DANNY ONEIL

The Bitterman’s Wild-Card Guide

Jan 5, 2018, 8:04 AM
The NFC West champion Rams take on the Falcons in the Wild Card round. (AP)...
The NFC West champion Rams take on the Falcons in the Wild Card round. (AP)
(AP)

You know how hard it was to miss the playoffs this season?

It was so hard that you couldn’t help but make the postseason even if you lost a bet and had to start Case Keenum for 14 games like Minnesota did.

You couldn’t miss the playoffs even if you’re starter got hurt and you were forced to resort to Nick Foles or you went with Blake Bortles the whole year or even if your coach was so mind-numbingly dense that he thought it would be a good idea to bench a perfectly competent guy like Tyrod Taylor in favor of this Peter man rookie, who promptly went out and threw more effectively to the opponent than he did to his teammates.

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Yep. All that actually happened in what is the first season in which Seattle failed to make the playoffs since drafting Russell Wilson, and if that sounds a little bit bitter, well it’s actually a lot bitter, and with that in mind, here’s “The Official Bitterman’s Guide to Wild-Card Weekend.”

Saturday

Titans at Chiefs, 1:35 p.m.

Well what do you know, Big Red Andy Reid might have stumbled into a playoff game he can win. For more than a decade now he’s been a pass-happier version of Marty Schottenheimer, winning 10 or more games on a regular basis and then just as regularly performing a postseason belly flop. Reid’s teams have been one-and-done in the playoffs in four of his last five postseason appearances going back to his time in Philadelphia. Well, the Titans lost three of their last four, which means that even Reid and his remedial clock-management skills won’t be able to goof this one up.

Pick: Chiefs 30, Titans 17

Falcons at Rams, 5:15 p.m.

Half of the starting quarterbacks in the NFC playoffs were one-time Ram backups. Yeah. It’s true. Minnesota’s Keenum was one. So was Nick Foles, who’s now starting for Carson Wentz in Philadelphia. Then there’s Goff, who started his rookie season on the bench as a particularly clueless No. 1 overall pick last year.

That’s all a long way of saying that the Seahawks goofed. The never turned to their former Ram backup Austin Davis, who once upon a time won a start against the Seahawks. If he had stepped in for the final month and maybe Seattle wouldn’t have lost three of its final four games and come up just short of the playoffs. Anyway, here’s a game between the team that bounced Seattle from the playoffs last season and the one that trounced Seattle three weeks back.

Pick: Rams 37, Falcons 34

Sunday

Bills at Jaguars, 10 a.m.

On the one hand, you’ve got a quarterback who sounds like a Volkswagen: Blake Bortles. On the other hand, you’ve got Taylor, who was so good that his coach benched him for the Peter man earlier this season. That would b rookie Nathan Peterman, who was so spectacularly bad against San Diego – when five of his 14 passes were picked off – that he should never be allowed to start an NFL game ever again. The Bills have the better storyline, the Jaguars have the better defense.

Pick: Jaguars 17, Bills 9

Panthers at Saints, 1:35 p.m.

The best game of the weekend between a pair of former MVPs. The Saints swept the regular-season set, winning both games by double digits, and Cam Newton looked absolutely awful in the Panthers’ loss to the Falcons last week. Here’s betting that he doesn’t put up back-to-back stinkers, and that Carolina defense is ready for the run game New Orleans is packing.

Pick: Panthers 24, Saints 20

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The Bitterman’s Wild-Card Guide