Green Bay Packers
New England Patriots
They are the juggernauts, winners of four (4) of the last eight (8), seven (7) of the last thirteen (13) NFL championships and almost half (13) of the last thirty (30) AFC – NFC Super Bowl births. That’s alot of Bowl Babies, “by gosh by golly.”
They are the haughty half of eight remaining teams in the division playoff round, teams who have in recent times won their Conference hardware (Halas / Hunt) and are again in position to punch their ticket to SB51 in hopes of hoisting the vaunted Lombardi trophy, again.
The rich getting richer? It’s been the unaltered economic state going back to the days of Nixon and will likely continue on with Trump directing the flow, so why buck the trend, eh? Ugh.
It’s in divisional play where the bye guys (no pun) in the Patriots, Falcons, KC and Dallas will now be tested under the brightest of lights and fiercest of foes. Simply stated, this is “the best of times,” for football viewers.
Unlike the NCAA championships (March Madness) where Rd-1 of 34 games displays some of the most exhilarating and unexpected outcomes, NFL’s wild card stage is largely an exercise in separating chaff (hull) from the wheat (seed), i.e., threshing or thrashing, as it were. While Derek Carr’s presence would’ve had an impact, injuries plague every team and the WC is becoming semi-pathetic.
Did any unbiased, rationally-minded prognosticator really believe that Detroit, Oakland or Miami stood a snowball’s chance in Hades of advancing? And the one team some thought (moi) might put up a fight and make it interesting, the Giants, they too looked like they didn’t belong (13-38 GB).
Kansas City Chiefs
They are the wannabes, the aspiring four remaining teams who’ve been out of the mix (SB) for so long (ATL, DAL, KC), or never in it (HOU), that they cannot call themselves a standard-bearer, no matter the jersey sales (Dallas), and must earn their way back to where the big boys hang their hats (See; above).
Three of the four, Falcons, Chiefs & Dallas, will play host to a juggernaut, boosting their chances a bit but had better bring their best game or next Monday they’ll be spending the day planning the next family cruise.
1) Always able: Easy ability to matriculate (24+ pts);
2) Fourth quarter defense that stops the scoring and bolts it down. Same holds true in college football and something Alabama genius Nick Saban overlooked this time (“Clemson’s Dabo Swinney may have the nation’s best progression (75-27) since taking the Tigers’ reins (2008) and is a top candidate to topple cartel. Explains the raise ($5M) (9.2.16)”);
3) Fewest turnovers; and
4) Reliable kicking game (50 yd+).
Cherry Picks Division Grade
Seattle (11-5-1) @ Atlanta (11-5) 1.14 Fox 4:35 EST
It’s almost four years to the date (1.13.13) when in the divisional it appeared Pete Carroll’s building project hadn’t yet matured. Seattle played Swing Time in Atlanta to roar back for 21 points in the 4th quarter, only to lose on a late Matt Ryan-led FG drive (30-28). Falcons “Mighty (Dan) Quinn” was Seahawks’ DC then and next year when Seattle hoisted (SB48). A-Birds are a scoring machine (33+) with best PS kicker in Bryant (92% (6-8 50+)) but DQ hasn’t built the top-stop (D) like he did in Emerald City. Awash in injuries, Seahawks’ defense still sticks while Rawls motors (6.ypc-DET). Earlier W6 battle is indicative for what may lay ahead (SEA 26-24): Close one where 4Q stoppage will decide it: Seahawks win.
Houston (10-7) @ New England (14-2) CBS 8:15
Osweiler battles Tannehill for ‘Rodney Dangerfield award (“no respect”)’ while facing maybe the best coach-QB tandem in history (Bill & Tom), in Foxborough, versus well-rested hosts with Tom in top form. Houston will need a Texas-sized shamrock to pull-off upset of the century. O’Brien has the defense clicking on all cylinders, even sans Mr. Celebrity (Watt), but the Pats, scoring experts they are, also play some defense themselves, leading in the all-important PPG rank (15.6), 2+ pts lower than the next best, NYG (HOU 20.5), which goes to their W3 blanking of Texans (27-0). “Houston” would like to play for the crown in their NRG stadium come February (SB) but may have to satisfy still with the world’s Rollerball (‘75) championship (Ouch!). New England wins.
Pittsburgh (12-5) @ Kansas City (12-4) 1.15 NBC 1:05
Fans of this former AFL power hope Andy Reid’s plan gets Chiefs back where Hank Stram got ‘em when KC did “matriculate” all over the Vikes (SB4). Steelers defense is rated (342 ypg (12)) but KC bests their guest on PPG, 19.4 < 20.4. It’s former Chiefs guru Haley designing Pitt’s scoring scheme (24.9 ppg), a smidgen up on Chiefs OC Childress (24.3). Steelers have big weapons in Brown, Bell, Big Ben and SB coach Tomlin who wants desperately to prove he’s more than a “cheerleader.” No ICBMs in KC but QB Smith is cool customer, Ware aches (rib) but is all-purpose, Kelce a top TE and Peters a game-changer. Digits and W4 win (43-14) say Steelers favorite but Ben’s gimpy (ankle) and Chiefs benefit from the home-field advantage: Kansas City wins.
Green Bay (11-6) @ Dallas (13-3) Fox 4:40
Packers get top TV slot, again, though, green & yellow would just assume face America’s Team sooner than later, before all that Texas talent starts to weigh . Big Question: Will Dallas’ transplendent rookies in Prescott & Elliott hold up under bright lights or is middling GB defense (#22 / 21) enough to rattle their senses? Green Bay lit-up Vikes top D (#3 / 6) in W16 on a secondary that defected. No such discord in Dallas (#14 / 5). Boys W6 win at Lambeau (30-16) caught Pack in a state-of-funk, one since deodorized by a 7-game streak (sweet smell of success). GB still has a run void but Ramblin’ Man Rodgers is locked in. Long layoff helps veteran-led teams like Patriots but takes the edge off young Turks (Dak & Zeke). Jordy Nelson ribbed but was non-factor versus NYG. Experience trumps athleticism. Packers win.
Record: 83 – 91 – 3
Photo credit: Packers-cheer, wc.cca, M.Morbeck, 9.26.10; Goddess-Ceres, France, late.19c., wc, JLPC; R.Wilson, wc, 11.11.12, L.Maurer; T.Kelce, wc, 9.14.14, J.Beall; P.Carroll-R.Sherman, wc.cca, A.Quintano, 2.2.14; cherries, Hispalois, wc, 7.2.12, Caceres-Spain; NFL-sign, wikiproject;
Posted: 1.11.17 @ 3:30pm EST; Copyright © 2017
Tagged with: A Tale of Two Cities, Aaron Rodgers, Alabama Crimson Tide, Andy Reid, Annie Hall, Atlanta Falcons, Bill Belichick, Brett Favre, Brock Osweiler, Charles Dickens, Clemson Tigers, Dabo Swinney, Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys, Dan Quinn, deodorant, Ezekiel Elliott, Football, Frank Sinatra, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, J.J. Watt, juggernaut, Kansas City Chiefs, kickers, literature, March madness, matriculate, Matt Bryant, Mistletoe and Holly, movie, music, NCAA basketball championships, new england patriots, NFL 2016-17, NFL 2017 divisional playoffs, Nick Saban, Pete Carroll, Pittsburgh Steelers, Richard Nixon, Rollerball (1975), Seattle Seahawks, separating chaff from the wheat, sports, sweet smell of success, the best of times, The Mighty Quinn, threshing, Tom Brady, transplendent, young Turks