NFL Playoffs: 2018 Wildcard Edition

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If people are upset with that lady from Michigan calling Trump a motherfucker, they must not get out much, and they damn sure don’t read this publication. I think if anyone should be mad, it would be Dan Savage, who rebranded his old catchphrase DTMFA, an acronym for dump the motherfucker already, into ITMFA, and used it to raise money for Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. Then again, maybe he moved a few hoodies via search engine optimization.

Ultimately, I’m not mad at grifters in the media. I suppose it is their job to pretend like someone saying motherfucker at a private party in a bar is some enormous Goddamned deal. The kingmakers who submarined Howard Dean for yelling slightly off-pitch felt it was their sacred duty to kneecap Individual 1 for saying pussy on a bus, and look how that worked out for them. 2019 or not, it is still everybody’s obligation to pretend that the moral center of the country is an imaginary cishet couple in Hays, Kansas abstaining from all vice, working 9 to 5 for a living wage, going to church on Sunday, square dancing and posing for Grant Wood paintings for leisure.

I am not any madder at the Republican ghouls either. After all, we are talking about the first Democratic Socialist Palestinian-American Muslim woman elected to congress. That is more firsts than a 2005 comment section. As racists openly catering to other racists, the right has been sharpening their knives since November 7. Ever since, they have been praying that she jaywalked, or ate a sausage-egg-and-cheese on Mawlid an-Nabi, or wore a bootleg Guns N Roses thobe, anything, and then this drops into their laps.

No, my darkest rage is reserved for the apple polisher who recorded it and either gave or sold it to the aforementioned grifters. Seriously, dude? You are in a bar. You were ostensibly a friend or guest of either her or Move-On, or you paid good money to be there. Could you maybe put your phone down for five fucking seconds and get drunk and dance, or tell jokes, or hit on someone, like a decent person? Go ruin a concert or something.

I apologize. I will avoid being the 2000000th gen X writer to publish a put-your-phone-down-junior piece, but could you at least quit the squealing? She said “motherfucker” in a bar. Big deal. I wear cargos and khakis to the office in which I work. I have a house. Between my age, the decimation of my good looks, and the gradual legalization of gambling across the country, I am more or less a law-abiding John Q. Citizen type at this point, and even I cannot even begin to count the number of felonies I have committed in bars. I am pretty sure that goes for most of you. Maybe keep that in mind before you go reaching for your phone next time, asshole. HEY LOOK FOOTBALL!

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SEATTLE v. DALLAS -2.5

Honestly this one is a razor-close call, and not a game I would bet on if we had more of a field to choose from. Not because of the skill level on the field, either. These are two teams I have seen fuck things up so catastrophically that either one of them could show up and get blown out by 30. Not that I think that will happen, but keep it in mind when you lay your money down.

Seattle limped through a dogfight with Arizona last week, and had to rely on everyone’s favorite Polish scofflaw to pull out the win, but win they did. And we are still talking about a team that boasts Russell Wilson, playing a season in which Tyler Lockett set the single-season record for wide receiver DVOA even though Chris Carson carried the ball 247 times and Mike Davis combined for another 197.

Even though I think home field advantage is overvalued a lot of the time, it is a big factor in this particular case. Dallas is 7-1 at home while the Seahawks are 3-4 on the road. During those seven wins, the Dallas margin of victory averaged at 9.4 points. If the league’s fifth-ranked rushing defense can hold Seattle to their season average of 20.2 points and find one – or, if necessary, two – guys to shut down or at least contain Lockett, I think Jerryworld makes the difference. Lay the favorite, albeit modestly.

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L.A. CHARGERS +3 v. BALTIMORE

All of the drama last week, with split screens showing the Steelers kneeling on the field watching the end of Cleveland v. Baltimore game was especially interesting around here, as those of you who took the early futures knew that we needed but two points and one last Browns miracle to get us paid on Pittsburgh winning the division. Two points is close and that’s swell and all, but the books don’t pay on close. Ergo, you owe us one, Lamar.

This is the one the casuals love the most, and while I am generally in favor of avoiding the herd, sometimes the mob is right. The three-point line looks good for a team to whom road games mean absolutely nothing, good thing we weren’t here sooner when it opened at L.A. plus 2.5. I beg your forgiveness, I wanted to publish sooner, but a Muslim congressperson swore at a bar! Can you believe it? I had to rock my bawling imaginary kids to sleep and convince them that the official imposition of Sharia Law will require a slightly more formal process. A better P.A. system, for starters. And is that one of those corny hipster microbrew chalkboards? Ugh, get your shit together, MoveOn.

Look, the pick is there for the reasons you think. Jackson’s versatility lets the Ravens spread the ball around, but the Chargers rank ninth in defending both the pass and the run. Rivers walks in having just passed 4300 yards in the air with a 68% completion rate and a respectable 71.2 QBR. Do not look for a replay of Week 16. Instead, consider this: the Broncos also clipped the Chargers in a late season game on the soccer field. A few weeks later, they were molly-whopped by 14 in the rematch. Bet on the rerun.

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PHILADELPHIA v. CHICAGO -6.5

I certainly hope they still intend to play this game. With the R. Kelly… hit-doc? expose’-ries? taking over the internet, the City of Chicago will need to rely on its legendary resiliency to play through the cultural shredding of one of its favorite sons (who is in fact 51 years old at this point). I will abstain from some of my true instinctual observations, but I can refer you to the always brilliant Bol Crawford and let him make some of the points that others might be reticent to come forward with at this time.

I do think that it is safe to acknowledge how some of the content hammered home to me, on a personal level, what a cultural divide there is among us. So many of those girls would say something like once [comically absurd lascivious double entendre song title] came out, he was a huge star. I am 43 years old. I grew up in the U.S. I live in the most ethnically diverse county in the country, and I can name two R. Kelly songs, Toot Toot Beep Beep and The Michael Jordan Song. I’m not saying he’s not a global celebrity, just making a point about circles of interest.

Itis not an unfamiliarity with Black culture, mind you, nor an unfamiliarity with R&B. Hell, when I went to high school, girls of all races were beating it to all of the guys in New Edition, even Ralph Tresvant! Then again, the B-52s Love Shack was also a monster hit when I was in high school, so perhaps the narrow field should be accounted for.

Near as I can tell, every tout is after the under, which has shaved a hook since it was initially posted. However, I cannot see Nick Foles being the one to stop the Bears’ incredible 9-1 (legit and ATS) run. Chicago leads the NFC in *deep breath* weighted defense, rushing defense, passes per game (against), sacks, and interceptions. They are even better at Soldier Field, where Trubisky’s QBR is 15 points higher, they rank first overall in net yards per play, and six of their seven wins saw them outscore opponents by at least seven. The line doesn’t scare me any more than Foles does. Lay the new monsters of the Midway.

There we go, gang. I am up against deadline so I will quickly point out that we made money last week and have a nice groove going. Consider me scrapping another long-winded Best of 2018 column as my personal gift to you. Happy New Year! Now let’s make some coin.

Good luck!

About J.J. Duquesne

J.J. is an attorney in New York City. He loves NFL Football...a LOT.