Well, we can’t hold off for late-breaking weather news any longer.
Divisional playoff weekend in the NFL is being totally overshadowed by the perfidious shenanigans in Southern California. Seattle, Atlanta, Houston, and New England just aren’t up to the challenge of overcoming such a PR-and-attention-span handicap.
It will take the Dallas and Pittsburgh games to do that.
But we won’t get to those until Sunday. For now, we’ll just have to struggle to watch the Saturday games with interest, while staggering under a dark cloud like Pigpen with his pollution aura. The San Diego Chargers are no more.*
Anyway, Seattle will be at Atlanta here in an hour, with the Falcons giving 4.5. The sportsbabblers are high on Atlanta, and QB Matt Ryan has certainly been looking good. The Falcons are psyched to avenge their earlier loss to the Seahawks, whose Legion of Boom has kind of slipped lately to being a Legion of other things that rhyme with –oom. The Falcons aren’t likely to puddle up the way the Broncos did last week, but we wouldn’t count the Seahawks out just yet.
Naturally, Houston is assumed to have no shot at New England Saturday night. Death Star gives 16.
Sunday afternoon, the Packers will be in Arlington for their shot at the Cowboys. Dallas is laying 5 for this one, which is realistic from a sterile analytical perspective, but unpersuasive for lifelong Cowboy fans. Show us the points, Pokes. Get it done. Your partially-trained-puppy secondary probably can’t keep Rodgers and his catching squad in check indefinitely, so make sure someone is ready to distract him with a State Farm commercial production crew. And for crying out loud, get greedy and score whenever you can. If you’re ahead by 28 points with 56 seconds left in the game, then you can pull the too-cool-to-sweat lackadaisical Texan act. No “saving it for the Super Bowl” in this one.
Sunday Night Football could be the game of the week, with the Chiefs, at home, out to avenge their (really bad) regular-season loss to Pittsburgh, and the Steelers led by a mobility-limited Ben Roethlisberger. He’s reportedly been doing full practices the last couple of days, and they have to play him; it’s all sudden death from here. But his front line had better surpass its best A game.
Fortunately, Big Ben has never been an overly mobile QB anyway, so the adjustment isn’t as major as it might otherwise be. Le’Veon Bell is 100%, and on a good day is worth two 300-pound linemen in terms of messing with a defense’s heads.
All that said, the weather may be the biggest factor – and equalizer – of all. The winter storm, arriving Saturday evening, has already resulted in the game being rescheduled from noon (Central) to the Sunday night slot. Arrowhead is an open stadium, and freezing rain is expected throughout the day, with temps right around 32F. Even Pittsburgh WR Antonio Brown will have to concentrate extra hard to haul ‘em in under those conditions. The oddsquad has KC giving 1; good luck handicapping this one.
It’s divide and conquer week. Play ball.
* To clarify, the biggest tragedy here is that the Chargers, with this move, invade the TV viewing market I’m in. It was bad enough when the Rams moved back into it. Who’s next, the Cardinals? I’ll never get another Cowboys game on Fox or CBS again, for crying out loud.