NFL Divisional Playoff Weekend Preview:  Preparing the Livestock for Slaughter

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by Eight Thirty Seven with assistance from J-Dub and Jason from Indiana

While I’m an animal lover, I also adore meat. It’s just fucking delicious. But most of us don’t get to experience how the many different forms of that wonderful delicacy make their way to our dinner plates. A lot of us city folk probably aren’t aware of the many processes which are necessary for us to assume our carnivorous nature on a daily basis. Although I’m one of those city kids I’m slowly beginning to learn how this is done, and from everything that has been described to me I’m sure that the smaller and the more harmless the animal is the more difficult it is to kill when you’re new to the game. For fryer and stew rabbits, it’s grisly but quite simple:  Most of them meet their fate by a farm hand coming up from behind them and breaking their necks. It sounds horrid, but it’s probably one of the easiest ways to go and beats the hell out of constantly applying for a job where if you get it you’ll spend the resurrection of Christ delivering pastel colored eggs to spoiled white kids. For goats, you have to tie their back legs together and hang them by those digits before slitting their throats. If you’re not sure what this sounds like, listen to any album Yoko Ono has ever sang lead vocals on with the exception of Double Fantasy and then trust me…you’ll know. I’m never seen anyone butcher a cow before, but I would assume since you can’t use the head for anything that you just stick a half stick of dynamite under their neck, light it and then plug your ears before running the other way very quickly.

But I guess that’s why I’m not a farmer. Instead, I spend a majority of January analyzing the NFL postseason instead of playing the grim reaper to a bunch of livestock. For my burger buyin’ bucks, there’s no better complete weekend of NFL football than the divisional playoffs. For the most part every team there has proved that they deserve to be two wins away from the Super Bowl, but there are typically very clear underdogs…i.e. plenty of future meat wandering around the yard. Four teams will advance to the conference championship, and the other four are eventually headed to the back of a Carl’s Jr. where you’ll be charged eleven and a half dollars for a quarter-pound slice of their dignity. There’s going to be blood all over the acreage, and half of these teams are fucking dead meat.

During last week’s Wild Card round, the Bengals cause the ASPCA to throw a fit after their sudden death and the Vikings committed suicide. The Seahawks got really lucky, and the Steelers got away with a win even though they came very close to having to shoot that horse. Since we’re discussing meat and death, I figured now would be the perfect time to drag in J-Dub and see which slaughterhouse what’s left of his bank will be headed to come Sunday evening.

J-Dub:  The theme for this week is “reputation bet.”  You can’t tell me there isn’t a lot of certain teams’ reputation having an effect on some of these lines. I’ll explain as I walk through these picks.

So let’s head out back to find the old grey goose and see who’s headed to the processing plant in the 2016 First Order Historians NFL Divisional Playoff Weekend Preview:  Preparing the Livestock for Slaughter

Kansas City Chiefs (12-5) +5 at New England Patriots (12-4)  (42)

Kansas City Chiefs v New England Patriots

The Chiefs are hot, and even more than that they seem to be the one team that matches up well against New England. The Patriots have a plethora of injuries, and a huge portion of the plays which determine the outcome of this game is going to depend on how their back-ups can handle this game – and how Belichick is going to call it after the first couple of sequences. The one guy they will have back is Tinder enthusiast Julian Edelman, who is going to need to transform into a dude who splits any single crevice like he does the skank gash he kills on the aforementioned app. If that offensive line starts getting bullied around early, Kansas City has about a half of an hour to make it count and put them away. Because by then, Darth Hoodie is going to figure out what the fuck is wrong, and it’s going to take something a whole lot more dangerous than Alex Smith to counter that adjustment. New England rarely loses their first playoff game of the year, and I can’t see them blowing it in front of a crowd that is going to be hell on wheels. I was talking to Jason about this Wednesday night and we could only put together two playoff debuts that the Patriots have lost during the Brady/Belichick era. (Jets/Ravens) There is a huge part of me that wants to tell you to take the Chiefs here. They slaughtered the Texans, and if they can do the same to the Patriots I can make a veal analogy at some point. But seriously, the dream dies right now. Eleven in a row is incredible, and it seems like the magic will run out in Massachusetts on Saturday afternoon. Plus if you need any proof that Andy Reid can easily be outcoached by Bill Belichick, here is some footage from Super Bowl XXXIX you might want to take a look at. I have to take New England, but it’s safe to say that whoever wins this game is going to the Super Bowl no matter what. The spread will be close, but this is Tom Brady you’re talking about here. He’s done a lot more with less. Even though I’m picking it, I’m not really in love with the over. This could be a very low scoring game, and there’s a damn good reason the total is only 42. Chiefs meet their maker, but have nothing to be ashamed of with regards to what they were able to accomplish this year.

837’s Pick:  Patriots 26, Chiefs 18

J-Dub’s Pick:  You can say whatever you want about the Patriots, but the fact is they are beat to shit and they are 2-4 in their last six games. The uneducated eye might wonder why they are giving they giving 5 points and why this game sports an over/under of only 42 points. To buy that line, you have to buy the Patriots can win this game with a score of 24-17.  Let’s break that down, completely forgetting what the January weather in Foxborough might be; the assumption being bad weather drives all the numbers down. One thing all gamblers look at is trends, which is funny because people who understand football do the same thing, but in a different way.  Football guys have an old saying they treat like a commandment: “You are only as good as your last game.”  In an odd way, this correlates to the gambler’s belief in trends, just in an inverse way. The bottom line is they are both about trend-breakers. Kansas City is on the king of all rolls, having won 11 straight games. And while some my try to tell you they “haven’t beaten anybody,” you can rest assured the people who’ve said that haven’t been watching this team.The reason why they are on this roll is they control the line of scrimmage, run the ball, and play defense. The reason why the Patriots are 2-4 in their last six is they do none of those things, There’s two things I’ve been saying about New England for a while now:

1) Tom Brady is one of a handful of guys in this league who can change the conventions of pro football. That’s how this team won twelve games without following those conventions, That’s also means as long as he’s on the field, Brady makes anything possible.
2) The Patriots are like a heavyweight boxer who is on the ropes and waiting for the bell to save them, and they are one good punch away from hitting the canvas. The Dolphins beat the shit out of them their last time out, and all the denial in the world Patriots fans might offer can’t cover that. That’s not to say they still can’t win, but they need the lucky punch now to do it; and to throw it, they have to expose themselves to the shot that ends them.
Boil it all down and what you get is a line inflated by the reputation of the Patriots. Combine that with the line, the trends, and the gambler’s code, and it all says take the Chiefs and the points. $100 Kansas City, and I reserve the right to make a “post time” bet on the total based on the weather at game time.

Jason from Indiana’s Pick:  New England

Green Bay Packers (11-6) +7 at Arizona Cardinals (13-3)  (50)

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A lot of what you’ll hear and see regarding this matchup is going to be based on Green Bay’s performance against Washington last week and how they have their mojo back. Personally, I think all of that is a crock of shit. Aaron Rodgers is going to find out very quickly that Arizona is not the Redskins. Don’t get me wrong, Washington’s defense was very underrated but Arizona’s defense has to be the most overlooked group of guys in the league. Nobody will shut the fuck up about Carolina and Seattle and how dominant they’ve been on defense, but Arizona lit teams up on that side of the football this year. Keep in mind, that week sixteen game was after the Honey Badger was done for the year. The playoffs are a much different game entirely, but to think the Packers have fixed all of the problems they had in that game in three weeks of their time is crazy talk. Even ESPN’s Ron Jaworski says that Rodgers will struggle this week, and if there’s one guy who knows a thing or two about struggling in the playoffs it’s a guy who couldn’t win a Super Bowl with Harold fucking Carmichael. While Arizona’s defense is a killing machine, their offense also averages over 30 points a game and are second in the league in scoring. There’s a legitimate chance we could very easily see the same Packers team we saw in the first game, and it could get out of hand really, really fucking fast. But Vegas is smart, and they love to set lines up like to trip up writers like us. In other words, there’s a reason the Cardinals are seven point favorites in this game. They’re not going to win by thirty points like they did a few weeks back, but seven seems reasonable to me and I think this game is going to be a real reality check for Mike McCarthy when it comes to what he can expect from this team over the next five years. The Packers were all over the place this year, so after a strong showing against an average team I like them to bite it hard in this one and Arizona covers. It won’t be cold blooded murder, but when that steer gets in that truck he’ll know exactly where the fuck he’s headed. Possibility Green Bay doesn’t show up on offense at all and just simply can’t handle the Angry Birds, so avoid the line even though the under is mouth watering at fifty.

837’s Pick:  Cardinals 27, Packers 17

J-Dub’s Pick:  Everybody is in love with the Packers again.  A comeback win against a “surprise” play-off team, and everybody thinks Vince Lombardi is still alive. I could spend all day telling you why the adjustments Green Bay made to beat the Redskins won’t fly against the Cardinals, but there’s really no point. The Packers used their miracle in Washington. $100 Arizona

Jason from Indiana’s Pick:  Green Bay (I told J-Dub I had a little voice in my head last week after I sent you picks telling me to take Green Bay. I’m hearing it again. Don’t ask me why…)

Seattle Seahawks (11-6) +2.5 Carolina Panthers (15-1)  (44)

Richard Sherman ,Jonathan Stewart

The Panthers are probably overjoyed this game isn’t in Seattle. Regardless of the fact that they went up there in week five and won 27-23, they’ve had to listen to everybody and their brother talk about how the Seahawks are by far the hottest team in the league. But truth be told, Carolina needs to put one playoff rarity into perspective:  They will be playing a team who essentially lost last week. The Seahawks got beat throughout the duration of that game, and chance occurrence is the only reason they are still playing. That was their mulligan, and against Carolina’s defense that will be their only chance to win a game where they play that poorly on offense. Seattle might have been the hottest team in the league heading into their Wild Card win against the Vikings, but Carolina has one thing a lot of teams heading into this weekend don’t: Health. Not only have they not suffered as many injuries as the other remaining seven teams, they get running back Jonathan Stewart back this week and that is going to open up a lot of opportunities for a quarterback who can run the ball himself pretty goddamned well. The Panthers are number one in the power rankings, a stat that I’m not entirely sure counts for anything at all anymore. But they’ve been consistent against teams that have had good defenses, and they aren’t the least bit scared of Seattle at all. Two and half at home for a team that went 15-1 is an insult, and regardless of whatever bullshit is coming out of Richard Sherman’s mouth I can guarantee you this joke of a spread is all of the bulletin board material that Carolina needs. Even though I wear a Seahawks hat all over the metro area, I honestly hope the Panthers win this game by 38 points. I’m dead serious. They won’t do it, but they’re not going to lose or simply win by two. Don’t touch the total for this one, it’s got the possibility to be quite tricky. But Panthers cover with no real issue.

837’s Pick:  Panthers 25, Seahawks 16

J-Dub’s Pick:  The way Vegas loves the Seahawks, you would think they had a history of dominance all the way back to Jim Zorn and Steve Largent.  Or, you can look at this like Vegas knows Cam Newton an the Panthers have no NFL “street cred” yet. This is the classic “pick your poison” bet; you have two teams who can score and who can play defense.  Essentially, the bet is who controls the line of scrimmage and doesn’t commit turnovers. The only way I bet this game is as two-team “teaser”  where I can change the spread by a total of six points.  In that case I package this game with the Pittsburgh-Denver game, make this game a straight pick and put $50 on Carolina.

Jason from Indiana’s Pick:  Carolina

Pittsburgh Steelers (11-6) +6.5 at Denver Broncos (12-4)  (39)

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As stated last week, Denver entered week sixteen in a situation where they could have missed the postseason altogether and ended up getting the number one seed with New England’s loss to Miami. They have gotten a gift here now that Pittsburgh is beat up to all hell. If everybody was anywhere close to 70%, I wouldn’t hesitate to take them over a Denver team that somehow has an offense that is less interesting than Kansas City out of all of the teams left. I hear from who I would consider to be reliable sources at this point that meat from a wounded animal isn’t nearly as good as that from one whom you’ve killed which is totally healthy. A lot of animals are simply walking meat rotting, and the Steelers fit that description to a T. I guess that’s one reason why picking this game seems so anticlimactic, as does the fact that it’s the final game of the weekend. To be brutally honest with you, I couldn’t care less who wins at all but since this is what we do I guess I have to take somebody. And would you believe that a guy who has been so critical of Peyton Manning’s play this year would take Denver? If not, I have some bad news. Pittsburgh is just so banged up from every angle I can’t bring myself to pick them. Plus if Big Ben doesn’t play, his backup would have to be so right with the world from a karmic standpoint in order for them to make this game competitive. Aaaaand…their back-up QB is Michael Vick. I think I’ve made my point. I’m not taking Denver to cover with any real confidence, I’m doing it because Pittsburgh has so little to work with. And if this total was 35, I’d still take the under.

837’s Pick:  Broncos 21, Steelers 13

J-Dub’s Pick:  As the back end of the two-team teaser, I give myself the best shot to ignore the Steelers’ propensity to overplay injuries and the Broncos’ need to sell the idea that Peyton Manning isn’t finished.  By dropping this line to Denver (-3), I can feel much better about putting $50 on the Steelers, and bracing that with $50 on the under.

Jason from Indiana’s Pick:  Denver

Once again thanks for visiting First Order Historians and enjoying more of the internet’s finest in user generated content.

Eight Thirty Seven

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