The divisional round of the NFL playoffs is often the best of the year. That was not the case this past weekend. Only two of the games were remotely competitive, and neither was easy on the eyes, especially the Saints-Eagles game that featured long drives dictated in large part by penalties in one direction or the other. And after all that, the game ended on a dropped-pass turned into a gift interception.
I went 0-3-1 ATS and had to tear up my 18:1 ticket on the Ravens to win the AFC, so I didn’t especially enjoy Wild Card weekend. What’s worse is with the exception of the Cowboys-Seahawks which started at 1:00 am my time, and which I watched via the 40-minute condensed version Sunday morning, I had the indignity of viewing standalone games in real time, something I had mercifully avoided for most of the year. You forget how much the experience consists in sitting through muted commercials and watching officials huddle while the booth uselessly speculates on what we’ll find out minutes later anyway.
I enjoyed Week 17 with the exception of a few terrible penalty calls and the endless reviews during the Browns’ final drive. I understand you want to get the calls right with so much at stake, but people don’t have all day (or in my case all night) to wait around for the lawyers and accountants to sign off on each play. And while the refs did get the two catch calls correct in my opinion on the final drive, they still botched the fumble return on Lamar Jackson’s too-short push at the goal line by blowing the whistle too soon and also called a phantom hold negating a legitimate long Jackson TD run earlier in the game. Why insist on making everyone wait for perfect precision on one class of plays when so many of the others are both flat wrong and unreviewable?
The last Monday night game of the year won’t make us miss it. Phillip Lindsay hurt his wrist, Doug Martin (21-107-1) had a good game and Dwayne Harris outsmarted the Broncos on a 99-yard kick return. That’s pretty much all there is to know. I regret watching even the 40-minute version on Christmas Day, but as my daughter likes to say, “Why did the hero flush the toilet? Because it was his duty.” That more or less sums up my process here. Merry Christmas.
I missed the first half of the early games due to an appointment at the pub, but I caught the second half and all the late games before watching the edited version of Sunday night game this morning. The biggest takeaway for me is there are no great teams this year. The Saints might have lost at home to the Steelers but for some questionable calls and a late fumble, the Chiefs have lost two in a row and don’t play defense, the Patriots lack offensive firepower and struggle on the road and the Rams have struggled for the month, something a decisive win over the Cardinals does not erase. I bought an 18:1 ticket on the Ravens before their game in Los Angeles, and one could have similarly invested in the Eagles (need help), Chargers, Seahawks, Cowboys, Colts and/or Vikings.
I was at Christmas party in London during these games, and everyone including me got pretty pissed, so I missed them live. I got the score the the Redskins-Titans on my phone and couldn’t bring myself to re-watch it, so for that I’ll only comment on the results. For the Ravens – on whom I made a bet to win the AFC at 18:1 before the game – and who were one of my best bets, I saw it was 6-3 at the half, but rewatched the entire edited version of the game from the start. Both the Redskins and Ravens were Supercontest picks too.
From pass protection to run blocking, every aspect of the modern NFL offense runs through the O-line. Aside from skill position players themselves, nothing has a larger impact on the outcome of a play call than the battle up front. In the Offensive Line Overview series, we look at which of the league’s 32 offensive lines are trending up and down.
It’s win or go home, all or nothing: the fantasy championship begins this Saturday. Let’s cut to the chase, and discuss the state of offensive lines around the league.