NFL Conference Championship Round

SPONSORED CONTENT WARNING: This week’s Ruthless NFL column is brought to you by #HotChicksForRuthlessNFLColumnists, a totally organic and grassroots movement by and for sexy ladies that is not, in any way, a hilariously inept attempt for a doughy, muttering, unshaven, easily distractible lawyer from New York City to cop a side piece over the internet. Do you find discount Men’s Wearhouse suits to be more attractive if they have sweat stains on the cuffs? Are you aroused by money and celebrity in a detached way that compels you to settle for the considerably less rich, charisma-free goof occasionally standing near a well-off celebrity when he or she is on television? Then #HotChicksForRuthlessNFLColumnists is for you! Follow now so you can see us swoon over a guy dressed like a background extra in Less Than Zero. Or tag this picture with the word stud instead of, say, wherethefuckismyjawline?

Kidding, of course. We all know that I am happily married, save for the 64 hours a year when the Jets are on T.V., and even then I am still married, but to a creature analogous to the Old Man in A Christmas Story when he’s working on the furnace, or Taz. I meant the cartoon, not the wrestler, but I suppose that comparison isn’t entirely off-base either. I suppose I shouldn’t let that sponsored-content gag get me in any trouble, so let me state definitively that I am spoken for. So much so that I got rid of my HotMother****er Twitter handle, even though I am a lawyer, some of my clients are indeed mothers, and I wear three pairs of sweatpants at all times.

old man christmas story

Now then, we have Conference Championships to talk about, but I know some of you want some commentary on the whole McDonalds, Wendys, and Burger Kings with some pizza debacle, and I get that. This is the world’s most popular social anarchist football column after all, and the story is right in my wheelhouse, as it involves football and Individual 1 doing something stupid. And superficially, it really is absurd. Clemson won an NCAA national championship and the President of the United States bought them McDonalds. I’m sure that, like me, a lot of you vividly recall being taken to McDonalds after winning a football game, the difference being that you were approximately nine years old. Others chose McDonalds as the location of the first birthday party at which they could advocate for their own choices and preferences. I did this when I was four.

Pictured (L to R): unknown; me; my ex-girlfriend Scarlett Johansson

So yes, he should probably be dragged, as the kids say, for throwing a McDonald’s party for adult men, many of whom have thousands of dollars worth of booster cash at their disposal and sure as hell aren’t forced to eat off of dollar menus like most college kids. However, as we have discussed before, there is a not insignificant segment of people to whom the whole thing seemed like a swank affair. Hundreds of quarter pounders and filet-o-fish sandwiches neatly stacked on a literal silver platter probably sound great to Joe Meatball and Sally Punchclock and others who will praise their hero’s handling of the economy right up until the morning of March 1, at which point their new SNAP card will not arrive in the mail. What they will do at that point is anyone’s guess. Just kidding. They will blame immigrants or minorities or someone less fortunate than themselves. They always do, that’s how it works.

Ultimately, is HamberderGate a thing? Probably not, unless Trevor Lawrence (who is not a MAGAtt, despite what your grandpa says) keels over and dies because no one inspected the beef due to the shutdown. Hell, it’s already old news thanks to Buzzfeed’s dubious Cohen scoop, Ben Shapiro’s Baby Hitler nonsense, and a bunch of parochial all-boys high school twerps fucking with an American Indian Vietnam vet. The burger thing is just another drop in the bucket I suppose, but if anyone sees a tank rolling down their street, snap me a pic, because my Apocalypse Bingo card is just about full. HEY LOOK FOOTBALL!

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L.A. RAMS v. NEW ORLEANS -3

I said it last week and I will say it again: the Saints have never lost a home playoff game under Sean Payton. Granted, we split the games last week but we had every winner right, and this time around we don’t have to contend with a monstrous – for January football, anyway – 8-point handicap. This is the sequel to one hell of a game played back in Week 9, which New Orleans initially led before giving up 21 unanswered only to rebound in the fourth quarter, with Brees hitting a 72-yard strike to Michael Thomas with just under four minutes to play sealing the deal. All of that took place in the Superdome, indicating that, at least right now, the 43-year-old structure provides more home-field advantage than the typical 2.5 points assigned by the books.

Injury-wise, Simmie Cobbs is officially out, as is Keith Kirkwood, but Brees has been juggling a receiver corps for weeks now, and that hasn’t shown to make an appreciable difference. Ted Ginn is off of the questionable list and made plays when it mattered last week, with a respectable 15 yards per reception average albeit on only three catches.

But the shine in the offense isn’t even the receiving, or at least not listed as a receiver. Alvin Kamara is the most important piece of any offense right now, at least until I say the same thing about Patrick Mahomes in the next paragraph. The Rams have a solid overall defense, but only rank ninth in defending the pass, which should allow Brees enough resources to exploit any holes left by overcovering Kamera on screens and short routes. Both of these teams are excellent, and this game should be close until the end, but not within three when the gun sounds.

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NEW ENGLAND v. KANSAS CITY -3 AND OVER 56

As of right now, my 2019 resolution is to quit giving the marks such a hard time. I always bitch about how the casuals come out of the woodwork during the playoffs, but for this weekend, and for this game, I hope to God they all hop online or call their friendly neighborhood bookmaker and follow their instincts. At least inasmuch as their instincts are telling them that Tom Brady is still the best QB in the game, and should not be a dog under any circumstances, thus causing them to bet this line down another half-point before 6:40 p.m.

-Exhibit A is the absolute smashing that the Chiefs put on the Colts last week. That was an 18-point beat-down of a competent, surging team, and even that number is somewhat misleading, as K.C. was comfortably ahead by halftime and didn’t need Mahomes to keep throwing bombs the entire game.

There is also the Arrowhead factor. The Chiefs have only lost one game at home all year, a one-point heartbreaker they dropped to the Chargers back on December 13. Conversely, part of the not-the-same-old-Pats narrative has been their road play, as New England went 3-5 away this year, both straight up and ATS.

Half-speed Gronk will be countered by the Kansas City defense, who have allowed 17 points per game over the entire season. Eric Berry is also expected to return this week from a calf injury, which will only add to the Pats’ woes given that the Colts scored but one offensive touchdown last week, in the fourth quarter, long after the game had been decided. That one late TD was the net result of 263 yards of total offense and not a single third-down conversion.

And yes, I’m taking the over as well. And yes, it’s because these two teams combined for 83 points in Week 6. K.C. home games generally see about 50 put on the board, but these two offenses in this situation should make for more firepower, more retaliation, and a heap of yardage overall. Freezing temperatures aren’t game killers without accompanying precipitation, none of which is in the forecast at present. Besides, we need to nudge that winning percentage above the profitability line somehow, right?

This Sunday should be the best football we’ve seen all year. Let’s win some money and stave off that Apocalypse Bingo for as long as we can.

Good luck!

About J.J. Duquesne

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