Wide Open Road To The Super Bowl — Time For New Blood — NFL Six Picks

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They’ve been playing Super Bowls for over 50 years in the NFL. I know this because of the Roman numerals attached every year to the hats, programs and other souvenirs available to the fans of the lucky participants.

I find it fascinating that in these 52+ years of the Super Bowl Era, there are twelve teams (of the 32 professional football teams in the country — nearly 40%, for you math folks out there) that have never taken home the Lombardi Trophy. In fact, four of the twelve have never even gotten to the game itself:

*Cleveland Browns                                *Jacksonville Jaguars

*Houston Texans                                   *Detroit Lions

Of those pitiful four, we’ll give the Jags and Texans a pass as (relatively) recent expansion franchises, and the foibles of the Lions and Brown (the two hapless franchises actually faced off FOUR TIMES in NFL Title Games during the ’50’s — the Lions won three of them, including the last one in 1957 by the score of 59-14) have been well documented.

While the Browns’ 2018 hopes are technically still alive (gotta love those Instagram posts showing how many unlikely things have to happen for the Browns to gain entry into the postseason), it is safe to conclude that the long run of futility will continue for at least one more year in Cleveland, Detroit and Jacksonville. And what about Houston?

Hold that thought.

The other eight franchises who have yet to win a Super Bowl (despite making it there at least once, or in the case of the Bills and Vikings, many times) are:

*Buffalo Bills              *Cincinnati Bengals    *Tennessee Titans       *L.A. Chargers

*Minnesota Vikings   *Carolina Panthers     *Atlanta Falcons          *Arizona Cardinals

The Bills (wide right); Bengals (“Look, it’s John Candy”); Titans (make the tackle!); Cardinals (James Harrison’s 100 yard halftime dash); Atlanta (ouch, still stings); and Panthers (Jake Delhomme??) all came painfully close to taking home the hardware. The Chargers were blown out in their lone Super Bowl visit, while the Vikings played Washington Generals to several of the iconic, early Super Bowl victors (Chiefs, Dolphins, Raiders, Steelers).

So what’s the point?

Well, the point is that with seemingly every Super Bowl LIII title contender possessing fatal flaws (play some defense, Chiefs and Rams!), the identity of this season’s Super Bowl champ is still very much up in the air with only three regular season weekends remaining. And with the New York Airplanes secure in their annual march to double-digit losses, the time has come to find a fresh bandwagon to ride, and it seems only fair to root on one of the Winless Dozen.

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And I’m going all in on the Houston Texans (this pronouncement should be sending readers racing to legal betting sites to wager big against the Texans, if you’ve been following my recent prediction history). The Texans are fun to watch on both sides of the ball. They possess plenty of star power. The defense is loaded with playmakers, and Deshaun Watson may be the most entertaining QB this side of Patrick Mahomes.

Full disclosure here, though, is that while I type this I am watching these seemingly title-destined Texans struggle like there is no tomorrow against those very same, 4-win, 9-loss  New York Football Jets. That’s why they play the games, I suppose, but regardless of today’s outcome, I’m grabbing my seat on the Houston bandwagon. Right now. In Week 15.

Let’s call my Texans the #3 seed in the AFC (I’m giving the Patriots and whoever comes out of the West — most likely the Chiefs — the byes), which will earn Houston a Wild Card weekend matchup with whoever emerges out of the current muck of mediocrity clawing their way toward the final AFC playoff slot (I’m calling the final berth for the Ravens, but only because I believe all the other pretenders at 7-6 and 6-7 are simply terrible).

I’m even less clear on the NFC contenders, so I’ll defer that selection until next week, but write this down as sure as my “Giants will run the table” SIX PICKS call of a few weeks back (okay, I was off by a week, but the Gints sure are running it now that the pressure is off…) — the Houston Texans will be raising the Lombardi Trophy down in Atlanta come February.

It’s time for some new blood (home team in ALL CAPS):

GIANTS (pick ’em) over the Titans — The Titans are the poster children for the aforementioned AFC “muck of mediocrity,” sitting at 7-6 and still in it, but inspiring no one. The Giants are actually playing good football right now, even if it is after the pressure dropped following that awful choke job to the Eagles. At home, with OBJ nursing an injury, look for Saquon Barkley to put his teammates on his back and wow the Big Blue fans once again. The kid seems to get a little better every week, which is plain scary. (Giants, 30-21)

Packers (+5) over the BEARS — Apologies to poor George, the friendly, earnest analyst  down in Atlanta, who heard I write a sports blog and enlisted my help with his fantasy lineup last weekend. “Take advantage of the whuppin’ your hometown Falcons are going to inflict on the dead in the water Packers,” I confidently counseled George. Oh well, he’s young, and there are many more fantasy seasons in George’s future. Meanwhile, the Bears are due for a letdown after their big, near-perfect win over the Rams last weekend, and the Pack could still sneak in if they win out. (Packers, 24-20)

Cowboys (+3) over the COLTS — Okay, I admit it. This is one of those reverse psychology picks I occasionally insert to try and whammy the hopes of a team I dislike. I’ve been on the wrong side of the ‘Boys all year, and still don’t believe they are any good. But the Colts are part of that awful “almost in contention” pack in the AFC, and hey, they got trashed by the Jets weeks ago, which proves they don’t belong. Indy gets the benefit of that automatic three-point, home field, gimme point spread boost, but it won’t matter. Dallas wins this one outright. (Cowboys, 27-17)

Patriots (-2.5) over PITTSBURGH — All together now, “something smells bad in Steel City.” Two crushing losses in a row, and now the bully that takes the Steelers lunch money every year comes sauntering around the corner? I do think Pittsburgh will right themselves in time to salvage the division and the #4 seed, but not before another pasting at the hands of New England, much to the consternation of the Western PA faithful. Big night for Gronk, as he enjoys returning to the offensive side of the ball. (Pats, 31-16)

RAMS (-14) over the Eagles — How far the champs have fallen. Injuries, offseason banquets and now Wentz is out again. Cherish that trophy, Philly fans, because it would appear your franchise QB is injury prone. A diehard Eagles fan tried to make the case to me this week that things were setting up for a Nick Foles-driven “Cinderella Story” run to the playoffs for the reigning champs. Uh huh. Sean McVay must be salivating as he game plans for the depleted Philly defense, and Jared Goff has something to prove after laying that egg last week against the Bears. (Rams, 37-19)

PANTHERS (+7) over the Saints — We’ll go with the desperate home dog here. Has there been a more underachieving team than Carolina this season? Yet, like so many, they remain in the postseason hunt, and a statement win at home over the division leaders could provide just the momentum for a late-season playoff push. I’m still not ready to anoint the Saints as NFC front runners, and their poor performance in losing to Dallas last Thursday emboldened the doubters. Should be a good MNF matchup, though, as both teams really need this one. (Carolina, 27-26)

Last Week’s Six Picks Ledger: 4-2 (38-37-3 on the year)

Last Sunday saw Copper Springs Roddy fail in his gallant attempt to extend the winning ways of the NFL Six Picks Guest Prognosticators (and by the way, could a team more thoroughly shit the bed than what we saw out of Denver last week?). But, regardless of how unexpected last week’s results may have been, the SportsAttic Guest Prognosticator column is all about results. And with that in mind, the “Guests” now need to run the table with correct selections if they hope to salvage a .500 record.

Which means great things are needed this week. And here to deliver is none other than Windy City Brian! The resurgence this year of Da Bears has made Windy City Brian barely tolerable, but we were in a pinch for the guest slot this week, and he’s been raising his hand for a shot since early-October. So put down that stogie, Windy City Brian, and share some midwestern wisdom with us here at SportsAttic.

Miami (+7.5) over the VIKINGS — “Hey SportsAttic, Brian here. I’m going with the Dolphins with my pick this week. Not because I think Ryan Tannehill is a good quarterback. Not because I think Miami will have any momentum coming from last week’s Miracle finish. Nope. I’m picking Miami because they are playing the most cowardly, underperforming, overrated, poor excuse for an NFL franchise, maybe in the history of the whole league. Do the Vikings really think making a scapegoat out of Offensive Coordinator John DeFilippo will somehow turn things around and save their sorry season? Hahaha. Take the 7.5 and enjoy watching those purple also-rans go down inside that lame dome of theirs.” (Dolphins, 26-17)

SportsAttic Take: Okayyyy…, I suppose we must appreciate the passion Windy City Brian brings to SportsAttic this weekend. And while he makes a strong case, I am going the other way. I think last week’s “miracle” was the Dolphins last positive moment for 2018. The Vikes have been maddeningly inconsistent this year, often following a brutal showing (like last Monday’s against Seattle) with a performance that reminds everyone why they were in the conversation as a Super Bowl favorite when the season began. Look for the public execution of DeFilippo to jolt a good performance out of Kirk Cousins, while the D adds some points off a Tannehill Pick Six. (Vikings, 24-13)

There you have it, SportsAttic Nation. Week 15 is in the books, and for those of you who also happen to root for teams who, even in this year of mediocrity, find themselves on the outside of the playoff picture looking in? Well, there’s plenty of room on the Houston Texans bandwagon. C’mon on board, with J.J., Deshaun, Jadeveon and AtticBro — the parade is forming!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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