by Eight Thirty Seven with assistance from J-Dub and Jason from Indiana
As much as we’d all like to pretend the following fact is not true, we are all going to die. Death as defined as the cessation of life is every bit as real as the fact that none of us are going to win the lottery, and we’re probably going to have to deal with seeing Kanye West more than we’d like to over the course of the next decade. Sometimes life really sucks. What sucks even more is that eventually we’re all going that big liquor cabinet in the sky, and there isn’t a damn thing any of us can do about it. What’s yet even more disturbing than that is some of us are closer our fate than we realize. After reading this, you could get T-boned by a semi truck and every one of your family members could be dressed in black two days later wondering how the fuck they’re going to pay for that casket. In short, life ain’t always long.
This year in the NFL has been very symbolic of such a troubling confrontation with the reality of death. Consider this: While the Sunday Night Football season finale decided the difference between the Vikings as a three seed as opposed to a six, remember that before the week sixteen Monday Night game against Cincinnati, Denver could have been eliminated from playoff contention if they lost the last two weeks and several other teams stepped up to the plate and won. That’s how close you can be to the hole in the NFL this year…One week you’re almost out of the hunt completely, then seven days later you’re the one seed and you have your All-Pro quarterback healthy again. Who knew?
J-Dub: So, here we are…the NFL Play-offs are upon us. The play-offs are like a concentrated version of the regular season. The mistake a lot of people make is they confuse “concentrated” with “better”, when in many cases, the exact opposite is true. Think of it this way: Concentrated orange juice is to fresh as bouillon cubes are to steak.
If you don’t understand the difference, try this. Without putting it in water, just start sucking on a bouillon cube. Once that hyper-salty solution hits your stomach, the projectile vomiting you will experience will be quite like no other sensation you’ve ever known. Don’t ask how I know this, rather understand that the NFL play-offs this year are just like sucking on a bouillon cube; there’s going to be a lot of barfing.
The NFL is similar to certain death for all of humanity, except for the fact that one team every year emerges victorious. But eleven of the twelve playoff teams are going to bite it, and very rarely does a team that is playing Wild Card weekend win it all. And even if they do, half of the eight teams you’ll see through beer goggles this weekend are going down in flames. We’re pretty sure we have a good idea who, and we’re going to do our best to help you not blow your fucking mortgage payment in the process. This is the First Order Historians 2016 NFL Wild Card Weekend Preview: Somebody Has To Die.
Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) -3.5 at Houston Texans (9-7) (40) 4:35 PM EST, ESPN
Regardless of how obviously unfair it may seem, we’re not going to exhaust our energy explaining why a team who did not perform as well as its Wild Card opponent during the regular season will be hosting a playoff game. Right now the likelihood of Roger Goddell being smart enough to realize that is pretty much an impossibility, so let’s just focus on the task at hand. The Chiefs were pretty much left for dead after their week six loss to the Vikings, but in the month that followed they scored blowout wins against Lions and the Chargers. Although those wins weren’t anything to write home about, in the same period they also scored double digit victories against the Steelers and the Broncos. So the argument about how they can’t hang with “real” playoff teams isn’t going to fly around here, especially given the unpredictable nature of the National Football League. I see a lot of the same thing in the Texans: They’ve won eight out of their last eleven after a 1-4 start, and one of the losses in that stretch was against a Patriots team that at the time looked unstoppable. The road win against the Bengals was really the turning point in their 2015 season. Up until that point we had just assumed that Houston would disappear into the crevice that is the bottom of the AFC South, and we wouldn’t really miss seeing them get eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. But they stuck with it and due to an incredibly weak playoff setup, were rewarded with a home game that they probably didn’t deserve and shouldn’t win given how bad they looked in September. I’ll be rooting for the Chiefs like a motherfucker throughout the duration of this game. I really, really hope they win. But something doesn’t seem right, and it’s hard to pick a team that struggles to score more than 23 points with confidence…even if it’s against the Texans. I want to pick Kansas City so bad here, I really do. But with two quality defensive teams making life a living hell for the other at the line of scrimmage, this is going to come down to a battle of wills at the QB position and I have no reason at all to trust Alex Smith more than I do Brain Hoyer. This seems almost criminally insane considering I read an article this week suggesting that Robert Griffin III might land in Houston this offseason, but that’s another discussion for another day. It will be very close, but I like the Texans by two at home to turn the Chiefs’ dream sequence into upper respiratory failure.
837’s Prediction: Texans 24, Chiefs 22
J-Dub: Kansas City has won ten consecutive games, and the Texans are on their tenth quarterback. Bill O’Brien is to be commended for the way he turned this team around, but the dream ends here. $100 on Kansas City, $25 on the over
Jason from Indiana: Kansas City
Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6) -2.5 at Cincinnati Bengals (12-4) (46) 8:15 PM EST, CBS
Had Andy Dalton not fucked up his thumb the last time these two teams faced each other, this might actually be the Saturday night game that the NFL scheduled it to be. I think the league sort of blew it by scheduling this one as one of two prime time Saturday night playoff games knowing the Vikings/Seahawks match-up is going to be great, and Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron will probably spend more time masturbating to highlights of Alabama’s shutout win over Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl than he will studying game film of the team that is about to kill him in a stadium where he can get suite tickets for anyone in his extended family. But we’ve got what we’ve got, and we know we’re all going to watch it so let’s break it down: In a conference where Brady is headed to the playoffs with a makeshift offensive line and Denver is facing a very questionable quarterback situation to say the very least, the Steelers could prove to be problematic for just about anybody they play given their recent performances against the Colts, Broncos, and…the Bengals. Pittsburgh is the Seattle of the AFC, a six foot tumbleweed of double edged razor blades headed right for your face while you sit there helpless with your eyes stapled open. If Antonio Brown played for the Chicago Bears, we’d all be hearing about how he is the greatest wideout to ever put on a uniform. He’s quietly been one of the most effective players in the league this year, proving that fundamentals are the key to that position: Run your routes, minimize drops, and own the sideline. Big Ben has thrown fourteen interceptions this year to his less than stellar count of eighteen touchdowns, but don’t let that stat fool you into thinking that the Steelers possess anything but the very definition of a team mentality when Omar Epps leads them onto that football field. The Bengals are going to hang in this game for a while and even though they will be trailing, it will appear as if they are keeping it competitive up until about six and a half minutes into the third quarter when AJ McCarron does something so incredibly stupid it will break every meme generator on the internet. I realize I’m not putting much faith in him, but we’re talking about a guy who’s only made three NFL starts – and lost the only one that really counted in prime time – trying to upend a Hall of Fame quarterback. He won’t be making that attempt at a legendary defense by any means, but keep in mind the 05-06 Steelers were a six seed during Roethlisberger’s rookie season where they took it to the house and won Super Bowl XL. And make no mistake, Dalton will not play. The only reason that they won’t list him as “out” on the injury report is to suggest that Pittsburgh will have to prepare for what would happen if he does play, but I can guarantee you everyone in the Steelers organization knows that he won’t. This pick is my lock of the weekend, and I like the under here as well. The coroner is at the door, and Katherine Webb is in tears on the sidewalk.
837’s Prediction: Steelers 23, Bengals 17
J-Dub: This game represents two things I don’t want to bet on, but I have no choice. Mike Tomlin is an idiot, he loves to find ways to underachieve with a team with some of the best talent in the league, and the Bengals might be down to a third-string quarterback. Cincinnati needs to break the trend they have had since the Paleozoic Era of being completely incapable of winning a play-off game, a streak of futility only slightly greater than that of a Mike Tomlin defense being able to stop anybody. This is where one bites the proverbial bullet: $50 on Pittsburgh
Jason from Indiana: Pittsburgh
Sunday Early Afternoon:
Seattle Seahawks (10-6) -5 at Minnesota Vikings (11-5) (40) 1:00 PM EST, NBC
If you’ve listened to sports talk radio this week, the Seahawks are being touted as the most dangerous team in the league…and with good reason. All this time we’ve been waiting for Russell Wilson to become the 300 yard a game passer he sold us that he could be, and it’s finally happened. He’s now extremely comfortable in the pocket, and still every bit as mobile as he was when he led the Seahawks to the Super Bowl XLVIII victory they eventually captured. But this game will be a bit of new territory for both teams…AccuWeather – a website that predicts local weather and boasts one of the corniest company names on the internet – reported on Wednesday that the high temperature will be a bulbous one whole degree Fahrenheit, which should make for brutal afternoon conditions for this match-up in Minnesota. The Vikings are coming off of a win against the Packers which allowed them to host this game, and in the first half of that contest their defense was formidable. Their defense seemed to be in Jane Fonda 1982 type of shape, and even when things got rough they were still able to pull it together. After Cordrarrelle Patterson turned the ball over on special teams on a key return towards the end of the third quarter, the Packers appeared as if they were primed to march down the field and get seven, but even after being battered and bruised – and getting worked all quarter – they still held Green Bay to just a field goal. They deserve to be here, and their performance clearly showed that was the case. But Seattle presents a whole separate set of challenges on both sides of the ball…The question is simple: Which Seahawks roster will come to play? The team that has steadily blown out every team they’ve faced over the past five weeks except for the Rams, or the team who allowed Jeff Fisher’s St. Louis squad to complete a season sweep of their squad on a field in which they were deemed invincible less than a year ago? I can’t imagine that Russell Wilson is going to lay an egg in the Wild Card round after failing to secure a first round bye for the first time in three years, and you have to think that mentally that Super Bowl loss still tortures him even more than the voice of the Lord telling him he’s not allowed to have sex with his girlfriend. I said in the “Why Your Team Won’t Win the Super Bowl” piece that Teddy Bridgewater is going to suffer a devastating playoff loss this year and he’s going to need it to become the man and the football player the Vikings need him to be in order to contend for the Super Bowl next year. The Purple People Eaters don’t stand a chance here, and I like Seattle to win and cover the spread as well. The under is touchy here at 40, but I’m sure we’re not going to see a race to who can score 33 points first. So therefore I’ll suggest the under but advise great caution. It’s going to be close. Creeping Death may have come for Minnesota’s 2015-16 season, but if there is any team in this round who can be exhumed and brought back to life by October it’s the Vikings and I say that with confidence.
837’s Prediction: Seahawks 22, Vikings 16
J-Dub: Congratulations, Minnesota! You are hosting your first play-off game since The Brett Favre era. Your reward is you get to be gorilla-stomped by the hottest team in football. Skol! $250 on Seattle
Jason from Indiana: Seattle
Sunday Late Afternoon:
Green Bay Packers (10-6) -1 at Washington Redskins (9-7) (45) 4:40 PM EST, FOX
The Packers head into Washington on Sunday having seen much better days. A home loss against the Vikings in a game that they had to have in order to play the same team they beat week eleven on the road by seventeen points sent them packing to Washington D.C., once our beloved nation’s capital and home to the very politicians that do such an amazing job of managing our tax dollars and not banging hookers after quitting time. In 2015 Kirk Cousins set a single season franchise record for most passing yards in Redskins history, and even though the NFC East blew moose scrotum this year you have to give the guy credit even if you’re not a huge fan of his WWE type attitude. Left tackle Trent Williams has done a hell of a job protecting him, and Cousins didn’t have much of a choice but to step up given that Alfred Morris has struggled this year to say the very least. (For the record, six carries for 12 yards against Dallas is considered struggling, even if it was a meaningless game) Nevertheless Green Bay is going to be looked at as the Goliath in this match-up, and if you think for one second their recent struggles are going to slow down the media piping Aaron Rodgers’ balls until kickoff you are sorely mistaken. They aren’t what they once were offensively, and in all reality that started when Jordy Nelson went down in preseason. After the special teams turnover leading up to the end of the third quarter in the drive I mentioned earlier against the Vikings, Green Bay hardly marched their way down the field as if they were destined to get seven. Cousins has over three hundred and forty more passing yards from scrimmage than Rodgers does so far this year. While Washington’s defense is solid, you can expect the Packers to still score about three touchdowns here because you have to figure the Skins aren’t as good of a defensive team as Minnesota is…even at home. I like Washington to cover even though I can’t stand just about everything about them, but at the same time the last thing I would like to see is a team like Green Bay advance just because it would be good for the league. Fuck that. The Redskins have lost a lot of close games this year and this one will be no exception, and I have a really good feeling about the over here at 45 so I’m going against Dubs here. One point lines are a fucking joke…You might as well just call it a pick ’em, it’s not like this is soccer. So Washington will cover and the Packers will go home with a death certificate in their pocket, and even though this doesn’t happen a lot – it’ll be their own.
837’s Prediction: Redskins 27, Packers 21
J-Dub: We’ve all heard stories of people who die during sex. That’s how it’s going to end for Green Bay; pants around their ankles gasping and screaming. But it won’t be in a good way for the Packers. They aren’t going out in a “blaze of glory” with the girl of their dreams. They are going to bleed out in an alley after getting shanked by a $20 meth whore. $50 on Washington, $50 on the Under
Jason from Indiana: Washington
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Eight Thirty Seven