Ladies and gentlemen, we’re down to the Final Four. My nightmare of a 49ers-Titans Super Bowl with no forward passes is getting closer to a reality.
My picks on the games are coming up, but first, some things that stood out about last week.
■ This season showed again how important winning your division and getting a bye week can be. Offer not valid in Baltimore, of course. Kansas City got a bye and a favorable matchup with Houston, meanwhile the two teams with the best chance of beating them are already gone. San Francisco let Minnesota do all the heavy lifting in New Orleans, and then knocked out an overmatched Vikings team.
■ Sorry, Texans fans. Winning football in Houston is like getting snow there. It’s quite rare and never lasts long. If it’s any consolation, the NFL really wanted this matchup. Or at least, didn’t want another Houston-Tennessee game, since they already had two of those in the last month and they didn’t bother to flex either one of them into a prime time game.
■ And besides, if it’s any consolation the Texans losing was only the second-worst sports story to come out of Houston this week.
■ Old-school Oilers fans, it’s perfectly okay to not like the Titans. They’re not the Oilers. I don’t care if the NFL wants them to keep the old Oilers records. That team died when the ghoulish, toupeed spectre of Bud Adams ripped them out of Houston and dropped them into a city with all of the pro sports history of Gladewater. I’ll be honest, I’m “Luv Ya Blue” forever. Neither of these teams are fit to carry Bum’s hat.
■ Good luck, Baltimore. You quickly reached the point where there is no excuse for losing.
■ Good luck, Odell Beckham Jr. You quickly reached the point where you’re Antonio Brown with a job.
■ Luke Kuechly retiring is worse for the NFL than Larry Fitzgerald’s return is good for it.
■ Joe Burrow is the runaway top pick in the upcoming draft, and rumors have it the Dolphins are trying to put together a package to trade for him. Miami is just obsessed with getting a quarterback who’s a leader, someone who can take his team to the playoffs. You know, a Ryan Tannehill-type.
■ I’m glad Jimmy Johnson and Bill Cowher got into the Hall of Fame, and Drew Pearson seeing the door close on him yet again was heartbreaking. But I’m not a fan of the Centennial Class not going through the regular voting procedures. The NFL cheapened the whole concept of the Hall just to shoehorn in Paul Tagliabue, in spite of the fact that he treated concussion evidence with all the seriousness of a study on hangnails.
■ Seeing Jason Garrett go to the Giants as a coordinator makes sense. He’s going to have to prove himself again, which is weird considering he’s a former Coach of the Year, but that’s the way it goes when you stay too long somewhere. Trust me on that one, my best media gigs were all short. The less of me on the air, the better.
Now on to the picks.
Last week I went 3-1 picking the games, but just 1-3 against Vegas. These have been very surprising playoffs, thanks to the Titans literally beating the enjoyment out of every single game. For the playoffs I’m now 4-4, and 3-5 against Vegas. That means I have to hit all three remaining games to finish with a winning record. It’s a tough stretch, but I know I can do it. Of course, that’s what everyone says shortly before they wind up living out of a shopping cart in Vegas, wearing shirts that say “World Series of Poker Tour 2011.”
As always, these are for the purposes of comedic discussion only. No wagering.
■ Green Bay (+7.5) at San Francisco: The 49ers should write a book on tanking. Last year they lose their quarterback and drop to 4-12, pick up the Defensive Rookie of the Year, then bounce right back up to home field advantage in the NFC Championship Game. This year the Bengals will probably retool and go from last to worst.
Pick: Packers to win straight up. The last game was a blowout, but a couple of plays difference and it would have been much tighter, and in the playoffs, I’ll take Aaron Rodgers over anyone in the NFC.
■ Tennessee (+7) at Kansas City: The last time I saw a running back as unstoppable as Derrick Henry, it was Bo Jackson, and I was playing “Tecmo Bowl.”
Pick: Chiefs to win, but not cover. I think this one stays close, Tennessee can suck the air out of the ball, the stadium, and the entire sport.
I’ll also take “The Office” over “Friends,” literally anything else over the Pro Bowl, and doctoring the baseball over stealing signs. Good luck, everybody.