Crystal Ball

WILD CARD CRYSTAL BALL: Guru Addresses Patriots’ Situation as Wide-Open Playoff Race Begins

y friends, THE GURU is fired up for Wild Card Weekend, looking forward to curling up with THE FAIR CLAUDINE and THE TRE MAN for two days of pigskin. This may come as a bit of a surprise to the missus, who prefers a highly invasive rash to watching football.

The anticipation of watching four ballgames is comparable to the excitement I feel when the pizza delivery guy rings the doorbell but, before the first kickoff, it’s important to address this week’s ESPN story about the New England Patriots.

In his article, Seth Wickersham writes that things are so bad between owner Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady that this is very possibly their last season together. The trio fired back immediately this week with a statement, insisting that they are “united” in their mission to win this season and beyond.

Let me see if I have this right: a billionaire football owner, one of the NFL’s most successful and highly cantankerous coaches and a legendary, perfectionist quarterback possess big egos and sometimes have difficulties working together? What will happen next? Will FATBACK HOBBS grow a fat back? Will OBNOXIOUS MIKE act obnoxious?

I personally tend to doubt that Kraft-Belichick-Brady will break up after this season but, even if they do, it’s not worthy of 28-point, scandal-like headlines. This is not Jerry and Jimmy calling it quits after five seasons or TOMMY BIRD leaving the good folks at Villanova Capital after a month of free lunches.

These three men have worked together with near-unprecedented success for 18 (!) seasons. Eighteen! That’s an eternity in a league where, during the same time span, the Raiders have had 10 coaches while the Browns have employed nine. Will it end soon, or will it still be a bit longer? Time will tell but any way you cut it, it’s been an amazing run.

Now for the postseason. After a 12-6 week – including the College Football Playoff games – the 2017 mark is 149-84 (.639). On to the games that move us closer to determining a champion.

 

SATURDAY

4:35 PM, ESPN 

Tennessee (9-7) at Kansas City (10-6). Tennessee rallied to make the tournament but they’re running up against a Chiefs team that righted its ship in the final month of the year. Coach Andy Reid, temporarily distracted upon hearing of the shipment of wings that the Bills sent to the Bengals, now seems focused. He is, of course, 8-4 in opening playoff games (but has lost three straight Wild Card Weekend games).

Throw in the fact that KC is healthier and I’m going with the hosts to record their first home playoff win since Clinton’s impeachment. CHIEFS, 26-19.

8:15 PM, NBC

Atlanta (10-6) at Los Angeles Rams (11-5). I love what the Rams are doing under McVay and I believe in them, but the Falcons are a pride-filled bunch and showed great resolve late in the season. Dan Quinn has built his team around the concepts of brotherhood and toughness. Look for that – and Atlanta’s vast playoff experience – to shine through in this one. FALCONS, 23-20.

SUNDAY

1:05 PM, CBS

Buffalo (9-7) at Jacksonville (10-6).Which Jags team will show up? The one that recorded the largest margin of victory in the league this season (20.2 ppg) or the squad that stumbled against the Niners and Titans in the final two games, staggering like a punch-drunk BROTHER BLUENIK. I’m gonna bet on the former, led by the dominant Calais Campbell, but don’t sleep on Buffalo. JAGUARS, 26-22.

4:40 PM, FOX

Carolina (11-5) at New Orleans (11-5).It’s hard to know which Cam will show up tomorrow but we should feel confident of the Drew Brees we’ll see. Hopefully a strong effort by the QB and his mates will help the citizens of NOLA to forget about the historic beignet shortage they’re experiencing as the result of THE GURU’s visit last week with H-TOWN WILL and their families. SAINTS, 34-31.

MONDAY

8 PM, ESPN

Alabama (12-1) vs. Georgia (13-1) in Atlanta. Nick Saban, facing ex-assistant Kirby Smart, is 11-0 all-time against his former coaches with each win by at least 14 points. This may not be a two-touchdown victory but it’s tough to bet against Saban in this situation. TIDE, 20-16.

That’s it for this week, folks. Have a great Wild Card Weekend and God bless!

 

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