But first – a recap of Red’s playoff picks from the beginning of the season.
In the AFC – Red had Titans, Chiefs, Ravens and Patriots as division champs with the Chargers and Browns getting wild card spots. So 4 out of 6 actually made the playoffs and the Titans had a shot at division crown until week 16. Not bad, but the picks of the Chargers and Browns look comical now. Red should have known better with the Chargers as they always disappoint him and play 16 road games. The Browns – fool Red twice, shame on Red.
In the NFC – Red had the Cardinals, Bears, Eagles and Saints as division winners with the Packers and Seahawks as wild cards. Again 4 out of 6 make the playoffs, but Red’s division winner picks were more than a little lame. Red really believed in Kliff Kingsbury and the Kardinals (sounds like a 60’s British invasion group) but should have known better and Da Bears’ season went down the tubes in week one with an awful loss to Green Bay in an awful start to NFL’s 100th season.
Wild Card Weekend Picks
Texans over Bills – Having a defensive end playing at quarterback presents challenges for any defense. Josh Allen will prevail on almost any [insert down here] and short situation. His running ability allows the Bills to set up in multiple, interesting formations (like the Wing-T and somewhere Billy Kilmer is smiling). And he can be an effective passer at times. The Texans need to worry less about pass rush and concentrate on tight coverage to force Allen to make tough throws into coverage. This will be a challenge since Romeo Cremel’s defensive scheme seems oddly designed to allow a variety of receivers to run openly and freely through the Texans’ secondary. Which means this game probably comes down to the Texans’ offense putting enough points on the board to make up for what has become a Shit Bowl quality defense. If Fulller V is healthy it probably all works out. If not, . . . Houston 31 Orchard Park 27.
Titans over Patriots – A guy can dream can’t he. The Pats looked disorganized and sad in the final game loss to the Dolphins (led by the redoubtable R. Fitzpatpick). The Titans have looked very respectable since ditching Red’s one time favorite M. Mariota for one of the most amazing quarterbacks in NFL history – Ryan Tannehill. Here is a guy who couldn’t solidify a spot as quarterback at Texas A&M until his senior season. He had a decent season – but not good enough to keep the respected Mike Sherman from getting axed. Then he more or less stumbled around in Miami for 6 seasons having a winning record in games started one time (8-5 in 2016) before catching something in a bottle this season to lead the Titans to a 7-3 record over the last 10 games of the season. Is this a guy who has finally found the formula (i.e. play with the NFL’s leading rusher in Derrick Henry) or is this a one season wonder? Who knows, Red sure doesn’t. The aforementioned Mr. Henry presents a huge problem for any defense and then combined with possibly emerging superstar A.J. Brown making huge play after huge play at WR, the Titans offense can play with anybody – except maybe the Pats truly outstanding defense. Meanwhile in the huddle, the Pats offense continues to unimpress. TB 12 has looked tired and old much of the season and has been bailed out by Pats defense repeatedly this season. When facing the weak sisters, the Pats offense has looked completely respectable in dispatching the lame and infirm. Against playoff teams, the Pats offense has put up 16, 20, 17, 22, 16 and 24. Of course, that has been enough to go 3-3 beating the Bills twice and the then floundering Eagles. By Red’s reckoning that means the Titans are at least a 50/50 shot to win. The naysayers will remind Red that the Titans (then Oilers) have not won in Foxboro since 2003. Red says BFD. Tennessee 20 New England 19
Seahawks over Eagles – This is the toughest call of the week. At reasonably full strength, Red could see this game going either way and might lean towards the Eagles at home. But the Eagles are so beat up right now, that it tips slightly towards Pete the Cheat’s crew. Red would like to see Carson Wentz actually win a playoff game for his team, but when down to the wire, he would bet on R. Wilson. Seattle 24 Philadelphia 20
Saints over Vikings – Saints are out for revenge and it doesn’t matter who is in their way. This week it is the unfortunate Vikings – the team that Red believes is most undeserving of the playoffs. The Vikings beat one playoff team all season (the then floundering Eagles – is there a pattern here?). Other than that, they did not beat a team with a winning record all season. Yes, they were close in games against the Packers, Chiefs and Seahawks (losing all by one score or less), but those are the proving ground games and the Vikings are unproven to date. The Saints meanwhile have had trouble in games that they are supposed to win (remember the loss to the 7-9 division winning Seahawks in 2010). Curiously, the Vikings have been the Saints most frequent playoff opponent with 4 matchups beginning with the Saints first ever playoff appearance in 1987. And the Saints are 1-3 versus the Vikings having beaten them only in the 2009 Superb Owl winning season in the NFC championship game. The Saints are loaded on offense but depend entirely too much on M. Thomas (an amazing 149 receptions for 1725 yards!!!!). They need Cook and Ginn to take some of the load and Kamara to have a decent game. The Vikings have Diggs and Cooks and some other guys including the overrated Kirk Cousins. Red will take Drew Brees in his closing window of opportunity for at least one more week. New Orleans 35 Minnesota 20.