Hey, it’s Moneyline Mo, the man in the know, coming off a second rough week in a row. I’ll gladly take any slings and arrows you might send my way in exchange for a season that has become increasingly unpredictable. Obviously, that makes it tough on an expert prognosticator like myself, but I appreciate that the past few weeks have added more wrinkles that I need to consider when putting my picks together.
There are eight weeks to go and thanks to the playoffs now having a seventh seed, there are only three teams that truly have no shot at the postseason this year: Detroit, Houston, and Jacksonville. That was clearly the goal of the league to keep hope alive for fanbases across the country.
However, I think one unintended consequence of having an extra playoff seed AND an extra week of football every season is that the final week won’t be just about a couple teams trying to either win their division or make it into playoffs. Instead, we might find ourselves with multiple teams tied for a playoffs spot and complicated tie-breaker scenarios being determined by every single game across the league in Week 18. It could get confusing and messy, but you know NBC has Steve Kornacki ready to go the closer we get to this eventual reality. But let’s not look too far into the future. Just Week 11 will do for now.
NEW ENGLAND OVER ATLANTA
Over the past 20 years, New England has only missed the playoffs three times: the 2002 season, the 2008 season and last season. Why was I so quick to write them off this year? I was a fool to think that Bill Belichick would miss the playoffs in consecutive years. The only time that’s happened in his head coaching career was when he was with Cleveland in the early ’90s.
With eight weeks to go, New England looks to be back, and this week I don’t think they’ll need to overcome a 25-point deficit against Atlanta to get the victory. From a writing standpoint, it would be a lot cleaner if I could have just said “like the last time they played Atlanta,” but the two teams actually played each other again that year in October of 2017. Maybe it’s preparation for Thursday night because you’re going to hear a lot about that comeback, but you can tell your friends and family “well, you know, that wasn’t the last time these two teams played each other” and I’m sure they’ll shower you with appreciation and admiration.
INDIANAPOLIS OVER BUFFALO
For weeks, I’ve been telling you that Indianapolis was going to make their way out of the 1-4 hole they were in. And just look, they have made it back to a .500 record. This week is a huge test for them as they go up against one of the conference frontrunners in Buffalo, but I think Indianapolis is onto something. And if my pick comes true, parlayed with an accurate Thursday night prediction, that would mean that New England would leapfrog Buffalo for possession of first place in the division.
More importantly, do you think there’s any way we can get a Picasso’s Pizza inside Jim Irsay’s museum whenever and wherever it opens? That’s a little treat for you faithful Moneyline Mo readers!
CLEVELAND OVER DETROIT
At some point with all the injuries he’s accumulated this year, there must be a point where Baker Mayfield just calls it a season. He’s got commercial money to think about!
BALTIMORE OVER CHICAGO
For the third season in a row, Chicago has a losing streak of at least four games. I’m sure other teams have experienced that, but have they all been with the same head coach like Chicago with Matt Nagy? Could somebody build me a custom database so I can look up these hyper specific stats? I don’t know exactly what I’m looking for, but my expectation is that the site would be very easy for me to navigate. I’m not paying anything at the time but think of the exposure you’d get as the architect of Moneyline Mo’s football database! We’ll call it Mo Football Focus!
TENNESSEE OVER HOUSTON
In 2016, I got to watch the Green Bay-Houston game in a suite with a bunch of executives that had come up from Houston and they exclaimed “Wow, we got to see a blizzard game at Lambeau!” None of us had the heart or the courage to tell them that light flurries didn’t meet blizzard qualifications. I was a guest mingling in corporate America, who was I to try to speak truth to power? I hope you don’t think less of me for not standing up and correcting those fat cats when I had the chance.
GREEN BAY OVER MINNESOTA
Do you think the league withheld punishment as to not dampen Green Bay’s “stock” sale this month? Is it a coincidence that if you took one dollar from every “share” being sold in the latest “stock” offering, it would cover the $300,000 fine? I’M JUST ASKING QUESTIONS, PEOPLE!
There is no question though, that the best way to watch the game is to join Milwaukee Record this Sunday for the noon kickoff against Minnesota at the Cactus Club and enjoy a halftime performance by Indonesian Junk.
MIAMI OVER NEW YORK (A)
THIS SUNDAY, TWO SEVEN-LOSS TEAMS SQUARE OFF FOR THE RIGHT TO NOT BE IN LAST PLACE IN THEIR DIVISION. What a shame that the Mike White superstar window just slammed shut so quickly. Just a cruel twist that he was injured in the game against Indianapolis and then returned last week only to throw 4 interceptions against Buffalo before being relieved by Joe Flacco. Zach Wilson is slated to return this week, so that might be all we get of Mike White for 2021. For his sake, I want him to get another crack as a starter in the future.
PHILADELPHIA OVER NEW ORLEANS
The Moneyline Mo Coinflip Game is back! Philadelphia is a mystery to me and New Orleans might have peaked with their victory over Tampa Bay. If New Orleans drops this one, they are back to .500 on the season and that would put the 6th seed into play along with the 7th seed for the logjam of teams trying to make playoffs. For the sake of chaos, I’m glad the coin sided with Philadelphia.
WASHINGTON OVER CAROLINA
One thing you should know about Moneyline Mo, is that I’m an absolute sucker for great clock management. You might even call me a clocksucker. With that said, I was so impressed with how Ron Rivera engineered a 10 minute and 26 second drive to put the game away for Washington against Tampa Bay. You could say that drive went “All Too Well (Ron’s Version).”
It’s too late for Washington to make a push for the division, but if they want to have any hope of making a wildcard playoff run, they’ll need to beat the current 7-seed in Carolina to get that push started. My best advice for Ron Rivera: pound the ball up and down the field and keep draining that clock!
SAN FRANCISCO OVER JACKSONVILLE
This has all the marks of a trap game. San Francisco is riding high after their Monday night win over Los Angeles, but now on a short week they are traveling like six hours to take on an opponent they could easily overlook. The current forecast calls for humidity, which contributed to Baltimore’s loss to Miami in Florida. Despite those red flags, I’m still picking San Francisco.
In fact, I think San Francisco might be positioned to go on a strong run to finish up the season. There’s even a possibility their final game of the year against Los Angeles could be a game that decides that division. There are dozens of outcomes that need to happen in order for us to get to that point, but if it does, remember that I’m the guy who first floated the possibility!
CINCINNATI OVER LAS VEGAS
It feels like whoever is winning this game is just temporarily postponing their inevitable collapse this year. And whoever loses this week is expediting the disappointment after their promising start. Las Vegas was 3-0! Cincinnati was atop the conference! There were well-sourced rumors of a Ja’Marr Chase Funko Pop with a special chase edition! What happened?! Well, we know what happened to Las Vegas, but Cincinnati is harder to diagnose.
KANSAS CITY OVER DALLAS
They’re baaaaaaack. If New York could have held on and upset Kansas City on Monday night earlier this month and if Green Bay had Rodgers when they played Kansas City the following week, we could be singing a different tune. Instead, I think Kansas City is poised to make a run and pull away with not just the division but a shot at the top seed in the conference. I think Kansas City’s game against Las Vegas was exactly what they needed to get everything back on track as they head down the back stretch of the season. Dallas is the toughest opponent they face the rest of the way, and assuming they clear this hurdle, look out.
ARIZONA OVER SEATTLE
This feels like the last chance dance (another great Trolley album) for Seattle, which is wild to write out since I always have a lingering fear of them. Want to hear a theory of mine? Coming off their championship, the worst thing that happened to Seattle was that they made it back the following year and lost in such a dramatic way to New England. Seattle absolutely dominated Denver when they won it all, but I think the average sports viewer can easily recall close games but doesn’t remember blowouts. So, for most sports fans, when you hear talk of Seattle and the championship, your first thought isn’t their dominant win, instead it’s Russell Wilson getting picked off by Malcolm Butler. That’s the risk of trying to go back-to-back.
Now, I doubt anyone from that Seattle championship team feels like their title banner, Lombardi Trophy or championship rings are lessened. However, I think my assessment of the recall ability of the average sports fan is spot on. I will not be showing any further evidence to support my theory and I will take no questions on this matter.
LOS ANGELES (A) OVER PITTSBURGH
Remember when Donovan McNabb was roasted for not knowing that games could end in a tie? History repeated itself this past weekend with Najee Harris of Pittsburgh was unaware of the tie possibility as well. Is there something in the air in Pennsylvania? Can we get a team of environmentalists out there to study this phenomenon? It must be more than just a coincidence. Furthermore, the Pittsburgh and Detroit tie was almost 13 years to the day of the Philadelphia and Cincinnati tie in 2008, so expect this to happen again with a Pennsylvania-based team in November of 2034.
TAMPA BAY OVER NEW YORK (N)
Tampa Bay is coming off two back-to-back losing weeks JUST LIKE MONEYLINE MO. That’s why, we’re going to team up together to right the ship and get things back on course. We’ll call it Tom Brady x Moneyline Mo. Does anyone know the origin of the “Brand x Brand” slogan for collaborations? Shouldn’t it be a plus sign instead of a multiplication sign? What am I missing here? Am I just increasingly out of touch with the world around me? When all is said and done, will I only be remembered for my picks and not my commentary? Is my commentary the Seattle blowout over Denver and my picks the Malcolm Butler interception? Most importantly, will Tom Brady x Moneyline Mo work this week??