It’s Playoff Time: Where Dreams Can Come True
The Coach and Dr. Football
January 5, 2018
It’s playoff time in the NFL. That time of year when good teams all have a chance to win a championship and teams with bad quarterbacks – and there are a lot of them – are only a distant memory.
It’s been a pretty horrible year for the NFL. The president of the United States isn’t happy that African-American players protested police brutality by kneeling during various National Anthems. TV ratings dropped across the board, not because of the protests but because the football was, generally, terrible (ratings in New England, Minnesota, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Los Angeles, Buffalo and yes, even San Francisco were way up while ratings in New York, Houston, Chicago, Cleveland, Arizona, Cincinnati, Denver, San Diego, St. Louis and Oakland were way, way down). And the play was terrible because (a) there aren’t enough quarterbacks to go around, and (b) the one quarterback that could have helped some of these horrendous teams wasn’t signed because owners would rather lose by three touchdowns than even attempt to win games because of their personal political views.
The NFL is a mess. But it’s not so big a mess that Jon Gruden can’t come out of the broadcast booth and get a coaching job that provides him with a 10-year contract worth $100 million. The NFL’s problems are at the executive level. The players are playing as hard as they can. They’re desperately trying to win, but ownership is much more concerned about the questions they might be asked at a cocktail party, than they are about providing their coaches, players and fans with the proper tools to win football games.
How else do you explain Cleveland (0-16), Houston (4-12), Indianapolis (4-12), the Giants (3-13), Chicago (5-11), Tampa (5-11), Denver (5-11) and the Jets (5-11)? So much for parity.
But that was then, this is now. It’s going to be tougher for our fearless prognosticators now that all those dreadful football teams have been eliminated. And let’s be completely honest. During the regular season, it was easy to pick winners.
Last week, in the final week of the regular season, Dr. Football went 10-6 (178-78) straight up and 9-7 (146-110) against the spread while The Coach went 11-5 (181-75) straight up and 11-5 (146-110) against the spread. These guys get richer and richer and richer. It was the best season for each prognosticator since 2007.
Then again, with so few good quarterbacks in the NFL, picking winners has never been easier.
Let’s take a close look at the first round of the playoffs. Remember Philadelphia and Minnesota in the NFC and New England and Pittsburgh in the AFC have the byes.
LATE SATURDAY AFTERNOON
Tennessee Titans (9-7) at Kansas City Chiefs (10-6)
Line: Chiefs by 9
Despite the Titans winning the last two at Arrowhead, the Chiefs are the team that beat the Patriots in Week 1. They will want another shot in New England.
Dr. Football: Take the Chiefs to win and cover.
The Coach: Take the Chiefs to win and cover.
Atlanta Falcons (10-6) at Los Angeles Rams (11-5)
Line: Rams by 6.5
The Rams just aren’t ready to take the next step against last year’s Super Bowl losers…Matt Ryan’s experience will be the difference.
Dr. Football: Take the Falcons in an upset.
The Coach: Take the Rams to win and cover.
EARLY SUNDAY AFTERNOON
Buffalo Bills (9-7) at Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6)
Line: Jaguars by 9
The only reason the Bills are playing on Sunday is because Baltimore imploded against Cincinnati.
Dr. Football: Take the Jaguars to win and cover.
The Coach: Take the Jaguars to win and cover.
LATE SUNDAY AFTERNOON
Carolina Panthers (11-5) at New Orleans Saints (11-5)
Line: Saints by 7
New Orleans dominated Carolina during the regular season, and will once again win at home in a shootout.
Dr. Football: Take the Saints to win but not cover.
The Coach: Take the Saints to win and cover.