Wild Card picks: What the heck are they doing?

Jim Valley and Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter

I readily admit that I don’t know everything about football. On top of that, when I watch a football game on tV, I usually have little idea about what the two teams are trying to accomplish in order to win the game.     When I coached, I hated criticism from people who didn’t know what we were trying to do in any game. Maybe we were saving a pitcher for another game. Maybe a player was hurt. Maybe we were disciplining a player. There were frequently valid reasons why we did things that did not seem to make sense to someone outside the team. Then, most of the action that goes on during a football game is away from the ball, meaning I miss it since I am watching the ball 99% of the time.

Coaches, when asked to evaluate the play of one of their players,  almost always answer, “I won’t know until I watch the film”.

What I am trying to say is that there’s a lot going on in and around any game, especially an NFL game, and it’s very difficult from my spot on the couch to know even 10% of it.

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With all that being said, sometimes I still have to ask, What the heck are they doing?

Why do the Cleveland Browns, with a great run blocking line, two of the top runners in the league, and a hurt quarterback insist on passing the ball on almost every play? While we’re at it, if the quarterback’s injury is hurting his play, why isn’t he sitting and letting his competent backup play?

Why do the Indianapolis Colts put the game in Carson Wentz’s hand when they could lean on Jonathan Taylor? How could the Colts have lost two games in a row as touchdown or more favorites when they only needed to win one of them to make the playoffs?

Why would the Tampa Bay Buccaneers believe Antonio Brown was actually going to be good for their team?

Why would the New York Giants have a quarterback they are paying 2 million dollars run a quarterback sneak on 3rd and 9 in a 3-0 game? If they have so little confidence in their QB, hire me! I’ll do it for, oh, $50,000, meaning they would save $1,950,000 and get the same results.

How can the Jacksonville Jaguars have so many high draft picks and so few wins?

Why would the Denver Broncos expect different results from the same quarterback and then fire the coach when it happens?

How can the San Diego Chargers have so many receivers that can only catch a pass on 4th down? And how can their coach go for a first down on 4th and two from your own 18 early in a 3 point game? (Don’t even mention “analytics.”)

What are the Texans doing with Deshaun Watson? If he’s guilty, okay, but how fair is it to shorten an NFL player’s already short career? Justice delayed is justice denied, I heard somewhere.

How can the Jacksonville Jaguars be 3-2 against the Indianapolis Colts in their last 5 games, and 2-27 against the rest of the league in that same time span?

How can the Miami Dolphins fire Brian Flores?

How come the Detroit Lions keep wearing their incredibly ugly throwback uniforms when their regular uniforms are the coolest in the league?

Why does the NFLPA allow Thursday night games?

How can there be so many penalties when some NFL referees do games, and so few when other crews work games?

How come so many players find it necessary to dance on opponents’ logos? 

What’s up with throwing an opponent’s shoe?

Why would the Carolina Panthers pick up Cam Newton after they had already cut him once? Was their mistake cutting him in the first place, or picking him up a second time?

How could the Chicago Bears have messed up their quarterback situation worse?

I was a Joe Judge fan, but defending yourself by attacking others is never the way to go.

From coaching myself, I know it’s a lot easier to do from the bleachers than from the bench, just like it’s easier for me to act from my couch.

Wildcard Weekend, oops, now Super Wildcard Weekend! There are frequently big upsets, and a couple of the games this weekend would really be big upsets, if they happen. Here are my picks against the spread. Lines are from William Hill Sportsbook on Monday, Jan 10. One word of caution if you follow my advice: I picked Alabama on Monday, while my wife bet Georgia to the under on a two team parlay. You can contact her at…

Cincinnati Bengals (-6 ½) vs Las Vegas Raiders: I really admire the run the Raiders made, but it ends Saturday.

New England Patriots (+4 ½) at Buffalo Bills: The toughest game of the week for me to pick.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-9) vs Philadelphia Eagles: Although I worry about the points, I’m not worried about the winner.

San Francisco 49ers (+3) at Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys are very good at easy games, but they, unlike the 49ers, have not proven to me they can win the tough games.

Kansas City Chiefs (-12 ½) vs Pittsburgh Steelers: Believe it or not, I think the line for this one is too low

Los Angeles Rams (-4 ½) vs Arizona Cardinals: Once the magic is gone, it’s tough to get back. The Cardinals had magic a while ago… 

Last week 5-3

Season 57-47-1

Robert’s picks

Bengals (-5 ½) over Raiders: Hats off to the Raiders for winning four straight, including that epic Sunday night game against the Chargers to get here. The problem they face here is that epic game. I’ve taken advantage of teams coming off that kind of effort several times this season, and I don’t think that this being a playoff game does anything to help a team come off that kind of a game. It just takes too much physically and mentally, and a week isn’t enough time to fully recover. Because the spirit is willing doesn’t mean the flesh is able.

Bills (-4) over Patriots: As the stakes got raised late in the season, the Patriots struggled because Mac Jones isn’t ready to carry a team when it needs it. I’m high on Jones overall and I think he will get there, but it will be losing games like this that helps him get there faster.

Buccaneers (-8 ½) over Eagles: The Eagles’ defense allowed the highest completion percentage in the NFL, 69.4%. I hear the guy throwing the ball for Tampa can play a little.

49ers (+3) over Cowboys: I’m a little concerned that the win over the Rams last week is the kind that’s hard to bounce back from, but unlike the Raiders/Chargers game, 49ers/Rams was more of a slow tempo slog. This is the healthiest the 49ers have been all season. Oh, and the Cowboys are coached by Mike McCarthy.

Chiefs (-12 ½) over Steelers: When it comes down to it, I don’t have a strong feeling about this one, but I’d rather go down with the team that I know can explode at any time, than take a chance that Ben and the Steelers offense can’t get out of neutral and fall behind early,

Cardinals (+4) over Rams: Many years ago, before the Chicago Cubs broke the Curse of the Billy Goat and won the World Series, that curse extended even beyond them. For almost as long as the Cubs hadn’t won a World Series, no team with more than one ex-Cub had won a World Series. The Lions are the NFL’s Cubs. Matthew Stafford is an ex-Lion. That’s all I got for this one.

Last week

College 0-1

NFL 0-2

Season

College 32-27-1

NFL 19-17

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