Saturday, January 3, 2015

2015 NFL Pickery -- Wildcard Weekend

Hello! Welcome back to the Bootleg! It's been awhile! Again!
I'm Aaron. I started this lightly-read blog way back in December 2006 after writing a weekly music column for three years and picking up two writer-of-the-year awards. Shameless? Hells yeah! Seriously, of my favorite takeaways from that time was meeting the ridiculously talented Joe Reid. We started writing on the same website, then Joe went on to write for The Atlantic, Grantland and a bazillion other sites. You can also find him on Twitter and Tumblr.
(I'm on Twitter, too! And, Instagram! Indulge my self-indulgence!)
Wait, back to Joe. He's a dear friend and a wonderful writer and I'm grateful he can turn away from journalistic fame and fortune to (occasionally) remember where he came from. These football playoff picks are the closest thing we have to an annual tradition around here. Try not to focus on the picks -- especially MINE, you jerks -- and, instead, enjoy the snark, sarcasm and timeless Simpsons references.
Arizona at Carolina (-5.5)

Joe: Man, I hate picking playoff games for teams with losing records. History already seems to be waving its middle finger at all of us with this thing. It stands to reason that any and all prediction attempts will be met with a similar response. The inclination not to want to underestimate Carolina (they managed to win at the end of the season when it counted, after all, including a road thrashing of Atlanta; plus they have Cam Newton, played this season by Bruce Willis from Unbreakable) may well lead to underestimating the Cardinals even more. The state of Arizona hasn't seen the kind of carnage this injured Cardinals team has gone through since Kurt Russell mowed down all the scenery in Tombstone ... but they still managed to win a few games. And honestly? At least the Cardinals' season made sense. There was no rhyme or reason to the Panthers' playoff push. I'll take the points and avert my eyes. Cardinals 19, Panthers 17

Aaron: It could be argued that TWO professional football teams desperately missed aging, peg leg QB Carson Palmer -- the *2002* Heisman Trophy winner -- during the 2014 season. While the Raiders continue to limp along with their inconsistent lottery ticket behind center, the Cardinals were forced to turn to San Diego State alum Ryan Lindley -- who, later today, will make history as the worst QB to ever start a playoff game. How bad is Ryan Lindley? His career QB rating is 50.3 -- three-tenths of a point better than Ryan Leaf. How bad was Ryan Leaf? Historically terrible! Some people -- like the affable bearded guy in the paragraph above -- are gonna overthink this a wee bit. Sometimes, in fact, NFL games simply play out like an episode of The Simpsons -- specifically, this episode. Panthers 33, Cardinals 3

Baltimore at Pittsburgh (-3.5)

Joe: Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Two hardy northeastern cities. Each one boasting hallowed places in the football firmament (Unitas! Bradshaw! Dilfer!). More importantly, these cities were the setting for the two most trenchant, hard-hitting, Emmy-ignored TV series of the 21st century. Of course I'm talking about The Wire and Queer as Folk (U.S.). Okay, I'm having some fun. In truth, in a very real way, this matchup boils down to the team that jettisoned Ray Rice at the beginning of its season, versus the team that's been paying Ben Roethlisberger's salary steadily ever since his ... I guess we can say "indiscretion." Viva football! Steelers 27, Ravens 13
Aaron: Hee! One of my favorite running jokes from when Joe and I used to pick games and write up to 32 paragraphs EVERY SINGLE WEEK was that it seemed the Ravens and Steelers played each other eight times per season with an average final score of 14-12. (Oh, shut up...not EVERY running joke is going to be gold.) Anyways...are we sure Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin is a good coach? He's racked up the regular season wins (.641 career winning percentage) but has some embarrassing January losses on his resume -- including Tim Tebow's only playoff win! Remember Tim Tebow? He was your rebuttal when I called Ryan Lindley the worst QB to ever start a playoff game. I stand by my earlier assertion! Steelers 14, Ravens 12
Cincinnati at Indianapolis (-4.5)

Joe: Two teams who looked fantastic in the first half of the season and at times godawful during the second half. Colts beat the Bengals 27-0 back in October. The Bengals can run the ball when the Colts cannot. Cincinnati was the site of the seminal 1970s sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati. Indianapolis was the setting of the seminal 1970s sitcom One Day at a Time. One Day at a Time had a better opening credits theme song. Colts 31, Bengals 20
Aaron: Joe is not wrong. Although, I would argue that WKRP wins if the category is "most memorable post-show career by an alumnus". Howard Hesseman seamlessly transitioned from DJ Doctor Johnny Fever to schoolteacher Charlie Moore on ABC's Head of the Class, while Valerie Bertinelli's run as overwrought thin-lipped imp-in-peril in those Lifetime TV movies drags down her current work on Hot in Cleveland. So, clearly, that..wait a minute. WAIT A MINUTE. From Howard Hesseman's Wikipedia page: "[Hesseman] also played Sam Royer, the man who married Ann Romano (Bonnie Franklin) on One Day at a Time. *mind blown**BLOWN* Colts 27, Bengals 13

Detroit at Dallas (-7.5)

Joe: I think these are probably the two best teams playing on Wild Card weekend. One of them will have to lose so that the Carolina Panthers might advance. That is super fucked up. Regardless, I think everybody's been waiting for the other shoe to drop with this Cowboys team, but they kind of seem incredibly solid and put-together. Even scarier? If I can forget that Jerry Jones is the team owner, I ... kind of like these Cowboys? I know. I feel alone in a cold and unfeeling universe too. Cowboys 27, Lions 24
Aaron: Yeah, I'm also kinda-sorta OK with this Cowboys team and don't hate Tony Romo nearly as much as you mouth-breathers with your "#hotsportstake" tweets. Then, again, I also liked those cocaine and strippers-fueled Cowboys teams of the mid-1990s -- mostly for the muted humility of CB/WR Deion Sanders. Yes, head coach Barry Switzer was a scrunchy-faced buffoon, but America quickly forgave his imbecilic ways when Switzer joined another erstwhile Cowboys head coach (Jimmy Johnson) to form a modern-day Statler & Waldorf for Fox Sports' NFL pregame show. By my count, that's, like, three nearly watchable things that the Fox family of networks has given us since 1997, so...yay? Cowboys 30, Lions 20

1 comment:

SHough610 said...

You guys are back! :does Kermit the frog flailed arm "yayyyyy":

Also, Ryan Lindley is the worst quarterback to ever start a playoff game. If only because every time I hear his name I have to remember he's not a kicker playing out of position.