NFL Wild Card Weekend Picks — Beware the Bills!

Happy New Year all! With 2020 upon us, we here at SportsAttic sense a palpable sea change at work, one that will have lasting repercussions on the world of sports this year and beyond.

Yup, we are making the bold proclamation that “out with the old” includes the horrific prognostications that dotted our SportsAttic columns throughout much of 2019. To put it succinctly, we are feeling it!

So we will not delay even a single day into the new decade before unleashing upon an unsuspecting public four, sure-fire NFL picks that, if followed by our legion of adoring readers, will ensure riches and glory as your NFL wagering endeavors take on next-level financial relevance with the onset of “the tournament.”

However, before we lay out our 2020 NFL Postseason Sure Things, there are a couple of thoughts that need to be passed along in the aftermath of the annual Black Monday slaughtering that claimed the scalps of several head coaches just two days ago.

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First, help me here — wasn’t Ron Rivera supposed to be the offseason’s hot head coaching candidate? And without so much as a “let me think about it,” he signs a deal with the Washington Redskins? Washington??

The spectacular magnitude of Rivera’s poor judgement here, joining forces with Little Danny Snyder and the most dysfunctional bunch this side of James Dolan’s New York Knickerbockers, is a clear indicator that Rivera is not of sound mind. So wait a second, maybe this signing does make sense?

In some bizarro Groucho Marx twist (“I don’t want to be a member of any club that would have someone like me as a member”), Rivera’s frighteningly inept decision-making in accepting a contract from Snyder and the Redskins actually makes him the perfect choice in Washington.

Right? Think about it. It makes sense. I think.

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And while on the subject of the NFC East, did anyone happen to catch Giants GM Dave Gettleman’s presser after firing head coach Pat Shurmur the other day? Many Giants fans felt Gettleman should have been shown the door right alongside Shurmur. After all, he is the guy who assembled the absurd hodgepodge of a roster that threatens to suck the spirit out of young superstar Saquon Barkley if left unchecked.

My sense after watching Gettleman manage to display both extreme arrogance and a clueless outlook on the direction of his team, is to wonder if perhaps franchise owners John Mara and Steve Tisch simply wanted to see the GM publicly tortured by the rabid New York media. After all, Gettleman had spent most of the season hiding from reporters while Shurmur ate shit week after embarrassing week. Mara and Tisch are nothing if not all about fair play.

Whatever the reason, if you are a Giants fan, you have to wonder if things can change for the better under Gettleman’s watch. So here’s a proposal — why not go after Jim Harbaugh?

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I mean, can’t we declare the U. of Michigan homecoming over now?

Harbaugh leading the New York Football Giants would fire up their loyal and suffering fanbase, and provide the right kind of strong guidance and stability for young QB Daniel Jones, as he enters the critical second year of his learning curve. Yeah, Harbaugh can be a handful off the field, and not exactly central casting for the ultra-conservative Giants organization, but hey, neither was Bill Parcells, and that one worked out okay.

If I’m Mara and Tisch, I pull out all the stops to get a Harbaugh meeting, and then I back up the Brinks truck, along with a promise of complete control of all football decisions. Have Gettleman report into Harbaugh, and run the off-field football operations for a year. At that point, Harbaugh can decide whether he wants to keep Gettleman (any wagers on that one?), or bring in his own guy to upgrade their overlooked analytics department and handle salary cap issues.

The Giants are flat-lining, and just watched the only worse-run franchise in their division make a positive splash with the Rivera hiring. They need to be bold, and that’s not waiting around hoping Jerry Jones sends Jason Garrett their way. Harbaugh would be a game-changer.

Again, think about it.

Okay, on to the Wild Card predictions (home team in all caps):

Bills (+2.5) over TEXANS — There’s always at least one upset on Wild Card Weekend, and here it is. Yeah, the J.J. Watt return will fire up the Houston fans and his teammates, but this Buffalo defense is for real, and will eat up Deshaun Watson and take the crowd out of it by putting up points early.  Look for Josh Allen to send a message that Lamar Jackson isn’t the only dual-threat QB to come out of the vaunted 2018 draft. Bills, 24-16.

Titans (+5) over the PATRIOTS — Technically this isn’t an upset call. The Pats don’t have the offense to cover here, but will do enough on their home field to stay alive one more week. Titans head coach Mike Vrabel knows Bill Belichick as well as anyone in the league, and will ride monstrous Derrick Henry hard, but in the end look for the GOAT to drive downfield and win a nail biter on a late field goal. Patriots, 20-17.

SAINTS (-8) over the Vikings — Too many New Orleans weapons for the Vikings to keep pace. Besides, you never really bought into the whole “new and improved Kirk Cousins” storyline, did you? If you are in one of those NFL Playoff fantasy leagues, I sure hope you went with Drew Brees with your first pick. He will pile up the stats in this one. Saints, 37-17.

EAGLES (+1.5) over the Seahawks — This will be upset number two of the weekend, although it doesn’t feel like much of an upset call when we go with the division champ, playing at home, over the wild card squad that just got off a cross country flight. Bottom line here is that Seattle looked like a team running on fumes when they expired one delay of game penalty short of the division title on Sunday night. Meanwhile the Eagles are one of the NFC’s hottest teams, even if their momentum was built on wins over terrible teams. Here’s hoping for some cold, nasty Philly weather, a muddy field, with fans being ejected by the cops for throwing snowballs at the opposing team’s players. Yes, an old fashioned Philadelphia playoff game. Eagles, 19-17.

There’s Week One for you, folks. Write them down in ink, and we’ll tackle the Divisional Round when the dust settles.

Happy New Year!

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