By: Elias McMillan
Kevin Reitmeyer joins the program, giving it legitimacy. Listen to Elias try to keep up. But really, we talked Pitt Hoops, March Madness, and Tom Brady.
This could be the beginning of something special for Kansas City on Super Sunday unless San Francisco has something to say about it.
By: Elias McMillan
Conference Championships: 1-1
Super Bowl LIV from Miami, Florida
San Francisco 49ers vs. Kansas City Chiefs
I’ve gone back and forth on this one in terms of who I think is going to win vs. who is actually going to win. Really, I just don’t want the snooze fest that was last year’s Super Bowl. And I don’t think we will get that. Super Bowl LIV will feature an old time theme in football: a really good offense vs. a really good defense. The question here is if that explosive offense will be too much for even a good-to-great defense to handle. For the Chiefs, QB Patrick Mahomes has drawn rave reviews and all is there left for him to do is to deliver Kansas City its first championship in over 40 years. Mahomes has the weapons to get it done in the passing game. The Chiefs offer multiple speedsters at the WR position and TE Travis Kelce can also provide big plays. In their way is a talented 49ers defense led by a young and active defensive line. Probable Defensive Rookie of the Year, Nick Bosa, leads this unit that includes former Chief Dee Ford and two 6”7 defensive tackles that wreck havoc in the middle. San Fran’s defense also gets outstanding play at LB with Fred Warner and Kwon Alexander and in the secondary with CB Richard Sherman. Kansas City doesn’t have a bad defense either. They shut down the league’s leading rusher two weeks ago and safety Tyrann Mathieu is currently playing his best ball of his career. The matchup between the Chiefs offense and the 49ers defense will take center stage on Sunday but another big question will be how QB Jimmy Garoppolo will affect the game. San Francisco ran the ball well two weeks ago with Raheem Mostert carrying the load but I think they will not be able to depend on him against the Chiefs front four. So, when called upon, can Garoppolo provide big plays down the field? Many are not expecting much from the 49ers passing game but I think that might serve as an advantage. WR Emmanuel Sanders and rookie Deebo Samuel should not be slept on by the Chiefs secondary. For entertainment purposes, I think that many including myself will be looking for the Chiefs to use that explosive offense, light up the scoreboard, and keep San Francisco from striking distance. Kansas City is the favorite in this game for a reason but some of it maybe sentimental. The Chiefs have the aging coach (Andy Reid), aging veterans on their last championship run (Terrell Suggs and Shady McCoy), and the new superstar who is ready to take over the league (Mahomes). I think it is possible that the Chiefs will be able to get up big in this game and not look back but something tells me that we’ll see something different. Maybe the 49ers defense will be able to win the battles up front and make it really tough on Mahomes. Maybe the 49ers will be able to keep Mahomes on the bench and control the clock with Mostert and a now healthy RB Tevin Coleman. I feel better saying that the Chiefs will win on Sunday but I have a strange feeling. It wouldn’t be the first time a star QB’s first championship appearance ended on a sour note. Prediction: 49ers 34 – Chiefs 31
The table is set for the 49ers defense to lead San Francisco to the Super Bowl.
By: Elias McMillan
Divisional Round: 2-2
Conference Championship Sunday
AFC Championship Game
Tennessee @ Kansas City – The Titans are taking all challengers this post season. RB Derrick Henry is leading the way on the ground, punishing defenses. And QB Ryan Tannehill is making big plays when called upon. On defense, Tennessee’s secondary has also been impressive. That unit will be tested often on Sunday with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. Kansas City was down early, big last week at home but that explosive offense was able to pull them out of the fire real quick. Houston didn’t do any favors for themselves either, as they made some mistakes down the stretch. I don’t think the Chiefs will be able to afford another slow start this Sunday. Tennessee has done a great job with ball control and staying away from game altering mistakes. I think Tennessee’s run game will do its job and keep KC’s offense on the bench, which could take the home crowd out of the game. If the Chiefs are able to bottle up Henry, Tennessee’s defense will be in serious trouble. They’ve done a good job so far in the playoffs but Kansas City is able to challenge them vertically unlike any other they have faced. I think the extra attention on the Titans backfield could open things for Tannehill and his young receivers. The Titans brand of football isn’t as fun and exciting as what Kansas City or what Baltimore was offering but it is working. It would just stink if it just came to a complete halt on Sunday. I’m rooting for the upset. Not sure it will happen but its what I’m wishing for. Another conference championship heartbreak for Andy Reid. Prediction: Titans over Chiefs
NFC Championship Game
Green Bay @ San Francisco – This 49ers team has been built for moments like this. San Fran is physical, they can run the ball and they have one of the league’s top defenses. That formula usually works in January. Green Bay will be the road underdogs in this NFC Championship game and it is easy to see why. I don’t think Green Bay’s offense is dynamic enough to get through the 49ers defense for 4 quarters. QB Aaron Rodgers played great against Seattle last week, finding WR Davante Adams for multiple big gains. I think that 49ers defensive front four will be able to limit the Rodgers-Adams connection. San Fran also defended the run pretty well last week, too. We might see quite a few screen plays from the Packers offense on Sunday to counter the 49ers’ aggressiveness. For the 49ers on offense, they just have to continue to keep things simple and stick to what works. QB Jimmy Garoppolo didn’t have a great game statistically but he stayed away from mistakes for the most parts. The big thing for him is that when he does screw up, he knows he has a great running game that he can lean on. I think the result of this game will be the least shocking one of the weekend. Prediction: 49ers over Packers
The Texans won in Kansas City earlier this season. Can they do it again in the playoffs?
By: Elias McMillan
Minnesota @ San Francisco – I was really impressed with the Vikings’ defensive line in their upset victory over New Orleans last weekend. In fact, this divisional round game between the Vikings and 49ers will be heavily influenced by the play at the line of scrimmage. San Francisco has bolstered a pretty dominant unit up front all season and they’ll have a chance to really exert their power in this game. QB Kirk Cousins avoided mistakes last weeks and made some pretty big throws. He will be under pressure again this week but I think past experiences will help him. I think Minnesota’s experiences in the post season will help them on Saturday. Many players on San Francisco will be making their playoff debuts. Everyone usually puts a spotlight on Cousins but I think Jimmy Garoppolo is the QB under the most pressure this weekend. Minnesota’s defense has been inconsistent but if they play like they did in New Orleans, the Vikings will be in this one. RB Dalvin Cook could see plenty of opportunities in this game, which will help Cousins against a top ranked pass defense. The 49ers have taken on all challengers this season but recently, they’ve been able to escape in some close games by the skin of their teeth. Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said something this week about the last time they defeated New Orleans in the playoffs and came back the next week and laid a total egg in Philadelphia. That message will be hammered into his team this week and I think it will pay off as they will score the upset and advance to the NFC Championship Game. Prediction: Vikings over 49ers
Tennessee @ Baltimore – Tennessee didn’t have to do much to end the Patriots reign last week. But getting the job done in Foxboro shouldn’t be scoffed at. The Titans have a good thing going right now with the way they can control the clock with RB Derrick Henry which in return sets up the league’s highest rated passer, Ryan Tannehill. That formula will have to work overtime this week, as the Titans will face the league’s top offense in the Baltimore Ravens. League MVP Lamar Jackson should be fresh coming off the bye and his offense will be able to attack the Titans defense in a way that New England couldn’t do last week. This game will be all about which offense can control the clock as both teams feature highly successful running games. I think the difference will be which offense can produce more big plays down the field. The Titans cannot sleep on what Lamar Jackson’s arm can do. Also, you have to consider that Jackson has a talent group of skill players on offense to go to. I have a feeling that Tennessee might be able to keep this one close to start but eventually Jackson and Ravens will overwhelm them. Prediction: Ravens over Titans
Houston @ Kansas City – The Texans pulled off a great comeback in the Wild Card round against Buffalo. I don’t think they can afford another slow start this weekend, as they’ll visit the Chiefs in Kansas City. Houston showed against Buffalo that when pressed, their biggest stars can make game altering plays. On offense, QB Deshaun Watson proved his worth during crunch time and on defense, it was J.J. Watt who provided the spark. The Chiefs are a team that can apply pressure for all 4 quarters, offensively and defensively. QB Patrick Mahomes and his fast break offense should be able to stretch the field against the Texans defense. Kansas City isn’t a great defensive team but they do have an active front four along with a tough secondary. The Chiefs have had problems with injuries this season and it is something that they will have to continue to avoid during this post season run. If the offensive weapons are rested and healthy, Houston is going to have a tough time keeping them off the scoreboard. Houston defeated KC earlier this season and I’m sure the home team hasn’t forgotten about that. Unlike that game in Week 6, the Chiefs will need to get off on a fast start and keep the Texans offense on the bench. Prediction: Chiefs over Texans
Seattle @ Green Bay – This game will be pretty to look at. A cold and snowy Lambeau Field will set the scene for two teams that are usually mainstays in the NFC playoffs. Seattle was able to get by a wounded Eagles team last week and they didn’t earn any style points with that victory. With better QB play, Philadelphia might have been able to pull that one out. Seattle is currently having issues with scoring touchdowns, which may have to do with their injury situation. It’s cool that RB Marshawn Lynch is back but even he admits that he is not in game shape. QB Russell Wilson will have to do the heavy lifting for this Seahawks offense but how is that different from any other season? Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is used to putting the team on his back as well but this season, his supporting cast isn’t that bad. In this cold weather game, I’m expecting big things out of RB’s Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. I think the Packers running game will have a huge affect on the outcome in this one and it will allow Aaron Rodgers to control the clock and take some big shots down the field. Seattle’s defense is talented but they really got off easy last week. If their front four can’t get in the face of Rodgers, it could be a long, cold night for that unit. I’ve been mostly unimpressed with the Packers this season but I think they matchup well against Seattle. Russell Wilson has never won in Green Bay and on Sunday, the Packers will set the scene for a NFC North Championship game for the conference title and a Super Bowl berth. Prediction: Packers over Seahawks
Minnesota heads to the NOLA this weekend to face the NFC South champs.
By: Elias McMillan
Last Week: 10-6
2019 Regular Season Record: 157-98-1
NFL Playoffs: Wild-Card Weekend
Buffalo @ Houston – The Texans in the opening game of the NFL playoffs is starting to become a tradition for some reason. Why can’t the NFL give QB Deshaun Watson some limelight in primetime? He is definitely deserving of it. Watson and the Texans will face a stiff test Saturday in the form of Buffalo’s defense. The Bills rank third defensively in the league and are especially good at defending the pass. A matchup to watch in this game will be between WR DeAndre Hopkins and Buffalo’s all-pro corner, Tre’davious White. On offense, Buffalo lacks the explosiveness that Houston has but the Texans aren’t a strong defensive team this year. Houston might get a boost from the return of their leader DE J.J. Watt. The battle within the trenches will loom large in this game. Buffalo usually runs the ball well, which could set up QB Josh Allen to attack down the field. This will be determined by which Houston team shows up. Buffalo will have a shot if they are able to limit Watson and the passing game. If not, I don’t see Buffalo being able to out produce the Texans offense. Prediction: Texans over Bills
Tennessee @ New England – The Titans have been a fun story to watch this year. It looks like they’ve finally found their answer at QB in Ryan Tannehill. RB Derrick Henry won the rushing title. And WR A.J. Brown has made some big plays in just his rookie season. Enter the AFC East champs, New England, who like the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, just refuse to die. The Patriots blew a huge opportunity last week losing to Miami and missing out on a first round bye. Now, because of that lost, many are doubting the team’s edge as they’ll face a young and up-and-coming Tennessee squad. I feel like we could say this every year recently but this is the time where New England reminds everyone of who they are. Yes, Tom Brady’s best days are behind him but it is around this time of year where we usually see the best out of him. Tennessee’s defense isn’t all that great and I think the Patriots offense will find plenty of opportunities. Tannehill was one of the highest rated passers in the league this season but he’ll face one of the league’s top pass defenses on Saturday. New England is also tough against the run. It is going to be strength vs. strength seeing Henry going against this defense. Tennessee will have a chance in New England if they bother Brady and force him to play outside of himself. I have more faith into Belichick and the Pats defense giving Tannehill his toughest game of the season. Prediction: Patriots over Titans
Minnesota @ New Orleans – The Saints have had some of the worst luck in the postseason in recent memory. With the clock ticking down on QB Drew Brees’ career, the pressure to leave this post season as champions couldn’t be higher for New Orleans. The Saints are clearly equipped for a Super Bowl run but they’ll have to take care of Minnesota on Sunday first. Minnesota is probably the most unimpressive team in the post season this year. QB Kirk Cousins has played well at times but he usually falters when the lights are the brightest. RB Dalvin Cook has been a bright spot for the Vikings and he should be fresh as he was being held out during the last few weeks of the season due to injury. With time, Cousins should be able to attack the Saints secondary with Stephon Diggs and Adam Thielen. The challenge for Minnesota will be at the line of scrimmage where the Saints offer one of the league’s top run defenses. On the flip side, Minnesota’s defense was once considered one of the best in football but has struggled this season. They will have their hands full with Brees and the NFL’s top receiver, WR Michael Thomas. I think we can guarantee that the Saints will be able to score into the thirties on Sunday. The question will be if Minnesota can get key stops or if Kirk Cousins can go toe-to-toe with Brees without turning over the ball. Prediction: Saints over Vikings
Seattle @ Philadelphia – I guess it is impressive that Philadelphia made the playoffs this year despite all of their injury problems. But Philadelphia also has a problem with overall talent. QB Carson Wentz has been reduced to a guy who can only check down to running backs, throw to tight ends, and receive answered prayers when outside the pocket. It doesn’t help that his receiving core has been reduced to nothing as well as the season went along. Philadelphia has been able to lean on their defense recently. With multiple backups in the secondary, Philly’s front seven has picked up the slack. Seattle isn’t the healthiest team going into the playoffs also. They had to call back RB Marshawn Lynch from retirement as starter Chris Carson went down. The Seahawks offensive and defensive lines are also a bit banged up going into Sunday. Despite that, I expect overall talent to dictate this game. QB Russell Wilson should be able to command his offense against a shorthanded Eagles secondary. What makes me nervous for Seattle in this game is that their defense has been mainly unimpressive this season, ranking near the bottom against the run and the pass. The Eagles, despite lack of talent, have been unpredictable at times this year. Playing at home will definitely help their cause on Sunday. I think Seattle will win but this just feels like a game that Philadelphia will be in until the very end. Prediction: Seahawks over Eagles
Can the “Duck Man” lead Pittsburgh past Baltimore this weekend and into the playoffs? Somehow, I doubt it.
By: Elias McMillan
Last Week: 12-4
Week 17 Picks
Jets over Bills – Buffalo has already clinched their playoff spot and will be better off resting starters. The Jets could have a 7-win season after starting off 1-7. Not bad.
Browns over Bengals – Cincy is committed to the tank. The Browns could finish with seven wins. I said this about Cleveland back in August, “You have to crawl before you can walk.”
Packers over Lions – I see Detroit playing them tough but Green Bay could be in line for a first round bye in the post season.
Chiefs over Chargers – Kansas City has slim chances to improve their playoff position. But they have also had some bad luck this year when it comes to injuries. They could also rest their regulars.
Bears over Vikings – Minnesota is locked in at the 6 spot in the NFC and they’ve already announced that they will rest key starters.
Patriots over Dolphins – New England, with a win here, would clinch the number two seed in the AFC.
Falcons over Buccaneers – After a bad start, Atlanta has rebounded and saved the jobs of their head coach and general manager. That’s something to be proud of.
Saints over Panthers – New Orleans will need to win this one to avoid playing during Wild-Card Weekend. And what is this I’m hearing about Antonio Brown? Sean Payton, don’t do this. It could be fun. But, just say no.
Giants over Eagles – Philadelphia stinks. I’ll applaud their defense for last week, at least. But still. Not a very good team. Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley will look dynamic.
Washington over Cowboys – The Dallas Cowboys are a complete waste of time. It would be so “on brand” for the Eagles to lose but then Dallas fails to take advantage. I’m looking forward to the “Dallas fires Head Coach Jason Garrett” update scrolling across my screen. Having to watch this team for another week is punishment enough.
Raiders over Broncos – Oakland, despite the injuries, got the win last week and has a chance to sneak into the post season this weekend. Jon Gruden is quietly doing an okay job in Oakland.
Rams over Cardinals – Two teams with nothing to play for. For those watching this one, count how many times the announcers mention the ages of the head coaches.
Colts over Jaguars – Jacksonville is going to have an interesting offseason coming up in 2020.
Ravens over Steelers – Baltimore has the #1 seed locked up in the AFC and will rest their starters. But even with a playoff spot on the line, I don’t see Pittsburgh being successful with their current situation at the QB position.
Titans over Texans – Houston is going about business as usual this week but I’m not falling for it. If Coach Bill O’Brien has a brain, he will undoubtedly rest his starters this week ahead of Wild-Card weekend. Tennessee will be ready to take advantage.
49ers over Seahawks – San Fran has grown since losing to Seattle just weeks ago. Plus, the Seahawks are a bit dinged up. It is a big spot to win on the road in Seattle but I think the 49ers can do it and clinch home field advantage for themselves in the NFC.