1/1/11–Wake up, the NFL Playoffs are coming!

Happy 1/1/11!

Normally I spend January 1st engaging in a struggle to get out of bed.

No sleeping until Noon this year. I was up by the crack of 11:50am.

For a man who does not drink, smoke, or do drugs, I sure know how to engage in sloth and lethargy to begin my year.

This epic struggle is detailed in my annual first column entitled “We can do this.”


I then realize I cannot, and go back to sleep for a couple more hours.

Yet this year I am out of bed like a laser and ready for action. Only one thing gets me out of bed on a non-work day, and that is football.

So let’s get down to the business and pleasure of football.

For those who care about the Poulon Weed Eater Bowl or the Lamasil Jock Itch Bowl or any other similar game, go find a college football blog.

Despite the boneheaded decision to postpone a game last week due to snow, the NFL is still a man’s game.

First let’s break down the word forever immortalized by Jim Mora: Playoffs!

Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal has an amusing take on the playoffs.


Now for the serious heavy lifting, since as Bill Parcells reminds us, “This is why you lift all them weights.”

AFC: The 13-2 New England Patriots won the AFC East and have the top seed and home field throughout.

The AFC North has the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens tied at 11-4. Pittsburgh holds the tie breaker. Baltimore has an easier game, hosting Cincinnati. Pittsburgh is at Cleveland. Last week Baltimore won at Cleveland, but it was a dawg (pound) fight. Whoever wins the division gets the # 2 seed and the 1st round bye while the other team gets the wildcard. The Ravens need to win and have the Steelers lose.

The AFC West was won by the 10-5 Chiefs who are locked into the # 3 seed. They host the 7-8 Oakland Raiders, who with a win will finally get to 8-8 after several losing seasons, and finish 6-0 in the division, their first unbeaten division season since their 1976 championship squad.

The AFC South has the Indianapolis Colts leading at 9-6 and the Jacksonville Jaguars at 8-7. The Jaguars are at the Houston Texans, who they barely beat at home with a Hail Mary. The Indianapolis Colts survived the Tennessee Titans in Nashville, but now play them at home. If the Colts lose and the Jaguars win and both teams finish 9-7, the Jaguars win the tiebreaker. Otherwise, the Colts get the crown and the # 4 seed.

The New York Jets, despite losing 3 of their last 4, are 10-5 and locked into the other wildcard.

The NFC has more uncertainty, starting at the top with the NFC South.

The Atlanta Falcons are 12-3 and the New Orleans Saints are 11-4. The Falcons are at home against the NFL worst 2-13 Carolina Panthers, who will have the top pick in the 2011 draft. Barring one of the biggest upsets in NFL history, the Falcons would win this game, giving them the top seed and home field throughout the playoffs.

The Saints are at home against the 9-6 Buccaneers. If the Saints win and the Falcons lose, both teams would be 12-4. The Saints would win the tie breaker, the NFC South crown, and the top seed with home field throughout.

The Chicago Bears at 11-4 have wrapped up the NFC North and at worst are the # 2 seed with a 1st round bye. They have a tough final game at the Green Bay Packers, who are desperate to make the playoffs. If somehow the Falcons and Saints both lose at home and the Bears win, the Bears would have the top seed and home field throughout.

This presents Lovie Smith with an interesting dilemma. He could rest everybody and just assume that there is no way both of those teams will lose. Or he could hope for a miracle and play his players. Technically there is something to play for, but not likely. If there is, it will affect strategy for decades to come.

The Philadelphia Eagles have won the NFC East, but their home loss to Minnesota on the 1st Tuesday Night Football game since 1946 cost them a shot at the 1st round bye. They are locked into the # 3 seed.

The NFC Worst division has a showdown as the 7-8 Rams are at the 6-9 Seahawks. This is winner take all for the # 4 seed, since if both teams go 7-9, Seattle has the tie breaker edge.

In the AFC, all 6 teams are set. The only question is seeding. The NFC has some drama for the final wildcard spot, with Atlanta or New Orleans falling all the way from the top spot to the top wildcard.

The Green Bay Packers, New York Giants, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are all 9-6, and fighting for the # 6 and final seed.

The Packers just beat the Giants last week. If they beat the Bears at home, they are in.

If the Packers lose, and the Giants win on the road at the eliminated Washington Redskins, the Giants are in the playoffs.

If the Packers and Giants both lose, and the Buccaneers win on the road at the Saints, the Buccaneers are in.

If they all lose, it reverts back to the Packers.

The Week 17 games will be played on January 2, 2011.

17 years ago January 2, 1994 featured 3 of the finest football games of all time, with everything on the line and spectacular comebacks to end the 1993 regular season.

Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots–The Patriots had nothing to play for while the Dolphins were in the playoffs with a win and out with a loss. At halftime the Dolphins led 24-6. Yet the Patriots stormed all the way back and sent the game into overtime tied 27-27. New England scored the touchdown in overtime to win it 33-27. One year later after another 9-7 season, Don Shula retired.

Denver Broncos @ Los Angeles Raiders–These teams were both 9-6. Earlier in the year these teams played a spectacular thriller on Monday Night Football. The Raiders jumped to a 13-0 halftime lead. Denver went ahead 17-13 in the fourth quarter and the Raiders retook the lead 20-17. Denver tied it 20-20, and with Jeff Hostetler and John Elway dueling brilliantly, the final play was Jeff Jaeger from 53 yards out to give the Raiders the 23-20 regulation win.

Despite the Raiders win, for some reason it was the Broncos who were automatically in the playoffs anyway. Yet the Raiders needed a win to get in, with a loss knocking them out.

The Broncos scored the first 6 times they had the ball, leading 27-13 at the half and 30-13 in the third quarter. Finally the Raiders stopped Elway and Hostetler brought the Raiders back. They trailed 30-20 after 3 quarters and 30-23 late. With seconds on the clock and time for one more play, Hostetler scrambled, and while he was being brought down, fired to Alexander Wright for the miracle touchdown as the teams went to overtime tied 30-30.

Denver got the ball to start overtime, and Elway led them in position for a 40 yard Jason Elam field goal. It was no good, and the Raiders had life. Jeff Hostetler led the Raiders to a 47 yard field goal attempt by Jeff Jaeger.

To quote Chris Berman, “Jeff ‘Mic’ Jaeger…Paint it Black! It’s good! Jaegermeister on the house!” In one of the greatest NFL comebacks of all time, the Raiders had won in overtime 33-30. Next week these teams faced each other again in the wildcard round.

That was January 9th, 1994, my 22nd birthday. Hostetler and Elway again lit it up, as the teams were tied 21-21 at halftime. Yet the Raiders took over after that, leading 35-21 after 3 and winning 42-24, beating Denver 3 times in the same season.

One year later after the season, the Raiders moved back to Oakland. One year after that, Jason Elam got his revenge as Denver overcame a 28-17 deficit in the 4th quarter to tie the game late 28-28. The Raiders had a chance to set up for Jaeger, but he never got the chance as James Jett fumbled. Instead it was Elam with the winning kick as the 31-28 Denver win in Oakland knocked the Raiders out of the playoffs.

The biggest game on January 2, 1994 was the Dallas Cowboys at the New York Giants. Both teams were 11-4. The winner of this game would not only win the NFC East, but the top seed in the NFC and home field throughout the playoffs. To many fans, this was the Super Bowl.

The Cowboys led 13-0 at halftime, but the second half saw the Giants tie the game late 13-13. The game went into overtime, and the Giants got the ball first. They punted, and Dallas relied on Emmitt Smith, who put on one of the guttiest performances in NFL history. Despite playing with a separated shoulder that throbbed in pain every time he was tackled, Smith ran for 168 yards. It was the Cowboys with the field goal to win it, as Chris Berman shouted at the top of his lungs that “Emmitt Smith and the Cowboys defeat L.T. (Lawrence Taylor) and the Giants, in a fine, fine, football game!”

The Giants got beaten badly on the road against the San Francisco 49ers 44-3, as the 49ers avenged a 49-3 loss to the Giants from 1986. The 49ers would lose the following week against the Cowboys for the second straight year, this time 38-21. The Cowboys as expected won the Super Bowl, but the big game wa the 16-13 overtime win against the Giants.

January 2, 1994 was one of the most thrilling weekends ever in the NFL, with 3 major games all requiring overtime. Let’s see what January 2, 2011 brings us, in Week 17, 17 years later.

Are you ready for some football 2011 style!!!!!!!!

Let’s get it on!


Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons

(Falcons by 14, they cover)

Cincinnati Bengals @ Baltimore Ravens

(Ravens by 9 1/2, they cover)

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns

(Steelers by 5 1/2, they win but fail to cover)

Minnesota Vikings @ Detroit Lions

(Lions by 3, Vikings win outright)

Oakland Raiders @ Kansas City Chiefs

(Chiefs by 3, Raiders win outright)

Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots

(Patriots by 4, they cover)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints

(Saints by 7.5, they cover)

Buffalo Bills @ New York Jets

(Jets by 1, they cover)

San Diego Chargers @ Denver Broncos

(Chargers by 3, Broncos win outright)

Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers

(Packers by 10, they win but fail to cover)

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans

(Pick em, Jaguars win)

Tennessee Titans @ Indianapolis Colts

(Colts by 9 1/2, they cover)

Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles

(Pick em, Eagles win)

Arizona Cardinals @ San Francisco 49ers

(49ers by 6, Cardinals win outright)

New York Giants @ Washington Redskins

(Giants by 3 1/2, they win but fail to cover)

St. Louis Rams @ Seattle Seahawks

(Rams by 3, they cover)


2 Responses to “1/1/11–Wake up, the NFL Playoffs are coming!”

  1. Micky 2 says:

    How do you keep all that and politics in the same head at the same time ?

    Happy New Year bro.


  2. I agree with Micky. It is pretty darn amazing!

    I think Lovie Smith has no choice but to run a full-fledged effort. I don;t really see the choice there. There is a time to think conservatively, quite often actually, and this is one of those times. The BEars will run their starters, and I bet they win well.

    The Jets will do the same. They have to. I know playoff-wise it doesn’t matter for them, but this is a team that needs some serious work if its going to do anything in the playoffs. And though the Bills are playing for nothing seasonally, every Bills player that plays a down in this game is playing for his career. Expect a good game.

    I am very happy for the Raiders this year. This is a team that is far better than it has been in a while. The pieces are falling into place. I expect another good draft year for them, and an even better team next year – better than the Chiefs.

    I remember those playoffs that year. I spent the weekend with my brothers and some friends at a friends house in Jersey. We drank beer, played music, and watched football all weekend. Our host, a great young man named Brent, was a drummer. He served very diligently and honorably in the navy, and was witness to some terribly sad and tragic events involving boat lifts in the Gulf and Carribean. He died in a car accident, on leave back home, not long after that weekend. He was one of the nicest guys you’d ever meet – big strong guy, but never threw around his weight; easy-going but with a keen and biting wit; extremely loyal yet dispassionate enough to know where to draw the line. I guess every new year we should remember people from years past. Brent was a great man.

    Let’s have a great, safe 2011.


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