the Twix in a storage bag and hammer them into crushed pieces. Mix the pudding pouch with the proper amount of milk as listed on the box while swirling in your crushed Twix pieces. Before the pudding hardens, pour the mixture into the pie crust and smooth out the top. Let cool in your fridge for a couple hours then serve.

Thanks for reading, you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @MrazCBS.