Welcome to my 2019 NFL Divisional Playoffs Post Mortem. For the most part, things went as planned. There was, of course, the Tennessee Tuxedos destroying the Ravens. Other than that, though, there weren’t a ton of surprises. This is reflected in my 2-1-1 (I picked the Seahawks, but knew in my heart that Green Bay would win, so I’m taking a tie for that game.) record for the round. With my 1-3 in the coin flip weekend, that brings me to 3-4-1 for the playoffs so far.
That’s not a great record, of course. But, depending on how I bet the games, I could still be plus money at this point. Then again, I probably would have put a small fortune on Baltimore, so that point it moot. Speaking of Baltimore…
Tennessee at Baltimore
What more can I possibly say about this game? I was so convinced of the outcome that I didn’t bother even tuning in to see how it was going. It was only after Chris texted me several times during the beginning of the game. At least one of them was, “WTF”. So, I tuned in and Baltimore was down 14-0. Well, I thought, LJ is the MVP for this year and there’s plenty of time to come back. Well, about that. The come back never materialized and half of my Super Bowl pick was DOA. Well, both of them were actually dead, but that wasn’t official until Sunday.
Minnesota at San Francisco
This was the least surprising game of the weekend. I thought that San Francisco would roll the Vikings and they did. Sure, Minnesota stayed close for the first half, but eventually, San Fran’s talent just took over and won the game. There’s a reason that they were my close second to make it to the Super Bowl from the NFC.
Seattle at Green Bay
This was probably the other least surprising game from the weekend. I know that makes no sense in a couple of contexts. First, I picked Seattle to go to the Super Bowl. Second, how can you have 2 least surprising victories? Well, technically, you can’t. However, my original statement made even less sense, if that makes, er, sense. I mean, all you have to do is look at that last run on sentence to see where my brain is today. I mean, it was a bit surprising when I saw that Seattle was starting to come back, but not really. Russell Wilson is known for those come backs. So, ultimately, not terribly surprising.
Houston at Kansas City
I went for a walk through the Quabbin with Christine. I came home to no less than 5 texts from Chris again. Again, at least one of them read, “WTF.” So, I went to check the score of the game and it was 28-24. I thought that was the final. Nope, halftime. KC continued to pour it on after halftime and Mahomes seems to have finally reached his final form. We will see if Andy Reid can prevent himself from Andy Reiding all over the AFCC, but I’m excited for the prospect of Mahomes in the Super Bowl. Doesn’t even matter who they play. But, that is a discussion for the next article.
Thanks for reading my 2019 NFL Divisional Round Post Mortem. I texted Chris the other day that 9 times out of 10, Baltimore wins that game. We just live in the worst timeline. Oh well, at least Mahomes is still alive and chucking it. As long as that’s true, I’ll pay attention. So, hopefully, the timeline is fixing itself as we speak and I’ll get to see him in the Super Bowl.
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We are in that weird time in the NFL season where they inexplicably take a week off between their conference championships and the Super Bowl. ‘At least they haven’t gotten as crazy as the NCAA who has a month in between the final games of the season and their National Championship game. ‘Also, they got smart a few years ago and put the Pro Bowl on this weekend. ‘So, there is at least football happening. ‘It’s an exhibition game, but still fun to watch. ‘The added benefit is that because the Patriots almost always make the Super Bowl, I don’t have to watch any of them in the Pro Bowl. ‘I have to find the positive of the Patriots always making the Super Bowl.
There isn’t much to say about this game. ‘I got it completely wrong. ‘First, I thought the Vikings would win. ‘Nope. ‘Second, I thought it would at least be a close game. ‘Nope. ‘I honestly don’t know what happened or how the Eagles blew them out because I was so burned out on football after watching the latest episode of “Tom Brady Hulks Out” that I paid absolutely no attention to this game.
I was listening to Simmons and Sal this morning for during my commute and they talked a little bit about how the Viking could have won the game if only a few things had gone differently. ‘I know that sounds weird with the final score as lopsided as it was, but if you watch sports, you understand. ‘I used to have a Steelers web page and for every game recap I had a section called “5 big plays” in which I highlighted the plays that I thought contributed to the outcome of the game. ‘Apparently, Simmons and Sal studied my old web page while putting together their notes for this show.
I will just chalk this one up to recency bias. ‘I hadn’t watched a single Vikings game all year and then I watched the first half of their playoff game against the Saints. ‘I had also heard most of the year how dominant their defense was this year. ‘I put those things together along with Nick Foles instead of Carson Wentz as the Eagle quarterback and I came up with a Viking win. ‘Hey, I do promise that these things are done out of complete ignorance.
Truth be told, the Eagles might have been worse off with Wentz at QB. ‘I know that he’s not strictly a rookie, but he might as well have been. ‘The playoffs traditionally (as long as you aren’t playing an overconfident Steelers or Saints team) don’t favor inexperienced quarterbacks, so who knows what would have happened if Wentz hadn’t gotten hurt. ‘I think we all know that the one constant is that the Philly fans would have rioted.
A Note About “Eff the Pats”
I was talking to a colleague yesterday afternoon in between classes. ‘We got on the topic of football and she mentioned how much she liked to watch it on television. ‘I hedged a bit because I do live in New England, they just won a big game, everyone is happy, and I am most certainly not. ‘So, I said, “I like to watch college.” ‘She replied, “I like to watch any football, but there is one team that I absolutely will not watch.” ‘Oh boy, I thought, she’s going to get me to admit that I hate the Patriots and this conversation will end awkwardly.
I took a deep breath and jumped right in. ‘”Me, too,” I said, “and the problem is that I just happen to live right in the middle of where they are located.” ‘Her eyes narrowed. ‘”Wait, do you not like the Patriots?” ‘I shrugged. ‘Here it goes. ‘”Nope.” ‘She held out a hand and I flinched because I thought she might pretend to slap me. ‘When I recovered, she was still holding her hand up. ‘It all clicked. ‘She wanted me to high five her. ‘She was in the same boat as I was.
We commiserated about our Patriots hatred and how it was all so misunderstood by the Patriots “fans” in our lives. ‘”Oh, you’re so bitter because they just win everything.” ‘”You’re just jealous because they always beat your team.” And, my favorite, “You hate us because you ain’t us.” ‘Yes, that must be it. ‘Hey, if you want to have a valid conversation about why I hate the Patriots, then we can. ‘If you are going to reply to me with generalities and memes in any conversation, I’m going to assume you don’t have the necessary brain functions to hold a conversation and I’m just going to walk away.
As the picture above (which, yes, is a meme, so just walk away) indicates, I have always hated the Patriots. ‘The seed for my hatred might be a bit silly and I’ve never been able to properly explain it especially to Patriots fans, but who knows what causes something to lock into the brain of a slightly sports obsessed preteen boy. ‘Heck, I remember praying to a God that I didn’t believe to help the Michigan Fab Five win a college basketball game. ‘If you are really concerned about my Patriots hatred, the seed is this story‘that I read one night from the Football Hall of Shame.
As I said to Chris (an actual Patriots fan and one of the few people that I feel bad about expressing my hatred around) today, the universe just has a sense of humor. ‘It has seen fit to drop me in the middle of Patriots country during their rise to power. ‘It makes me look like one of the bitter Steelers fans. ‘I am, to some extent, but I’m also a complex person. ‘I’ve seen the Steelers go to 3 Super Bowls and win 2. ‘I’ve seen Antonio Brown channel Lynn Swann. ‘Don’t worry about me. ‘I’m good. ‘This isn’t about some silly “rivalry”. ‘This hate flows deep and long. ‘That’s what she said.
Patriots fans: ‘What suspense! ‘What drama!
Me: ‘What suspense? ‘What drama?
Right after the game, I texted my friend Craig, “It’s always the same script. ‘Seriously, how does anyone root for this stupid team.” ‘He tried to get me going because that’s what he does, but I just shut him down with, “I’m done with this sham of a league.” ‘Because, seriously, did anyone really think this game was going to end any differently?
How many of these “once in a lifetime” comebacks do you have to see before you know the ending, Patriots fans? ‘Chris, making fun of me, texted, “Hmm I’�ll write it for you, they cheat, deflate footballs, Bill is Emperor Palpatine, ..etc. lol sound about right?” ‘I replied, “I don’t write for ESPN.”
Besides, the Patriots saga is more like Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead. ‘Now, I haven’t watched a minute of Game of Thrones and I stopped watching The Walking Dead years ago. ‘However, I keep my finger on the pulse of pop culture just enough to understand the basic plot of these two shows. ‘They manipulate their viewers to start to think that their favorite characters maybe, just maybe, will survive the latest onslaught, only to pull the rug out from under them at the end of the episode with “the most thrilling ending ever!” ‘”You just have to see this! ‘Don’t let social media spoil this for you!” ‘The Patriots do the exact same damn thing every single game. ‘I don’t hate them for this. ‘I just find it boring.
One last point. ‘During my conversation yesterday, the topic of “tin foil hat conspiracy theories” came up. ‘I’m not going to go too Cigarette Smoking Man on you right now. ‘I’m going to save that for after the Super Bowl. ‘Inspired by one of my conversations with Chris, I have a story that I went full X-Files with. ‘I want to flesh it out a bit and have some fun with it. ‘Look for it in a couple of weeks.
Because I don’t have television and I’m not going to go out of my way to get consistently punched in the gut until I become immune to it, I didn’t actually watch the Jaguars/Patriots game. ‘I kept an eye on it via GameCenter. ‘At no point did I ever think the Jaguars would win the game. ‘Even as Chris was admitting to being a bit nervous because the Jags were up 10, I knew the Patriots would come back. ‘There’s no way the NFL would allow the Jags in the Super Bowl. ‘That just wouldn’t happen.
And here’s where I start to get fitted for my tin foil hat and I start to sound like the “hate us because you ain’t us” crowd. ‘I’m not going to accuse the NFL of a conspiracy (except, you know, I just kind of did), but I find it odd. ‘I did watch the entire second half of the Steelers game and watched an injured Antonio Brown make a circus catch because one of the Jaguars was draped all over him like a cape. ‘Brown scored the TD, so it didn’t matter, but as we’ve seen time and time again, games change on pass interference calls. ‘It changed the tide of Saints/Vikings.
Look I get that the referees didn’t give up 42 points to the Jags. ‘The referees didn’t overlook an inferior team. ‘I just find it odd. ‘A team that only received ‘3 penalties for 40 yards against the Steelers suddenly imploded against the Patriots and got 98 penalty yards on 6 penalties. ‘Meanwhile, the Steelers got 3 penalties for 25 yards (so comparable), while the Patriots committed only 1 penalty for 10 yards. ‘It’s just odd.
Because I’m bound by an imaginary contract (that I wrote, amended, and signed), I will do a Super Bowl spectacular next week. ‘I’m not in the least bit excited about it. ‘As a Steelers fan and a lifelong Patriots hater, choosing which team I want to win is like deciding whether to saw off my leg and bleed to death or let the rot slowly spread to infect my entire body.
Post Mortem on the Divisional Round (and the elephant in the room that is my Steelers)
Not much to say about the Patriots game. I was 100% correct on that one. I was about 50% correct on the Eagles vs. Falcons game as that game was more or less a toss up during the Falcons last possession of the game. I was dead wrong about the Steelers game and I don’t even know how to score the Vikings game since they went from about a 22% chance to win to over 98% chance to win after that touchdown. What it all boils down to is a 2-2 record in the divisional round and overall 4-4 for the playoffs.
Okay, let’s talk about my Steelers. I tuned the game out at halftime and then we went over to visit Christine’s parents. My father in law said to me as I walked into the house, “Tie game.” I responded with the appropriate shocked reaction and then learned that the Steelers were actually down by 7 points. Well, that was enough to hook me for the rest of the game. I’m sorry that I did. That was a pathetic display against what we were told by all of the experts was an inferior team led by a subpar quarterback. I can accept being beaten by the Patriots (no, I can’t), but to continually lose every year with the amount of talent they have is unacceptable.
I was texting with Chris during the game and my assessment was, “I like Tomlin, but that game was an abomination. It might be time to start talking about him going.” It was in the heat of the moment and I’ve had some time to cool off. I don’t feel any different. I know that nothing will come of it, but maybe they will at least make an example out of Haley? Who am I kidding? I’ll meet you back here next year, just as dejected as I am right now.
NFL Championship Weekend
Now, for this weekend. I’m going to do things a little bit differently here. (a) Because I’m a math nerd and I have to get my brain ready for the new semester, (b) because sometimes I just like to switch things up every now and then, and (c) we all know that the Patriots are going to repeat as champions this year, so why not have some fun this weekend. I’ve looked up the probabilities for each team to make the Super Bowl atPlayoff Statusand used those to figure out the probabilities of each match up for the Super Bowl. I will analyze each of those from least to most likely and then make my pick at the end. Hope this works!
Least Likely Matchup(10.35%) – Jaguars vs. Vikings
The Jaguars are massive underdogs to the Patriots this week and the Vikings are just below a coin toss at the Eagles. I’m rooting for the Jags for two reasons. First, eff the Pats. Second, long ago my dad instilled in me that you want to root for the team that beat you because then you can soothe your wounds by saying at least you lost to the champs. When the Pats usually beat the Steelers, these two are at odds with one another. Not so far this year. Watching the Vikings dismantle Drew Brees and the Saints for a half after watching the debacle that was my Steelers makes them my new favorite team.Verdict: I guess you could say that my heart wishes for this one.
Only Slightly More Likely (12.65%) – Jaguars vs. Eagles
Considering I never thought either of these two teams would even sniff the conference championships, you could say that I’m surprised that this is even a possibility, let alone the fact that it happens in about 1/8 universes that are currently in existence. The schadenfreude in me wants to see exactly what they’d talk about in the 2 weeks leading to the game and then in the 12 hours of pregame on the actual day of the game. Nevermind, I know. It would be all about Blake Bortles, World Beater. Get in line, hosers, he got me a championship first.Verdict: Nobody wishes for this horror show of a game.
Happens In Over a Third of Possible Universes (34.65%) – Patriots vs. Vikings
After my Steelers lost, I was in quite the tizzy. I went from wanting to see Brady vs. Brees to wanting to see Minnesota’s defense against Brady. I may have settled on that last one. I don’t want Tom Brady anywhere near the Super Bowl again, but if Minnesota can do to Brady for the whole game what they did to Brees for a half, sign me up for that. It would almost be worth it to listen to WEEI for a week or two and hear all of the Southies lose their crap.Verdict: This is the game that I really want to see.
Most Likely Scenario (42.35%) – Patriots vs Eagles
Brady vs. Foles. Really? I mean, we’ve heard that the Eagles have just as good a defense as the Vikings and they sort of proved it by shutting down Atlanta for the whole game instead of just a half. I’m just not as excited about the possibility of Nick Foles being in the Super Bowl as not only did I become a fan of the Vikings defense, but I think I might have a slight man crush on Case Keenum now.Verdict:Other than Pats fans who just want that ring (baby!), does anyone really want to see this game happen?
I already told you that I want Pats and Vikes. I also think that this is the game that is likely to happen. First, Nick Foles is not Drew Brees. I’m pretty sure that Minnesota can shut him down for an entire game instead of just the half. Also, as Bill Simmons mentioned in his emergency podast to discuss the past weekend games, the Vikings have the stink of destiny on them. They won that Saints game in impossible fashion. They could become the first team to play the Super Bowl in their home stadium. It just feels right. You may notice that I didn’t even mention the Pats/Jags game. In spite of his shredding of my woefully unprepared Steelers team, Blake Bortles isn’t doing the same to a Bill Belichick prepared team.
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