BENGALS MISS BY A WHISKER...
DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF WEEKEND
We had a great Wild Card Weekend, hitting on four of six games, missing only one Total call--albeit the O/U Special—and hitting two of three Specials…
We missed on our Steelers pick and were expecting to be wrong. The Arrowheads have such a talent advantage over Pittsburgh the Steelers had no margin of error—and had to play four intense quarters of playoff football.
Evidently, Mike Tomlin forgot to communicate those two fun facts to his football team, or—and, this is more likely—it wouldn’t have mattered. Kansas City’s season long improvement on defense let Big Ben and company know they weren’t playing the Browns.
We got the feeling Andy Reid let half his staff stay in the locker room during halftime to start prepping for Buffalo.
Anyway, we’re anticipating our best post-season ever.
Here’s the Tally so far:
Las Vegas Raiders 10-7 @ Cincinnati Bengals 10-7 (-5.5, 49) LW [U]
New England Patriots 10-7 (+4.5, 44) @ Buffalo Bills 11-6 O/U
Philadelphia Eagles 9-8 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 13-4 (-9, 46) [U]
San Francisco 49ers 10-7 @ Dallas Cowboys 12-5 (-3, 51) GW [U]
Pittsburgh Steelers 9-7-1 @ Kansas City Chiefs 12-5 (-13, 46.5) [O]
Arizona Cardinals 11-6 @ Los Angeles Rams 12-5 (-4, 50) [U]
SUPER WILD CARD WEEKEND
SWCW Tally: 4 – 2
2021 Regular Season Overall Tally: 140 – 133 – 1 .517
2021 Overall Tally: 144 – 133 – 1 .520
SWCW Totals 5-1 Cumulative Totals: 73 – 43 .629
SWCW Specials 2 – 1 Cumulative Specials: 39 – 35 - 1 = .527
GAME OF THE WEEK 9 – 10 LOCK OF THE WEEK 9 – 9 – 1
UPSET SPECIAL 12 – 6 O/U OF THE WEEK 9 – 10
SWCW PREMIUM PICK CUMULATIVE 7 – 2 .
PREMIUM PICK CUMULATIVE 112 – 78 – 1 .589
PARLAY WINS – 4
DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF WEEKEND
Cincinnati Bengals (11-7) @ Tennessee Titans (12-5) 3 47 0/U
I play a game with my self during the playoffs. Before the early lines are published, I make my straight up pick by answering a simple question—“Which team is better?”
Beyond the Wild Card round, that question becomes more difficult to ask…
Pittsburgh vs. KC? Cincy vs. Vegas? Buffalo vs. the Pats? Niners vs. Cowboys? Eagles vs. Bucs? Pretty simple calls. Last week the only real challenge was Arizona @ The Bighorns.
Somehow the Cardinals forgot they were supposed to play a division rival in the first Monday Night playoff game in history.
This week we don’t see an easy call.
Young Cincy, stud QB, Joe Burrow can hide a teams less obvious warts, but this is his first post-season. The Titans have one of the league’s best rushing attacks and Derek “OH” Henry, aka The Human Bulldozer is back from IR this week, and I don’t think he’s going to forget his Titans have a game to play.
The Bengals best defensive tackle, Larry Okunjobi is on IR and that makes Tennessee’s running game better.. Cincy’s pedestrian pass defense might be forced to play man because everyone else will be in the box trying to keep from getting bulldozed.
Why I Can’ Hate the Bengals
You read correctly, AFC North bitter divisional rival or not, I can’t bring myself to hate the Bengals. In fact, my only visit to the Queen City, for the first football game me and my father ever attended together is one of my all-time cherished memories.
About 10 years ago with a cataract blurring my good eye—my sisters would have killed me had they known how impaired I was—I took my dad down to the Jungle for a Steeler game.
We went out to dinner the night before and when the people saw my father in Black & Gold, many of them made a point to walk up, shake his hand, and wish the Steelers good luck.
Seriously, you would have thought the Godfather had popped in for an espresso. During dinner the waitress offered him another Chianti on the house—(don’t tell my sisters, he wasn’t allowed to drink.) After finding out he couldn’t have dessert, the owner had some sugar free ice cream sent over.
As the last hand was shook, I looked at him, amazed, as if asking, “W.T.F.?” He flashed his Sicilian smile and says, “What can I tell you, Gar, I have fans too.”
The selfish part of me wanted to say, “ Yo, Pops, you can tell me why you didn’t pass any of that charisma down to your kids.”
Next day, we took a cab to Paul Brown Stadium. Cincy fans are waving at us wishing us “Good Game” “Welcome to Cincinnati.”
I’m thinking, “What is wrong with these people?”
We walk up the ramp to level two, and I asked dad if he wanted to take the elevator, he declined—the line was too long and he didn’t want to miss kick-off. By the time we got to level four he had to rest a couple times. More than a few people stopped and made sure he was okay.
By the time we got to our section, he needed to rest. Our seats were about six rows up. Against the front railing there were tables sunken to accommodate those in wheelchairs and chairs for their guests. Some guy whispers to his young son on crutches, they get up, motion to their seats—“You guys sit here.” The gentlemen escorts my dad to his seat! I shook my head, but the guy said, “Sit there with your dad and enjoy the game.”
It was then I swear I heard the theme from the Twilight Zone and Rod Serling on the PA system;
Gary Porpora, Steeler Fanatic, blithering idiot, who let his diabetic father drink two glasses of wine, an inconsiderate bastard who didn’t have the common sense to take the elevator or reserve handicap seating realized at that moment—blanketed by the grace of human kindness, on a cloudy afternoon during a football game in the Queen City—he could never again root against the Cincinnati Bengals…
Oh Yeah, The Game
This Bengal team pulses with talent and can certainly pull off the Upset. In fact they remind me of the ’72 Steelers coming off a their first playoff victory in 40 years—when God daggered the Raidas, blessed Franco and altered the football cosmos forever.
Cincy just beat up a considerably mediocre Raiders team and has earned another shot against the Titans to make history by winning their first road playoff game ever. Their painful 0-9 record in that context would send an even closer shot over the NFL bow that the next great dynasty has arrived.
I’ll be rooting for them, but I don’t think they can pull it off.
In the NFL post-season, experience, grit, and attention to detail matter. The Titans have been here. Burrows ceiling may be considerably higher than Ryan Tannehill’s, but you can count on Tannehill to protect the ball when it counts. In four playoff games the former Aggie has seven TDs against two picks. His 93.8 rating is exactly what Mike Vrabel is looking for.
And that brings us to the reason we’re picking the Titans to Cover the Spread. Coach Vrabel is quietly becoming an outstanding football coach. In fact since he was hired in 2018, Vrabel has a 4-0 mark after a bye and is 7-3 with extra rest.
In 1972, Chuck Noll’s upstart Steelers hosted Don Shula’s undefeated Dolphins for the right to go to the Super Bowl. It was the hardest hitting football game I have ever seen. Just before haltime with the Steelers ahead 7-0 and Miami’s undefeated dream dying on the vine, Shula called a fake punt leading to a tying touchdown. After Shula replaced Earl Morral with Bob Griese, Miami won 21-17.
Noll and his team seemingly had to learn how to lose before they would win four Super Bowls.
That’s where I think Zach Taylor and his Striped Cat are now.
I’ll be rooting for Cincy, but I’m picking the Titans to Cover—Over the Total…