Up The Gut: Wild Card Round

By Shaun Morash

Cold Open

In what was a rather lackluster Week 17 in the NFL we learned one important lesson: The Washington Redskins, of all 32 NFL teams, have the WORST quarterback situation for the future. Kirk Cousins wilted vs a good defense, at home, in a big game, just like he did two weeks earlier vs the Panthers.

We all became fooled by Kirk Cousins because he navigated the Redskins to a 9-7 record to win a very bad division last season. We stayed fooled by him because he put up gigantic passing yardage numbers with a trip of receivers who rival any trip in the league and the best pass catching tight end not named Rob Gronkowski in football. With all of that, Cousins led the Redskins to a mediocre 8-7-1 record that wasn’t good enough this year because the Giants and Cowboys were actually elite NFL franchises.

The bottom line is Cousins is just good enough that Washington will feel the need to lock him up long term, but he will never be good enough to win a Lombardi in Washington and certainly won’t be bas enough for the Redskins to be drafting in the Top 5 to be able to pick a franchise changing player. They will live at 8-8 or 9-7 and that is the worst kind of franchise you can be in this league. For that reason there is little doubt they in fact have the worst quarterback situation moving forward in football.

Ten Yard Gain

1- The Cowboys took the pony out for a trot when they played Tony Romo for one series. They kept telling us this was about making sure he is ready for the playoffs if they need him. That was a bold faced lie, they could tell that in practice. This was about proving to potential trade partners he would be ready this offseason. What general manager will be fooled into thinking he can survive a 16 game schedule off of that 1 drive?

2- Kudos to Gary Kubiak for doing what is right by himself and his family in stepping away from the game to make sure his health is alright. An NFL job is stressful, you overwork yourself perhaps more than any profession, and it wears on you. Kubiak could add 10 years to his life with this decision and that is always the right move.

3-The Raiders magic carpet ride had a real opportunity to land in Houston, and then Derek Carr got hurt. Then I thought Matt McGloin could be Jeff Hostetler 2.0, and he got hurt. Now Connor Cook, a draft prospect that fell, is starting vs the Texans. My heart breaks for you Raiders fans, but the arrow is still pointing up.

4- The Lions decided this week to keep Jim Caldwell as their head coach going forward. That is 110% the right decision. Getting this Lions rocker room to come together and make the playoffs after an offseason in which they lost undoubtedly their best player is not an easy task. They lose their final three games, all of which to other playoff teams, but the season is still churning and a success. For the dark franchise that is the Lions they have now made the playoffs in 2 of their last 3 years. Jim Caldwell dare I say it, the most underrated coach in football.

5-The New York Giants receivers’ trip to Miami caused much debate this week. I get the argument that it is their day off, but even on your day off in the playoffs would it hurt to go to the facility for treatment and tape? Do we believe Eli Manning wasn’t doing that? I’m all for living your life, spending your money, but in a month there will be plenty of time for that. The optics of this week for the New York Giants screams lack of leadership.

6- Darrelle Revis proved to be the most delusional NFL player this week when he said if the Jets want him to retire there “they better do right by him.” Huh? Revis was reported as half assing his offseason and not being in the shape he normally is. It translated on the field as he went from an elite corner to one that could maybe start in the CFL. Elite players should never have that dramatic a decline. Revis did wrong by the Jets, why should they dare do right by him?

7- The biggest “x-factor” entering the playoffs is Tyreek Hill. The Patriots have been given essentially a “double-bye week” into the AFC Championship Game. The Steelers, many believe, pose the biggest threat to the Patriots there. If the Chiefs are really going to be the team that can take down New England it has to be because Tyreek Hill is the guy that changes the potential games vs the Steelers and Patriots with not just 1 big touchdown a game, at least 2.

8- The Seahawks have real problems. They have limped to the finish line and are frankly lucky they play in what has again become an awful division. They miss Earl Thomas, but it hasn’t been discussed how much they now miss Bruce Irvin. It may not have mattered early in the season, but their lack of quality depth of the pass rush has caught up with them. They are not nearly as dangerous as some think as January begins.

9-Chip Kelly is an NFL failure. Kenny Brock, former DA Show “Wheels of Steel” master told myself and DA that he would orchestrate a better offense than “The Greatest Show on Turf” in the NFL. This is my personal jab back at Brock. You were wrong, we still love you. Back to College Chip must go.

10-Tyrod Taylor is not a quality NFL starting quarterback. He fits into the mold of a Kirk Cousins, similar to what I discussed in the Cold Open. If you are a team looking to sign Tyrod Taylor this offseason as anything more than a place holder for your real quarterback of the future then you are making a big mistake.

My Picks

After a 3-1-1 Week 16, and a Bye Week in Week 17 I went 23-21-1 for the regular season. This was a pretty epic turnaround from a lousy 1st half. I will be picking every post season game this month.

Oakland +3.5 at Houston: You almost have to feel bad for ESPN/ABC at this point. The Saturday 4:30pm eastern kickoff game since they acquired a Wild Card game has always been there’s. It has also always been the worst matchup heading into Wild Card Weekend. It was just two years ago Ryan Lindley lead the Cardinals into Carolina to play the 7-8-1 Panthers. Who can forget last year when Bill O’Brien thought JJ Watt gave him a better chance to score an offensive touchdown than Brian Hoyer did?

Well JJ Watt isn’t in Houston, and with Brock Osweiler they may be better off with Brian Hoyer. The Raiders are a totally different team without Derek Carr, who really knows what, if anything, Connor Cook can give Oakland. Ironically enough this game may end up the tightest score of the weekend, even if it is ugly. The Texans are simply not good enough to take advantage of this Raiders quarterback situation, even if everyone is salivating over what I consider an overrated defense. The half a point hook on top of the 3 points is key. Two mediocre teams? Give me the points with the Raiders.

Lions +8 at Seattle: Much has been made of the Lions 3 game losing streak to end the season, all of which to playoff teams. The loss of Theo Riddick in their screen game has been the real back breaker for Detroit as that was essentially their way to cover up the awful run game. However, the Seahawks demise has gone under reported since the loss of Earl Thomas. These are not the same dominant Seahawks we have become accustomed to seeing. Their lack of depth at pass rush is concerning and this will be their 1st post season without Marshawn Lynch. I believe Seattle is a better team and finds a way to win this game, but 8 points is fool’s gold. The Lions will be in this game and could be in a position to win it late.

Dolphins +10 at Steelers: The Dolphins beating the Steelers back in October means nothing to me now. That day felt like Pittsburgh had partied all night on South Beach and weren’t prepared to tackle Jay Ajayi. The Steelers pose the biggest threat to knock off the Patriots in the AFC but escaping Wild Card Weekend will not be easy. Le’Veon Bell in his 1st post season game will make plays, but running into the teeth of the Miami defensive line will be a struggle for most of this game. I expect Miami to make plays down the field to Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills as the Steelers secondary is a shell of yesteryear. This game, even in freezing temperatures, could have each team scoring in the high 20’s to 30’s. 10 points is too rich for my blood, give me Miami to give the Steelers at the very least a scare.

Giants +4.5 at Packers: The game of the weekend will take place in a subzero wind chill. Two Super Bowl MVP’s will square off on Wild Card Weekend. The Giants lost a close game in October in Green Bay, but in that game both Eli Apple, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie were hurt. Now both of those guys are part of what has become the best secondary in football, one that keeps shutting down elite offenses in the NFC in recent weeks.

The Packers are a different team as well as Aaron Rodgers has once again gone back to being a magician. The key for the Packers will be if converted receiver Ty Montgomery can do anything in the run game vs what has become one of the premier run stuffing defensive lines in football. The Giants are the one team that will have the ability to cover Packers receivers longer than other teams can while Rodgers tries to play Houdini. My gut tells me the Giants may finally end up on the losing end of things in Green Bay in the playoffs, but if they do there is a 0.0% chance it is by more than 4 points. This will be another instant playoff classic, take the points with the best defense in football.

Football Food of the Week

Pigs in A Blanket dipped in Taco Dip. We have 2 snacks working with each other as a unit. Hey it’s the playoffs, go big or go home right? If you are gathering with friends and family to watch the games make your favorite pigs in a blanket with the crescent rolls and small pigs found at any local grocer. However, also be sure to purchase a block of cream cheese, shredded taco cheese, and a can of chili. (I prefer Hormel No Bean Chili.)

Spread the cream cheese on the bottom of a round cake pan, top the cream cheese with the chili, and pour cheese over the whole damn thing. Cook both the pigs in a blanket and chili dip separately until both the blankets are golden brown and all of the cheese on the dip is perfectly melted.

Put out the usual tortilla chips for the taco dip, however, instead of dipping the pigs in a blanket in ketchup or mustard, be sure to dip them in the taco dip. Essentially what you end up with are mini chili dogs! Now who doesn’t love the sound of that?

Enjoy Wild Card Weekend everyone. Thanks as always for reading. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @MrazCBS

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