Tag Archives: NFL Playoffs

Today in Texas History – January 18

From the Annals of the NFL –  The Pittsburgh Stealers beat the Irving Cowboys 21-17 in Superb Owl X at the Orange Bowl in Miami.  The Stealers scored 21 the hard way with 2 TD’s, 1 PAT, 1 Safety and 2 Field Goals.  The margin of victory might have been greater if not for Stealers’ kicker Roy Gerela being injured tackling Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson when the Cowboys ran a trick play reverse on the opening kickoff.  Gerela suffered bruised ribs and missed two short field goals and an extra point. Stealers quarterback Terry Bradshaw (who had been much maligned during the regular season) was an efficient 9-19 for 209 yards and 2 TDs, but it was the Stealers defense that won the day.   Cowboys’ quarterback Roger Staubach had one of his worst games throwing up 3 interceptions and getting sacked 7 times.   Still, down 21-10 in the 4th quarter, the Cowboys mounted a comeback driving 80 yards in 5 plays topped off with a 34 yard touchdown pass to tight end Percy Howard.  Remarkably, it was the only reception of Howard’s NFL career.  After failing to recover the onside kick, the Cowboys defense held and the offense came on with 1:22 needing a touchdown to win.  It was not to be as Staubach threw up his third interception in the end zone as time ran out.

Red’s NFL Picks – Conference Championships

NFL Picks 2016 – Conference Championships

The dream of an all-Texas Superb Owl to be played in Texas died a harsh death last weekend. It wasn’t much of a dream anyway and it keeps alive the curious streak of the home team never hosting the big game.

The Texans never had a chance against the Patriots – although they did keep it close for a whole half as Red predicted. Red almost believed for an instant after Brady’s second interception.

Meanwhile in Arlington, the Cowboys must be sitting around muttering “I could have been somebody, I could have been a contender.” The problem is that Aaron Rodgers is somebody and is always a contender. But now Jerry’s Boys will be spending the off-season wondering what could have been and not making any real changes to a lineup that had a magical year – a year that is not likely to be repeated any time soon.  The Cowboys defense has real problems and the rookie phenoms – may just be rookie phenoms.  As Red has said, he is perfectly okay with the Cowboys winning one playoff game every decade. So, sorry Jerry, the win for the 10’s is already in the books.  Talk to me in 2021.

For Round 2, Red was a spectacular 4-0 and made good on both Sure Bets with the Stealers covering and the under paying off.   Good things come to those who wait and wait and wait and . . .

Prime Time Pick of the Week – Stealers smack Patriots.    About the only good thing to come out of the Texans’ defeat on Saturday was that the defense beat the everloving crap out of Tom Brady.  Even Mrs. Red was getting excited when Chris Covington body slammed TB and Whitney Mercilus dragged him to the ground.  Brady took more hard shots in that game than he usually does in a month.  The Pats running game was also exposed.  Brady won the game with repeated strikes downfield against  Texans defensive backs who always seemed to be clueless as to where the ball was going.  That won’t happen against the Stealers.  Brady will face even more pressure (the Stealers had 30 sacks in the last 8 games). And the Pats are not likely to run against the Stealers any better than they did against the Texans.  But the real question is for the Stealers.  Can they score against the Pats league-leading defense?  The mid-season matchup tells us – well, not much.  The Stealers didn’t have Ben and Pats still had Gronk. Landry Jones had to chuck it up 47 times that day in a losing effort for the Stealers – which is something Ben almost never does. LaGarrette “Fat Pig” Blount rushed for 127 yards and 2 touchdowns to lead the Pats to victory.  That does not happen Sunday.  The Pats also will not be bailed out by Dion Lewis – who had more touchdowns on Sunday than in the rest of his career going back to 2011.  Red doesn’t know how the Stealers are going to win, but he knows they are going to win and thus, cover the spread whatever it is.  The Stealers are getting 5.5 just in case you are interested.  The O/U is at 51.  Which strikes Red as way too high. Take the under here.   Pittsburgh 21 New England 20.

Sure Bet Pick of the Week – Packers pelt Falcons.  Aaron Rodgers – great family man that he is – will always have a place in Red’s heart.  Driving a stake through the heart of the Cowboys’ season will do that for you.  And the Packs’ reward is to be a 4.5 point dog on the road against the Falcons.  The Falcons looked like a well-oiled machine on Saturday – with the big exception of letting Devin Hester run wild on kick and punt returns.  Without Hester, the game was not even close.  With him, the game wasn’t that close.  The Pack has no one like Hester.  Although Ty Montgomery’s brilliant play during the Lions-Packers game showed that he is the thinking man’s kick returner.  One of the Lions’ kickoff was dying at about the Green Bay 3 yard line.  But since it was near the sideline.  TM stepped out of bounds and fell on the ball (still in bounds).  Under the very complicated NFL kicking rules, that made the ball out of bounds and put the Packers at the 40 yard line.  It pays to know the very complicated NFL kicking rules.  Red has been duly impressed by the Falcons this season.  He has picked them repeatedly in the past – only to be disappointed.  The long-suffering Falcons fans are not disappointed – well not yet anyway.  It’s a little too good to be true and reality is coming home.  The first meeting of these teams at mid-season was a complete shootout with Rodgers and Ryan combining for 7 TD passes, 534 yards and no INTs. Expect about the same on Sunday.  The oddsmakers sure do.  The O/U on this one is a whopping 61.5.  Red sees them getting there.  The Packers defense is suspect merely by virtue of having Dom Capers in charge.  The Falcons defenses has toughened up considerably over the last month of the season, but these are the Packers after all.  This one could last 4:15 and conceivably goes to OT.  Okay, Red calls OT.  Take the Pack and the points and the over. Green Bay 35 Atlanta 29.

And of course, that gives us a Packers-Stealers Superb Owl.  Who doesn’t want to see that?

Red’s NFL Picks – Playoffs Round 2

Red has now seen every Texans playoff victory in person as he had the good sense to be in New Mexico for last year’s 30-0 buttwhipping at the hand of the Chiefs. He would dearly love to be in Arlington on Sunday afternoon but will have to settle for hearing about the Cowboys game after playing golf (or possibly at the turn).

For Wildcard Week Red was 2-2. Only Red would pick a team that hasn’t won a playoff game on the road since 1957.  That would be the Lions if you weren’t paying attention.  Picking the Giants turned out to be a less than smart move.  Red will not dis A-Rodg again.  Onward and sideways.

Sure Bet Pick of the Week – Stealers slap Chiefs.    What in God’s name was Ben still doing in the game on the second-to-last play of the game?  The Stealers were lucky that BR was not seriously injured (and by Rotlessburger standards that means not in a coma or on life support in the ICU).   The Stealers simply manhandled an inferior Dolphins squad as expected.  The Chiefs will be a different story, but the ending looks the same.  As one site puts it, the Stealers “look mean as hell” right now.  Look at former Stealers linebacker and current assistant coach Joey Porter who was arrested for assault when he attached a doorman at a bar and topped that off with an aggravated assault charge when he got huffy with an arresting officer. When did the Chiefs last have a coach in a bar fight much less getting arrested?  The Stealers are getting 2 in most lines.  If that goes to 3, jump in with both feet.  The O/U at 51.5 is somewhat surprising.  Red likes the under here.  Enjoy your NFL game of the week.   Pittsburgh 27 Kansas City 20.

Underdog Pick of the Week – Falcons f#©k Seahawks. Matt “No One is Going to Mistake Me for Johnny Unitas” Ryan has one thing going for him this weekend.  He knows how to beat the Seahawks in the playoffs.  That is exactly what he did in 2012. Unfortunately for Mr. Mr. that’s the only thing he knows how to do.  That’s his only postseason win ever. We do have a bit of recent history here as the Seahawks beat the Falcons (Red loves him and all-avian playoff matchup) 26-24 back in October.  But Ryan threw 3 touchdowns against a much better secondary than the Seahawks are putting on the field right now.  The Seahawks missing Earl Thomas is like Red going hog hunting with a BB gun instead of his 7mm mag.   You might remember that just last week, Red made fun of Seahawks running back Thomas “Lou” Rawls and his season total of 349 yards rushing. After torching the Lions for 4332 yards or roughly 2.5 miles, Red takes it  all back.  All Hail, Mr. Rawls – last seen still shedding Lions tacklers somewhere near Butte, Montana.  The Seahawks best hail Mr. Rawls because it’s hard to see them winning this one without a similar performance this week. , Red wants some of what Mr. Rawls is smoking or at least a contact high.  Detroit 21 Seattle 20.

 

Texas Franchise Pick of the Week – Packers pucker up Cowboys.   Speaking of teams playing “mean as hell” consider the Packers.  They lose their best non-quarterback player and big time playmaker (J. Nelson) to a cheapshot and still cruise to an easy win over the best all around defense in the league.  Nelson claims he is going to play Sunday – fractured ribs and all.  The Pack still have the best player in the game right now in Aaron Rodgers – and here Red must again eat crow.  Rodgers was phenomenal last week.  He should fare just as well against  Red once pulled an interstitial muscle in his rib cage mowing the lawn and couldn’t get out of bed for a week.  Red doesn’t belong in the NFL.  Jordy Nelson does.  Meanwhile in the Metroplex, the Cowboys have pretty much stuffed all comers not named the New York Football Giants this season with a rookie QB at the helm.  A rookie QB that was the 113th quarterback taken in the 2016 draft –  okay he was really the 15th.  And to think it could have been Johnny Football.  But Red digresses.  Rookie quarterbacks typically have a hard time in playoff games.  Dom Capers is no dumbass and he will make life difficult for Dak Prescott.  Red predicts that before the game is over – Tony Romo attempts to ride to the rescue and fails miserably. Green Bay 37 Arlington 20.

 

Prime Time Pick of the Week – Patriots punish Texans.   Okay by now you have heard that this is the biggest point spread since David v. Goliath (Red had David at 5-1 just in case you were wondering).  Only around six times in the modern NFL era has a playoff team been disfavored by such a large spread.  One of those times was in 1979 when the Oilers were huge dogs to the Chargers because they were missing Dante Pastorini, Earl Campbell and Kenny Burroughs.  Guess what, they blasted Air Coryell and advanced to the AFC Championship game.  It’s probably the second biggest upset in modern NFL Playoff history.  Unfortunately for Houston fans it seems like no such surprise is in the works Saturday night.  The Texans are 1-7 lifetime against the Patriots.  Red was at the only Texans victory in the last game of the 2009 season and the Texans barely won even though by halftime Tom Brady was sipping a Crown and Coke in a Barcalounger on the sideline and some guy named Brian Hoyer was under center for the Pats.  It still took a fumble recovery in the end zone by Bernard Pollard and three 4th quarter touchdowns for the Texans to pull off a win in what was a meaningless game for the Pats.  It’s not like the Texans haven’t been competitive against the Pats at times.  The Lost 34-31 in December of 2013 at Foxboro and in the first meeting ever on a Sunday night in 2003, Brady had to rally the Pats to tie the game with 40 seconds left before winning 23-20 in OT.  But in the NFL, all of that is ancient history.  The Pats have simply demolished the Texans the last two seasons.  Are the Texans a different team than the one that got slobberknockered in September.  Yes.  But so are the Patriots – they have that guy Tom Brady – you know the one who sells magic pajamas (see above) and has a garage full of trophies. The Texans only win with at least 17 points scored or set up by defense and special teams, one long TD drive and one 75+ yard TD.  If those things happen – and they won’t – the Texans have a chance.  All that said, Red expects the Texans defense to keep it close for a while.  But if it goes according to form, Red will be able to switch over and watch Have Gun Will Travel reruns by the middle of the third quarter.  There are worse ways to spend a Saturday night.  New England 24 Houston 11.

 

Red’s NFL Preseason Picks

Red’s 2016 NFL Predictions

Football season starts early in the Lone Star State. So early that Red has already been to not one but two high school games. And really, there is nothing quite as boring as your average high school football game with an average of 33 penalties, obnoxious parents, bad refs, inept play, mosquitos, surprisingly small crowds and a 7-0 final score.  The tedium of a high school game is rivaled only by a regular season NFL game with its endless TV timeouts, incredibly loud piped in bad 80’s music (at least at NRG), obnoxious beer-guzzling fans, sanitized atmosphere and overall complete lack of spectacle.  Such is the fan experience for the modern-day gladiation that is professional football.  Red can handle about 2 pro games a year – maybe 3 if his team makes the playoffs.

Other than that, Red is totally excited to bring you his pre-season predictions. Red’s record in this regard over the last decade or so is at least respectable. As usual, however, Red disclaims all responsibility for little juvenile delinquent Timmy stealing the grocery money and going down to his local bookie and putting it all on Red’s projected Superb Owl winner. Those foolish enough to wager on any professional sporting event that doesn’t involve equines running counter-clockwise around an oval track get exactly what they deserve.   So Danny, keep your grubby little felonious mitts out of Mom’s purse and leave this stuff to the pros who usually don’t do a whole lot better than Red.

2015 Season Recap

Red’s NFC division champions were the Eagles, Falcons, Seahawks and Panthers. Wild cards were the Rams and Vikings.  That’s 4 out of 6 in the playoffs.  Better than, “Meh!”

Red’s AFC division champions were the Patriots, Broncos, Colts and Bengals. Wild cards were the Chargers and Ravens.  That 3 out of 6 in the playoffs.  What can he say, Red blew it.

Red’s 7 out of 12 is unacceptable. He’ll run laps sometime in October.    Please not that Red did pick JJ Watt as Defensive Player of the Year. Big Whoop.

Red’s Annual Bitch.

 If you are a Cowboys fan, and may God have mercy on your soul if you are, thanks to the NFL scheduling gurus you need not worry about rushing home from church for the kickoff. This year is no exception.  Here is the National TV schedule for the team that went 4-12 last season.

Week 1       Giants Sunday Late Game

Week 3       Bears Sunday Night Game

Week 4       At 49ers Sunday Late Game

Week 5       Bengals Sunday Late Game

Week 6       At Packers Sunday Late Game

Week 8       Eagles Sunday Night Game

Week 10     At Stealers Sunday Late Game

Week 11     Redskins Thanksgiving

Week 12     At Vikings Thursday Night Game

Week 13     At Giants Sunday Night Game

Week 16     Lions Monday Night Game

Cowboys get 3 of the 16 Sunday Night games.  Plus 5 Sunday Late Games – only one of which (49ers) is time zone related. Plus a Monday Night and a Thursday Night appearance. And the traditional Thanksgiving day game

That is the standard minimum of 11 national TV appearances for a franchise that shat their collective pants last season. Only in corporate America does such incompetence get rewarded like this.

NFC East

Giants.  This division is more up for grabs than a deep ball from Peyton Manning.  Any team could win this thing.  But those darn statistics boys tell us that only one team can. It’s up to Uncle Red to figure that one out. The Cowboys will be starting a rookie quarterback and unproven rookie Ezekial Elliot at back.  It’s unclear what the OTNA’s are up to and the Eagles are still a mess.  Red is predicting that the NFC East will be this year’s PEFAPFD (that’s pathetic excuse for a professional football division for those who haven’t been paying attention).   Now that the Tom “Coach of the Walking Dead’ Coughlin is gone, look for new life in Northern Jersey.  Ben “No Relation to Bob” McAdoo takes over after serving as offensive coordinator.  The Giants probably had more money to spend than any other team in the off season and spend like drunken sailors they did. Additions of Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple to join Dominique Rogers-Cromartie may give the Giants the best trio at corner in the league.  Name a better group.  Hmm, thought so.  And they won’t be short-handed with Jason Pierre Paul back for the entire season (no pun intended).  As seems to happen almost every other year now, a team with a losing record will advance to the playoffs.  New Jersey racks up a 5 game losing streak in the latter part of the season but still slides in under the door at 7-9 while the rest of the division goes home to kick the dog.

NFC South:

Panthers. Red usually picks the Falcons and we see how that usually works out. In a swift break from tradition, Red is going with the NFC Champion Panthers to repeat as division winners in 2015.  The Panthers were undoubtedly the best team in the NFL last season until the clock struck midnight, the offensive line turned back into a bunch of rats, the football became a slippery pumpkin and Cam Newton lost one of his glass cleats on the way out of the locker room only to have Von Miller stomp on it like the groom at a Jewish wedding. That’s how the Cinderella story usually ends.   This season Cam solidifies his spot as one of the two or three best all round quarterbacks.  And he has some more help with Kelvin Benjamin back.  The loss of Josh Norman will be painful, but Luke Kuechly anchors a more than good enough defense. It’s a bit of a comedown for Carolina to a 12-4 season but only a bit of a comedown as shall be seen.

NFC West: 

Cardinals.  Call Red a frontrunner if you must – it won’t hurt his feelings. Red didn’t believe in the Cardinals last year and he isn’t exactly drinking the Kool-Aid now.  The Cards may be just a Carson Palmer pulled groin away from a 7-9 season.  David Johnson is the hot topic now.  Look for a bit of a sophomore slump, but there 10-6 for Arizona probably should do it in the NFC West.

NFC North:

Vikings. Remember when NFL teams used to play at places with mysterious names like the Polo Grounds or Arrowhead Stadium or Candlestick Park or the Los Angeles Coliseum or the Cotton Bowl? Red is showing his age I suppose. The Vikings who once played at Metropolitan Stadium and then the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome are now leaving the not so cozy confines of the TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota for new digs.  Red would research the record for established teams breaking in new stadiums if he were that kind of guy.  Rest assured, he isn’t.  Exactly how does one get excited about a Sunday afternoon game at good old U.S. Bank Stadium.  Does that come with free checking and a carry-all?  Red is high on the real stuff and Teddy Bridgewater.  Touchdown Teddy will have a true break out season in 2016 and No. 1 pick Laquon Treadwell will provide a tempting target that was missing most of last season.  The real mystery man in the passing game may be Moritz Bohringer who was drafted in the 5th round out of the Schwabisch Hall Unicorns of the German Football League. He’s a long shot to make the team but he has size and speed enough if he can pick up the game.   Minnesota makes it look easy this season with a 13-3 record to win the division.

Update: Oops! Teddy’s gone for the season and Sam “Where’s My Head” Bradford is at the helm.  Red is going to cowboy up and ride the Vikings anyway because it’s too much trouble to rewrite this stuff.

 NFC Wildcards:

Buccaneers. Last season’s rookie of the year Jameis Winston has Red believing. Red also still believes in Santa Claus and alien abductions.  The running back combo of Doug Martin and Charles Sims could be the most potent in the NFC – after all they combined for 2700 yards of total offense last season. All that wasn’t good enough to avoid a four game losing streak that ended in Head Coach Lovie Smith and the entire defensive staff getting shit-canned.  Out with the old and in with the old as the Bucs promoted offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter (who has as close to a good porn star name as you are ever going to see on an NFL coaching staff unless Dick Butkiss comes back) to head coach.  JW will not have to learn a news system and the Bucs offense was certainly good enough to have a winning season last year.  On the other side, they brought in also shit-canned former Falcons head coach Mike Smith to run the defense.  It seems that defensive guys who get head coaching spots and fail almost always come back and do pretty damn well as defensive coordinators again. See, e.g., Dom Capers, Jack Del Rio and Wade Phillips.  Tampa Bay sneaks in at 9-7.

Packers. Really by default. Of course they are probably going to win the North with Bridgewater gone.  Of course Aaron Rodgers is going to be good.  Of course, someone at Lambeau Field will suffer frostbite in Week 17.  Of course, they will sell out every game.  Of course, Red will stop picking the Packers someday. Of course, today is not the day.  Green Bay does it again at 10-6.

AFC East

Patriots. This is typically where every year Red writes that it is cowardly and spineless to pick the Patriots year after year and then he goes and does just that. Each year Red thinks that this cannot last forever, that Tom Brady is finally going to look tired and old, that Belichick’s deal with Satan is up, and that the Pats will finally see the Jets or the Bills or the Dolphins gaining on them and not be able to finish. And each year Red is wrong in his mind but right on the pick.  New England whips the East yet again and goes 12-4.

AFC West

Raiders.  Really not excited about picking any team in this division.  Red likes Lativius and Lil’ brother Carr while continue to maintain that David Carr still sucks!  But maybe just maybe, this is the season after which the wretched and emaciated ghost of Al Davis can finally rest in peace with another division championship.  Ah, who is Red kidding? Dead Al will walk the corridors of NFL stadiums for all eternity searching for another championship for the Silver and Black.  Oakland surprises everyone with an outstanding 12-4 record.

AFC South:

Jaguars. Red likes to go out on a limb in this division. Red views this as possibly the most competitive division in the NFL in 2016.  Every team has a chance and every team has a big question mark.  The Texans have a revamped offense at the skill positions and a solid defense (if Clowney and Watt are healthy), but the offensive line is a complete disaster.  The Colts have question marks everywhere, but have the only truly experienced quarterback in the division.  The Titans are coming on strong, but is Mariota the franchise QB?  Red predicts you will have one team at 8-8 and three teams at 9-7 and have to go deep into the tie-breakers to pick a division winner.  Jacksonville wins with best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and allowed (Tiebreaker No. 7).  How’s that for exactitude.

AFC North

Bengals. Red distant cousin Andy “Red Rifle” Dalton can’t seem to catch a break. He was having a season that could have put him reach of an MVP award when he broke his thumb in Week 14.  Even so, they almost won a playoff game against the Stealers with A.J. McCarron under/behind center.    So it’s pretty much make or break time for this current iteration of the Bengals.  They have the weapons on offense with the Jeremy and Gio show.  Bengal have lost 8 straight playoff dating back to 1991 and have lost 5 straight in the last in the last 5 seasons – the only team in NFL history with such a record of playoff futility. Once again, Red is again picking a team that hasn’t won a playoff game in 25 years. Cincinnati 11-5.

AFC Wildcards

Jets. Meet the Jets, Greet the Jets, Step Right up and Beat the Jets.  But not too often. New Jersey 10-6.

Broncos.  The defending champion sometimes has a rough road to even returning to the playoffs. The Broncos may have it even tougher with new quarterback Trevor “the Ape Man” Siemian beating out tired old Marc Sanchez for the starting job. Gibbon his lack of experience, you might think Red is a fool to pick the Broncos.  But in Siemian, Red can siamang who knows how to use the offensive weapons he has. With an inexperienced starter, Kubiak won’t monkey around with trick plays.  Instead, he’ll find a way to macaque the defenses straight on. But do look for some langur passes to stretch the field.  And the Broncos defense is strong, so awesome that it might seem surrillis at times – and but rest assured it’s very real.  I could see the Chiefs getting this last spot but I lemur to Denver.  They are bonobo at least 10-6 and get into the mix.  The orangutan and blue is headed back to the playoffs and Broncos fans can gorilla crazy in January.  They won’t be the chimps, but it will be a good season.

Awards

NFL MVP – Andy Dalton – As noted, he might have won last year but for the untimely broken thumb.

Defensive Player of the Year – Khalil Mack – He would have won last year but for the force of nature that is JJ Watt

Offensive ROY – Will Fuller must learn that those things he has called hands are designed to catch a football. If he does that, he’s ROY.

Defensive ROY – Myles Jack – He’s got to stay on the field, but if he does he could put up some numbers that will get attention.

Comeback Player of the Year –  Jordy Nelson will be a fantasy favorite in 2016.

Coach of the Year – Gus Bradley – All he has to do is win.

Playoffs

NFC Championship Game – Panthers over Cardinals

AFC Championship Game – Bengals over Jaguars

Superb Owl – Panthers rout Bengals and claim the first Lombardi Trophy for one of the post-modern era expansion teams.

 

Red’s NFL Picks – Conference Championships

“The stash of games is getting low.”

Said many years ago by an old stoner friend of Red’s (who loved football almost as much as he liked the weed). Indeed, it is. Indeed, it is.

Red Rates Himself – For Round 2 of the Playoffs Red was 2-2. For the season Red is now 58-46. Omaha, Omaha.

Your Rocky Mountain High Pick of the Week: Broncos over Patriots. Red is breaking tradition and all the rules by picking the Broncos – even though the Patriots were his preseason AFC Champ. If this game were in Foxboro, Red would call it the other way. If you didn’t notice, every home team won last week and every game was a “one score” game in that one score by the losing team would have won or tied the game. Red expects the same this weekend. There will be no blowouts of the last teams standing but the home field advantage in this type of game is enormous. The Patriots strategy last week was to pretend like the solid front 7 of the Chiefs defense simply did not exist and throw, throw some more and keep throwing the entire game. There was a mere pretense of a running game – not surprising since the Pats were down to retired retread Steven Jackson as their main option in the backfield. No knock on Jackson who had a solid career but expecting him to come out of retirement a couple of weeks before the playoffs and rush for 100 yards is a little much even for the Pats. That strategy will not work against the best defense in the league. Miller, Ware, Jackson and Wolfe will be turned loose on Brady. Pressure will be the key. So what will Belicheat pull out of the hat this week in the face of the team who gets after the QB better than anyone else? If Red knew that he wouldn’t be working for a living.   Red expects the Broncos’ sputtering offense will need to score 24 to win and they can do that with smart game management and a decent game from the disappointing C.J. Anderson. The Broncos need at least 130 yards on the ground and the clock chewing that entails, if they are going to win. And PMS needs to not suck – a tall order right now. Red likes the Broncos plus 3, but the O/U at 44.5 scares him. Denver 24 New England 23.

Your Wildwood Weed Pick of the Week: Panthers over Cardinals. Cardinals surprised Red last week. He thought that the Packers wild finish would finish off a team that had to be wondering “What the Hell just happened?” But Larry Fitzgerald put an end to Red’s dream of correctly picking both Superb Owl teams – so now he hates them. On the other side, the Panthers have simply been the best team in the league all season. Notwithstanding the Seahawks furious comeback in the second half, what the Panthers did to the Hawks in the first half ought to be illegal. Red expects a similarly fast start to this one – again followed by a spirited rally that falls short. And although, Red would desperately like to see the first ever all Mountain Time Zone Superb Owl (with the only two teams that could possibly make that happen), he can’t go against a Carolina team that has bested all comers but one – and looked pretty snappy doing so. Red likes the Panthers giving up 3 and the over at 44.5.   Carolina 35 Arizona 29.

Red’s NFL Picks – Second Round

“You’re not that damn important.”

Brian Mitchell – referring to RGIII.

But really, who is?

Red Rates Himself – For Wildcard Weekend Red was 3-1 making up somewhat for the late season slide into high mediocrity. Red would have been 4-0 but for the Bengals total meltdown at the end of the game. His best call was on the Texans/Chiefs debacle where Red claimed “one big play will probably decide this one.” And damn if Red wasn’t right. He just didn’t know that it would be on the opening kickoff. At least Red had the good sense to keep his other commitments and not waste $500 and 6 hours of his time watching the Texans’ ship go down without a fight.

For the season Red is now 56-44. Red likes easy percentage calculations.

And Red knows the NFL calls this the Divisional Round or some such nonsense. It is not that, because we obviously have Wildcard teams still playing. This is Round Two or as Red prefers the Second Round. Take your pick.

Your Damnation Pick of the Week: Patriots over Chiefs. Red has to stick with the Patriots (his preseason AFC Champ) because that’s the way this thing works. And given his spotty record on picking the playoff teams this year (more on that later) he needs the added oomph of picking the Superb Owl correctly which is something that happens about once a decade. Given that, all signs point to the Chiefs – except the sign that says Foxboro City Limits. Patriots don’t typically lose in the playoffs in F’town. In the Brady Era, they are 14-3 in home playoff games. In this business, we call that a trend. More of a portent in Red’s humble opinion. This game turns on the Pats defense. If they hold the Chiefs to 20 or under, the odds of the Pats winning the game are incalculable. I cannot imagine the Pats not scoring at least 21 on any team left in the playoffs. At playoff time, the Pats either score around 15 and lose or more than 20 and win. I think this is one very tight and the Chiefs could easily win this game with even a decent offensive performance. Red likes the Chiefs plus 5 if you can get it. New England 24 Kansas City 19.

Your DamnYankees Pick of the Week: Packers over Cardinals. Cardinals picked a bad time to fall apart and lose key players. Packers fell apart early and often while shedding good players like the working girls at the Men’s Club. Again this is a damn close call between two teams that could win the Superb Owl with just a little luck. Red won’t overly retread his Quality Wins rubric. Suffice it to say that the Packers come in with 3 (discounted for early season wins) while the Cards also have 3 QWs over the Pack, Vikings and Seahawks. Despite this trend of beating our northernmost NFL teams, Red again has to play out the skein all the way out and since he picked the Packers to win it all this year, he has no choice but to go against his gut and pick the Pack. But he wouldn’t bet on this game if you held a hot poker to his pecker. Green Bay 27 Arizona 24.

Your Double Damn Pick of the Week: Panthers over Seahawks. The Panthers don’t strike Red as a team that is going to play tight in a situation where everyone might expect them to not be able to excrete an aspirin. Cam stays loose and since the Panthers have to rightfully believe that they can beat anyone why should they fear the Seahawks. These teams are fairly similar both featuring offenses powered by a steady running game backed up by mobile quarterbacks who are mediocre in the passing game and tough defenses. Admittedly, the Hawks have a better defense, but have they really faced anyone like CN all season? Only in practice. And they were lucky to escape with their lives when facing a decent Vikings defense last week. At some point CN is going to have to take this game over and make some plays against a defense that will be head-hunting. If he survives the gauntlet then the Panthers can win this one going away. Everyone but Red is calling this the game of the week. Red thinks the Panthers expose the Hawks more than the Vikings did last week. Take the Panthers giving up a single point. Carolina 37 Seattle 13.

You’re Damn, Damn, Damn Pick of the Week: Stealers over Broncos. PMS (that’s Peyton Manning Starting for those who have not been paying attention in class) is old and brittle and all but washed up as a premier QB. Ben Rotlessburger is not quite as old and still tough as the steak served at El Rio in Monterrey. Red never underestimates the ability of brilliant Gary Kubiak to outcoach himself and blow it in a big game. He has a defense that can win this game if he will just let them, but he won’t and the Broncos are going to turn it over at least 3 times. The Stealers are playing on borrowed time and glad of it. They make the most of it this week. Red likes the Stealers plus 7 – he likes it a lot. He may like the over at 38.5 even more. Pittsburgh 28 Denver 23.

Texans Make the Playoffs

The Texans secured a playoff berth with a thorough dismantling of the hapless Jacksonville Jaguars today.  Red’s favorite and awesomely named football player Whitney Mercilus had an outstanding day with 3.5    sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. We will see if the schedule allows Red to continue his streak of seeing every Texans playoff win. It’s an admittedly short streak of 2 games but a streak nonetheless.