Up The Gut: Divisional Round

The Watercooler

Stability at the Head Coaching position isn’t done enough in the NFL. Those that stand by their coaches are often rewarded.   The Bengals are not getting that reward. The way Cincinnati melted down and behaved as they allowed yet another season to finish with a one and done in the postseason was embarrassing.

DA spoke on Monday about how the team will take on the mentality of its head coach. Sure every team could have a bad egg, but Burfict, Pacman, and company represented something larger. For all the talent the Bengals have, asking them to earn their way to a Super Bowl as a core is simply unfathomable to see happening now.

How can the Bengals justify Marvin Lewis as their Head Coach in 2016? Another playoff spot will be wasted by them, and we will be sitting here discussing their 0-8 record in the playoffs under Marvin in 12 months.

Ten Yard Gain

1- Bill O’Brien was just as big a disgrace coaching as Marvin Lewis was this weekend. In the playoffs, you play to win, not to get cute. Running a wild cat play with JJ Watt, on an injured groin, at quarterback with Vince Wilfork in was mindless. Then, with Brian Hoyer throwing the game away in the 1st half, he fails to turn to Brandon Weeden of all people who played well down the stretch of the season. That is incompetence at the Head Coaching position at its finest.

2-Ben Roethlisberger this week admitted to having torn ligaments in his shoulder. Going out there Sunday and facing possibly the leagues toughest defense is ass heroic it gets for a quarterback in this league. That is what leaders are made out of. Emmanuel Sanders questioned Roethlisberger’s leadership in comparison to Peyton Manning’s. This game means more to Big Ben than simply it just being a post season game.

3-Old school football in the cold weather of Minnesota was awesome to watch. It made me hate domes even more than I already did. Also, Metlife Stadium in Super Bowl 48, failed to deliver a true Cold Weather Super Bowl. I would be entirely in favor of a Super Bowl at Lambeau Field, lack of hotel rooms be damned.

4-While the focus on Minnesota’s heartbreaking loss Sunday seems to be falling on Blair Walsh; Adrian Peterson is not getting the heat he should be. That was a young, inexperienced, Vikings team on the field in the post season Sunday. Peterson needed to step up as a true leader, and instead he gave up a huge fumble that simply cannot happen late in the game. If he holds on, the game likely is never on the leg of Blair Walsh.

5-The Nation didn’t get many Redskins stand-alone games this year. However, if you play fantasy you were already well aware of how good Jordan Reed is before Sunday. The Redskins are trending in the right direction and not just because they seem to have figured out the quarterback position. Reed is a legitimate superstar in the making and heading into 2016 should be thought of as the 2nd best tight end in the game behind Rob Gronkowski.

6-The Pack was back in a big way with their win in Washington Sunday. Suddenly they seem like a formidable opponent for the Cardinals, and the reported rift between Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers involving the offense seems nonexistent. Had the Packers won in Week 17 and hosted the Seahawks a loss would have been far more likely and an offseason of uncertainty would have been ahead. In a strange way by losing the division in Week 17 the Packers actually won as a franchise.

7-The circus is coming to town in Buffalo. Somehow, some way, 12 months after naming Rex Ryan as head coach, the Pegula’s will now have to deal with Rob Ryan working with Rex. Rob and Rex individually act like clowns; teaming these two together is a recipe for further disaster for the once proud Bills franchise.

8- Our long national nightmare of knowing who is headed for Los Angeles is finally over, or in the Chargers case almost over. The NFL has had an underlined attendance problem as the home viewing experience has become so great. I am truly worried that in 10 years a great complex and stadium will be built and will be half filled with a subpar Rams team out there every Sunday.

9- The Browns have hired Hugh Jackson as their head coach. Just like the Bengals winning a playoff game, I’ll believe the Browns successfully hired a head coach when I see it. That being said, the potential is there for Hugh Jackson to succeed. He already went through a turmoil organization stint when he coached the Raiders to an 8-8 season. With the potential of drafting Jared Goff there, maybe, just maybe the Browns are about to finally turn this thing around.

10-This is not exactly a scorching hot take, but after seeing the LA press conference Tuesday Night I am convinced more than ever that Stan Kroenke is the twin of “Moonlight Graham” from Field of Dreams.

My Picks

Wild Card Weekend did not treat me well. I was 1-3, dropping my record to 30-27-2 on the year. This week, so help me, I like three underdogs.

Chiefs +5 at Patriots: This game has the potential to be the best game of the divisional round, and we get it to see it to kick off the entire weekend. At the end of the year it is usually about what team has momentum. The Patriots this year not only do not have momentum, they are dragging their feet. This week Bill Belichick had a mysterious black eye and Chandler Jones was reportedly taking pills on Sunday. Something isn’t right with the Patriots even with Julian Edelman coming back. The Chiefs on the flip side maybe the hottest team we have seen storm into the playoffs and through their 1st game in the last decade. Top that with the fact the Chiefs were the one team to really embarrass New England a season ago, and I have to take the Chiefs with the points here. If the Patriots win this game, and I really think that is a big if at this point, it will be on the leg of Gostkowski late. Even then you will get the cover.

Cardinals -7 vs Packers: The hype this week is the Packers found their way and are the same team they were in September and October. The flip argument on that is the Redskins did not beat a winning team all season. The Cardinals, despite being the number two seed, are in my opinion the most complete team in football. This spread is big at a touchdown, but this Cardinals team sat quietly through their Bye week marinating on this moment. They torched the Packers just a couple of weeks ago and feel the confidence vs Aaron Rodgers. I expect the Cardinals to pull away and cover this spread rather easily in the 4th quarter Saturday Night.

Seahawks +2.5 at Panthers: This is a game I have tossed and turned on all week. The Panthers are 15-1 for a reason, and they haven’t been appreciated by anybody all season. Now they get the most difficult matchup they could have asked for in their 1st game. The Panthers have the confidence they can beat Seattle as they did so earlier in the year. This Seahawks team is different now, and as Warren Moon told DA Monday evening, the Seahawks defense has their swagger back. It is an awfully difficult task for anyone to defeat the back to back NFC Champions twice in one year. I could see Carolina winnings this game 21-20 and you’d still win with the points there. Ultimately though, I think the Seahawks win outright setting up an epic All NFC West, NFC Championship Game.

Steelers +7 at Broncos: The injuries to Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown worry me in this matchup. However, the Bengals failed to stick the dagger in the Steelers hearts and that could spell bad news for the Broncos. I have the mindset that these playoffs may be Peyton Manning’s last ride. We have seen him throw big interceptions in this spot before; we could see it again Sunday. Ultimately the Broncos defense will find a way to win this game, but them laying 7 points is far too much when you take everything into account. I will ride with the Steelers and their championship metal while getting a touchdown here.

Football Food of The Week

Slow Cooked Pork Nachos. When you cook Nachos, usually it is a quick to make fix. If you want slow cooked pork nachos, like I always want, it takes some day before preparation. Purchase thin sliced pork chops and a bbq sauce of your choosing. The night before you serve or in he early morning on the day of serving put the bbq sauce and pork chops on a crock pot or slow cooker. Allow the pork to cook from 8-12 hours before removing and chopping the pork up.

Toss a bag of tortilla chips onto a pan with jalapenos, cheese, and the chopped pork. Pour the excess cooked bbq sauce on it all and put the tray in the oven for approximately 10 minutes. When the cheese is gooey and melted it is your signal to serve to your football watching buddies and enjoy the sweetness of the bbq sauce, the delicateness of the pork, and the spiciness of a jalapeno one bite at a time.

Thanks for reading as always. Enjoy the best football weekend of the year. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @MrazCBS.

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