Red’s NFL Playoff Picks – Week 2

For the Wildcard Weekend, Red was 4-2 correctly picking the Bengals, Bills, Bucs and Chiefs and missing out on the Rams and 49ers wins. Red was happy to have missed out on the 49ers whomping of the Cowboys. Red also can’t say he is surprised by the continuing late-season swoon of the Cardinals who were never in the game and need to seriously think about moving on from the Kingsbury experiment. KK probably should be coaching at the Division II level where he could win national championships.

The only real surprise of the weekend was the tortured ending of the Niners-Cowboys game. A quarterback draw with only 14 seconds on the clock was an incredibly risky maneuver. Especially if your team is not familiar with the rule that requires the Umpire to set the ball for play. With 17 seconds on the clock, the play probably works. But the Cowboys did not deserve to win the game anyway and set a new NFL record of 11 playoff appearances in row without reaching the conference championship game. With a 4-11 playoff record since the last NFL championship in 1995, Red continues to wonder why this franchise gets such favorable TV scheduling and fan interest. The Cowboys have been a low-mediocre franchise for 26 years and counting.

On to this weeks picks:

Titans over Bengals. Not since the days of the Boomer and Icky had the Bengals tasted playoff victory. That record setting drought is over and seems unlikely to be repeated with Burrow and company running a potent offense. But the elation in the Queen City will be short-lived. The Bengals last playoff victory before Saturday was against this franchise in the 1990 playoffs when the Bengals topped the then Houston Oilers – who were unceremoniously run out of town by Bob Lanier so that one of his buddies could get a new Houston franchise – something which Red has never really gotten over. Suffice it to say that Red has a soft spot in his otherwise hard cold heart for the Titans who should have never been forced out of Houston. More than Red’s emotions are at play here because the Titans are getting All-World running back Derrick Henry back in the line up – and presumably healthy after being out for 10 weeks after suffering a serious foot injury in the Week 8 win over the Indianapolis Colts. Notably, Henry still ranks in the top ten for rushing yards even though he hasn’t played since October. The extra week of rest means the Titans are as about as healthy as they’ve been since training camp after an injury-plagued season. The Bengals barely escaped with their lives against a fairly mediocre Raiders team. That won’t work against the Titans who beat 8 teams with a winning record this season (an NFL record) all while using 91 different players (another record). The Titans are formidable and if Tannehill doesn’t make mistakes and it is hard to seem them losing. The Bengals real hope is that offensive line can give Burrow enough time to make big plays. That is a tall order against a very good Titans defense. The 3.5 line doesn’t particularly excite Red, but he likes the over at 47 if the weather cooperates. This could be the second highest scoring playoff game of this season – even if it doesn’t come close to the 96 point overtime barnburner (more on that later) between the Cardinals and Packers in 2009. Or it could be a Titans blowout. In Vrabel’s four years of leading the Titans, the team has gone 4-0 coming off of a bye and won those four games by an average of just over 20 points per game. The Titans won’t win by 20 as the Bengals make a furious rally but fall short. Tennessee 41 Cincinnati 34.

Packers over 49ers. Nothing like a Saturday night game in the frozen north. At least the Packers have had the good sense to heat the playing surface at Lambeau Field since 1967 when the franchise installed electric coils underneath the playing surface to keep the ground soft in frigid conditions. That was true during the “The Ice Bowl” – 1967 NFL Championship game between the Packers and Cowboys – but the sub-zero temperatures overwhelmed the recently installed heating system. Since 1997 a network of underground pipes filled with antifreeze has kept the turf soft and playable even in the worst conditions. But it will still be cold (by some accounts at least 10 degrees colder than its ever been in San Francisco) and that of course favors the Packers. All credit to the Niners for making the best Cowboys team in quite some time look like a bunch of also-rans on Sunday. That’s much more credit to the Niners than Dak gave in his press conference to the Cowboys “faithful” in Arlington who pelted the Refs (and some Cowboy players) with trash after the game. But the Niners played about the best possible game they could play and still almost lost. Meanwhile up north, Green Bay is notorious for folding like a card table in the playoffs. Edging up on the Cowboys, the Giants have made 7 playoff appearances without reaching the Superb Owl since 2010. Notably, the Niners took them out in 2012 and 2019 – a meaningless stat in the fast-changing world of professional football. Green Bay won’t be giving up sacks or handing out penalty first downs like the Cowboys. That is Green Bay won’t beat themselves like the team from North Texas. Take the Packers giving up 5.5. Green Bay 24 San Francisco 17.

Rams over Buccaneers. Now that Matthew Stafford has the playoff hex off his back he can turn to beating a real team. In sunny Florida, the Bucs haven’t beaten a real team since knocking of the Bills in Week 14. And they lost to the Rams in LA early on. The Bucs have had inexplicable let downs at times this season and are pretty beat up. The Rams probably have the best defense left standing and a good enough offense to win a close game. Red thinks this one won’t be that close as the Rams are the team with the best chance to beat the Bucs out of any team left. Their defense is formidable. The Rams will shut down Mike Evans leaving Brady to rely on Gronk – but there isn’t enough magic left there. Remember how the Bucs blitzed on every down against the Chiefs in the Superb Owl. If the Rams are sending 5 or 6 on every other play their defensive coordinator should be fired. Throw in a combined 6 sacks by Aaron Donald, Von Miller and crew against a beat-up Bucs offensive line and Brady will be lucky if he isn’t carried off the field in a basket. Los Angeles 31 Tampa Bay 19.

Chiefs over Bills. Talk about a tough call. The Bills are more than capable of winning this game if they play like they did against the Patriots. Seven drives with seven touchdowns will win you the game almost every time if you can put 11 defenders on the field. Some have called it the most perfect offensive game in NFL history. With accolades like that confidence is high (and should be) in Buffalo – that is, until you think about having scored all of 6 points against the Jaguars – 6 points – the Jaguars – really? Which Bills team shows up on Sunday night? Red thinks Josh Allen has rounded to form and can handle whatever the Chiefs defense throws at him. Meanwhile back in Kansas City we have a team that beat six playoff teams, but was also awful early on and later masterful in closing out the season on a 9-1 run. The vaunted Chiefs offense just bizarrely disappears at times – like in the first 20 minutes of the Stealers game. The Chiefs first 5 possessions were – punt, punt, interception, punt and a fumble resulting in Stealers touchdown. But after that – touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown – capped off with a punt when the game was firmly in hand. That kind of opening won’t work against the Bills. The Chiefs can’t fall behind by 24 (like they did against the Texans in 2019) – the Bills are not the Texans. No team is really the Texans – not even the Texans. If the Titans and Bengals don’t put on a barnburner (there’s an interesting origin story there – but perhaps for another time), it seems likely that – weather permitting – these two teams will. Hold on to something. The over seems pretty steep at 54.5, but Red thinks 60 is a more realistic number given the capability of these two offenses. Kansas City 41 Buffalo 38.

Trump Begs – Red Translates

Red gets crap all the time from the political begging class. But there is no beggar out there that compares to the Defeated and Twice-Impeached Former President. This latest one beggars the imagination. It is pretty clear to anyone with half a brain that Trump’s political operation is nothing more than a thin veneer over his attempt to enrich himself at the expense of the gullible. How stupid do you have to be to fall for this kind of naked conman BS.

DEADLINE EXTENDED: 1 MORE DAY (or until Trump can suck the last dime out of your pocket you incredible dupe)

BREAKING: FIRST TRUMP CASH BLITZ DAY OF 2022 (Cash blitz indeed – Why wouldn’t TrumpI use every tool in my power to fleece the rubes. Notice how we don’t hide it anymore.)

CLAIM 10X-IMPACT >> ​​​​​​
The big day came and went. (And Trump didn’t get con you for near enough of your hard-earned cash) 

My father LOVED our FIRST Trump Cash Blitz Day of the year (he loves taking money from folks who can’t afford it), so he decided to EXTEND your 10X-IMPACT offer for ONE MORE DAY(or however long it takes to satisfy his insatiable need for money – which will be until the day we plant him in the Mausoleum at Bedminster next to the 18th Fairway). He even asked me (please love me Daddy) to personally reach out to YOU to make sure you knew about it.

All you have to do is donate ANY AMOUNT (but make it a big any amount) before MIDNIGHT TONIGHT and your gift will instantly receive a TRUMP CASH BLITZ DAY 10X-IMPACT. (Of course, we can’t tell you where the 10X impact is coming from because it doesn’t exist. It sure aint coming out of any Trumps’ pockets).

This offer will NOT be extended again, Friend (ignore what we said the first time). You need to act NOW before it’s too late. (How often do you get a chance to be conned like this. Well, pretty regularly it turns out.)

Donald Trump, Jr. (President in waiting)

The Defeated Former President Speaks – Red Translates

Former US President Trump gave an interview this week with NPR’s Steve Inskeep but cut it short when getting asked tough questions. Red translates the following excerpt for you.

SI: Why is it that you think that the vast majority of your allies in the United States Senate are not standing behind you? We did have that statement by Mike Rounds.

DFP: Because Mitch McConnell is a loser (like me). And frankly, Mitch McConnell, if he were on the other side (you know the Commies) and if Schumer were put in his position, he would have been fighting this like you’ve never seen before (and fighting dirty like I do). He would have been fighting this, because when you look at it, and this is long — is a long way from over (even though its clearly over). You take a look at what’s going on now in Pennsylvania (don’t ask me what it is just take a look). Take a look at what’s going on in Wisconsin (because I have no clue). You just take a look.

Now, we had a lot of cases where the judges wouldn’t hear him (because they want something called evidence – would you believe it?). We had a case in Nevada that was so good (but again that darn evidence thing). You read the papers (because I sure don’t look at those Commie rags). It’s impossible. The judge refused to even listen to it (what is it with this evidence?). We had many cases. In fact, they say, and I can’t testify because it’s been through a lot of systems, a lot of different systems (and I am the king of perjury so forget me testifying). But they say, and they say very strongly, the judges just — nobody’s really gotten a chance to look (except for the 60 lawsuits I lost). Look at the United States Supreme Court. They refused to hear the case. And you had, I guess, 19 states suing —

SI: They said, there was no standing to give the case. That’s correct. Can I just ask —

DFP: Well, yeah, no standing, I know, no standing (whatever the hell that means – ask that idiot Guiliani). And the president of the United States supposedly didn’t have standing, either. So I wanted to file it myself. They said, “Sir, you don’t have standing.” I said, wait a minute. I’m the president of the United States. (I’ll get indicted if I can’t steal this election) They just rigged an election. Hundreds of thousands of votes in different states (notice how I avoid giving any actual facts). They just rigged an election. We got — we got a number of votes that, I think you’ll agree — no sitting president has ever gotten the number of votes that I got. No sitting president has ever gotten —

SI: Lot of votes. That’s true. In — lot of — lot of — you —

No sitting president. Do you — I — nobody believes. (Nobody believes except the 80 million who voted for that old creep).You think Biden got 80 million votes? Because I don’t believe it. (and if I don’t believe it – it isn’t true – and I gotta go because Rudy is calling about his bill again).

NFL Wild Card Weekend Predictions

Red has been missing in action all season – much to the disappointment of his 3 regular followers. Fear not, Red is back in time for the mostly exciting, sometimes excruciatingly boring NFL playoffs. Red will go over his preseason picks another time.

After the first-ever 17 game NFL season, the final playoff spots went down to the wire on Sunday night. If the Chargers don’t attempt to exact revenge next season against division-rival the Raiders who could have taken a knee and still made the playoffs, then you don’t know much about the NFL. A tie would have sent both teams to the playoffs and ousted the Stealers. The main problem was that the Raiders had something to play for in winning. The win means they face the Bengals and not the Chiefs. Red isn’t saying the Bengals are a pushover, but they haven’t won a playoff game in 31 years as opposed to a very playoff-experienced Chiefs squad.

On to the fun:

Bengals over Raiders. Lest Red sound repetitive, the Bengals have not won a playoff game smacking the then division-rival Oilers in 1991 during the “run and shoot” era. Led by the Boomer, the Bengals drubbed the Oilers with Cody Carlson at the helm (Warren Moon being injured). The next week the Raiders held the Bengals to 182 yards of offense in a game that was more lopsided than the 20-10 score. That began the Bengals 7 straight playoff game losing streak including 2 games to the Texans. The Raiders have their own sad playoff saga having not won a playoff game since their last Superb Owl appearance in 2002. And in those 20 years have made one playoff appearance in 2017 against the Texans. The game was predictable in that the Raiders were down to 4th string [?] QB Connor Cook who was playing in his first and last ever NFL game.

But enough ancient history. Red likes the Bengals with Joe Burrow peaking backed by an impressive running game. Burrow threw for almost 1000 yards in Weeks 16 and 17 when it counted. That the Raiders made it to the playoffs with the turmoil of losing their coach (to being an asshat) and their top receiver (to being a criminal asshat) and some other obstacles along the way is something of a testament to some inner team fortitude. Then there is the problem of Derek Carr and cold weather. Carr’s cold game record stinks (2-8) and the two wins were against bad teams. And the Raiders are on the short week with double inverse time zone demi-hex. But the Bengals are the ones on the hot seat on Saturday. This is probably a close one, but Red believes the Bengals have too much firepower. Notably, this is the crappy time spot that the Texans always get when making the playoffs (but at least it always got Red home in time for dinner). For the betting folks, Red likes the Bengals to cover 6.5 and a close call on the O/U at 48.5. Cincinnati 31 Las Vegas 23.

Bills over Patriots. Brrr. Forecast for 15F at kickoff but sadly no snow. Red never discounts Bill Bellicheat’s ability to win a playoff game. But he has never won a playoff game with a rookie quarterback – and rookie quarterbacks don’t win a lot of playoff games. But the Bills have been strangely inconsistent this season. It looked grim at 7-6 for the Bills with an inexplicable 9-6 loss the Jaguars, but they righted the ship against inferior competition and the Patriots for a 4-0 finish averaging 30 points per game in the process. The Bills have all the tools to win this game – but will they? Meanwhile in Foxboro, the Pats had a shaky 2-4 start followed by a 7 game win streak and an even shakier 1-3 finish with the sole win being a complete drubbing of the aforementioned Jaguars. Which team shows up on Saturday is anybody’s guess. Both teams have 2 wins over playoff squads and more or less feasted on the weak sisters. Red would put his bucks on Josh Allen over the rookie Mac Jones. Red doesn’t particularly like the odds on this one, but in the unlikely event of snow or lake force winds (Please God make it snow) he might consider the under at 43.5. Buffalo 24 New England 14.

Buccaneers over Eagles. No need to miss a late brunch for this one. The Eagles did well to make the playoffs with a week to spare, but knocking off the defending champs is a big ask. It’s not impossible as they only lost 28-22 in the regular season match up. But the Eagles are 0-6 against playoff teams this season. Can they beat a team that doesn’t suck? Red just doesn’t see how the Eagles can score enough to keep up with the Bucs offensive juggernaut. But this one may be a lot closer than expected. Red thinks the Eagles just might cover 8.5, but just might doesn’t cut. He does like the over at 49. Tampa Bay 35 Philadelphia 29.

Cowboys over 49ers. Talk about your storied playoff rivalries. Red – who in a former life was a Cowboys fan (more on that some other time but BARRY SWITZER!!!) – still remembers “The Catch” Much as Red loathes making this pick, he has to go with the hated evil empire from North Texas. Red does note that other than beating the division-rival Eagles twice (once in Week 2 when the Eagles were lost and again in Week 18 when the Eagles sat their starters), the Cowboys have one quality win this season against a Patriots team who blew it in OT. The Boys were a perfect 6-0 against the NFC East and 6-5 against everyone else. That cannot inspire too much confidence. Still it is hard to discount yet another offensive juggernaut in a playoff game at home in perfect conditions with a rabid crowd consisting largely of members of the Trump Personality Cult (that’s an insult Dallas fans if you’re keeping track). That’s not to say that the 49ers are a pushover. They beat two playoff teams in OT (Bengals and Rams) and only lost by more than one score once all season (Cardinals). But turmoil has been the watchword with questions at QB and coaching spots. Again this one might be closer than expected and Red is sure hoping he is wrong. No bets here. Dallas 31 San Francisco 23.

Chiefs over Stealers. The Chiefs should still be smarting from getting butt whipped in the Superb Owl and have been waiting for the opportunity to show that it was a mere aberration in the long-running Andy Reid show featuring the amazing arm of Pat Mahomes, the consistency of Travis Kelce and the flashing speed of a host of other established and up and coming stars. Without a doubt, the Chiefs are the most battle-hardened team left standing right now. They faced 9 playoff teams and went 6-3 beating the Eagles, Packers, Raiders (2), Cowboys and Stealers while losing to the Bills, Titans and Bengals. Too bad they aren’t in the NFC playoffs. Big Ben’s last hurrah is a nice story and Red would never right off the Stealers chance of winning a tough playoff game. It took a major miracle for the Stealers to make the playoffs, so who knows? And the Stealers did beat the Bills and the Titans, but Red cannot see the Stealers keeping pace with a healthy Chiefs team unless there are a lot of turnovers and favorable bounces. 12.5 points are a lot to cover, so hold your powder dry on that one. The O/U looks suspiciously low at 46.5. Red likes the over here. Kansas City 33 Pittsburgh 20.

Cardinals over Rams. Red has thought that the Rams were imposters all season but they won a tough division due to the late season swoon of the Cardinals. The Rams beat one playoff team (an impressive win over the Bucs) other than the Cardinals. Meanwhile, the Cardinals seemed determined to throw their season away after a 10-2 start. They salvaged the season with a 25-22 win over the Cowboys in Week 17 but couldn’t beat a mediocre Seahawks squad to win the division. So what to think? This is the biggest toss up of Wildcard Week. Red doesn’t really have a clue. Kyler Murray is making his first playoff appearance – not usually a recipe for success. Maybe long-suffering Matthew Stafford is finally due a playoff win. If that doesn’t happen, he will join the ignoble company of Andy Dalton and Y.A. Tittle as the only QB’s to lose their first 4 playoff games. No bets on this nailbiter. Arizona 17 Los Angeles 16.

Quote for the Day

Gator Bowl I 1945 I Jacksonville | Taxslayer, Gator bowl ...

It is unfortunate, but we just don’t have enough scholarship players available to field a team.”

Jimbo FIsher, Texas A&M Head Football Coach explaining why the Aggies are withdrawing from the Gator Bowl game scheduled for December 31.

Perhaps Greg Abbott will call a special session to pass legislation forcing Texas teams to play in college football bowl games to which they have been invited. Or better yet, to force teams to allow players who have tested positive for COVID to play.

Red’s 2021 NFL Predictions – NFC North

NFC North

Red hates this division.  Red got chased through the bus station in Detroit by an angry man after a nice young lady changed her seat because he was being so nasty to her.  Red got food poisoning in Chicago.  Minneapolis was never the same after Lou Grant decamped for LA and while he has never been to Green Bay he wonders why he would ever go other than to see a Packers game.

And because Red hates this division so much he may just find something to talk about this year other than the actual football teams. 

Green Bay (13-4).  Red still sympathizes with the good citizens of Milwaukee who haven’t seen a home game played in their fair city since 1994.  For decades the Packers played 3 home games in Milwaukee. And believe it or not, the Packers actually won an NFL Championship at State Fair Park in Milwaukee in 1939 crushing the New York Giants 27-0.  They also won a playoff game beating the Rams 28-7 at Milwaukee County Stadium in 1967 on their way to the first ever Superb Owl win (not called that at the time).  Alas, on December 18, 1994, the Packers dispatched the Falcons 21-17 and left Milwaukee forever – or at least until now.  The Packers did do the Milwaukee fans a solid offering them the “Gold” season ticket package (2nd and 5th home games and one preseason game).  The home town Packer fans got the “Green” package (the remaining 6 home games and a preseason test).    As for actual football, Red believes that Aaron Rodgers will go out in a blaze of glory in his final season before he takes over for a couple of years in San Francisco.  Either that or they ride him out of town on a rail. 

Chicago (10-7)  Perhaps it just seems like the Bears have been playing at Soldier Field forever.  In truth, the Bears played at Wrigley Field for 50 years winning 8 NFL Championships while there.  The Bears did not move to Soldier Field until 1971.  So as of this season, the Bears will have played at Soldier Field for as long as at “The Friendly Confines.”  Soldier Field has not been as kind as the Bears have only one Superb Owl win and but two appearances since the shift.  Not much changes this year with the Red Rifle at the helm.  Still a very good defense might just have them in the playoffs as the last wild card.  Or maybe not. 

Minnesota (10-7)  The Vikings played their last game at Metropolitan Stadium on December 20, 1981 against the Chiefs.  Surprise it was snowing.  After that it fell into disrepair and was torn down to build the Mall of America.  As with the Bears, the Vikings only era of glory (sort of) was winning 4 NFC crowns while putting up four of the most pathetic Superb Owl performances ever in the 1970s.  This year Red is decidedly unexcited about the prospects of the Vikings, but they just might sneak in as the last wild card if the Bears don’t.

Detroit  (2-15)  The last game the Lions played in Tiger Stadium was a 31-27 loss to the Broncos on Thanksgiving Day in 1974.  It was also the game that ended 1969 Heisman Trophy winner Steve Owens’ career when his cleats got caught in the turf right as he got blindsided.  The Lions have never been the same since leaving Tiger Stadium.  The only glory years in Lions’ history were in that era with NFL Championship in 1952, 1953 and 1957.  But this year, the Lions will be serious contenders along with the Texans, Eagles and Jets for the 1st pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.  Sis Boom Bah. 

Red’s 2021 NFL Predictions – NFC East

Talk about blowing it.  For most of the season, it looked like the NFC East had a real shot at being the worst division ever in all of NFL history.  That distinction still belongs to the 2008 NFC West with a combined record of 22-42).  Sadly, the NFC East finished with a combined record of 23-40-1 missing out on their chance in the record books.  Still for a good while it looked like Red’s decades long dream (since the 2002 realignment if you’re keeping track) of a 6-10 team making the playoffs was going to finally come true. But after Week 16, that dream died as either Washington or Philadelphia had to win the Week 17 matchup (Red discounts the possibility of tie here but a 6-9-1 team making the playoffs would have been almost as good). It was really the Eagles improbable 24-21 win over the Saints in Week 14 that probably sunk the deal.  The Cowboys did their part losing to the mediocre Giants in Week 17 to finish 6-10 in a tie with said Giants for the runner-up spot.  Alas, hope springs eternal.  With the new 17 game schedule, Red now hopes for a 6-11 team to make the playoffs and still submits that it is statistically possible (although highly improbable) for a 5-12 team to sneak in. 

Dallas Cowboys (7-10)  Following the long-overdue departure of Jason Garret, new head coach Mike McCarthy had a rough introduction to start his tenure as the latest pawn in the Jerry Jones Game of Coaching Thrones. That he wasn’t fired mid-season was something of a surprise, but when the ship is sinking that quickly, maybe the Captain has other problems to deal with.  Mike Mac is capable and certainly smart enough to know that everything he does will be second-guessed and that his input on decisions will be minimal. Everyone laughed at JJ signing Amari Cooper to a $100,000,000 5-year deal, but AC lived up to his end of the bargain with 92 catches, 1114 yards and 5 TDs for the season.  All that while the Red Rifle was in charge for most of 11 games.   The Cowboys were all but left for dead at 3-9 after 13 weeks, but a remarkable 3 game win stretch against some bad teams left them with some hope, but as noted above the Giants squashed those hopes in Week 17.  With the return of Dak Prescott as even a mid-level presence under center, the Cowboys should be better.  A lot falls on the steady shoulders of Zeke Elliott. But he is entering that crucial 6th season where an NFL RB either shows that he is an unstoppable force (ala Emmitt Smith, Adrian Peterson, Walter Payton or LT) or enters that slow or fast decline due to overwork (ala Earl Campbell and too many others to name).  Who knows?  In any event, the Week 1 Thursday night matchup with the reigning Champs shall give us an early clue – are the Boys contenders or pretenders?   As for the images on this page, there is a common theme.

Washington Football Team (fka OTNAs) (7-10).  Maya make a prediction for Ute to consider.  The FTs will still be Yuki, but won’t Sauk as much as last year  There’s nothing to Crow about, but Yamasee some improvement with venerable Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB. Unfortunately, a winning record is too much to Hopi for. He’s not a Mobile QB and easy to Sac.  If you think the FTs will win a playoff game, Red warns you to stop taking the drugs Huron.  But if you want to make that bet, Shoshone the money and get ready to Paiute.  That’s not to say it’s a lost Coos.  What can you say about the teams in this division other than TesuqueCanarsee the FTs making the playoffs if there is three-way tie in this division?   Red has to Callum like he sees ‘em.  Eno of this. Red has Spokan.   Miwok here is done.   (Red apologizes in advance but this was his last chance to make fun of a team that used an Offensive Term for Native Americans as its mascot for almost 90 years).

New York Giants (7-10)   Are you sensing a trend here? There are some things to like about the Giants. It’s easy to forget that as a rookie, Saquon Barkley covered 2028 total yards from the line of scrimmage. Scrimmage – that’s a funny word. Every hear of someone scrimming? But Red digresses. But instead, Red will throw in a little quiz here. Who are the two modern era (we’ll call that since 1950) Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterbacks to have never started and won a playoff game? See above for hints.  

Philadelphia Eagles (5-12) Red has finally figured out what is wrong with the Eagles.  They suck.  The only real question may be will they suck more or less than the Texans.  Red thinks just a bit less.  Some prognosticators are giving the Eagles a chance to win this flaming bag of dog doo of a division left on Pete Rozelle’s front porch. Red used to smoke the stuff these guys are huffing but quit when the Oilers lost to the Bills in 1993 playoffs. As for the quiz – Yeah, he played for the Eagles too.

Red’s 2021 NFL Predictions – NFC South

Red was shocked, frankly shocked, when this division produced its first NFL Champion since the Saints back in 2007.  Don’t expect a repeat. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-5).  The Bucs had a decent season at 11-5 and then had all the cards fall into place to be the first team to both play in and win a Superb Owl in their home stadium.  In the regular season, it’s hard to pick out more than one quality win (Note: Red defines a quality win as one over a playoff team or a team with at least 9-10 wins depending on the schedule).   In the regular season, the Bucs beat exactly one team with a winning record – with a rousing 38-10 home win over the Packers in Week 6.  The only other teams with winning records (Saints, Chiefs and Rams) dispatched them.  A weak season ending schedule, however, had the Bucs coasting into the playoffs as a wild card.  There they drew the easiest possible Wild Card game against the winner (Washington FT) of the pathetic excuse for a professional football division that was the NFC East.  It got harder from there.  The Saints lost by coughing up the ball 4 times including an uncharacteristic for INTs for Drew Brees.  Green Bay had plenty of opportunity to beat the Bucs but made a mess of their last series allowing TB to run out the clock.  And Red need not say anything about the Superb Owl.  Ugh.  The Bucs have a greased skid to the playoffs again in 2021 with the 4th easiest schedule on the pre-season books.  The toughest games are likely to be against the Colts, Rams, Bills and Saints.  Other than that they get to play the weak sisters in the NFC East and the rather shallow AFC East.  Plus they return every starter on the Championship team.  Don’t expect the Bucs to beat a single decent team in the regular season. But you know what – it won’t matter.  Crawl don’t run to put your money down on the Bucs to win this division.  

New Orleans Saints (11-6). The Saints were probably the best team in the NFL last season but couldn’t get past division rival Tampa Bay in a rather pathetic showing in the playoffs.  The big question following Drew Brees’ retirement is of course the situation at quarterback.  Do they go with the error-prone but potentially explosive Jameis Winston or the multi-talented Tayson Hill.  Red says go with both.  Under guidance Winston plays good like a quarterback should and Hill can provide the spark when needed.  And they can use multiple formations with both players in the game.  Alvin Kamara likely has another outstanding season in his pocket.  Put him down for at least 1700 total yards in a 17-game season.  The other big question concerns the status of all-world wideout Michael Thomas.  Marquez Callaway may be able to fill that gaping void for a few weeks, but if Thomas’ injury lingers the Saints could be in serious trouble.  Like the Bucs, the Saints have a favorable schedule and with “all of us” could well snatch the division crown from Tampa Bay with a season sweep. 

Atlanta Falcons (6-11).  It’s unlikely the Falcons start off 0-5  or close the season 0-5 as they did in 2020 putting a premature end to any hopes for the playoffs and Dan Quinn’s head coaching career.  There was a middling stretch (4-2 record from Weeks 6 to 12)  where the Falcons were a simulacrum of a professional football team.  You just kind of knew that it wasn’t going to be the Falcons year after the Cowboys game in Week 2.  The Falcons had a 39-24 lead with less than 9 minutes left.  The Cowboys cut that to 39-30 – foolishly going for 2 after an impressive TD drive.  With less than two minutes left and no timeouts the Cowboys successfully convert what should have been an easily handled on-side kick. Maybe they just needed a big red arrow to show them where the ball was. Anyhow, the Cowboys recover and win the game on a Greg Zuerlein field goal as time runs out.  It was pretty much all downhill from there for the Falcons. This year Arthur Smith has decamped from Tennessee where his excellent work in turning Ryan Tannehill into a respectable NFL quarterback earned him a spot as the Falcons head coach.  Unfortunately, AS has an over-the-hill and never quite up to snuff QB in Matt Ryan, what could be the worst running game in the NFC – if not the NFL and a defense that  gave up more than 30 points 6 times last year.  That said Calvin Ridley is a Top 5 wideout, the addition of Kyle Pitts at TE will help and Matt Ryan is at still serviceable.  The Falcons will score enough points to win some games against the lesser competition and as noted above – there is plenty of that for the NFC South teams this season. 

Carolina Panthers (2-15).  Repeat after Red.  Darn Old Sam, Darn Old Sam, Darn Old Sam.  Darn Old Sam.  Not even the perhaps premier running back in the league (C. McCaffery) can help this train wreck.  The Panthers definitely have a shot at being the worst team in the NFL if the Texans get lucky. And believe him, if Red could find another spot to sneak this picture in he definitely would.

Red’s 2021 NFL Predictions – AFC West

If you bet the over on the win total on the Chiefs (11.5) and Raiders (7.5) last season you won.  If you bet the under on the Broncos (7) and the Chargers (7.5) you won again!  This season the bookies have high expectations for this division with these win total O/U’s:  Chiefs (12.5), Chargers (9.5), Broncos (8.5) and Raiders (7).  Red doesn’t get the higher rating on the Broncos and the discount on the Raiders.  So in the only pre-season betting advice Red is likely to give take the Over for the Raiders and the Under for the Broncos.  Of course, factoring in a 17 game season on such matters is a bit difficult.  Full disclosure:  Red is an amateur prognosticator and does not bet on sporting events.

Kansas City Chiefs  (13-4).  Humiliating, emasculating, devastating, ass-whomping, embarrassing and debilitating all apply to describe the pathetic show the Chiefs put on in the Superb Owl.  Red really did not believe that Andy Reid was so unable to adapt to the Bucs defensive scheme of rushing 5-6 guys on every play and leaving the short middle of the field wide open.  Pat Mahomes was forced make a miracle throw for the Chiefs only touchdown that no other NFL QB can probably make. See above. If the Chiefs had put this kind of pressure on Brady, he would have been carried off the field in a basket. But don’t expect the Chiefs to do the Falcons Fold and stink in 2021.  Immediate attention was given to rebuilding a credible offensive line with the additions of former Patriots guard Joe Thuney, trading for Orlando Brown, Jr. and bringing Kyle Long out of retirement as a likely super-backup.  Mahomes is the scariest QB in the league when he is not running for his life.  And no one has more talent around him.  If the defense improves even marginally, the Chiefs will be in every game and wining most of them. 

Why the Chargers Left Los Angeles - Tales from the AFL

Los Angeles Chargers (10-7).  Some forget that the Chargers started life in the Los Angeles Coliseum, but decamped to San Diego after failing to draw anywhere close to a respectable home crowd. See above. The more things change . . . Last season wasn’t one to get the Chargers’ fans’ butts back in the seats of even a multi-billion dollar stadium. The Chargers had to really struggle to pull defeat from the jaws of victory multiple times last season. After a “rousing” road win against the Bengals, the Chargers went on to drop 9 of their next 11 games with two overtime losses to the playoff bound Chiefs and Saints and 5 other one score losses thrown in.  The nadir of the season was a 45-0 pasting by the Patriots in front of the “home crowd” in LA.  But after that, the Chargers closed with 4 wins (impressive even with discounting the final game win against the Chiefs second string).  NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert was the best looking rookie QB since Dak Prescott in 2016 – even if the results weren’t there.   The Chargers come out of the box hot this season with wins over the Football Team and the Cowboys.  Then comes a tough stretch with the Chiefs, Raiders Browns and Ravens.  Expect 2-2 from that run at best.  After that the rack up a 5-1 record against some of the weak sisters before coming back to earth against the surging Chiefs.  The Texans provide a palate cleanser and if they split with the Broncos and Raiders in Weeks 17 and 18 – they just might have a shot at a wild card spot. 

Las Vegas Raiders  (9-8).  The Raiders have not won a playoff game since the 2002 season when they beat the Titans in the AFC Championship game in what will be the last playoff game ever played at Oakland-Alameda Coliseum before losing to the Buccaneers in one of the weirdest Superb Owls ever.  See above. That almost two-decade drought probably doesn’t end this season. That’s not saying the Raiders did not do their best to plug some holes.  The defense should be better with DC Gus Bradley taking over and getting some help from free agent picks like Yannick Ngakoue, Quinton Jefferson and Casey Howard, Jr. On offense despite much moaning and groaning there is absolutely nothing wrong with having David Carr as your quarterback if you put enough talent around him. In that regard, top target and putative TE Darren Waller (Red has never seen a TE more averse to actually hitting someone than Waller) is back and the hope is that second-year WR Henry Ruggs, III steps up with his seeming big-play potential.  Running back by committee may be a problem as no true No. 1 back appears to be in the stable.  

Denver Broncos (6-11).  Some prognosticators are picking the Broncos to finish second and earn a Wild Card slot. Red disagrees. Red likes Teddy Bridgewater – always has.  He was a steal for a sixth round draft pick even if he doesn’t win the starting job. But how long can a guy bounce around, moving from system to system and keep fighting for a starting job?  Apparently a long time in this league.  Unfortunately, the Broncos will not be a very competitive squad this season.