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Wild Card Observations
At least the ones through Sunday. I’ll do a separate post about Cowboys-Bucs tomorrow. It occurred to me if the Bucs win, Tom Brady would be facing Kyle Shanahan in the Divisional Round— what could go wrong?
As for the games that were played, I enjoyed them more than I would have thought. Seahawks-49ers was entertaining in the first half, and my only fantasy interest was the NFFC Postseason Hold ‘em contest where I had Brock Purdy as my QB, so the second half was good too.
(That contest works by adding up the scoring in each round, but with 2x for the Divisional Round, 3x for the Conference Championships and 4x for the Super Bowl for all originally picked players. Accordingly, you want to roster the ones you think might go off in the Super Bowl.)
I took Purdy over say Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen as one of my QBs because I figured he’d be low owned (9%), and I’m building my team around a potential Bengals-Niners Super Bowl.) I also took Purdy because I realized Christian McCaffrey would be highly owned (79%!), so even if I were right about the Niners, everyone would be getting 4x in the Super Bowl on McCaffrey, and I’d have no advantage if he went off. But if Purdy puts up numbers like he did Saturday, I’ll have a big edge over most of the field. Watching the game, I realized Purdy was the play also because Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk and even McCaffrey are all racking up stats for him, and any one of them could go off in a given game.
Anyway, I’ll also need Joe Burrow (25%) to make the Super Bowl and have a huge game if I’m to have a shot — I used him over Ja’Marr Chase (57%) for the same reason.
Here’s the full roster:
When Deebo Samuel (3-32-0, 9-6-133-1) plays, George Kittle (2-2-37-0) usually has a much smaller role than when he’s out.
Purdy might be playing with the best weapons in NFL history. Kittle, Deebo and McCaffrey are Hall of Famers, health permitting, and Aiyuk is a borderline Pro Bowler.
DK Metcalf (13-10-136-2) despite 141 targets this year was underused. Kenneth Walker is one of the quickest most explosive running backs I’ve ever watched, but I don’t know whether Seahawks will use him as a receiver more next year.
My thesis about Jaguars-Chargers was that the Chargers were soft and poorly coached, and it was crazy the Chargers were favored in Jacksonville. Even when it was 27-0, I had a feeling the Jaguars might still make it a game (though I didn’t expect them to win.)
Trevor Lawrence (and the entire team) are slow starters. I watched a lot of their games this year because I had him, Christian Kirk and Travis Etienne everywhere, and often the first quarter was near-zero for all three. I’m not sure why it takes them so long to get going.
I’m forgetting a lot of things, but it’s amazing the Jaguars came back despite Doug Pederson punting on 4th-and-2 from his own 36 down 27-0. I mean I get not wanting to turn it over on downs in your own end, but it’s two-yards to go, and even in the late second quarter, you only have so many possessions left in the game! It worked out for them because they forced the Chargers to punt and scored a TD at the end of the half to cut it to 27-7.
The other mistake during the comeback was Pederson not challenging a long completion to Gerald Everett that was clearly not a catch. Usually when you gift a team a 20-yard catch and deprive yourself of a possession you don’t make it back from 27-0, but once Lawrence gets rolling he’s very good, and it was the Brandon Staley Chargers.
The 25-yard game-sealing run by Travis Etienne on 4th-and-1 was a beautiful play call and execution. For some reason I’m still rooting for Lawrence and Etienne even though my fantasy season is over.
The Jaguars were lucky Mike Williams got injured for no reason last week.
Like everyone else, I didn’t expect to watch all of Dolphins-Bills, and I was actually supposed to walk Oscar one last time before the Giants game, but I couldn’t get away from it. (In fact, I missed the Vikings opening drive TD when I finally did walk him.)
It would have been nice to see the Bills get bounced — the Burrow pick would be worth a lot more if they were hosting the Jaguars rather than travelling to Buffalo — but I never really believed the Dolphins could do it. Even so, the way it ended with yet another delay of game on and a dropped pass was disappointing.
Daniel Jones has been a Pro Bowl-level QB the last two weeks. While Isiah Hodgins (9-8-105-1) has been a nice find, and Richie James, Darius Slayton (more on him in a bit) are okay, Jones has carried the offense with his running, decision making and perfect throws. He looks better and more consistent than Lawrence right now. He’s also getting rid of the ball much faster than he ever did.
Saquon Barkley (9-53-2, 6-5-56-0) is exactly the player he was advertised to be coming out of college — he just struggled through some injuries and the league’s worst offensive scheme for a few years. Hilarious when people argued Sam Darnold was a better pick solely because he was a quarterback!
Brian Daboll/Mike Kafka is the best offensive braintrust in the league. Granted the Giants faced a soft defense in the dome, but for the offense to run that smoothly and efficiently with those receivers and an average offensive line is impressive.
The Giants defense is much better now than at any point in the season. They have Leonard Williams healthy, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Dexter Lawrence, and now top corner Adoree Jackson (who did a great job on Justin Jefferson) and top safety Xavier McKinney are back. I don’t think the Eagles are a slam dunk next week.
The Giants should have sealed the game earlier but Slayton dropped a perfect wide open slant for a would-be first down, and they had to punt the ball back to the Vikings up seven. Then the Vikings got bailed out on a criminally weak RTP penalty. I was about to say it was “one of the weakest of all time” but there have been so many preposterously bad ones, I had to dial it back. But all’s well that ends well.
The Bengals got incredibly lucky to win that game — the 14-point goal-line fumble TD was complete junk. They were also lucky they didn’t get called for a block in the back on the return as Mark Andrews was running down Sam Hubbard before he got shoved aside.
I’m not worried about Burrow or the Bengals offense. The Ravens defense is tough, easily the best they’ll face in the AFC.
I’m still sitting on a Giants to win the NFC at 70:1 ticket. It’s really not hedgeable, given they’ll be big underdogs in both games, but the real odds are more like 15:1 or 20:1 at this point.