DraftKings NFL: Championship Delcarations

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It’s the final week of the DraftKings NFL season! I want to be excited, but it’s more depressing knowing I’ll have to grind through the rest of a dark Michigan winter searching for reasons to live besides award shows until April 5th arrives. I’m even running low on Netflix/Amazon/Hulu/Regular Cable/HBO/Showtime/Starz options to the point where I’m considering watching things I have no interest in like The Crown. Or, even more absurd, read a book! The very notion itself horrifies me. I think I’d rather watch the news. But, enough about how difficult my life is. Let’s just enjoy what remains of what’s already been a pretty fantastic playoffs.

Divisional Round Results

I missed out on the Jags and Fournette, but heavy reliance on the Steelers, and getting cute throwing Corey Davis out there as my long shot made for a mildly successful weekend. Certainly, nothing I’d complain about…

Thanks Corey!

Thanks Corey!

Projected Conference Championship Lineup

With a two game slate, setting a lineup this week feels like playing tinder on the moon. My single entry lineup, and general theme, will be to feature many Patriots and Vikings. Just to be cheaky, I’ll toss out a few Jags/Eagles stacks in GPPs because why not–that’s why.

Position Player Salary
QB Case Keenum  $      6,600
RB Dion Lewis  $      8,100
RB Latavius Murray  $      5,700
WR Jarius Wright/Laquon Treadwell  $      3,000
WR Brandin Cooks  $      6,100
WR Chris Hogan  $      5,000
TE Kyle Rudolph  $      4,500
FLEX Stefon Diggs  $      6,900
DST Vikings  $      3,800

If I can’t resist TB12 and his allegedly hurt throwing hand tossing multiple scores to Gronk for the double DK points satisfaction, here’s a look at that approach…

Position Player Salary
QB Tom Brady  $      7,700
RB T. J. Yeldon  $      4,200
RB Latavius Murray  $      5,700
WR Jarius Wright  $      3,000
WR Stefon Diggs  $      6,900
WR Brandin Cooks  $      6,100
TE Kyle Rudolph  $      4,500
FLEX Rob Gronkowski  $      7,900
DST Vikings  $      3,800

Championship Weekend ATS Picks

A smooth 1-6-1 over the first two rounds! I blame Mike Mularkey, and Mike Tomlin. While I’m at it, I’ll blame my older brother because his name is Mike too. Just like I blamed him in times I wanted to avoid responsibility for my own actions when we were kids. Which… was every time. 56-38-4 on the season…

Jacksonville at New England -7.5

Reasons to take Jacksonville:

1. Many, including myself, owe Robby Blake Bortles an apology. The Jags beat down in the steel city last weekend served as a reminder that players, in any sport, can simply play better. I’m not all the sudden going to start making Bortles/Montana comparisons, but I should have factored in that he wasn’t as bad as his Wildcard performance suggested. And, much of it was obviously nerves. Especially, in the first half when he was having trouble throwing screen passes. The recency bias that game created had me over reacting like the one time I got food poisoning from Wendy’s in the 31,856 times I’ve eaten there. Just like the high, teenage culinary master working their craft in the Wendy’s kitchen, Bortles can simply have a bad day. Last week he proved he’s capable of not just being a game manager and avoiding mistakes, but actually making big plays in critical spots to help his team win. I’ll still make jokes about him because I feel it’s my duty as a person that takes making fun of stuff about as serious as anything, but Bortles deserves credit for bouncing back playing up in Pittsburgh.

2. Now that the Jags have robbed us of the Steelers/Patriots rematch, I secretly want to say the words “Blake Bortles” and “Super Bowl” in the same sentence for two weeks. A Bortles versus Foles Super Bowl would be about as close as we could come to “the upside down” from Stranger Things.

3. Much like the Titans, the Jags have the roster to execute a sustainable game plan to, at least, slow the Patriots down with a legit running game to keep Bortles in third and manageable, and Brady on the sidelines. Even better than the Titans, Jacksonville has the defensive line depth, lead by Defensive Player Of The Year Calais Campbell, that can pressure TB12 allowing the other seven defenders to drop back into coverage. Even more better than the Titans, Mike Mularkey isn’t their coach! By the way, I’m still not over the fact that Tennessee refused to come out in the no-huddle in New England last week after it clearly turned them around offensively when they made the switch in Kansas City. Nope. Instead, Mularkey opted for predictable, vanilla formations where I could even call out whether a run or pass was coming buzzed up on my couch. Why?! Anyway, the point is, Jacksonville has the identity, and the roster capable of executing the playbook that has given the Pats fits in the past. See the 2011-2012 Baltimore Ravens for reference. Now, it’s just a matter of going out an doing it.

Reasons to take New England:

1. They. Are. The. Patriots. Outside the 2011-2012 Ravens teams, no one has really given the Pats a scare when they’ve played host to an AFC Championship game in the Belichick/Brady era. Excluding the two Ravens games, New England is 4-0 outclassing opponents with an average margin of victory of almost 20 points. After last week’s signature win in Pittsburgh, and all the shine they’ve been getting over the past week, it might be difficult to ask a group without any experience handling success to pull off something pretty much no one else ever does seven days later.

2. I can’t live in a world where teams that consciously choose Jacksonville’s color schemes are allowed to be in the Super Bowl. There’s precedence for this. When the Detroit Pistons featured teal in their uniforms, the Gods cursed them with the Grant Hill/Jerry Stackhouse eras, and vowed they wouldn’t return to glory until the uniforms were changed back. Just sayin…

3. No, I don’t care about the hand.

The Pick: This is a fascinating match up on multiple levels. From a football stand point, Brady versus the Jags D-line offers a strength on strength battle where someone has to blink first. In terms of franchises, you get the dynasty darlings of the league with celebrity fans in the owner’s box versus, well… the Jacksonville Jaguars. The legacy implications for both Brady and (I can’t believe I’m saying it) Bortles are comical for different reasons. But, the intrigue doesn’t stop at quarterback. In a game that features seven all-pros in total, these rosters are almost as talent rich as Leonardo Dicaprio’s, and should deliver similar high level performances Sunday. Unfortunately for Jacksonville, I think their run ends here.

They took that game from Pittsburgh last week from the opening kick, and deserve the credit they’ve been getting this week. But, even with negligent coaching from Tomlin, and players openly looking past the Jags, it still took everything they had to stave off a furious Steeler rally. Those abstract advantages won’t exist in Foxborough Sunday afternoon. Without doing any research, I’m 100% positive a Belichick/Brady team has never been down 21-dick at home in a playoff game. They’re not overlooking anybody. They’re defense won’t personify paper mache allowing Jacksonville to do anything they want. And, probably the most important factor, Brady is a magician when it comes to running QB sneaks on 4th and 17 inches, as opposed to slow developing halfback sweeps tossed five yards in the backfield to the weak side. Or, play action passes that play right into the hands of a Jags defensive strength having two all-pro cornerbacks. In other words, Mike Tomlin won’t be on the New England side line Sunday. That should be enough for a 27-17 Patriot win.

Minnesota -3 at Philadelphia

Reasons to take Minnesota:

1. After the cosmos aligned with 10 seconds remaining in last week’s Divisional round game at US Bank Stadium, the Minneapolis Miracle impossibly instantly altered the fate of players, coaches, and fan bases for eternity. What happened in that 10 seconds in something that cannot be delivered by any other entertainment medium. The theatrical script started off with the franchise marred in numerous gut wrenching losses, coming out dismantling Brees, and blitzing the Saints to a 17-0 halftime lead. Then, the first play after the Saints 12 play, 80 yard touchdown drive in their first possession of the second half, the unproven Keenum throws a reprehensible interception that had Viking fans more concerned than Marty Mcfly contemplating his change of fortune seeing his hand start disappearing at the Enchantment Under The Sea Dance. Six plays later, a now locked in Brees hits Michael Thomas for another score. You could already hear the talking heads gush all over the Brees led comeback. Advertising execs across the country were collectively becoming aroused at the idea of a Brady/Brees Super Bowl. The Saints eventually completed the narrative on a Will Lutz 43 yard field goal, and everything was wrapping up according to plan.

thats not good

Keenum drops back to pass… NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

After a cute first half, reality had set in for the Vikings returning to their predisposed identity of a franchise incapable of “winning the big one”. The future hall of fame quarterback added to his resume turning in a classic comeback performance, and would return to the same building three weeks from now in an inevitable face off with Brady for it all. Instead, Minnesota cheated fate and had their George Mcfly moment reminding us all in ten seconds alone why we watch sports. For the Vikings, those precious tics won’t help them score any touchdowns, or pick up any third downs in Philly Sunday evening. But, just like George Mcfly had to knock out Biff in order to prove to himself he wouldn’t be a raving pussy the rest of his life, Minnesota needed those ten seconds to believe they’re good enough. To know they belong. To change their arc as a franchise. To flip the narrative for the media, and an entire fan base. After such a watershed moment, it wouldn’t be any surprise to them go on to greatness writing their own science fiction classic.

Remember what the Ravens went on to do after this almost as ridiculous life altering play?…

Reasons to take Philadelphia:

1. Obviously, Biff Tannen wasn’t on board with the #MeToo movement. Anyway, lots of monumental moments have taken place in Philadelphia. The Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence in Philly. One of those men, and the face of the $100 bill, Benjamin Franklin, lived his adult life in Philadelphia, and founded the first American library, fire department, and hospital there. Andrew Beckett and Joe Miller made great strides in the gay rights movement there in the early 90s. Philly is also the birth place of the boxing legend responsible for ending the Cold War. And, as if the 90s network legal drama market couldn’t be saturated enough, ABC created this gem that lasted about two commercial breaks. On second thought, that should probably fall under Minnesota reasons. Either way, a Sunday night NFC title game in this city with these drunk fans that cheered Michael Irvin being injured is a scary proposition for anybody. And, it’s not like Keenum and company’s track record includes playing in hostile road playoff games–much less winning them. Just ask yourself if you’re Philly fan, who would you rather see Sunday night–Keenum or Brees?

2. Silver Linings Playbook. I love that movie. If you don’t, there’s something wrong with you.

3. Lane Johnson spearheading the team’s embracing of the “home dog” theme. I love this maybe as much as I love in this scene (spoiler alert) how Robert De Niro tells Bradley Cooper “it’s a sin” if he doesn’t chase after Jennifer Lawrence. We’re officially at a point where teams are openly manufacturing their motivation and identity based on Las Vegas points spreads. I can’t wait to look at the sea of dog masks in the crowd Sunday night.

The Pick:  The home cooking, and that ridiculous sequence to end the first half was enough to squeak by, as many suspected, an average Falcons outfit. But, barely enough. Foles was fine last week, but I’m not sure if he completed one pass more than 12 yards down the field. Minnesota’s defense is full of dogs of their own, and they don’t need masks. They won’t allow the Eagles to run the same RPO for 10 yards a pop 17 times before doing something about it. I announced via the twitter after watching the Philly/Atlanta pillow fight, that Sunday afternoon’s NFC game with New Orleans at Minnesota was officially the de facto NFC Championship. In week 13, I compared Minnesota to the 03′ Panthers, and predicted a Super Bowl run. I’m not backing down now. Vikings cruise 27-10 Sunday night in the city of brotherly love.

Good luck in Conference Championship weekend! Don’t forget to follow me on twitter:

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