Mock Draft 3.0 (Ginger King)

We’re inside 2 weeks.  There are some big changes here as edge closer to the Draft.  So many questions, so little time.  But that’s why we’re here.  To answer all your questions, until we change the answers next week.  Enjoy.

Round 1 Team Pick Position
1 Cleveland Browns Myles Garrett (Texas A&M) DE
2 San Francisco Solomon Thomas (Stanford) DE
3 Chicago Bears Jamal Adams (LSU) S
4 Jacksonville Jaguars Leonard Fournette (LSU) RB
5 Tennessee Titans O.J. Howard (Alabama) TE
6 NY Jets Jonathon Allen (Alabama) DE
7 Los Angeles Chargers Malik Hooker (OSU) S
8 Carolina Panthers Dalvin Cook (FSU) RB
9 Cincinnati Bengals Mike Williams (Clemson) WR

Paired opposite AJ = matchup nightmare.

10 Buffalo Bills Marshon Lattimore (OSU) CB
11 New Orleans Saints Derek Barnett (Tennessee) DE
12 Cleveland Browns Mitchell Trubisky (UNC) QB
13 Arizona Cardinals John Ross (Washington) WR
14 Philadelphia Eagles Marlon Humphrey (Alabama) CB
15 Indianapolis Colts Reuben Foster (Alabama) LB
16 Baltimore Ravens Corey Davis (Western Michigan) WR
17 Washington Redskins Jabrill Peppers (Michigan) S
18 Tennessee Titans Tra’Davious White (LSU) CB
19 Tampa Bay Bucs Ryan Ramcyk (Wisconsin) OL
20 Denver Broncos Garett Bolles (Utah) OL
21 Detroit Lions Taco Charlton (Michigan) DE
22 Miami Dolphins Zach Cunningham (Vanderbilt) LB
23 New York Giants David Njoku (Miami) TE
24 Oakland Raiders Caleb Brantley (Florida) DT
25 Houston Texans Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech) QB

The successor to the Brock Osweiler era.

26 Seattle Seahawks Haasan Reddick (Temple) DE
27 Kansas City Chiefs Christian McCaffrey (Stanford) RB
28 Dallas Cowboys Jarad Davis (Florida) LB
29 Green Bay Packers TJ Watt (Wisconsin) LB
30 Pittsburgh Steelers Josh Jones (NC State) S
31 Atlanta Falcons Cam Robinson (Alabama) OL
32 New Orleans Saints Gareon Conley (OSU) CB

 

Instant Anlaysis:  Mitchell falling to 12 would be the dream scenario for the Browns, but chances of that working out are iffy.  In fact, I’m not sure he’ll make it, as there are a few teams (Jets, Saints, and even the Bills as a dark horse) that could take Trubisky.  But for now, we’ll give Cleveland some LeBron magic.  Elsewhere, speed sells, as Mr. 4.22 John Ross keeps moving up and up.  He’d fit in perfectly in Arizona, a true deep threat to open up the underneath for (suddenly old) Larry Fitzgerald.  This, in turn, moves Corey Davis up a few slots.  It’s a deceptively deep draft for receivers, but only 3 are first round worthy.  After that, it’s a muddled mix of maybes and could-bes, guys like Ju-Ju Smith-Schuster, Zay Jones, Dede Westbrook, and Curtis Samuel.

On the defensive side, secondary rules.  As many as 8 cornerbacks/safeties (a quarter of the first round) could go on Day 1.  When you think about it, as the league continues to change to a pass-first offense, defenses adjust accordingly.  Thus, corners and safeties become more of a priority.

Mock Draft 2.0 (Ginger King)

NFL Draft 2017

Happy April Fool’s Day!  Did you enjoy scarring your children for life by pretending to throw the family dog into oncoming traffic (Sparkles, no!!!)  Honestly, is there a dumber day out there that people celebrate (not including anything Canada celebrates that we don’t, because really, what the fuck is Boxing Day.  And don’t even get me started about Victoria Day.

Anyway, there’s no fooling around with The Draft.  We’re inside a month.  It’s time to get real.  The first wave of free agency has come and gone, and that has dramatically shaped the first round.  Check out our updated First Round.

Round 1 Team Pick Position
1 Cleveland Browns Myles Garrett (Texas A&M) DE
2 San Francisco Solomon Thomas (Stanford) DE
3 Chicago Bears Jonathon Allen (Alabama) DE
4 Jacksonville Jaguars Leonard Fournette (LSU) RB
5 Tennessee Titans Jamal Adams (LSU) S
6 NY Jets Mitch Trubisky (UNC) QB
7 Los Angeles Chargers Malik Hooker (OSU) S
8 Carolina Panthers Dalvin Cook (FSU) RB
9 Cincinnati Bengals O.J. Howard (Alabama) TE
OJ may be the best offensive player in The Draft.

OJ may be the best offensive player in The Draft.

 

10 Buffalo Bills Marshon Lattimore (OSU) CB
11 New Orleans Saints Mike Williams (Clemson) WR
12 Cleveland Browns Cam Robinson (Alabama) OL
13 Arizona Cardinals Reuben Foster (Alabama) LB
14 Philadelphia Eagles Tra’Davious White (LSU) CB
15 Indianapolis Colts Ryan Ramcyk (Wisconsin) OL
16 Baltimore Ravens John Ross (Washington) WR
17 Washington Redskins Jabrill Peppers (Michigan) LB
18 Tennessee Titans Corey Davis (Western Michigan) WR
19 Tampa Bay Bucs Caleb Brantley (Florida) DT
20 Denver Broncos Garett Bolles (Utah) OL
21 Detroit Lions Taco Charlton (Michigan) DE
22 Miami Dolphins Zach Cunningham (Vanderbilt) LB
23 New York Giants David Njoku (Miami) TE
24 Oakland Raiders Marlon Humphrey (Alabama) CB
25 Houston Texans Forrest Lamp (Western Kentucky) OL
26 Seattle Seahawks Kevin King (Washington) CB
27 Kansas City Chiefs Christian McCaffrey (Stanford) RB
White Lightning.

White Lightning.

28 Dallas Cowboys Haasan Reddick (Temple) DE
29 Green Bay Packers T.J. Watt (Wisconsin) LB
30 Pittsburgh Steelers Charles Harris (Missouri) DE
31 Atlanta Falcons Jordan Willis (Kansas St.) DE
32 New Orleans Saints Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech) QB

Instant Analysis:  Biggest mover is OJ Howard.  Once thought to be available in the late first round, Howard is flying up draft boards.  He’s a two-for one…he’ll improve your passing game and blocking game.  Another riser is John Ross.  Speed sells, and 4.22 is pretty damn fast.  Some fallers include quarterbacks, specifically Deshaun Watson and DeShone Kizer.  Simply put: this is weak QB class, and, when that’s the case, teams are finding that they can get success at QB in later rounds (Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott).  Barring some teams trading back up into the first round (don’t forget about that 5th year team option for 1st round picks), I can’t see more than 2 qbs going in the first.

Another big winner is running backs.  The modern trend puts less value on running backs, however this Draft figures to be different.  Fournette is a bruiser (has Tom Coughlin guy written all over him) and Dalvin Cook and Christian McCaffrey are the dual-threat backs teams cream over.  It’s been 5 years since 3 backs were taken in the First Round.  We like the chances this year.

Mock Draft 1.0 (Ginger King)

NFL Draft 2017

Is your bracket busted?  Yours truly was looking great until Wisconsin just ruined it all!  Oh well, it’s time to focus on what’s really important.  The NFL Draft!

We’re almost a month away (but you knew that) from the most important (not actual) sporting event.  Teams looking to rebuild (Cleveland, again), reload (New England, again), and just fill in the last remaining pieces to a championship run.

Now, if you’ve looked at mock drafts thus far, good for you…but they are utterly meaningless.  Any mock you see pre-Combine is worthless.  Ditto for anything pre-free agency.  I don’t know how many times we’ve stressed this to anyone that will listen, but teams are built through free agency, and then supplemented via the draft.  You think Philly’s going WR after signing Alshon Jeffrey???  You think Chicago’s drafting a qb after signing Mike Glennon (possible, but unlikely).  Anyway, it’s still too early for a full mock, but let’s give you a flavor for our Top 10.  Here.  We.  Go.

Round 1 Team Pick Position
1 Cleveland Browns Myles Garrett (Texas A&M) DE
2 San Francisco Mitch Trubisky (UNC) QB
3 Chicago Bears Jonathon Allen (Alabama) DT
4 Jacksonville Jaguars Solomon Thomas (Stanford) DE
5 Tennessee Titans Jamal Adams (LSU) S
6 NY Jets Malik Hooker (OSU) S
7 Los Angeles Chargers Mike Williams (Clemson) WR
8 Carolina Panthers Dalvin Cook (FSU) RB
9 Cincinnati Bengals Leonard Fournette (LSU) RB
10 Buffalo Bills Marshon Lattimore (OSU) CB
Congrats on being the best player in the Draft.  Your reward is a trip to Cleveland and a losing season.

Congrats on being the best player in the Draft. Your reward is a trip to Cleveland and a losing season.

Instant Analysis:  I think the Browns are locked on to Garrett.  Let’s be honest:  The Browns need a lot of things.  Yes, they need a quarterback.  Yes, they need a running back.  But what they really need most is a sure thing…and Garrett is the only sure thing in this Draft.  Plus, the Browns also have the #12 pick (finally, they are doing this draft thing right and stockpiling picks).  It’s possible that Trubisky, Fournette, or Cook fall to #12.  It’s not possible that Garrett does.  Try all you want, but defenses still win championships.

Stock is falling.

Stock is falling.

Other notables:  The Jets (wisely) pass on a RB in the first round and shore up their secondary.  LA splashes with a WR (hey, they need to sell tickets, defense may win championships, but offense sells luxury boxes).  For now, I have Fournette going in the Top 10…but that slow 40 may drop him.  I do think that he will be the second running back taken, as Dalvin Cook fits the modern day running back mold (dual threat running and receiving).  And Buffalo switches gears and goes with the best cover corner in the draft, after losing Stephon Gilmore to free agency (see how that works).

As we get closer to the real deal, we’ll give you a full analysis of the first round.  For now, enjoy this taste.

Super Bowl 51: Why the Patriots will win

“Hilariously, Roid Rage has to tell you why the Patriots will win the Super Bowl.  For a devout Buffalo Bills fan (is there any other kind?) that must be the most painful experience since the Music City Miracle”

That’s me quoting Ginger King.  And while it’s true that I had to get 7 or 8 Genny Lights deep before even powering up the laptop, at least I’m not delusion.  I’m mean, the Falcon’s beating the Patriots in the Super Bowl?!  Only if Jacoby Brissett is playing (is that dude even still in the league, or is he bagging groceries in the Midwest somewhere?!) [Editor’s note: despite being activated from IR for the playoff run, Brissett will likely be a healthy scratch for the Super Bowl.  But he’ll still get one of those big ass Super Bowl rings after the Pats dismantle the Dirty Birds!]  Thanks for the note editor, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

The argument for the Falcons is laughable.  The hot young quarterback—that’s never played in a Super Bowl—leading a “high-powered” offense against (future HOF coach) Bill Belichick and (future HOF QB) Tom Brady?  What could possible go wrong?  Do you know who doesn’t care that the Falcons have the reigning MVP on their team?  Or that the rest of the league has had a hard time stopping their offense?  Or that Julio Jones seems to be a cyborg dressed in a football jersey?  That’s right, this guy…..

Can his Canton bust please be wearing a hoodie

Guess how Bill is going to crack Matt Ryan?…..Pressure.  Guess what his plan will be for taking Julio out of the gameplan?….double coverage, bracket coverage, bump-and-run with safety help.  Guess where they are going to catch the Falcons underprepared?….special teams.

While the Falcons have built themselves an awesome football team, it’s the exact OPPOSITE of the kind of team that gives the Patriots fits.  If there is a “blue-print” to beating the Patriots, what is it?  The ’08 Giants and ’16 Broncos should come to mind?  No, you don’t need a Manning under center….or a miraculously stupid catch (or two)…..Those teams had dominate defensive lines that could generate consist pressure (up the middle) with 4-guys, while dropping 7 into coverage.  The Falcons can’t do that.  If anything, their defensive line, especially up the middle, is a liability.  To generate pressure they’ll be forced to send a blitzer.  And blitzing Brady is like playing with fire, you’re bound to get burned Napalmed. The guy doesn’t miss a beat.  He checks every play at the line, aligns the blocking assignments and never misses a hot read.   It’s not like they are going to throw something at him he hasn’t seen (which is exactly what BB will do to Matty Ice btw).  Oh, Dan Quinn’s defense.  Yeah, played against that…..in a Super Bowl none the less….oh, and won that game.  Yawn.

This guy

This guy

Trust me, I want Brady to get clobbered and throw an interception on EVERY pass attempt.  That’s what I root for when they play against the Bills….or the Dolphins….or the Jaguars for crying out loud.  But it just doesn’t happen.  The guy is averaging 335 yards and 2.5 TDs in the postseason this year.  He wakes up (next to a supermodel) and pisses excellence.  True, he only eats baby seal liver on a bed of Kale and goes for blood palette therapy like you or I go to the barbershop, but such is the life a rockstar.  As much as it pains me to say it, he is the greatest quarterback of all time.  Don’t take my word for it; all of these boners lined up on media row to say the same thing this week.  You could argue the Texans (easily) and maybe even the Steelers have a better defense than the Falcons.  Those teams didn’t have any answers for TB12 and company, so how exactly are the Falcons going to slow down them down? Not gonna happen.

No Gronk?  No problem!  Brady will spread the ball all over the field, exploiting match-ups and throwing his guys open.  Seriously, Brady can take any other teams third WR and turn him into a star.  Hello Wes Welker Chris Hogan.  Edelman seemingly can’t be covered within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage.  It’s death by a 1,000 paper cuts when you play the Patriots.  If they need 6-yards for a first down they get 8.  3rd-and-1: QB-sneak for 2 yards.  First-and-goal, here comes the battering ram LeGarrett Blount.  Wait until they get Dion Lewis matched-up against a linebacker.  Think Brady won’t exploit that?

Not catching passes from EJ Manuel sure has its upside

Not catching passes from EJ Manuel sure has its upside

I do like what the Falcons have going on the offensive side of the ball.  Matt Ryan is peaking at the right time.  He isn’t necessarily locking onto Julio (which is exactly what I’d be doing), and spreading the ball around.  They’ve done a nice job bringing in complimentary pieces to bolster their attack, mainly Mohammad Sanu.  Perhaps there best way to attack the Patriots is their one-two punch of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.  Both are excellent receivers out of the backfield and both possess game-breaking speed.  New England’s linebackers struggle in pass coverage.

New England’s defense does give up chunk plays; and have long been regarded as a bend-but-don’t-break defense.  But they are so well coached that they always seem to be in the right place at the right time.  They always seem to punch the ball loose just before the runner’s knee hits the ground.  Or get their hands up just in time to deflect a ball for an interception.   Julio will have to work for everything he gets in this game.  He’s such a physically dominate player he could go off despite New England’s efforts to shut him down.

At the end of the day [narrative alert] this is a legacy cementing game for BB and TB12.  A win here…..better yet, a beatdown here…. and they’ve both blasted the GOAT conversation out of the water.  You know Tom wants to force Goodell to hand him that Super Bowl MVP trophy (and shitty Nissan truck that he’ll give to Jackie Slater for making a key tackle on punt coverage).  And there is a little part of me (okay, all of me and the entire Bills Mafia) that wanst Brady to give Goodell the ultimate FU and retire!  Yeah, that’ll show him Tom!  I mean, Brady and his agent  are forming their own league.  Said league would draw a much bigger audience if they had the greatest quarterback in the world running the show.  Just thinking out loud here!

GOATCITY

GOATCITY

So get your popcorn, chili, nachos, smoked wings, 18-layer bean dip and whatever other goodness you’re going to cram into you face ready, because it’s SUPER BOWL SUNDAY BABY!!!

New England 24, Atlanta 18

***(Yes, hammer the under!)***

 

SUPER BOWL 51 : WHY THE FALCONS WILL WIN

Oh yeah!  Are you ready?  The greatest game in American all of sports is set to be played Sunday night in Houston.  Seriously, after the Super Bowl, we fall off the sports cliff (but pitchers and catchers report on zzzzzzzzzzzz).

Anyway, the high-flying Atlanta Falcons take on the New England Patriots.  Yes, the same Patriots that are always in the Super Bowl.  With the same cheating quarterback, same cheating coach, and same cast of bit-players and discarded running backs and receivers who somehow become great once they put on that stupid uniform.  I’m looking at you Chris Hogan!  Hilariously, Roid Rage has to tell you why the Patriots will win the Super Bowl.  For a devout Buffalo Bills fan (is there any other kind?) that must be the most painful experience since the Music City Miracle (sorry, bro).  Well, if you’re like 99% of Americans (and 100% of Americans who can pronounce the letter r) there’s only one to root for come Sunday.  So let me tell you why the Atlanta Falcons will win the Super Bowl.

Let’s start with a video, shall we:  I call this one, Julio-ma-god!

Everyone loves to talk about quarterbacks, but I like to talk about the most dominant player on the field.  That is Julio Jones, who has absolutely lit up the field in the postseason.  Here’s Julio’s stat line this postseason:  15/247/3.  In two games!  He is unstoppable.  Even when he’s doubled, or guarded with safety help underneath, he’s a threat (watch that video again).

Next stop:  endzone.

Next stop: endzone.

Julio’s an atypical wide receiver, in that he’s not a complete self-absorbed diva.  You’ll never see him taking videos in the locker room, or partying with Bieber.  His laid back, unassuming attitude might not get him headlines, but he’s not looking for that.  He’s looking to win.  That doesn’t mean he lacks confidence, he just doesn’t need to be a dick about it.  During the (annoyingly long) media day, Julio was asked if anyone can guard him.  In a very polite, yet matter-of-fact tone, Julio responded.  “One-on-one, no I do not.”  Period.  And we believe him.

Don’t forget about us.

Julio is only the beginning of the problem for the Patriots.  Simply put:  the Falcons have a more complete offense than the Patriots.  Both running and receiving are (by far) superior to New England.  Stick that in your Wahlbahgah!  Mohammed Sanu has scored a touchdown in each playoff game this year, and Taylor Gabriel continues to display is “X-factor” [draft day drinking game term…chug!].  He hasn’t scored in the postseason (yet), but we love his work on the inside.  That’s where the Patriots D is most vulnerable.  They’ll work to contain Julio and Sanu outside, which should leave lanes for Gabriel and his ridiculous speed.

Don't forget about me, either.

Don’t forget about me, either.

Who’s the receiving game’s best friend, you ask?  A running game.  And the Falcons succeed there too.  Devonta Freeman’s so, good, he’s talking contract extension BEFORE the Super Bowl.  That’s either insanely naïve or confident, and based on his play, we’ll go with the latter.  Devonta hasn’t rushed for many yards in the playoffs, but he’s scored a touchdown in each playoff game, and he’s a [cue draft day drinking game term] dual threat, as he can catch the ball out of the backfield.  In their Divisional Playoff game against Seattle, Freeman was the Falcon’s leading receiver.  That just adds another defensive scheme wrinkle…if the Pats double Julio and drop two safeties in coverage to stop the pass and shadow the slot, that will leave Devonta one-on-one in the flat against a linebacker.  We like those odds.

But let’s not just talk about the offense.  The defense gets their props too.  While obviously overshadowed by the offense, the defense is no slouch.  And, more importantly, they match up really well against the Patriots.  If history is any indicator, the recipe against the Pats is front 4 pressure, close the pocket, and get in Brady’s face.  Like this:

Or this:

Speed on the edge and pressure up front.  Atlanta’s all over that.  The Falcons are the second coming of the Legion of Boom, which is no surprise, seeing as how Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn was the defensive coordinator in Seattle prior to taking the job with Atlanta.  Long, aggressive, and quick, and it starts up front, with NFL leading-sack man Vic Beasley.  He’s listed as a linebacker, but don’t be surprised to see him with his hands on the ground up front.  For true defensive ends, the Falcons have a good blend of youth and experience, with Adrian Clayborn, Tyson Jackson, and Dwight Freeney (what is he, like 50?).  The Patriots O-line will have their hands full.

In the secondary, things don’t get much better.  Yes, they’re inexperienced, but 2nd year stud Jalen Collins is quickly establishing himself as a lockdown corner, and rookie Keanu Neal adds even more speed in the safety spot.  Speed and length in the secondary allows for an aggressive game plan for the front seven.

MVP! MVP! MVP!

MVP! MVP! MVP!

Oh, yeah, and we didn’t even talk about (soon to be) MVP Matt Ryan.  Ryan followed up his brilliant regular season with an even more brilliant performance in the playoffs.  He’s thrown for 730 yard and 7 touchdowns…in 2 games!  Those are Madden-esque numbers.  Plus, Matt’s got one more trick up his sleeve to help him in the Super Bowl.  Advice from the only man that’s beaten Tom in the Super Bowl (twice).  You know I can’t write a Super Bowl winning article without mentioning Eli.

You can talk mystique and hoodies all you want, but these Patriots are riding on the coattails of the past.  The loss of Gronk will be felt even more now that Martellus Bennett is limping.  He’ll play, but he won’t be near 100%.  Look, they’re still the Patriots.  This game will not be a blowout.  Tom Brady is still Tom Brady, with his perfect little arm, perfect wife, perfect family…dammit we him.  But Atlanta’s got too much firepower for the Patriots to handle.

One more thing:  Bet.  The.  Under.  We know the Falcons have scored 30+ points in six consecutive games.  We know the Patriots score in bunches too.  We know we told you to bet the over in the NFC Championship Game against Green Bay when it was a jaw-dropping 61 (you’re welcome).  We know everyone is expecting a shootout.  But hear us out.  First, the over/under is at a historic high for the Super Bowl at 59.  Second, only 4 times has the over/under for a Super Bowl been over 50 points.  The under has hit all 4 times.  Defenses gel as the playoffs move on, and playcalling gets more conservative as the stakes get higher.  Look for the under to be successful for the 5th time.

Final thoughts:  Not for nothing, but you should root for the Falcons.  With all the gut shots America’s taken over the past month, another Patriots Super Bowl will just put us over the edge.

This ginger’s flying high with the Falcons.  Let’s make Football great again.

Final Score:  Atlanta 31, New England 27

NFC CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP

It's go time!

It’s go time!

While the AFC may be a foregone conclusion (Roid Rage does his best, but if even he is picking the Patriots, then it’s a sure thing), the NFC is wide open.  Both teams are playing top level football.  The Falcons dismantled the Seahawks last week, and Green Bay won an instant classic against the Cowboys (thank you).  Is there any doubt that kicker is the most intense, pressure-packed job in all of sports?

Wait, can we talk about that Dallas/Green Bay again for a second?  That’s everything you want in a game.  Home team down 15 in the fourth quarter, they claw back, tie it up, and then Green Bay hits a pair of 50+ yarders.  And that throw and catch.  Hot damn.

Damn.

Damn.

The best part?  All of these videos (and believe me, there are tons of them)

Seriously, I could (and did) spend a whole day watching the misery of others passionate football fans commiserate a loss.  What does that say about me?  And then seeing this tweet from Skip Bayless, sad, sad, Cowboys homer.

Is there anything more annoying than a pompous sports writer who won’t accept defeat?  Joe Buck?  Just kidding Joe, we love you.

We love you, Joe!

We love you, Joe!

Anyway, let’s get right to the matchup, which should be a good one.

Green Bay at Atlanta (+6), Sunday 3:05 pm

Three words:  Bet.  The.  Over.  What’s that, you say?  The O/U is 61?  I don’t care.  Bet.  The.  Over.  Need proof.  In each of their last 5 games, Atlanta and Green Bay have scored at least 30 points (Atlanta topped 40 twice).  Not surprisingly, the teams are a combined 10-0 over those games.

And the scoring will not let up come game time.  Forget what you’ve heard that defense wins championships.  Both teams are ranked in the 20’s in overall defense.  Sure, that’s a risky strategy that’s ultimately unsuccessful, regardless of the sport (see 2016 Golden State Warriors), but hey, it’s worked so far for both teams.  Why stop now?  Ride that pony.

Get it?

Get it?

On paper, the edge goes to Atlanta.  They have the most offensive balance (read:  they actually have a running game).  Don’t call Devonta Freeman a change of pace back.  He’s a legit #1 back, and he and Tevin Coleman form the best 1-2 punch in the league.  That keeps the defenses up front, which opens up the passing game for Matty Ice (it’s cool to call him that again).  And that passing game is more than just Julio Jones, although you don’t really need much more.  Mohammed Sanu is a solid #2, and we love what Taylor Gabriel brings.  He’s the real X-factor in their offense, and he tied with Julio for most receiving touchdowns.

For Green Bay, it’s all about Aaron Rodgers.  Everyone wants to talk about his home life, and his estrangement from his parents (note:  I’d choose Olivia Munn over my family too), but Aaron Rodgers is the hottest quarterback in the game.

Totally worth never talking to your parents anymore.

Totally worth never talking to your parents anymore.

The Packers are riding an 8-game winning streak, during which Rodgers has thrown 21 touchdowns passes and only 1 interception.  Daddy may not love him anymore, but who needs your parent’s approval with numbers like that.  Papa don’t preach!

Replacement Dad.

Replacement Dad.

Oh yeah, these two played each other, Week 8, in Atlanta.  The Falcons won 33-32, on a late touchdown pass to Sanu.  Green Bay was up for most of the game, but Atlanta scored with 31 seconds left to squeak out a one point victory.  In that game, the Packers shut down Julio, who only had 3 catches for 29 yards.  The Pack will have to contain Julio again.  He’s got to be doubled plus you got to keep Clay and linebackers up front to respect the run.  That will leave lots of open space in the middle and one-on-one coverage for Sanu and Gabriel (nerd alert:  I love the chess match aspect of the NFL).

So who will win?  This one is tough to call, but there’s a reason we’re paid the big bucks.  To make these sorts of decisions.  Because we’re super reliable.  Like, it’s 3 in the morning.  Do you know where our kids are?  Probably at the neighbor’s house.  Anyway, we just can’t trust the Falcons.  Kyle Shanahan already has one foot in San Fran (good luck with that clusterfuck of an organization) and [NFL conspiracy theory alert] what better way to get ratings up than to have the Packers back in the Super Bowl, the beloved franchise from the heartland.  The Machine’s money is on Green Bay to win straight up.  But if you want a real bet, keep reading.

Bet of the Week [only true gamblers need read on]:  Tease the Packers and the over.  Then you get Green Bay +13 and O/U 54.  For the truly degenerate devoted, tease the Packers and the under too (+13 and O/U of 68).  Print that money, homie.  Not to toot our own horn (read: totally tooting that shit) but if you’ve been betting on our playoff picks, you’ve been cleaning up (you’re welcome).  We were 2-0 last week ATS (and straight up).  Time to start making that money!  That deck ain’t gonna pay for itself.

Final Score:  Green Bay 34, Atlanta 30

Insert Farmer's daughter fantasy.

Insert Farmer’s daughter fantasy.

AFC CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP

logo01Pittsburgh @ New England (-6), Sunday, 6:40 pm

The Playoffs are back!!  Hot damn!  Those Divisional Games were awesome.  Aaron Rodgers moved from ‘Elite’ to ‘Legendary’ status with one throw.  Seriously.  Moving to his left, throws a 37 yard rope along the sidelines to a sliding/kneeling Jared Cook.  Nice catch too…but that throw!

The Steelers-Chiefs game was compelling in its own right; what with the touchdown, made-two-point-conversion-called-back-due-to-holding followed by a failed two-point conversion in the last two minutes.  Good stuff.  But the highlight came about 7 minutes after the game, when Antonio Brown (genius) decided to Facebook Live the Steelers lock room.  Thanks for this gem AB:

It’s mostly just AB running his hands through his hair, flashing the “call me” sign and showing teammates bragging, dancing, swearing, undressing and just goofing around.  15 of the 17 minutes basically goes like this….”God is good man….we at fucking 42k…..bang bang bang….we live…God is the greatest”…Oh, and Antonio thought it’d be a great idea (which it was) to keep the video rolling during coach Tomlins postgame address.  You know, the one where he calls the Patriots a bunch of assholes (more on that in a bit) among other things.  But the best part is Tomlin literally telling the guys to “keep a low profile….be cool on social media” and “keep your mouth shut”.  At one point LeVeon Bell turns to Brown and snickers something about keeping it cool on social media.  Brown is unfazed, continuing to stream away.  It’s ridiculous and glorious at the same time.  Social media is going to be a torn in the NFLs side for a long time to come.

Tomlin, Brown and the Steelers went to work on damage control.  But honestly, the comments were pretty harmless and much ado about nothing.  Seriously, how can that be considered “bulletin board material?”  The Patriots are assholes!!  I know it, you know it, hell even they know it. Tom Brady is a giant asshole, but he’s just following the lead of his lying, cheating asshole coach.  But it starts at the top; Bob Kraft is a walking, talking live-action asshole.  Come to think of it, the city of Boston is filled with only assholes.

And you thought that foul smell was from all the beans they eat!

And you thought that foul smell was from all the beans they eat!

With all that said, on to the game!

What a matchup.  Two prolific offenses.  Two HOF quarterbacks.  Two dynamic running backs.  Two bend-but-don’t-break defenses.  While everyone is expecting a shootout between the Packers-Falcons, this one certainly could go down that road.

The matchup to watch

The matchup to watch

This game will be a rematch of Week 7….sort of.  The Patriots won, 27-16 in convincing fashion.  Much has been made this week that Belichick used Malcolm Brown to shadow, and contain Antonio Brown (57.4 passer rating when thrown to, 0 TD, 1 INT ….@NFLReasearch).  I’m going to go ahead and take that game- and those stats- with a giant Himalayan rock crystal of salt for one reason: Ben Roethlisberger didn’t play.  Landry Jones was on the other end of those AB throws.  And Brown still finish the game with 7 REC for 106 YDS.  More impressive however was the Patriots containment of LeVeon Bell, whom only average 3.9 yards per carry.  Bell did most of this damage through the air (as a result of playing from behind), adding 10 REC for 68 YDS.  Meanwhile, Tom Brady was his ever efficient self, going 19/26 for 222 YDS and 2 TDS.  LeGarrette Blount carried the mail with 27 carries for 127 YDS and 2 TDS.

Like I said, the Steelers were without Big Ben.  And the Patriots had Gronk in that game.  Week 7 was a long time ago.

12 to 11, all day

12 to 11, all day

The Patriots have had an easy playoff run so far: bye week and a cakewalk past the Texans.  On the other hand, the Steelers faced a feisty Miami team and a tough Kansas City team in hostile territory.  The Patriots are going to try to wear the Steelers defense away with their intermediate passing attack that features Julian Edelman and a healthy Dion Lewis.  I’d be shocked if Edelmen doesn’t catch 10 balls this week.  Blount could be in for another heavy usage game if the Patriots can build an early lead.

The Steelers do have weapons galore on offense, so they should be able to keep it within striking distance.  But they aren’t going to beat the Patriots by settling for FGs like they did against the Chiefs.  I’d expect Tomlin to be aggressive all day, particularly in the redzone.

We’ve been crowning the Patriots the AFC Champs for 3 weeks now (it makes us nauseous too).  It seems like a forgone conclusion.  Bettors agree, pushing the line to NE -6.  I think it’ll be much closer than that and I won’t be shocked if Pittsburgh wins this game outright!

Pittsburgh 25, New England 27

Who ya got?

Who ya got?

DIVISIONAL WEEKEND – AFC (SUNDAY)

KCPITTHey, what do ya know, an AFC Playoff game that actually looks good on paper!  The Steelers high-power offense travels to Arrowhead to take on the Kansas City’s Chiefs dynamic defense.  What could possible go wrong?  Oh, maybe just a giant fucking Midwestern ice storm!  I’ve been to Kansas, it’s a terrifying place on the best of days.

You say "Ice Storm", we say "Good Football weather"

You say “Ice Storm”, we say “Good Football weather”

Pittsburgh @ Kansas City (-1.5), Sunday, 8:20 pm

The Steelers walked all over the Dolphins last week.  Bell, Ben, Brown, they all got theirs.  To that point (rant alert!) how the hell do guys like Anthony Lynn and Sean McVay score head coaching gigs and Todd Haley can’t even get an interview.  Sure, he’s got a great quarterback and weapons to work with, but that’s not held against Josh McDaniel’s, whom is everyone’s favorite “hot” coordinator.  Haley does a great job of involving and maximizing the players’ talents on the roster, not to mention he has head coaching experience.   He must be a giant dickhole.

HALEYNAABAnyways, the Steelers avenged their Week 6 loss to the Dolphins.  As we mentioned last week, that game was the turning point of the Steelers offense.  Similarly, the Chiefs turned their season around after their Week 4 dismantling in Pittsburgh.  In that game, which KC lost 43-14, Ben Roethlisberger tossed 5 TDs before the Chiefs found pay dirt.  Since that game, the Chiefs went 10-2.

The Chiefs remind me quite a bit of the Broncos from a season ago.  Aggressive defense that pressures the quarterback and takes the ball away (first in the league in interceptions).  Their offense, led by the perpetually underrated  Alex Smith, has been well-balanced.  Travis Kelce is a match-up nightmare over the middle and down the seam.  The Chiefs find creative ways to the get the ball to Tyreek Hill, who is as explosive and creative in the open-field as he is on Twitter! Hill has also made a significant impact on the return game.

KCs dynamic duo

KCs dynamic duo

Big Ben tweaked his ankle late in the game against the Dolphins.  Like, really late when the game was out of hand.  I like Tomlin and all, but when are these coaches going to use their damn brains?  Protect your assets!

Speaking of assets!

Speaking of assets!

Offensively, the Steelers average almost a full touchdown less on the road this season; while KC allowed less than 16 points on average at home.  KC’s defense is more than capacble of hanging with Ben & Co.

This game is going to be close and probably come down to the final few drives.  I give a slight edge to Kansas City due to their defense, the extra week of rest and special teams.  Either way, one of these teams will be on to Foxborough!

Kansas City 18, Pittsburgh 13

DIVISIONAL WEEKEND – NFC (SUNDAY)

Can we have a close game please?

Can we have a close game please?

As I sit here and watch the Patriots well on their way to covering a 16-point spread, I think:  Sweet baby Jesus, are we going to have a close game ever this playoff season?  All 6 playoff games thus far have been double-digit victories by the home team.  Where’s the parity?  [stands up on soapbox] Where’s the “any given Sunday” bullshit?  [speaking aloud now]. The NFL can blame the presidential election all they want, but, if you ask me, ratings are down because the meaningful games aren’t close.  There’s no drama.  No intrigue.  The biggest story this week was the Chargers moving to L.A., and no one really gives a shit about that.  L.A. fans are already booing.  Ouch, that’s cold.

But fool me once, shame on me.  Fool me 6 times, and shame on me still.  Because, like a dog in heat, I know there’s some good action right around the corner.  I just got to keep at it.  And speaking of good action, let’s break down the Cowboys and Packers.

Green Bay at Dallas (-5.5), 4:40 p.m.

God dammit.  The Cowboys are the Number 1 seed [commence head getting ready to explode].  I can’t take hearing Jerry Jones scream, “How ‘bout them Cowboys!”  As if that a-hole had anything to do with it.  Yes, the Cowboys have drafted brilliantly over the past couple years…solidifying their o-line with picks like Travis Frederick, Zach Martin, and Tyron Smith.  And obviously, they hit a couple of homers this past draft with Ezekiel Elliot and Dak Prescott Anyway, the only thing Jerrah did right was shutting up (to the extent that’s possible).  Remember when he wanted to draft Johnny Football?  He’s at least smart enough to learn to stay out of the way…but not humble enough to give the credit to others.  Anywho, let’s get to the game.

Not all of Jerry's decisions are bad...

Not all of Jerry’s decisions are bad…

While everyone thought that Ezekiel Elliot had the potential to hit the ground running (pun intended) no one thought the same of Dak.  In fact, nothing was expected of Dak, who was drafted in the 4th round, 135th overall, and the 7th qb taken.  He wasn’t even expected to play, let alone succeed.  And succeed he did, tying for the most wins by a rookie QB.  But here’s the worst part about Dak:  we like him (note: we will deny this in public).  He doesn’t make mistakes.  Doesn’t get rattled, even under pressure.  He progresses through his reads like a veteran.  And he seems like a good guy, someone you would probably root for if he were on any other team.  If there’s any silver lining, it’s that Tony Romo is now a has been.  He’ll look great in Buffalo!

Out with the old, in with the new!

Out with the old, in with the new!

While Dak was a pleasant surprise, everyone had high expectations of Elliott, who was drafted #4 overall.  Zeke lived up to those high expectations and then some…leading the league in rushing with 1,631 yards, over 300 yards more than the next running back.  He made defenses look foolish.

Simply nasty.

Simply nasty.

How can a rookie running back and quarterback win 13 games and be the number 1 seed?  What happened to the NFL learning curve?  It certainly helps to have a championship caliber line to open up monster running lanes.  Offensively, the Cowboys don’t have great balance.  They are only 23rd in the league in passing at 226 yards per game, but they are second in rushing at 149 yards per game.  Having a dominant running game will always (yes, always) trump the passing game.  It keeps your offense on the field, controlling the clock and managing drives.  The fewer chances the other team has with the ball the fewer opportunities they have to score.  So can this rookie duo propel Jerrah back to the Super Bowl?  Enter Green Bay.

Another touchdown pass.

Another touchdown pass.

The Packers are the hottest team in the playoffs right now.  Aaron Rodgers and company put on a show last week against the Giants.  They bend but don’t break.  They were down early, hung around, and then did this at the end of the first half:

After that, the party was on.  Green Bay poured it on in the second half, outscoring the Giants 24-7, and winning by 25 points.  And the Discount Doublecheck was in full effect.  Rodgers threw for 362 yards, 4 tds, and 0 ints.  Sure, they only ran the ball for 75 yards, but when you’re hot, you’re hot, and Green Bay can and will ride Aaron Rodgers.

Yes, the loss of Jordy Nelson in this game is huge.  He leads the team in receptions, yards, and touchdowns.  But Randall Cobb and burgeoning superstar Davonte Adams still provide sufficient firepower.

Basically, what this game comes down to is who do you trust more?  Aaron Rodgers or Dak Prescott?  Dak has had a solid season, but he’s never played in a playoff game before.  The stage is that much brighter.  The pressure that much greater.  Sorry, but I’m a prove it to me type of guy, and I don’t believe it until I see it.

Aaron Rodgers is playoff battle tested.  Green Bay’s been in the playoffs 8 years in a row.  They know how to handle themselves.  For his career, Rodgers has thrown 31 playoff tds (and only 8 ints).  I’ll take that body of work over the rookie.

And on defense, Green Bay will load up the box and dare Dak to beat them deep.  Look for Clay Matthews to shadow Elliott.  Zeke better have his head on a swivel if Dak throws a check down pass, because this will be coming at him full steam.

No concealed carry permit required for these guns.

No concealed carry permit required for these guns.

Bottom line:  It is unreasonable to expect a rookie quarterback (and running back) to have this much success.  While the regular season learning curve may be going away, there’s still a playoff learning curve, right?  The Machine thinks so, and thinks that Green Bay will walk out of Cowboys stadium winners.

Final score:  Green Bay 31, Dallas 24

DIVISIONAL WEEKEND – AFC (SATURDAY)

nfl01The playoff games are going to get more exciting, competitive and fun to watch; I promise.  After Wildcard Weekend kicked off with a thud….the Machine did go 3-1 SU and 2-2 ATS)….the Divisional Round has much more enticing matchups…..the exception being this dud:

Houston @ New England (-16), Saturday, 8:15 pm

Is it me, or does it feel like New England has finished the last 15 seasons with a 13-3 record (or better), with a first round bye, with home field throughout and inevitably end up hosting the AFC Championship.  I’m not even going to bother looking up how close I am, and not because I’m lazy (well, sort of because I’m lazy), but mostly because I know I’m close.

So instead of doing an analysis of both teams, and how they match-up, and who will defend whom and yadda yadda yadda, I just want to focus on one thing: -16.

Can this Patriots team really cover 16 points?!  Can the Texas keep it within two freaking touchdowns?!

I’m taking the points, because it is too many.  The Patriots will win, make no mistake.  But even if they win 27-12, it’s not enough to cover.

money-throwingLook, we all know the storylines, right?  The 9-7 Texans basically slept walked through their game against the reeling Raiders, who were down to their third string rookie quarterback making his first ever start.  Not exactly a confidence booster.  Speaking of third string quarterbacks, it was the Jacoby Brissett (remember him, yeah, me neither) lead Patriots that shutout the Texans earlier this year in Foxborough.  The betting public hasn’t forgotten that game, and has wagered a considerable amount of bank on the Pats this week.  Nearly 85% of the money has come in on NE -16.  So, if the Patriots do win big and cover the spread, Vegas will take a beating.  It’ll be a bloodbath.  Guess what, the only thing more bankable than the Patriots in Foxborough in January is Vegas winning money all the time.

This is getting old

This is getting old

I’m picturing a cold, frozen field.  The Patriots win the coin toss and Hoodie defers, because he always freaking defers.  Osweiler looks lost and the Texans go 3-and-out.  The Patriots start with excellent field positions, because they always have excellent freaking field position.  They dink and dunk, complete their first 7 passes, flawlessly execute a hurry-up quarterback sneak on 3-and-1 picking up 3 yards and eventually score a touchdown because they always freaking…..okay, you get the drift.  But after they build their two TD lead they start hammering away with Lego Blount.  They are effective at running the ball, which shortens the game (and makes a significant blowout less likely).  Now, all we need is one or two scoring drives from Brock.  I know, it’s a tall task, but not unreasonable.  Maybe the Texans defense didn’t forget their embarrassing Week 3 performance and manage to get some pressure on Brady.  Maybe they score a special teams touchdown.  There are plenty of ways they can be down by 20 points and come up with a backdoor cover (hey-oh).

So there it is.  Any given Sunday (or Saturday Night).

New England 31, Houston 17

ne01