Archive for January, 2022

Do not change the NFL overtime rules

Tuesday, January 25th, 2022

Leave the NFL Overtime Coin Toss rule alone

NFL 2021-2022 Conference Title Games Prequel

Monday, January 24th, 2022

NFL 2021-2022 Conference Title Games Preview and Bettor’s Guide

NFL 2021-2022 Divisionals Recap

Saturday, January 22nd, 2022

NFL 2021-2022 Divisionals Recap

The 2021-2022 NFL Wildcard matchups were last week. This week was the Divisional games.

Cincinnati Bengals (4)(10-7) at Tennessee Titans (1)(12-5) was the Saturday afternoon game. The Bengals won the AFC North and then last week survived on the final play for their first playoff victory in 31 years. The Titans won the AFC South and had the bye week last week along with home field throughout the playoffs. The Titans were seeking to reach the AFC Title Game for the second straight year while the Bengals were seeking to reach their first AFC Title Game since 1988. The Titans got a major emotional lift with the return of beast running back Derrick Henry, who missed the second half of the regular season with an injured foot. 

On the very first play from scrimmage after a touchback, Ryan Tannehill was intercepted by Bates, setting up the Bengals at the Tennessee 42. Joe Burrow hit Joe Mixon for 21, but a delay of game penalty meant 3rd and 14 from the Tennessee 28. Burrow hit Tee Higgins for only 8. Evan McPherson hit a 38 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Bengals. The Bengals got it back at their own 12. Burrow threw a quick swing pass to JaMarr Chase, who evaded a tackle and raced for a 57 yard gain. Yet a sack of Burrow meant another 3rd and 14 from the Tennessee 34 had Burrow hitting Higgins for only 7. McPherson hit again from 45 to make it 6-0 Bengals.

In the second quarter the Titans took over at their own 16. Tannehill went deep to AJ Brown for 41. On 3rd and 3 from the Cincinnati 36, Tannehill went to Hilliard for just enough. Henry ran for 6. Tannehill hit Julio Jones for 13 and Brown for 8. Henry took a direct snap for a 3 yard touchdown. The extra point was good, and the Titans briefly led 7-6. Yet a penalty on Cincinnati gave the Titans the option of better field position for the kickoff. For some bizarre reason, Mike Vrabel instead decided to take the extra point off the board, move the ball from the two to the one, and go for a needless 2 point conversion. Henry got the carry and was stopped. Instead of taking the lead, the game was tied 6-6.  

The Bengals soon faced 3rd and 3 at their own 32. Burrow hit CJ Uzomah for 6. Burrow then went to Higgins for 15 and again for 22. On 3rd and 9 from the Tennessee 19, a false start followed by a sack killed the drive. McPherson hit from 54 for a 9-6 Bengals lead with 1:40 left in the half. Despite not reaching the end zone and Burrow getting sacked 5 times in the first half, the Bengals were setting the tone. The Bengals began the third quarter at their own 35. On 3rd and 1 from their 44, Burrow hit Higgins for 12. Joe Mixon ran for 6 and 10. On 3rd and 5 from the Tennessee 23, , Burrow avoided a sack, ran up the middle, and dove for 7 yards. Mixon then ran up the middle to the right and weaved back left for a 16 yard touchdown and a 16-6 Bengals. After a touchback, Henry ran for 9, 3 and 9. Foreman then broke several tackles for a 45 yard gain. The Titans had 1st and goal at the 9. Tannehill tried to throw a swing pass. Hilton made a leaping deflection and then plucked the ball out of the air for an interception. Only a tackle by Tannehill prevented Hilton from returning the interception for a defensive touchdown. 

The Titans got it back at their own 28. Henry ran for a pair of 5 yard gains. Tannehill then went deep to Brown for a 40 yard gain. Yet on 3rd and 9 from the Cincinnati 21, a completion from Tannehill to Hilliard gained only 5. Randy Bullock hit the 34 yard field goal. With 1:40 left in the third quarter, the Titans were within 16-9. A strong kickoff return had the Bengals taking over at their own 40. Last week the Bengals won with help from a blown call. This week a controversial call went against them. Burrow threw a short pass for Perine that bounced off his hands. Hooker made a shoestring interception and returned it 15 yards to the Cincinnati 27. Replay showed the ball clearly hitting the ground at the exact same time as Hooker got his hands on the ball. It should have been an incompletion. After a lengthy review, the calls took. After a false start, Tannehill went deep to Brown into double coverage. The throw was perfect and Brown made a one-handed grab for the touchdown. The Bengals were on the verge of putting the game away earlier, and instead the game was tied 16-16 after three quarters.

The Bengals began the fourth quarter at their own 20. Burrow hit Uzomah for 7 and Mixon ran for 13. Burrow connected with Chase for 21. On 3rd and 3 from the Tennessee 32, Burrow was sacked for a 16 yard loss. The 7th sack of the day was a tremendous mistake for Burrow, because it pushed the Bengals out of field goal range. The Titans moved from their own 17 to a 3rd and 1 at the Cincy 35. Tannehill tried the quarterback sneak and got stopped. Mike Vrabel passed up a 53 yard field goal try that would have given the Titans the lead. Instead Henry got the carry on a slow moving play and was gang tackled in the backfield for a 2 yard loss. Midway through the fourth quarter, the game was still tied. The Bengals moved to a 3rd and 8 at the Tennessee 48. Burrow was then sacked for the 9th time. There were no fancy blitzes. This was just a straight bull rush up the middle and the Tennessee defense repeatedly overwhelmed the Cincinnati offensive line. 

The Titans took over at their 16 with 2:43 left in regulation. After a 3 yard run, the clock ticked all the way down to the 2 minute warning. The Titans moved with very little urgency, not wanting to leave any time for the Bengals if they failed to make a first down. Yet the Bengals also let the clock run down, not wanting to leave the Titans time if they did get first downs. On 3rd and 5 from his own 20, Tannehill fired over the middle and had the ball bounce off the receiver into the air and intercepted by Logan Wilson. Tannehill’s 3rd interception set up the Bengals at their own 47 with 20 seconds left and 2 timeouts. Burrow fired the ball to Chase for 19, leaving 15 seconds. The Bengals were in long field goal range. Zac Taylor was not going to risk Burrow getting sacked a 10th time. A pair of very safe runs followed by 2 timeouts took the clock down to 3 seconds but added 0 yards. McPherson came in for the 52 yard try to win it. A miss meant overtime.

There would be no overtime. McPherson buried the kick and the Bengals had the stunning road upset win. Home field, the bye week, and the return of Derrick Henry did not matter. McPherson hit 4 field goals for the 2nd straight week. Burrow became the first quarterback in NFL history to get sacked 9 times and still win a playoff game. The Titans won all year playing smash mouth. The Bengals normally win with flash. They won this game with grit and toughness. This was old-school football. The Bengals are on the road for the AFC Title Game. 19-16 Bengals

San Francisco 49ers (6)(10-7) at Green Bay Packers (1)(13-4) was the Saturday night game. The 49ers snuck into the playoffs by going on the road, overcoming a 17-0 deficit, and shocking the Rams 27-24. Then the 49ers in the Wildcard round went on the road again and stunned Dallas 23-17. The Packers breezed their way to the NFC North crown and a bye week with home field throughout the playoffs. The Packers in the regular season were an unbeaten 8-0 at home. The Tundra at Lambeau Field truly was frozen with a kickoff temperature of 4 degrees. The Packers made it look early on from their own 31. Aaron Rodgers hit Devonta Adams for 14 and Aaron Jones for gains of 19, 10 and 11. AJ Dillon ran for 5 and then for the 6 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Packers. The Packers did not face a single 3rd down on the 10 play, 69 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive. The defenses took over the rest of the opening quarter in which the 49ers had negative 7 total yards. With 6 1/2 minutes left in the half, the 49ers were at minus 10 yards. Yet the Packers after their opening drive did nothing as San Francisco’s defense kept the 49ers in the game.

On 2nd and 10 from their own 23, Jimmy Garoppolo threw a sideline pass and George Kittle made a leaping one-handed catch for a 15 yard gain. It was Garoppolo’s first completion and the 49ers first 1st down after nearly 24 minutes of futility. On 3rd and 1 from their own 47, Mitchell gained 4. Garoppolo hit Mitchell for 16 and Mitchell ran for 6 more as the 2 minute warning came with the 49ers facing 2nd and 4 at the Green Bay 25 yard line. Garoppolo hit Kittle for 12 to set up 1st and goal at the 9 as the Packers took their 2nd timeout on defense with 1:10 left in the half. Yet then came offensive holding. On the next play Garoppolo twice avoided being sacked and rolled out but his pass was intercepted by Amos at the 4 yard line. The Packers were willing to run the ball to end the half, but the 49ers took a timeout on defense that backfired on them. The Packers on 3rd and 3 from their own 11 saw Rodgers escape the pressure, roll to his right, and lob a pass to Jones for a 76 yard gain. Yet on 1st and 10 from the San Francisco 14 with 26 seconds left, Rodgers got sacked and fumbled. The Packers retained possession and Rodgers spiked the ball with 3 seconds left. Mason Crosby came in for a 39 yard field goal try to extend the lead. The kick was blocked. 

The 49ers got a jolt to start the third quarter when Deebo Samuel returned the second half kickoff to midfield. With snow now coming down, pass-happy Kyle Shanahan actually started running the ball. After 4 straight runs, Garoppolo then hit Samuel for 18. On 2nd and 5 from the Green Bay 12, Mitchell tried to get around the end and looked like he had the edge to the end zone. Yet stokes made a touchdown saving tackle at the 3 yard line. Making matters worse, Mitchell was called for an offensive facemask. Instead of 1st and goal it was 2nd and 14 from the green Bay 21. Then came an illegal formation on the offense. On 3rd and 16, a give up completion from Garoppolo to Samuel gained only 12. The 10 play, 7 minute drive netted only 39 yards. Robbie Gould hit the 29 yard field goal to get the 49ers on the board. 

The Packers took the ball at their own 28 and held the ball for 9 minutes. The 14 play drive moved them 57 yards and set up 2nd and goal at the 5. A false start moved the Pack back. On 3rd and goal at the 8, Rodgers was sacked. Crosby this time hit the 33 yard field goal but the Packers only led 10-3 with 11 1/2 minutes left in regulation. The 49ers had their turn at their own 28, moving on a drive that took 5 1/2 minutes off the clock. The snow was coming down harder now. On 3rd and 11 from their own 48, Garoppolo fired to Kittle for 24 yards. On 3rd and 7 from the Green Bay 25, Garoppolo fired over the middle to Jennings near the sticks. Jennings thought he had the first down but a perfect tackle by Amos kept Jennings short. Kyle Shanahan decided to go for it on 4th and 1 from the Green Bay 19. Mitchell got the carry and got blasted by the Green Bay defense for a one yard loss with 6:15 to play. The 49ers defense forced a 3 and out as Rodgers was sacked for a 5th time on the night. On 4th and 19 from their own 12, the Packers punted. Then came the shock.

The punt was blocked by Willis. Talanoa Hufanga picked up the blocked punt at the Green Bay 6 yard line and ran it in for the touchdown. This was more than just the first time a game had featured a Talanoa Hufanga. It was now a 10-10 deadlock with 4:40 to play in front of a shellshocked snowed upon home crowd. The Packers had failed to put the game away the entire game and now were in a fight for survival. The Packers went 3 and out again as the 49ers took over at their own 29 with 3:20 to play. Garoppolo hit Kittle for 12 and Samuel for 14. The Packers took their final timeout on defense with 1:03 to play. Then the 49ers took their 1st timeout. Everything came down to the 49ers facing 3rd and 7 at the Green Bay 38. A 56 yard field goal try with snow coming down was not a serious option. Pass-happy Kyle Shanahan actually called a running play. Samuel gained 9 yards for a key first down. With 4 seconds left, Gould came in for the field goal try to win it. Now the the kick was 46 yards. Gould was good. 

For the second straight season, the Packers won 13 games and home field throughout the playoffs only to flame out in the playoffs. Jimmy Garoppolo was too classy to yell at Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay crowd: “I own you! I f-in own you! I always will!” Garoppolo was expected to be replaced early in the season by Trey Lance. Instead, Garoppolo and the 49ers led by their nasty defense are on the way to the NFC Title Game for the 2nd time in 3 years.. Garoppolo is as unassuming and humble as Rodgers is insufferable. Rodgers spent the entire offseason last year complaining that he did not have enough help. The defense gave up 2 field goals. Rodgers led one early touchdown drive and did nothing the final 54 minutes. He is a great regular season quarterback. For the second year in a row in cold Green Bay football weather, he lost to a warm weather team. This loss is on him and the horrendous Packers special teams. In addition to giving up a blocked field goal, a blocked punt, and 2 long kickoff returns, the special teams saved their worst for last. On the final decisive field goal, the Packers only had 10 men on the field. This was a stunning playoff upset. 13-10 49ers

Los Angeles Rams (4)(12-5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2)(13-4) was the Sunday afternoon game. The Rams won a shootout over the Buccaneers in Week 3 in Los Angeles, but the rematch was in Tampa. These teams came into the game knowing that the winner would play in the NFC Title Game on their home field. The Rams clobbered Arizona last week in the Wildcard while the Buccaneers breezed through their Wildcard game against overmatched Philadelphia. Both Sean McVay and Bruce Arianss are offensive wizards. The Buccaneers do have the great Tom Brady, but have suffered key injuries including on their offensive line. The Buccaneers came in seeking to go to the NFC Title Game for the second straight year while the Rams were looking to go to the NFC Title Game for the 2nd time in 4 years. The Rams finally got Cam Akers back after he missed most of the entire regular season. The Buccaneers got Leonard Fournette back after he missed 4 weeks. Fournette began the game with runs of 11 and 10, but after that the Rams defense held. 

The Rams took over at their own 20 and Matthew stafford came out throwing. Stafford hit O’Dell Beckham for 6, Akers for 9, and Cooper Kupp for 17. After a holding penalty meant 1st and 20, Stafford calmly went to Beckham for 20 and Tyler Higbee for 29 more. Yet on 1st and goal at the 9, a run gained one yard and stafford threw incomplete twice. Matt Gay hit the 26 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Rams. The Rams got it back at their own 29. Stafford went to Beckham for 9. On the next incompletion, defensive pass interference added 16 more yards Stafford then hit Higbee for 9. Another incompletion saw Ndomakung Suh get called for taunting, adding 15 more yards. Stafford may have gotten away with a light kick to Suh, but Suh was heard mouthing expletives that go beyond football. Suh has a history of such behavior on the field. Akers ran for 9 and Stafford hit Blanton for a 7 yard touchdown to make it 10-0 Rams. 

After a touchback with 3 minutes left in the opening quarter, Brady finally completed his first pass, hitting Fournette for 13. Brady then somehow avoided a sack and fired over the middle to Rob Gronkowski for 29. Yet on 3rd and 4 from the Rams 27, Brady threw incomplete. Ryan Succop hit the 45 yard field goal to get the Buccaneers within 10-3 after the first quarter. Yet Succop then kicked the ensuing kickoff out of bounds, setting the Rams up at their own 40. A sack of Stafford st up 3rd and 20 from their own 30. Stafford calmly went bombs away to Kupp, who evaded a tackler for a 70 yard touchdown and a 17-3 Rams lead. The Buccaneers were all called for a defensive penalty for a player removing their helmet and slamming it to the ground in the field of play. The Buccaneers went 3 and out and the Rams got the ball back at midfield with a chance to all but turn out the lights. The Rams wasted the opportunity and the Buccaneers got the ball back at their own 20.

On 3rd and 7 from his own 23, Brady hit Mike Evans for 9. On 3rd and 6 from his own 36, Brady hit Evans for 21. On 1st and 10 from the Rams 43, Brady hit Evans for 8. Yet an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Brady meant 2nd and 17 instead of 2nd and 2. Brady cursed out the officials for failing to throw a flag on a hit that was perfectly legal. Brady went to Fournette for 19 while still yelling. Yet from the Rams 31, a run gained one yard and Brady threw incomplete twice. From 48 yards out, Succop’s kick was no good. The Rams moved from their own 38 to a 1st and 10 at the Tampa Bay 28. After an incompletion, a swing pass lost 4 yards. On 3rd and 14, Stafford hit Kupp for 11. Matt Gay hit the 40 yard field goal to cap the 12 play, 41 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive and make it 20-3 Rams with 2:23 left in the half. A sack of Brady had the Buccaneers facing 2nd and 17 at their own 8 at t he 2 minute warning. Brady went deep for Gronk and Scott made a leaping interception in front of him at the Tampa Bay 31. The Rams moved to a 2nd and goal at the 6 with 24 seconds left in the half looking for the kill shot. Akers got the carry and fumbled at the one yard line. The Buccaneers recovered. The Rams got the ball to start the third quarter but again did not put the game away. The Buccaneers were 3 scores down, but both teams knew what Brady was capable of. Also, the Rams lost their regular season finale by blowing a 17 point lead. 

A great punt pinned the Buccaneers at their own 5. They went 3 and out and Powell returned the punt 33 yards to set the Rams up with gift field position at the Tampa Bay 28. Rather than grind down clock, Sean McVay kept his foot on the gas. Stafford hit Blanton for 11, Kupp for 4, and Beckham for 10. On 3rd and goal at the one, Stafford took the quarterback sneak and bulled forward across the plane of the goal for a 27-3 Rams lead midway through the third quarter. After a touchback, Brady hit Evans for 5 and Howard for 7. Brady then went deep to Gronk for 42. and to Evans for 11. Yet on 1st and 10 from the Rams 12, Brady threw 2 incompletions sandwiched around a sack. With the home crowd booing, Bruce Arians on 4th and 11 opted for the field goal. Succop hit from 31 but the Buccaneers still trailed 27-6 with 3 minutes left in the third quarter. Yet every time the Buccaneers had the slightest momentum, they lost it. For the 2nd time on the day, the ensuing kickoff was kicked out of bounds  and the Rams took over at their own 40.

Yet every time it looked like the Rams were going to permanently turn out the lights, they didn’t. A short pass from Stafford to Kupp was fumbled. Murphy-Bunting returned the fumble 10 yards to set up the Buccaneers at the Rams 30. On 3rd and 9, Brady threw incomplete and was lucky he was not intercepted as the defender just dropped it. This time Bruce Arians went for it on 4th and 9, Brady hit Scotty Miller for 16. On 2nd and 7 from the Rams 10, a short pass to Tyler Johnson saw johnson break through 2 tackles and somehow turn nothing into a 9 yard gain and 1st and goal at the one. Fournette got in off right tackle for the touchdown. The Rams had every chance under the sun to put this game away. Instead the Buccaneers only trailed 27-13 after three quarters. The Rams quickly went 3 and out and took only 9 seconds off of the fourth quarter. A blowout was now a ballgame. 

Yet in a game of rapid momentum shifts, momentum shifted again. Brady got sacked by Von Miller and fumbled. The Rams had the ball at the Tampa 25 and needed only a field goal to make it a 3 score game again. Then this crazy game got even crazier. Out of the shotgun, Stafford was looking away from the ball and had no idea the snap was coming. It sailed past him and the Jason Pierre Paul recovered for the Buccaneers all the way at the Rams 46. Brady hit Gronkowski for 13 and Fournette for 5. Yet on 3rd and 5 from the Rams 27, Brady was sacked by Floyd. On 4th and 14 from the Rams 36 with 12 1/2 minutes left in regulation, Brady went deep incomplete but appeared to be bailed out by a late hit on a defenseless receiver. The home crowd celebrated, thinking it was 15 yards and a new set of downs. Yet after an official huddle, they ruled the late hit occurred after the play, making it a dead ball fail. The Rams would get the ball and the penalty was post possession. It was a very questionable call, as the late hit appeared to be part of the play. It was a fraction of a second call and the Rams were bailed out.

The Rams played smash mouth to bleed clock. Van Jefferson broke off a 15 yard run. Akers added 3 and 8. A short pass from Stafford to Jefferson went for 15. The Rams moved all the way to a 1st and 10 at the Tampa Bay 31. A pair of safe runs meant 3rd and 12. Sean McVay took no chances and called another safe run that gained 4 yards. Gay came in for a 47 yard field goal try with 6 1/2 minutes left in regulation to lock up the win. The kick was inside the posts but short, no good. 47 yards, short! In beautiful warm weather. Whatever deal Brady made with the devil 20 years ago was very much still in existence. The Buccaneers took over at their own 37. Brady hit Evans for 9 and Fournette for 6. Defensive pass interference added 15 more. On 3rd and 6 from the Rams 28, a swing pass was blown up by a perfect tackle for a 3 yard loss. On 4th and 9 from the Rams 31, Brady had all the time in the world but threw incomplete. The Rams defense had done its job all game and made up for second half ineptness on offense and special teams. From their own 31, they needed to just calm down and end things. The Buccaneers had all 3 timeouts on defense. The Rams went 3 and out but forced the Buccaneers to take all their timeouts. The Buccaneers took over at their own 23 with 4 minutes remaining.  

Brady went to Smiller for 19 and Fournette for only 3. Then Brady went bombs away to a wide open Evans for a 55 yard touchdown. 77 yards took only 36 seconds. The Buccaneers were within 27-20 with a full 3:15 to play. The defensive breakdown meant that the Rams offense had to find a way to get one first downs. 3 straight runs would take the clock down to nearly one minute. Yet on 2nd and 7, Akers fumbled for the 2nd time on the day and the Buccaneers recovered. The Buccaneers took over at the Rams 30 with a full 2 1/2 minutes to play. On 3rd and 1 from the Rams 21, Fournette gained 3. On 3rd and 10 from the Rams 18, Brady hit Cameron Brate for 9. The Buccaneers lined up quickly to immediately go for it So Sean McVay took the Rams 2nd timeout on defense to let them regroup. With everything on the line and everyone bunched inside, Brady handed to Fournette as he tried to bounce it outside. A defender tried to tackle Fournette in the backfield for a loss but Fournette shook the tackle, got to the outside, and practically walked into the end zone. Forget a deal with the devil. Tom Brady might be the devil himself.

After a touchback, only 42 seconds remained in the game. While the conventional approach might be to just play for overtime, remember what happened in the Super Bowl 5 years ago. Brady led New England back from a 28-3 deficit to face overtime. New England won the coin toss. Brady led a touchdown drive. Atlanta never saw the ball in overtime. Brady had led his team back in this game from down 27-3 to 27-27. It was imperative he not get the ball back again. The Rams had self-destructed, but still had the most potent offense in the league. On the first play, Stafford was sacked for a one yard loss. McVay was still not willing to let the clock run down to overtime. He called the Rams last timeout with 35 seconds left. Stafford went deep to Kupp for 20. Kupp got out of bounds. Then Stafford went bombs away to the best receiver in the game, and Kupp came down with it for a 44 yard gain. Stafford rallied everyone to the line and spiked the ball to stop the clock with 3 seconds left. Gay came in again. This time the kick to win it was only 30 yards. A miss would have Rams fans ready to lose their every loving football minds. Gay was good. In their regular season game, Brady threw 55 passes. In this game he there 54, completing 30 for 329 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Stafford was 28 of 38 for 366 yards, 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. The dragon was slayed. The Rams will host the NFC Title Game against archival San Francisco, who beat them twice this year. The Rams took down Brady and now need to beat his backup to go to the Super Bowl. 30-27 Rams

Buffalo Bills (3)(11-6) at Kansas City Chiefs (2)(12-5) was the Sunday night game. The Bills won the AFC East and blasted archival New England to pieces 47-17. The Chiefs won the AFC West and destroyed Pittsburgh 42-21. Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes both threw 5 touchdown passes last week. Last year the Chiefs beat the Bills in the AFC Title Game 38-24. This year the Bills went into Kansas City in Week 5 and stunned the Chiefs 38-20. The Chiefs were one win away from reaching the AFC Title Game for the 4th straight year, a feat the Bills accomplished from 1990-1993. That was the last time the Bills were in the AFC Title Game. The teams came into this game knowing that results from the previous day meant the winner would be hosting the AFC Title Game on their home field. 

The Bills began at their own 29. Josh Allen hit Devin Singletary for 13. On 3rd and 9 from their own 43, Allen hit Cole Beasley for 7. On 4th and 2 from midfield, Sean McDermott went for it. This was a tacit admission that keeping Mahomes off the field was the only way to win. Allen got around the end for 10. Singletary gained 7 and caught a pass from Allen for 15. Isaiah McKenzie gained 11. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Allen only gained one. McDermott again went for it, concluding that field goals would not beat the Chiefs. On 4th and goal at the one, Allen lateraled to Singletary, who took the pitchout around the end for the touchdown. The 13 play, 71 yard, 7 minute drive made it 7-0 Bills. The Chiefs soon faced 3rd and 5 from their own 31. Patrick Mahomes hit McKinnon for just enough. On 3rd and 6 from their own 40, Mahomes scrambled up the middle for 34 yards. Mycole Hardman ran for 6 and Mahomes added more. On 3rd and 5 from the Buffalo 8, Mhaomes scrambled around the left end, dove for the pylon, and stretched the ball just enough for the touchdown. The 11 play, 74 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive tied the game 7-7. 

The Bills after a touchback moved to a 1st and 10 at the Chiefs 41. A run gained one yard followed by an incompletion. On 3rd and 9 and needing only a few yards for long field goal range, Allen was sacked. A great punt pinned the Chiefs at their own one yard line. They went 3 and out and punted. Yet with the Bills getting excellent field position and facing 3rd and 2 just past midfield, a run lost 2 yards. The Chiefs took over at their own 14. Mahomes went deep to Travis Kelce for 21, to Byron Pringle for 12, and to Tyreek Hill for 10. Clyde Edwards-Helaire gained 22. On 3rd and 3 from the Buffalo 14, Mahomes hit McKinnon for 6 yards. A sack of Mahomes set up 3rd and goal from the 11, Mahomes was sacked. Yet a killer defensive holding penalty meant 1st and goal at the 6. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Mahomes somehow escaped a sack and fired high to the end zone where Pringle came down with it for the touchdown and the 14-7 Chiefs lead. The Bills after a touchback had 1:52 to work with. Allen went to Beasley for 24. On 3rd and 2 from the Chief 43, Allen hit Davis for 5. Allen gained 9 and 11. Allen then went to Davis in the end zone for an 18 yard touchdown and a 14-14 game. 

After a touchback, Mahomes had only 37 seconds left but all 3 timeouts. Defensive holding added 5 yards. Mahomes then went to Hill for 26. Mahomes hit Hillagain for 4 and Kelce for 8 as the Chiefs took their 1st timeout on 1st and 10 from the Buffalo 32. A pair of incompletions left 3 seconds. Harrison Butker came in for the 50 yard field goal try to give the Chiefs the lead. Butker was no good, just barely missing the right upright. After a touchback to start the second half, the Chiefs faced 3rd and 1 from their own 34. McKinnon gained 3. On 3rd and 4 from the Buffalo 43, Mahomes hit Hill for only 3. Walrus Andy Reid went for it on 4th and 1. Mahomes hit McKinnon for a 20 yard gain. On 3rd and 8 from the Buffalo 18, Mahomes scrambled all over the place and gained 9. Yet in a very clean game, offensive holding instead meant 3rd and 18 and killed the drive. It was the first penalty on the Chiefs all game, and only 2 penalties had been called on the Bills. This time from 39 yards out Butker barely snuck the kick inside the right upright good. It was ugly but the Chiefs led 17-14 after the 13 play, 54 yard, 8 minute drive.

The Bills soon faced 3rd and 2 from their own 33. Singletary took a pitchout laterally and only gained one. This time from his own 34, Sean McDermott was not in a gambling mood. Perhaps he should have been. The Chiefs took over at their own 39. Mahomes hit Kelce for 8 and Pringle for 5. Edwards-Helaire ran for 20. Then Hardman ran around the end, appeared to be trapped after a short gain, and somehow veered back inside and shot past everyone for a 25 yard touchdown. Butker’s miserable night continued as he doinked the extra point off the left upright no good. Yet with 2 minutes left in the third quarter, the Chiefs had breathing room up 23-14. One play and 10 seconds after a touchback, the Bills were right back in it. Josh Allen went bombs away and found Davis in stride for a 75 yard touchdown. Just like that, the Bills were within 23-21. 

The Bills held on defense and got the ball back early in the fourth quarter with a chance to take the lead. Yet they were pinned at their own 8 yard line. Allen hit Davis for 17 but after that the drive bogged down. Hill almost delivered the back-breaker, returning the punt 45 yards to the Buffalo 16. Yet on 3rd and 1 from the Buffalo 7, McKinnon took the direct snap and got blown up in the backfield for a 3 yard loss. Butker hit the 28 yard field goal but the Chiefs only led by 5 with 9 minutes left in regulation. The Bills soon faced 3rd and 3 from their own 32. Allen hit Beasley for 5. On 3rd and 4 from their own 43, Allen scrambled all over the place and gained 9. On 3rd and 1 from the Chiefs 39, Allen gained 3. On 3rd and 6 from the Chiefs 32, Allen only gained 2. With 3 minutes left, Sean McVay could have kicked the field goal and trusted his defense. Yet with Mahomes on the other sideline, going for it on 4th and 4 was the right move. Allen scrambled and gained 6. On 3rd and 6 from the Chiefs 20, Allen under heavy pressure threw a dump off pass that would have been better off dropped. Instead it was a 7 yard loss as the clock ticked down to the 2 minute warning. Again, with Mahomes on the other side, going for it even on 4th and 13 was the only sane option. Allen evaded a sack and found a wide open Davis in the end zone. It was a complete defensive breakdown. The 27 yard touchdown gave the Bills the lead. Now they needed the 2 point conversion. Allen scrambled all over and finally threw across his body to the back of the end zone. Stefan Diggs made a leaping catch for the conversion. The Bills led 29-26 with 1:54 to play. What happened in the final 2 minutes will be talked about forever for all the right reasons. 

The Chiefs soon faced 3rd and 10 from their own 25 with 1:39 left. Mahomes hit Kelce for 11. With 1:16 left, on 2nd and 10 from their own 36, Mahomes threw a short pass to Hill, who split the seams, got to the sideline, picked up a block, and outraced everyone for a shocking 64 yard touchdown. The Chiefs now led 33-29. After a touchback the Bills had one minute left and all 3 timeouts. Allen went to Davis for 28 as the Bills took their first timeout. Allen then went to Davis for 12 and Emanuel Sanders for 16. Defensive pass interference stopped the clock with 23 seconds left. On the next play Allen evaded the pressure and found Davis for a 19 yard touchdown. With 13 seconds left, the Bills had the 36-33 lead in front of a shellshocked home crowd at Arrowhead.  Allen had the game of his life. The third lead change in the final 2 minutes made this a game for the history books. Yet after a touchback, Mahomes had 13 seconds and 3 timeouts, needing only a field goal to tie it. Mahomes went to Hill for 19 and called timeout with 8 seconds left. Mahomes then fired over the middle to Kelce for 25 yards and called timeout again with 3 seconds left. Butker was having a miserable game, but from 49 yards out it was all on him. This time Butker was good. The 4th score in the final 2 minutes had this insane game going into overtime tied 36-36.

Yet this game appeared over once the Chiefs won the overtime coin toss. On 3rd and 1 from their own 34, Mahomes hit Kelce for 10. Mahomes then hit McKinnon for 16. On 2nd and 6 from the Buffalo 34, Mahomes hit Hardman on a short pass, but Hardman raced for a 26 yard gain down the sideline. Mahomes then went to the corner of the end zone and Kelce made a leaping catch for the 8 yard touchdown. The Bills never saw the ball in overtime. This game was an instant classic for the ages. The teams combined for 4 total penalties and 0 turnovers. They also combined for nearly 1,000 yards of total offense. Allen was magnificent, going 27 of 37 for 329 yards and 4 touchdowns. He did everything a quarterback could be asked to do. He was 13 seconds away from victory. Gabriel Davis caught all 4 of those touchdown passes. Yet Mahomes was 33 of 44 for 378 yards and 3 touchdowns. Mahomes had 177 yards passing in the final 2 minutes and overtime alone. The Chiefs host Cincinnati in the AFC Title Game. The Chiefs became the first team in NFL history to host the AFC Title Game 4 straight years. This makes Andy Reid a most happy walrus indeed. 42-36 Chiefs  

All 4 Divisional Playoff games came down to the final play. 3 underdog road teams won and the fourth nearly did as home field advantage proved worthless this weekend. 

The Conference Title Games are set. Both games will be played on Sunday, January 30, 2022.

AFC Title Game: Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs at 3:00 p.m.

NFC Title Game: San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams at 6:30 p.m.

eric

1/21/22 stock market musings

Friday, January 21st, 2022
For those of you watching the stock market go blood red, a little perspective is necessary.
A correction is defined as a 10% drop from the high.
A bear market is defined as a 20% drop from the high.
The DOW (DJIA) peaked intraday at 36,952. Let’s say 37,000 for simplicity sake. That was on January 5, 2022. The all time high was only 2 weeks ago. A 10% drop would take it down 3,700 points to 33,300. Since January 5, we have fallen to an intraday low today of 34,230. The DOW would have to drop another 1,000 points to enter correction territory. So while the DOW has shed a lot of points in the last few days, it is still less than 10% off its all time high.
The NASDAQ is another matter entirely. The NASDAQ is very tech heavy, and tech stocks tend to be more volatile than the blue chip stocks in the DOW. The NASDAQ hit an intraday high of 16,212 on November 22. That was 2 months ago, a longer period of time. Let’s say 16,200 again for simplicity. The NASDAQ closed today at 13,769 at the low of the day. The NASDAQ is 15% off of the all-time high.
In the 2000 crash that led to the bear market, the NASDAQ started collapsing in March of 2000. The DOW did not fall apart until November of 2000. Again, tech stocks are more volatile. Bear markets normally last 12 to 18 months. This was a nasty bear market that lasted 3 years. On the flip side, the March 2020 bear market was the opposite extreme. Stocks dropped 40%, but one month later were back to normal.
Other things to think about: In a bull market, stocks do not go straight up. They go up in a jagged edge. Yet in a bear market, stocks can go straight down. The reason for this is that financial markets are motivated by 2 things: 1) Fear 2) Greed.
Fear is ALWAYS more powerful than greed. When things are going up, the big boys say “enough of this” and knock it down in the short run. Yet when things are dropping like a rock, the big boys are sitting in the same scared fetal position as everyone else, just with more money. Buying at the low seems smart, but when it comes to real money the big boys are like “I’m not touching this.” The expression is “Never try to catch a falling knife.”
There are always opportunities to get in and out of the stock market. Those who try to time the market often get clocked. Those who are patient frequently end up ok provided they invested in solid companies rather than speculative gambles.
Things are still too high for me to consider buying. I’d like to see a larger drop before doing any more buying. Yet I do not feel comfortable selling either. I could take profits, but I am in this for the long term. If something of mine drops tremendously, I’ll add to my positions.
For now I am in a holding pattern. In life, I am one of the least patient people you will ever meet. With my investing, I am incredibly patient. It is the only thing I am patient about.
I can afford to be patient because of my “time horizon.” As long as someone has at least 10-15 more years until retirement, they can afford to be patient. At 50, to quote the Rolling Stones, “Time is on my side.”
People over 70 should consider taking some profits off the table. People under 30 should just shut up and let it ride, again provided they are in sensible stocks to begin with.
There is no better long-term investment than the United States stock market. That has been proven for over a century. Rule 1 as a stock trader is to obey the pattern. Do what the stock tells you to do. Don’t argue with the market. Until the pattern changes, stick with the pattern. The trend is your friend. There is zero evidence that any other nation is in position to supplant the United States as the dominant global power any time soon.
America works. The stock market works. The optimists know that brighter days are ahead because we Americans will make it so. The pessimists grudgingly concede that we have the worst situation except for every other nation in worse shape. So even when things are awful we are the best by default.
Do not panic sell or panic buy. There will always be another opportunity. Now to hold my positions, check my portfolio thoroughly, and most likely make zero changes for now. When the evidence and data changes, I will change as well.
My overall philosophy remains the same:
1) Buy good companies
2) Roll over the dividends (unless you need the income)
3) Don’t sell (unless absolutely necessary)
4) Don’t die (don’t take crazy risks like bungee jumping)
eric

Top 10 NFL Divisionals upsets of all time

Friday, January 21st, 2022

Top 10 Most Amazing NFL Divisional Playoff Upsets Ever

16 Lies in Biden’s Press Conference

Thursday, January 20th, 2022

Joe Bide’s two plus hours presser: Lies, mistruths and exaggerations

NFL 2021-2022 Divisionals Prequel

Wednesday, January 19th, 2022

NFL 2021-2022 Preview and Bettor’s Guide: The Divisional playoffs

The Tuck Rule at 20: Still a blight on humanity

Tuesday, January 18th, 2022

2001 Tuck Rule: 20 Years Later, still part of NFL Playoff infamy

NFL 2021-2022 Wildcard Recap

Sunday, January 16th, 2022

NFL 2021-2022 Wildcard Recap

The 2021 NFL Regular season is now in the history books. The Wildcard matchups are set and will take place from Saturday through Monday, January 15-17.

Las Vegas Raiders (5)(10-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (4)(10-7) was the Saturday afternoon game. The Raiders had won a playoff game in 19 years. The Bengals had not won a playoff game in 31 years. This was only the 2nd Raiders playoff game in 19 years and first in 5 years. This was Derek Carr’s first playoff game and the first playoff game ever for the city of Las Vegas. The Bengals rested their starters last week after clinging the AFC North and were well rested. The Raiders were 6-7 and ran the table, winning 4 games by a total of 12 points. They needed an entire 5 quarters to defeat the Chargers on the final play of overtime to make the playoffs. It was also the first playoff game for Joe Burrow. The Bengals were heavy favorites, but the Raiders had a puncher’s chance if they could hang around and survive the first quarter intensity of a jacked up crowd at the Jungle. The weather was 31 degrees at kickoff and dropped to around 20.

After a touchback, Josh Jacobs ran for 5 and 3. On 3rd and 2 from their own 33, Carr went to Zee Jones for 17 to midfield. Carr then hit Hunter Renfrow for 6. On 3rd and 3 from the Cincinnati 43, Carr hit Darren Waller for 8. Carr then found Jacobs for 9. Yet on 2nd and 1 from the Cincinnati 26, a false start messed up the rhythm. On 3rd and 3, Carr went deep incomplete. Daniel Carlson hit the 47 yard field goal to cap the 10 play, 47 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive and put the Raiders on the board first up 3-0.

Yet after a touchback, the Bengals offense made it look easy. Burrow hit JaMarr chase for gains of 11, 17 and 9 and Joe Mixon for 21. The Bengals did not have a single third down on the drive until 3rd and goal at the 7. Burrow hit CJ Uzomah for the touchdown to finish the 10 play 75 yard, 5 minute drive and give the Bengals a 7-3 lead. After a touchback Carr went to Zee Jones for 13, but then disaster struck. On 3rd and 8 from their own 40, Carr had the ball stripped from him. Ogunjobi recovered it for the defense and returned the fumble 11 yards to give the Bengals gift field position at the Raiders 15. Yet on 3rd and 3 from the 8, the Bengals committed a false star. Burrow on 3rd and 8 threw incomplete. Evan McPherson hit the 31 yard field goal to make it 10-3 Bengals.

The Raiders return man made a horrendous mistake on the ensuing kickoff. The ball was headed out of bounds. The rule is if the return man places one foot out of bounds and then touches the ball, the return team gets great field position at their own 40 yard line. Instead, Peyton Barber fielded the ball inbounds and then went out of bounds. Barber’s blunder had the Raiders backed up to their own 2 yard line. A sack of Carr had the Raiders punting on 4th and 11 from their own one. The Bengals had excellent field position at the Raiders 45. to start the second quarter. Burrow hit Chase for 28, but on 3rd and goal at the 4, Burrow was sacked. McPherson hit form 30 to make it 13-3 Bengals. The Raiders defense twice forced field goals when forced to defend a short field, preventing a blowout.

A strong kickoff return had the Raiders taking over at their own 39. Jacobs ripped off  a 14 yard run and then broke free for a 35 yard gain. On 2nd and 8 from the Cincy 10, Carr threw incomplete. On 3rd and 8 Carr had a wide open design Jackson in the flat for what would have been an easy first down and maybe a touchdown. Jackson dropped it for another incompletion. Carlson hit from 28. The Raiders were only down 13-6 midway through the second quarter, but mistakes were killing them.

The Bengals took over at their own 18 and soon faced 3rd and 1 from their 27. Burrow hit Boyd for 5. Burrow then went deep to Uzomah for 29. Evans ran for 9. On 3rd and 1 from the Raiders 31, Burrow threw incomplete. A 49 yard field goal try in cold weather with wind was not ideal, so Zac Taylor went for it on 4th and 1. With the Raiders prepared to defend the run up the middle, Chase took a pitchout 15 yards. At the 2 minute warning, the Bengals faced 3rd and 4 at the Raiders 10. Then came a play even crazier than Joe Montana throwing “The Catch” to Dwight Clark. Burrow rolled all the way to his right. With men in his face, he threw the ball across his body to the back of the end zone. There was a question as to whether Burrow had remained inbounds before he threw the ball. Boyd caught the ball in the end zone but was not celebrating. Officials blew the whistle while the ball was in the air. The defenders stopped. Replay showed Burrow was inbounds, but the whistle automatically blows the play dead. After a lengthy officials conversation, they ruled the play a touchdown rather than a dead ball play, which would result in that rare do-over. The blown call finished the 12 play, 82 yard, 6 minute drive and had the Bengals winning 20-6.

The Raiders took over at their own 20. Knowing the Bengals would get the ball to start the second half, the Raiders needed to score in the final 1:51 of the half. Carr hit Renfrow for 7 and on 3rd and 3 from their own 27 hit Bryan Edwards for 19. On 3rd and 10 from their own 46, Carr scrambled for a 20 yard gain. On 3rd and 6 from the Cincinnati 25, Carr hit Darren Waller for 11. With 13 seconds left in the half, Carr hit Zee Jones for the touchdown to get the Raiders within 20-13. The Bengals scored on all 4 of their first half possessions not counting the kneel down to end the half. The Raiders defense needed to stop Burrow if they were to have a chance.

The Bengals began the third quarter at their own 35 and moved easily to a 1st and 10 at the Raiders 29. Then the Bills were called for an illegal formation. Burrow threw 3 straight incompletions. McPherson hit the 43 yard field goal to put the Bills up 23-13. The Raiders after a touchback moved to a 3rd and 4 at their own 42. Carr went deep to Renfrow who caught the ball for a 22 yard gain, had the ball chopped out of his hands, but saw the ball harmlessly roll to the ground. The Raiders tried to rush up to the line of scrimmage and snap the ball but Zac Taylor challenged the catch. After further review, Taylor won the challenge and the call was incomplete. The Raiders punted. The Bengals took over at their own 29. They had scored on 5 straight drives discounting the kneel-down and another touchdown would turn out the lights. Yet an illegal block set up 3rd and 12 from their own 27. Burrow was sacked. For the first time all game, the Raiders defense forced a punt.

The Raiders took over at their own 27 and had a drive that showed their very best and very worst. On the first play Carr went deep to Jackson for a 35 yard gain. The play was wiped out by offensive holding to set up 1st and 20. On 3rd and 11, Carr hit Renfrow for 16. Jacobs banged out runs of 8, 7 and 5 to set up 2nd and 5 at the Cincy 38. Jacobs got the carry again and got just enough. Yet offensive holding wiped out that gained and instead had the Raiders facing 2nd and 15 from the Cincy 48. Carr hit Jacobs for 7 and on 3rd and 8 hit Renfrow for 5. On 4th and 3 from the Cincinnati 36, a field goal try in less than ideal conditions would be 54 yards. Rich Bisaccia decided to go for it. Carr threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant an 11 yard gain. Carr hit Edwards for 16. After an incompletion, Jacobs banged ahead for 8 in what should have been 3rd and goal at the one. Yet instead offensive holding meant 2nd and goal at the 19. Three offensive holding penalties by three different guys killed the drive. Carlson opened the fourth quarter by hitting a 34 yard field goal to get the Raiders within 23-16. The 13 play, 57 yard drive took 7 1/2 minutes off the clock but red zone inefficiencies that plagued the Raiders all season remained.

The Raiders defense had time to rest but it didn’t matter. The Bengals on 3rd and 1 from their own 34 saw Mixon get hit in the backfield but not wrapped up as he gained 2. On 3rd and 7 from their own 39, Burrow hit Chase for 19 and again for 11. Burrow then went to Tee Higgins for 10. On 3rd and 1 from the Raiders 10, Mixon got stopped short. The Bengals lined up to go for it on 4th and inches but it was a bluff to draw the defense offside. The defense didn’t bite. Zac Taylor took no chances, understanding a field goal would again make it a 2 score game. McPherson hit his 4th field goal from 28 to culminate the 13 play, 65 yard, 7 1/2 minute drive and put the Bengals up 26-16 with 6:49 left in regulation.

The Raiders took over at their own 23. On 2nd and 7, Carr hit Jacobs for a 19 yard gain. Yet an ineligible man downfield penalty on rookie Alex Leatherwood, who also had a holding penalty and a false start in this game, instead meant 2nd and 12. A completion lost a yard, but defensive holding meant an automatic first down. Carr hint hit Waller for 13 and Renfrow for 5. On 2nd and 5 from their own 44, Carr threw incomplete twice. With 4 1/2 minutes left down by 10, the Raiders were down to their last gasp. On 4th and 5, Carr went deep to Jackson for 26. Carr then went to Jacobs for 13 and Jones for 7. Yet on 2nd and 3 from the Cincy 10, Carr threw incomplete twice. Again, the Raiders could not finish a drive. Carlson hit his 4th field goal from 28. The Raiders again got back within 7 points but only 3 1/2 minutes remained and the Raiders only had one timeout plus the 2 minute warning. To have a chance, the Raiders had to stop Burrow, which they failed to do throughout the game.

After a touchback, a couple of conservative runs had the Bengals facing 3rd and 11 as the Raiders took their last timeout with 2:35 to play. The Bengals had a big decision to make. An incompletion would stop the clock and save the Raiders 30 to 40 seconds. Zac Taylor decided to trust his quarterback. Burrow completed a pass to Uzomah, but Uzomah was swarmed and held to a 7 yard gain as the clock hit the 2 minute warning. The defense got the stop. The Raiders had life. A short 33 yard punt gave the Raiders the ball at their own 35 with 1:51 to play and 0 timeouts. This was plenty of time for Carr and the rest of these cardiac Raiders.

Carr hit Jacobs for q 15 yard gain, with more tacked on for roughing the passer. The Raiders had moved 30 yards in only 7 seconds. A sack of Carr had the Raiders facing 3rd and 17 from the Cincinnati 42. Carr fired over the middle to Waller for 23 yards to the Cincy 19 as the clock ticked below one minute. On 3rd and 10, Carr fired to Jones over the middle for just enough. Carr then spiked the ball to stop the clock. 30 seconds remained. The Raiders had 2nd and goal at the 9. They would have 3 chances to tie the game or win it if Rich Bisaccia was crazy enough to go for a 2 point conversion. Carr fired over the middle incomplete. On 3rd and goal, Carr went to Renfrow but Renfrow slipped and the ball fell incomplete. With 17 seconds left, it came down to 4th and goal at the 9. The Raiders had lived on the edge for the entire season. Carr fired over the middle at the goal line into double coverage. Pratt made the interception. The Raiders fought to the bitter end, but came up one touchdown short. The Bengals won their first playoff game since the 1990 season. The Bengals travel to Tennessee for the Divisional round. 20 years after the Tuck Rule, the Raiders lost a close playoff game. Yet this time it was not stolen.

Any talk of Mark Davis blowing up the team and starting over from scratch must end now. This team had to overcome obstacles that when combined no team has ever had to deal with. The Jon Gruden mess was bad enough. The Henry Ruggs tragedy will reverberate far beyond football for years. Then Damon Arnette had his incident. This team lost their coach, their fastest wide receiver, and a promising cornerback. Rich Bisaccia and Derek Carr held the team together. This team needs a few pieces. Replacing Bisaccia is not the answer. Trading Carr should be a non-starter. Pay him. Let’s see what Mike Mayock can do as general manager with complete decision making authority over personnel. He started the season as the only general manager who answered to the coach. The NFL Draft is 3 months away. It will be held in Las Vegas. So will the Pro Bowl. As for the Super Bowl, the Raiders are a few pieces from being a legitimate contender. Al Davis would love this team. For 4 straight week, they took “Just win baby” to a new level. They went on the road in a hostile environment and freezing cold and almost pulled out a miracle win. Mr. Davis has a good team. He needs to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Keep it together and see if good can become great. Expectations will be high next year if this team is allowed to continue. They deserve to stay together. They’ve earned it. 26-19 Bengals

New England Patriots (6)(10-7) at Buffalo Bills (3)(11-6) was the Saturday night game. The Bills won the AFC East for the 2nd straight year, ending the Patriots nearly 19 years of dominance. These teams both won on the opposing team’s field to split the series.The Patriots won a 14-10 slugfest in Buffalo by running the ball 46 times as Mac Jones threw only 3 passes. Yet the Bills then went into New England and won 33-21. The temperature at kickoff was only 6 degrees. While both teams are used to bitter cold, only one team showed up early on. The Bills began at their own 30. Josh Allen hit Stefan Diggs for 9. Allen scrambled for a 26 yard gain. On 3rd and 3 from the New England 24, Allen ran again for 15. On 2nd and goal from the 8, Allen rolled out all the way to his right, threw a high pass to the corner, and somehow Dawson Knox came down with one knee down inbounds. One knee equals two feet and the Bills led 7-0. The Patriots moved from their own 13 to the Buffalo 34. Jones went to the end zone to tie the game but was intercepted by Micah Hyde for a touchback. The Bills took over at their own 20 and Allen went deep to Knox for 24. Ian McKenzie gained 7 and Devin Singletary added 6. Allen went to McKenzie for 19. Allen went to Diggs for 6 and ran for 5. Allen found Knox again for an 11 yard touchdown as the earlier 70 yard drive was followed by this 10 play, 80 yard, 5 minute drive to make it 14-0 Bills.

The Bills got it back in the second quarter at their 19. Singletary gained 9 and 3. Allen hit Singletary for 5 and Davis for 22. Allen ran for 8, with a defensive facemask on the next play adding 15. Singletary did the rest, running for 4, 9, one, and the 3 yard touchdown. The extra point was blocked but the 10 play, 81 yard, 6 minute drive had the Bills up 20-0. The Bills got it back at their own 11 with 3:44 left in the half and made it look easy. Allen hit McKenzie for 19 and then went deep to Diggs for 45. Allen ran for 9. At the 2 minute warning, Singletary ran for a 16 yard touchdown as the Bills were winning a laugher up 27-0. For the first time in their long franchise history, they scored 4 touchdowns on their first 4 possessions in a playoff game. The Patriots managed a field goal to end the half but still faced the largest postseason deficit in their franchise history.

The Patriots began the third quarter moving from their own 24 to just past midfield. Yet any hope of a comeback was quickly dashed when Jones had a pass batted up in the air and intercepted by Wallace at the Buffalo 42. On 3rd and 4 from their own 48, Allen hit Singletary for 9. McKenzie ran for 15. On 1st and 20 from the New England 34 after an offensive penalty, Allen went to Emmanuel Sanders for the touchdown. For the second time on the day, Tyler Bass had his extra point blocked, the only thing going wrong for the Bills on a day they led 33-3. They became the first team in the history of the Super Bowl era that began in 1967 to score a touchdown on their first 5 drives of a postseason game. The 1992 Bills came back from a 35-3 deficit, but this time the roles were reversed and their would be no comeback. The 1990 Bills won a game 51-3, but these Bills fell short. The Patriots managed a touchdown, but in the fourth quarter the Bills kept up the carpet-bombing.

The Bills from their own 23 saw Singletary run for 10. Allen hit Knox for 8. On 3rd and 1 from their own 42, Allen gained 3. Allen hit Beasley for 19. Early in the fourth quarter, Allen hit Davis for a 19 yard touchdown to make it 40-10 Bills. Special teams got in the act when Hyde returned a punt 52 yards and nearly broke it the distance before falling down at the New England 39. Allen went deep to Knox for a 38 yard gain down to the one. Sean McDermott pulled out all the stops as Allen threw a one yard touchdown to Doyle on a tackle eligible for a 47-10 Bills lead. The Bills scored a touchdown on their first 7 drives. The Patriots got one more garbage touchdown with 1:44 left. Mitch Trubisky came in place of Allen to take 3 knees to end the game. Those kneel downs were the only thing preventing the Bills from having a perfect offensive game. Critics will say they did not score a touchdown on every single drive, since the 3 knees count as a drive. Reality says this was close enough to perfect. The Bills did not punt, turn the ball over, or attempt a field goal. The Bills travel to Kansas City for the Divisional game. It has been a long time since a Bill Belichick team took such a royal beating. 47-17 Bills

Philadelphia Eagles (7)(9-8) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2)(13-4) was the Sunday morning game. Early in the regular season, the Buccaneers went into Philadelphia, took a 28-7 third quarter lead, and coasted to a 28-22 win. The rematch in Tampa was not expected to be competitive. The Buccaneers were considered vulnerable due to some key injuries on offense, but the Eagles were overmatched. The Buccaneers got the ball first and set the tone right away. On the first play from scrimmage Vaughn went up the middle for a 17 yard gain. Roughing the passer a couple plays later added 15 more. On 3rd and 7 from the Philadelphia 40, Brady hit Mike Evans for 8. On 3rd and 2 from the Philadelphia 24, Brady hit Giovanni Bernard for 9. Bernard ran for a 2 yard touchdown to cap the 12 play, 75 yard, 5 minute drive and make it 7-0 Buccaneers. The Buccaneers got it back at their own 30. Brady hit Rob Gronkowski for 13 and 8, Johnson for 17, and Evans for 16 and 8. Vaughn ran for a one yard touchdown to make it 14-0 Buccaneers after the first quarter. The Buccaneers got it back in the second quarter at their own 31 and moved on their third long drive. Yet this time despite 1st and goal at the 5, the Bucs went backward. On 3rd and goal from the 9, Brady was sacked. Ryan Succop hit the 34 yard field goal to have the Buccaneers up 17-0. 

The Eagles had their chances. They moved from their own 17 to a 4th and 10 at the Tampa 37. Rather than try a 55 yard field goal, Kevin Sirianni went for it and Jalen Hurts threw incomplete. Late in the half from the Tampa 21, Hurts went to the end zone but suffered an interception. In the third quarter the Eagles fumbled a punt to set up Tampa at the Philly 48. Brady hit Bernard for 22. On 3rd and 3 from the Philly 19, Brady hit Evans for 17 and Gronk for the 2 yard touchdown to make it 24-0 Buccaneers midway through the third quarter. The Eagles then moved after a touchback to a 4th and 3 at their own 46. Sirianni went for it and hurts had an open receiver. Shaq Barrett made a leaping one handed interception and returned it 17 yards to the Philadelphia 36. One play and 7 seconds later the Buccaneers were in the end zone again as Brady hit a wide open Evans for the touchdown to make it 31-0 Buccaneers after three quarters. The Eagles got a couple of late touchdowns to create the illusion of a respectable score. Brady completed a franchise record 29 passes. The Buccaneers host Arizona or the Rams in the Divisional round. 31-15 Buccaneers 

San Francisco 49ers (6)(10-7) at Dallas Cowboys (3)(12-5) was the Sunday afternoon game. These teams have a long history of epic NFC Title Games that is well documented, having met in 5 of them. This time they meet in the Wildcard round under different circumstances. The 49ers had to scratch and claw and get an upset road win over the Rams to even make the playoffs. The Cowboys easily won the NFC East. Both teams had playmakers on offense while the Cowboys had the edge on defense. After a touchback, the first play from scrimmage saw the Cowboys jump into the neutral zone. Deebo Samuel gained 9 and one. Jimmy Garoppolo hit Benjamin for 17 and Brandon Aiyuk for 11. Mitchell ran for 13. Garoppolo hit Samuel for 15. Mitchell ran for a 4 yard touchdown to give the 49ers the 7-0 lead without a single 3rd down conversion. The 49ers got the ball back at their own 42 and moved to a 2nd and 5 at the Dallas 29. A sack of Garoppolo ended the drive but Robbie Gould hit a 53 yard field goal to make it 10-0 49ers. The 49ers got it back again at their own 22 and moved to a 3rd and 3 at the Dallas 24. Samuel only gained 2. Kyle Shanahan decided not to gamble, taking the points on the road. With 10 minutes left in the half, Gould hit the 40 yard field goal to cap the 12 play, 56 yard, 8 minute drive and make it 13-0 49ers. 

After 20 minutes of football, the Cowboys had 7 yards of total offense. From their own 33, they finally got going. Ezekiel Elliott ran for  pair of 5 yard gains, Tony Pollard added 8, and CeeDee Lamb gained 5 more. Dak Prescott hit Cedrick Wilson for 18. On 3rd and 5 from the San Francisco 20, Prescott hit Amari Cooper for the touchdown to get the Cowboys within 13-7. After touchback, Garoppolo went deep to Aiyuk for a 37 yard gain. On 3rd and 6 from the Dallas 34, Garoppolo threw incomplete. Gould hit a 52 yard field goal as the 49ers took a 16-7 lead to the locker rooms in front of a stunned home crowd at Jerryworld Metropolis. A sack of Prescott had the Cowboys facing 2nd and 28 from their own 19. Prescott was then intercepted by Williams at the Dallas 26. One play and 7 seconds later, Samuel was in the end zone on an end around as the 49ers led 23-7 with 6 minutes left in the third quarter. 

Late in the third quarter a sack of Prescott and a penalty had the Cowboys facing 2nd and 25 at their own 15. Prescott fired over the middle to Wilson for 24. On 3rd and 1 from their own 39, Prescott gained 4 as the third quarter ended. When Prescott threw incomplete on 3rd and 5 from their own 48, Mike mcCarthy gambled on a fake punt. Punter Anger hit Goodwin for 16. Yet the drive stalled again. On 4th and 7 from the Frisco 33, Mike McCarthy decided on a 51 yard field goal try rather than go for it. Greg Zuerlein was good but the Cowboys still trailed 23-10 with 12 minutes left in regulation. The 49ers took over at their own 26. From their own 44, Garoppolo threw high and was intercepted by Brown, who returned it 23 yards to the Frisco 28. Prescott hit Cooper for 11 and Lamb for 10. On 3rd and goal at the 5, Prescott ran for the touchdown. Left for dead, the Cowboys were right back in it down 23-17 midway through the fourth quarter. While many want to blame Garoppolo, Kyle Shanahan blew 2 Super Bowls with 2 different teams by refusing to run the ball with a lead in the fourth quarter. 

The 49ers took over at their own 18 determined to give the game away. On 2nd and 7 from their own 42, Kyle Shanahan kept throwing rather than run the ball. Garoppolo threw a low ball to George Kittle, who fumbled it and the Cowboys recovered. Yet the 49ers were bailed out when officials properly ruled that the original pass hit the ground incomplete. On 3rd and 12 from their own 37, Garoppolo threw incomplete but defensive holding kept the drive going. On 3rd and 5 from their own 47, , Garoppolo hit Samuel for 4 as Leyton Vander Esch made the tackle of a lifetime to prevent the first down. The 49ers tried to get the Cowboys to jump offside on 4th and 1, but the attempt was half-hearted and the Cowboys didn’t bite. The Cowboys took over at their own 16 with 2:51 left left and all 3 timeouts plus the 2 minute warning. Prescott went to Lamb for a 38 yard gain. At the 2 minute warning, the Cowboys faced 3rd and 11 from the San Francisco 47, plenty of time. An incompletion meant 4th and 11. The 49ers defense brought the house and Prescott under all out pressure threw a deep ball. Wilson reached out but it bounced off his fingertips incomplete. 

The 49ers with 1:42 left needed a first down because the Cowboys had all 3 time outs. Yet on 2nd and 9, a defensive holding penalty nowhere near the play gave the 49ers a key first down. The Cowboys still had 2 timeouts. The Cowboys took their final timeout with 1:21 left and the 49ers facing 3rd and 10 from the Dallas 47. The idiotic thing to do would be to throw the ball. You don’t even think of throwing the ball in this situation. You run the ball. Every. Single. Time. Kyle Shanahan had Garoppolo line up in the shotgun. Was he going to blow a 3rd playoff game with one pass too many? Shanahan instead went to the bag of tricks. He called a run, a reverse. Samuel at first appeared to have the first down, but on further review Samuel was literally 1 to 2 inches short. This was something out of “Any Given Sunday.” The 49ers let the clock run down to 40 seconds and took a timeout. Everything came down to 4th and inches from the Dallas 43. Shanahan decided to go for it. Garoppolo took the quarterback sneak and with a great second effort got the first down. Yet a killer false start penalty instead meant 4th and 5. The Cowboys were alive. The punt meant to pin them back instead became a touchback. 

From their own 20 with 32 seconds left and 0 timeouts, the Cowboys needed a miracle. Prescott hit Wilson for 9, and Wilson lateraled to Lamb for 11 more. Lamb got out of bounds after the 20 yard gain with 24 seconds left. Prescott then hit Pollard for 10 to midfield, leaving 18 seconds. In 1975, it was Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach who threw the 50 yard Hail Mary to pull off a miracle win. Prescott could easily throw the ball 50 yards. Instead he threw a quick pass to Schultz for 9 more yards. 14 seconds still remained. A Hail Mary from the Frisco 41 would easily reach the end zone. The risk would be throwing it out the back of the end zone. Prescott had time for 2 shots to the end zone. What happened next will be argued forever. For reasons nobody will ever understand, Prescott decided on a quarterback draw. He raced up the middle for 17 yards as the clock ticked down. As the official rushed to set the ball, Prescott handed it to his center to snap without the official spotting it first. The rule is clear. Only the official can spot the ball. Prescott thought he spiked the ball with one second left, but he did not. The clock was at zeroes. There would be no Hail Mary attempt. Dumb play-calling by the 49ers no longer mattered because of even dumber play-calling by the Cowboys. In the battle of who wanted it least, the Cowboys won. Their reward is to be sent home. The 49ers are off to Green Bay, where in Week 3 they lost 30-28 on the final play of the game. 23-17 49ers

Pittsburgh Steelers (7)(9-7-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (2)(12-5) was the Sunday night game. Three weeks ago the Steelers went into Kansas City and got blasted 36-10. Charvarius Ward and L’Darius Sneed were both playing for the Chiefs, marking the very first game featuring a Charvarius and a L’Darius. More importantly, Juju Smith-Schuster returned to the Steelers after being on injured reserve for 12 weeks. Big Ben Roethlisberger is widely expected to retire at the end of this season, so a loss would make this his final game. Mike Tomlin knows defense and Walrus Andy Reid knows offense. Yet with Patrick Mahomes, Reid clearly had the advantage. Last time the Chiefs jumped to a quick lead and put the game away by halftime. This time it was much more competitive early on. The first quarter was scoreless. With 11 minutes left in the half and the Chiefs at their own 31, chaos ensued. Mycole Hardman took a wildcat snap and Handed off to Damien Williams. Williams fumbled the handoff but was lucky to get the ball back. Rather than stay down, he tried to get up with bodies all around him. Williams got hit and fumbled again. TJ Watt recovered the fumble and returned it 26 yards for a defensive touchdown. Earlier this year Watt tied the NFL single season sack record. Now he had his first touchdown as the Steelers led 7-0. 

All that did was make Mahomes mad. From his own 24, he went to Tyreek Hill for 20 and 2 and McKinnon for 14. Mahomes scrambled for 23. Mahomes then went to Travis Kelce for 15 and then hit McKinnon for 5 and again for the 4 yard touchdown to make it 7-7. The Steelers went 3 and out and the Chiefs got it back at their own 26. Mahomes connected with Kelce for a 31 yard gain. McKinnon gashed the defense for gains of 15 and 13. On 3rd and 7 from the Pittsburgh 12, Mahomes went to Pringle for the touchdown to make it 14-7 Chiefs with 2:12 left in the half. The Steelers again went 3 and out ad the Chiefs got it back at their own 20 with 52 seconds left. Mahomes hit McKinnon for 15 and Robinson for 27. Yet Mahomes was then sacked for a 10 yard loss to push them out of field goal range with 30 seconds left. An incompletion meant 3rd and 20 from the Pittsburgh 48 with 22 seconds left. Rather than a short pass to get back in field goal range, Andy Reid went for it all. Mahomes went bombs away to Kelce for the touchdown. The Chiefs led 21-7 at the intermission.

The Chiefs began the third quarter at their own 32 looking for the kill shot. McKinnon gained 12. Mahomes hit Robinson for 29. A sack had the Chiefs facing 3rd and 12 at the Pittsburgh 28. Mahomes went to McKinnon for 23. On 3rd and goal at the one, it was big man with football as Mahomes hit Allegretti on a tackle eligible touchdown for the 28-7 Chiefs lead. On the next play from scrimmage from their own 30 the Steelers fumbled and the Chiefs recovered at the Pittsburgh 29. Two plays later Mahomes threw a 31 yard touchdown pass to Hill.  Mahomes’s 5th touchdown pass of the night made it 35-7 Chiefs. The Steelers did manage an offensive touchdown late in the third quarter, but the Chiefs kept coming. 75 yards came easily and Andy Reid finished with a trick play. Kelce took the direct snap and threw the option pass to Pringle for the 2 yard touchdown to make it 42-14 Chiefs. The Steelers added a garbage touchdown. Mahomes finished 30 of 39 for 404 yards, 5 touchdowns and one interception. Roethlisberger tried to get one more touchdown before ending his 18 year career, but his receiver was tackled 2 yards short. Reid and Mahomes hugged Roethlisberger after the game.5 years from now, Big Ben is a lock for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, in Canton, Ohio. For now, the big blowout win has the Chiefs hosting Buffalo next week, making Andy Reid a most happy walrus indeed. 42-21 Chiefs

Arizona Cardinals (5)(11-6) at Los Angeles Rams (4)(12-5) was the Monday night game. Both teams got a superstar back from a devastating injury early in the season as JJ Watt returned for the Cardinals and Cam Akers came back for the Rams. The Rams missed out on the two seed by bowing a 17-0 home lead last week and losing 27-24 to archival San Francisco. Yet they still won the NFC West. Meanwhile, the Cardinals missed out on a chance to win the NFC West by losing their regular season finale as well. That is why the Cardinals were at the Rams instead of vice versa. The Cardinals started 10-2 but went 1-4 down the stretch. On the year the Cardinals went 8-1 on the road but only 3-5 at home. Kliff Kingsbury and Sean McVay both run high-powered offenses with creative play-calling. The winner of this final Wildcard playoff match would be at defending champion Tampa Bay next week. Each team won on the other team’s field. 

A field position game had the Cardinals punting on 4th and 11 form their own 8 and the Rams taking over at their own 48. Matthew Stafford hit O’Dell Beckham for 17. Akers ran for 7 and 2. On 3rd and 1 from the Rams 26, Stafford took the quarterback sneak and got the yard. On 2nd and 13 from the Arizona 28, Stafford hit Tyler Higbee for 22. On 3rd and goal at the 4, Stafford hit Beckham for the touchdown to cap the 10 play, 52 yard, 6 minute drive and make it 7-0 Rams. The Rams got it back at their own 32. After losing 2, Akers gained 15. Stafford then hit Higbee for 14 as the first quarter ended. In the second quarter on 3rd and 2 from the Arizona 33, Stafford went deep to Beckham for 31. On 3rd and goal at the one after getting stopped on a quarterback sneak, Stafford tried the sneak again and was ruled stopped again. Sean McVay challenged the spot and on further review it was ruled that Stafford barely broke the plane of the goal for the touchdown and the 14-0 Rams lead.

Midway through the second quarter a great punt pinned the cardinals at their own one yard line. Kyler Murray went to AJ Green for 22 yards, but Green got blasted and fumbled the ball out of bounds. McVay challenged the catch and on further review it was changed to an incompletion. On 3rd and 7 from his own 4, Murray was about to be sacked for a safety. At the last moment he threw an underhanded pass and was possibly going to be called for intentional grounding, making it a safety anyway. Yet a worse scenario occurred for Murray when Long intercepted the ball and glided 3 yards into the end zone. The defensive touchdown had the Rams up 21-0. The Rams began the third quarter facing 3rd and 3 at their own 32. Stafford hit Higbee for 10. On 3rd and 8 from their own 44, Stafford went deep incomplete but defensive holding meant 5 yards and an automatic first down. Sean McVay then went to the bag of tricks. Stafford fired a lateral across the field to Beckham, who then threw the option pass deep to Akers for a 40 yard gain. Stafford then fired to Kupp for a 7 yard touchdown to have the Rams cruising up 28-0. 

After a touchback, Murray hit Rondale Moore for 11. On 4th and 4 from their own 44 midway through the third quarter, they had to go for it. Murray ran for 7. Murray hit Christian Kirk for 7 and again for 23 with defensive unnecessary roughness adding 7 more. James Conner finished the 12 play, 75 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive with a 2 yard touchdown run. Kliff Kingsbury for some reason went for 2 and Murray hit Wesley for the conversion to get the Cardinals within 28-8. The Rams took over at their own 31. Stafford went bombs away to Van Jefferson for a 41 yard gain. On 3rd and 1 from the Arizona 15, Akers got stopped in the backfield for a 4 yard loss as the third quarter ended. Matt Gay began the fourth quarter by hitting a 37 yard field goal to make it 31-8 Rams.  After a touchback the Cardinals moved to the Rams 27 where a run went nowhere and Murray threw a pair of incompletions. On 4th and 10, Murray escaped the pressure and found Kirk for 16. Yet the effort was wasted by offensive holding. On 4th and 20,  Kliff Kingsbury brought in Matt Prater to kick a 55 yard field goal. Prater was good but the Cardinals still trailed 31-11 with 10 minutes left. The Rams bled the clock with a 6 minute drive. Gay hit a 46 yard field goal to make it 34-11 Rams with 4 1/2 minutes left. The Rams are off to Tampa for the Divisional game. 34-11 Rams.

The Tennessee Titans (1)(12-5) and Green Bay Packers (1)(13-4) had the bye week.

The Divisional playoff games are set.

SATURDAY

AFC

Cincinnati Bengals (4)(10-7) at Tennessee Titans (1)(12-5) at 4:30 p.m.

NFC

San Francisco 49ers (7)(10-7) at Green Bay Packers (1)(13-4) at 8:00 p.m.

SUNDAY

NFC

Los Angeles Rams (4)(12-5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2)(13-4) at 3:00 p.m.

AFC

Buffalo Bills (3)(11-6) at Kansas City Chiefs (2)(12-5) at 6:30 p.m.

eric

NFL 2021-2022 Wildcard Prequel

Friday, January 14th, 2022

NFL 2021-2022 Wildcard Preview and Bettor’s Guide