Wild Card Observations
I watched a few of these in real time, namely the Texans-Browns, Cowboys-Packers and 1/3 of the Steelers-Bills — I shut it off when Mason Rudolph threw the end-zone pick, already down 14-0. For the rest I watched only highlights.
I also bet $66 to win $60 on the Texans +2.5 and should have laid the wood with the Chiefs -4.5, but held off at the last second. That game went exactly as I thought it would, but I doubted myself and didn’t bet it.
I held off betting on the other games — I didn’t have a strong enough feeling.
. . .
But the biggest issue now is what I did with my NFFC postseason entry. Initially I had Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen as my QBs, but it was bothering me that they’d likely meet in the second rather than third round, and it would be too late to pivot to a 3x Brock Purdy (because I’d still likely have both QBs alive after Round 1.) So I swapped out Allen for C.J. Stroud.
Stroud was perfect because he likely faced the Ravens in Round 2 and wouldn’t meet up with Mahomes until Round 3. Plus he was an underdog Week 1, so if he lost, I could pick up Purdy to pair him with Christian McCaffrey in Round 2 and get 4x McCaffrey and 3x Purdy on the NFC side in the Super Bowl.
But I also didn’t want to light $200 on fire for a longshot team to make the AFC title game, having to win as underdogs at home and then as big underdogs in Baltimore. Because if Stroud lost to the Browns, I could pick up Purdy, but why have Stroud then at all? And if Stroud beat the Browns, but lost to the Ravens, I’d have the same problem as I did with Allen/Mahomes where I’d lose the chance to pick up 3x Purdy anyway.
So even though I’ve compared Stroud to Joe Montana, at the last minute I pivoted to Lamar Jackson as my second QB, thinking Mahomes (turns out he’s seven percent owned) was contrarian enough. I also considered that I’m contrarian to a fault, and sometimes I need to rein that in and not always swing for the home run — usually having a little chalk is necessary to mix in with the long shots.
So I had Stroud/Mahomes, a clear path to winning $150K if both win in upsets this week (and the 49ers make the Super Bowl), but now I only need the Mahomes upset/Ravens win/49ers win. That might sound better, but the difference is in the former scenario I’m probably good for a top-10 finish at a minimum, and in the latter — as Jackson (54 percent) is the highest owned QB — I’ll need to get some other things right, like picking the right non-Purdy 49ers sidekick between Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle. That’s always the tradeoff in these contests: pick the probable thing and need to be perfect, or pick the plausible but improbable thing and have it happen.
If I could go back in time, I’d switch it back to Stroud, as I think he’s a live dog against anyone. I was serious about the Montana comp.
One thing I can (and will) do is bet the Texans moneyline. That way if the Ravens win, I was right, and if the Texans win, at least I get paid nicely for being wrong to switch it. (I’m also tempted to bet on them ATS and get a double-win, wherein the Jackson pick was right, and I *still* get paid if/when they cover.)
The Cowboys are hilarious getting worked at home by the upstart Packers. Jordan Love played great, but the Cowboys defense isn’t what it was, and Dak Prescott really disappears in big games. The Cowboys were like the Dolphins this year — able to destroy bad teams, but soft against game opponents.
The Eagles were 10-1, best record in the league, defying the typical Super Bowl hangover, but what an epic collapse! I thought they might be able to turn it back on, but when they got blown out by the Giants in Week 18, you knew they didn’t have it anymore. Happy for based Todd Bowles to get a playoff win.
I compared Baker Mayfield to Jared Goff before the year — left for dead former No. 1 overall picks who had NFL success prior, and I think it holds. Both can play at a good level if circumstances are good. And now they get to face each other in the battle of reclamation project No. 1 overall picks. (Goff’s second straight game against a No. 1.)
Joe Flacco and Mason Rudolph must have let the stats bros get to their heads and convince them quarterbacks matter again.
I didn’t see the end of Rams-Lions, but I imagine it must have been dramatic as it was a one-point game. The highlights just showed the Rams settling for the field goal and then the clock running out.
I like the dogs in the AFC this week, even though I haven’t looked at the lines. I imagine the Chiefs are +2.5, the Texans 7.5. I’ll guess the 49ers are eight-point favorites over the Packers and the Lions 4.5 over the Bucs.
My four-team vs the field bet from Week 13 with Jeff Erickson lost one this week (Cowboys), but I have three of the eight remaining (Ravens, 49ers, Chiefs.) The Bills are obviously his best hope.