Rex Ryan definitely lost a bet. TATTOOGATE is so obvious. Before the season, Rex Ryan and his lovable twin brother Rob, defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys, got together over pork rinds, Skittles, and bourbon and made a bet: Whoever’s team finished with a worse record in 2012 would have to get a tattoo of their wife wearing nothing but the jersey of their starting quarterback. That also explains why Rex Ryan refused to go to Tim Tebow early on this season. God, this all makes so much sense now.
In related news, all I had to do was throw “SOURCE:” in front of my theory, make up a quote or two and BANG I just knocked out a Daily News exclusive.
Before we take a look at this week’s playoff games, I thought it would be fun to look back at my preseason gambling picks. I did three team Over/Unders, which I went 2-1-0 on. I missed by a hair on Baltimore at under 10, and was right on Jacksonville under 5.5 and Denver over 9. This quote on the Broncos stuck out when I re-read:
“Peyton Manning throwing with his left hand could win 10 games if he gets half the support Lefty Jesus got last year from this defense, special teams and running game.” Welp, that’s about right.
What I whiffed on were my “good bets” for MVP and Super Bowl Champs. I thought Eli Manning had a chance to have an incredible year, and thought at 18/1 for MVP was worth taking a crack at. Instead, Eli reminded us that he just isn’t in the same stratosphere as his brother, Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers. That isn’t to say that if I had to win one game tomorrow, I wouldn’t take Eli. I may; he’s certainly at the top of the discussion. The Giants could have won the Super Bowl again if they snuck in this year because he would have been the 2nd best quarterback in the NFC playoffs, plus he’s beat Aaron Rodgers in the playoffs on the road before. But his 2012 season was pedestrian at best. I’m not going to go all Ian O’Connor, who offered this drab after the season ended:
“In his heart of hearts, Eli Manning knows this was a winning season in record only. He knows he had a chance to do something no New York Giants quarterback had ever done, a squandered chance that might haunt him for the balance of his career and beyond.”
Yup Ian! You got it! Forty years from now when we interview an old, shriveled Eli Manning (gross image alert), he’s not going to talk about the legendary wins in Green Bay or the Super Bowl titles. Nope. It’ll be a sad tale of the 2012 season, the one that has kept him up countless nights over the years, with nightmares of throwing 26 touchdowns and finishing a dire 12th in the league in passing yards and winning a putrid nine games (the same amount he won in the regular season a year prior when winning a Super Bowl, mind you). How horrifying. Nevermind that Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora combined for 16.5 sacks, with Tuck having 1.5 less than Quinton Coples.
Eli’s legacy is secure. If he never throws another pass for the Giants, he’s a true New York sports legend, in the conversation with Mark Messier, Derek Jeter, Clyde Frazier and of course Jeff Cumberland. But let’s also understand that Eli’s legacy is what it is for a reason, and that’s his clutchness. People scoff at those who say he’s not “elite”, but if your definition of “elite” is “dominant, transcendent, consistently excellent over the course of many seasons”, then you know what? Maybe he isn’t. That doesn’t mean he isn’t great, or isn’t a legend. You can be one but not the other.
And then there was my 18/1 pick of the Saints as Super Bowl Champs. I blame it on going to New Orleans twice in nearly a year from May 2011-July 2012. When you go there, you’ll believe anything. Crawfish? Why not. Open container anywhere? Great idea. Jazz? Still relevant. Voodoo? Not totally unreasonable if you think really hard about it!
So we’ll close the book on what was a pretty weak season by me picking games, and unlike the Jets I have a chance to redeem myself in the postseason. Let’s just go ahead and pick them all:
Cincinnati +4 at Houston – My thought all year has been that the Texans would lose at home in their first playoff game. I always thought it would be during the Divisional Round, after a bye, but some late season stumbling has them playing on Wild Card weekend. I’ll stick with my guns and say Cincy pulls the upset. Plus, AT LEAST one road team is winning this weekend.
Packers -8 vs. Vikings – The Adrian Peterson story is amazing, but I think last week was the Vikings’ Super Bowl. If it’s even ever possible for there to be a letdown in a playoff game, the Vikings might feel it. This has a very 2001 Jets/Raiders feel, with the dog beating the favorite in the regular season finale in dramatic fashion to set up a rematch the following week. I don’t like the chances of the Vikings beating the Packers twice in as many weeks, and with Aaron Rodgers at home, I think it’s a pull-away-late type of game for Green Bay. Who knows…maybe Charlie Garner will come out of retirement and salt the game away for the Pack on an 80-yard touchdown run on 3rd down in the final minutes.
Indianapolis +6.5 at Baltimore – The Ravens lost three of their last four to close out the season. It’s going the wrong direction for them. And the last thing America really wants is some memorable Ray Lewis swan song. Whoever wins, I think it’s a close one.
Washington +3 vs. Seattle – Home dog in the playoffs? I’m taking the points. And with no real GREAT team in the league this year, anyone without a dog in the fight has to be rooting for a Luck/RGIII Super Bowl, right?
Bonus Non-Football Bet of the Week – Hockey! Wait, what? I thought they canceled that sport forever? Well, even though the NHL has decided to sever any thread of relevance they were hanging on to, there is hockey being played in Russia: The World Junior Championships! And the USA is in tomorrow’s final against Sweden after blasting the favorite Canada 5-1 in the semis, which probably put all the Dougies and Gordos and Scotties and Stevies and Jonesys in Canada in mourning. Good. If you’re hanging your national pride on the backs of a bunch of 18 and 19-year olds, you deserve to lose and realize how ridiculous you are. With that being said, USA! USA! USA! at -190.