NFL 2023-2024 Divisionals Recap

January 21st, 2024

NFL 2023-2024 Divisionals Recap

AFC: (4) Houston Texans at (1) Baltimore Ravens is the Saturday afternoon game. The team with no experience traveled on the road looking to unseat the best team in football with all the experience. The Texans got a win last week under rookie coach Demeco Ryan and rookie quarterback CJ Stroud. Yet John Harbaugh and Lamar Jackson were the heavy favorites for a reason. Early on the Ravens moved from their own 25 to a 4th and 3 at the Houston 34. Justin Tucker is the best in the game, and he nailed a 53 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Ravens. A field position game had the Texans taking over at their own 45. They moved to a 2nd and 8 at the Baltimore 27. Stroud threw a pair of incompletions sandwiched around a delay of game. Kaimi Fairbairn hit a 50 yard field goal for a 3-3 game. 

The Ravens began the second quarter at their own 24 Jackson scrambled for 23. Jackson went to Zee Flowers for 17. Gus Edwards gained 9. On 3rd and 1 from the Houston 28, Edwards gained 6. On 3rd and 5 from the Houston 17, Jackson scrambled for 15 more. Jackson hit Nelson Agholor for a 3 yard touchdown to cap the 11 play, 76 yard, 6 minute drive to make it 10-3 Ravens. The Ravens defense was playing well and appeared to be taking control of the game when one play changed things. Steven Sims returned a punt 67 yards for a touchdown. Just like that, with 4 minutes left in the half, the game was deadlocked 10-10. With 3:20 left, the Texans got the ball back at their own 27. They moved to a 2nd and 8 at the Baltimore 29. Stroud threw incomplete twice. With 40 seconds left, Fairbairn came in for a 47 yard field goal try to give the Texans the lead. Fairbairn was no good.

For Ravens fans, this was nerve-wracking. They were the heavy favorite to win it all in 2019. Yet the 14-2 Ravens went up in flames at home in the divisional round. 4 years later, they were in a street fight for survival at home in the divisional round against what should have been a much inferior opponent. Yet this time the Ravens came out fighting after halftime when Devin Duvernay returned the second half kickoff 37 yards to his own 45. Jackson went to Likely for 19 and Bateman for 9. Jackson ran for a 15 yard touchdown to make it 17-10 Ravens. The Ravens got the ball back at their own 7. Edwards ran for 9 and 5. Jackson went to Bateman for 21. On 4th and 1 just past midfield, John Harbaugh gambled. Jackson got around the end for a 14 yard gain. On 3rd and 2 from the Houston 27, Jackson hit Justice hill for 3. The fourth quarter began with a 15 yard touchdown pass to Likely to cap the 12 play, 93 yard, 7 minute drive and make it 24-10 Ravens. 

One minute later the Ravens got the ball back at their own 22. Hill gained 9 and Jackson added 10 more. Hill gained 14 and 3. Cook ran for 19. On 3rd and 7 from the Houston 24, Jackson hit Zee Flowers for 11. Jackson ran for an 8 yard touchdown. 3 straight touchdown drives turned a deadlock into a blowout 31-10 Ravens lead. Tucker tacked on a 43 yard field goal just past the 2 minute warning to complete the scoring. 24 unanswered points on 4 straight scoring drives. got the Ravens back to the AFC Title Game for the first time since the 2012 season when they won it all. That year they had to win big games on the road. This time they will need to win one game at home to reach the Super Bowl. The Texans arrow is clearly trending upward, but the Ravens are just on another level. 34-10 Ravens

NFC: (7) Green Bay Packers at (1) San Francisco 49ers is the Saturday night game. In the 1995 season, a Packers team that barely bade the playoffs had to go into San Francisco in the divisional round and take on the defending champion 49ers. The Packers jumped to a 21-0 lead and never looked back in what became a changing of the guard. The 49ers dynasty that had won 5 Super Bowls was over, and a new gunslinger named Brett Favre would soon get the Packers to the top of the heap. Favre and Aaron Rodgers are long gone, as are Joe Montana and Steve Young. It was up to Jordan Love to try and engineer a shocking upset of Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy and the heavily favored 49ers.

The Packers began at their own 31 and moved 58 yards in 14 plays and 7 1/2 minutes. On 3rd and 8 from the San Francisco 11, Love threw incomplete. Anders Carlson hit the 29 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Packers. The Packers got it back at their own 18 and moved 68 yards in 10 plays. The second quarter began with the Packers facing 3rd and 1 at the San Francisco 14. Aaron Jones got stopped cold. Matt LaFleur gambled and Love got stopped cold for no gain. Despite dominating the game, the Packers only led 3-0.

On 3rd and 1 from their own 23, Purdy gained 2. On 3rd and 1 from their own 34, Christian McCaffrey gained 3. Purdy hit Jennings for 16 and Brandon Aiyuk for 10. On 3rd and 5 from the Green Bay 32, Purdy went deep to George Kittle for the touchdown. Despite being totally outplayed, the 49ers led 7-3. After a touchback, the Packers moved to a 2nd and goal at the 9. Love completed a pass for a 2 yard loss and then threw incomplete twice. Carlson hit a 29 yard field goal to get the Packers within 7-6 with 4 minutes left in the half. The 49ers after a touchback moved to a 3rd and 2 at the Green Bay 30 with 14 seconds left in the half. Purdy threw incomplete. Moody’s 48 yard field goal try was partially blocked.

In the third quarter the Packers faced 3rd and 1 from their own 34. Jones got the yard. On 3rd and 1 from their own 44, Love got the yard. On 3rd and 15 from their own 40, Love went deep incomplete. Defensive pass interference meant a 41 yard gain. On the next play Love went to Melton for a 19 yard touchdown made it 13-7 Packers. The 49ers soon faced 3rd and 6 at their own 29. Purdy went to Kittle for 32 yards. McCaffrey then raced for a 39 yard gain to make it 14-13 49ers. Yet the Packers were immediately knocking on the door when Nixon returned the ensuing kickoff 73 yards to the San Francisco 27, fumbled the ball, and had a teammate recovered it at the San Francisco 20. Love hit Romeo Doubs for 15. Love hit Kraft for a 2 yard touchdown. Matt LaFleur went for a 2 point conversion. Love hit Jones successfully as the Packers led 21-14. 

The Packers got the ball back with a chance to extend the lead. Yet late in the third quarter, Love was intercepted. The 49ers took over with a short field at the Green Bay 48. That was enough for Moody to hit a 52 yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter to get the 49ers within 21-17. The Packers moved from their own 10 to a 3rd and 9 at the San Francisco2 3. Love threw incomplete. With 6 1/2 minutes left, Carlson’s 41 yard field goal try was no good. It was a major blow to the Packers, who until then had all the momentum. The 49ers soon had 3rd and 1 at their own 40. Purdy gained 2. On 3rd and 5 from their own 47, Purdy hit Kittle for 10, Conley for 17, and Kittle for 8. On 3rd and 1 from the Green Bay 6, McCaffrey ran for the touchdown. With only 1:07 left, the 49ers had a 3 point lead. Yet after a touchback, Love had plenty of time to force a field goal try and overtime. Carlson needed to redeem himself. There would be no redemption. Love rolled to his left, threw against his body, and made the same type of reckless throw Favre would often make. Love was intercepted. It was scary, but the 49ers survived and will host the NFC Title Game next week. 24-21 49ers

NFC (4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers at (3) Detroit Lions was the Sunday afternoon game. The Buccaneers staggered into the playoffs with a 9-8 record and managed to win a home game against a Philadelphia team that was melting down. The Lions survived a scare from the Rams to get one more home playoff game.  The Lions won their first playoff game in 32 years and were the heavy favorites to win again. An early interception of Baker Mayfield was returned 12 yards by Gardner-Johnson to give the Lions a short field at the Tampa Bay 41. The Lions moved to a 2nd and goal at the 3. Jared Goff threw incomplete and a run then lost a yard. Mike Badly hit a 23 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Lions. After a touchback, the Buccaneers moved to a 4th and 9 at the Detroit 25. Chase McLaughlin hit a 43 yard field goal to make it 3-3. 

The Lions soon faced 3rd and 1 at their own 34. Goff gained 3. On 3rd and 2 from their own 45, Goff hit Amra St. Brown for 5. The second quarter began with the Lions facing 3rd and 4 at the Tampa Bay 44. Goff hit Sam Laporta for gains of 13, 2 and 15. On 3rd and 5 from the Tampa Bay 9, Goff went to Reynolds for the touchdown to make it 10-3 Lions. With 2 1/2 minutes left in the half, a 50 yard field goal try by McLaughlin doinked off the upright no good. With 1:40 left on 3rd and 1 just shy of midfield, Goff was sacked for a 4 yard loss. The Buccaneers got the ball back with 90 seconds left, but they were way back at their own 8 yard line. White ran for 11. On 3rd and 1 from their own 28, Mayfield ran for 14. With 35 seconds left, the Buccaneers were still at their own 42. Mayfield then went to Mike Evans for big gains of 27 and 29 down to the two. Mayfield hit Cade Otton for the 2 yard touchdown to finish the 92 yard drive with 15 seconds left for a 10-10 deadlock.

In the third quarter the Lions faced 3rd and 1 at their own 45. Goff went to Wright for 29. Goff hit St Brown for 11. On 2nd and goal at the one, Goff threw incomplete twice. It was time for a Dan Campbell gamble. On 4th and goal at the one, Reynolds got in for the touchdown to culminate the 10 play, 64 yard drive and put the Lions back in front 17-10. A touchback and a pair of defensive penalties had the Buccaneers at their own 35. Mayfield hit Otton for big gains of 9, 13 and 27. On 3rd and 10 from the Detroit 12, Mayfield went to White for the touchdown and a 17-17 game. 3 times the Lions took the lead, and 3 times the Buccaneers tied the game. The teams were tied after the first, second and third quarters. 

After a touchback, the Lions began the fourth quarter facing 2nd and 4 at their own 31. Goff went to Gibbs for 12 and Reynolds for 19. Gibbs ran for 8 and then ripped off a 31 yard touchdown. With 13 minutes left in regulation, the Lions led again 24-17. One minute later the Lions got the ball back at their own 11. Goff went to Montgomery for 11 and Williams for 24. On 3rd and 15 from their own 44 after a sack, Goff hit St. Brown for 16, Gibbs for 20, LaPorta for 7, and St Brown for a 9 yard touchdown. With 6 1/2 minutes left in regulation, the Lions now had a 31-17 lead. 

The Buccaneers would not go away. After a touchback, Mayfield went to Godwin for 11. With 5 1/2 minutes left, the Buccaneers were down to their last gasp facing 4th and 14 at their own 32. Mayfield went to Evans for 24. Moore for 11, to Chris Godwin for 17, and to Evans again for a 16 yard touchdown. Todd Bowles went for an absolutely pointless 2 point conversion. A new NFL trend has teams down by 14 and scoring trying to cut the gap to 6 rather than 7. This trend is as annoying and pointless as deferring on the opening kickoff. Mayfield threw incomplete and the Buccaneers trailed by 8 with 4 1/2 minutes left. The Buccaneers held on defense and got the ball back at the 2 minute warning at their own 10. Yet 2 plays later, Mayfield went over the middle and Barnes made a diving interception. For the first time 32 years, the Detroit Lions are back in the NFC Title Game. 31-23 Lions 

AFC: (3) Kansas City Chiefs at (2) Buffalo Bills was the Sunday night game. Three years ago the Bills reached the AFC Title Game but lost to the Chiefs in Kansas City. Two years ago the Bills went into Kansas City again, this time in the divisional round of the playoffs. In an epic game for the ages, Josh Allen gave the Bills a 36-33 lead with only 13 seconds left in regulation. The Bills were 13 seconds from the AFC Title Game. Instead, Patrick Mahoems worked a miracle as the Chiefs tied the game and won in overtime 42-36. Last year the Bills rode an emotional wave to the divisional round but were shocked at home by Cincinnati. 

This year the Bills went into Kansas City in the regular season and stunned the Chiefs 20-17 when a thrilling hook and lateral Chiefs touchdown was wiped away by a controversial offsides call on the offense. Patrick Mahomes exploded and Travis Kelce tossed his helmet in rage. Yet the Chiefs had two Super Bowl rings in the last four years while the Bills were chasing their first ring. 30 years ago the Bills and Chiefs met in the AFC Title Game in Buffalo, which the Bills won. That was their fourth straight AFC Title Game victory followed by a fourth straight Super Bowl loss. The first Super Bowl loss came when Scott Norwood hit a 47 yard field goal try wide right.

The Bills began at their own 31 and moved to a 2nd and 6 at the Kansas City 7. Josh Allen completed a pass for a 2 yard loss and then threw incomplete. Tyler Bass hit a 27 yard field goal. The 14 play, 60 yard, 7 minute drive made it 3-0 Bills. After a touchback, the Chiefs moved to a 2nd and 4 at the Buffalo 28. Mahomes completed a pass for a one yard loss and then threw incomplete. Harrison Butker hit a 47 yard field goal for a 3-3 game. After a touchback, Allen hit Shakir for 6 and Johnson for 14. Johnson ran for 9 and 2. Cook ran for 6 and 7. Allen ran for 7 and Cook added 5 and 7 to start the second quarter. Allen ran for a 5 yard touchdown to make it 10-3 Bills.

After a touchback, the Chiefs moved to a 1st and goal at the 10. Mahomes threw incomplete twice sandwiched around a run that lost a yard. Butker hit a 29 yard field goal to get the Chiefs within 10-6. The Chiefs got the ball back at their own 35. Mahomes hit Gray for 12. Clyde Edwards-Helaire ran for 28. Mahomes went to Travis Kelce for a 22 yard touchdown. With 3 1/2 minutes left in the half the Chiefs had their first lead up 13-10. After a touchback, Cook ran for 8 and 2. Allen went to Stefan Diggs for 15, and Latavius Murray for gains of 6 and 15. Allen ran for 18 and 5. On 3rd and 5 from the Kansas City 7, Allen hit Shakir for 5. Allen ran for a 2 yard touchdown to put the Bills up 17-13 with 26 seconds left.   

After a third quarter touchback, Mahomes went to Marques Valdes-Scantling for 30. Mahomes ran for 24. Mahoems hit Pacheco for 14. Mahomes hit Kelce for a 3 yard touchdown to make it 20-17 Chiefs. The Bills soon faced 3rd and 1 at their own 34. Johnson got the yard. Runs and short passes got the Bills to the Kansas City 42. Cook ran for 8 and 5. On 3rd and 2 from the Kansas City 21, Johnson gained 15. On 3rd and goal at the 13, Allen went to Shakir for the touchdown. The fourth lead change of the game had the Bills up 24-20 with 3 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. 

After a touchback, Pacheco ran for 6 and 12. Mahomes went to Valdes-Scantling for 32. Just 40 seconds into the fourth quarter, Pacheco ran for a 4 yard touchdown. The 5th lead change of the game had the Chiefs up by 3 again. With 13 minutes left in regulation, Sean McDermott gambled on a fake punt on 4th and 5 from his own 30. Damar Hamlin of all people had a chance to be the hero but he only gained 2 yards. Now the Chiefs had a chance to put the game away. Pacheco ran for 29. From the Buffalo 3, Mahomes hit Mecole Hardman for what was initially ruled a 2 yard gain. McDermott challenged the ruling, and it was reversed to a fumble through the end zone for a touchback. Officials got the call right. 

The Bills went nowhere, but the Chiefs could not run out the clock. After an exchange of punts, the Bills got the ball back at their own 20 with 8 1/2 minutes left in regulation. The Bills embarked on a staggering 16 play drive that took over 6 1/2 minutes. On 4th and 3 from midfield with 5 minutes left, Allen went to Shakir for 10. At the 2 minute warning, the Bills already had 2nd and 9 from the Kansas City 26. That was enough time to win the game and leave no time left for Mahomes. At worst a very makable field goal would force overtime. Rather than run the ball and run down more clock, the Bills oddly called pass plays. Allen threw incomplete twice. The tying field goal try for Bass would only be 44 yards, but it would leave Mahomes more than 1:40 left to win the game. 

It didn’t matter. 33 years after Norwood launched the kick wide right heard around the globe, Bass did the same. No good. In front of a shellshocked home crowd, the Bills had blown it again. They still had faint hopes with 2 timeouts left, but they needed a defensive stop. Pacheco gained 8 and 3 and the Bills were finished. Mahomes took 3 knees. For the fourth straight year, the Bills lost a playoff game in heart-breaking fashion. The Chiefs hosted the AFC Title Game in Arrowhead for 5 straight years. That streak has been snapped. They will have to go on the road this time. Yet for the 6th straight season, the Chiefs are competing for the Lamar Hunt Trophy and a trip to the Super Bowl. A third Super Bowl win in 5 years would make them a dynasty. Sean McDermott ended the Bills 20 year playoff drought and made them a perennial contender. Yet he will have to answer questions about why they can’t get over the hump. The Chiefs just keep winning, which makes Andy Reid a most happy Walrus indeed. 27-24 Chiefs

The Conference Title Games are set for Sunday, January 28th.

AFC Title Game: (3) Kansas City Chiefs at (1) Baltimore Ravens at 3pm on CBS.

NFC Title Game: (3) Detroit Lions at (1) San Francisco 49ers at 6:30pm on FOX. 

eric

NFL 2023-2024 Divisionals Prequel

January 18th, 2024

The Divisional Playoffs are set:

Saturday, January 20th:

AFC: (4) Houston Texans at (1) Baltimore Ravens (-9 1/2) at 4:30pm on ESPN

— The Texans have been a feel good story, and their Wildcard win over Cleveland was impressive. This is where reality comes in. The Texans are a good team. The Ravens are a great team. The 2019 Ravens were 14-2 and lost in the playoffs, so be guaranteed that John Harbaugh and Lamar Jackson will make sure everyone remembers. The Ravens will be focused, and this game could be over by halftime. Ravens cover

NFC: (7) Green Bay Packers at (1) San Francisco 49ers (-10) at 8pm on FOX

— The Packers shocked the football world with a big road win at Dallas. San Francisco is not Dallas. The 49ers have a nasty defense, and the Packers are about to run into a buzzsaw. Aaron Rodgers in his later years in Green Bay could not handle the San Francisco defense. Jordan Love won’t either, at least not this year. The Packers overachieved, but the 49ers are a far superior team. 49ers cover

Sunday, January 21st:

NFC (4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers at (3) Detroit Lions (-6) at 3pm on NBC 

— Last week the Lions won their first playoff game in 32 years. Ironically, that 1991 Lions team knocked the Buccaneers out of the playoffs. The Buccaneers staggered into the playoffs and beat Philadelphia, the only team more wounded than they were. The Lions are the far better tea, and Dan Campbell has his players laser focused. Baker mayfield and Jared Goff both have weapons, but go with the home crowd and the momentum. Lions cover

AFC: (3) Kansas City Chiefs at (2) Buffalo Bills (-2 1/2) at 6:30pm on CBS. 

— Two years ago, the Bills went into Kansas City and took a 36-33 lead with only 13 seconds left. In what was already an instant classic, 13 seconds was enough time for Patrick Mahomes to work a miracle, as the Chiefs tied the game and won in overtime. The Bills are burning for revenge, and this time the game is in Buffalo. Both of these teams know cold weather, but the home crowd will still be electric. Sean McDermott is a defensive mastermind and Walrus Andy Reid schemes offense like nobody else. Josh Allen and McDermott saw a trip AFC Title Game snatched away two years ago. The Bills will not be denied this time, especially since this Chiefs team is more vulnerable than in past years. Get ready for a battle royale that could go down to the last play again. Bills cover

 

NFL 2023-2024 Wildcard Recap

January 14th, 2024

NFL 2023-2024 Wildcard Recap

The top seeded San Francisco 49ers (NFC) and Baltimore Ravens (AFC) have the week off. 

AFC: (5)(Cleveland Browns) at (4)(Houston Texans) was the Saturday afternoon game. A shanked 32 yard punt gave the Texans a short field at the Cleveland 45. On 3rd and goal at the 2, CJ Stroud threw incomplete. Kaimi Fairbairn hit the 21 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Texans. On the first play after a touchback, Joe Flacco went bombs away to David Njoku for 45 yards. Flacco hit Njoku again for 8 and Amari Cooper for 14. On 3rd and goal at the one, Kareem Hunt got in to make it 7-3 Browns. After a touchback, Devin Singletary ran fr 29. Stroud went to Metchie for 27. Stroud went to Nico Collins for a 15 yard touchdown to make it 10-7 Texans. After a touchback, Flacco immediately went to Bryant for a 47 yard gain. On 3rd and 2 from the Houston 20 to start the second quarter, Flacco gained 3 Flacco found Hunt for an 11 yard touchdown to make it 14-10 Browns. On the very next play from scrimmage, Stroud went to Brevin Jordan for a 76 yard touchdown. 4 lead changes had the Texans up 17-14 and the making of a track meet. Yet for the rest of the game, only one team kept the pace.

The Texans got it back it back at their own 29 Metchie ran for 9. Singletary added 6. Stroud hit Collins for 12. On 3rd and 5 from the Cleveland 39, Stroud threw incomplete but defensive pass interference added 12 yards. On 2nd and 20 from the Cleveland 37, Stroud went deep to Schultz for raw touchdown to put the Texans up 24-14 at the intermission. In the third quarter, Flacco found Nelson. Problem: Nelson plays defense for the Texans. Nelson returned the interception 82 yards for a defensive touchdown to make it 31-14 Texans. Four plays later Flacco found Christian Harris. Problem: Harris also plays defense for the Texans. Harris returned the interception 36 yards for another defensive touchdown to make it 38-14 Texans. Late in the third quarter the Browns had 4th and 6 at the Houston 37. Flacco was sacked for a 13 yard loss. Singletary ran for a 19 yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter as 35 unanswered points turned a competitive game into a blowout. Rookie Stroud and rookie coach Demeco Ryans won their first ever playoff game together in convincing fashion. 45-14 Texans

AFC: (6)(Miami Dolphins) at (3)(Kansas City Chiefs) is the Saturday night game. For the first time ever, an NFL playoff game was not on free local television. So unless people subscribed to a particular streaming service, they were unable to watch one of the coldest games ever played. Temperature at game time was negative three degrees, with a wind chill of minus 22. The Chiefs started out red hot. On 3rd and 10 from their own 31, Patrick Mahomes went to Travis Kelce for 11. Isaiah Pacheco ran for 4 and 10. Mahoems hit Kelce for 8. Pacheco ran for 23. Mahomes hit Rice for an 11 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Chiefs. An interception of Tua Tagovailoa set up the Chiefs at their own 42. The second quarter began with the Chiefs facing 3rd and 6 from the Miami 10. Mahomes threw incomplete. Harrison Butker hit the 28 yard field goal to make it 10-0 Chiefs. 

This time the Dolphins struck back quickly. From their own 38, Tagovialoa went to Tyreek Hill for 9. Tagovailoa then went deep to Hill for a 53 yard touchdown to get the Dolphins within 10-7. The Chiefs defense then clamped down. Butker hit field goals of 32 and 26 in the second quarter and from 21 in the third quarter to make it 19-7 Chiefs. Late in the third quarter the Chiefs faced 2nd and 13 at their own 25 and looked to put in the dagger. Mahomes threw incomplete but roughing the passer meant 15 yards. Mahomes hit Watson for 10. On 3rd and 5 from the Miami 45, Mahomes went to James for 6. The second quarter began with the Chiefs facing 2nd and 16 at the Miami 45. Mahomes went to Rice for 28. On 3rd and 20 from the Miami 27, Mahomes threw incomplete but another roughing the passer call meant 13 yards and an automatic first down. Pacheco ran for a 3 yard touchdown to cap the 14 play, 72 yard, 7 minute drive and put this freezing game on ice. 26-7 Chiefs

NFC: (7)(Green Bay Packers) at (2)(Dallas Cowboys) is the Sunday afternoon game. The Cowboys were unbeaten at home this year and expected to easily dispatch with the Packers. After a touchback and defensive illegal contact, the Packers soon faced 2nd and 13 at their own 27. Jordan Love went to Romeo Doubs for 22. Aaron Jones ran for 3, 4, 13 and 5. On 3rd and 5 from the Dallas 6, the defense jumped into the neutral zone. On 3rd and 2, Jones ran for the 3 yard touchdown to cap the 12 play, 75 yard, 8 minute drive and make it 7-0 Packers. The Cowboys soon faced 3rd and 5 at their own 13. An interception of Dak Prescott gave the Packers gift field position at the Dallas 19. The Packers began the second quarter facing 2nd and goal at the 2. Jones appeared stopped cold but banged his way into the end zone for a 14-0 Packers lead. The Packers got the ball back at their own 7 yard line. On 3rd and 1, Love hit Kraft for 10. Love went deep to Doubs for 39, On 3rd and 4 from the Dallas 29, Love hit Musgrave for 6. On 3rd and 7 from the Dallas 20, Love went to Dontayvion Wicks for the touchdown. The extra point doinked off the upright no good but the Packers led 20-0 with 3 1/2 minutes left in the half. Desperate to make something happen, Prescott found Savage. Problem: Savagto make it 27-0 Packers in front of a shellshocked home crowd. Jerry Jones debated whether to fire Mike McCarthy before halftime and burn down Jerrah World Stadium for the insurance money. 

The Cowboys again came straight down the field in the final 1:50 of the half. The Cowboys reached 1st and goal at the 2 with 6 seconds left in the half. Prescott threw a high corner fade incomplete, leaving 2 seconds. Mike McCarthy decided to go for it. Prescott found a wide open Jake Ferguson in the flat for an easy touchdown as the Cowboys trailed 27-7 at halftime. The Cowboys tried to build on their momentum. In the third quarter they moved from their own 24 to a 1st and 10 at the Green Bay 16. Prescott was tackled for no gain and then threw incomplete twice. Aubrey hit a 34 yard field goal to get the Cowboys within 27-10. Yet after a touchback, the Packers kept coming. Jones ran for 8 and 4. Love went deep to Doubs for 46. Jones ran for 8 and then for the 9 yard touchdown t make it 34-10 Packers. The Cowboys took over at their own 12. Prescott hit Tony Pollard for 9 and went deep to Michael Gallup for 42. On 3rd and 1 from the Green Bay 15, Pollard gained 2. Pollard ran for a one yard touchdown. McCarthy went for 2 and Prescott hit Ferguson in the flat. Yet illegal motion nullified the conversion. McCarthy at this point went with the extra point and Aubrey doinked it off the upright no good. The Cowboys were still down 34-16. 

After a touchback, the Packers quickly turned out the lights. Jones ran for 10 and 27. Love went deep to a wide open Musgrave for a 38 yard touchdown to have the Packers up 41-16 after three quarters. On the last play of the third quarter on 4th and 5 from his own 41, Prescott threw incomplete. On 4th and 2 from the Dallas 3, Matt LaFleur went for it and Love fired over the middle to Doubs to make it 48-16 Packers. The Cowboys got a couple of garbage touchdowns but nothing more. Prescott’s fourth down Hail Mary went out the back of the end zone with 16 seconds left. The Packers tied a franchise record for most points in a playoff game. The Packers barely made the playoffs at 9-8 but made a statement in the Wildcard. The Cowboys won 12 regular season games for 3 straight years and failed tor each the NFC Title Game in all 3 years, an NFL first. McCarthy failed to get revenge on the team that fired him. McCarthy and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn were torched by Love in the game and will be torched by Jerrah after the game. 48-32 Packers

 

NFC: (6)(Los Angeles Rams) at (3)(Detroit Lions) was the Sunday night game. The Lions were seeking to win their first playoff game since 1991. This was the first playoff matchup between Jared Goff and Matthew Stafford, who were traded for each other two years ago. Stafford won the Super Bowl for the Rams that Goff did not. The Lions had the better record, but the Rams were 7-1 down the stretch. The Lions were a much better team at home than on the road. After an opening touchback, David Montgomery ran for 10 and 5.Goff went to Reynolds for 24. Goff hit Amra St. Brown for 5, Sam LaPorta for 8 and Reynolds for 8. Montgomery ran for one and then again for the one yard touchdown as the 10 play,, 75 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive made it 7-0 Lions. After a touchback, the Rams moved to a 1st and goal at the 6. Stafford threw 3 straight incompletions. Brett Maher hit the 24 yard field goal to get the Rams within 7-3. After a touchback, Goff went to Reynolds for 10 with roughing the passer adding 15 more. On 1st and 20 from the Rams 43, Goff went to Reynolds for 33. Gibbs took a handoff up the gut for a 10 yard touchdown to make it 14-3 Lions. 

The Rams in the second quarter faced 3rd and 16 at their own 22. Stafford went deep to Robinson for 19. On 3rd and 1 from midfield, Stafford went bombs away to rookie phenom Puka Nacua for the touchdown to get the Rams within 14-10. After a touchback, Montgomery ran for 11 and 5. Goff hit Williams for 13. On 3rd and 5 from the Rams 41, Goff hit St. Brown for 14 and Gibbs for 16. On 4th and 1 from the Rams 2, it was time for a Dan Campbell gamble. Goff hit LaPorta for the touchdown to make it 21-10 Lions. After a touchback, Stafford went to Nacua for 21. On 4th and 5 from the  Detroit 44 after an incompletion, Sean McVay decided to go for it. Stafford hit Cooper Kupp for 6. Stafford then went deep to Tutu Atwell for a 38 yard touchdown to get the Rams within 21-17 with 4 minutes left in the half. Each team had the ball 3 times and scored 3 times. With one minute left in the half, the Lions faced 4th and 5 at the Rams 41. Of course Dan Campbell was going for it. Yet then came a false start. On 4th and 10, finally there would be a punt. With the Rams pinned at their own 5, Sean McVay opted to run out the clock. 

The first half was all offense. The second half was all defense. Mike Badgley hit a 54 yard field goal in the third quarter to make it 24-17 Lions.  The Rams drove to the red zone twice but could not finish. Maher hit field goals of 27 in the third quarter and 29 midway through the fourth quarter to get the Rams within 24-23. The Rams got it back at their own 8 yard line and moved to a 3rd and 4 at the Detroit 34. They were in field goal range to take the lead. Stafford threw incomplete. Yet there was offensive holding on the play. Normally you decline the penalty, make it 4th down, and force the kicker to pony up. Dan Campbell doesn’t do normal. He made it 3rd and 14 to push the Rams out of field goal range but give the another chance. This was high risk, high reward. Stafford threw incomplete. With 4 1/2 minutes left, Sean McVay decided to punt and trust his defense. Again, Campbell refuse to play it safe with runs up the middle. He wanted his quarterback to go win the game. Goff hit Montgomery for 11. The clock hit the 2 minute warning. One more first down would end it. Got fired to St. Brown for 11 and then took 3 knees. Campbell was vindicated. Goff was vindicated. After 9 straight playoff losses, the Lions have ended the longest NFL drought by winning their first playoff game in 32 years. 1991 is history. The 2023 Lions are on to the divisional round. That game will also be at home in Detroit. It was a bitter loss for the Rams, but a feel-good story for the long-suffering Lions fans who are suffering no more. 24-23 Lions

 

AFC: (7)(Pittsburgh Steelers) at (2)(Buffalo Bills) is the Monday afternoon game, postponed from Sunday morning due to a snowstorm. Early on the Bills faced 3rd and 1 at t heir own 29. Josh Allen appeared stopped but got the yard for the first down. Allen then went to Dalton Kincaid for 20. Allen hit Stefan Diggs for 12. Cook ran for 12 and 3. Allen hit Dawson Knox for a 9 yard touchdown to cap the 10 play, 80 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive and make it 7-0 Bills. A Steelers fumble gave the Bills a short field at the Pittsburgh 29. One play and 5 seconds later Allen hit a wide open Kincaid over the middle for the touchdown to make it 14-0 Bills. The Steelers drove deep in the second quarter but Mason Rudolph was intercepted in the end zone for a touchback. On 3rd and 5 form his own 25, Allen went to Diggs for 7. On 3rd and 7 from his own 48, Allen took off running, weaved through defenders, and finished with a spectacular 52 yard touchdown run to make it 21-0 Bills.  

The Steelers finally caught a break just before the 2 minute warning. Tyler Bass came in for a 49 yard field goal try to extend the Bills lead to 24-0. Instead, the kick was blocked. The Steelers eventually took over all the way at the Buffalo 33. Rudolph hit Diontae Johnson for  10 yard touchdown to get the Steelers within 21-7. A field position game in the third quarter had the Steelers taking over at their own 40. They moved to a 2nd and 9 at the Buffalo 22. A run went nowhere and Rudolph threw incomplete. Chris Boswell hit a 40 yard field goal to get the Steelers within 21-10. After a touchback, the Bills moved 48 yards in 14 plays and held the ball nearly 7 1/2 minutes. Bass hit a 45 yard field goal to make it 24-10 Bills after three quarters. The Steelers soon faced 3rd and 11 at their own 24. Rudolph went to George Pickens for 19. Pickens took an end around another 15. Jalen Warren gained 5 and Rudolph added 6. Rudolph hit Johnson for 11. On 3rd and 7 from the Buffalo 17, Rudolph hit Johnson for 8. Rudolph went to Calvin Austin for a 7 yard touchdown as the 12 play, 75 yard, 6 minute drive had the Steelers within 24-17 with 10 1/2 minutes left in regulation.

The Bills took over at their own 30. Edwards gained 9. Allen added 13. Defensive unnecessary roughness. Allen went to Shakir, who was supposed to go down after a short gain but somehow kept his balance, spun around, and criss-crossed the field for a 17 yard touchdown to ice the game with 6 1/2 minutes left. The Steelers last desperate gasp came on 4th and 3 from their own 37 with 5 minutes left. Rudolph threw incomplete and screamed that an obvious pass interference call was not made. Pickens slammed his helmet down on the bench. Bass would shank a 27 yard field goal try by a country mile at the 2 minute warning, but it didn’t matter. The Steelers put up a fight, but the Bills will host another playoff game next week at home. They are in the divisional round for the fourth straight year. 31-17 Bills

NFC: (5)(Philadelphia Eagles) at (4)(Tampa Bay Buccaneers) was the Monday night game. This was the Attrition Bowl from two teams expected to do nothing in the playoffs. The Eagles started 10-1 but collapsed down the stretch, going 1-5 to staggering the playoffs at 11-6. The Buccaneers won their horrendous division with a hideous 9-0 win at bottom dweller Carolina to get to 9-8 on the year. Despite playing with several bruised ribs, Baker Mayfield after an opening touchback moved the Buccaneers to a 2nd and 3 at the Philadelphia 10. Mayfield threw incomplete twice. Chase McLaughlin hit a 28 yard field goal to cap the 12 play, 65 yard, 5 minute drive and make it 3-0 Buccaneers. The Buccaneers got the ball back and faced 1st and 15 at their own 16. Mayfield went deep to Moore for 22 with 15 more tackled on for a defensive facemark. On 3rd and 7 from the Philadelphia 44, Mayfield went bombs away to Moore again, and he weaved his way through traffic for the touchdown to make it 10-0 Buccaneers. The Buccaneers got it back st their one 24 snd moved to a 2nd and 9 at the Philadelphia 32 to start the second quarter. Aa sack of Mayfield followed by him throwing incomplete ended the drive. Yet mcLaughlin nailed a 54 yard field goal to make it 13-0 Buccaneers. 

After a touchback the Eagles moved to a 2nd and 8 at the Tampa Bay 30. Yet Jalen Hurts was taken down for no gain and then threw incomplete. Jake Elliott hit from 47 to get the Eagles on the board. After a touchback the Buccaneers moved to a 3rd and 5 at the Philadelphia 30. Mayfield threw incomplete. McLaughlin hit from 48 to make it 16-3 Buccaneers. The Eagles soon faced 2nd and 11 at their own 24. Hurts went to Julio Jones for 14. Hurts then went bombs away to Smith for a 55 yard gain. On the next play Hurts hit a wide open Dallas Goedert in the flat for a 5 yard touchdown to get the Eagles within 16-9 with 3 minutes left in the half. A defensive penalty put the ball on the one yard line instead of the 2 for a 2 point conversion try. Nick Sirianni went for 2 and Hurts did his famous tush push. This time he got stopped cold. 

Neither offense did much, but late in the third quarter it was defense that made the difference. On 3rd and 6 from his own 14, Hurts was called for intentional grounding in his own end zone. The safety made it 18-9 Buccaneers. The Buccaneers took the free kick at their own 38 and struck rapidly. Mayfield connected with Palmer for a 56 yard touchdown to make it 25-9 Buccaneers. In the fourth quarter the Eagles moved from their own 27 to a 4th and 10 at the Tampa Bay 22. Elliot hit the 40 yard field goal, but the defense jumped offside. Nick Sirianni decided to take the points off the board and go for it on 4th and 5. Hurts threw incomplete. Mayfield hit Durham for 18. On 3rd and 4 from their own 41, Mayfield went Cade Otton for 5. Runs and short passes led to a 3rd and 7 at the Tampa 23. Mayfield went to Chris Godwin for the touchdown. The Eagles spectacular collapse was complete as the Buccaneers survived to playa road game in the divisional round. 32-9 Eagles 

The top seeded San Francisco 49ers (NFC) and Baltimore Ravens (AFC) have the week off. 

The Divisional Playoffs are set:

Saturday, January 20th:

AFC: (4) Houston Texans at (1) Baltimore Ravens at 4:30pm on ESPN

NFC: (7) Green Bay Packers at (1) San Francisco 49ers at 8pm on FOX

Sunday, January 21st:

NFC (4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers at (3) Detroit Lions at 2pm on NBC

AFC: (3) Kansas City Chiefs at (2) Buffalo Bills at 6:30pm on CBS

eric

NFL 2023-2024 Wildcard Prequel

January 10th, 2024

NFL 2023-2024 Wildcard Prequel

The top seeded San Francisco 49ers (NFC) and Baltimore Ravens (AFC) have the week off. 

Saturday, January 13, 2024:

4:30pm: AFC: (5)(Cleveland Browns)(-2 1/2) at (4)(Houston Texans) on NBC — The Texans are a feel-good story and CJ Stroud should be the rookie of the year. Houston showed plenty of guts in going on the road against Indianapolis in a do-or-die game and getting themselves a win. Houston will be rocking, but the Browns have one of the best defenses in the NFL. The Dawg Pound will get to the quarterback. In a battle of young, inexperienced teams, old man Joe Flacco is playing well enough. He still throws a gorgeous long ball. The Browns can run the football to take the pressure off of Flacco and set up the play-action pass. Stroud is the better quarterback, but go with the Cleveland defense in a street fight. Browns cover

8pm: AFC: (6)(Miami Dolphins) at (3)(Kansas City Chiefs)(-3 1/2) on NBC — The Chiefs have never been more vulnerable. Both of these teams staggered into the playoffs. The Chiefs won the AFC West for the eighth straight year and still have Walrus Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes. The move of Tyreek Hill from Kansas City to Miami seemed to hurt the Chiefs and help the Dolphins. The Dolphins were cruising when Tua Tagovailoa was throwing bombs to Hill. Yet While both of these teams staggered into the playoff, the Dolphins got carpet-bombed by Baltimore 56-19. Then in a must win home game against Buffalo, the Dolphins fell 21-14 to blow the division. With all things being equal, go with the home field. Chiefs cover 

Sunday, January 14:

1pm: AFC: (7)(Pittsburgh Steelers) at (2)(Buffalo Bills)(-10) on CBS — For the second straight year, the Steelers needed every luck break in the book to make the playoffs, and they got it. Never underestimate Mike Tomlin. Yet the Bills have more talent. The Bills have a ferocious defense that got a big win at Miami last week to give the Bills their fourth straight AFC East title. Josh Allen makes mistakes but somehow overcomes them with his ridiculous talent. Forget the high spread. The Steelers like to run the ball, and if they fall behind early they will have to abandon the run. At home, go with the far more talented team that enters the playoffs having won five straight games. Bills cover

4:30pm: NFC: (7)(Green Bay Packers) at (2)(Dallas Cowboys)(-7 1/2) on FOX — These teams had some epic battles in the mid-1990s when both of them were Super Bowl contenders. Neither of these teams is going to the Super Bowl, but the Cowboys have far more talent on both sides of the ball. Dak Prescott is much better than Jordan Love. The Cowboys have the better defense led by Micah Parsons. Tony Pollard runs well. The Packers barely made the playoffs. The Cowboys expect to go on a deep run. mike McCarthy will get his revenge against the team who fired him. Cowboys cover

8pm: NFC: (6)(Los Angeles Rams) at (3)(Detroit Lions)(-3 1/2) on NBC — Mathew Stafford and Jared Goff both face off against the teams who switched them. The Lions won 12 games. The Rams started 3-6 but then went 7-1 down the stretch. Sean McVay is an offensive wizard and Dan Campbell is a master motivator. Stafford is better than Goff but Goff has more weapons. The Lions are a very tough team at home. The rams should be able to move the ball indoors. This could be a track meet that goes down to the final play. Lions win but fail to cover

Monday, January 15:

8pm: NFC: (5)(Philadelphia Eagles)(-3) at (4)(Tampa Bay Buccaneers) on ABC/ESPN — These are the two worst teams in the playoffs. The Eagles started 10-1 but went 1-5 down the stretch to limp into the playoffs as a Wildcard. The Buccaneers won a hideous 9-0 game at bottom dweller Carolina to go 9-8 on the year and win the awful NFC South. Jalen Hurts is better than Baker Mayfield but the Eagles are in free-fall. Each team is playing the only team they could possibly beat in the postseason. Nick Sirianni for now is a better coach than Todd Bowles. This one game will tell us if the Eagles can fix anything or if they are done for good. Eagles cover

52 happy memories upon turning 52

January 9th, 2024

My birthday: 52 happy memories upon turning 52

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. 

52.) On April 7, 2023, I purchased my second home, a condo in Aventura, 4 miles from the first home in North Miami in South Florida. 

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. Between my parents, my wife, and the best friends a guy could possibly ask for, I am truly blessed.

eric @ Tygrrrr Express

NFL 2023 Week 18 Recap

January 7th, 2024

NFL 2023 Week 18 Recap

This is when the big dogs come out!

Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens is the Saturday afternoon game. The 9-7 Steelers needed to win and get help to make the playoffs. The bad news was that they would be playing in a driving rainstorm on the road at hated Baltimore. The good news was that they would be playing against backups. The 13-3 Ravens already locked up the top seed with home field throughout the playoffs and the coveted first round bye. John Harbaugh gave Lamar Jackson and the rest of his stars the night off as Tyler Huntley played. The Steelers in the first quarter faced 3rd and 1 at their own 33. Najee Harris got the yard. Jalen Warren ran for 23. Austin gained 8. Harris ran for 9 and caught a pass from Mason Rudolph for 6. Harris ran for 2 and then for the 6 yard touchdown. The 12 play, 76 yard, 7 1/2 minute drive made it 7-0 Steelers. The defenses dug in and the Ravens faced 3rd and 9 at their own 30 with 4 1/2 minutes left in the half. Huntley went to Laquon Treadwell for 16. Gus Edwards ran for 29. Huntley went to Isaiah Likely for a 27 yard touchdown. With 2:19 left in the half, the game was deadlocked 7-7. This was a typical Mike Tomlin vs John Harbaugh AFC North street fight. A scoreless third quarter had this bare-fisted slobberknocker 7-7 entering the fourth quarter.

Late in the third quarter the Steelers faced 3rd and 1 at their own 20. George Pickens gained 3. The Fourth quarter began with then Steelers facing 3rd and 4 at their own 29. One play made the difference. Rudolph connected with Diontae Johnson for a 71 yard touchdown and a 14-7 Ravens lead. Midway through the fourth quarter the Steelers recovered a Ravens fumble at the Baltimore 32. On 3rd and goal at the 2, a run was blown up for a 5 yard loss. Chris Boswell hit a 25 yard field goal as the Steelers led 17-7 with only 3:13 left in regulation. After a touchback and needing 2 scores, the Ravens quickly moved to a 2nd and 5 at the Pittsburgh 9 with 53 seconds left. After an incompletion, Huntley took an ill-advised sack. By the time Justin Tucker hit the 36 yard field goal, only 16 seconds remained. The onside kick failed. In 17 years, Mike Tomlin has never had a losing season. The 10-7 Steelers awaited results of other games to find out if they could sneak into the playoffs. The 13-4 Ravens would have another week to rest and get healthy. They are the favorites to win their third Super Bowl in franchise history. On Sunday, the Steelers got their wish. Jacksonville lost, allowing the Steelers for the second straight year to beat the odds and sneaking the playoffs. 17-10 Steelers 

Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts is the Saturday night game. — For both of these 9-7 teams, the situation was cut and dry. The winner was in the playoffs. The loser was out. The Colts after an opening touchback moved 56 yards in 11 plays and nearly 6 minutes. On 3rd and 4 from the Houston 19, Gardner Minshew threw incomplete. On 4th and 4, Shane Steichen decided to go for it, but it was just gamesmanship to get the defense to jump. The defense didn’t bite. Matt Gay hit a 38 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Colts. Yet one play and 9 seconds after a touchback, the Texans had the lead. CJ Stroud went deep to Nico Collins for a 75 yard touchdown to make it 7-3 Texans. 

The defenses dug in. A field position game had the Texans taking over at their own 43 with 6 1/2 minutes left in the half. David Singletary gained 7, 6 and 2. Stroud went to Collins for 29. On 3rd and goal at the one, Stroud went to Andrew Beck for the touchdown to make it 14-3 Texans at the 2 minute warning. After a touchback, the Colts moved to a 4th and 4 at the Houston 34 35 seconds left. Gay hit from 52 to get the Colts within 14-6 at the break. 

The Colts took over in the third quarter at their own 13 and made it look easy. Jonathan Taylor ran for 11 and 4. Minshew went to Granson for 23. Taylor took a handoff and broke free for a 49 yard touchdown. Shane Steichen went for 2 and Mnshew pitched a basketball pass over the middle to Mo Alive-Cox successfully for a 14-14 game. Then came the kickers. With 5 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter, Gay attempted a 57 yard try to give the Colts the lead. He doinked it off the upright no good. With 3 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter, Kaimi Fairbairn was good from 51 to make it 17-14 Texans. 90 seconds into the fourth quarter, Gay hit from 35 for a 17-17 game. 

The Texans took over at their own 27. Stroud hit Beck for 8. After a sack of Stroud set up 2nd and 20 from his own 28, Stroud hit Schultz for 17. On 3rd and 3, Stroud hit Schultz again for 5. On 2nd and 14 from his own 46, Stroud backpedaled for his life and threw a duck that Collins somehow caught for the required 14. Stroud hit Schultz for 9. On 2nd and 13 from the Indianapolis 30, Stroud went to Collins for 23 with a horse collar tackle penalty adding 4 more. Singletary took it 3 yards up the gut for the touchdown. The 12 play, 73 yard, 7 1/2 minute drive made it 23-17 Texans with 6:20 left in regulation. Yet for the first time all year at the worst time, Fairbairn missed the extra point. 

The Colts soon faced 2nd and 11 at their own 24. Minshew went to Downs for 28. The Colts faced 3rd and 6 at the Houston 44. With everyone expecting a pass, Shane Steichen called a delayed run. Taylor only gained 5 but instead  of 4th and 1 it was another 5 yards and a first down thanks to defensive illegal use of hands. With 2:41 to play, the Colts faced 3rd and 5 at the Houston 29. Despite being 0 for 9 on 3rd down conversions, Steichen again called a run to Taylor, who initially appeared just short but was given the first down. The clock clicked down to the 2 minute warning, and Demeco Ryans decided not to challenge the spot. Taylor gained 2 and 6, but on 3rd and 2 from the Houston 16, Taylor gained only one. On 4th and 1, attempts to draw the defense offside failed. The Colts took a timeout with 1:06 to play and everything on the line. Taylor was on the sideline. The Colts would try their biggest play without their best player. Yet Minshew had a wide open Goodson in the flat. 

Goodson dropped it and crumpled to the turf in heartbreak. The throw was not perfect, but Goodson should have caught it. He just blew it. The timeout the Colts took meant the Texans could take the clock down to 8 seconds before punting. Rather than risk a blocked punt, the punter took an intentional safety with one second left. The free kick brought the hook and laterals that went nowhere. The 9-8 Colts were out. The Texas were 3-13 last year. Led by rookie Stroud, the 10-7 Texans are at least the seven seed Wildcard. The players waited for the Jacksonville results Sunday knowing that a Jacksonville loss would make the Texans AFC South Champions. That would bump the Texans up to the four seed, meaning their Wildcard game would be at home rather than on the road. For a do-or-die game, both teams played like it. On Sunday, the Texans got their wish. Jacksonville lost, making the Texans the division winners. 23-19 Texans

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers — The 8-8 Buccaneers with a win would win the NFC South and be the four seed in the playoffs. With a loss, the Buccaneers are out and Todd Bowles is a possible Black monday coaching fatality. The Panthers are the worst team in football, and they have already traded away the top pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. After a scoreless first quarter, a deep ball to DJ Chark saw him try to stretch the bay over the pylon. He got hit and fumbled and the Buccaneers recovered in the end zone. The officials initially ruled a touchdown, but on further review it was reversed to a touchback. A 36 yard field goal by Chase McLaughlin put the Buccaneers up 3-0 with 4 minutes left in the half. The Buccaneers got it back and McLaughlin drilled a 57 yard field goal to put the Buccaneers up 6-0 at the midpoint. The third quarter ended with Matthew Wright, the replacement for injured Eddie Pineiro, missing a 52 yard field goal try for the Panthers. McLaughlin hit again from 36 to with 10 minutes left to play. The NFL should burn the tape of this game, but the 9-8 Buccaneers are NFC South champions. 9-0 Buccaneers

Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals — The 11-5 Browns were locked into the five seed and rested their starters. The Bengals were eliminated. With Joe Flacco resting, Jeff Driskel got the start. His first pass for the Browns was intercepted. Yet Jake Browning then had his pass intercepted as well. The Bengals got it back at their own 40. On 3rd and 9, Browning went to Jones for 35 and JaMarr Chase for 11. On 1st and 20, Joe Mixon ran for 13, 9, and the one yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Bengals. The Bengals got it back at their own 33. Mixon ripped off a 44 yard gain. On 3rd and 8 from the Cleveland 21, Browning went to Iosivals for 15 and to Mixon for a 6 yard touchdown to make it 14-0 Bengals. The Bengals got it back at their own 25. Brown ran for 16. Browning added 11. Mixon gained 12. Browning went to Iosivas for a 3 yard touchdown and a 21-0 Bengals lead in the second quarter. Another interception of Driskel led to Evan McPherson hitting a 45 yard field goal just past the 2 minute warning to make it 24-0 Bengals. In the third quarter, the Bengals were pinned at their own one yard line. They moved 99 yards in 14 plays and 8 minutes. Browning hit Iosivas for a 7 yard touchdown to make it 31-0 Bengals after three quarters. In the fourth quarter the Browns avoided the shutout with a pair of garbage touchdowns. The Bengals finished on a high note at 9-8. All four AFC North teams finished with a winning record. The Browns host a Wildcard game next week. While the Bengals beat backups, they played without starter Joe Burrow as their season spiraled. The Battle of Ohio will be more fiery in 2024 when Burrow returns. 31-14 Bengals

Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions — The 7-9 Vikings needed a win and a bunch of other miracles to happen to make the playoffs. The 11-5 Lions are at worst the three seed. The Vikings played their starters because they have a slim shot at the two seed. A 42 yard punt return had the Lions at their own 48. Jared Goff went deep to Amra St. Brown for 34 and again for 13. Goff went to Sam Laporta for a 2 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Lions. The Lions got it back at their own 36. Goff went to St. Brown and Laporta for a pair of 8 yard gains. Dan Campbell gambled on 4th and 1 from the Detroit 45. Gibbs appeared stopped but lunged forward and got the yard. Goff then went deep to Khalif Raymond for 41. Gibbs got around the end for a 3 yard touchdown to make it 13-0 Lions. The extra point was partially blocked. The Vikings gradually got back into the game with Greg Joseph hitting second quarter field goals of 39 and 43 to end the half with the Lions only down 13-6. After a third quarter touchback, the Vikings moved to a 4th and 3 at the Detroit 31. Kevin O’Connell went for it and Nick Mullens completed a pass for only 2 yards. 

The Lions took over at their own 29 and Goff hit St. Brown for 14. On 4th and 1 from the Minnesota 48, it was time for another Dan Campbell gamble. Goff went deep to Donovan Popeyes-Jones for 20. Defensive pass interference added 17 down to the one. David Montgomery got the last yard to make it 20-6 Lions. The Vikings took over at their own 20. Mullens hit Muse for 22. Mattison ran for 11. On 4th and 1 from the Detroit 38, Kevin O’Connell went for it. Like his counterpart, Mullens skipped the run up the middle for a deep ball to Justin Jefferson for the touchdown. Just like that, the Vikings were within 20-13. Yet after a touchback, the Lions struck quickly. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Goff went bombs away to St. Brown for a 70 yard touchdown to make it 27-13 Lions. The Vikings would not go away. After a touchback, Mullens went deep to Jefferson for 29 and deep again to Jordan Addison for a 41 yard touchdown. Only 90 seconds into the fourth quarter, the Vikings were right back in it down 27-20. 

The Lions after a touchback moved 54 yards in 10 plays and 5 minutes. Mike Badly hit a 39 yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter to give the Lions some breathing room. Down by two scores in desperation mode, Mullens was intercepted twice. The Vikings were game, but they were eliminated. The Lions would need a couple big breaks to get the two seed, but at worst they are the three seed with a powerful offense. 30 years ago the Lions won their division by winning the final regular season game by the exact same score they won by today. They would be eliminated in the Wildcard round the next week. They are hoping  history does not repeat itself so they can win their first playoff game since the 1991 season. 30-20 Lions 

New York Jets at New England Patriots — After 24 years at the helm, this could be Bill Belichick’s final game in New England. Robert Kraft may be finding a way to make this Black Monday breakup amicable and respectful. With hard snow coming down, Belichick went against the team he hates the most, the Jets. The Patriots came in having beaten the Jets 15 straight times. Both teams are eliminated from playoff contention. Robert Saleh was told by Woody Johnson that he would be back as coach in 2024. A shanked punt from his their end zone gave t he Jets a short field at the New England 35. On 3rd and goal from the 3, Trevor Siemian threw incomplete. Greg Zuerlein hit the 21 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Jets. The Patriots moved from their own 38 to a 3rd and 4 at the Jets 12. Bailey Zappe threw incomplete. Ryland hit the 30 yard field goal to make it 3-3 in the second quarter. The Jets came back from their own 22 to a 2nd and 7 at the New England 22. Siemian threw incomplete twice. Zuerlein hit the 40 yard field goal with the snow everywhere for a 6-3 Jets lead. Early in the fourth quarter the Evil Hoodie went for it on 4th and 1 from his own 45. Zappe threw incomplete. Zuerlein hit a 33 yard field goal to make it 9-3 Jets midway through the fourth quarter. 

With 2:44 to play Zappe was intercepted. Yet rather than go down, Davis returned the interception and fumbled the ball back in the snow. Two plays later at the 2 minute warning, Zappe was intercepted again. With 1:47 to play, Hall took a pitchout, got to the sideline, and made it 50 yards for the game’s only touchdown. The 2 point try was successful. After 15 straight losses, the Jets finally beat the Patriots. For Bill Belichick, it was a bitter defeat. He has a Black Monday meeting with Robert Kraft that could go either way. Kraft could keep him, get rid of him, or keep Belichick as coach but strip him of general manager capabilities. As Belichick;s former mentor Bill Parcells said, “If they expect you to cook the meal, they have to let you buy the groceries.” The Patriots have one of the top picks in the 2024 NFL Draft. The Patriots dynasty began with a controversial home playoff win in a snowstorm. The last vestiges of that dynasty may end in uninspiring, non-controversial loss in a snowstorm. This time it was the opposing team who made the big field goals. 17-3 Jets 

Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints — Both the 7-9 Falcons and 8-8 Saints with a loss would be eliminated from playoff contention. With a Tampa Bay loss, the winner of this game would win the NFC South and be the four seed on Wildcard weekend. A Tampa Bay win would eliminate Atlanta, although the Saints could still be a seven seed Wildcard if a bunch of things went right. The Saints would be playing without Alvin Kamara, a game time injury scratch.The Falcons began facing 3rd and 5 at their own 26. Desmond Ridder went deep to Miller for a 56 yard gain. Ridder hit Smith for a 15 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Falcons. The Saints soon faced 2nd and 11 at their own 24. Derek Carr went deep to Rasheed Shaheed for 20 with defensive unnecessary roughness adding 15 more. Taysom Hill ran for 8. Carr went to AT Perry for an 18 yard touchdown to make it 7-7.

Ridder threw a sideline pass to Bijan Robinson. The defender went for the interception and missed, allowing Robinson to outrace everyone for a 71 yard touchdown to make it 14-7 Falcons. After a touchback, Taysom Hill ran for 8. On 3rd and 7 from their own 41, Carr went to Chris Olave for 14. On 3rd and 1 from the Atlanta 36, Williams gained 2 as the first quarter ended. The second quarter saw Dennis Allen gambling on 4th and 2 from the Atlanta 26. Carr hit Johnson for 12. Williams ran for 4, 1 and the 3 yard touchdown. Initially Williams was ruled short but Dennis Allen successfully challenged. Williams got the ball over the pylon to make it 14-14. The Saints got it back at their own 38 with 2 1/2 minutes left in the half and moved to a 2nd and 4 at the Atlanta 5. Carr threw incomplete and Hill lost a yard. Blake Grupe hit from 24 as the Saints took a 17-14 lead with one minute left in the half. Yet after a touchback the Falcons quickly moved to the New Orleans 12 with 3 seconds left. Younghoe Koo hit from 30 to end the half with a 17-17 deadlock. 

Demond Ridder began the third quarter throwing an interception that was returned by Taylor 16 yards to the Atlanta 25. Carr went to Olave for a 26 yard touchdown to make it 24-17 Saints. The Saints got it back at their own 20. Miller ran for 18 and 3. Carr hit Johnson for 20. Carr went bombs away to Rasheed Shaheed for a 39 yard touchdown to make it 31-17 Saints. The Falcons marched all the way to a 3rd and goal at the one. A run was blown up in the backfield for a one yard loss. Arthur Smith went for it and Ridder’s pass was defended incomplete. The Saints moved from their own 2 to a 3rd and 3 at the Atlanta 6 early in the fourth quarter. Carr threw incomplete. Grupe hit the 24 yard field goal to make it 34-17 Falcons. A spot gun snap sailed past Ridder and the Saints recovered the fumble at the Atlanta 10 yard line. Carr went to Perry for a 6 yard touchdown to make it 41-17 Saints. Late in the game Mathieu returned an interception of Ridder 74 yards down to the Atlanta one yard line. Jameis Winston came in with Carr done for the day and snuck for the yard himself to complete the scoring with just over one minute left. Atlanta was eliminated, and Arthur Smith screamed at Dennis Allen after the game over the last touchdown. Carr was 22 of 28 for 264 yards, 4 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. The division was out of reach, but the Saints needed Seattle and Green Bay to lose to sneak into the playoffs as a Wildcard. They did not get their wishes and were eliminated from contention. Smith did not even make it to Black Monday. Arthur Blank fired Smith Sunday night after 3 seasons. 48-17 Saints

Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans — The 9-7 Jaguars had a simple situation. Defeat the eliminated Titans and win the AFC South to be the four seed in the playoffs. A Jaguars loss would eliminate them from contention altogether. Rumors had Mike Vrabel possibly walking away on BlackMonday although he is not on the hot seat Brandon McManus hit a 44 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Jaguars. After a touchback, Derrick Henry ran for 12. A flea flicker from Ryan Tannehill to Henry back to Tannehill went to Chiggy Okonkwo for 21. On 3rd and 6 from the Jacksonville 28, a short pass from Tannehill to Tyjae Spears saw Spears break a sideline tackle and race for a touchdown to make it 7-3 Titans. 

The Jaguars in the second quarter took over at their own 12. On 3rd and 2, Lawrence hit Ridley for 11. On 3rd and 6 from their own 35, Lawrence went to Zee Jones for 11. Lawrence then went bombs away to Ridley for a 59 yard touchdown to make it 10-7 Jaguars. After a touchback, Tannehill went to Deandre Hopkins for 16. On 3rd and 2 just shy of midfield, Spears ran for 22. On 3rd and 7 from the Jacksonville 26, Tannehill went to Moore for 8. Henry ran for an 18 yard touchdown to make it 14-10 Titans. The Jaguars soon faced 3rd and 3 at their own 36. A short pass from Lawrence to Evan Engram saw Engram bobble the ball and bat it in the air, where it was intercepted at the same spot. On 3rd and 1 from the Jacksonville 22, Tannehill went to Okonkwo for 15. Spears banged up the middle for a 3 yard touchdown and 21-10 Titans lead with 3 minutes left in the half. 

Lawrence was then intercepted, but the Titans failed to capitalize. Instead the Titans punter fumbled a perfectly good snap and the Jaguars took over at the Tennessee 36. That allowed McManus to hit a 30 yard field goal to get the Jaguar within 21-13 at the intermission. After a touchback, Henry ripped off a 69 yard gain. Tannehill hit Hopkins for a 6 yard touchdown to make it 28-13 Titans. The Jaguars moved from their own 29 to a 4th and 7 at the Tennessee 33. Doug Pederson went for it and a completion gained only 4 yards. The Jaguars got it back at their own 37. Lawrence went to Engram for 13. On 3rd and 9 from the Tennessee 44, Lawrence went to Engram for 17. On 3rd and 1 from the Tennessee 18, Travis Etienne gained 4. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Lawrence went to Engram for a 14 yard touchdown to get the Jaguars within 8 points. 

An interception of Tannehill was returned by Cisco 29 yards to the Tennessee 28. The Jaguars had a golden chance to tie the game. On 3rd and goal at the one, Lawrence threw incomplete. Doug Pederson went for it midway through the fourth quarter. Lawrence kept it and got stopped stone cold. The Jaguars got it back at their on 25 with 2:18 left and 0 timeouts. On 2nd and 2 Lawrence went bombs away and had a wide open Ridley. The ball bounced off of Ridley’s fingertips incomplete. On 4th and 2 with just over one minute left, Lawrence threw incomplete. It was a bitter defeat for the Jaguars. After starting 8-3, they collapsed down the stretch. Much of this was due to Trevor Lawrence playing with an injured shoulder, but nobody was offering excuses. The Jaguars finished 9-8 and were out of the playoffs. 28-20 Titans

Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals — For the second straight year, the 8-8 Seahawks need to win and get help to make the playoffs. Last year they got the required breaks. They were at an awful Cardinals team that could still be dangerous with Kyler Murray. The Seahawks from their own 7 yard line moved 78 yards in 11 plays and 6 minutes. Yet on 2nd and 3 from the Arizona 14, a run lost a yard and Geno Smith threw incomplete. Jason Myers hit a 33 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Seahawks. The Cardinals in the second quarter moved from their own 16 to a 3rd and goal at the 2. Murray lost 3 yards. Matt Prater hit a 23 yard field goal for a 3-3 game. After a touchback, Walker ran for 3, 11 and 5. On 3rd and 8 from their own 41, Smith went to Tyler Lockett for 37 and to Wil Dissly for a 19 yard touchdown to make it 10-3 Seahawks. Both teams moved into the red zone before the half but could not finish. Prater hit from 34 at the 2 minute warning and Myers hit from 29 as the Seahawks led 13-6 at the intermission.

In the third quarter the Cardinals faced 2nd and 11 at their own 12. Murray hit James Conner for 34 and Higgins for 25. Conner ran for a 29 yard touchdown to tie the game 13-13. The Cardinals got it back at their own 39. Carter ran for 15. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Murray hit Moore for 10. Murray hit Wilson for 11. On 4th and 3 from the Seattle 8 with absolutely nothing to lose, Jonathan Gannon went for the touchdown rather than just kick a 26 yard field goal to take the lead. Murray hit McBride for the touchdown for a 20-13 Cardinals lead with 10 minutes left in regulation. With 3 minutes left in regulation, Prater came in for a 43 yard field goal try to ice the game. The kick was wide right no good. The Seahawks had life. From their own 33, Smith hit Parkinson for 5 and Charbonnet for 13 and 15. A the 2 minute warning from the Arizona 34, Smith went deep to Lockett for the touchdown. Normally in this situation you kick the extra point, but apparently Pete Carroll got the news that the Seahawks had been eliminated from playoff contention. Smith went to Lockett successfully and the Seahawks led by a point With 1:54 left. After a touchback, the Cardinals moved right down the field. With 16 seconds left on 1st and 10 from he Seattle 30, a pair of safe runs lost a combined 3 yards. Prater came in for a 51 yard field goal try to redeem himself and get the win. Again Prater was wide right no good. The Seahawks finished with a winning season but Green Bay’s win eliminated them. 21-20 Seahawks

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers — For the second straight year, the Packers are 8-8 and need to win at home to make the playoffs against a team that is already eliminated. Last year Detroit belted them. This year Chicago tries to spoil their season. The Bears moved from their own 31 and held the ball for 10 plays and 6 minutes. Cairo Santos hit a 50 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Bears. From 41 yards out, Anders Carlson’s field goal try to tie the game was no good. The Packers got the ball at their own 8 to start the second quarter. Jordan Love went to Reed for 32. On 3rd and 5 from the Chicago 41, Love went to Melton for 10. Aaron Jones ran for 12. On 3rd and 1 from the Chicago 10, Love went to Wicks for the touchdown. The 11 play, 92 yard, nearly 7 minute drive had the Packers up 7-3. Santos managed a 39 yard field goal to get the Bears within 7-6 at the half, but this game was about the Green Bay defense. After a third quarter touchback, Love hit Wicks for 9 and Melston for 17. Jones ran for 7, 3 and 4. On 3rd and 3, Love hit Wicks for a 12 yard touchdown to make it 14-6 Packers. A fumble by Love led to a 35 yard Santos field goal with 13 minutes left in regulation, but Carlson answered form 25 ti put the Packers back up by 8 with 11 minutes left. The Bears reached a 2nd and 6 at the Green Bay 34, but offensive holding an a sack meant a punt. The Packers took over at their own 6 yard line with 6 minutes left. The Bears never saw the ball again. On 3rd and 7 from his own 43, Love hit Kraft for 15. Jones ran for 10 as Love took a couple of knees. The 9-8 Packers are in the playoffs as the seven seed Wildcard. Matt Eberflus awaited Black Monday. 17-9 Packers

Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers — The 10-6 Chiefs won the AFC West for the eighth straight year and are locked into the three seed. Walrus Andy Reid rested his starters against a Chargers team done for the year.The Chargers began at their own 25 and moved to a 3rd and goal at the 5. Eason Stick was sacked and fumbled. Edwards returned it 97 yards the other way for a defensive touchdown and a 7-0 Chiefs lead. It was the only touchdown of the game as neither offense reached the end zone. The Chiefs did reach 2nd and goal at the one but lost yards. Harrison Butker hit from 22 to make it 10-0 Chiefs. Cameron Dicker hit field goals of 49 and 40 in the second quarter, the latter set up by an interception of Blaine Gabbert. Dicker hit from 43 in the third quarter. The Chargers managed to move to a 2nd and goal at the one, but Stick threw incomplete and Austin Ekeler lost a couple yards. Dicker hit from 20 as 4 straight field goals made it 12-10 Chargers with 4 minutes left in regulation. Yet after a touchback, the Chiefs moved to a 4th and 1 at the Chargers 24. Butker hit from 41 to pu the Chiefs up by one point with 49 seconds left. The Chargers after a touchback needed only one more field goal to win. Yet on 3rd and 2 from their own 33, Stick threw incomplete twice. Even with backups, the Chiefs are better than the Chargers. Andy Reid won the AFC West for the 8th straight year and got to keep Patrick Mahonmes, Travis Kelce and the rest of the starters healthy for a home playoff game. This makes Reid a most happy Walrus indeed. The Chargers awaited Black Monday. 13-12 Chiefs

Denver Broncos at Las Vegas Raiders — The 8-8 Broncos and 7-9 Raiders are both done for the year. The Raiders were fighting to give interim coach Antonio Pierce the full time job. The Raider Nation flags were at half staff with the untimely death of Super Bowl hero Jack Squirek at age 64. Squirek died 2 weeks before the 40th anniversary of his Super Bowl interception touchdown that will live in NFL history forever. Josh Jacobs was again out injured, and whether he returns next year is anyone’s guess. With him out, Zamir White again carried the load. 

From his own 22, White ran for 4 and 12 and caught a pass for 9. White then ran for 6 and 2. On 3rd and 8 from the Denver 37, Aidan O’Connell went to Tre Tucker for 10 and 8. White gained 6 and 3. On 3rd and 1 from the Denver 5, Antonio Pierce went to the bag of tricks. Jakobi Meyers took the handoff and rolled to his right in what was supposed to be a halfback option pass. Yet Meyers saw nobody was open and smartly ad-libbed. He rolled all the way back to his left, faked a run to the corner and cut back inside, and ran it into the end zone. The 13 play, 70 yard, 8 minute drive made it 7-0 Raiders.

The Broncos took over at their own 16. Jarrett Stidham went to Johnson for 36. Stidham went to Williams as the Broncos began the second quarter at the Raiders 33. Williams ran for 2 and caught a pass from Stidham for 9. On 3rd and 2 from the Raiders 22, Stidham went to Cortland Sutton for just enough. A sack of stidham appeared to kill the drive. Yet on 2nd and 22 from the Raiders 24, a short give-up pass from Stidham to Jerry Jeudy saw Jeudy weave through everybody and somehow pinball his way into the end zone for a 7-7 game.

After a touchback, O’Connell went to Devontae Adams for 17. White gained 8 and 5. O’Connell hit Tucker for 10. On 3rd and 6 from the Denver 31, O’Connell threw incomplete. Daniel Carlson nailed a 49 yard field goal for a 10-7 Raiders lead. With 1:43 left in the half, a special teams error backed the Raiders up to their own 2 yard line. Just trying to get to the half, White broke off a 25 yard run. A sack of O’Connell had the Raiders facing 2nd and 18 at their own 20. Antonio Pierce decided to be very aggressive. O’Connell went to Adams for 11 and on 3rd and 7 hit Austin Hooper for the exact amount. O’Connell then went deep to Tucker for a 47 yard gain. With 26 seconds left, the Raiders faced 3rd and 3 at the Denver 8. O’Connell hit Hooper for 5 and spiked the ball to stop the clock with 11 seconds left. The Raiders were out of timeouts and did not want to pass up an easy field goal by taking a sack or turnover. Yet O’Connell fired to Adams, who made a perfect catch on a well-defended ball for a 3 yard touchdown with 7 seconds left to make it 17-7 Raiders.

The Raiders do not put games away, and the Broncos in the third quarter moved from their own 13 to a 3rd and 3 at the Raiders 36. Stidham threw incomplete. Sean Payton passed up a 54 yard field goal try and went for it. Stidham threw incomplete again. White gained 8 and 4. On 3rd and 9 from midfield, O’Connell went to Meyers for 17 as the third quarter ended. On the first play of the fourth quarter, O’Connell went deep to a wide open Meyers for a 33 yard touchdown to make it 24-7 Raiders. 

After a touchback, Stidham quickly went to Johnson for 25 to midfield. On 3rd and 10, Stidham went deep to Jeudy for a 47 yard gain. On 3rd and goal at the one, Stidham fumbled the snap but fell on it for a one yard loss. On 4th and goal at the 2, a stop probably would hav ended the game. Williams got the carry and it was very close, but the ball broke the plane of the goal. With 10 minutes left in regulation, the Broncos were within 24-14. After a touchback, the Raiders did not go into a shell. They did not ice the game, but a staggering 16 play, 72 yard drive took 8 minutes off the clock. On 3rd and goal at the 3 and the Broncos out of timeouts, a run would have taken the clock to the 2 minute warning. Yet Antonio Pierce wanted it all and O’Connell threw incomplete. Carlson hit the 21 yard field goal to put the Raiders up 13, but it preserved 20 seconds for the Broncos. 

After a touchback the Broncos moved to a 1st and 10 at the Raiders 43 with 1:07 left. A touchdown would give the Broncos a chance at an onside kick. Yet stidham got hit as he there and Moehrig made a diving interception to seal the win. Both teams are 8-9 but the trend is clearly upward. Both teams need to find a quarterback since Sean Payton is getting rid of Russell Wilson and Stidham is a competent backup at best. O’Connell is a game manager, but he nearly threw an interception for a defensive touchdown early in the game and was lucky to escape with an incompletion. He is not a star. Antonio Pierce deserves to have the interim label removed. The players and Raider Nation fans love him.Yet if Jim Harbaugh is available, Mark Davis has to grab Harbaugh. Otherwise. Pierce deserves a shot. He has earned it. The Raiders beat the Broncos for the 8th straight time. 27-14 Raiders

Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants — The Eagles were in the playoffs but have been reeling. After starting 10-1, the Eagles have gone 1-4. Their only win was a home loss against the Giants where they barely survived on the final play. The Giants were done for the year. The Eagles needed to win and have Dallas lose to win the NFC East and lock up the two seed. Otherwise the Eagles would remain the five seed. This would mean a road playoff game rather than being at home. The Giants in the first quarter moved from their own 27 to a 4th and goal at the 6. Mason Crosby hit the 24 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Giants. In the second quarter Nick Sirianni went for it with the Eagles facing 4th and 3 at their own 48. Jalen Hurts threw incomplete. On 3rd and 1, Tyrod Taylor gained 2. On 3rd and 11 from the Philadelphia 28, Taylor went to Robinson for 26. Saquon Barkley ran for the 2 yard touchdown to make it 10-0 Giants. A 15 yard punt return gave the Giants great field position at their own 45. Taylor went to Hodgins for 8. Taylor went to Darren Waller for 23 and to Robinson for 19. Barkley got around the end for a 3 yard touchdown and a 17-0 Giants lead with 5 minutes left in the half. The Giants got it back and faced 3rd and 2 at their own 35 at the 2 minute warning. Taylor went deep to Barkley for 46 and to Darrius Slayton for a 19 yard touchdown for a 24-0 Giants lead at the half. The Eagles managed a third quarter field goal and a fourth quarter touchdown, but the Giants locked up the win with a 21 yard Crosby field goal with 3 1/2 minutes left. The Eagles have gone 1-5 down the stretch to stagger to an 11-6 record. They will start the playoffs on the road and have to salvage their season the hard way. 27-10 Giants

Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers — The 9-7 Rams were the six seed and could go no higher. They could fall to the seven seed but that was not enough to concern Sean McVay. The 13-3 49ers had locked up the top seed with home field advantage throughout the playoffs and the first round bye. So with McVay and kyle Shanahan both playing backups, this was just about escaping the finale healthy. Sam Darnold replaced Brock Purdy and Carson Wentz, playing for his fourth team in four seasons, replaced Matthew Stafford. After an opening touchback, Darnold went to Deebo Samuel for 6 and Woerner for 20. On 3rd and 4 from the Rams 43, Darnold went to Brandon Aiyuk for 5 and to Mitchell for 7. Samuel ran for 11. Darnold went to Aiyuk for 11. On 3rd and goal at the one, Mitchell got in to cap the 12 play 75 yard, 7 1/2 minute drive to make it 7-0 49ers. The Rams after a touchback saw Wentz hit Allen and Nacua for a pair of 9 yard gains. Rivers ran for 10. On 4th and 2 from the San Francisco 34, McVay went for it. Wentz hit Allen for 10. On 3rd and 5 from he San Francisco 19, Wentz hit Nacua for the touchdown to make it 7-7. 

The 49ers soon faced 1st and 20 at their own 15. Darnold hit Samuel for 15. Mason ran for 6 and 16. On 3rd and 1 from the Rams 39n in the second quarter, Darnold gained 2. On 4th and 1 from the Rams 28, Kyle Shanahan went for it. Mason gained 3. Mitchell ran for 14 and 7. On 3rd and 4 from the Rams 5, Darnold threw incomplete but defensive holding meant 3 yards and 1st and goal at the 2. Darnold ran for a one yard touchdown The staggering 16 play, 75 yard drive took 10 minutes off the clock and made it 14-7 49ers. An interception of went led to a missed field goal for the 49ers. The 49ers got it back at their own 10. McCloud ran for 7 and caught a pass from Darnold for 6. Mitchell ran for 5 and caught a pass from Darnold for 8. Darnold went deep to Conley for a 48 yard gain On 3rd and 4 from the Rams 5, Darnold hit Bell for the touchdown with 11 seconds left in the half. The extra point was no good but the 49ers led 20-7. 

After a third quarter touchback the Rams faced 3rd and 1 at their own 34. Wentz gained 2. Rivers gained 8. Wentz hit Nacua for 7 and 6. On 3rd and 1 from the San Francisco 40, Wentz gained 4. On 3rd and 1 from the Frisco 27, Freeman got the yard. On 3rd and 17 from the San Francisco 33 after a sack, Wentz went deep to Hopkins for 29. On 3rd and goal at the 8, Wentz hit Johnson for the score. The staggering 17 play, 75 yard, nearly 10 1/2 minute drive had the Rams within 20-13. Maher missed the extra point. Both teams had drives of at least 10 minutes and 16 plays but with a missed extra point. Midway through the fourth quarter, the Rams took over at their own 29. Defensive pass interference on a deep incompletion meant a 45 yard gain. On 4th and 2 from the San Francisco 15 with 5:40 left, Sean McVay went for it. Went hit Tutu Atwell for 3. Wentz ran for a 12 yard touchdown. Neither team wanted overtime in a meaningless game, so McVay went for 2. Wentz hit Atwell successfully and the Rams led by a point with 5 minutes left. The 49ers went 3 and out and punted with 4 minutes left. The 49ers got it back at their own 22 with 55 seconds left. From his own 40, Darnold was sacked and fumbled and the Rams recovered. After starting 3-6, the Rams have gone 7-1 since. The Rams will go on the road for the playoffs while the 49ers have the week off to rest up. 21-20 Rams

Dallas Cowboys at Washington Commanders — The 11-5 Cowboys with a win would win the NFC East and be the two seed in the playoffs. A loss and a Philadelphia win would drop the Cowboys down to the five seed. Ron Rivera was expected to be a Black Monday casualty for the eliminated Commanders. After an opening touchback, the Commanders moved to a 4th and 1 at the Dallas 31. With absolutely nothing left to lose, Riverboat Ron Rivera went for it. A completion lost 2 yards. From his own 33, Dak Prescott hit Brandin Cooks for 15 and Ceedee Lamb for 15 and 9. Prescott hit Tony Pollard for 12 and Tolbert for a 3 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Cowboys. Robinson immediately fumbled the ball back to the Cowboys, but they squandered the opportunity when a field goal try was blocked and returned 51 yards to the Dallas 20. On 3rd and 10, Howell went to Arman for just enough. The second quarter began with the Commanders facing 4th and goal at the one. Rivera went for it again. Howell hit Robinson for the touchdown and a 7-7 game. An interception of Prescott gave the Commanders the ball at their own 45. On 4th and 1, Rivera was gambling again. Robinson gained 2. On 3rd and 1 from the Dallas 16, consecutive false starts made it 3rd and 10. Howell hit Crowder for only 8. On 4th and 2, this time Rivera played it safe. Joey Slye hit the 36 yard field goal. The Commanders led 10-7, but after that reality set in. 

The Cowboys took over at their own 29. Prescott went to Lamb for 8 with defensive unnecessary roughness adding 15. Prescott hit Ferguson for 12. Pollard ran for 9, 9, 12, and the one yard touchdown to make it 14-10 Cowboys. An interception of Howell gave the Cowboys the ball at their own 35 with 1:40 left in the half. Prescott went to Dowdle for 32. Prescott then hit Lamb for 15 and 6 and Cooks for 8. Prescott went to Lamb for a 4 yard touchdown to make it 21-10 Cowboys with 23 seconds left in the half. After a touchback, the Cowboys looked to break open the close game. Prescott hit Lamb for 12 and 7. On 3rd and 5 from the Washington 32, Prescott hit Ferguson for 7. Dowdle ran for 20. Prescott hit Lamb for a 6 yard touchdown to finish a 12 play, 75 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive and make it 28-10 Cowboys. The back-breaker came on special teams when the Cowboys blocked a Washington punt to set up 1st and goal at the 9. On 3rd and goal at the 5, Prescott hit Cooks for the touchdown to make it 35-10 Cowboys. Aubrey would doink one 36 yard field goal try in the fourth quarter off the upright no good but did hit from 50 with one minute left in regulation. Jerry Jones was all smiles as 31 unanswered points gave the Cowboys the NFC East crown and the two seed. Rivera awaited Black Monday while Jerrah posed for pictures. 38-10 Cowboys

 

Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins was the regular season ending Sunday night game. The 10-6 Bills and 11-5 Dolphins were both in the playoffs before this game started. This was an AFC East showdown. The winner wins the division and is the two seed. The loser drops down to the six seed wildcard. The difference is playing a Wildcard at home or on the road. Ironically, a Dolphins win would mean these two teams playing again next week in Miami. In Buffalo, the Bills won easily 48-20. Now the Dolphins wanted revenge. The Bills entered December 6-6 but entered this game winning 4 straight. The Dolphins were 11-4 last week with a chance at clinching their division and getting home field advantage throughout the playoffs Then they got blasted at Baltimore 56-19, putting the top seed out of reach. With Josh Allen and Tua Tagovailoa, this could have been a shootout. Instead it was a defensive slugfest. Allen was intercepted on his first series and Tagovailoa was picked off on his first two series in a scoreless first quarter. 

The Dolphins began the second quarter facing 2nd and 16 at their own 14 after a sack. Wilson ran for 10. On 3rd and 6, Tagovailoa went to Braxton Berrios for 7. On 3rd and 14 from their own 27, Tagovailoa went deep to Tyreek Hill for 23. Wilson ran for 13. Achane ran for a 25 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Dolphins. After a touchback, Allen went to Dawson Knox for 17. Allen ran for 10. Allen went deep to Stefan Diggs, who made a diving catch on a well-defended ball for a 36 yard gain. Allen hit Sherfield for a 6 yard touchdown to make it 7-7 with 4 1/2 minutes left in the half. 

After a touchback, Achane gained 9. The defense then encroached. Tagovailoa hit Smythe for 14. On 3rd and 3 from the Buffalo 36 at the 2 minute warning, Tagovailoa went deep to Wilson for 24. On 3rd and 1 from the Buffalo 3, Tagovailoa hit Hill for the touchdown. With 1:43 left in the half, the Dolphins led 14-7. After a touchback, the Bills rapidly marched down the field. With 11 seconds left in the half, the Bills had 1st and 10 at the Miami 11. The Bills had 0 timeouts, but enough time for 2 quick passes to the end zone and an easy field goal try at worst. Yet rather than fire to the sideline or the end zone, Allen hit Johnson over the middle. Johnson tried to reach the goal line but got blasted at the one yard line. An angry Sean McDermott blasted the decision by his offense as the clock ran out. 

Midway through the third quarter, the Bills took over at their own 24. They moved 49 yards in 13 plays and held the ball for 7 1/2 minutes. Late in the third quarter, Bills faced 1st and 10 at the Miami 18. A run lost 3 yards. The Bills were still in short field goal range at 39 yards. Allen was sacked and fumbled. and the Dolphins recovered. Rather than be within 14-13, the Bills were still down 14-7 thanks to 3 Allen turnovers and the blunder at the end of the first half. Yet the Dolphins did not put the game away. They let the Bills hang around. The Dolphins defense was suffocating but their offense was not icing the game. Just over one minute into the fourth quarter, one play on special teams changed the entire game. 

The Dolphins punted deep, and Harty should have let the ball bounce into his own end zone. Instead Hardy fielded the ball at his own 4 yard line, blasted through a large hole, and outraced everyone for a 96 yard touchdown. In front of a shellshocked home crowd and an stunned Mike McDaniel, the game was tied 14-14. The Dolphins went 3 and out, and the Bills soon faced 3rd and 2 at their own 34. Allen gained 5. Allen then went deep to Kincaid for a 26 yard gain. Allen then went deep to Shakir for 28 more. Allen hit Knox for a 5 yard touchdown. Midway through the fourth quarter, now it was t he Bills up by 7 points. 

The Dolphins again went 3 and out and the Bills took over at their own 26 with 6:14 left. With 4 minutes left, Sean McDermott made what seemed to be an insane decision by going for it on 4th and 1 from his own 35. His defense was playing well, but this was very high risk. Allen gained 2 and the clock ticked down. With 3:12 left, the Bills faced 3rd and 13 from their own 34. Allen on a give-up run somehow scrambled passed everyone and gained 15. At the 2 minute warning, the Bills faced 4th and 1 at the Miami 37. The Dolphins were out of timeouts. A first down would end the game. A field goal try would be 55 yards. McDermott went for it all. Allen kept it and his quarterback sneak initially appeared stopped but he had a good second effort. Yet he was still short. 

The Dolphins were very much alive with 1:53 to play at their own 37. They moved to the Buffalo 40 with 1:17 left, plenty of time to force overtime or even win. One bomb from Tagovailoa to Hill would do the trick. Instead Tagovailoa got hit as he threw and a wounded duck fluttered in the air. Rapp made the diving interception to preserve the win. Both teams were 11-6, but instead of the Dolphins winning their first AFC East title in 15 years, the Bills won the division for the fourth year in a row the hard way. The Bills went from left for dead to the two seed. The Dolphins went from a potential top seed all the way down to the six seed. The Bills will be at home next week in the frigid Buffalo weather with momentum while the Dolphins will go on the road for the playoffs rather than enjoy the Miami sun. One play made the difference. The Bills showed grit and resilience in winning a fine, fine football game to end the 2023 NFL regular season. 21-14 Bills

COLLEGE FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP: Michigan Wolverines vs Alabama Crimson Tide — Nick Saban retired two days after the game with his 7 college football championships intact, 6 with Alabama and one with LSU. Jim Harbaugh won his first college football championship and now has almost all 32 NFL teams and Michigan fighting over him. 34-13 Wolverines

The NFL 2023-2024 Playoffs are set:

Saturday, January 13, 2024:

4:30pm: AFC: (5)(Cleveland Browns) at (4)(Houston Texans) on NBC

8pm: AFC: (6)(Miami Dolphins) at (3)(Kansas City Chiefs) on NBC

Sunday, January 14:

1pm: AFC: (7)(Pittsburgh Steelers) at (2)(Buffalo Bills) on CBS

4:30pm: NFC: (7)(Green Bay Packers) at (2)(Dallas Cowboys) on FOX

8pm: NFC: (6)(Los Angeles Rams) at (3)(Detroit Lions) on NBC

Monday, January 15:

8pm: NFC: (5)(Philadelphia Eagles) at (4)(Tampa Bay Buccaneers) on ABC/ESPN

The top seeded San Francisco 49ers (NFC) and Baltimore Ravens (AFC) have the week off. 

eric

NFL 2023 Week 18 Prequel

January 2nd, 2024

THIS. IS. WHEN. THE. BIG. DOGS. COME. OUT.

NFL 2023 Week 18 Prequel

Saturday, January 6, 2023, 4:30pm

Pittsburgh Steelers (-4) at Baltimore Ravens — The Ravens have locked up home field throughout the playoffs and will be resting their starters. The Steelers will be fighting for survival, needing to win and get help to make the playoffs. Yet even against backups, the spread is too high for a road team struggling. Steelers win but fail to cover

8pm

Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts (-1) — The winner of this battle of 8-7 teams is in the playoffs and the loser is out. CJ Stroud will be starting for the Texans, but Jonathan Taylor has been running well for the Colts. This is one where the home field should be the decider. Colts cover

Sunday, January 7, 1pm

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-5 1/2) at Carolina Panthers — If the 8-8 Buccaneers win, they win the NFC South. If they lose, they are out of the playoffs. The Panthers are the worst team in football, but they have not been getting blown out. They compete hard. The spread is too high for an inconsistent road team against a team with a defense that fights hard. Buccaneers win but fail to cover 

Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals (-5) — This was supposed to be a brawl, but instead it’s a meaningless game. The Browns are locked into the five seed and will rest some starters. The Bengals after consecutive trips to the AFC Title Game are out of the playoffs altogether. Jake Browning is not Joe Burrow, but he has played well in stretches. Go with the home crowd and starters against backups. Bengals cover

Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions (-4) — The Lions are enraged after having a win at Dallas stolen from them by miserable officiating. The Vikings are technically alive for the playoffs at 7-9 but need a ton of help. The Vikings looked lifeless last week at home against Green Bay. The Lions can still with some help move up from the three seed to the two seed. God with the angry team at home. Lions cover

New York Jets at New England Patriots (-2) — Both teams are out of the playoffs. This could be Bill Belichick’s final game in New England after 24 years, so expect the Patriots to rally around their embattled leader. Both teams have good defenses and bad quarterback play. Go with the emotional home crowd to send the Evil Hoodie out on top of the team he hates the most. Patriots cover

Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints (-3 1/2) — Whoever wins this battle between the 7-9 Falcons and 8-8 Saints has a shot at the playoffs if other results break right. The loser us automatically eliminated from playoff contention. If Tampa Bay loses, the winner of this game wins the NFC South division and would be the four seed hosting a playoff game. The Saints can make the playoffs as a seven seed Wildcard but the Falcons cannot. The Saints went into Tampa Bay last week and humiliated them. The Saints have the better quarterback in Derek Carr, the better running back in Alvin Kamara, the better defense, and the home field. The Falcons looked pathetic in a loss at Chicago. Saints cover

Jacksonville Jaguars (-3 1/2) at Tennessee Titans — The 9-7 Jaguars snapped a four game losing streak last week. The stakes are simple. If the Jaguars win, they win the AFC South and are the four seed hosting a Wildcard playoff game. If they lose, they are out. The Titans are done for the year but their defense fights hard. The Titans are injury-riddled, especially at quarterback. The spread is too high to trust a Jaguars team spiraling downward. Jaguars win but fail to cover

4pm

Seattle Seahawks (-3) at Arizona Cardinals — For the second straight year, the 8-8 Seahawks make the playoffs if they win and Green Bay loses. The Cardinals are done for the year but have been vastly improved since Kyler Murray returned. The Cardinals shocked Philadelphia last week. The Seahawks failed to handle business last week at home against an average Pittsburgh team. The Cardinals could very well with this game, but go with the desperate team with everything to play for. Seahawks cover

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (-3) — For the second straight year, the 8-8 Packers need only to win their regular season finale at home to make the playoffs. Last year they failed in spectacular fashion. Yet that loss in hindsight was to a vastly improved Detroit team. The Bears are done for the year and very uninspiring outside of quarterback Justin Fields. Jordan Love is improving. At home with everything to play for, trust the Packers to get it done. Packers cover

Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers (-1 1/2) — The Chiefs won the AFC West for the eighth straight year and are locked into the three seed. The Chargers are done for the year. This game will test whether the Chargers starters can beat the Chiefs backups. If not, their next step is a coed touch football game in the park. Chargers cover

Denver Broncos at Las Vegas Raiders (-2 1/2) — The 8-8 Broncos and 7-9 Raiders are both done for the year. The Raiders lost a heartbreaker at Indianapolis last week to kill their season. The Raiders won by one point at Denver in the season opener, but both teams are significantly better than they were earlier in the year. Russell Wilson is benched for good, so Jarrett Stidham will start again against the team he started for as a replacement last year. The Broncos have a good defense and the Raiders defense is vastly improved. The Raiders pound the rock now. That should be the difference despite a lack of home field advantage. Most importantly, the players desperately want interim coach Antonio Pierce to get the job permanently. The players will fight hard for him. Raiders cover

Philadelphia Eagles (-5 1/2) at New York Giants — The Eagles started 10-1 but have been reeling since. They have gone 1-4 down the stretch, with the only win against the Giants two weeks ago in Philadelphia. In that game the Eagles barely survived on the final play. The 11-5 Eagles with a win and a Dallas loss will win the NFC East and be the two seed. Otherwise they fall to the five seed. The Giants are done for the year but their defense has fought hard. Tyrod Taylor can play. Although the Eagles have everything to play for, they have not been good enough in recent weeks to trust, especially on the road. Upset special, Giants win outright

Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers (-4 1/2) — The Rams after a 3-6 start have gone 6-1 since to clinch a playoff spot. The Rams have struggled in recent years against the 49ers, but this time the 49ers will be playing backups. The 49ers have clinched home field throughout the playoffs and will probably rest dome starters. The Rams can still drop from the six seed to the seven seed, but that might not be much of an incentive for the Rams to play their starters for long if at all. In a battle of backups, go with the 49ers. 49ers cover

Dallas Cowboys (-13 1/2) at Washington Commanders — This could be Riverboat Ron Rivera’s final game in DC. Rumors have him being fired after the regular season. The Commanders are done for the year. The 11-5 Cowboys with a win will win the NFC East and the two seed. If they lose and Philadelphia wins, the Cowboys drop to the five seed and would start the playoffs on the road rather than at home. The Cowboys have everything to play for and the Commanders have nothing to play for. Yet the spread is way too high for a road team that has struggled on the road all year. The players may rally around Rivera. Their quarterback and defense are unspectacular but not horrendous either. A garbage touchdown is certainly possible. Cowboys win but fail to cover

8pm

Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins — The 10-6 Bills take on the 11-5 Dolphins in a critical AFC East showdown. The winner of this game wins the AFC East. The Bills are a surprising 3 point road favorite. Yes, the Bills have won 4 straight. Yes, the Dolphins got carpet bombed 56-19 at Baltimore. Yes, the Bills crushed the Dolphins 48-20 in Buffalo. The spread still seems ridiculous. The Dolphins have a ton of speed. As long as Tua Tagovailoa and Tyreek Hillare playing, the Dolphins should be favored. If the Dolphins lose, they are still the six seed Wildcard. If the Bills lose, they are most likely out altogether. The hot streak favors the Bills, Josh Allen is playing well, and Buffalo has a defense. Yet this is one where the home field mattes tremendously. In the relatively warm Miami sun rather than the Buffalo snow, go with the speed on offense. Upset special, Dolphins win outright   

FINALLY: Claudine Gay Lesbian Bi Trans Queer is out

January 2nd, 2024
FINALLY! The completely unqualified token hire Claudine Gay is stepping down.
Ivy league academia just became 1/1000th less racist, sexist, antisemitic and ideologically bigoted.
Harvard is now eagerly searching for another totally unqualified black female leftist who can pretend to be against genocide.
No word on whether Harvard is pleading with Vice President Kamala Harris to replace Gay.
Just to be clear. Claudine Gay is not being criticized because of her race or gender. She’s being criticized because she sucked.
Ms. Gay is not qualified to do anything, so she is most likely to remain in academia. Hamas University may need new professors soon. Otherwise, she can become CNN or MSNBC’s ethics consultant.
No word on whether Claudine Gay will change her name to Claudine LGBTQ.
As for the white male leftists who run Harvard’s Board of Trustees, they may pretend to be true believer socialists, but they become capitalists in a heartbeat when their own financial bottom lines are affected.
If Harvard wants to truly fix the damage, make the next President a conservative Republican. That way there is a better chance they will have done real work.
Sally Kornbluth at MIT needs to join Gay and UPenn’s Liz Magill on the unemployment line.
Lastly, Claudine Gay is a tiny part of the problem. DEI must DIE.
May be a graphic of text
See insights
Boost a post
All reactions:

You and 1 other

NFL 2023 Black Monday Coach Firings Predictions

January 2nd, 2024

NFL 2023 Black Monday Coach Firings Predictions

Happy New Year. You’re history. Happy Hanukkah. Clean out your desk. Merry Christmas. You’re fired. The NFL coaching carousel is about to spin like a dreidel. The NFL is a cold place in losing environments. The annual ritual of firing coaches on Black Monday is a long-established NFL tradition. As retired coach Jerry Glanville used to say, the NFL stands for “Not For Long.”

Thankfully, Black Monday now comes past the holiday season, allowing coaches to enjoy time with their families. The pink-slips come afterward.

This season’s NFL 2023 Black Monday Coach Firing Carousel

The 2023 regular season coaching carousel saw three coaches fired during the season. The Carolina Panthers fired Frank Reich midway through his first season with the team 1-10. Chris Tabor is the interim coach. The Los Angeles Chargers fired Brandon Staley after less than three years. He was dismissed with the team 5-10. Giff Smith is the interim coach. The Chargers also fired General Manager Tom Telesco. The Raiders fired Coach Josh McDaniels and General Manager Dave Ziegler at the midpoint of their second season with the team 3-5. Antonio Pierce is the interim coach. 

More changes will come Black Monday. 

A time to fire: Rules of the Black Monday coach firing ritual

Owners can fire any employee they want whenever they want, but that does not mean they should. There are certain unwritten rules that owners should consider before firing (or not) NFL coaches on Black Monday.

  • Never fire a coach after a winning season. No matter how badly the team underachieves, some teams would kill to go 9-8.
  • Do not fire a coach unless it is absolutely definite that a better replacement option exists.
  • Do not fire a coach after one season unless there is zero hope for improvement. Bill Parcells won only three games in his first season as an NFL head coach. Jimmy Johnson won one game. Tom Landry won zero games and tied one.
  • Do not fire a coach after two losing seasons if they had four or five winning seasons prior. Allow two or even three bad seasons if the coach has the ability to turn things around.
  • If a coach has won a Super Bowl for you, leave him alone for a few years.
  • If he has won two Super Bowls for you in non-consecutive years, give him a lifetime contract.
  • Lastly, if it is a close call, give the coach one more year.

With that, here are the NFL 2023 Black Monday Coach Firing predictions.

Black Monday firings that are necessary:

Los Angeles Chargers: 

What should happen:

Giff Smith is just a placeholder. The Chargers have a stud quarterback in Justin Herbert. Ownership is notoriously cheap, but the team needs a quarterback whisperer who will unleash Herbert and build around him. 

What will happen:

Smith is gone through no fault of his own. 

Carolina Panthers: 

What should happen: Chris Tabor is also just a placeholder. The Panthers need to develop rookie quarterback Bryce Young. This team also needs a quarterback whisperer, but they have an often side guru already in the building who too many teams need to stop overlooking. Jim Caldwell deserves the job.

What will happen: Tabor is gone, also through no fault of his own. The question is if owner David Tepper will be bright enough to hire Caldwell. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

What should happen:

Todd Bowles is a very good defensive coordinator. He is not a good head coach. He had a losing record in four years with the Jets. He took a playoff team under Bruce Arians and saw the offense regress badly even with Tom Brady. It took a couple of Brady miracles to will this team to an 8-9 record, the worst in Brady’s 23 seasons. Brady remarkably had not regressed. The problem is Bowles does not know offense. Now in 2023, he has an 8-8 team that could again win the horrendous NFC South. Also, firing him would be a powder keg given the NFL’s struggle to hire minority coaches. If Bowles makes the playoffs, he is safe. If he loses to 2-14 Carolina and missed the playoffs, his seat should be white hot. Bowles is an admirable man. He has refused to make his race an issue. The problem is that he was selected for the job by Arians because of his race. Arians was determined to hire a minority head coach. The goal is admirable but Bowles is not the best minority candidate. 

What will happen:

Bowles stays if the Buccaneers should eke into the playoffs. This will earn Bowles one more year. He may be gone next year unless he can finally make a deep playoff run with a talented roster. If the Buccaneers miss the playoffs, Bowles should and could be gone. 

New Orleans Saints:

What should happen:

Dennis Allen is a terrific defensive coordinator who is not a head coach. He had a terrible record coaching the Raiders, although to be fair that roster was being deconstructed and reconstructed. Yet Jack Del Rio came in the next year and turned things around. Allen brought in Derek Carr and was supposed to win the NFC South easily. Instead the Saints are on the brink of playoff elimination at 8-8. If the Saints make the playoffs, that could save Allen. Right now they are on the outside looking in.

What will happen:

Allen was given a reprieve last year due to plenty of injuries. This year Allen is out of excuses. He is good guy and a great defensive coordinator. He is not a head coach. There are too many attractive options available for the Saints to settle. Allen is fired, but should be given the option to stay on as defensive coordinator. 

Deserve to stay but will be fired: 

New England Patriots: Bill Belichick

After 24 years and 6 Super Bowls, The Evil Hoodie might be fired by Robert Kraft. Yes, the Patriots are bad, but the idea that the Patriots dynasty was all Tom Brady is contradicted by important evidence. Belichick won two Super Bowls as the defensive coordinator of the Giants before Brady ever stepped on an NFL field. Belichick devised the defensive game plan for two of the greatest upsets in Super bowl history, the 1990 Giants defeating the Bills and the 2001 Patriots defeating the Rams were because his defenses stopped previously unstoppable offenses. In the 2008 season when Brady was out injured, Belichick took a team led by Matt Cassel to an 11-5 record. This Patriots team has a good defense and terrible quarterback play. Maybe Belichick should bring back Josh McDaniels as offensive coordinator. Belichick deserves a lifetime contract and the right to retire on his own terms. If Belichick really wants to torture Kraft, he could take a year off and then finally become the coach of the Jets. That would turn the NFL on its head and make the Bill Parcells feud with Kraft seem like child’s play. Kraft may have had enough of Belichick’s ego, but Belichick deserves the chance to try and turn things around. Kraft will likely try to create as amicable a parting as possible, a move he will regret. Belichick is going. It will be a mistake. 

Washington Commanders: Ron Rivera

This should not be a close call at all. Rivera is a very good coach and a fine leader of men. He is well respected in the community. He represents everything that is right about football. He even led the team last year while battling cancer. He does have to figure out the quarterback situation. Owner Dan Snyder finally sold the team, and a new owner might want a new coach. Rivera is the only thing respectable about management in DC. If he gets thrown under the bus, he will have other teams immediately trying to snap him up. He deserves on more year but will not get it.  

Deserve to be fired but will stay:

Chicago Bears: Matt Eberflus

A few weeks ago Eburflus was uber-flustered and a dead coach walking. After starting 0-4 and 3-8, the Bears have gone 4-1 down the stretch to get to a respectable 7-9. During that span the Bears beat a very good Detroit team and whipped Atlanta by 20 points. If the Bears go into Green Bay and knock the Packers out of the playoffs, Eberlfus is safe. If they lose without getting blown out, he may still get one more year. The Bears have the top pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. No evidence exists that Eberflus can coach, but the strong finish should give him breathing room until next year. 

Deserve to stay and will stay:

Las Vegas Raiders: Antonio Pierce:

What should happen:

Josh McDaniels was an unmitigated disaster. Antonio Pierce has changed the culture of the Raiders. The defense was a mess. Now with Patrick Graham as defensive coordinator, th defense is vastly improved. The secondary is even improved. McDaniels refused to run the ball in obvious running situations, such as in the fourth quarter with a lead. He preferred finesse to smash mouth and failed. Pierce pounds the rock. The Raiders scored a franchise record 63 points in one game. They lost a heart-breaker 3-0 but went into Kansas City and belted them 20-14. Pierce absolutely deserves to have the interim tag removed and become the permanent head coach. 

What will happen:

Mark Davis has to know that the players and the fans love Pierce. He has to know that getting rid of Rich Bisaccia was a mistake. If Jim Harbaugh or Jon Gruden are available, Davis has to grab them. Yet barring those extreme situations, Pierce will rightly be given the full chance Bisaccia never got. Pierce stays.

Tennessee Titans: Mike Vrabel: 

What should happen: Despite consecutive losing seasons, Vrabel should not be in any serious danger. The Titans have been devastated by injuries the last couple of years. Two years ago they were the top seed in the AFC. Last year they started 7-3 before the roof caved in. As tough as this year was, he should be given the chance to turn things around. 

What will happen: Vrabel may be eyeing the New England job if it becomes available. Barring a surprising turn of events, Vrabel is going to stay. He is in a small market with a patient ownership group that allowed Jeff Fisher to stay for 16 years. 

Green Bay Packers: Matt LaFleur

What should happen: As of now LaFleur seems safe as can be, but for the second year in a row the Packers have a do-or-die game at home. Last year in shocking fashion they were knocked out of the playoff race. For the second straight year they face a supposedly inferior team. If LaFleur misses the playoffs again under the same circumstances, he may face some chatter about next year. As long as Jordan Love continues to develop, LaFleur is safe. 

What will happen: Jordan Love has not been spectacular, but he has been good enough. The Packers tend to be a patient organization. As long as Love does not regress, LaFleur is safe. 

New York Jets: Robert Saleh: 

What should happen: Can someone get this man a quarterback? He has a great defense and a horrendous quarterback. Aaron Rodgers lasted four snaps. Not four games…four snaps. Saleh deserves to be given the chance to see what he can do with a healthy Rodgers. 

What will happen: This one is anti-climactic because owner Woody Johnson has already told Saleh that he is coming back next year. Yet if the team does not make the playoffs with a healthy Rodgers under center, then Saleh deserves to be put int he category of great defensive coordinators not able to succeed at the head coaching level. Next year is Saleh’s last chance. 

Lifetime contract to silence the critics:

Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Tomlin

Tomlin is not on any list of coaches being fired. However, in the past, he has been. That speculation needs to end permanently. In 17 years, Tomlin never had a losing season. Yet with Ben Roethlisberger retired and Kenny Pickett a rookie, the 2022 Steelers started 2-6 and 3-7. Again, Tomlin turned them around. He wins with hard-nosed running and defense. The Rooney family should let him stay as long as he wants. At this point, they probably will. They are smart, patient owners, and their loyalty has been rewarded. Tomlin is as good as they get on and off the field. He is another guy who represents the best of football. 

New England Patriots: Bill Belichick

For all the reasons listed above, firing Belichick would be one of the truly idiotic moves in all of sports. 

Seattle Seahawks: Pete Carroll

The oldest coach in the NFL runs around like he is the youngest. He is a positive upbeat cheerleader and the players respond well. He gets more out of less, as his revitalizing Geno Smith has proven. His 8-8 Seahawks may or may not make the playoffs this year, but Carroll has a great working relationship with General Manager John Schneider. He wants to stay and should be allowed to leave on his terms when he is ready to retire.

eric

NFL 2023-2024 NFC Playoff Permutations and Combinations

January 1st, 2024

NFL 2023-2024 NFC Playoff Permutations and Combinations

LOS ANGELES, January 4, 2023 — The first 17 weeks of the 2023 NFL regular season are in the history books. Week 18 is here. 

This week football jargon not used for 51 weeks is said over and over. We learn who controls their own destiny and who needs help making the playoffs. Some years it seems almost everybody has a shot at the playoffs. This year the AFC playoff picture has several possibilities. Only one playoff spot remains for three teams. Everything else is a fight for seeding among teams that have already clinched playoff berths.

This brings my assessment of the 2023-2024 NFC playoff permutations and combinations.

Only the top seed with home-field advantage throughout the playoffs gets the first-round bye.

The AFC Playoff picture is far more straightforward. 

All eight NFC Week 18 games have playoff implications. Only two of the four NFC Divisions have been clinched.

Now for the NFC Playoff picture. 

1.) San Francisco 49ers (12-4): The 49ers have clinched the NFC West. They also locked up the top seed in the NFC, home field advantage throughout the playoffs, and a first round bye. 

2.) Dallas Cowboys (11-5): The Cowboys are tied atop the NFC East and they hold the tie-breaker. They are currently the two seed. If they win next week or Philadelphia loses, the Cowboys clinch the NFC East and remain the two seed. They would host a Wildcard game. If the Cowboys lose and Philadelphia wins, the Cowboys move all the way down to the  five seed Wildcard. The Cowboys would play a road Wildcard playoff game. 

3.) Detroit Lions (11-5): The Lions have clinched the NFC North. Right now they are the three seed. They can finish no lower than the three seed. If they win next against Minnesota and Dallas and Philadelphia both lose, the Lions can move up to the two seed but no higher. The Lions will be hosting a game on Wildcard Weekend. 

4.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-8): The Buccaneers are tied atop the NFC South and they hold the tie-breaker, but they have not have clinched anything. They control their own destiny. Their situation is do-or-die. If the Buccaneers win their Week 18 finale at Carolina, the Buccaneers win the NFC South and are locked into the four seed. They would host a Wildcard playoff game. If the Buccaneers lose, they are out. 

5.) Philadelphia Eagles (11-5): The Eagles are tied atop the NFC East but they do not hold the tie-breaker. They are currently the five seed Wildcard. If they lose next week or Dallas wins, the Eagles remain the five seed. They would play a road Wildcard game. If the Eagles win and Dallas loses, the Eagles clinch the NFC East. The Eagles move all the way up to the two seed. The Eagles would host a Wildcard Weekend playoff game. 

6.) Los Angeles Rams (9-7): The Rams have clinched a Wildcard and cannot finish higher than the six seed. If they lose and Green Bay wins, the Rams fall to the seven seed. They might rest their starters in the regular season finale.  

7:) Green Bay Packers (8-8): The Packers are currently the seven seed. They have not clinched anything. They can only make the playoffs as a Wildcard. Yet they control their own destiny. If they win next week, they clinch the seven seed. If the Packers win and the Rams lose, the Packers move up to the six seed. They can be no higher. Any Wildcard game they play would be on the road. If the Packers lose, they are out.

On the outside looking in:

8:) Seattle Seahawks (8-8): The Seahawks are on the outside looking in. They can only make the playoffs as a Wildcard. Their only hope is to win next week and have Green Bay lose. If that happens, the Seahawks clinch the seven seed. They can be no higher. Any Wildcard game they play would be on the road. If they lose or the Packers win, the Seahawks are out.

9.) New Orleans Saints (8-8): The Saints are on the outside looking in. They are tied for the NFC South lead but do not hold the tie-breaker. If the Saints win their finale against Atlanta and Tampa Bay loses, The Saints would win the NFC West outright. They would be the four seed and host a Wildcard playoff game. If the Saints win but Tampa also wins, the Saints would lose the division tie-breaker but could still make the playoffs if Seattle and Green Bay both lose. In that situation the saints would be the seven seed Wildcard with all their playoff games on the road. If the Saints win, Tampa wins, and either Green Bay or Seattle win, the Saints are out. If the Saints lose, they are out. 

10.)  Atlanta Falcons (7-9): The Falcons are on the outside looking in. They only have one path to the playoffs. If they win their finale against New Orleans and Tampa loses, all three teams would be 8-9. The Falcons would win the tie-breaker and win the NFC South. They would be the four seed and host a Wildcard playoff game. The Falcons cannot make the playoffs as a Wildcard. If the Falcons lose, they are out. 

11.) Minnesota Vikings (7-9): The Vikings are on the outside looking in. They have the longest odds. If they win and Green Bay, New Orleans and Seattle all lose, the Vikings get the seven seed and a road Wildcard game. Otherwise, the Vikings are out.

Here are all eight NFC games with playoff implications:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-8) at Carolina Panthers (2-14)

Dallas Cowboys (11-5) at Washington Commanders (4-12)

Seattle Seahawks (8-8) at Arizona Cardinals (4-12) 

Los Angeles Rams (9-7) at San Francisco 49ers (12-4) 

Philadelphia Eagles (11-5) at New York Giants (5-11) 

Minnesota Vikings (7-9) at Detroit Lions (11-5) 

Atlanta Falcons (7-9) at New Orleans Saints (8-8)

Chicago Bears (7-9) at Green Bay Packers (8-8)

Predictions:

1.) 49ers 12-5 (The 49ers may rest their starters)

2.) Cowboys 12-5

3.) Lions 12-5

4.) Buccaneers 9-8 

5.) Eagles 11-6

6.) Rams 10-7 (assuming the 49ers rest their starters) 

7.) Packers 9-8 

Out: Saints 9-8, Seahawks 8-9, Falcons 7-10

Wildcard Round: 

7.) Packers at 2.) Cowboys

6.) Rams at 3.) Lions

5.) Eagles at 4.) Buccaneers

Divisional Round:

4.) Buccaneers at 1.) 49ers

3.) Lions at 2.) Cowboys

NFC Title Game: 2.) Cowboys at 1.) 49ers

The 49ers have the most complete team in the NFC because of their nasty defense. The Cowboys have an explosive offense but at San Francisco, the 49ers defense will be the difference. They blasted the Cowboys once and will again.

Because of that defense the 49ers will host the George Halas NFC Championship Trophy and reach the Super Bowl. Bringing home the Vince Lombardi Trophy will be very tough. The Baltimore Ravens beat them easily. A rematch would be tougher, but Baltimore would be favored to win it all. 

eric