Well Blitzers, that was quite a show, don’t you think? I don’t think words can describe what I just heard. In this bartender’s opinion, it was the guys' best show of the year. Stats Guy went OFF, Rookie had an epic monologue and well, you can hear it all here:
I’m saving my Super Bowl preview and prediction for next week’s column, as well as my drink of the week for then because THIS week is Blitzed NFL’s 50th Episode! Congrats guys on all the hard work, booze and procrastinating. Your livers thank you, and by that, I mean they really, really hate you. Coach still doesn’t know the name of my blog (it's called Behind the Sticks damn it… have you even read one thing I’ve written?) and I continue to be blamed for everything. Ah, I can feel the love. In honor of your 50th episode, I have decided to write the NFL a letter. Enjoy.
Dearest NFL and Commissioner Goodell,
It's me, the Blitzed Barkeep! I’d like to start off by saying this NFL season went by very fast. As you most likely know, we here at Blitzed like to drink and talk football. I’d like to air some thanks and some complaints out here about how this season went.
Thank you for giving us Andrew Luck back. Without him, there would be no Captain Andrew Luck twitter account, one of the funniest accounts on twitter. Simple yet hilarious.
Take back your referees and give us new ones. From start to finish they were awful yet again, culminating with that missed pass interference call in New Orleans as well the ever-phantom roughing the passer calls on Tom Brady. Did it hurt Tom?
Thank you for rookies such as Saquon Barkley, Darius Leonard, Derwin James, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield and Phillip Lindsay. They continue to raise the bar and expectations for players coming into the league and were fun to watch.
Get rid of Thursday games. All it seems to do it cause a major injury to a star player (Richard Sherman, Doug Baldwin) as players don’t have enough recovery time after a Sunday game. Yeah it's nice for us to have games to watch during the week but they aren't usually competitive games and the players hate them. Plus if it's our team that's playing, it makes our Sundays boring and that much longer of a wait 'til the next Sunday.
Thank you for Patrick Mahomes. He burst onto the scene this year with Mahomes Magic and took the game to another level. He was a pleasure to watch and even more exciting to see take over the top spot in the AFC from the Patriots (baby steps people, baby steps). He’s going to be really good for a really long time.
For Pete's sake figure out what your penalties are! Are we calling a lowering the helmet call? Are we calling targeting? What the hell is a catch? And for god’s sake, what the hell is roughing the passer? Is it the same criteria for Tom Brady as it is for Cam Newton?
Thank you to the Kansas Chiefs for letting Kareem Hunt go after he was not honest and upfront about his situation regarding a woman in February. While I wish the statement released had said that they released him for simply attacking a woman and they will not stand for that, I applaud them for standing up for what’s right, valuing morals over talent. He will get a second chance somewhere next year after accepting his penalty but the message was delivered by Kansas City.
Similarly, NFL you need to be a bit more firm in your values and morals and not allow offenders to get third and fourth chances in your league. I may ruffle a few feathers here but people such as Josh Gordon getting so many chances frustrates me. There needs to be a better system in place regarding offenders getting the privilege to earn millions of dollars to play a game and be a role model to young people across the world.
Thank you for rivalries. They make the games better. They’re more competitive. The fans get into it and hate each other. The teams hate each other. More importantly, everyone circles those dates on their calendars and look forward to it every, single year. Seahawks - Niners; Broncos - Chiefs; Chiefs - Raiders; Ravens- Steelers; Bears- Packers; Cowboys- Insert NFC East Team Here; and lastly, Patriots vs Anyone. I mean look at those match ups! They hate each other and we dig it.
Get rid of London and Mexico City games. London games start at 9:30ET and 6:30PT and teams give up one of their home games for it. The stadium conditions are awful and fans there are not true home fans. Not to mention that teams such as the Chargers flew 6,000 miles for one of their ‘home’ games. I can’t honestly believe that the idea for a Super Bowl, an American HOLIDAY was actually floated to be played across the pond. Most people don’t even like the idea of the regular season being played there.
Thank you for the friendships, family gatherings and bonds that have brought people together for years because of their teams. Relationships have been built (and let’s face it, broken apart) because of the team loyalties that have gotten people through hard times as well as happy times together. Without the NFL, we wouldn’t have these relationships. For that, we do thank you. For most of us, we can’t wait until next year.
Lastly, stop letting the Patriots and especially Tom Brady get to the Super Bowl. We don’t like him. We don’t like them. Look at the declining price of secondary market Super Bowl tickets since the Pats got in. We're tired of seeing them in the Super Bowl. We’re tired of Julian Edelman. We’re tired of Gronk. We’re tired of Belichick. We’re tired of Kraft and his stupid white collars. Most of all, we’re tired of the Patriot fans walking around like they’re high and mighty because they've only known a Patriots team that's exceptional. Enough already. When you put an end to that, the rest of the NFL will start to love you a little more again. K? Go Rams.
The Blitzed Barkeep
Ok… on to the important stuff. Gentlemen (and I use that term loosely) this week I have prepared for your 50th episode a take on the classic Manhattan called the Mile-High Manhattan. I wanted you to have something you would enjoy on the this show and hopefully this would be it! If you don’t like it - oh well. I’m sure you’ll just hit some straight shots of Maker's Mark anyway.
MILE HIGH MANHATTAN
2 oz Maker’s Mark Bourbon
½ oz Vanilla Liqueur
½ oz Grand Marnier Liqueur
1 dash Chocolate Bitters
1 dash Orange Bitters
Blitzed Build: Combine ingredients into a shaker with ice. Stir gently and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with cherry or orange rind.
Well Blitzers, that’s all from your Blitzed Barkeep for now. Remember to drink responsibly, take Brady’s name in vain and always give your keys to a friend if you’ve had too much. Tune in to the Blitzed NFL podcast next Tuesday to hear the guys review this week’s drink of the week as well as preview and give their prediction for the Super Bowl. I’m guessing it will not end pleasantly for the Patriots.
Hello, Blitzers, and welcome to a very special edition of, “Shots with MZE.” We saw two great NFL conference championship games fuelled in large part by atrocious officiating. The AFC tilt saw a roughing the passer penalty called on the Chiefs for, horror of horrors, touching Tom Brady on the shoulder! (I know Gisele is a jealous wife but this is a bit extreme). That penalty was nothing compared to what went down in the Big Easy. By now you've probably all seen the replay of Rams CB Nickell Robey-Coleman running through Saints WR TommyLee Lewis the way bad Thai food runs through your colon. The pass interference penalty should have set the Saints up to put the game away with a field goal, sending them to the Super Bowl. Thing is, no call was made. The Rams got the ball back, tied the game in regulation, and after Drew Brees threw an overtime interception, Greg Zuerlein finished off the comeback with a 57-yard field goal. “Who Dat” nation began screaming, “What the Hell was Dat?”
An uproar for NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, to invoke Rule 17, Section 2, Article 3, to have the game resumed from the point of the missed penalty. Saints faithful can file lawsuits and erect as many billboards as they want, but know that even though the rule exists - it has never been used before - in the history of the NFL. Still it got me to thinking about another sport where protesting has actually worked a few times in the past. I present to you three examples in Major League Baseball where a protest was made and upheld.
St. Louis Cardinals v Philadelphia Phillies
August 1, 1971
The Cardinals entered this day eight games out of first place in the N.L. East with the Phillies being all but done at 21.0 games out (ah the simple days of baseball divisions when each league had just two). The game was played at the Veterans Stadium, the Phillies brand new home at the time. Through nine innings the score was tied at three. In the top half of the 12th the Cardinals had runners on the corners with none out when the rains led to a one hour, 49 minute delay. Conditions were a mess but play continued. The Cardinals pushed three runs across before play was stopped again. They were 31 minutes into the delay when the rain removal machine broke down and the field could not be made playable. Under the rules the entire top half of the inning should have been wiped out and replayed. The Cardinals would have none of it and protested.
The protest was upheld and the game resumed on September 7th. The last-place Phillies mustered up some pride and in the bottom of the 12th scored three runs of their own to keep the game going. Why? You’re in last place. Just take your three outs and go drink some beers. Thankfully the game would last just one more inning as the Cardinals scored three more times in the 13th to finally outlast the Phillies, 9-6.
Houston Astros v New York Mets
August 21, 1979
Talk about insanity for no apparent reason. The Mets were cruising 5-0 in their home game against the Astros. Houston was clinging to a 2 ½ game lead in the N.L. West while the Mets were holding up the N.L. East from the bottom, 20 games out of first place. On this night, the two teams looked like they’d switched places. The Mets pushed across a single run in the second inning with a pair in each of the 4th and 5th innings. Meanwhile starting pitcher, Pete Falcone, was cruising. He’d allowed four hits in 8 2/3 innings. He induced Jeffrey Leonard to pop out to center field. Game over, right? Wrong. Mets shortstop, Frank Taveras, had called for a time out prior to the pitch. Now for some reason it took a while to determine this so the Mets had already left the field and had to be called back. This time Leonard singled to center field…with only eight Mets on defense. Ed Kranepool, Mets first baseman, hadn’t made it to the field on time.
Mets manager, Joe Torre, argued that the game couldn’t resume with eight men on the field. The umpires agreed with Torre and Leonard was brought back to the plate for a third time. Now it was Astros manager, Bill Virdon’s, chance to talk. He wanted all pitches thrown to Leonard while Kranepool was off the field wiped out with the count going back to 0-0. The umpires would have none of it. Virdon protested and after, Leonard flied out to left field ending the game…not! Virdon’s protest was upheld by National League President, Chubb Feeney, and Leonard was given back his single. The game would resume the following night with two outs and Leonard on first. Jose Cruz was the first batter after the protest and would ground out to second base finally ending the game. Poor Pete Falcone. His own two teammates cost him a complete game shutout in an otherwise miserable year.
Kansas City Royals v New York Yankees
July 24, 1983
The Royals/Yankees rivalry in the 70s and 80s was a big deal. The two teams were regular combatants in the playoffs. On this July day the Yankees found themselves only two games out of first place in the American League East while the Royals were two out in the American League West. The Yankees carried a 4-3 lead into the top half of the 9th inning. Billy Martin elected to let Dale Murray try finishing off the win. He recorded the first two outs before allowing a single to shortstop, U.L. Washington. With future Hall of Famer, George Brett, due up next, Martin went to his own future Hall of Famer, Rich “Goose” Gossage, to close out the win. Gossage delivered a fastball that Brett hammered over the right field wall at Yankee Stadium and the Royals had a 5-4 lead…temporarily. Yankees third baseman held an ace up his sleeve. He had noticed that the pine tar on Brett’s bat had crept a little too far up the barrel of his bat.
The umpires gathered with home plate umpire, Tim McClelland, placing the bat against home plate to measure the pine tar. There was no question that it was well above league rules. McClelland pointed to the Royals bench and signaled out. Yankees Third Baseman, Greg Nettles, proud of himself, pounded a fist into his glove as the Yankees had seemingly stole a 4-3 win. In one of the most memorable scenes in my lifetime, Brett went bat shit crazy and came flying off the Royals bench, spewing tobacco spit like venom (see: low resolution pic above). The Royals immediately protested the result and the league relented. The game would resume on August 18th with the Royals back ahead, 5-4. Billy Martin held his own private protest. He played the left-handed Don Mattingly at second base (for those who don’t follow baseball this isn’t just highly unusual, it’s unheard of), and pitcher, Ron Guidry, in center field. Martin then had George Frazier, who in the resumed game had replaced Gossage on the mound, appeal that Brett missed first and second base. Someone in the league offices must have gotten wind of this plan as a notarized letter was handed to Martin stating that Brett and U.L. Washington had touched all bases back on July 24th. The Yankees would go down without a threat in the bottom of the 9th and the Royals would finally get their pine-tar aided win.
So, even though the prospect of a reversal in New Orleans looks bleak, there is precedent of protests working in other pro sports leagues. So don't lose faith, Who Dat Nation. You never know.
There you have our first ever “Shots with MZE” crossover post. What do you think? Should we see more protests in the NFL? I’m sure Roger Goodell would just love that.
Until next time, put your name on your red Solo cup so nobody takes it, don’t let anyone interfere with your ability to grab a cold one, and if you must protest do it to make Tom Brady’s retirement after this season mandatory.
Please read the blogs of my colleagues while you’re here. They do amazing work.
Yours in football,
Mike Zimmers Ears is a Minnesota Vikings fan and regular contributor on Blitzed. He also hosts his own Vikings podcast Sound the Gjallahorn.
Welcome to Championship Weekend Blitzers! This week’s show didn’t disappoint! Stats Guy had an epic rant and went off on the Chargers golden opportunity all while the guys did their regular amazing job on yet another fantastic podcast. They loved the Philly Special Cocktail, and knowing the guys taste for whiskey, as well as their disdain for the Patriots, I hope they like what I’ve served up for them below. If you missed what happened on this week’s show, you can catch the podcast here:
This past week actually delivered some pretty disappointing games in terms of excitement. Your Barkeep went 2-2, missing on the Chargers (see Stats guy’s epic rant above) as well the Colts. Both were pretty poor showings by the visiting teams with regards to offensive performances but not shocking with how the games results turned out. I was hoping for a Chargers Colts AFC Championship game but hey, I have zero control over that. Either way, off to Championship weekend we go!
AFC Championship Preview
WHY NEW ENGLAND WILL WIN:
**Editor Apology: Unfortunately, this is the only photo of Tom Brady we have on file.
Okay, seriously though, it’s the playoffs, its New England, they have Tom Brady and they always find a way to win. New England has made 8 straight AFC Championship games and basically is made for January football. Their offense is not nearly as explosive or as potent as Kansas City’s but their defense is better. They can, however, methodically and surgically move down the field and keep Kansas City off the field so they can’t put points on the board. I expect New England to do this, and do this well. They also have an excellent running game with Michel, Burkhead and James White, who doubles as a wide receiver. Expect New England to play a ball control game, Brady to do his typical 5-yard dink and dunk down the field and New England to be efficient all while waiting to throw those daggers. Don’t expect the weather to phase the Evil Empire but do expect Tom Brady to come out gunning for a 9th Super Bowl.
WHY KANSAS CITY WILL WIN:
They have the better offense, and they’re playing at home. The offense in KC this year has truly been impressive. Patrick Mahomes is most likely going to win the MVP and they really haven’t skipped a beat with the dismissal of Kareem Hunt. Last week, their defense played a vital role in shutting down a red-hot Indianapolis offense They’ll need that defense again this week to keep New England from engineering those patented 9-minute drives so their offense can put points on the board. If Kansas City can control the game and play it at their speed, they will come out victorious and head to their first Super Bowl since 1970. The problem is, they may play too fast for their own good which New England will exploit by making key defensive stops. As I said above, Kansas City really needs their defense to step up this week as I think their offense will be just fine at home. If that happens, I think Kansas City has too much firepower for New England to keep up with this year and is able to come away in this one.
Blitzed Prediction: Chiefs 38 Patriots 37
NFC Championship Preview
WHY LOS ANGELES WILL WIN:
They have weapons on both sides of the ball, they have Sean McVay and they have Todd Gurley. At the start of this season, there were people who thought this team was so talented, they could actually go undefeated and that the Super Bowl Championship was all but theirs. They spent money on free agent after free agent, Jared Goff improved by leaps and bounds thanks to the offensive ingenuity of Sean McVay and they had all-world running back Todd Gurley. Yet here they are, IN New Orleans and not Los Angeles as the second seed as an underdog. Not quite a jaw dropper, but not quite the season one expected out of LA. Lops Angeles will win this game if they do three things- keep New Orleans off the field by running ball like they did last week, locking down Michael Thomas and not allowing New Orleans to control the game with Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. Los Angeles’ weakness is their run defense and New Orleans will look to exploit that. By taking away the play action with Michael Thomas and focusing on stopping the run, Los Angeles will come out on top in this one.
WHY NEW ORLEANS WILL WIN:
They’re at home, the crowd will be insanely loud, they have Drew Brees, and their backfield duo of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram are dynamic. First, don’t downplay the environment that Los Angeles is going into. The crowd will cause 3 or 4 penalties alone on offense as well as not allow that Ram offensive line to get the normal burst off the line due to the fact that they will be using silent counts. Second, Drew Brees always plays well at home. He, like Patrick Mahomes, is an MVP candidate who had one of his best seasons of his career and is looking to cap it with a trip to the Super Bowl. He’s hungry and was not happy with how it ended in Minnesota last year. Finally, the Rams weakest point in their defense is the run game and New Orleans has two very good running backs. They can run it as well as catch it effectively and New Orleans will utilize their ground game quite a bit in this game to control the clock. If New Orleans is able to do all of the above, they will win this game.
Blitzed Prediction: Rams 35 Saints 23
And now for your Championship Drink of the Week. This week, the guys are drinking the Mahomes Magic Old Fashioned. This is my good luck charm (hopefully) since I’ll be rooting for Kansas City to knock off the defending AFC Champions. After all, I’m a Bills Fan and this is Blitzed NFL. It’s the only way to go. Gentlemen, and I use that term loosely, your cocktail:
Mahomes Magic Old Fashioned
1.0 oz. whiskey
1 oz. tart cherry juice
0.5 oz. amaretto
0.5 oz. ginger brandy
2.0 oz. cola
5 maraschino cherries
Blitzed Barkeep Build: Add maraschino cherries to the bottom of the glass and muddle until smashed. Add ice. In a cocktail shaker, add the whiskey, tart cherry juice, amaretto, and brandy, shaking for 15 seconds to combine. Strain into rocks glass over ice, top off with cola.
New England and Tom Brady in particular, has had their time to shine. I’m ready for another team to move into the spotlight in the AFC and this drink is my gift to the guys for this week. Let’s hope that next Tuesday, there are no tears in this Old Fashioned. I can only imagine what Stats Guy will do if Kansas City loses this week…
Well Blitzers, that’s all from your Blitzed Barkeep for now. Remember to drink responsibly, take Brady’s name in vain and always give your keys to a friend if you’ve had too much. Tune in to the Blitzed NFL podcast next Tuesday to hear the guys review this week’s drink of the week and recap all of the action during Championship Weekend.
Hello Blitzers and welcome to another edition of, “Shots with MZE.” In some of my earlier blog posts (What do you mean you didn’t read them? Alright get caught up. Go ahead. I’ll wait.) I talked about quarterbacks who stepped off of the sidelines and into the limelight - and played spectacularly, just like Nick Foles is doing. It got me thinking that there must be more of them. So your old pal, MikeZimmersEars decided to do some digging to find other backups that answered the call when needed and exceeded expectations. Without further ado, here we go.
Earl Morrall (1972 Miami Dolphins)
The perfect season. No one before or since has done it and if not for Earl Morrall’s efforts off of the bench, we still may not have it. This Dolphins team was led by its “No-Name Defense” that ranked first in yards and points allowed. The offense had two 1,000 yard rushers in Larry Csonka (1,117 yards) and Mercury Morris (1,000 yards). In the team’s week five game against the San Diego Chargers, starting QB, Bob Griese, broke his leg and dislocated an ankle. It was time for the 38-year old Morrall to lead the team. Morrall was not new to stepping in for a star. In 1969 he took over as the Colts signal caller when Johnny Unitas went down in the final exhibition game of the season. He led that team to a 13-1 record and the Super Bowl, where they’d lose to the Jets and their brash, young quarterback, Joe Namath. Under Morrall, the 1972 Dolphins didn’t skip a beat. He’d start the final nine regular season games, winning them all. The Dolphins averaged just under 30 points per game in his starts and his QBR of 91.0 was actually far superior to the 71.6 of Griese. While Griese would return for the playoffs and would cap off the perfect season with a Super Bowl win, it might not have been possible without the man many have called the best backup QB the game ever had.
Jeff Hostetler (1990 New York Giants)
This Giants squad was built on defense, in particular its linebackers, Harry Carson, Carl Banks, and Lawrence Taylor. They led the NFL in points allowed and were second in yards given up. The offense didn’t have to be great, just good enough. Their starting quarterback was Phil Simms, serviceable if never really spectacular. Simms was having a solid season with a TD/INT ratio of 15/4 and QBR of 92.7 and the Giants carried an 11-2 record into its Week 15 game against the Buffalo Bills. The Giants dropped the contest, 17-13 but more importantly Simms broke his foot, ending his season. In stepped Jeff Hostetler. “Hoss” had been with the Giants since he was drafted in 1985. He carried a total of two starts into the season and at one point was the 3rd string QB behind Jeff Rutledge. Let that sink in for a minute. Hostetler led the Giants to a 24-21 win over a bad Cardinals team followed by a 13-10 win over a Patriots team that went 1-15 on the season. If “Hoss” was looking to build a resume, he was going to be lucky to get hired as a fry cook.
The G-Men carried a 13-3 record into their first playoff game against the Bears. Hostetler was steady, throwing two TD passes and running for another, although it was 194 yards from the Giants ground game and the stifling defense that led them to a 31-3 win. The conference title game pitted the Giants against the 49ers at Candlestick Park. Hostetler threw for just 176 yards in the conference championship but didn’t turn the ball over. The two teams combined for 28 points, 22 of them coming from kickers. After falling behind 13-6 on a Joe Montana to John Taylor 61-yard strike, the Giants would score the final nine points of the game and advanced to the Super Bowl and a rematch against the Week 15 foe, the Buffalo Bills. Hostetler would have his best game of the playoffs in terms of yardage, throwing for 222 yards. The game went down to the wire and will always be remembered with two words: wide right (sorry Bills fans). The Giants won 20-19, took home the Lombardi, and the steady and unspectacular Jeff Simms…uh Phil Hostetler…whatever his name was, had a 5-0 record and a Super Bowl ring.
Tim Tebow (2011 Denver Broncos)
The 2011 Denver Broncos season was off to a difficult start. They were 1-4 under Kyle Orton as they headed into their bye week. Maybe it happened by divine intervention but when the team hit the field for Week 7, Tim Tebow was their starting QB. Tebow was a Heisman Trophy winner at the University of Florida and was the 25th player taken in the 2010 NFL Draft. His first start would end in an overtime win over the Miami Dolphins. The Broncos would lose his next start against the Detroit Lions but they’d rally to win their next six games with Tebow at the helm, two more of which came in overtime. Denver would lose its final three regular season games, finishing at 8-8 but qualifying for the playoffs by winning a mediocre AFC West. That gave them a home game against a Steelers team that went 12-4 (because that makes logical sense).
On paper this was a mismatch but that paper may have been made from the same materials the Shroud of Turin was. After falling behind 6-0, the Broncos would score 20 unanswered points in the second quarter and led 20-6 at the half. After falling behind 23-13, the Steelers would score the final 10 points of regulation and the game headed into overtime. The Broncos got the ball first in overtime. Tebow was not known for his throwing accuracy but on the first snap of the overtime he let it rip and hit Demaryius Thomas in stride for an 80-yard touchdown and a shocking playoff win, Tebow’s fourth OT victory in 12 starts. The Tebow magic ended the following week in the Divisional round when the Broncos lost 45-10 to the Patriots. Sadly not the first time a saint lost to a sinner.
Case Keenum (2017 Minnesota Vikings)
The Vikings were coming off of a disappointing 2016 season. Sam Bradford, who was brought in when Teddy Bridgewater had a horrific preseason injury, would be the starter heading into 2017. Sam had the reputation of being injury prone. I actually believe he could pull a hamstring dreaming about scrambling out of the pocket. He managed to make it through two games in 2017 before suffering a non-contact knee injury that would sideline him for the season. The Vikings turned to journeyman QB, Case Keenum. The Vikings were Keenum’s third team in four NFL seasons and his overall record as a starter was 11-15. He’d make his first Vikings start against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, throwing for 369 yards and three TDs. He’d lose his next start against the Lions in a game that saw Vikings hot rookie RB, Dalvin Cook, lost for the season to injury. Keenum would not lose again until Week 14 on the road against the Carolina Panthers. It would be the team’s last regular season loss of 2017. The pinnacle of the season would unfortunately happen in the Divisional Round of the NFC playoffs on a play forever to be remembered in Vikings lore as, “The Minneapolis Miracle” (although I prefer calling it the Heist at U.S. Bank), when Keenum hit Stefon Diggs for a 61-yard walk off touchdown that knocked the New Orleans Saints from the playoffs and put the Vikings in position to be the first NFL team to ever play in its home stadium for the Super Bowl. But then…
Nick Foles (2017 Philadelphia Eagles)
Philly fans had a lot to cheer about during the 2017 season. Their young quarterback, Carson Wentz, was making plays with his arm and legs and the Eagles were 11-2 through 13 games. Wentz, however, would tear his ACL against the Rams in Week 14 thus ending his season. Many Eagles fans led a preemptive strike, conceding the season to bad luck as Nick Foles would be behind center for the rest of the way. The tales of the Eagles demise were greatly exaggerated. Foles won the two starts that mattered, losing only to the Cowboys in the final week after home field had been wrapped up. In the Divisional round Foles threw for 246 yards in the Eagles 15-10 win over the Falcons, including a miracle bounce completion near the end of the half that led to a key Eagles field goal (maybe he really IS Saint Nick). Foles would be brilliant against the Vikings in the NFC title game as he threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-7 win. He would cap off the amazing run by throwing for 374 yards and four touchdowns and catching a TD pass in a 41-33 Super Bowl win over the New England Patriots. Foles was named Super Bowl MVP and it has been rumored that should he leave Philadelphia, his replacement will be named only after a puff of green smoke is emitted from a chimney perched atop Lincoln Financial Field.
Those are just a few quarterbacks who got their chance and made good like when Dick Sargent replaced Dick York on Bewitched and killed it, right? Just watch the reruns. You’ll agree.
Until next time Blitzers, dress in layers if you’re outdoors for playoff games in the north, make sure you wipe down that bowling ball before you do a shot from it, and always swipe left when you see a picture of Tom Brady.
Please read the blogs of my colleagues, Blitzed Barkeep and Blitzed Fantasy who do outstanding work.
Mike Zimmers Ears is a Minnesota Vikings fan and regular contributor on Blitzed. He also hosts his own Vikings podcast Sound the Gjallahorn.
Welcome back for another edition of Playoffs DFS here at Blitzed. I hope those of you who read last week listened a little bit, as two out of our three calls (Ezekiel Elliott and Allen Robinson) went fucking bonkers and were definitely on some tournament winning rosters. We can only hope to recreate that success this week as we get closer and closer to the Super Bowl. In this piece, I’ll list 3 plays that stand out to me in this very interesting divisional round.
Andrew Luck, QB
Indianapolis Colts @ Kansas City Chiefs
DraftKings Salary: $6200
In general, I don’t like paying up too high at Quarterback in DFS. This week could be a little bit different though as the red hot Andrew Luck has a sweet and juicy matchup against the Chiefs and their vulnerable defense. On the season, the KC defense gave up the 5th most fantasy points to QBs and this game has all of the makings of a potential shootout. Sign me up for some of that action, boss. Captain Andrew Luck and his trusty sidearm could be forced into a lot of action on the road against the explosive Chiefs offense. I’m going to try and fit Luck in my lineup in both cash and tournament games this weekend.
Damien Williams, RB
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Indianapolis Colts
DraftKings Salary: $5100
Can you tell that I’m a big fan of the IND-KC matchup this week? Normally, I spend up at Running Back in DFS and try to fill in the other spots with players in decent matchups. But, this week I’m not in love with the top tier guys except maybe Alvin Kamara at home against the Eagles. And because of that being the case, I can see myself spending up at QB and WR and trying to find the mid-range plays at RB. This leads me to Damien Williams. It appears that Williams has taken the backfield over in KC after the suspension of piece of shit Kareem Hunt and the injury to Spencer Ware near the end of the season. The Colts have been pretty good against RBs, but it’s very difficult to avoid a lead back in an offense like the one the Chiefs have. Just make sure you select the right Williams on DK because I’m pretty sure the Chiefs have like 10 of them.
Golden Tate, WR
Philadelphia Eagles vs. New Orleans Saints
DraftKings Salary: $4600
My favorite WR play of the week is definitely Michael Thomas going against the Eagles secondary who has guys playing that not even the guys who update the rosters on Madden have heard of. But, to save you some money so you can spend up, let me introduce you to the Golden Taint. Tate has a glorious individual matchup this week against the Saints nickel corner PJ Williams. For the most part, the Saints have improved over the season, but Williams on the other hand, he #sucksbutts. Tate should eat him up on the inside and if Big Dick Nick Foles can continue his impressive play, I see Tate being a great play this weekend in the SuperDome.
Good luck to everyone this week! Thanks for reading!
Hank Mardukas is the #TeamBlitzed Fantasy expert. You can follow him on Twitter at @Blitzed_Fantasy.
Welcome to Divisional Weekend Blitzers! I’d also love to welcome back Rookie to the podcast! Clipboard Guy did an OK job filling in for you last week and it appears, according to the guys that you are expendable. Don’t tell them I told you that! I personally missed you and was glad to hear you were back. The drinks of choice this week left me a bit perplexed until I heard the reasoning for it. If you missed what the guys were drinking or why they were drinking it, you can catch the podcast here.
For all our Bear Down fans from #TeamBlitzed out there, to watch that ball go seemingly in slow motion to the left was agonizing. I’m a Bills fan. I know what it feels like but to the other side of the post (wide right anyone?). I promise it does get better and you have a bright future ahead of you. For all the other average NFL fans, Wild Card weekend was fun to watch. Your Barkeep was nearly perfect in his predictions until Nick Foles (yes that Nick Foles yet again) spoiled my fun. I’ll take 3 out of 4 and move on to the Divisional Round. I must say I’m pretty excited for these ‘Games of the Week’. Lets take a look at what we are in store for…
WILD CARD WEEKEND PREVIEW
Indianapolis Colts (10-6) @ Kansas City Chiefs (11-5)
Oh boy, Oh boy, oh boy. Who is not excited about this match up? Patrick Mahomes vs Andrew Luck? I don’t see anyway how this game will disappoint us in excitement. Kansas City comes into the playoffs as the #1 seed in the AFC, with home field advantage after accumulating a 12-4 record (7-1 at home). They come in as the #1 ranked offense in the NFL in numerous categories including scoring, yards, TDs, scoring %, average yards per drive and average points per drive. Patrick Mahomes has been lights out throwing for 5,097 yards, 50 TDs and only 12 INTs. After Kareem Hunt’s release, he is also the team’s leading rusher at 272 yards with 2 more TDs. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce form a dynamic receiving combo (combined over 2,700 yards and 22 TDs) that can score from anywhere in the field. However, where they are so dynamic on offense, they are lacking in defense- they rank 31st in total defense and 24th in scoring defense. They also rank 31st in pass defense which does not bode well against Andrew Luck.
Luck was second only to Mahomes in the AFC this year with 4,593 yards and 39 TDs. On offense, the Colts are ranked 7th in total offense while averaging 386.2 yds/gm and ranked 5th in scoring at 27.1 points per game. This difference in this game is where Indianapolis has improved over Kansas City: on defense. Indianapolis is ranked 11th giving up 339.4 yards per game and gives up 21.5 points per game. I think this combination of the potent offense (and KC’s leaky defense), as well as the fundamentally sound Indianapolis defense is what will be the difference in this game. The Colts continue to be the hottest team in the NFL and have an offensive line that just doesn’t let anyone get to their quarterback. Their defense is also continuing to play lights out and will do enough to contain Mahomes and company. I like the Colts to control the tempo of the game, sustain long drives by effectively running Mack and Luck spreading the wealth. Indianapolis moves on to the AFC championship game in a shoot-out.
Blitzed Prediction: Colts 42 Chiefs 38
Dallas Cowboys (10-6) @ Los Angeles Rams (13-3)
As I stated last week, Dallas didn’t really impress me until after the Amari Cooper trade and they seem to be a much different team at home. They have just steadily improved as the season has progressed and sure enough, they took out the Seahawks in Dallas as I predicted. The Rams are not Seattle and they not in Dallas. Dallas does bring the 7th ranked total defense, along with the 6th ranked scoring defense. They do rank 8th in TDs allowed and 5th in rushing yards allowed on the season, which is especially important considering the health of Todd Gurley is in question. But again, they’re not in Dallas anymore.
These Rams had high expectations, or shall we say Super expectations, coming into this season and they’re not about the take their foot off the pedal now. They rank 2nd in total offense, 2nd in scoring offense, 3rd in rushing, 2nd in rushing TDs, 5th in passing and seem to be able to adjust their game plan at will when a defense shuts down one aspect of their offense or another. They have playmakers at every skill position on both sides of the ball and appear ready to take the next step this year, that was so close to their reach last year. Their defense can be suspect at times but Dalla’s offense only ranks 22nd in both total offense and scoring offense. I don’t see a need to worry much here.
The health of Gurley will be an important factor when it comes down to it but I don’t think it will influence the outcome of the game. The Rams are at home, have a next man up attitude and clearly the better team on paper. They are talented at every position on the field and there is no reason to think they won’t come out victorious in this one at home. The only question is, will they show up and take the Cowboys seriously at home or will they already be looking past them towards New Orleans?
Blitzed Prediction: Rams 30 Cowboys 13
Los Angeles Chargers (12-4) @ New England Patriots (11-5)
The Chargers had their way with the Ravens for 3 and ½ quarters last Sunday before Lamar Jackson went to work. Unfortunately, it was too late and I think part of it was that the Chargers simply just took their foot off the gas and went into prevent defense (am I the only one who hates prevent defense?).
As I said last week, it can be argued that the Chargers are the most balanced team in the AFC and perhaps the NFL. They have play makers on both sides of the ball with Philip Rivers in the conversation for MVP (4,308 yds, 32 TDs and 12 INTs), three-down RB Melvin Gordon (885 yds rushing, 10 TDs; 50 rec, 490 yds, 4 TDs) and Keenan Allen (97 rec, 1,196 yds 6 TDs) on offense. On defense, they have potential defensive rookie of the year in CB Derwin James while wrecking balls Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa cause havoc on opposing quarterbacks. When you look at their overall statistics, they are the 11th ranked team in total offense and the 9th ranked team in total defense. The pieces are there to finally knock off the Patriots. At home. In the playoffs.
Tom Brady looks mortal. In fact, he hasn’t really looked good for five or six weeks. Rob Gronkowski has been battling injuries all year and it may seem his career is coming to a close. Through it all, New England still managed to rank 5th in total offense, and 4th in scoring offense. They were surprisingly effective in the run this year ranking 5th while coming in as the 4th ranked team in rushing TDs. Their defense was the anomaly however, ranking 21st in total D but in true New England fashion only allowing 325 total points (that bend don’t break always seem to be a staple for Bill Belicheck). That was good enough to rank 7th in scoring defense. Yet, New England still has looked beatable in a lot of their games this year. Perhaps its because they have been so dominant for the past decade that New England’s mediocre is good in the rest of our eyes.
This is tough game to predict. Los Angeles is a balanced team and has been a really good team on the road this year. They’ve knocked off Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Seattle and Baltimore on the road, as well as won a game half way around the globe in London. If there is a team that can beat New England, at home, in the playoffs, I’m pushing my chips in on this Chargers team. I think they have the swagger, the talent and the coaching staff to finally break through to knock off the defending AFC champs at home in a tough, hard fought victory. I like the Chargers in the upset here, although I’m not sure how confident I am because let’s face it- its Tom Brady and it’s the playoffs.
Blitzed Prediction: Los Angeles 24 New England 23
Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) @ New Orleans Saints (13-3)
DOINK. That’s the sound Philadelphia fans are thanking right now for being in New Orleans (Sorry Chicago fans- remember it wasn’t a miss, it was a block). I’m not really sure Philadelphia continues to do it. Nick Foles seems to be a better fit in Philadelphia than Carson Wentz and I’ve begun to question when the Eagles will begin to entertain trades for him. Philadelphia is a fundamentally sound, gritty, hard-nosed team that has a will to win, starting with their quarterback. He’s 10-2 as a starter for the Eagles. He’s won a Super Bowl and a Super Bowl MVP. Career-wise he’s 19-11 (Wentz is 18-11), thrown for 52 TDs, 18 INTs (Wentz is 49 TDs and 21 TDs) and Foles actually has a higher QBR (61 to 60). That’s what Philly has going for them right now- there’s no drop off at the quarterback position. If anything, they may have upgraded.
However, they travel to New Orleans to meet the #1 seed in the NFC. At 13-3 (6-2 at home, ironically losing the first and last games of the year), the Saints are dominant on both sides of the ball. Drew Brees is the heart and soul of this team and the potential NFL MVP this year. He completed an ungodly 74.4% (NFL Record) of his passes for 3,992 yards and 32 TDs while only being intercepted 5 times. His offense was ranked 8th in total yards and 3rd in scoring offense. Michael Thomas is considered by many to be one of the best WR in the league while the RB duo of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram deliver a lightning and thunder punch that offers zero in the terms of taking plays off. Their defense also stepped it up this year as evidenced by a respectable 14th ranking in both total yards and scoring. They are a better, more talented and I think more potent version of the Chargers.
The home field advantage, as well as the sheer talent of the Saint will be enough to end the Philly Special ride here in New Orleans. I think the Saints are just too good on both sides of the ball for the Eagles to overcome the injuries they’ve had. I look for Philadelphia to keep it close early before New Orleans pulls away late.
Blitzed Prediction: Saints 34 Philadelphia 17
And now for your Divisional Drink of the Week. This week, the guys will be drinking to honor the Eagles and how they once again willed their way not into the playoffs and somehow into the divisional round against the Saints. I’m having them drink…
Philly Special Cocktail
.5 oz. Captain Morgan Rum
.5 oz. Blue Curaçao
.5 oz. Malibu Coconut Rum
.5 oz. Midori Melon Liquor
Splash of Sweet and Sour mix
Top with Pineapple juice
Blitzed Barkeep Build: Mix all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain over rocks in a rocks glass (a martini glass is acceptable).
Garnish with an orange.
This week’s drink of the week comes to you from the Philadelphia. I’m not sure how they keep doing it, but they do. As I stated above, they are a talented team but they struggled this year with injuries and playing to lofty expectations. I believe that if Nick Foles pulls off another upset over New Orleans, Philadelphia should strongly consider trading Carson Wentz for trade assets. I guarantee he would garner a 1st and a 2nd round pick (at least) in next year’s draft for a quarterback hungry team like the New York Giants or Jacksonville Jaguars. Either way, this is a tasty way to enjoy this week’s games. No matter who you’re rooting for, the playoffs are sure to give us all something to cheer for.
Well Blitzers, that’s all from your Blitzed Barkeep for now. Remember to drink responsibly, take Brady’s name in vain and always give your keys to a friend if you’ve had too much. Tune in to the Blitzed NFL podcast next Tuesday to hear the guys review this week’s drink of the week and recap all of the action during Divisional Weekend.
It seems to happen almost every NFL season. Teams come off a promising year building the hopes of a fan base only to crush those hopes like Cousin Eddie crushes beer cans against the plate in his head (pre Christmas Vacation when it was replaced with a plastic one because of Catherine’s damn microwave). I did some digging over the past 20 years and found some of the most epic season to season collapses.
Houston Texans 2012 -2013
The 2012 Houston Texans had quite a season. In their 11th season of existence head coach, Gary Kubiak, led them to a 12-4 record and an AFC South title. After knocking off the Cincinnati Bengals in their first playoff game they were overwhelmed by the New England Patriots, 41-28, but there was hope for the 2013 season. Hopes stayed high as the team jumped out to a 2-0 record with close wins over the San Diego Chargers and Tennessee Titans. Playoff ticket operators were already standing by. It wouldn’t take long before playoff ticket operators were standing on the unemployment line. In an epic collapse, the Texans would lose their next 14 games in a row. It was so bad that fans probably held victory parties during the team’s bye week. Nothing went right. Star running back, Arian Foster, would go on the IR with a lumbar injury in November. Matt Schaub would be benched halfway through the season for Case Keenum, who would lead the team to a 0-8 record. Gary Kubiak was fired with three games left and Wade Phillips finished the season. A team that finished in the top ten for points for and against in 2012 was bottom five in both categories for 2013. Everything truly is bigger in Texas and this collapse proved it.
Atlanta Falcons 2012 - 2013
According to the movie, 2012 was supposed to be the end of days for Earth. For Falcons fans, they may have wished it was true. Mike Smith led the 2012 Falcons to a 13-3 regular season record with a top seven scoring offense and a top five scoring defense. After a 30-28 win in the divisional round, they lost to the 49ers in the NFC title game, blowing a 10-point halftime lead, but it’s not like blowing a 25-point lead in the Super Bowl, right? The team lost four of its first six games. They’d drop 12 games total, eight by a touchdown or less. The offense ranked 20th in points scored and never quite got its ground game going with Steven Jackson being banged up. The defense was even worse allowing almost 28 points per game. In short, pro football in Atlanta for 2013 was Falcon awful.
Carolina Panthers 2015 - 2016
The 2015 Carolina Panthers were a juggernaut. Led by head coach, “Riverboat” Ron Rivera, and fifth-year quarterback, Cam Newton, they blew through their schedule with a 15-1 record and the highest-scoring offense in the NFL. They knocked off the Seahawks then the Arizona Cardinals on the way to the Super Bowl. It was there where a brutal Broncos defense shut down the Panthers offense, taking a 24-10 win and leading to a Cam Newton post-game pout more memorable than his effort to recover a fumble. The 2016 season began the way the 2015 one ended, with a Panthers loss to the Broncos. A bounce back the following week against the 49ers gave them hope but losses in the next four games prior to the bye had Panthers faithful watching more for what Cam would be wearing in the postgame pressers than the actual games. In the end the team would finish 6-10, Cam would have a season more lackluster than some of the awful getups he’d wear, and Riverboat Ron’s season would come up snake eyes.
Denver Broncos & Atlanta Falcons 1998 - 1999
This double shot of penthouse to outhouse brought to you by the Super Bowl XXXIII participants. The 1998 Atlanta Falcons had a great 1998 season. Dan Reeves coached his team to a 14-2 record, including wins in the team’s final nine games, including one started by the ever forgettable, Tony Graziani (in actuality Steve DeBerg relieved him and led the team to victory but the NFL is weird about who gets credited for wins). The Falcons would take the 49ers down in the divisional round setting up an NFC title game tilt with the Minnesota Vikings who went 15-1 on the season. The Falcons had the NFC title game gift-wrapped for them by Dennis Green (God rest his soul), coming back from 13 points down near the end of the first half as well as benefitting from the only missed kick Gary Anderson would have on the entire season to win 30-27 in overtime, advancing to the Super Bowl. Over in the AFC the Denver Broncos were bucking awesome. They had the number two scoring offense in football thanks to the arm of John Elway and a 2,000 yard, 21 rushing TD season from Terrell Davis. They won their first 13 games of the season before a two-game losing streak near the end. The team would finish the regular season at 14-2 and then knocked off AFC East teams, the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets punching their ticket to Pro Player Stadium and the Super Bowl, where they would take home the Lombardi Trophy, 34-19. Surely these two teams would be back in 1999 battling for a return trip to the Super Bowl, right? Guess again, my friends. The Falcons, who incidentally are on this list twice for epic collapses, wouldn’t win their first game until October 10th. In all they’d win just five games, including their final two after their season’s fate had been long decided. Chris Chandler, who had been solid a season earlier, had a very pedestrian season with a 56.7% completion percentage and only 16 TD passes against 11 interceptions. Star running back, Jamal Anderson, would tear his ACL in a week two loss to the Cowboys and the running game would never be the same (when Ken Oxendine is your top running back, you know it’s bad). The Broncos didn’t fare much better. Much like with the Falcons, the Broncos were dealt a crushing blow when Terrell Davis went down with a season-ending knee injury in their fourth game. With John Elway now retired and preparing for an office job, Brian Griese was handed the reins at quarterback. His father, Bob, may have been a better choice. The team would go 6-10 on the season with seven being by a touchdown or less. Don’t tell me Elway couldn’t have won a few of those.
There you have it. Five teams that went from eating prime rib to convenient store roller hot dogs…not that there’s anything wrong with that (if it’s 3 AM and you’re a 12-pack of Busch beer in).
Until next time, friends, don’t cut your lip on the edge of your beer can, wash that color rush jersey separate from your whites, and don’t let Bill Reid help you pick your fantasy team.
Please give my friends, Blitzed Barkeep and Blitzed Fantasy a read while you’re here. They do amazing work.
Yours in beer and football.
Mike Zimmer's Ears is a Minnesota Vikings fan from Pennsylvania and is a #TeamBlitzed All Pro. You can follow him on Twitter.
Now that the NFL regular season is over, we season-long fantasy players need to turn our attention to DFS in the playoffs. In this piece, I’m going to list a couple of intriguing plays to me in this weekend’s Wild Card round. With only a 4 game slate, we will have limited options but this round of games should be very interesting.
Russell Wilson, QB Seattle Seahawks @ Dallas Cowboys
DraftKings Salary: $5700
I’m not picking Russ Bus because I think that the matchup is a great one. It’s definitely not. Dallas has a very good defense that has given opposing QBs fits this year. Just ask Drew Brees. I’m taking Wilson as my QB because I think that if the Seahawks are going to go into Big D and upset the Cowboys, then Wilson is going to have to lead the charge for Pete Carroll’s boys. The Cowboys have allowed under 100 yards/game rushing this season which will more than likely force the Seahawks to get away from their ground and pound game. Wilson’s upside is only supported more with the fact that he will scramble, especially in a must-win playoff game.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB Dallas Cowboys vs. Seattle Seahawks
DraftKings Salary: $9000
“Oh, you’re choosing the best RB on the slate as a play you love? What a bold call!” – most people who will read this. Well, yes, I am choosing Zeke as my must play this week. Any lineup that I form will have Elliott in it after he led the league in rushing for a 2nd time in 3 seasons. The Cowboys will give him the rock over and over again. Where he will be most valuable, especially in DraftKings which is a full PPR format, is through the air. Elliott expanded his game this year to become dangerous through the air, and if the Cowboys are going to finally win a playoff game, I expect it to be on the back of Ezekiel Elliott.
Allen Robinson, WR Chicago Bears vs. Philadelphia Eagles
DraftKings Salary: $5600
Quick, name a Cornerback on the Eagles! Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Yeah, I got nothing there either and it’s shown over the last couple of weeks for this Eagles defense. Philadelphia has surrendered the 8th most fantasy points to receivers the last 4 weeks and on the season allowed the 3rd most passing yards/game with 269 yards/game. When healthy, Robinson is one of the most talented wideouts in football and is more than capable of eating this secondary alive on Sunday. Matt Nagy is a genius playcaller and should be able to target the weakness on this Eagles team.
Good luck to everyone who decides to throw some money into DFS this week! The Steelers are a dumpster fire right now so I’m looking for a team to root for in the playoffs. Someone give me a compelling reason to root for their team. Hit me up on Twitter @Blitzed_Fantasy. Thanks for reading!
Hank Mardukas is a Steelers fan and has been a fantasy writer for years. You can follow him on Twitter at @Blitzed_Fantasy.
Happy New Year Blitzers!! Welcome to Wild Card weekend. The guys were off for the holidays and haven’t released this week’s episode so I don’t have a show to review for you! I do know they drank the 12th Man Cocktail last night so here’s to hoping 2019 didn’t start with a wicked hangover courtesy of yours truly. There was a lot of NFL action over the past two weeks so I’m sure the show will be a great one as it always is!
This weekend begins the drive to Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta. This past weekend provided some drama that saw some team’s hopes dashed (Pittsburgh) while others shed tears of joy (Indianapolis and Baltimore). Beginning this week, I’ll devote my Blitzed Barkeep’s column to the playoffs moving forward. I’ll still give the guys their drink of the week at the end of the columns but unlike previous blogs, I won’t have a game of the week. Rather I’ll make my predictions for each of the games after my previews. After all- it’s the playoffs baby. They’re all “Games of the Week.”
WILD CARD WEEKEND PREVIEW
Indianapolis Colts (10-6) @ Houston Texans (11-5)
These inter-division rivals have faced off twice this year already with the Series being split 1-1. Ironically, the visiting team won both matchups. One commonality in both games though, was Captain Neckbeard has lit up the Houston Texan’s secondary. In the Colts’ OT loss in Week 4, Luck threw for 464 yards and 4 TDs, while in the Week 14 road victory he threw for 399 yards and 2 TDs. I’ll do the simple math for you- that’s 863 yards and 6 TDs in 2 games. I’d say Luck has their number. Statistically, these teams are very similar across the board. On defense, Indianapolis is ranked 11th while Houston is 12th in total defense. They are separated by just 3.7 yards per game given up (339.4 to 343.1), 13 passing yards per game, 19 rushing yards per game and less than 2 points per game (Indianapolis actually gives up 21.5 per game while Houston gives up 19.8). That’s incredible to think about how close they are after 16 games played.
Offensively, Indianapolis separates itself a bit from Houston. The Colts are ranked 7th in total offense while the Texans are ranked 15th. Indianapolis was a much heavier pass-oriented offense (386.2 yds/gm) while Houston was much more efficient rushing the ball (126.3 yds/gm). Interestingly, the teams were only separated by exactly 2 points per game in scoring offense with the Colts putting up 27.1 per game while Houston averaged 25.1 per game.
The Colts are the hottest team (arguably) and has an offensive line that just doesn’t let anyone get to their quarterback. Their defense is also very quietly playing lights out. An underrated fact that they have on their side is they have a coach and kicker (30 games) with plenty of playoff experience. Believe me, it helps. Houston, on the other hand, has the home field advantage and an attacking defense. But that attacking defense won’t matter if they can’t get to Luck. I like the Colts to stay hot in this one and move on to New England.
Blitzed Prediction: Colts 31 Texans 28
Seattle Seahawks (10-6) @ Dallas Cowboys (10-6)
This is also a matchup of teams who have already faced off. Back in Week 3, Seattle knocked off Dallas 24-13 up in Seattle but if you were watching the NFL this season like I was, neither of these teams really didn’t impress me until much later in the season. Dallas didn’t really impress me until after the Amari Cooper trade and Seattle really didn’t have an actual turning point in their season. They have just steadily improved as the season has progressed. The story in this game will be the defenses- Dallas is the 7th ranked total defense in the NFL while Seattle comes in ranked 16th. However, don’t let that fool you about Seattle’s defense. Both teams give up just about 20 points per game (Dallas: 20.3 and Seattle: 21.7) One of the most important factors in this game is that Seattle is one of only 5 teams in the NFL to give up less than 10 rushing touchdowns the entire season. They will be facing off against the leading rusher in the league in Ezekiel Elliott (1,434 yds, 6 TDs). Dallas, on the other hand, is only surrendering 96.4 yards per game on the ground and is facing a balanced RPO offense led by mobile quarterback Russell Wilson. Seattle drafted Rashad Penny in the 1st round of the draft to be their workhorse running back but Chris Carson has been their stud to the tune of 1,151 yds and 9 TDs.
Seattle would seem to be the more balanced team on paper statistically, but Dallas has the home field advantage. This is a tough one to predict as Dallas has been as explosive as any team since acquiring Amari Cooper at the trade deadline. Couple that with the home field advantage where they are really good, I see Dallas moving on to the next round in a rematch with the Saints in New Orleans.
Blitzed Prediction: Cowboys 24 Seattle 17
Los Angeles Chargers (12-4) @ Baltimore Ravens (10-6)
The first Sunday game is the third rematch of Wild Card Weekend. In Week 16, Baltimore traveled to Los Angeles and had their way with the Chargers 22-10. Rookie Lamar Jackson had a coming out party with his first 200 yard passing game and the Ravens defense held a potent Chargers offense under 200 total yards for the first time since 2014.
It can be argued that the Chargers are the most balanced team in the AFC and perhaps the NFL. They have play makers on both sides of the ball with Philip Rivers in the conversation for MVP (4,308 yds, 32 TDs and 12 INTs), three-down RB Melvin Gordon (885 yds rushing, 10 TDs; 50 rec, 490 yds, 4 TDs) and Keenan Allen (97 rec, 1,196 yds 6 TDs) on offense. On defense, they have potential defensive rookie of the year in CB Derwin James while wrecking balls Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa cause havoc on opposing quarterbacks. When you look at their overall statistics, they are the 11th ranked team in total offense and the 9th ranked team in total defense. Truly a balanced team. However, now look at Baltimore. While they don’t have that one true statistical monster that flashes like Los Angeles does above, their team ranks show they are even more balanced as a team than Los Angeles. Baltimore sports the 1st ranked defense in the NFL and quietly put together the 9th ranked total offense. Rookie Lamar Jackson has the ability to be electric and a huge problem for opposing defenses. Additionally, Baltimore’s defense can shut down any offense in the NFL. They really did fly under the radar this year and played together as a team, with no true superstar standing out above the rest.
Baltimore has the home field advantage, but they have a rookie quarterback starting in the playoffs for the first time. They have that defense, but even the best defenses in the NFL get tired if they have to be on the field for the entire game. Los Angeles went 7-1 on the road this year (8-1 if you count their ‘home’ game in London) and they have an experienced team that will figure out Jackson. I like the Chargers to move on to the Divisional Round next week to take on their rivals in Kansas City.
Blitzed Prediction: Los Angeles 23 Baltimore 15
Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) @ Chicago Bears (12-4)
Last but not least, its the defending champs that snuck in versus the upstart team that no one outside of Chicago saw coming (this year). I have beaten the Khalil-Mack-to-Chicago thing to death this year but seriously, it’s made that big of an impact for Chicago. So has he. Chicago has the 3rd ranked defense in the NFL and the top ranked rushing defense allowing a miniscule 80 yards per game on the ground. They also are the owners of the top ranked scoring defense giving up just 17.7 points per game. On the other side of the ball, they rank only 21st in total offense but their opportunistic defense has allowed them to score 26.3 pts/gm which ranks 9th in the league. They rank 21st in pass yards/gm but 11th in rushing yards per game. In other words, their balanced offense is such that they do not need Trubisky to win their games for them. That’s a good thing as they are not built to come from behind. That has been the key to their success this year- jumping out early and riding their run game late. They’re facing off against a 14th ranked Philadelphia offense that has struggled to run the ball consistently due to injuries and a 23rd ranked Philadelphia defense that had to win out just to make the playoffs (and get some help from other teams not doing their jobs).
Philadelphia is beat up, but they’re winning right now. They still have a talented team on both sides of the ball and could cause problems for Chicago if they jump out early. Remember, they are the defending champs. As I said above, Chicago is not built to come from behind. I just think Chicago is too much on the defensive side for Foles to pull off any of his magic this time. Mack and company will be a problem all day long. I like Chicago to move on to play in Los Angeles against the Rams in a rematch from earlier this season when Chicago took out the Rams in an entertaining game on Monday Night Football.
Blitzed Prediction: Chicago 23 Philadelphia 10
And now for your Wild Card drink of the week. This week, the guys will be drinking to honor the Colts and their magic run to the playoffs after their 1-5 start. Say hello to the Colts Stampede Cocktail.
Colts Stampede Cocktail
1.5 oz. Jameson Whiskey
2 oz. Blue Curaçao
2 oz. Hypnotiq Liquor
Blitzed Barkeep Build: Add ingredients except blueberries to a shaker with ice, shake vigorously and strain into a rocks glass over rocks. Garnish with blueberries and sprinkle with superfine sugar.
This week’s drink of the week comes to you direct from Indianapolis. Right now, I think they’re playing the best football and are certainly one of, if not THE the hottest teams playing right now. That is important when it comes down to success in the playoffs. Something tells me that the Colts are going to be enjoying a fair amount of success this year and they have the coach to do it. Enjoy this tasty, but sweet drink of the week.
Well Blitzers, that’s all from your Blitzed Barkeep for now. Remember to drink responsibly, take Brady’s name in vain and always give your keys to a friend if you’ve had too much. Tune in to the Blitzed NFL podcast this Tuesday to hear the guys review this week’s drink of the week and recap all of the action during Wild Card Weekend.
The Blitzed Barkeep is a #TeamBlitzed All Pro from Bills Mafia. You can follow Blitzed Barkeep on Twitter here.