NFL 2022-2023 Conference Title Games Prequel

January 26th, 2023

NFL 2022-2023 Conference Title Games Prequel

The Conference Title Games are set:

NFC Title Game: 2.) San Francisco 49ers at 1.) Philadelphia Eagles (-2 1/2) at 3pm on FOX

The 49ers started 3-4 and then ran the table to get to 13-4. Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy has been one of the great feel-good stories. He has plenty of weapons in Deebo Samuel, Christian McCaffrey, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle. The Eagles started 13-1 and stumbled down the stretch with Jalen Hurts injured. Yet they finished 14-3 and Hurts seems like his old self again. AJ Brown stretches the field. Forget the home field in this game. This is not your father’s dink and dunk West Coast Offense 49ers. There is no finesse to this team. They win with a nasty defense. If Hurts is less than 100%, the 49ers will devour him to capture the George Halas NFC Championship trophy. Upset special, 49ers win outright

AFC Title Game: 3.) Cincinnati Bengals (-1 1/2) at 1.) Kansas City Chiefs at 6:30pm on CBS

The Chiefs were the top seed at 14-3 while the 12-4 Bengals went on the road and throttled a very good Buffalo team. Last year the Bengals went on the road and took down top seed Tennessee. The Chiefs seem to dominate the league, With Walrus Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes making most other teams look foolish. The Chiefs let Tyreek Hill go and did not miss a beat. Travis Kelce is as reliable as ever. Yet the Bengals are not most teams. Joe Burrow oozes confidence. JaMarr Chase and Tee Higgins stretch the field and Joe Mixon pounds the rock. The Bengals have beaten the Chiefs 3 straight times, including in the AFC Title Game last year in Arrowhead. This is a rematch, again in Arrowhead. In fact, the last 5 AFC Title Games have been in Arrowhead, a record. Patrick Mahomes is not 100%. The Bengals have a brutally tough defense. Yes, the Bengals are unfazed by the Chiefs. Burrow doesn’t seem fazed by anything. Yet betting against Mahomes is not a wise move. Being underdogs at home is a massive slap in the face, and it will add fuel to their locker room. The Chiefs will win the Lamar Hunt AFC Championship trophy in front of the late founder’s son and team owner Clark Hunt. Upset special, Chiefs win outright

SUPER BOWL PREDICTION:

The Super Bowl will be a rematch from 2019. Three years ago, the 49ers had a 20-10 fourth quarter lead but could not slam the door shut. Their defense flustered Mahomes for 3 1/2 quarters, but then he did what he does. 21 unanswered points in the final 7 1/2 minutes meant a 31-20 Chiefs win. If Mahomes is healthy, there will be no revenge. The best offense will take on the best defense. More importantly, Walrus Andy Reid will take on Kyle Shahahan in a battle of offensive strategists. Shanahan has choked in big games from a play-calling standpoint. Both of these coaches are pass-happy, but Reid in recent years has become more willing to run the ball to close out games. Shanahan has not, to his detriment. Reid will win his second Vince Lombardi Super Bowl Championship trophy and cement his first ballot Hall of Fame induction immediately upon eligibility. Chiefs win it all 

eric

NFL 2022-2023 Divisionals Recap

January 23rd, 2023

NFL 2022-2023 Divisionals Recap

AFC: 4.) Jacksonville Jaguars at 1.) Kansas City Chiefs on NBC is the Saturday afternoon game. The Jaguars started 4-8 but won 5 in a row to make the playoffs. Then last week they fell behind 27-0 before coming back in the second half to shock the Chargers 31-30. The Chiefs breezed to a 14-3 record and the top seed in the AFC. They had last week off. Walrus Andy Reid went against Little Andy Doug Pederson in a battle of the Bill Walsh-Mike Holmgren coaching tree disciples. Yet as well as Trevor Lawrence has been playing, Patrick Mahomes is on another level. The Chiefs began at their own 17 and went right to work. Pacheco gained 12. Mahomes hit Travis Kelce for 7 and 14. Mahomes went to Juju Smith-Schuster for 13 and Toney for 9. On 3rd and 6 from the Jacksonville 14, Mahomes hit Kelce for 6. Mahomes went to Kelce again for an 8 yard touchdown. The 12 play, 83 yard, 6 minute drive made it 7-0 Chiefs. The Jaguars got a jolt when Jamal Agnew returned the ensuing kickoff 63 yards to the Chiefs 39. On 3rd and 1, Travis Etienne gained 19. Lawrence went to Christian Kirk for a 10 yard touchdown and a 7-7 game.

After a touchback, the Chiefs moved to a 2nd and 3 at the Jacksonville 32 to start the second quarter. Mahomes threw incomplete twice. Harrison Butker hit a 50 yard field goal to make it 10-7 Chiefs. The Jaguars after a touchback moved to a 2nd and 5 at the Chiefs 25. Yet a tripping penalty followed by a sack pushed the Jaguars out of field goal range. A good punt pinned the Chiefs at their own 2 yard line. Making matters worse, Mahomes was not on the field. He had taken some big shots in the first quarter and left the game. Chad Hence started the second quarter. Rather than hand the ball off, Walrus Andy Reid immediately had Henne throwing, and he hit Kelce for 6. Pacheco ran for 8 and 7. On 3rd and 2 from their own 23, Henne hit Toney for 8. On 3rd and 3 from their own 38, Henne hit Kelce for 4 with 15 more tacked on for roughing the passer. Pacheco then broke free for a 39 yard gain. Henne went to Kelce for a one yard touchdown to make it 17-7 Chiefs. The Jaguars after a touchback managed to go 52 yards in 11 plays. Yet on 3rd and 2 from the Chiefs 23, Lawrence threw incomplete. Riley Patterson hit a 41 yard field goal to get the Jaguars within 17-10 with 30 seconds left in the half. Mahomes came back to start the third quarter but the defenses dug in and both teams punted twice. The Chiefs managed to go from their own 39 to the Jacksonville 32. Butker hit again from 50 as the Chiefs led 20-10 after three quarters.

The Jaguars began the fourth quarter facing 3rd and 6 at their own 29. Lawrence scrambled for 11. Lawrence then went deep to Zee Jones for a 37 yard gain. Kirk gained 18. Etienne ran for a 4 yard touchdown to get the Jaguars within 20-17 with 12 minutes left in regulation. After a touchback, Mahomes hit Kelce for 11 and again for 15. Mahomes went to Smith-Schuster for 16. Pacheco ran for 7 and Toney added 14. Mahoems went to Marques Valdes-Scantling for a 6 yard touchdown to put the Chiefs up 27-17 midway through the fourth quarter. Agnew ripped off another great kickoff return to have the Jaguars at their own 45. They moved to a 1st and goal at the 9. Lawrence went to Agnew for 3, but Agnew fumbled the ball without being touched. It just slipped out of his hands and the Chiefs recovered. The defense forced a 3 and out and the Jaguars got the ball back at their own 46. Yet 2 plays later Lawrence was intercepted. The Jaguars got it back again t their own 33 but were out of timeouts and only one minute remained. Patterson hit a 48 yard field goal with 25 seconds left to get the Jaguars within 7. Yet the onside kick failed. The Jaguars were game, but the Chiefs will be going to their 5th straight AFC Title Game, making Andy Reid a most happy Walrus indeed. 27-20 Chiefs

NFC: 6.) New York Giants at 2.) Philadelphia Eagles on FOX is the Saturday night game. The 10-7 Giants took on the 14-3 Eagles. The Giants won at Minnesota last week and were confident heading into Philadelphia. The Eagles started 13-1 but struggled down the stretch with Jalen Hurts missing the last 3 games. Yet he was in the lineup for this game, and it was never a contest. On the 2nd play from scrimmage on 2nd and 8 from their own 27, Hurts went deep to DeVonta Smith for a 40 yard gain. Hurts hit Dallas Goedert for 9. On 3rd and 5 from the Giants 16, Hurts went to Goedert for the touchdown to make it 7-0 Eagles. The Giants moved from their own 24 to a 3rd and 3 at the Philadelphia 35. Daniel Jones was sacked for a 5 yard loss, putting the Giants out of field goal range. Brian Daboll gambled on 4th and 8 and Jones was sacked again. The Eagles soon faced 3rd and 1 at the Giants 43. Kenneth Gainwell gained 14. Hurts hit AJ Brown for 12. Hurts ran for 9. Hurts hit Smith for a 9 yard touchdown to make it 14-0 Eagles.

In the second quarter the Eagles took over at their own 37. Miles Sanders gashed the defense for gains of 9, 12, 4, 11, 2 and 5. On 3rd and 3 from the Giants 20, Hurts gained 7. Hurts went to Goedert for 10. Boston Scott ran for a 3 yard touchdown to make it 21-0 Eagles. The Eagles got it back at their own 28. Sanders gained 5 and 18. Scott added 10. On 3rd and 6 from the Giants 32, Hurts went to Smith for just enough. On 3rd and 1 from the Giants 17, Gainwell gained 6. On 2nd and 9 from the Giants 10, Hurts threw incomplete but defensive unnecessary roughness meant 1st and goal at the 5. Hurts ran for a 5 yard touchdown as the 14 play, 72 yard, 6 minute drive had the Eagles up 28-0 at the half. The second half was pointless. The Giants managed one third quarter touchdown but nothing else. The Eagles tacked on a fourth quarter field goal. The final act of humiliation came with the Eagles just trying to run out the clock. On 3rd and 9 from the Giants 35, Gainwell took a give up run all the way for the touchdown. The Giants had a good season and are trending positive, but the Eagles will be hosting the NFC Title Game next year. The last time they did that was 2017 when they won it all. 38-7 Eagles 

AFC: 3.) Cincinnati Bengals at 2.) Buffalo Bills on CBS was the Sunday afternoon game. As most of t he 8 billion people on earth know, these teams played 3 weeks ago in Cincinnati when real tragedy struck. When Bills defender Damar Hamlin made a routine tackle on Bengals receiver Tee Higgins, Hamlin had a heart attack on the field and nearly died. With the Bengals leading 7-3 in the first quarter, the rest of the game was canceled. Hamlin’s recovery has been nothing short of a miracle. Now on to football. This playoff game was played in Buffalo, and the Bengals had a legitimate right to gripe about this. The Bills finished 13-3 and the Bengals 12-4. Yet had the Bengals won the game 3 weeks ago, both teams would be 13-4 and the Bengals would hold the tie-breaker. This means the playoff game would be played in Cincinnati. At the very least, the NFL should have played this game at a neutral site rather than in Buffalo. Nevertheless, it was what it was. Both teams came in with start quarterbacks in Joe Burrow and Josh Allen. Both teams had top notch defenses. With snow coming down throughout the game, the Bills appeared to have the edge. 

Despite the snow, the Bengas came out throwing. Burrow hit JaMarr Chase for 6 and Tyler Boyd for 23. Joe Mixon ran for 10. Burrow went to Hden Hurst for 7. Burrow then went deep to Chase for a 28 yard touchdown and a quick 7-0 Bengals lead. The Bills quickly went 3 and out and the Bengals took over at their own 28. Mixon ran for 5 and 16. Burrow went to Higgins for 6 and 11. On 3rd and 3 from the Buffalo 23, Burrow was sacked. Yet the defense jumped offside and the Bengals had a new set of downs. On 3rd and 7 from the Buffalo 15, Burrow went to Hurst for the touchdown. The 10 play, 72 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive made it 14-0 Bengals.

The Bills began the second quarter facing 2nd and 13 at their own 22. Allen went to Stefan Diggs for 16.Allen Gabriel Davis for 9, Diggs for 7, and Cole Beasley for 11. On 4th and 1 from the Cincinnati 23, Sean McDermott went for it and Allen gained 2. On 2nd and 16 from the Cincinnati 27, Allen went to Shakir for 23. On 3rd and goal at the one, Allen got in. The 15 play, 75 yard, 7 1/2 minute drive had the Bills within 14-7. The Bengals after a touchback moved 65 yards in1 4 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. On 2nd and goal at the 5, a false start was followed by an incompletion. Burrow went to Chase for the touchdown, but on official review, Chase was ruled out of the back of the end zone without getting 2 feet down inbounds. Evan McPherson hit a 28 yard field goal as the Bengals took a 17-7 lead to the locker rooms. In the third quarter the Bills from their own 28 moved 65 yards in 14 plays and 7 1/2 minutes. Yet on 3rd and goal at the 7, Allen threw incomplete. Tyler Bass hit the 25 yard field goal to get the Bills within 17-10.

After a touchback, Burrow ran for 9 and hit Chase and Higgins for 11 apiece. On 3rd and 10 from the Buffalo 40, Burrow went to Hurst for 13. On 3rd and 1 from the Buffalo 18, Mixon got around the end for 13. Mixon ran for a one yard touchdown to cap the 12 play, 75 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive and make it 24-10 Bengals after three querters. The fourth quarter belonged to the Cincinnati defense. After forcing a 3 and out, the Bengals got it back at their own 37 and moved to a 1st and goal at the 4. The Buffalo defense held, but McPherson hit the 20 yard field goal to all but ice the game with 11 1/2 minutes left in regulation. Midway through the fourth quarter on 4th and 6 from the Cincy 18, Allen threw incomplete. Even in garbage time with one minute left, Allen went to the end zone and was intercepted. The Bills are a very good team, but it is the Bengals traveling to Kansas City for the second straight season for the AFC Title Game. Zac Taylor’s team went on the road last year and this year and hit teams in the mouth. Now his guys are one game from the Super Bowl again. 27-10 Bengals

NFC: 5.) Dallas Cowboys at 1.) San Francisco 49ers on FOX was the Sunday night game. These teams have played legendary playoff games throughout the decades. This time a trip to the NFC Title Game was on the line as the 12-5 Cowboys were at the 13-4 49ers. Both teams have serious playmakers on offense and tough defenses. This was a defensive slugfest. In the first quarter an interception of Dak Prescott had the 49ers at the Dallas 21. Yet on 2nd and goal at the 8, the undefeated Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy ran nowhere and then threw incomplete. Robbie Gould hit a 26 yard field goal to make it 3-0 49ers. The Cowboys took over at their own 26. Runs and short passes had them beginning the second quarter facing 3rd and 2 from their own 44. Prescott went to Brown for 18. On 3rd and 1 from the san Francisco 29, Ezekiel Elliott got the yard. On 4th and 1 from the Frisco 19, Mike McCarthy went for it. CeeDee Lamb got around the end for 4. Prescott got around the end for 11 more. Prescott hit Dalton Schultz for a 4 yard touchdown to cap the 14 play, 74 yard, 8 minute drive and make it 6-3 Cowboys. 

Then all eyes were on Cowboys kicker Brett Maher. He set an NFL record last week by becoming the first kicker to miss 4 extra points in a single game. Combined with a missed extra point the week before that, he had 5 straight missed extra points. Jerry Jones and Mike McCarthy decided not to cut him. He had been good all year before that meltdown. This time Maher did not miss the extra point. However, he did not make it either. The kick was blocked, which still counts as no good. His 6th failed extra point attempt in 7 tries affected strategy for the Cowboys for the rest of the game. Meanwhile, Gould hit a 47 yard field goal with 4 minutes left in the half for a 6-6 tie. 

At the 2 minute warning on 4th and 4 at the San Francisco 35, McCarthy was not going to try a 53 yard field goal with a shaky kicker. Prescott ran for 9. Yet on 2nd and 2 from the Frisco 18, McCarthy for some bizarre reason was throwing the ball. Prescott had a pass deflected and intercepted by Fred Warner. With 1:15 left, that was plenty of time for the 49ers to move from their own 28 to the Dallas 32. Gould hit from 50 to make it 9-6 49ers at the half. In the third quarter the Cowboys got a major break when they recovered a fumbled 49ers punt at the San Francisco 21. Yet on 2nd and goal at the 6, a run lost a yard and Prescott then threw incomplete. With the football world watching, Maher hit the 25 yard field goal for a 9-9 tie.

The defense dug in and a field position game had the 49ers at their own 9 yard line. From their 21, Purdy went deep to George Kittle, who made a leaping, juggling, bobbling catch for a 30 yard gain. Christian McCaffrey had bottled up most of the game, but now he ripped off gains of 8, 5 and 8. On 3rd and 8 from the Dallas 20, Purdy was sacked but defense holding meant an automatic first down. On the first play of the fourth quarter, McCaffrey ran for a 2 yard touchdown to make it 16-9 49ers. A great kickoff return by Turpin had the Cowboys at their own 43. They moved to a 3rd and 8 at the San Francisco 25. Prescott threw incomplete. With 11 minutes left in regulation, McCarthy went with his kicker. From 43 yards out, Maher was good and the Cowboys were within 16-12. After a touchback, the 49ers went on a grueling 13 play, 64 yard, 8 minute drive. A touchdown would put the game out of reach. Yet on 1st and 10 from the Dallas 17, a run went nowhere followed by an incompletion. On 3rd and 10, Purdy only gained 6. Gould hit the 28 yard field goal to put the 49ers back up by 7 with 3 minutes left. 

The Cowboys took over at their own 18 and Prescott quickly threw 3 straight incompletions. Mike McCarthy decided to punt and trust his defense. The 49ers took over at their own 26 with 2:05 left but the Cowboys had all 3 timeouts and the 2 minute warning. With 1:53 left and the Cowboys down to 2 timeouts, Mitchell ran for 13 yards and a critical first down. Yet rather than fall dow  inbounds, Mitchell carelessly ran out of bounds without being touched. That saved the Cowboys a timeout, essentially gifting them 40 seconds. The Cowboys did get the ball back, but they were pinned at their own 6 yard line with4 5 seconds left and 0 timeouts. They needed a miracle. With 10 seconds left from their own 24, Prescott hit Schultz for 16 yards. Schultz got out of bounds. A Hail Mary from his own 40 was certainly doable from Prescott. Yet on further review, Schultz was ruled out of bounds, meaning an incompletion and the ball back to the 24. Schultz was all by himself. His error was inexcusable. The Cowboys tried a bizarre formation with Elliott playing center and snapping the ball to Prescott to try the hook and laterals. Yet after Prescott hit Turpin for an 8 yard gain, Turpin was immediately belted before he could lateral the ball. It was brutal, but the 49ers are headed to their 3rd NFC Title Game in 4 years under Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch. 19-12 49ers

The Conference Title Games are set:

NFC Title Game: 2.) San Francisco 49ers at 1.) Philadelphia Eagles at 3pm on FOX

AFC Title Game: 3.) Cincinnati Bengals at 1.) Kansas City Chiefs at 6:30pm on CBS

eric

Top 10 NFL Divisional Playoff upsets of all time

January 19th, 2023

Top 10 NFL Divisional Playoff upsets of all time

LOS ANGELES, January 19, 2023 — Unlike professional basketball, hockey, and baseball, the NFL playoffs are one and done. Every year, stunning upsets take place. The conference title games usually feature great teams, and the wildcard round exempts the top teams. For this reason, the Divisionals is where to expect crazy results. The Divisional round is when many of these upsets occur. 

The 2019 Tennessee Titans barely made the playoffs at 9-7. One week after going on the road and shocking the 12-4 New England Patriots in the Wildcard, the Titans went on the road again and stunned the 14-2 Ravens in the Divisional round 28-12. In future years, this could make the list of the Top 10 NFL Divisionals upsets. 

Other worthy contenders just missed the cut for different reasons. 

The 2010 Seahawks at 7-9 were the only losing team at the time to ever win their division. Although they shocked the 12-4 defending champion Saints, this missed the list since the Seahawks were at home.

The 2011 Giants were only 9-7 when they shocked the 15-1 defending champion Packers. This missed the list because the Giants were a very confident bunch who defeated the Packers during their 2007 title run.

The 1983 Seahawks were only 9-7 when they stunned the 12-4 Miami Dolphins. This missed the list because it was Dan Marino’s rookie season. Experience won out.

The 1984 Steelers were also only 9-7 when they shocked the 13-3 Denver Broncos. This was also an experience issue as John Elway was playing his first home playoff game ever. 

The 2014 Colts at 11-5 did shock the 12-4 Broncos and fans everywhere who were cheated out of an AFC Title Game between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. The only reason this game missed the list is because Manning played injured.

With that, here are the top ten Divisional upsets in NFL history.

10.) 1985—Patriots 27, Raiders 20—The 12-4 Raiders were every bit as good as their Super Bowl team from two years earlier. The 11-5 Patriots benefitted from Los Angeles kick returner Sammy Seale booting a kick return into the winning New England touchdown. This would rank higher except Jim Plunkett was out injured and backup Marc Wilson was playing injured. Also, New England went on the road a week earlier and beat the Jets and went on the road again a week later and shocked the Dolphins in the AFC Title Game.

9.) 1993—Chiefs 28, Oilers 20—The 12-4 Oilers were the most dysfunctional team in NFL history, with Buddy Ryan throwing a punch at Kevin Gilbride. However, they had won 11 straight games. The 11-5 Chiefs were good, but the Oilers led after three quarters and collapsed. This would rank higher except Chiefs quarterback Joe Montana was a king of fourth quarter comebacks in the biggest games. 

8.) 2007—Giants 21, Cowboys 17—The 13-3 Cowboys had beaten the 9-7 Giants twice in the regular season, but in Dallas the Giants won when Tony Romo was intercepted in the end zone on the final play. This would rank higher except the Giants went on to shock the world by beating Brett Favre and the Packers and then Tom Brady and the Patriots. Also, it would be eight more years until Romo finally won a playoff game.

7.) 2010—Jets 28, Patriots 21—Several weeks earlier the 14-2 Patriots carpet-bombed the 11-5 Jets by a score of 45-3 in front of a nighttime national audience. The Jets dominated this playoff game that was not as close as the score. Rex Ryan got revenge over the hated Bill Bellichick-Tom Brady tandem. As one Patriots player said on the sideline, “They talked it. They walked it.”

6.) 1982—Jets 17, Raiders 14—The strike shortened season saw the 6-3 Jets go on the road and blast the Bengals. Yet the 8-1 Raiders, who would win it all one year later, were heavy favorites. The New York Sack Exchange dominated the line of scrimmage and forced several turnovers. The Raiders had two chances in the final minutes, when Jim Plunkett was intercepted twice by Lance Mel.

5.) 2007—Chargers 28, Colts 24—The 11-5 Chargers had no business beating the 14-2 Colts, but for some reason Peyton Manning and the Colts always had bad games against the Chargers, who could not beat anybody else. Philip Rivers was out, and backup Billy Volek led the win. The 2006 season saw the Colts beat the Patriots in the greatest AFC Title Game ever played. Had the Colts won this game against the Chargers, they would have had a rematch with the 16-0 Patriots in the greatest AFC Title Game to never be played. Manning and Brady would play in a couple more AFC Title Games, but none as historic as this one would have been. 

4.) 2008—Cardinals 33, Panthers 13—The 9-7 Cardinals did have Kurt Warner, but they went 2-4 to close the regular season. Despite stunning the 11-5 Falcons in the Wildcard, they were expected to lose big to 12-4 Carolina. That Panthers team with Jake Delhomme and Steve Smith looked like a Super Bowl team. Despite leading at halftime, the Panthers collapsed in the second half as Warner and Larry Fitzgerald were the ones putting the yards and points on the board. Delhomme was never the same after this game.

3.) 1987—Vikings 36, 49ers 24—This was Joe Montana’s one awful playoff meltdown. One year after San Francisco was belted 49-3 by the Giants, this time the 13-2 49ers were heavy favorites to beat the 8-7 Vikings. Although Minnesota upset the 12-3 Saints one week earlier, that was dismissed because neither New Orleans nor Jim Mora at that time had ever won a playoff game. In this game Montana threw four interceptions and was benched by Bill Walsh for Steve Young. The 49ers would rebound to win the Super Bowl the next two years.

2.) 1996—Jaguars 30, Broncos 27—The Jaguars were 4-7 before winning five straight. They needed a 30-yard missed field goal on the final play of the final regular season game by ace Morton Anderson to make the playoffs at 9-7. Even when they went and beat Jim Kelly and the Buffalo Bills 30-27, nobody gave them a chance against a 13-3 Broncos team that was expected to finally get John Elway his ring. Denver jumped to a 12-0 lead and then fell asleep as the Jaguars scored 23 unanswered points to lead 23-12 and then 30-20. Elway said it was the one time he cried after a game. The next year Elway would finally hoist the trophy, blasting Jacksonville along the way. The year after that, Denver won it all again and Elway retired on top.

1.) 1995—Colts 10, Chiefs 7—The 9-7 Colts were 4-7 before running the table and dispatching San Diego in the Wildcard. They had a tough quarterback in Jim Harbaugh, but were expected to be throttled by a 13-3 Chiefs team. Yes, Marty Schottenheimer suffered playoff losses, but this was one the Chiefs simply gave away. Steve Bono threw three interceptions in the second half and was replaced by Rich Gannon. Lin Elliot would miss three field goals, including the game-tying attempt late. A great quote for the ages came when announcer Paul Maguire said, “I hate kickers. They should be paid $50 a game.” He also said, “Well it doesn’t matter because Lin Elliot’s not going to be a Chief next year.” Elliot never kicked in the NFL again and Bono was gone from the team two years later.

NFL 2022-2023 Divisionals Prequel

January 18th, 2023

NFL 2022-2023 Divisionals Prequel

The Divisional Playoffs are set:

Saturday, January 21, 2023:

4:30pm: AFC: Jacksonville Jaguars at Kansas City Chiefs (-8 1/2) on NBC — The Jaguars started 4-8 before winning 5 straight to make the playoffs. They fell behind the Chargers 27-0 before mounting a shocking comeback and winning 31-30 on the final play. Doug Pederson is a protege of Walrus Andy Reid. Pederson is basically little Andy. Yet this is the week where reality ends the dream Jaguars season. The Chiefs are 14-3. Patrick Mahomes is playing on another level. The Chiefs have so many weapons. They have too much speed, and speed kills. The Jaguars have a ton of heart, but this is the men against the boys. Throw in the home field and the week of rest from the bye week, and this could get ugly early and stay that way. Chiefs cover

8:00pm: NFC: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles (-7) on FOX — The Eagles are well-rested after a bye week but were shaky down the stretch after a 13-1 start. The Giants defense went on the road as a wildcard and stopped a pretty explosive Minnesota offense. The Eagles defeated the Giants 2 weeks ago in the regular season finale, but the Giants were playing their backups. The Eagles have the home field and the rest, but Jalen Hurts is not healthy. Hurts less than 100% is red meat for Big Blue’s defense and trouble for the green faithful. If Saquon Barkley can take the pressure off of Daniel Jones, the Giants could even win this game outright. If Hurts is healthy, he will get plenty of help from his defense, reducing what he needs to do. Eagles win but fail to cover

Sunday, January 22, 2023:

3:00pm: AFC: Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills (-4) on CBS — Three weeks ago the world watched in horror as Bills defender Damar Hamlin nearly died on the field after making a routine tackle of Tee Higgins. Thank God Hamlin made a miraculous recovery and is at home recuperating. Thankfully, Higgins is psychologically ok and playing in this game. Emotions will be sky high, but ;et’s focus just on football. The game is in Buffalo rather than at a neutral site. The Bengals have a legitimate gripe about that. These teams have both beaten Kansas City and are legitimate contenders to win it all. The Bills finished 13-3 and the Bengals were 12-4. Yet both teams barely survived in the Wildcard round against weaker teams playing backup quarterbacks. They are evenly matched. This could come down to the final play. Given the dead-even nature of these teams from quarterback to defense, go with the home field and the emotion from their earlier canceled games. If the Bills win a close one, the Bengals for years may claim being robbed of home field. It would not change the score. Bills win but fail to cover

6:30pm: NFC: Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers (-3 1/2) on FOX — These teams played epic playoff games throughout the decades. Yet plenty of the players were not born the last time these teams faced off with the stakes so high. The 12-5 Cowboys went on the road and obliterated Tampa. The 13-4 49ers grappled with an overachieving Seattle team before blowing the game open in the second half. The Cowboys have an explosive offense led by Dak Prescott while the 49ers have a nasty defense. The 49ers also have Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy, who is 6-0 since taking over. The 49ers counting their Wildcard win have won 11 straight games. The Cowboys may also have a kicker problem. Brett Maher was good all season before melting down last week and missing 4 consecutive extra points. The home field is less important in this game. The defense will be decisive. 49ers cover

eric

NFL 2022-2023 Wildcard Recap

January 16th, 2023

NFL 2022-2023 Wildcard Recap.    

7) Seattle Seahawks at 2) San Francisco 49ers was the Saturday afternoon game on FOX. The 49ers started 3-4 but then won 10 straight. Even more amazing, they have started 3 different quarterbacks. Trey Lance got injured very early in the season. Jimmy Garoppolo, who was supposed to be shipped out of town, was doing well until he got injured later in the season. Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy, the final pick in the 2022 Draft, has hone 5-0 in leading the 49ers to the two seed. The Seahawks snuck in the playoffs on the final regular season weekend with a 9-8 record. No coach has his finger on the pulse of his team or gets more out of less than Pete Carroll. He oversaw the Legion of Boom defense that made this the nastiest rivalry in the NFL. Yet this Seahawks team does not have a great defense. They have a revitalized Geno Smith.

Early on it was all 49ers. The 49ers moved from their own 46 to a 3rd and 3 at the Seattle 16. Purdy threw incomplete. Robbie Gould hit a 34 yard field goal to make it 3-0 49ers. The 49ers got it back at their own 15. Christian McCaffrey immediately ripped off a 68 yard gain. On 2nd and 13, Purdy hit Mitchell for 18. Purdy hit McCaffrey for a 3 yard touchdown to make it 10-0 49ers. 

The Seahawks soon faced 3rd and 5 at thrown 27. Smith DK Metcalf for 12. Walker ran for 4 and 6. Smith ran for 11. On 3rd and 4 from the San Francisco 27, Smith hit Tyler Lockett for 6. As the first quarter ended. The second quarter began with Kenneth Walker running for 2, 5, and the 7 yard touchdown. The 14 play, 78  yard, 7 minute drive got Seahawks within 10-7. After a touchback the 49ers moved to a 2nd and 9 at the Seattle 12. Purdy was sacked to kill the drive. Gould hit from 33 to make it 13-7 49ers. The Seahawks took over at their own 29. Smith hit fast for 11. On 3rd and 3 from midfield, Smith went bombs away to Metcalf for the touchdown. With 5 minutes left in the half, the Seahawks led 14-13. 

With 1:08 left, the 49ers took over at their own 23. The 49ers quickly moved to a 1st and 10 at the Seattle 28 with 41 seconds left. Purdy went deep incomplete thrice. Gould hit the 46 yard field goal. With 13 seconds left, the 49ers led 16-14. Yet Kyle Shanahan, who has a history of bad coaching decisions in big games, made another one. Rather than kick the ball deep out the back of the end zone, he decided to squib kick it. This allowed the Seahawks to take over at their own 38 with 9 seconds left. Smith ran for 9 yards, and a mindless defensive unnecessary roughness penalty added 15 more. With one second left, Jason Myers came in for a 56 yard field goal try. The kick was good. The Seahawks led 17-16 at the half.

The Seahawks were plucky and over-achieving. The 49ers began the third quarter facing 3rd and 1 from their own 34. Purdy gained 3. Purdy went to George Kittle for 23. On 3rd and 7 from the Seattle 37, Purdy hit Deebo Samuel for 21. McCaffrey ran for 7, 2, and on 3rd and 1 from the Seattle 7, 5 more. Purdy ran for a one yard touchdown. The 13 play, 75 yard, nearly 8 minute drive had the 49ers back on top 23-17. After a touchback, the Seahawks moved 45 yards in 12 plays and 5 minutes. On 2nd and 9 from the Seattle 14, Smith hit Lockett for 7. Yet an ineligible man downfield nullified the gain. An incompletion left 3rd and 14 from the San Francisco 19. The Seahawks still had a chance to lead. Even a field goal would make it a 3 point game. Then came the play of the game. Smith was sacked and fumbled. Nick Bosa recovered for the 49ers at their own 30. Smith has been plagued by fumbling problems throughout his career. 

Purdy hit Samuel for 11. McCaffrey ripped off gains of 8 and 12 as the third quarter ended. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Purdy went deep to Jennings for 33. Purdy went to Mitchell for the 7 yard touchdown. Purdy hit Kittle for the 2 point conversion. One minute into the fourth quarter, the 49ers led 31-17. The 49ers got it back at their own 24. Purdy went to Samuel for a 74 yard touchdown. 11 minutes remained, but the 49ers were now comfortably ahead 38-17. Smith was then immediately intercepted, leading to a 31 yard Gould field goal to make it 41-17 49ers with 5minutes left. 25 unanswered points turned a close game into a blowout. The Seahawks managed one garbage touchdown but no more as the 49ers advance to the Divisional round match at home. 41-23 49ers 

5) Los Angeles Chargers at 4) Jacksonville Jaguars was the Saturday night game on NBC. Although the Chargers had the better record, the Jaguars had the home field due to winning their division. Doug Pederson was supposed to need 2 years to turn the Jaguars around, but despite starts of 2-6 and 4-8, the Jaguars came in winners of 5 straight games. Despite consecutive winning seasons, Brandon Staley has been criticized for ill-times 4th down gambles and other questionable coaching decisions. Last week Staley played his starters despite having clinched their playoff spot. This led to Mike Williams getting injured and missing this game. 

On the second play from scrimmage on 2nd and 6 from his own 28, Trevor Lawrence had his pass batted, juggled and intercepted by Tranquill. The acrobatic interception was returned by Tranquill 15 yards to the Jacksonville 18. Two plays later, Austin Ekeler ran for a 13 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Chargers less than 90 seconds into the game. The Jaguars after a touchback moved to a 4th and 7 at the Chargers 33. Doug Pederson passed up a 51 yard field goal try and went for it. Lawrence was intercepted by Asante Samuel, who returned the pick 16 yards to his own 39. The Chargers moved 57 yards in 12 plays. On 2nd and goal at the 4, Herbert threw incomplete twice. Cameron Dicker hit a 22 yard field goal to make it 10-0 Chargers. 

The Jaguars soon faced 3rd and 5 at their own 19. Lawrence was intercepted by Samuel again. The Chargers had another short field at the Jacksonville 16. Ekeler ran for 7, 3, and the 6 yard touchdown. 3 interceptions of Lawrence had the Chargers up 17-0 after the first quarter. The Chargers got it back and faced 3rd and 5 from their own 43. Justin Herbert hit Donald Parham for 12. On 3rd and 11 from the Jacksonville 46, Herbert went to Keenan Allen for 23 and Palmer for 13. On 3rd and goal at the 9, Herbert hit Gerald Everett for the touchdown to make it 24-0 Chargers. The Jaguars got a jolt when the ensuing kickoff was returned to midfield. Yet on 3rd and 10, Lawrence was intercepted for the 4th time on the day and for the 3rd time by Samuel. The Jaguars defense held but the punt bonked off of a Jacksonville platyer’s helmet. After a mad scramble, the Chargers recovered at the Jacksonville 6 yard line. Yet the Chargers did not slam the door shut. A run gained one yard and Herbert threw incomplete. Dicker hit the 23 yard field goal. 5 turnovers including 4 by Lawrence had the Chargers up 27-0 with 4 1/2 minutes left in the half. 

The Chargers got it back at their own 18 with 3:11 left in the half. All Brandon Staley had to do was run the ball, eat up the clock, and then do likewise in the second half. This game was over as long as Staley ran the ball. Instead he came out throwing. On 3rd and 1, Herbert fumbled the snap. The Chargers retained possession but lost 10 yards and had to punt. A short 34 yard punt gave the Jaguars a short field at the Chargers 47 with 1:49 left. Lawrence hit Travis Etienne for 12. On 4th and 1 from the Chargers 26, Doug Pederson passed up a 44 yard field goal try and went for it. Lawrence hit Jones for 12. Lawrence hit Evan Engram for a 9 yard touchdown. With 24 seconds left, the Jaguars were finally on the board down 27-7.

In the third quarter, Staley refused to commit to the run, as Herbert came out throwing. The Chargers punted and the Jaguars took over at their own 11. Lawrence hit Christian Kirk for 10, Engram for 7, Zee Jones for 5, Engram for 9, Kirk for 5, and Engram for 24. On 3rd and 7 from the Chargers 19, Lawrence was sacked for a 16 yard loss. Yet Joey Bosa had lined up offside, so instead of 4th and 23 it was 3rd and 2. Etienne gained 7. On 3rd and goal at the 6, Lawrence hit Jones for the touchdown. The 14 play, 89 yard, 7 1/2 minute drive had the Jaguars within 27-14 with 5 minutes left in the third quarter. The Chargers took over at their own 23. Staley kept calling pass plays and Herbert kept throwing. The Chargers moved to a 1st and 10 at the Jacksonville 31. A run lost a yard and Herbert threw incomplete twice. Dicker nailed a 50 yard field goal to put the Chargers up 30-14 with 3 minutes left in the third quarter. 

The Jaguars took over at their own 32. Etienne gained 5. Lawrence went to Jones went to 11. Etienne added 8 and 5. Lawrence went deep to Jones for a 39 yard touchdown. Doug Pederson went for 2. While the try failed, a mindless defensive unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Joey Bosa after the play nearly saw him ejected. The rest of the game, Bosa was rattled. Meanwhile, the Jaguars were only down 30-20 after three quarters. The Chargers took over at their own 20 to start the fourth quarter and moved 58 yards in 14 plays and 7 minutes. A touchdown would put the Chargers up 37-20 and pretty much lock up the win. On 3rd and 3 from the Jacksonville 22, Herbert threw incomplete. Dicker came in for a 40 yard field goal try to make it 33-20 Chargers. Yet the kick was no good, hooking wide left at the last possible moment. With 6 1/2 minutes left in regulation, the Chargers still only led 30-20. 

The Jaguars got it back and an immediate sack of Lawrence had then facing 2nd and 19 from their own 21. Yet on the next incompletion, defensive pass interference meant 6 yards and an automatic first down. Lawrence then went to Jones for 8, Kirk for gains of 12 and 17, and Engram for 21. Lawrence went to Kirk for a 9 yard touchdown. After the score, a disgusted Bosa slammed his helmet down in frustration. The resulting unsportsmanlike conduct penalty did not result in an ejection but did affect the conversion. With the ball on the one instead of the two, Doug Pederson gambled on a 2 point try. Lawrence got in by leaping over the top and barely stretching the ball over the plane of the goal. With 5 1/2 minutes left in regulation, the Jaguars were only down 30-28. 

Staley could still run the ball and run out the clock, but stubborn is as stubborn does. He kept throwing, and after a touchback Herbert was immediately sacked. The Chargers went 3 and out and the Jaguars took over at their own 21 with 3:20 to play. The Jaguars only needed a field goal to win. Lawrence went to Kirk for 12. Lawrence ran for 8 and went to Kirk for 9, With 90 seconds left on 3rd and 1 from the Chargers 41, Lawrence threw incomplete. A field goal try would be 59 yards. Even if it was good, the Chargers would still have plenty of time to drive for the win. So on 4th and inches, Doug Pederson went for it. Everyone bunched up the middle expecting a quarterback sneak. Etienne got around the end for a 25 yard gain and purposely went down inbounds. Now a field goal try would only be 32 yards. The Chargers could still take their timeouts on defense in the hopes of having 30 to 45 seconds left to pull off a miracle. 

This time Brandon Staley lost his mind. He just let the clock run down. He is known for his many bad decisions on offense, but the former defensive coordinator is supposed to know defense. Timeouts are useless in the locker room after the game. Yet Staley did not call one. Etienne ran for a 2 yard loss to center the ball as the clock kept running down. On 2nd and 12 from the Chargers 18, Doug Pederson finally called timeout with 3 seconds left. There would be no reprieve for a bad snap or hold. Riley Patterson came in for the 36 yard field goal try to pull off the shocking comeback. The kick kept drifting rightward but barely snuck inside the right upright. At first it appeared no good but officials ruled it was good. The Jaguars celebrated but there was a flag on the play. An offensive penalty would nullify the kick and end the game without a chance for a retry. Yet the penalty was on the defense for jumping offside. 17 unanswered points and a 31-3 Jaguars explosion erased the 27 point deficit. The Chargers collapse was complete. Speculation immediately centered on whether Staley would be fired. His absolute refusal to run the ball along with mismanaging the timeouts cost his team the game. As for Lawrence, after a first half with 4 interceptions, he responded by also finishing with 4 touchdown passes. This was a comeback for the ages. 31-30 Jaguars

7) Miami Dolphins at 2) Buffalo Bills was the Sunday morning game on CBS. The Bills entered the playoffs with a 13-3 record and a wave of emotion. Less than 2 weeks after Damar Hamlin nearly died on the field, he was in the locker room just to encourage his teammates before this game. He spent game day at home recovering from his near fatal heart attack. The Dolphins started 8-3 but collapsed down the stretch. They had lost 5 straight before barely surviving the Jets at home 11-6 in a finale with no touchdowns to get to 9-8. Tua Tagovailoa was out injured with a concussion and backup Teddy Bridgewater was out with a broken finger. The warm weather Dolphins had to go into cold weather Buffalo and win with 3rd string quarterback Skylar Thompson. The heavily favored Bills were riding a wave of emotion and expected to dominate this game.

The Bills began at their own 27. Josh Allen went to Stefan Diggs for 20. On 3rd and 15 from his own 42, Allen went bombs away to Diggs for a 52 yard gain. On the next play Allen went to Dawson Knox for a 6 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Bills. Two plays after a touchback, Thompson was intercepted. Marlowe returned the interception 10 yards to the Miami 23. On 3rd and 1, Singletary gained 2. On the next play James Cook ran for a 12 yard touchdown to make it 14-0 Bills. The Bils got it back at their on 33 and moved 52 yards in 11 plays and nearly 5 minutes. 90 seconds into the second quarter on 2nd and 8 to the Miami 13, Allen went to Knox for the touchdown. 21-0 probably would have ended the game, but the touchdown was reversed to an incompletion. Then Allen was sacked. Tyler Bass hit a 33 yard field goal to make it 17-0 Bills early in the second quarter. The rout was on. 

Then it was not. Bass kicked the kickoff out of bounds to set up the Dolphins at their own 40. They moved 38 yards in 10 plays and 5 minutes. On 2nd and 9 from the Buffalo 15, Thomson was sacked to kill the drive. Jason Sanders hit a 40 yard field goal to get the Dolphins within 17-3. Three plays after a touchback from his own 47, Allen went for it all and was intercepted by Xavier Howard at the 3 yard line. Howard returned the interception 49 yards to the Buffalo 48. On 4th and 8, Mike McDaniel went for it and Thompson hit Wilson for 13. On 3rd and 7 from the Buffalo 30, Thompson threw incomplete. Sanders hit a 48 yard field goal. The Dolphins trailed 17-6 with 2:15 left in the half. The Bills soon faced 3rd and 8 at their own 30. Allen went bombs away to Shakir for a 64 yard gain. Yet on further review, the play was reversed to an incompletion. The Bills punted and Wilson returned the punt 50 yards to the Buffalo 27. On 3rd and 2 from the Buffalo 19, Thompson threw incomplete. On 4th and 2, McDaniel was not in a gambling mood. Sanders hit his third field goal from 37 to get the Dolphins within 17-9 with 1:15 left in the half. 

After a touchback, all the Bills had to do was get to the half. Yet Sean McDermott decided to stay aggressive. On the third play of the drive from his own 36, Allen was intercepted again. This time it was Holland who returned the pick 29 yards to the Buffalo 18. On 3rd and 1 from the Buffalo 9, Thompson followed up his 12 yard run with a critical 2 yard gain. On the next play Thompson went to Mike Gesicki for a 7 yard touchdown. Thompson went to Tyreek Hill for the 2 point conversion. The game was tied 17-17, but the Dolphins left 33 seconds on the clock. After a touchback, the Bills quickly moved to the Miami 21. Bass hit a 39 yard field goal to put the Bills back up 20-17 at the half. The Dolphins went 3 and out to start the third quarter, and the Bills took over after one minute at their own 30. On their first play of the second half, disaster struck. Allen got blasted in the pocket and fumbled. After a mad scramble, Sieler picked up the fumble and coasted 5 yards into the end zone. The defensive touchdown gave the Dolphins their first lead of the game up 24-20. 

The defenses dug in as the Bills punted on their next 2 drives sandwiched around a Miami punt. Midway through the third quarter, a sack of Thompson had the Dolphins facing 3rd and 19 from their own 8 yard line. The safe call would be a give up run and a punt. The Dolphins were winning with defense. A field position game made sense. Yet neither coach was playing it safe in this game. Thompson went deep and was intercepted to set up the Bills at the Miami 33. Allen hit Gabriel Davis for 13. On 3rd and 8 from the Miami 18, Allen ran for 12. Allen hit Cole Beasley for the 6 yard touchdown to put the Bills back up 27-24. The Bills got it back at their own 32. Allen hit Morris for 12. On 3rd and 6 from their own 48, Allen went to Beasley for 29 yards.  On the next play Allen went to Davis for the 23 yard touchdown. The Bills led 34-24 after three quarters, but this game was not over. 

After a touchback, Thompson went to Hill for 12. Defensive pass interference added 8 more yards. The fourth quarter began with the Dolphins at midfield. Thompson went to Wilson for 14 and Ahmed for 13. A sack of Thompson meant 2nd and 18 from the Buffalo 31. Thompson went to Ahmed for 20. Wilson ran for a one yard touchdown. With 11 minutes left in regulation, the Dolphins were within a field goal. The defenses dug in again as the Bills again punted twice sandwiched around a Miami punt. With 4 1/2 minutes left the Dolphins took over at their own 14. They moved to a 3rd and 1 at their own 48. Ahmed got the carry and got stopped cold for no gain. On 4th and inches, the Dolphins lined up to go for it. A costly delay of game penalty meant 4th and 5. Thompson then threw incomplete. 

The Dolphins were out of timeouts but the 2 minute warning would stop the clock. 2:22 remained. That meant if the Dolphins could get a stop, they would have maybe 20 to 30 seconds to get in field goal range. Remember, the Bills took the lead with 13 seconds left in last year’s AFC Title Game. That was enough time for Kansas City to force overtime. The Dolphins needed only a field goal. Everything came down to the Bills facing 3rd and 7 from the Miami 40 with 1:15 left. Singletary got the carry and at first appeared stopped after 3 or 4 yards. Yet the whistle did not blow and Singletary kept dragging defenders with help from his offense as everyone trie to move the pile. By the time Singletary finally came down, he was only inches short of the first down marker. Officials called it a first down. Replay showed Singletary was short, but barely. Perhaps by the nose of the ball. It would be 4th and inches for all the marbles. Except it wouldn’t. In a shocking move, the officials affirmed the first down. Allen took a knee and ended things. The Dolphins were game, but the Bills are the ones moving on. 34-31 Bills

  

6) New York Giants at 3) Minnesota Vikings was the Sunday afternoon game on FOX. The Giants entered as the 10-7 Wildcard against the 12-5 Vikings. The Vikings have an explosive offense but have question marks on defense. The Giants brought the defense. The Vikings had the home field, but the Giants rested their starters last week to keep them fresh. Both Brian Daboll and Kevin O’Connell were in their first season as an NFL head coach and their first playoff game. After an opening touchback, the Vikings moved with ease. Kirk Cousins hit Justin Jefferson for 10. Dalvin Cook ran for 9 and 2. Cousins hit Jefferson for 10 and Adam Thielen for 13. On 3rd and 2 from the Giants 10, Cousins went to TJ Hockenson for 4. Cousins ran for a one yard touchdown. The 12 play, 75 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive made it 7-0 Giants.

Yet the Giants punched back quickly and easily. Offensive holding had them facing 1st and 20 at their own 15. Daniel Jones hit James for 13 and ran for 7 himself. Jones went to Darrius Slayton for 22 and ran for 15 more. Saquon Barkley ran for a 15 yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7. The Giants got it back at their own 19 and again made it look easy. Jones went deep to Slayton for 47 yards. Barkley then ran for 16. Isaiah Hodgins ran for a 14 yard touchdown to make it 14-7 Giants. The Giants got it back at their own 9 yard line to start the second quarter and embarked on the drive of the year. 20…yes, 20…plays. 85 yards. 11…yes, 11 minutes off the clock. Yet on 2nd and goal at the 6, Brian Daboll refused to play smash mouth. The drive was vintage New York Giants football. The last 2 plays were not. Jones threw incomplete twice. Graham Gano hit the 25 yard field goal to make it 17-7 Giants. 

The Giants soon faced 3rd and 9 from their own 26. Cousins went to Hockenson for big gains of 27 and 28. Cousins went to Jefferson for 6 and to KJ Osborn for a 9 yard touchdown. With 45 second left in the half, the Vikings were within 17-14. Yet after a third quarter touchback, the Giants kept rolling. On 3rd and 3 from their own 32, Jones went to Barkley for 24 and to Hodgins for 32. Jones went to Bellinger for a 9 yard touchdown and a 24-14 Giants lead. After a touchback, Cousins went to Mundt for 12. On 3rd and 7 from their own 47, Cousins went to Hockenson for 19 and to Thielen for 25. Cousins hit Smith for a 3 yard touchdown to get the Vikings within 24-21 midway through the third quarter. The Vikings got it back at their own 24 and moved 56 yards in 12 plays and 6 1/2 minutes. On the last play of the third quarter, Kevin O’Connell gambled on 4th and 2 from the Giants 43. Cousins went to Hockenson for 18 yards. In the fourth quarter O’Connell gambled again on 4th and 1 from the Giants 16. Yet a false start killed the try. Greg Joseph hit the 38 yard field goal try. With 12 1/2 minutes left in regulation, the game was tied 24-24.

After a touchback, Jones hit Slayton for 14 and James for 11 to midfield. Jones went to Hodgins for 19.  and Barkley for 10. With 8 1/2 minutes left in regulation the Giants faced 4th and 1 at the Minnesota 7 yard line. A field goal would give the Giants the lead. Yet Brian Daboll wanted it all. It seemed like a reckless decision, but he gambled and won when Jones snuck the ball for a 2 yard gain. Barkley ran for a 2 yard touchdown. Midway through the fourth quarter, the Giants led by 7 rather than 3. The Vikings quickly went 3 and out and Kevin O’Connell decided to punt and trust his defense with 6 1/2 minutes still left. The Vikings got the ball back with 3 minutes left at their own 12 yard line, plenty of time to tie the game. With 1:44 left after an incompletion, the Vikings faced 4th and 8 at their own 48. They were out of timeouts. This was their last gasp. Cousins hit Hockenson, who was quickly tackled after a 3 yard gain. Jones took 3 knees to give the Giants the surprising road win. 31-24 Giants  

6) Baltimore Ravens at 3) Cincinnati Bengals was the Sunday night game on NBC. This was a typical AFC North street fight. There was no finesse. This was stone age football. With hard-nosed running and brutal defense. Last year the Ravens started 8-3. Then Lamar Jackson got injured and the Ravens lost 6 straight games. This year the Ravens started 10-3 before Jackson got injured. The Ravens lost their last 4 games and backed into the playoffs. Last week the Ravens lost at Cincinnati 27-16, and were now facing the Bengals on that same field. Again Tyler Huntley would start despite the Ravens being 0-10 in those late games Huntley or 3rd stringer Anthony Brown filled in for Jackson. The Bengals had their starters heathy, but the Ravens turned this into a bare-fisted defensive slobber-knocker. The Bengals happily obliged.

After a touchback, the Bengal moved 54 yards in 14 plays and 6 1/2 minutes. On 1st and 10 from the Baltimore 21, Zac Taylor abandoned smashmouth. Joe Burrow threw 3 straight incompletions. Evan McPherson hit a 39 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Bengals. 5 plays later Huntley was intercepted, setting up the Bengals at their own 40. Burrow hit Hurst for 13. On 3rd and 8 from the Baltimore 45, Burrow hit JaMarr Chase for 12. On 3rd and 10 from the Baltimore 33, Burrow hit Chase for 13. On the last play of the first quarter, Burrow hit Chase for 12. On the first play of the second quarter, Burrow hit Chase for a 7 yard touchdown. McPherson missed the extra point but the Bengals led 9-0.

Yet the Ravens after a touchback embarked on a mind-numbing drive. 17 plays and 75 yards took 10 minutes offf the clock. Huntley went to Sammy Watkins for 12. On 3rd and 1 from their own 46, Edwards gained 4. JK Dobbins ran for 13. On 3rd and 1 from the Cincinnati 28, Mark Andrews got stopped for no gain. John Harbaugh gambled on 4th and 1 rather than try a 46 yard field goal with the best kicker in the game. Huntley kept the ball and gained 2. Huntley then hit Andrews for 14. On 3rd and 5 from the Cincinnati 6, Huntley was sacked. Yet a defensive facemask penalty instead meant 1st and goal at the 3. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Huntley hit Dobbins for the touchdown. With 5 minutes left in the half, the Ravens were within 9-7. The Bengals took over at their own 30 but a sack of Burrow meant 3rd and 16 from their own 39. Burrow went to Hurst for 6 yards on what was meant to be a short give up play. Yet Hurst got blasted and fumbled. The Ravens recovered at the Cincinnati 44. The Ravens moved to a 1st and goal at the 3 with 23 seconds left. Yet after a short Huntley pass lost a yard, he threw 2 more incompletions to leave 7 seconds. Tucker hit the 22 yard field goal. The earlier missed extra point was the difference as the Ravens took a 10-9 lead to the locker rooms. 

The Bengals in the third quarter soon faced 3rd and 1 at their own 26. Burrow gained 4. Joe Mixon gained 7 and 4. Burrow hit Tyler Boyd for 10 and 5. O 3rd and 9 from the Baltimore 48 after a false start, Burrow hit Chase for 10 and again for 19. Burrow went to Hurst for 18 down to the one. Burrow got in to cap the 12 play, 83 yard, 7 minute drive. Zac Taylor went for 2 and Burrow hit Tee Higgins for the conversion to make it 17-10 Bengals. In a game where every yard was fought for, this time the Ravens from their own 19 struck quickly. Huntley went to Dobbins for 27 and Edwards for 13. Huntley then went to DeMarcus Robinson for a 41 yard touchdown. The game was tied 17-17 after three quarters. In the fourth quarter the Ravens moved from their own 18 on an 80 yard drive. With 11 1/2 minutes left in regulation, the Ravens faced 3rd and goal at the one. Even if they failed to take the 24-17, an almost automatic Tucker field goal would put them up 20-17. Then came the play of the game and the entire season for both teams. 

Huntley took the quarterback sneak and tried to leap over the top and stretch the ball over the plane of the goal. At the goal line, he had the ball knocked out of his hands by Pratt. Huntley celebrated, insisting that he had scored the touchdown. Yet no whistle had blown. The ball bounced to Cincinnati defensive end Sam Hubbard, who returned the ball and rumbled down the field with a convoy of blockers. One final attempt at tackling him failed. Hubbard returned the fumble 98 yards for a defensive touchdown. Chaos ensued as each team thought they were on their way to a 24-17 lead. Officials got the all right. Replay clearly showed that Huntley was short of the goal line when he fumbled. It was the Bengals, not the Ravens, who were up by 7. Both defenses dug in as each team the punted twice. Yet a 16 yard punt return with 5 more tacked on for a penalty had the Ravens taking over with a short field at the Cincy 46 with 3:12 to play. That was plenty of time to tie the game or even go for the win. 

With 34 seconds left, the Ravens had moved to a 1st and 10 at the Cincy 17. After an incompletion, John Harbaugh made a very questionable coaching decision. He decided to surprise the Bengals by calling a running play with the entire football world expecting passes. The Bengals were not fooled as the play only gained 4 yards. Making matters worse, offensive holding on the play meant 2nd and 20 instead of 2nd and 6. Two more Huntley incompletions left 8 seconds. The Ravens were facing 4th and 20 from the Cincy 27. Huntley rolled out and threw the shortened version of the Hail Mary. Everyone jumped for the ball in the end zone. It was deflected backward to an open Baltimore receiver. The receiver dove for the ball and even got one hand on it but not both hands as the ball bounced off his fingers incomplete. It was a typical ugly but beautiful AFC North game. The defending AFC Champions survived. 24-17 Bengals

5) Dallas Cowboys at 4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers is the Monday night game on ESPN/ABC. The Cowboys entered the playoffs 12-5 while the Buccaneers were a horrendous 8-9. It was Tom Brady’s first losing season in 23 years, but it was good enough to win the awful NFC South. The Cowboys as a Wildcard would have to win at Tampa. The Cowboys have far more talent, especially on offense. Yet in his career, Brady has never lost to Dallas, a perfect 7-0. Mike McCarthy knows offense and Todd Bowles knows defense, but both coaches would be on the hot seat with a loss. Each team punted twice to start, but then the Cowboys went on a roll.

The Cowboys began their third drive at their own 20. Dak Prescott hit Michael Gallup for 15. Roughing the passer added 15 more. Tony Pollard added 18. Prescott went to Dalton Schultz for a 22 yard touchdown. Brett Maher missed the extra point as the Cowboys led 6-0. After a touchback, the Buccaneers moved 70 yards in 14 plays and 6 1/2 minutes. The second quarter began with the Buccaneers facing 1st and goal at the 5. After an incompletion, Brady went to the end zone and was intercepted by Kearse for a touchback. The Cowboys soon faced 3rd and 1 from their own 29. Ezekiel Elliott gained 3. On 3rd and 3 from their own 39, Prescott hit Pollard for 5. On 3rd and 8 from their own 46, Prescott hit TY Hilton for 14.  Prescott then went to Ferguson for 34. On 3rd and goal at the one, Elliott got stopped for no gain. Mike McCarthy gambled. On 4th and goal, a fake handoff drew everyone to the middle. Prescott rolled out on a naked bootleg and easily strutted into the end zone. Maher missed his 2nd straight extra point wide right but the 15 play, 80 yard, 8 1/2 minute drive had the Cowboys led 12-0.

The Cowboys got the ball back at their own 9 yard line. Prescott hit Hilton for 9 and Dalton Schultz for 20. On 3rd and 6 from their own 44, Prescott ran for 11. On 2nd and 15 from midfield, Prescott went to CeeDee Lamb for 20, Gallup for 13, Schultz for 6, and Shultz again for an 11 yard touchdown. Maher’s nightmarish night continued as his 3rd missed extra point this time was wide left. Yet the 11 play, 91 yard drive made it 18-0 Cowboys. Needing a comeback, the Buccaneers quickly went 3 and out. The Cowboys took over at their own 14. Prescott went to Schultz for 26. On 3rd and 4 from their own 46, Prescott went to Lamb for 26. Pollard ran for 18. Prescott went to Gallup for a 2 yard touchdown to cap the 86 yard drive. The Cowboys had 4 straight touchdown drives, all of them at least 80 yards. Everything was going right for the Cowboys except for their kicker. Maher missed his 4th straight extra point try and 5th dating back to the previous week as the Cowboys led 24-0.

The Buccaneers were down by 24, but Tom Brady came back from down 25 in the Super Bowl a few years ago. Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn was the losing head coach in that Super Bowl meltdown. Late n the third quarter the Buccaneers took over at their own 5 yard line. On 3rd and 7, Brady went to White for 11 and Chris Godwin for 16. Godwin fumbled and the Cowboys recovered, but officials ruled Godwin was down by contact. Replay showed that Godwin was losing the ball before he hit the ground. It would not be the first time in his career that Brady benefited from officials incorrectly reversing a fumble to an incompletion. Brady hit Russell Gage and Jons for a pair of 7 yard gains. On 3rd and 7 from the Dallas 48, Brady went to Mike Evans for 18. On the last play of the third quarter, Brady went deep to Julio Jones for a 30 yard touchdown. The 2 point conversion try failed but the Buccaneers were within 24-6. 

A good kickoff return had the Cowboys taking over at their own 34. Prescott hit Brown for 15. On 3rd and 6 from the Tampa 47, Prescott hit Gallup for 12. Pollard gained 11. On 4th and 4 from the Tampa 18, Maher was ready to try a 36 yard field goal. Mike McCarthy was having none of it. After 4 missed extra points, Maher was kept on the bench and McCarthy went for it. The gamble paid off as Prescott found a wide open Lamb, who waltzed into the end zone for an 18 yard touchdown. After 6 combined touchdowns, 5 of them by Dallas, the game finally saw a successful extra point. Maher’s first good kick had the Cowboys up 31-6 with 10 minutes left in regulation. The Buccaneers moved from their own 16 to a 1st and goal at the 2. Brady threw incomplete twice and then was sacked. On 4th and goal from the 11 under heavy pressure, Brady as he was going down threw a desperation incompletion to nobody. This time there would be no comeback, although the Buccaneers did get a garbage touchdown with 2 minutes left. If this was Brady’s final game, it ended in humiliating fashion. Todd Bowles is now on the hot seat whether or not Brady returns. As for the Cowboys, they are at San Francisco in the Divisional round. 31-14 Cowboys 

The Divisional Playoffs are set:

NFC: 

6.) New York Giants at 1.) Philadelphia Eagles

5.) Dallas Cowboys at 2.) San Francisco 49ers

AFC:

4.) Jacksonville Jaguars at 1.) Kansas City Chiefs

3.) Cincinnati Bengals at 2.) Buffalo Bills

Saturday, January 21, 2023:

4:30pm: AFC: Jacksonville Jaguars at Kansas City Chiefs on NBC

8:00pm: NFC: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles on FOX

Sunday, January 22, 2023:

3:00pm: AFC: Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills on CBS

6:30pm: NFC: Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers on FOX

eric

NFL 2022-2023 Wildcard Prequel

January 13th, 2023

NFL 2022-203 WildCard Prequel

The Wildcard Playoff games are set:

Saturday, January 14, 2023, 4:30pm

NFC: 7) Seattle Seahawks at 2) San Francisco 49ers (-9 1/2) on FOX — A decade ago these teams were fighting for supremacy in the NFC. The 49ers are as good if not better than those teams. Their defense is just as nasty if not nastier. The Seahawks are no longer the Legion of Boom. Now they are just a plucky over-achieving team. Pete Carroll has his finger on the pulse of his team like nobody else. He has certainly helped Geno Smith. Yet the 49ers have the story of the year in Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy, who is 5-0 as a starter. This game will not be a blowout given the intense rivalry of these teams. Yet the 49ers are the superior team with the better defense. 49ers win but fail to cover

8pm

AFC: 5) Los Angeles Chargers (-2) at 4) Jacksonville Jaguars on NBC — The Jaguars were 2-6 and then Doug Pederson turned them around. Early in the season the Jaguars went on the road and throttled the Chargers 38-10. The Chargers on paper are the better team. Yet the Jaguars have momentum. Home field will not be an issue since these are both warm weather teams. Justin Herbert and Trevor Lawrence are both playing well. The Chargers have the better receivers and the Jaguars have the better running game.The Jaguars have a slight edge on defense. The coaching edge is not close. Pederson is much better than Brandon Staley, who frequently makes reckless gambles. The Chargers have a couple of injuries at key positions. Go with momentum. The Jaguars are peaking at the right time. Upset special, Jaguars win outright

Sunday, January 15, 1pm

AFC: 7) Miami Dolphins at 2) Buffalo Bills (-13) on CBS — These teams split a pair of nasty games. Early in the season these teams were evenly matched. Yet Tua Tagovailoa has been injured in several games this season. He is out this game, which makes it a mismatch. The Bills are still riding the wave of emotion coming from the Damar Hamlin situation. Hamlin has made a miraculous recovery, and the Bills have rallied around him. Even without those events, the Bills have the home field crowd, the cold weather against a warm weather team, an outstanding defense, and a great quarterback in Josh Allen. The Dolphins lost five straight games before eking out a 9-6 win over the reeling Jets at home to back into the playoffs. The Bills are in Super Bowl mode. The Dolphins will not be able to keep up playing a backup quarterback. Bills cover

4:30pm

NFC: 6) New York Giants at 3) Minnesota Vikings (-3) on FOX — The Giants are a feel-good story. Brian Daboll has turned the Giants around and gotten the most out of Daniel Jones. Saquon Barkley is running well. Yet the Giants are not built to come back if they fall behind. The Vikings have an explosive offense. Kirk Cousins can go to Justin Jefferson any time, with Dalvin Cook running to keep defenses honest. The Vikings set an NFL record by overcoming a 33-0 halftime deficit to win. The Vikings have lost a couple brutal games at home, but the Giants lack the firepower. Inside a comfortable dome, go with the speed of the Vikings offense. Vikings cover

8pm

AFC: 6) Baltimore Ravens at 3) Cincinnati Bengals (-7) on NBC — Last year the Ravens were 8-3 until Lamar Jackson got injured. The Ravens then went 0-6. This year the Ravens were 10-3 and in contention to win the AFC North. Then Jackson got hurt again and the Ravens backed into the playoffs with four straight losses. The Bengals started 0-2 before quickly turning things around. Joe Burrow has so many weapons to go to. With Jackson, this is an exciting game. Without him, this is a mismatch. The Bengals beat the Ravens by 11 last week. You can only throw in so many wrinkles with backup quarterbacks. The Ravens win with running and defense, which is tough to do when trailing. Bengals cover

Monday, January 16, 8pm

NFC: 5) Dallas Cowboys (-2 1/2) at 4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers on ESPN/ABC — The Buccaneers only went 8-9, becoming the fourth team to make the playoffs with a losing record. This was Tom Brady’ s first losing season. On paper, the Cowboys are the better team. Yet Brady is undefeated against the Cowboys, going 7-0 in that span. Home field will not matter. Neither of these teams plays in cold weather. Dak Prescott and company play well in the regular season, but often flame out in the postseason. Mike McCarthy knows offense and Todd Bowles knows defense. These Buccaneers are a shell of the team that won it all two years ago, but the Cowboys do not get the benefit of the doubt until they prove themselves in the postseason. Brady gutted the Buccaneers to the postseason and may have one more miracle left in him. Betting against him has been a fool’s errand for a long time. Upset special, Buccaneers win outright

My birthday: 51 happy memories upon turning 51

January 10th, 2023

My birthday: 51 happy memories upon turning 51

I entered this world 51 years ago today on January 9, 1972. On my 49th birthday, here are 49 happy memories.

1.) Every moment I ever spent with my grandparents. They are gone now, but I had all four of them when I graduated college and three of them when I turned 30. I am blessed.

2.) January 9, 1977 — The Oakland Raiders won the Super Bowl on my fifth birthday. I saw the logo and became a Raider for life.

3.) August 15, 1980 — Smokey and the Bandit II came out. I saw the original and the sequel and became a lifelong fan of the Bandit and the Snowman.

4.) January 22, 1984 — The Raiders won their third Super Bowl. I still remember telling the kids at school the next day one simple message. “Just win baby!”

5.) January 21, 1985 — I had my Bar Mitzvah, the Jewish passage into manhood. My Orthodox Rabbi grandfather led the ceremony.

6.) July 13, 1990 — I watched Bill Murray in “Quick Change” for the first of over 100 times. This movie is true New York, and Murray remains a national hero.

7.) August 26, 1990 — I flew from New York to Los Angeles for college. I immediately fell in love with this city and never left.

8.) September 26, 1990 — I joined the campus radio station and developed my lifelong love of radio.

9.) May 10, 1992 — I wrote my first song. 70 more would follow.

10.) January 9, 1994 — The Raiders won a playoff game over arch rival Denver on my 22nd birthday. We all had a big party to celebrate afterward at 1950s Cafe Ed Debevic’s.

11.) June 14, 1994 — The New York Rangers won the NHL Stanley Cup and ended the 54 year curse.

12.) September 13, 1994 — I passed the Series 7 stockbroker’s exam. At that moment I was now a professional.

13.) June 1, 1997 — I saw my friend doing something on a computer that seemed different. He was in a chat room. It was my first time using the Internet.

14.) July 4, 1999 — My friends and I crashed an Independence Day party on the beach and escaped moments before police busted up the party.

15.) September 23, 1999 — I finally got my driver’s license. I never needed one before.

16.) December 31, 1999 — Ringing in the Millennium in Las Vegas.

17.) March 1, 2000 — I flew from Los Angeles to New Orleans for Mardi Gras 2000. I still have my Calvin and Hobbes t-shirt, “Life is short. Party naked. Mardi Gras 2000.”

18.) February 13, 2003 — I watched the movie “Old School.” I will forever thank Vince Vaughn, Will Ferrell and “The Godfather” Luke Wilson for inspiring me at age 31 to finally start going to Florida for Spring Break. Years of South Beach, Miami revelry ensued at the Clevelander and Ocean’s 10.

19.) March 14, 2003 — I flew to Singapore and Thailand and got to experience five days of beauty in each country. I met the Jewish communities of both nations.

20.) November 4, 2003 — NFL Network was born. Finally, a television channel worth watching existed.

21.) November 2, 2004 — Enjoying the 2004 election with my closest friends.

22.) February 12, 2006 — I flew from Los Angeles to Hawaii. I met the Jewish community of Honolulu and attended my first NFL Pro Bowl. I met ESPN’s Chris Berman.

23.) April 28, 2006 — I flew from Los Angeles to New York and went to Radio City Music Hall. For the first time, I got to attend the NFL Draft and meet a bunch of great football heroes.

24.) August 4, 2006 — I flew from Los Angeles to Ohio and drove to Canton. I visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame, saw the induction ceremony featuring John Madden, and attended the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game.

25.) March 11, 2007 — I Started a blog called the Tygrrrr Express. That column somehow turned into five books and a national speaking career.

26.) September 11, 2007 — On the sixth anniversary of the attacks, I flew from Los Angeles to New York and then drove to Great Adventure in New Jersey. I attended Sean Hannity’s Freedom Concert and saw New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani light up the crowd.

27.) October 17, 2007 — I joined Facebook. Between that and Twitter, I have met many good people, increased book sales, and built my business.

28.) February 2, 2008 — I flew from Los Angeles to Phoenix and attended my first Super Bowl. The New York Giants shocked the previously unbeaten New England Patriots.

29.) March 30, 2008 — My friend adopted a child from Guatemala. On this day “the boy” turned one. Being “Unca Eric” is the best job in the world.

30.) May 13, 2008 — I flew from Los Angeles to Washington, DC. I attended the Republican Jewish Coalition Leadership Conference and met Dr. Charles Krauthammer.

31.) August 6, 2008 — I flew from Los Angeles to Israel and spent a week in the Holy Land.

32.) August 30, 2008 — I flew from Los Angeles to Minneapolis for my first Republican Convention. For a week, friends and I slept in a sports bar. It was like being Norm Peterson from “Cheers.”

33.) April 5, 2009 — My first book “Ideological Bigotry” was published.

34.) September 1, 2009 — I left Wall Street after 15 years and began my career as a full-time professional speaker.

35.) November 11, 2009 — I flew from Los Angeles to Galveston and spoke at the Texas Federation of Republican Women Convention. I made TFRW and other lifelong friends in the Lone Star State.

36.) March 11, 2010 — I flew from Los Angeles to Oklahoma City to speak at the National Federation of Republican Women Spring Conference. That launched me nationally since the NFRW run the world.

37.) May 1, 2011 — In Aiken, South Carolina, I saw the news that Osama bin Laden was killed. That night I told my very best political joke. “Osama bin Laden is now burning underground with 72 Helen Thomases.” It was the bookend to my very first political joke. “Never rely on a Palestinian GPS tracker. I took one wrong turn, ended up at a cemetery, and a sinister voice said, ‘You have reached your final destination!’ I got so angry I threw the thing out the window, which was good because 5 seconds later it exploded.”

38.) February 9, 2013 — I met Vice President Dick Cheney and spoke in front of him at a dinner.

39.) September 25, 2013 — I spoke to a Tea Party group in Hays, Kansas. At that moment, I had officially spoken in all 50 states.

40.) November 4, 2014 — I spoke at an election night party in New Jersey.

41.) March 20, 2015 — After writing four political comedy books, I finished my first religious comedy book “Jewish Lunacy.” This allowed me to move beyond political speaking into religious speaking.

42.) May 12, 2015 — I met President George W. Bush and shook his hand.

43.) November 8, 2016 — Enjoyed a raucous election night party in Raleigh, North Carolina.

44.) Any woman whoever let me play with her yummy bouncies or at least was nice enough to send me pictures of them.

45.) January 9, 2018 — On my 46th birthday, the return of Chucky as Jon Gruden returns to the Black Hole to rejoin the Raiders. Like me, Gruden has unfinished business.

46.) November 9, 2018 — I met Angela Lansbury in Beverly Hills and got my picture taken with her. She remains one of the most talented people in the history of entertainment.

47.) 2019 was the year I branch out beyond books and into t-shirts. I started with 2 or 3 designs in 2017 and 2018. By the end of 2019 I had 49 mostly original t-shirt designs. Now I have over 250 mostly original designs. My best seller remains “Stop judging women by their tops. #BackSidesMatter!”

48.) 2020 was a brutal year for so many people because of a global pandemic. Yet thank God I was healthy and in better financial condition than previous years. On January 9, 2021, I watched the NFL Wildcard playoffs with friends. Normally there would be 2 games as has been the case for the last 30 years. Yet for the first time, there were 3 games, with 3 more to occur on January 10th. I watched football all day and had a great day with people who matter to me. I was besieged with well-wishes from hundreds of people by text, phone call and social media. My birthday evening capped with a special someone. I am blessed as can be to have had such a great birthday.

49.) August 9, 2021 — Rabbi Yaakov Perman of Chabad Leawood, Kansas helped me put on Tefillin. At that moment, I had finally put on Tefillin in all 50 states. 

50.) On February 14, 2022, I achieved the American dream that I thought was forever beyond my reached. I finally bought a home. I own a condo in North Miami, Florida. 

51.) On August 14, 2022, I achieved another dream that I thought would never happen. After a life of bachelorhood, I got married. She is a Republican Jewish brunette. 

I would like to thank my parents for raising me right and Angela Lansbury’s JB Fletcher of “Murder, She Wrote” for catching murderers and making the world safer.

Anything I could possibly wish for has already been granted.

eric @ Tygrrrr Express

NFL 2022 Week 18 Recap

January 8th, 2023

NFL 2022 Week 18 Recap

Kansas City Chiefs at Las Vegas Raiders was the Saturday afternoon game. The 13-3 Chiefs with a win would be the top seed in the AFC playoffs. The 6-10 Raiders have had a miserable season under Josh McDaniels. Jarrett Stidham was making his 2nd NFL start as Derek Carr remained away from the team. Josh Jacobs came in the NFL rushing leader, playing with an emotional heart. His father had open heart surgery the Wednesday before the game. Davante Adams came in the NFL receiving leader. Patrick Mahomes came in needing 430 yards passing to set the NFL single season passing record. The weak link on the Raiders is McDaniels. The Raiders won the coin toss and decided to defer, an imbecilic decision. Bill Belichick likes to defer, so McDaniels thinks that makes it ok. The goal is to keep Mahomes off the field, not to let him dictate the pace of the game. On the second play of the game, Mahomes went bombs away for a 67 yard gain. On 3rd and goal at the 4, the Raiders defense was flagged for having 12 men on the field. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Mahomes rolled to his left, saw the running lanes closed, and flipped a shovel pass to Jerick McKinnon for the touchdown. The Chiefs led 7-0 only 2 minutes into the game. 

The Raiders moved into field goal range. On 3rd down Stidham was sacked. Daniel Carlson snuck a 54 yard field goal inside the left upright to get the Raiders within 7-3. On 3rd and 2 from the Raiders 43, Mahomes threw incomplete. Surprisingly, Andy Reid punted. A good punt had the Raiders taking over at their own 5 yard line. On a play action pass, Stidham collided with Jacobs and was then sacked. On the next play, Stidham went bombs away into double coverage and was intercepted. The Chiefs had a short field at the Raiders 44. Mahomes executed his play action pass properly and found Juju Smith-Schuster for a 28 yard gain. Toney easily gained 14. The second quarter began with the Chiefs facing 1st and goal at the 2. Ronald Jones got in to make it 14-3 Chiefs.  

The Raiders took over at their own 24 and moved to a 3rd and goal at the 2. Stidham threw a fade to the end zone but it was high and incomplete. Josh McDaniels gambled on 4th and goal at the 2. Stidham rolled out and fired over the middle incomplete. A 9 minute drive yielded nothing. The Chiefs soon faced 3rd and 4 from their own 8. Mahomes threw deep incomplete. Yet a horrendous roughing the passer call on Maxx Crosby meant 15 yards and an automatic first down. Crosby hit Mahomes in his shoulder nowhere near his head. The first roughing the passer call against the Raiders all season came at the worst possible time. Given a second chance, Mahomes torched the pathetic Raiders secondary as expected. At the 2 minute warning the Chiefs faced 1st and 10 from the Raiders 30. On 3rd and 10, Mahomes scrambled for 14. Kadarius Toney ran for an 11 yard touchdown. The 12 play, 98 yard, 5 minute drive made it 21-3 Chiefs with 47 seconds left in the half. 

After a touchback, Stidham quickly fired to Waller for 21. Defensive pass interference added 9. On 1st and 10 from the Chiefs 45, Stidham was sacked. The Raiders took their final timeout with 32 seconds left. on 2nd and 17, Stidham fired over the middle to Adams for a big gain in field goal range. Yet offensive illegal use of hands wiped out the gain and meant 2nd and 27. Rather than take a knee and end this miserable hands, another incompletions topped the clock. Now the Raiders could not take a knee because the defense had a timeout left. Stidham got hit and fumbled. The Chiefs recovered at the Raiders 30 with 9 seconds left. Harrison Butker hit a 44 yard field goal to end the half with a 24-3 lead. The Josh McDaniels plan of deferring the opening kickoff, as everything else he has tried to do this season, blew up spectacularly against his own team. 

The Raiders got the ball to start the second half after a touchback, the Raider moved to a 1st and 10 at the Chiefs 18.  Yet after another run meant 2nd and 10, Josh McDaniels immediately abandoned the run like he always does. An incompletion and a delay of game killed the drive. An 8 minute drive yielded only a 38 yard Carlson field goal as the Raiders trailed 24-6. This game was never a contest. A 31 yard Isaiah Pacheco run led to 3rd and goal at the one. Pacheco got in straight up the gut with 11 minutes left to make it a 31-6 Chiefs blowout lead. Pass-happy Josh McDaniels may or may not have noticed that even pass-happy Walrus Andy Reid was running the ball in obvious running situations. It’s called power football, and McDaniels refuses to play it. A meaningless touchdown pass from Stidham to Renfrow with 6 1/2 minutes left still was not enough to prevent a blowout. Stidham was sacked 6 times, including on 4th and 21 in his own territory. with 4 minutes left. Chad Henne came in for mop up work. The 14-3 Chiefs are the top seed. They will get the first round bye. If Buffalo wins on Sunday and the Chiefs play Buffalo in the AFC Title Game, that game will be held at a neutral stadium. Under any other scenario, the Chiefs will have home field advantage throughout the playoffs. They have the potential to host the AFC Title Title Game for the 5th straight year, making Andy Reid a most happy Walrus indeed. 

Luckily for the Raiders, this miserable season is over. Unluckily for them, McDaniels will still not be fired. Carr will be the fall guy. Another team will win with Carr. The Raiders under Jon Gruden and Rich Bisaccia were 10-7. The Raiders finished 6-11 this year. McDaniels is expected to take a keg of dynamite to the team, because in his own mind he has not done enough damage already. For those with short memories, the Raiders led by Carr went into Arrowhead earlier this season and were a failed 2 point conversion from winning. McDaniels threw Carr under the bus, but McDaniel is the problem. Stidham fumbled one more time but the Raiders retained possession. With Carr gone next year, McDaniels will be out of people to blame. It will be too late. When Mark Davis eventually realized McDaniels is the problem and fires him, the damage will have already been done. There is no home field advantage for the Raiders as tourists from other teams fill the stadium. 31-13 Chiefs 

Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars was the Saturday night game. The 7-9 Titans were at the 8-8 Jaguars with the AFC South crown on the line. Winner is in. The Titans with a loss were out. The Jaguars could lose and still get in, but would need a ton of help. The 7-3 Titans were cruising toward the playoffs until injuries led to a 6 game losing streak. Ryan Tannehill is on injured reserve. with Malik Willis not getting it done last week, this week with everything on the line it was third string quarterback Josh Dobbs getting the nod. The Jaguars were supposed to be a year away from contending, but Doug Pederson has turned this team around in his first season. Trevor Lawrence has been the biggest beneficiary. After a 3-7 start, the Jaguars have gone 5-1 since then. The Titans moved 51 yards in 17 plays and took 10 minutes off the clock. The Titans tried to rekindle the Music City Miracle of 1999 with a home run throwback play on offense, but this time it was called back due to the attempted lateral clearly being a forward pass. Randy Bullock hit a 51 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Titans. 

The Jaguars moved to the Tennessee 30 in the second quarter. Doug Pederson went to the bag of tricks but a reverse play blew up when Trevor Lawrence pitched the ball a little too high. The pitchout was fumbled and the Titans recovered. The Titans moved to the Jacksonville 21. With the Titans playing smash mouth, a well-executed play action pass from Dobbs went to Chigoziem Okonkwo for the touchdown and the 10-0 Titans lead. Jamal Agnew gave the Jaguars a spark by returning the ensuing kickoff 54 yards. Lawrence went to Christian Kirk for a 25 yard touchdown to get the Jaguars within 10-7 with 2 1/2 minutes left in the half. On 3rd and 2 from the Jacksonville 17, Dobbs was swarmed. He smartly took the sack rather than try to face anything. Rand Bullock hit the 39 yard field goal to end the half with the Titans up 13-7.

I  the third quarter the Jaguars after a touchback moved to a 3rd and 7 at the Tennessee 8. Lawrence rolled out and had a wide open Zee Jones in the end zone. There was nobody anywhere near Jones. Yet Lawrence overthrew him as the ball sailed out of the back of the end zone. Riley Patterson hit the 25 yard field goal to get the Jaguars within 13-10. Mike Vrable went to the bag of tricks. A direct snap to Derrick Henry was meant to be a halfback option pass. The Jaguars blew it up in the backfield yet Henry tried to throw the ball anyway with a couple guys draped all over him. Henry floated a ball as he was going to the ground. Into double coverage, the ball fell incomplete but the Titans were lucky enough to draw a defensive pass interference call. On 3rd and 10 from the Jacksonville 40, Dobbs hit the receiver over the middle for 13 yards. On 3rd and 7 from the Jacksonville 24 under heavy pressure, Dobbs threw incomplete. Bullock hit from 41 to make it 16-10 Titans with 6 minutes left in the third quarter. 

With one minute left in the third quarter the Titans were facing 3rd and 16 from their own 9 yard line. This was right after a big run by Henry into Jacksonville territory was wiped out by offensive holding. Dobbs decided to go bombs away under heavy pressure. Tyson Campbell intercepted the ball and returned the pick 29 yards to the Tennessee 25. Instead of being down by 9, the Jaguars and a chance to take the lead. The fourth quarter began with the Jaguars facing 3rd and 3 at the Tennessee 18. Lawrence went to the end zone but the play was broken up in the last moment incomplete. Patterson hit the 36 yard field goal to get the Jaguars within 16-13. 

The defenses dug in. Midway through the fourth quarter on 3rd and 3 from their own 17, a completion from Dobbs to Jonathan Ward appeared to be stopped for a loss, but somehow Ward broke through a tough tackle for a 4 yard gain. On 3rd and inches from their own 30, Dobbs snuck across for a yard with plenty of help from his own offensive lineman pushing him form behind. On 3rd and 6 from their own 35 with 3 minutes left, Dobbs went back to pass and got blasted by Jenkins and fumbled. The ball went forward and bounced straight to Allen, who returned the fumble 30 yards for a defensive touchdown. After trailing the entire game, the Jaguars had the lead with 2:51 to play in the game. There was a chance this was an incomplete pass. After careful review, officials confirmed that Dobbs’s lost the ball before his arm knocked the ball forward. It was the empty hand rule. The Titans were one or two first downs away from running out the clock. Instead, the Jaguars led by 4 points as the home crowd erupted in celebration.

With all 3 timeouts and the 2 minute warning, The Titans had plenty of time to run the ball. After a touchback, Dobbs ran for 10. Henry added 9. A 6 yard completion from Dobbs to Swain had the Titans with 1st and 10 at midfield at the 2 minute warning. Dobbs got hit again and fumbled again, but this time the ball bounced right back to Dobbs for a sack. A false start had the Titans facing 3rd and 17 from their own 43 with 1:46 left. Under heavy pressure, Dobbs somehow with 2 guys bearing on him managed a completion for 4 yards to set up 4th and 13 with 1:37 left. The Titans were down to their last gasp. For some reason, Dobbs threw underneath rather than past the first down marker. The completion gained only 8 with 90 seconds left. The Titans only had one timeout left. It was not enough. Lawrence took a couple knees. He is going to his first playoff game, and it will be at home. 6 wins in their last 7 games gave the Jaguars a winning season at 9-8. The Titans were the top seed last year. This year 7 straight losses had them finishing 7-10. This was an old-school stone age smash mouth football game. Both defenses hit the opposing offense in the mouth. Defense won this game. Welcome back to Sacksonville. 20-16 Jaguars 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons — The Falcons were out of the playoffs. The 8-8 Buccaneers were locked into the four seed as NFC South champs. With nothing to play for, they could have rested their starters. Yet Tom Brady was in danger of his first losing season in 23 years. He and the starters played.  The Buccaneers began at their own 30. Brady went to Chris Godwin for 17 and 8. Thompkins. ran for 17. On 3rd and 4 from the Atlanta 17, Brady went to Cade Otton for 5. Brady hit Rudolph for the 8 yard touchdown. The 10 play, 70 yard, 5 minute drive made it 7-0 Buccaneers. The Falcons took over at their own 9. On 3rd and 5, Desmond Ridder went to London for 26.  A defensive penalty for a low block added 15 more. Tyler Allgeier had big gains of 17 and 16. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Ridder hit Pruittfor the touchdown. The 91 yard drive made it 7-7.  

Two plays after a touchback the Buccaneers fumbled. The Falcons took over at the Tampa 34. The defense held and the Falcons settled for a Younghoe Koo 49 yard field goal to lead 10-7. The Buccaneers after a touchback moved to a 4th and 1 at the Atlanta 14. Bernard gained 8, but offensive holding brought it back and made it 4th and 10. Ryan Succop hit the 41 yard field goal to cap the 14 play, 52 yard, 7 1/2 minute drive for a 10-10 game midway through the second quarter. With 4 minutes left in the half, the Buccaneers recovered a Falcons fumble at the Atlanta 22. Yet Brady stayed on the sideline with a baseball cap on. He was done for the day. Blaine gabbers was now in at quarterback. Todd Bowles was not taking any further chances risking an injury to Brady. Gabbert went to Thompkins for 13. On 3rd and goal at the 3, Gabbert hit Rusell Gage for a 3 yard touchdown as the Buccaneers led 17-10 at the midpoint.

After a third quarter touchback, the Falcons moved to a 2nd and goal at the 5. A run lost a yard and Ridder threw incomplete. Koo hit from 24 to get the Falcon within 17-13. The Falcons took over at their own 20. Ridder hit London for 17. Allgeier gained 13. On 4th and 3 from the Tampa 43, Arthur Hill decided to go for it. Ridder hit Anthony Firkser for 11 and Hesse for 6. Cordarelle Patterson gained 8. On 3rd and 3 from the Tampa 11, Allgeier gained 5. On 3rd and goal at the 3, Ridder went to Olamide Zaccheaus for the touchdown to cap the 14 play, 80 yard, 8 minute drive as the Falcons led 20-17 after three quarters. The Falcons got it back in the fourth quarter and faced 3rd and 6 from their own 21. Ridder went deep to London for 40 yards. Ridder went to Darby for 15. On 3rd and 6 from the Tampa 16, Ridder went to London for 14. Patterson ran for the 2 yard touchdown to make it 27-17 Falcons midway through the fourth quarter. Koo tacked on a 51 yard field goal with 4 minutes left to complete the scoring. 20 unanswered points allowed the Falcons to end the season on a high note. Tom Brady saw his team fall to 8-9, his first ever losing season. Yet the Buccaneers are going to the playoffs. Football is about the team, not individuals. 30-17 Falcons

New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills — By now the whole world knows about Damar Hamlin. His near death experience on the football field 6 days ago has united Americans of all stripes. The Bills came in 12-3 and were expected to rid e a wave of emotion. Although the top seed and a first round bye were out of reach, a win would lock up the two seed. If the Bills reached the AFC Title Game against top seed Kansas City, the game would be moved to a neutral site. The 8-8 Patriots needed a win to make the playoffs. Sometimes football is bigger than just a game. Sometimes there are larger forces at work brought on by emotion. The New York Giants defense in the game after 9/11. The New Orleans Saints blocked punt in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina. 

Jermaine Lewis returning two kicks for touchdowns for the Ravens only days after his son was stillborn. 

Today Nyheim Hines returned the opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown today for the Buffalo Bills only days after Damar Hamlin nearly died on the field. 14 seconds into the game, the Bills led 7-0. 

The Patriots eventually faced 3rd and 1 from their own 35. Mac Jones hit Jakobi Meyers for 20, Davante Parker for 17, Rhamondre Stevenson for 6, Parker for 11, and Meyers for a 2 yard touchdown and a 7-7 game. The Bills soon faced 3rd and 2 from their own 33. Allen hit Stefan Diggs for 16. On 3rd and 1 from the New England 42, Singletary gained 2. Allen went to Diggs for 16. On 3rd and 7 from the New England 21, Allen went to Gabriel Davis for 19. The second quarter began with Allen hitting Dawson Knox for a 4 yard touchdown to make it 14-7 Bills. The Patriots took over at their own 26. Stevenson gained 18. Jones then hit Stevenson for 8 and Kendrick Bourne for 20. On 3rd and 3 at the Buffalo 17, Jones hit Kendrick Bourne for 10. Jones hit Parker for a 2 yard touchdown and a 14-14 tie. The Bills from their own 28 to a 1st and 10 at the New England 15 with 38 seconds left in the half. A pair of incompletions left 14 seconds. In short field goal range, Allen’s pass on 3rd and 10 was intercepted as the Bills wasted an opportunity. In the third quarter the Patriots moved from their own 19 to a 1st and 10 at the Buffalo 21. With a chance to take the lead, Jones was intercepted by White at the 2 yard line as the game remained tied. Two plays later the Bills fumbled and the Patriots recovered at the Buffalo 11. On 3rd and 8, a run gained only 3 yards.Nick Folk hit the 24 yard field goal to make it 17-14 Patriots. 

Then came another shocker. Hines returned the opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown to start the game. He did it again, this time returning the kickoff 101 yards for another touchdown. Are? You? Kidding? Me!!!???!!!!??? 2 kickoff returns for touchdowns in the same game. Jermaine Lewis did that for the Ravens a few days after his son was stillborn. Hines just did this a few days after Damar Hamlin nearly died. There are larger forces at work. At the risk of offending some of you (never stopped me before), the world was witnessing the case for atheism being obliterated. The Bills led 21-17 and got the ball back at their own 19. On 3rd and 1, Allen gained 3. Allen went to Shakir for 28. Allen then rolled out, directed traffic, and uncorked a 42 yard touchdown bomb to John Brown to make it 28-17 Bills after three quarters. 

The Patriots took over at their own 15. Jones hit Parker for 14. Harris gained 19 as the third quarter ended. On 4th and 1 from the Buffalo 36 with 12 1/2 minutes left in regulation, Bill Belichick went for it. Jones hit Meyers for 10. Jones then went to Parker for a 26 yard touchdown. The 2 point try failed but the Patriots were within 28-23. In a desperate attempt to avoid kicking to Hines, the kickoff went out of bounds to set up the Bills at their own 40. A chop blok penalty had the Bills facing 2nd and 23 from their own38. Allen hit Isaiah McKenzie for 13. On 3rd and 10, Allen went bombs away again to Diggs for a 49 yard touchdown. The Bills were up by 12 with 9 minutes left. The Patriots went 3 and out but got a break when the Bills fumbled the punt and the Patriots recovered at the Buffalo 35. Yet on 3rd and 19 from the Buffalo 22, Jones went to the end zone and was intercepted. The Patriots got it back and faced 3rd and 1 from their own 28 with 2:42 to play. Jones was intercepted again. One year after the Sean McDermott’s Bills blasted the Patriots 47-17 to eliminate them in the playoffs, the Bills this time knocked the 8-9 Patriots out of playoff contention. The 13-3 Bills locked up the two seed. If they play Kansas City or Cincinnati in the AFC Title Game, the game will be played at a neutral site. From his Cincinnati hospital bed, Damar Hamlin is alive, speaking, and Tweeting his happiness for his team. 35-23 Bills

Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears — The 12-4 Vikings entered as the three seed and needed a win over the lowly Bears and a San Francisco loss to claim the two seed. The top seed is out of reach. The Bears with a loss and a Houston win would own the top pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. With Justin Fields out, Nathan Peterman started. On the third play from scrimmage facing 3rd and 7 from their own 30, Kirk Cousins went deep to Osborn for a 66 yard gain. On the next play Cousins went to Adam Thielen for a 4 yard touchdown. Greg Joseph missed the extra point but the Vikings led 6-0. The Vikings began the second quarter facing 3rd and 11 at their own 33. Cousins went to TJ Hockenson for 16 and Ham for 11. Mattison gained 11. On 3rd and 7 from the Chicago 25, , Cousins went to Osborn for 7 and Smith for 8. From the 10, Alexander Mattison ran for 3, 6, and the one yard touchdown to cap the 12 play, 66 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive to make it 13-0 Vikings midway through the second quarter. Boyle came in for Peterman. 3 plays later on 3rd and 7 from their own 31, Boyle was intercepted. Patrick Peterson returned the pick 28 yards to the Chicago 35. On 3rd and 4 from the Chicago 5, a delay of game penalty was followed by an incompletion. Joseph hit the 28 yard fed goal to make it 16-0 Vikings.

After a touchback, Boyle hit Cole Kmet for 17 and 16. On the next play Van Jones raced down the sideline past terrible attempts at tackling for a 42 yard touchdown. The 2 point conversion try failed as the Bears were within 16-6. After a touchback, the Vikings moved to a 1st and goal at the 6 with one minute left in the half. The Vikings got 0 yards and took the clock down to one second. Joseph hit the 24 yard field goal but a mindless offensive penalty for 12 men on the field nullified the score and ended the half. It didn’t matter. After a third quarter touchback, Cousins was done for the day. Kevin O’Connell wanted to keep his stars fresh for the playoffs and gave them the second half off. Nick Mullens played the second half. Mattison ran for 6 and 11. Mullens went to Ham for for 10 and Nailor for 26. On 3rd and 1 from the Chicago 8, Mullensa gained 2. On 3rd and goal at the one, Mattison got in to make it 23-6 Vikings. The Bears did manage one third quarter touchdown, but nothing else. Joseph hit field goals of 50 in the third quarter and 41 in the fourth quarter to complete the scoring. The 13-4 Vikings will be the three seed in the playoffs. The Bears with the loss combined with a Houston win are officially the worst NFL team of 2022. After the Super Bowl, the Bears will be on the clock for the top pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. 29-13 Vikings

Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals — The 11-4 Bengals hosted the 10-6 Ravens. Both teams are in the playoffs. The Ravens came in losers of 3 straight games with Lamar Jackson being injured. The division is out of reach for them. Instead of Tyler Huntley, 3rd stringer Anthony Brown started. For the Bengals, the top seed was out of reach. Yet a win and a Buffalo loss would vault them to the two seed. If the Bengals were to play Buffalo in the AFC Title Game, the game would be moved to a neutral site. The Bengals took over at their own 31 and moved 63 yards in 17 plays and 8 minutes. Yet on 1st and 10 from the Baltimore 16, Joe Burrow threw incomplete 3 straight times. Evan McPherson hit the 34 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Bengals. One play after a touchback an interception of Brown gave the Bengals a short field at the Baltimore 48. Burrow went to Tyler Boyd for 22. Burrow hit Hurst for 7 and Boyd for 12. Joe Mixon ran for the 5 yard touchdown to make it 10-0 Bengals. 3 plays later on the first play of the second quarter with the Ravens facing 3rd and 5 at their own 30, Brown was intercepted again to give the Bengals another short field at the Baltimore 32. On 3rd and 4, Burrow went deep to JaMarr Chase for a 26 yard touchdown to make it 17-0 Bengals.

The Ravens faced 3rd and 13 from their own 21. Brown threw incomplete but roughing the passer kept the drive going. Brown went to Likely for 28 and Kolar for 15. On 3rd and 9 from the Cincinnati 19, Brown went to Likely for 12. Kenyon Drake ran for 3 and then for the 4 yard touchdown. With 1:57 left in the half, the Ravens were within 17-7. The Ravens got it back and faced 3rd and 9 from their own 6. Rather than just run the ball and try to get to the half, John Harbaugh decided to get aggressive. Brown was sacked in the end zone and fumbled. Ossai recovered for a defensive touchdown and a 24-7 Bengals lead. In the third quarter a sack of Burrow forced a fumble that gave the Ravens gift field position at the Cincinnati 9. Yet a run gained one yard and Brown threw incomplete twice. Justin Tucker hit a 26 yard field goal to get the Ravens within 24-10. After a touchback, the Bengas moved to a 4th and 2 at the Baltimore 8. McPherson hit from 26 to make it 27-10 Bengals. After a touchback, the Ravens moved to a 3rd and 4 at the Cincinnati 33. Brown threw incomplete. Tucker delivered from 51 to get the Ravens within 27-13. With 12 minutes left in regulation the Ravens had moved from their own 18 to a 2nd and 5 at the Cincinnati 9. Brown threw incomplete and then got taken down for no gain. Again it was a 27 yard Tucker field goal to get the Ravens within 11. They got nothing else. With 3 minutes left a 47 yard completion as for naught when the Ravens fumbled the ball away. The 10-7 Ravens are the six seed. The 12-4 Bengals are the three seed. In a quirk of fate, these teams meet again next week in Cincinnati in the playoffs. 27–16 Bengals

Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts — League rules required this game between awful teams had to be played. With a loss, the Texans could lock up the top pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Sometimes a pair of terrible teams can come together and play an exciting game. This actually was that game. Nevertheless, the sheer number of blunders still made it the Stupor Bowl. On the first play of the game after a touchback, Davis Mills went to Brandin Cooks for 33. Mills then went to Jordan Akin for 15, Quitoriano for 9, and Cooks for an 11 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Texans. The Colts fumbled the ensuing kickoff to set up the Texans at the Indianapolis 18. A run was blown up for a 7 yard loss. Kaimi Fairbairn hit a 37 yard field goal to make it 10-0 Texans.

After a touchback, Sam Ehlinger hit Pierce for 13. Moss gained 34. On 3rd and 6 from the Houston 24, Ehlinger threw incomplete but the defense jumped offside to set up 3rd and 1. Jackson got stopped but with absolutely nothing to lose, Jeff Saturday went for it. On 4th and 1, Ehlinger gained 5. On 3rd and 5 from the Houston 9, Ehlinger only gained 4 but defensive unnecessary roughness added 3 more. Ehlinger hit Michael Pittman for a one yard touchdown to finish the 11 play, 75 yard, 6 minute drive and get the Colts within 10-7. In the second quarter the Colts punted on 4th and 17 from their own 2 to set up the Texans with a short field at the Indianapolis 46. From the indy 21, Freeman gained 7 but fumbled. The Justin Blackon returned the fumble 34 yards to set up the Colts at their own 42. One play later, Mills was intercepted by Jonathan Greenard, who returned it 39 yards for a defensive touchdown and a 17-7 Texans lead. 

In the third quarter the Colts moved from their own 17 to a 4th and goal at the 6. On the field goal try, the defense encroached to make it 4th and goal at the 3. Saturday inexplicably went for it. Out of the shotgun, Ehlinger threw incomplete. A 13 yard punt return gave the Colts the ball with a short field just past midfield. A defensive facemask added 15 yards. Ehlinger ran for 8 with defensive holding adding 5 more. Moss ran for a 15 yard touchdown to get the Colts within 17-14. After a touchback, Mills went deep to Quitoriano for 52. On 3rd and 8 from the Indy 19, Mills went to Jordan Akins for the touchdown. Again, the Texans could guarantee themselves the top Draft pick by losing. With 4 minutes left in the third quarter, the Texans were winning 24-14. 

The Texans got the ball back with a chance to put the game away. Yet on 3rd and 8 from their own 21, Mills was intercepted by Ray McLeod. McLeod returned the pick 27 yards for a touchdown to get the Colts within 24-21. The Texans soon faced 3rd and 8 from their own 27. Mills was intercepted again by Thomas. This time Thomas returned the pick 11 yards as the Colts took over at their own 42 to start the fourth quarter. Moss gained 10. Ehlinger went to Pierce for 18 and Pittman for 23. On 3rd and goal at the 4, Ehlinger hit Mo Alie-Cox for the touchdown. with 10 1/2 minutes left in regulation, the Colts led 28-24. The Colts got the ball back at their own 24 and moved 40 yards in 10 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. On 4th and 7 from the Houston 36, a field goal try would be 54 yards. Chase McLaughlin delivered. 17 unanswered points had the Colts up 31-24. 3 1/2 minutes still remained. For the billionth time, a Texans loss guaranteed them the top Draft pick.

The Texans soon faced 3rd and 2 from their own 25. Ogunbowale gained 3. Mills hit Rodgers for 14 and Moore for 12 as the clock hit the 2 minute warning. With 1:26 left the Texans were down to their last gasp, facing 4th and 12 from the Indy 48. Mills went deep to Cooks for 30. With 50 seconds left, the Texans were again down to their last gasp facing 4th and 20 from the Indy 28. Under heavy pressure, Mills threw the Hail Mary. A defender was perfectly positioned in the end zone for the interception. It went right through the defender’s hands and was caught by Akins for the touchdown. The Texans got their miracle. They were an extra point away from a tie game. Yet if ever a game did not deserve overtime, this game was it. With nothing whatsoever to lose, Lovie Smith went for the win on the road. Mills fired to Akins in the end zone successfully. Now the Texans had the one point lead. 

After a touchback, on 3rd and 10, Ehlinger went to Jackson for 11 and Woods for 9. With 13 seconds left, the Colts were at their own 45. They needed about 15 yards to try a very long field goal. A completion for one yard accomplished nothing and forced the Colts to take their last timeout with 8 seconds left. Ehlinger had a receiver by the sideline but threw high and incomplete, leaving 2 seconds. Out of field goal range, it was Hail Mary time. Ehlinger’s pass did not even reach the end zone before falling incomplete. 

Two weeks ago the Houston Texans were the worst team in pro football. All they had to do was lose one of their final 2 games and they would have gotten the top pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. They won their final 2 games and “lost” that opportunity. They will pick second behind the Bears.

Texans fans may not like this, but what the Texans did protects the integrity of pro football. Hockey, baseball and basketball have all been plagued by “tanking.” This is when bad teams purposely lose games to improve their Draft position. 

Tanking violates everything that sports is about. Losing on purpose is anti-sports, anti-competition, and anti-decency. As the late John Madden said, “The worst thing you can say about someone is they lost on purpose. For the sake of what’s right, for the sake of football, you have to (try to) win.” Football is the only sport where there is no evidence of tanking. Give credit to Texans coach Lovie Smith for keeping the team together and to the players for showing pride and professionalism. 

Just to be clear, if a very good NFL team who has clinched their playoff spot rests their starters to keep them healthy for the playoffs, that is not tanking. It is mind-numbingly stupid to risk injuries in a meaningless game. 

Professional sports can only survive if people believe the product they are watching is honest and fair. From a tanking standpoint, football is the only one of the four major sports that has not been tainted. Lovie Smith and Jeff Saturday both wondered if they would be fired on Black Monday, but on this Sunday they honored football the right way by putting on a great game worth of the greatest sport in the history of sports. Sadly, the Texans could not even wait until Black Monday. After consecutive wins, the Texans fired Smith Sunday night. It was their second straight season of firing a coach after one year. 32-31 Texans

 

New York Jets at Miami Dolphins — The Jets started 7-4 and the Dolphins 8-3. Both teams then lost 5 straight. The Jets are out of the playoffs. The Dolphins with a win and a New England loss would sneak into the playoffs as the seven seed Wildcard. In the second quarter, Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein missed a 55 yard field goal try. Jason sanders hit from 37 to get the Dolphins on the board first. Zuerlein hit from 32 for a 33- game at the half. Sanders hit from 37 in the third quarter. Zuerlein hit from 35 for a 6-6 game with 12 minutes left in regulation. With 3 minutes left the Dolphins took over at their own 32. At the 2 minute warning with the Dolphins at their own 44, a very controversial call affected the outcome. A short completion was followed by a defensive horse collar tackle. It was an awful call, but the 15 yards allowed the Dolphins to get into field goal range. With 18 seconds left, Sanders hit from 50 to make it 9-6 Dolphins. The Jets desperation hook and laterals went backward to their own end zone for a safety. The Dolphins with their win and New England’s loss are playoffs bound. 11-6 Dolphins 

Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints — Neither of these teams are going to the playoffs, and both coaches had a chance of being dismissed after the season. After an opening touchback, Red Rifle Andy Dalton hit Olave for 7 and Shaheed for 6. Dalton went to Johnson for 21. Dalton went to Olave for a 25 yard touchdown. The Saints led 7-0 only 4 minutes left in the game. The offense took the remaining 56 minutes off. Wil Lutz missed a 44 yard field goal try in the second quarter that would have extended the lead. In the third quarter the panthers took over at their own 18. Foreman gained 21 and 11. Chuba Hubbard gained 7. Sam Darnold hit Shenault for 8. On 3rd and 4 from the Saints 29, Darnold hit DJ Moore for 10. Hubbard gained 6, 2, and on 3rd and 2 from the Saints 11, 2 more. On 3rd and goal at the 3 out of the shotgun, Darnolf gained 2, fumbled, and got bailed out when Jordan recovered in the end zone for the offense touchdown and a 7-7 game. With 1:24 left in a defensive bonelock, Lutz came in for a 55 yard field goal try to give the Saints the lead. His kick was blocked. The Panthers moved from their own 45 to the Saints 24 with 3 seconds left. Eddie Pineiro came in for a 42 yard try to win it at the gun. Pineiro was good. Both coaches awaited Black Monday. 10-7 Panthers 

Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers — The 7-9 Browns are eliminated. The Steelers were 2-6 at one point but are now 8-8. Mike Tomlin’s team needed a win to avoid his first losing season. More importantly, the Steelers needed a win and losses by both Miami and New England to make the playoffs. In the first quarter, the Steelers moved from their own 24 to a 2nd and goal at the one. kenny pickett kept the quarterback sneak and got stopped. On 3rd and goal, Najee Harris went over the top and got nailed, forcing a fumble. The Steelers recovered and officials ruled Harris did not break the plane of the goal before losing the football. In the second quarter, the Browns faced 3rd and 3 at their own 36. Deshaun Watson went to Bryant for 14. On 3rd and 10 from midfield, Watson threw incomplete but defensive holding meant a new set of downs.Watson went to Kareem Hunt for 14. On 3rd and 1from the Pittsburgh 22, Nick Chubb gained 10. Watson went to David Njoku for the 10 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Browns. 

After a touchback, Pickett went to Gentry for 23. On 3rd and 5 from the Cleveland 47, Pickett threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant an 11 yard gain. On 3rd and 1 from the Cleveland 27, Pickett hit Warren for the yard. On 3rd and 15 from the Cleveland 31, Pickett went to George Pickens for the touchdown. With 1:47 left in the half, the game was tied 7-7. Two plays later, Watson was intercepted to set the Steelers up at their own 44. Chris Boswell hit a 49 yard field goal to put the Steelers up 10-7 at the break. After a third quarter touchback, the Steelers moved 59 yards in 12 plays and 6 minutes. On 2nd and 9 from the Cleveland 10, an incompletion b y Pickett was followed by him getting sacked. Boswell hit from 34 to make it 13-7 Steelers. Another interception of Watson was returned 12 yards by Kazee to the Cleveland 25. Harris ran for 11, 5, 2, and for the 4 yard touchdown. 20 unanswered points had the Steelers up 20-7 after three quarters. 

The fourth quarter began with the Browns at their own 23. Chubb gained 15 and 11. Watson went deep to Arami Cooper for 36. On 2nd and 7 from the Pittsburgh 11, a sack of Watson was wiped away by roughing the passer. Watson hit Chubb for a 2 yard touchdown to get the Browns within 20-14 with 10 minutes left in regulation. After a touchback, Pickett hit Heyward for 9 and Harris added 6. On 3rd and 10 from his own 40, Pickett went to Pickens for 17. On 3rd and 8 from the Cleveland 41, Pickett went to Hayward for 27. On 3rd and 8 from the Cleveland 12, Pickett hit Heyward for 9. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Pickett threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant 1st and goal at the one. Derek Watt scored the touchdown. Pickett hit Johnson for the 2 point conversion. The 14 play, 75 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive put the Steelers up by 14 with 4 1/2 minutes left. The Browns finished the game with Watson being sacked on 3 of the final 4 plays. The 9-8 Steelers avoided Mike Tomlin’s first losing season. Yet because Miami won their game on the final play, the Steelers would not be going to the playoffs. 28-14 Steelers.

New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles — Both teams are in the playoffs. The 10-6 Giants are locked into the six seed Wildcard. Brian Daboll rested his starters to keep them healthy for the playoffs. The 13-1 Eagles lost 2 straight without Jalen Hurts. At 13-3, they needed a win in the regular season finale to lock up the NFC East and home field advantage throughout the playoffs with the first round bye. A loss and a Dallas win would drop the Eagles all the way to the five seed Wildcard. The Eagles moved from their own 35. On their first play from scrimmage, Hurts hit AJ Brown for 35 yards. Yet on 2nd and 8 from the Giants 14, Hurts threw incomplete twice. Jake Elliott hit a 32 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Eagles. The Eagles got it back and faced 3rd and 2 at their own 28. Hurts hit Dallas Goedert for 6. On 3rd and 9 from their own 35, Hurts went deep to Brown for 37. Miles Sanders ran for 6, 4 and 6. Boston Scott ran for an 8 yard touchdown to make it 10-0 Eagles after the first quarter. The Eagles defense shut down the Giants offense in the first half. Elliott hit second quarter field goals of 52 and 39 and a third quarter field goal of 54 to have the Eagles up 19-0. 

The Giants backups put up a fight, forcing Nick Sirianni to leave his starters in. The Giants after a touchback moved to a 3rd and goal at the 6. With Daniel Jones resting, Davis Webb threw incomplete. Graham Gano hit a 24 yard field goal but the Giants still trailed 19-3 After three quarters. The Giants got it back to start the fourth quarter at their own 41. On 4th and 1 from midfield, Brian Daboll went for it. Web hit Cager and got the yard. Brightwell gained 17. Webb went to Cager for 12. On 3rd and 8 from the Philadelphia 14, Webb ran it in. The 2 point try failed but the Giants were within 19-9 with 10 minutes left in regulation. The Eagles after a touchback moved 71 yards in 15 plays and 7 minutes. Elliott hit his 5th field goal from 22 to make it 22-9 Eagles with 3:20 to play. Brightwell returned the ensuing kickoff to start the Giants at their own 46. Webb hit Kenny Golladay for a 25 yard touchdown to get the Giants within 6 with 1:38 to play. The onside kick failed and Hurts took 3 knees. They did it the hard way, but the Eagles are NFC East champs and the top seed in the playoffs. They have the bye week and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. 22-16 Eagles

Dallas Cowboys at Washington Commanders — The Commanders were 7-5-1 but 3 straight losses and 7-8-1 meant they are out of the playoffs. A win would get them to .500 on the year. The 12-4 Cowboys entered the game as the five seed Wildcard. A win and a Philadelphia loss would vault them to the NFC East crown and the two seed. If San Francisco also lost, the Cowboys would have home field advantage throughout the playoffs with the first round bye. Early in the game the Cowboys lined up to punt on 4th and 2 from their own 33. Punter Anger fumbled the snap and the Commanders took over at the Dallas 20. Two plays later it was notTaylor Heinecke or Carson Wentz but third string quarterback sam Howell throwing a 16 yard touchdown pass to Terry McLaurin to make it 6-0 Commanders. Joey Slye had a miserable game and missed the extra point. Later in the first quarter Slye missed a 39 yard field goal try. The Commanders moved from their own 33 to a 1st and goal at the 2 to start the second quarter. A run lost 3 yards. Howell was then intercepted in the end zone for a touchback. Yet Dak Prescott had an even more miserable game. On 3rd and 6 from his own 24, Prescott was intercepted by Kendall Fuller, who returned the pick 29 yards for a touchdown and a 13-0 Commanders lead. Slye missed another field goal from 52 which is why the Commanders were up by 13 rather than 20-0. 

With 2 1/2 minutes left in the half, the Cowboys took over at their own 23. Prescott went to CeeDee Lamb for 6 and 6, to Dalton Schultz for 7, and to michael Gallup for 10. On 3rd and 10 just past midfield, Prescott went to Schultz for 12 and TY Hilton for 11. On 3rd and 10 from the Houston 26, Prescott gained 9. Mike McCarthy went for it on 4th and 1 form the Dallas 17. Prescott gained 2. Prescott hit Lamb for a 15 yard touchdown. Brett Maher missed the extra point, but with 6 seconds left in the half, the Cowboys were only down 13-6. Yet the second half was all about Ron Rivera’s defense. In the third quarter the Commanders eventually took over at their own 41. Howell went to Jahan Dotson for 22 and again for 20. Patterson ran for a pair of 6 yard gains. Howell ran for a 9 yard touchdown to make it 20-6 Commanders after three quarters. Slye hit fourth quarter field goals of 29 and 22 to complete the scoring. Had the Cowboys won, it would not have helped them since Philadelphia also won. The Cowboys will enter the playoffs as a Wildcard as Ron Rivera awaited his Black Monday fate. 26-6 Commanders

Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos — The Broncos are awful. The 10-6 Chargers started the game locked into the five seed Wildcard due to Baltimore losing earlier in the day. The Chargers could and should have rested their starters. Instead, Brandon Staley, who thinks the rules don’t apply to him, played his starters most of the way in a meaningless game. The Chargers began facing 3rd and 8 from their own 27. Justin Herbert went deep to Keenan Allen for 30 and to Carter for 11. Austin Ekeler gained 12. On 3rd and 4 from the Denver 14, Herbert went to Allen for the touchdown to make it 7-0 Chargers. The Broncos after a touchback saw Latavius Murray gain 8 and 3. On 2nd and 7 from their own 43, Wilson’s short pass lost 5 yards. Yet roughing the passer meant a 15 yard gain. On 4th and 2 from the Chargers 34, interim coach Jerry Rosburg went for it. Wilson got the deuce. On 3rd and 4 from the Chargers 26, Murray gained 5. Jerry Jeudy got around the end for 13. Murray ran for a 2 yard touchdown to culminate the 13 play, 75 yard, 7 1/2 minute drive to make it 7-7. 

A field position game had the Chargers getting it back and facing 3rd and 11 at their own 46. Herbert went to Williams for 18.  The second quarter began with the Chargers facing 3rd and 2 at the Denver 28. Herbert hit Allen for 12. On 3rd and 2 from the Denver 8, Ekeler gained 4. On 3rd and goal at the 3, Herbert hit Gerald Everett for the touchdown. The 12 play, 53 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive made it 14-7 Chargers. The Chargers fumbled on their next possession to give the Broncos a short field just past midfield. On 2nd and 4 from the Chargers 14, a run lost a yard and Wilson then threw incomplete. Brandon McManus hit from 33 to get the Broncos within 14-10. With 1:08 left in the half the Chargers took over at their own 37. They quickly moved to a 2nd and 4 at the Denver 30. Herbert threw incomplete twice. Cameron Dicker hit the 48 yard field goal. The Chargers led 17-10 with only 26 seconds left in the half. 

What happened next was inexcusable. Wilson threw a short pass to Murray that went for 15. Wilson then went bombs away to Jeudy for a 57 yard gain. Wilson then threw a 3 yard touchdown pass to Eric Tomlinson for a 17-17 tie at the intermission. The Broncos began the third quarter with all the momentum facing 3rd and 2 from their own 33. Edmonds gained 23. Jeduy added 14 and Edmonds gained 6 more. Wilson went to Badie Tyler for a 24 yard touchdown to make it 24-17 Broncos. On the next Denver series Wilson was intercepted to give the Chargers a short field at the Denver 46. On 2nd and 5 from the Denver 18, Ekeler gained nothing and Herbert threw incomplete. Dicker hit from 36 to get the Chargers within 24-20. The Chargers got the ball at their own 12 and moved to the Denver 40. After an incompletion, Herbert went to Carter for a 25 yard gain. Yet just as the Chargers were on the verge of taking the lead, Carter fumbled and the Broncos recovered at their own 11 as the third quarter ended.

The Broncos began the fourth quarter facing 1st and 15 at their own 6. Murray gained 16. On 3rd and 10 from their own 24, Wilson went deep to Swain for 52. Wilson then went to Cortland Sutton for a 20 yard touchdown and a 31-20 Broncos lead with 11:15 to play in regulation. Brandon Staley finally took his head out of his hide and took Herbert out of this meaningless game. Chase Daniel came in and the Chargers immediately went 3 and out. Yet the Chargers got a break when the Broncos fumbled the punt and the Chargers recovered at the Denver 29. Daniel hit Palmer for 10, Allen for 4, Carter for 7, and Allen again for a 3 yard touchdown. Daniel went to Palmer for the 2 point conversion. With 6 minutes left in regulation, the Chargers were within a field goal. After each team went 3 and out, the Broncos were pinned at their own 4 yard line with 3:14 left. The Chargers had all 3 timeouts and the 2 minute warning. Murray ran for 21. Jeudy added 12. Murray gained 9. At the 2 minute warning on 3rd and 1 from his own 46, Wilson got the tough yard. Although the Chargers still had 2 timeouts, Brandon Staley decided not to use them. It was better to get the game over with. Because of Staley playing his starters, receiver Mike Williams and defender Joey Bosa left the game injured. Time will soon tell if this strategy blows up in Staley’s face. The Chargers are in the playoffs. The Broncos begin searching for a coach. 31-28 Broncos

Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks — The Rams are done for the year. The 8-8 Seahawks needed to win and have Green Bay lose to make the playoffs as the seven seed Wildcard. Early on this game belonged to the kickers. An interception of Geno Smith on the first play from scrimmage led to a 22 yard Mayy Gay field goal and a 3-0 Rams lead. Jason Myers responded from 37 for the Seahawks. Myers hit again from 36 to make it 6-3 Seahawks. In the second quarter Gay hit from 45 for a 6-6 game. After over 26 minutes of defensive football, the Rams faced 3rd and 6 from their own 17. Baker Mayfield went deep to Van Jefferson for 35. On 3rd and 10 from the Seattle 48, Mayfield went to Tyler Higbee for 17. Powell gained 15. Tutu Atwell ran for an 11 yard touchdown to make it 13-6 Rams at the half. The Seahawks in the third quarter faced 2n and 11 from their own 11. Smith hit Parkinson for 15 and DK Metcalf for 23. Kenneth Walker gained 15. Smith went to Tyler Lockett for a 36 yard touchdown and  13-13 game. 

The Rams moved from their own 19 to a 3r and 5 at the Seattle 19. Mayfield threw incomplete. Gay hit from 38 to make it 16-13 Rams. In the fourth quarter the Seahawks from their own 14 moved 82 yards in 16 plays and over 7 minutes. On 2nd and goal at the one, Walker got stopped for no gain. On 3rd and goal Walker was blown up for a 3 yard loss. Myers hit from 22 for a 16-16 game with 2:19 left. The Seahawks got it back at their own 20 with 56 seconds left. With 3 seconds left, Myers came in for a 46 yard try to win it. The kick doinked off the right upright no good. This game was headed to overtime. After the Seahawk punted in overtime, the Rams had 2nd and 15 at their own 21. Mayfield went deep and had Jefferson open. Yet the ball was underthrown and Diggs made a leaping interception. The Seahawks took over at their own 36. Smith hit Lockett for 17 and Walker for 20. Walker gained 2, 8, one and 2. With 4 1/2 minutes left in overtime on 3rd and 7 from the Rams 14, Pete Carroll took no chances. Myers came in for the 32 yarder to redeem himself and win the game. Myers was good. The Seahawks would make the playoffs if Detroit won at Green Bay in the regular season night finale game. As for the Rams, Sean McVay was contemplating his future only one year after winning the Super Bowl. There is no way on earth he would be fired, but he may want to step away for a year to recharge his batteries. At age 36, he will have plenty of options whatever he does. Pete Carroll is twice his age and running around like a young kid ready to coach as long as possible. The Seahawks got their miracle. Detroit went into green Bay and won. The Seahawks are in the playoffs. 19-16 Seahawks, OT

Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers — The Cardinals are a mess. The 12-4 49ers entered as the two seed. They needed a win and a Philadelphia loss to gain the top seed and home field advantage throughout the playoffs with the first round bye. With nothing to lose, Kliff Kingsbury went to his bag of tricks on the second play from scrimmage. Blough lateraled, and the ball was lateraled back to Blough. Blough then went bombs away to AJ Green for a 77 yard touchdown and a 6-0 Cardinals lead. The extra point was no good. After a touchback, Christian McCaffrey ran for 9. Mister Irrelevant Brock Purdy hit kyle Juszczyk for 26. Purdy ran for 13. On 3rd and 4 from the Arizona 21, Purdy went to McCaffrey for the touchdown and a 7-6 49ers lead. In the second quarter an interception of Blough was returned by Gipson 12 yards to the Arizona 18. On 3rd and 2, the defense encroached. Elijah Mitchell ran for a 5 yard touchdown to make it 14-6 49ers. After a touchback, Blough went to McBride for 23. On 3rd and 14 rom their own 44, Bough went to Corey Clement for 17. On 3rd and 11 from the San Francisco 29, Blough went to McBride for just enough. Clement ran for 3, 5, and the one yard touchdown. With 4 1/2 minutes left in the half, the Cardinals were only down 14-13. After that the 49ers turned out the lights.

The 49ers took over at their own 34. Purdy went to Brandon Aiyuk for 22. McCaffrey ran for 10. On 3rd and 6 from the Arizona 25, Purdy hit McCaffrey for 7 and Deebo Samuel for 9. Purdy went to George Kittle for a 4 yard touchdown to make it 21-13 49ers with 19 seconds left in the half. After a third quarter touchback, Purdy went to Aiyuk for 20. After a sack, the 49ers faced 3rd and 17 from their own 38. A give up run by McCaffrey gained 19. Mitchell got around the end for 37 and then ran for the 6 yard touchdown to make it 28-13 49ers. An interception of Blugh meant a short field for the 49ers at the Arizona 34. On 3rd and 4 from the Arizona 6, Purdy was sacked. Robbie Gould hit from 27 to make it 31-13 49ers. 3 plays later Blough was sacked and fumbled. Another short field had the 49ers at the Arizona 28. On 3rd and 2, Purdy hit Kittle for 15. On 3rd and goal at the one, Purdy hit Kittle for the touchdown. 24 unanswered points in a 15 minute span turned a tight game into a blowout. Because Philadelphia won, the 49ers were denied the top spot. Mike Shanahan’s squad is still the two seed. Kliff Kingsbury awaited his Black Monday fate. 38-13 49ers

Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers was the Sunday night regular season finale play-in game. At one point the Lions were 1-6 and the Packers were 4-8. Left for dead, both teams entered 8-8. The Lions needed to win and have Seattle lose.  Seattle won their game earlier in the day so the Lions by kickoff knew they were eliminated from playoff contention. They could still play spoiler. The Packers were win and in or lose and out. Yet in Green Bay, the Lions have only won twice in the last 30+ years, in 1991 and 2015. Yet Dan Campbell started with a surprisingly bad decision. He has a pinball offense and a sieve defense. The Lions won the coin toss. Why on earth would he defer and let red hot Aaron Rodgers start first? Bill Belichick loves that “double up at the half” nonsense. Just because he does it doesn’t mean the other 31 coaches should do it. It’s dumb. Nevertheless, the first half belonged to the defenses and the field goal kickers. Mason Crosby hit from 22 for the Packers. Matt LaFleur gambled on 4th and 1 from his own 32 and lost a yard. Mike Badgley hit from 37 for a 3-3 game. Crosby hit from 49 and in the second quarter form 48 to make it 9-3 Packers. Badgley missed from 46. The Packers from their 36 to the Detroit 24 but fumbled the ball away. The Lions took over at their own 15 with 1:15 left in the half and moved to a 3r and 3 at the Green Bay 30 with 2 seconds left. A mindless defensive personal foul before the kick could be attempted moved the ball 15 yards closer. Badgley hit from 33 as the Lions trailed 9-6 at the half. In the third quarter Crosby from 53 hit the crossbar and had it bounce backward no good. 

From their own 43, Williams gained 13. Jared Goff then went bombs away to Raymond for 43 yards down to the one. Williams got in for the game’s first touchdown and a 13-9 Lions lead. The Packers soon faced 3rd and 3 from their own 24. Rodgers hit Allan Lazard for 6. On 3rd and 1 from their own 39, Rodgers gained 2. Rodgers then went bombs away to Watson for a 45 yard gain. Rodgers went back to Lazard for a 13 yard touchdown. With 3 minutes left in the third quarter the Packers led 16-13. The Lions took over at their own 25 one minute into the fourth quarter. Goff hit St. Brown for 14. Williams gained 11 and 8. Goff hit Swift for 9. On 4th and 2 from the Green Bay 25, a field goal try would only be 43 yards. Instead it was time for a Dan Campbell gamble. Goff hit Chark for 3. Swift gained 11. On the next play a completion only gained 2 yards, but a mind-numbingly stupid defensive personal foul resulted in disqualification. First, Swift was hit in the head with a forearm and stayed down. That should have drawn a penalty but did not. When the medical trainer tried to examine Swift, Walker shoved the medical trainer from behind. It was dumb, and it was right to disqualify Walker. On 3rd and goal at the one out of the shotgun, Williams got into the end zone. The 13 play, 75 yard, 8 minute drive had the Lions up 20-16 with 6 minutes left in regulation. The Packers took over at their own 21. On 3rd and 10 from their own 33, Rodgers threw a bomb right before getting blasted. Kirby Joseph returned the interception 23 yards to the Green Bay 45. With 3 1/2 minutes left, the Lions had a chance to ice the game. 

With everyone expecting a run, Goff went to St. Brown for 11. Then it was ground and pound. Williams gained 9. On 2nd and 1 from the Green Bay 25, the defense jumped. Yet Dan Campbell refused the first down yardage. It seemed crazy but he gambled that they could get the yard anyway and force the Packers to burn a timeout. Williams got the yard. Offensive holding meant 2nd and 17 from the Green Bay 31. Rather than call conservative runs, Dan Campbell went psychotic bold with a hook and lateral. Goff hit St. Brown, who lateraled to Swift for a net gain of 14 yards. On 3rd and 3, Williams gained only 2. On 4th and 1 from the Green Bay 15 with 1:15 left, a field goal would put the Lions up 23-16 and force the Packers to try and tie the game. No. This was Dan Campbell gamble time. He risked it all. Rather than run, Goff lined up in a no back set…an empty backfield. This was insane. Goff fired over the middle to Chark for 9 and a first down. Goff took a knee. The Lions finished 9-8 but lost the tie-breaker to Seattle and were out of the playoffs. After 3 straight 13 win seasons and NFC North titles, the 8-9 Packers on their home field were knocked out of the playoffs. For only the 3rd time in 30+ years, the Lions went into green Bay and won. They swept the Packers. This was a Dan Campbell win. 20-16 Lions

The Wildcard Playoff games are set:

AFC: 

7) Miami Dolphins at 2) Buffalo Bills

6) Baltimore Ravens at 3) Cincinnati Bengals

5) Los Angeles Chargers at 4) Jacksonville Jaguars

1) Kansas City Chiefs: Bye week

NFC:

7) Seattle Seahawks or Green Bay Packers at 2) San Francisco 49ers

6) New York Giants at 3) Minnesota Vikings

5) Dallas Cowboys at 4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

1) Philadelphia Eagles: Bye week     

1/6 blah blah blah: When doofuses acted like college Spring Breakers

January 6th, 2023

January 6: When doofuses acted like college Spring Breakers

LOS ANGELES, January 6, 2023 — For those who read liberal textbooks or listen to liberal television personalities, only three events have ever happened in American history. In 1619, a bunch of white racists enslaved black people and started a nation built on systemic racism. Then in 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated. Then on January 6, 2021, an insurrection by white racists caused a threat to our democracy that remains today.

Those living in the real world and not overdosing on recreational pharmaceuticals properly dismiss such hysteria. The truth is far more boring and far less sinister. 

There was no insurrection. An insurrection is a coordinated effort to destabilize and overthrow a legally elected government pr governing entity. Picture Hillary Clinton and John Brennan inventing a fictional conspiracy out of thin air involving Donald Trump and the Russian government. Picture Wisconsin liberals storming their state capitol and repeatedly threatening Governor Scott Walker’s life over a collective bargaining law. Picture Antifa activists burning down cities, neighborhoods and police stations due to a non-existent epidemic of white police officers murdering black citizens in cold blood. 

Picture Congressman Steve Scalise being shot, Senator Rand Paul being beaten within an inch of his life, North Carolina GOP headquarters being firebombed, and a Duval, Florida GOP booth being rammed into by a truck. Picture a black man named Darrell Brooks taking out his rage over the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict by mowing down innocent Waukesha grandmothers at a Christmas parade. Picture progressive mayors and district attorneys purposely letting violent criminals out of jail to commit more crimes. 

All of those events involve massive amounts of violence that destabilize society. Try getting through a weekend in Chicago without a child being shot to death. Good luck. 

By comparison, January 6 was nothing. It was not September 11. It was not Pearl Harbor. It was not the George Floyd riots. All of those events involved mass numbers of casualties.

Not all of the mindless comments about January 6 come from the left. There is idiocy by some people who are right of center as well.

The January 6 rioters were not heroes or patriots. What they did was wrong. While there may have been a few leftist plants there, let us not pretend this was one giant leftist conspiracy. The left is ruthlessly organized. January 6 was disorganized, uncoordinated chaos. 

The left loves January 6 because it creates the myth of conservative violence while suppressing actual leftist violence. In reality, January 6 increased the percentage of right-wing violence to an asterisk, well below one percent but not absolute zero. The percentage of violence committed by leftists dropped from completely 100% to significantly more than 99.99%. 

Five people died on January 6, less than 1% of the  casualties caused by the George Floyd riots. Three of the five died of natural causes, including one police officer. One person died of a drug overdose. One unarmed Trump supporter and veteran named Ashli Babbitt was shot to death by police officer Michael Byrd. Officer Byrd is being protected from questioning because the left is perfectly fine with an officer shooting an unarmed woman as long as the woman is a conservative. 

If the people on January 6 were insurrectionists, they were the dumbest and politest insurrectionists in the history of political terrorism. They were about as dangerous as your average group of College Spring Breakers. They were guilty of hijinks similar to the movie “Animal House.” Many of the people who entered the Capitol walked around aimlessly, took selfies, thanked the police officers, and left. 

These were doofuses. They committed misdemeanor trespassing. They should have paid a $200 fine and been sent home. No officials were in any danger, despite Alexandria Occasional Cortex’s clutching of her pearls. 

Those who committed violence deserve to be punished with jail, but that is a fraction of the protesters. Let us not pretend that this was anything other than an isolated incident by a mob of people who entered the Capitol without anything remotely resembling an objective. 

What really enrages Democrats about January 6 is that most voters no longer care. From climate change to Covid to January 6, the left keeps repeating the same boring refrain. We are all going to die, and Republicans are killing us all. That is why Jen Psaki keeps referring to Trump as practicing “the big lie.” That is a Holocaust reference, and Trump is the latest Republican president to be compared to Adolf Hitler. To compare the murder of six million Jews to a few hundred people taking selfies at the Capitol used to be offensive. Now it is just tired and boring. Most Americans do not believe that Trump or any other Republican is a genocidal monster who will eat their babies. 

If Democrats could govern, they would have positive accomplishments to brag about. Skyrocketing crime and inflation do not go over well with voters. Democrats failed to pass their Build Back Better agenda. Soon they will fail to pass their vote-rigging bill meant to nationalize local elections. They failed to enact national Covid mandates, as constitutionalist judges keep striking those mandates down. They are desperate to drag January 6 out until the November elections, but voters know better. 

The left is so desperate for right-wing villains that they have been reduced to inventing them. This is why Juicy Smelly-Derriere had to invent fake right-wingers to roam the South Side of Chicago at 2:00 a.m. in the freezing cold to beat up a gay black man. 

January 6 was not a hoax, but the narrative around it is. Bad behavior happened on January 6, but it was insignificant in terms of size, scope, and purpose. If the people who entered the Capitol are unable to explain why they did it, chances are they have no idea why. This makes them dumb individuals. 

Let us have a return to sanity. This starts with replacing wild-eyed conspiracy theories with clear-eyed reality. Leftists tossing Molotov cocktails and burning down police stations are not “mostly peaceful.” Trump supporters do not go looking for gay black people to beat up. Police officers do not wake up in the morning looking for young black men to shoot. Trump is not now or has he ever been a spy for the Russian government. 

The January 6 protesters acted like people who rush the stage at a rock concert. They are not trying to kill the lead singer. They most likely want a free guitar pic as a keepsake. 

The day after the midterms, the Democrats will regret trying to make their entire campaign message about Trump as Orange Hitler. Trump is a private citizen. The voters look forward. They do not want to hear excuses. They want the current administration to fix problems. This involves doing things, not giving endless speeches about a Spring Break party relocated from South Beach to D.C.

The January 6 trespassers were not murderers, arsonists or political terrorists. 

They were doofuses.   

NFL 2022 Week 18 Prequel

January 5th, 2023

NFL 2022 Week 18 Prequel

With much love to Damar Hamlin, the final weekend of the 2022 NFL regular season is upon us. My other columns offered the Week 17 Recap, the 2022 black Monday Coat Firing Predictions, the NFC Playoff Permutations and Combinations, and the complete and total mess that is the AFC Playoff Permutations and combinations.

Thank God Mr. Hamlin is slowly getting better. He is still in critical condition. His GoFundMe page to deliver toys to needy children has raised over 7 million dollars.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/mxksc-the-chasing-ms-foundation-community-toy-drive

Mr. Hamlin’s horrific injury has been covered in great detail.

To avoid redundancy, this column will only focus on the specific matchups this week. 

To quote John Randall and Mike Singletary, “This is when the big dogs come out!”

Saturday, January 7, 2023, 4:30pm

Kansas City Chiefs (-7 1/2) at Las Vegas Raiders — The 13-3 Chiefs with a win would have at least a 1/2 game lead in the race for home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Earlier this year in Kansas City, the Raiders took a 17-0 lead before the Chiefs stormed back for a 31-30 win when the Raiders 2 point conversion try failed. Jarrett Stidham showed promise in his debut, but the Raiders have no defense. Their secondary is awful. They have no home field advantage in Las Vegas. Patrick Mahomes will torch the Raiders defense. The Raiders lose games in gut-wrenching fashion, and the Chiefs have everything to play for. The Raiders have nothing to play for. Chiefs win but fail to cover

8pm

Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars (-6 1/2) — The 7-9 Titans and 8-8 Jaguars have a do or die matchup. The winner takes the AFC South and hosts a playoff game on WildCard Weekend. If the Titans lose, they are out. If the Jaguars lose, they would need a miracle to make the playoffs as a Wildcard. The Titans 7-3 start was followed by a hail of injuries and five straight losses. The Jaguars were expected to compete next year but Doug Pederson has them ahead of schedule. Trevor Lawrence is improving and Ryan Tannehill is injured. Malik Willis will not get it done. The Titans are just too beat up. Jaguars win but fail to cover

Sunday, January 8, 1pm

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons (-4 1/2) — The 8-8 Buccaneers clinched the NFC South and are locked into the four seed. They will host a Wildcard Weekend playoff game. The Falcons are done for the year. Normally this would be a game for the Buccaneers to rest their starters, but Tom Brady will probably want to play. He needs a win in this game to avoid his first losing season. Neither team is that special, so a close game is possible. Upset special, Buccaneers win outright

New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills (-7) — The Bills will play inspired football now that they know Damar Hamlin is on the mend. The home field is normally a major advantage in Buffalo, but this time the emotion will be like nothing ever seen in that stadium. The 12-3 Bills with a win and a Kansas City loss could get home field throughout the playoffs and a first round bye. If the Bills finish 1/2 a game behind KC, the league could move a potential AFC Title Game to a neutral site rather than in Arrowhead. The Patriots at 8-8 get the seven seed Wildcard with a win, but a loss most likely knocks them out. Last year in the playoffs the Bills had a “perfect game,” scoring a touchdown on all 7 drives. Josh Allen is better than Mac Jones. Go with the home field and the emotion. Bills cover

Minnesota Vikings (-5 12) at Chicago Bears — The 12-4 Vikings bungled away their chance last week to stay in contention for home field advantage throughout the playoffs. They are now the three seed bu could move up to the two seed based on other results. The Bears have a talented quarterback but little else. If the Bears lose and Houston wins, the Bears would get the top pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. The game will not be a blowout, but the Vikings will rebound. Vikings win but fail to cover

Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals (-7) — The 10-6 Ravens have lost 3 straight with Lamar Jackson injured. They are the five seed Wildcard and cannot fall lower than the six seed. This had the potential to be an AFC North showdown, but now that is not the case. The cancellation of last week’s Monday Night Football game leaves the Bengals at 11-4. They have clinched the division and art currently the three seed. They cannot finish lower than that. If the Bengals win this game and Kansas City and Buffalo both lose, the Bengals would still be 1/2 a game back of KC but could make a legitimate case for the top seed. At the very least, that would be enough to get the AFC Title Game moved out of Arrowhead to a neutral site. The Ravens win by winning and playing defense, but without Jackson this is a mismatch. Joe Burrow has enough weapons to put this game away, but not easily. Bengals win but fail to cover

Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts (-2 1/2) — The worst game of the day has to be played. Both coaches could get fired on Black Monday. The Texans are guaranteed the top pick in the 2023 NFL Draft with a loss. If the Texans win, they can still get the top Draft pick as long as Chicago also wins.  

New York Jets at Miami Dolphins (-1) — The Jets were 7-4 but have lost 5 straight games and at 7-9 are out of the playoffs. The Dolphins were 8-3 and have also lost 5 straight. Yet at 8-8 the Dolphins can still sneak into a the playoffs with a win and some help. Tua Tagovailoa has battled injuries all year. The Jets have given up on Zach Wilson. Both teams have a good defense. The Jets are reeling. The Dolphins will win and get the help they need to sneak and make the playoffs. Dolphins cover 

Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (-3 1/2) — Both teams are out of the playoffs. They have good defenses, especially the Saints. This might be the last game for both coaches. Go with the home field. Saints win but fail to cover

Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers (-2 1/2) — Mike Tomlin has never had a losing season with the Steelers. They battled back this year from 2-6 and 3-7 to get to 8-8. With a win and a ton of help, the Steelers make the playoffs. With a loss they are our. The 7-9 Browns are done for the year. Nobody gets more out of less than Mike Tomlin. With everything to play for, the Steelers will win the Pittsburgh way with hard-nosed running and defense. Steelers cover

4pm

New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles (-14) — Both teams are in the playoffs. The 9-6-1 Giants are locked into the six seed Wildcard and may rest their starters. The Eagles started 13-1 but have lost 2 straight with Jalen Hurts injured. A win gives the Eagles the NFC East crown, home field advantage throughout the playoffs and a first round bye. A loss and a Dallas win would have the Eagles tumble all the way to the five seed Wildcard. Hurts wants to play. He needs to be healthy, but getting the bye week would make life much easier. The Eagles could beat the Giants starters. They will have zero problem with the Giants backups. Eagles cover

Dallas Cowboys (-5 1/2) at Washington Commanders — The Commanders are eliminated from the playoffs in what could be Ron Rivera’s last game coaching them. The 12-4 Cowboys right now are a five seed Wildcard. If the Cowboys win and the Eagles lose, the Cowboys would win the NFC East. With other help, the Cowboys could end up with the top seed and home field throughout the playoffs. The Commanders are not getting good quarterback play. The Cowboys have an explosive offense, but the Commanders defense is not that bad. Cowboys win but fail to cover

Los Angeles Chargers (-3) at Denver Broncos — The Broncos are one for the year. The 10-6 Chargers are in the playoffs with little room for movement. They are the five seed but with a loss and a Baltimore win could fall to the six seed. Brandon Staley could rest starters given that there is very little difference between the five and six seeds. Yet indications are the starters are playing. The Broncos have a good defense but no offense. The Chargers have Justin Herbert and other explosive weapons on offense along with a decent defense. The Chargers will handle business. Chargers cover 

 

Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks (-6 1/2) — The Rams are done for the year. The 8-8 Seahawks with a win and a Green Bay loss can make the playoffs as the seven seed Wildcard. With a loss, the Seahawks are out. Pete Carroll gets younger by the year and has revitalized Geno Smith. The Rams are just too injury riddled. Their whole team is depleted.. Seahawks cover

Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers (-14) — The 4-12 Cardinals are a mess and Kliff Kingsbury could be fired after this game. The 12-4 49ers right now are the two seed. With a win and a Philadelphia loss, the 49ers would snatch the top seed in the NFC with home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Brock Purdy has been the surprise of the year. The 49ers have a nasty defense. This game could be over by halftime. 49ers cover

8pm

Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers (-4 1/2) — Both teams are 8-8. The Lions rebounded from a 2-6 start while the 4-8 Packers have won 4 straight. This is a do or die game. The Packers with a win are in the playoffs as the seven seed Wildcard. The Lions with a win and a Seattle loss also would get the seven seed Wildcard. Whoever loses this game is automatically out. The Lions have an explosive offense but little defense. Aaron Rodgers has been lights out. The Lions virtually never win in Green Bay. They won there in 1991 and again in 2015. Betting against Rodgers in this type of regular season is foolish. Also, the Lions are built for dome weather, not cold weather. Go with the weather, the home crowd, and Rodgers being better than Jared Goff. Packers cover