First a quick season recap. Red had 8 of the 12 playoff teams picked. He missed out on the Browns and Stealers in the AFC and the Falcons and Vikings in the NFC. The Browns blew it early and the rallied, the Stealers and Vikings had their fate in their hands and blew it late and the Falcons simply blew it. The biggest surprise of the season had to be the Colts getting in as number 6 seed. Red was pretty certain they would suck. The Ravens also have one on Red. Less of a surprise are the Cowboys who benefitted from playing in a fairly terrible division with an overall mediocre schedule. The Seahawks are never really a surprise at sneaking into the playoffs or winning a playoff game they shouldn’t.
Your Game of the Week Playoff Game of the Week – Bears over Eagles. Red rates the Bears as the team to beat in the NFC right now. Sure the Rams and Saints are flashier but they have been inconsistent of late while the Bears have continued to grind out wins with their excellent defense (is any other team even that close?) and steady offense. There is no glitz to this Bears team other than perhaps Tarik Cohen who seemingly can score on any type of play from anywhere on the field. The Eagles might just have the Nick Foles’ playoff magic working again and they certainly can score on most teams. But these are the Bears and its playoff time. This one will be closer than expected simply because Matt Nagy is not going to let his offense make mistakes. Chicago 20 Philadelphia 17.
Your Time Zone Hex Playoff Game of the Week – Ravens over Chargers. Red has to go with the tradition triple time zone hex in this one – and the fact that Phillip Rivers will sadly never get a better chance. Don’t get Red wrong he desperately would like to see the Chargers playing again next week because they are immensely entertaining, but the fates have never aligned for PR and he doubts that they will on the Chesapeake this week. This game calls for the annual reexamination of home field advantage for the division champ with a worse record than the wild carder. As Red has noted, it is absolutely possible that some day we will see a 6-10 division champion. Should that team get the advantage over a 11-5 wild card entry? Ravens have a decent home field advantage. When you throw in that the Chargers have been playing on the road all season, it gets a bit closer. But not quite close enough. Baltimore 28 Los Angeles 24.
Your Disappointing Playoff Game of the Week – Texans over Colts. Red almost wishes the Colts had won both previous contests this season – under the it’s hard to beat any team 3 times in one season rule. But the Texans eked out a last second win on the road in September. And then lost a close one in December at home. Not much separates these two teams who have to be the among the biggest surprises to make the playoffs after their 0-3 and 1-5 starts. Red thinks both offenses play tight and sloppy. Defense dominates the day and the last turnover decides this one. Ball bounces right for the Texans on Saturday – maybe. Houston 17 Indianapolis 13.
Your Texas Playoff Game of the Week – Seahawks over Cowboys. Red is perfectly okay with the Cowboys winning one playoff game every decade. They have already filled their quota for the 2010’s. Red saw Michael Dickson control the pace of the Texas Bowl last year with a masterful punting performance against Missouri. Red doesn’t talk about it much but the punting game fascinates him. Dickson is the guy to watch on Saturday. On the other side, the Cowboys’ fate seemingly rests with Amari Cooper who has more or less disappeared after defenses figured out that he was making the Cowboys click. So the Boys have turned back to E. Eliot with success. If the Seahawks bind up the middle, they win with defense and punting. Seattle 28 Arlington 17.