The AMERICAN Football Column: Wild Card Weekend

Hi, hello & welcome to America’s favorite column about America’s favorite sport! To be honest, there was a really good chance I wasn’t going to bother with a column this week. Fantasy is dead except for the playoff challenge, which I’ll sign up for here in a little bit if I remember. Those of you that have kept up all year know my picks have become a pile of rubbish, so it’s not like I was going to go out of my way to do that.

As it happens, a couple of items have popped up on the agenda that I do need to address.

To the surprise of most people, Marvin Lewis is returning to Cincinnati. He’ll coach the Bengals for two more seasons. As a Bengals fan that lives in the Greater Cincinnati area, I can report to you that many folks are shocked & appalled by the news. Local sports media is losing their minds. Everybody bought into Adam Schefter’s report that Lewis had decided to move on. They were excited to see somebody else on the sidelines. Change was coming to Cincinnati! Hey, I was happy too. I’d been saying for years that The Bengals Should Fire Marvin Lewis.

See, here’s the thing about change: it’s not always a good thing. One of the lessons of 2017 was that radical change in high leadership positions is not always a good thing. In some cases, as we will continue to learn in 2018 as a man-baby continues to lose his mind, it can be disastrous.

I have the feeling that Hue Jackson was meant to be Marvin Lewis’s replacement. They’re the best of friends. Hue knows everybody in the Bengals organization well. It just makes perfect sense. Unless, of course, Hue Jackson goes 1-31 in two seasons as head coach of the Cleveland Browns. As hard a sell as two more years of Marvin Lewis might be, there’s no chance in hell that you can sell a fanbase on Hue Jackson as a head coach. Even if everybody knows that the Browns are deliberately tanking & trying to bring The Process to the NFL, it’s permanently stained Jackson’s chances of getting a head coaching gig anywhere else. He’s the guy that won one game in two years.

Mike Brown is reticent to change things. It’s tough for him to trust people. He trusts Marvin. The way I see it, the Bengals will next hire a coach when Mike Brown & Marvin Lewis retire together. Brown is 82, so it won’t be that far from now.

Is it a move that inspires confidence in the Bengals’ immediate future? No. But let’s be honest: no such move exists. The Bengals are going to be the Bengals for awhile longer. I’ve accepted this. I’ve also accepted that it’s nice to have a familiar hand steering the wheel. I know Marvin won’t take the Bengals to the promised land. I also know that he isn’t going to embarrass the community like he’s Rick Pitino or something.

So there’s that. I also feel an obligation to post something here this week because Dustin James introduced me to my future next ex-wife. He & Jeremy Lambert have been going on about The Challenge for years now. I’ve ignored it because MTV was something I stopped watching when my hairline started receding. Yeah, it’s been awhile.

There’s a new season now, and Dustin mentioned that a lady on the show was drop-dead gorgeous. I demanded pics because that’s what one does in that situation, and then I immediately fell in love. I found her Twitter account & fired off my best shot I could come up with while drinking an IPA.

Listen. This is the most beautiful woman not married to a former member of the Cincinnati Reds that has ever replied to one of my tweets. I haven’t seen the show yet, but a description says that she has devious ways. Deviousness is a major turn-on for me.

And…

SO YOU’RE SAYING THERE’S A CHANCE? I sure picked the right year to grow some self-esteem.

Picks Against The Spread

We’ve got an interesting dynamic going on this week. Fans always complain about the same teams making the playoffs every season. They demand variety. The thing about that is variety doesn’t always equal quality. The closest spread this week is barely less than a touchdown & I really can’t make an argument for most of these teams winning a game after this week.

Does anybody NOT think that the Pittsburgh Steelers will be heading to New England for the AFC Championship Game? Maybe if the Chiefs remember what they did in the first six weeks, they could surprise some people. Otherwise, there’s no chance for any other AFC team. The NFC’s a bit more wide open, as the Philadelphia Eagles are the #1 seed that everybody wants to play because their QB is out for the season. I spent all season thinking that the Minnesota Vikings wouldn’t play in the Super Bowl in their home stadium…but now that’s looking like the most likely possibility.

In any event, we got four games this weekend that we have to try & act excited about. Here goes nothing!

Tennessee at Kansas City (-8.5): I think the Chiefs end up winning this game, but it’s going to be close. No DeMarco Murray for the Titans, but Derrick Henry is pretty good anyway so they’re not losing much there. At the end of the day, I don’t think the Titans have enough of a passing game to keep up with Alex Smith Man.

Atlanta at LA Rams (-6.5): The Falcons are getting kind of hot at the right time and I feel like I might be making the wrong call here. But then I think about Todd Gurley going against the Falcons defense and I think he could break some playoff rushing records. The Rams are one of those teams that don’t know enough to be afraid, while the Falcons have tasted enough failure to be fragile.

Buffalo at Jacksonville (-9): This pick 100% depends on if LeSean McCoy can play or not, as he is the entirety of the Bills’ offense. I like Tyrod Taylor better than the Bills coaching staff does, but I don’t love him against the Jaguars’ defense. Big ups to Bills fans donating a ton of money to Andy Dalton’s charity after the Bengals helped their team get into the playoffs, but I don’t love their chances of getting past the Jags.

Carolina at New Orleans (-7): Jeremy Lambert, the Panthers’ #1 fan, is hanging his hat on the fact that it’s difficult for one team to beat another three times in one season. The Saints won the first two meetings in convincing fashion. I think it happens again, as New Orleans is one of the tougher environments to play in & their running game doesn’t stop against anybody. Jeremy likes it when I pick against the Panthers, so he’ll be happy. He’ll also be happy if you listen to The Arc of Wrestling over on thechairshot.com, which should go up any day now.

Best plugger in the business right here.

Week 17 Results: 10-5-1

2017 Season Results: 111-134-11

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