Now that the Browns have finished going 0-16, we can finally move on to the less humorous but more exciting part of the NFL season: playoffs! Now seemed like the perfect time to poll
my gang of jabroni friends for random thoughts and YouTube clips our panel of experts for rock-solid takes on whose stock to buy or sell heading into the postseason action.
Each team is presented with their odds to reach the Super Bowl (based on VegasInsider.com), along with whether we buy or sell their chances of making the big game at those odds. Let’s get right to it!
New England Patriots (10/13)1
SW: Sigh.. Buy. Why does this happen every year? Perhaps because the Patriots steal plays, pump radio broadcasts into opposing headsets, deflate balls, and do whatever they can for a competitive edge. Or maybe a 40-year-old QB, a bunch of 5’10” white pass catchers, and a largely nameless defense are that good. Either way you can count on them (mysteriously) beating every team at home by 17. I’m not bitter.
AK: I’m gonna sell. Less than even money is terrible odds. If they can lose to this guy, anything is possible. Maybe someone sneaks a tomato into Tommy’s diet, and that throws him off his game. Look, I know they are probably gonna roll through the AFC – but as Selena Gomez says, the heart wants what it wants.
JC: This is a sad way to start.
Pittsburgh Steelers (5/2)
ML: Brown, Bell, Ben, Buy. I also want to “buy” Antonio Brown celebrating at least one touchdown with this move.
SW: Buy. I am going to make you watch that Jesse James catch. And then I am going to make you watch it again. And notice, I use the word “catch” because that is what it was – James might as well have caught that football, taken off his helmet, and swallowed the freaking ball. I find it hard to believe that the team that beat the Pats in the reality where reason is law has more than twice the odds to win.
RH: “Steela Fo Lyfe” James Harrison was cut recently and picked up by none other than Bill Belichick and the Patriots. If PIT does manage to get to the title game, NE will beat them simply because Harrison will tell Belichick everything he knows. Sell!
Kansas City Chiefs (8/1)
AK: In the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, Keira Knightley is supposed to marry that stuffy navy guy (his name is Lieutenant Norrington). He’s successful, he’s wealthy, he’s well respected. He’s the safe choice. But he’s just not… exciting. Alex Smith is that guy. I know there’s nothing wrong with Alex Smith, but he’s no Orlando Bloom. I need a quarterback that makes me feel a little dangerous. Full disclosure – I knew this take was going off the rails halfway through, but I’m keeping it in. Sell the Chiefs.
SW: Sell, but it is close. The Chiefs beat both one seeds, the Pats and the Eagles. They closed out their last four games strong. They were an offensive powerhouse until they weren’t, but they’ve scored at least 26 in each of their last five games. This team would have to pitch a perfect game to beat either the Steelers or Patriots, but that may not be impossible. Doing it twice seems like a stretch.
ML: I put “Andy Reid” into an acrostic generator and the result could not have been more perfect:
A is for Attentive
N is for Noteworthy
D is for Desirable
Y is for Youth
R is for Reliable
E is for Endearing
I is for Interesting
D is for Discerning, a fine sense of judgement UNLESS IT’S INSIDE THE TWO MINUTE WARNING JESUS CHRIST ANDY HOW CAN YOU BE SO GOOD AT THE REST OF COACHING YET SO TERRIBLE AT CLOCK MANAGEMENT
So yeah, I am gonna sell.
Jacksonville Jaguars (10/1)
Sitcom punchlines don’t make the Super Bowl; just ask Marc Trestman. Sell.
JC: I like their odds more than KC’s, but you can’t convince me they’ll get through Pitt and NE. Blake Bortles may claim to be indifferent to the haters, of which there are many (what a headline), but I don’t believe it. Sell.
AK: That defense is all-world. Paired with Leonard Fournette (him waving on a tackler was a top 3 most badass moment of the NFL season), the Jags have a puncher’s chance against anyone. Unfortunately, the Jags are always one Blake Bortles dumpster fire day away from losing to anyone – their down-pillow-soft schedule includes losses to the Jets, Cardinals, 49ers, and Titans (twice). There’s some good pieces here, but the answer is sell.
Buffalo Bills (40/1)
JC: If Buffalo makes it to the Super Bowl, I’ll personally shovel every Buffalo fan’s driveway the next time they get 60 inches of snow before breakfast. Sell.
AK: If we have learned anything, it’s that when Andy Dalton carries you into the playoffs, you lose in the first round. Sell.
RH: Because the Bills Mafia deserve it. Most insane fans in football. Buy!
ML: Sell. This headline from FiveThirtyEight seems like reason enough: “This Buffalo Bills Team Is Worse Than Most Bills Teams This Century.”
Tennessee Titans (40/1)
JC: The AFC is the NBA’s Eastern conference – some of these playoff teams are just laughable. Convincing yourself Tenn makes the SB is like convincing yourself ketchup is a fruit – it can be done, but you’re going to want to lock yourself in that padded room before you break out the acid. Sell.
SW: Name five players on the Titans. I’ll wait.
Are you still naming players? You used Delanie Walker twice, didn’t you? I bet you’re real proud of yourself. Let’s sell.
AK: See below. Sell.
Minnesota Vikings (9/5)
RH: With home field in the NFC (because let’s face it, the PHI Nick Foles’ aren’t winning shit) and the league’s top defense (MIN, not JAX, is top in both points and yards allowed per game) the Vikings should be able to pound all other NFC foes into submission. I’m buying the Vikes as deserving favorites to make it to the big game.
SW: Selling at my own peril. As an AFC fan living in the Mid-Atlantic, I watched exactly one Minnesota Vikings game all year. In that game, they got stomped out by the Pittsburgh Steelers. And not the all-world, fine-tuned Kamehameha Steelers we saw towards the end of the season – the disappointing, struggling Steelers. I find it hard to believe this team is less than 2-1 against the field, no matter how many times you tell me they’re dangerous.
ML: Buy. There’s this girl I like at work who really likes the Vikings.
Philadelphia Eagles (9/2)2
JC: I think the defense can keep them in games, but I give every other team in the NFC a better shot at getting to the ‘ship. Also, don’t be shocked if Foles butt fumbles vs the Falcons. Hard sell.
AK: You don’t lose an MVP-level quarterback, give up 29 points to the zombie McAdoo Giants, and go on to win the Super Bowl. These odds are whack. We are all selling. Let’s move on.
New Orleans Saints (5/1)
SW: I always resented that my parents pushed reading on me as a child, but with age I have come to appreciate that my horizons were broadened and I grew up cultured enough to discuss the classics. I intend to strike a middle ground with my future children. They will be forced to read only three things: Homer’s Odyssey, the complete works of J.R.R. Tolkien, and this article that explains why Drew Brees is the GOAT and Tom Brady is not. Can’t buy enough.
RH: Explosive offense. Improved defense. Sean Peyton. HOF QB. Seems like an obvious buy, right? Not so fast. The NFC is loaded, and the Saints just aren’t quite there yet. If you can take away the run and get pressure on Brees, they’ll fold. Sell!
AK: Nick Foles, Case Keenum, Jared Goff, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton… and Drew Brees. Only one of those guys strikes fear in my heart. Add in playmakers like Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas, and this team is my pick to make it out of the NFC. Buy it twice.
ML: Drew Brees screwed me in my fantasy championship so I’m going to make the completely rational decision to sell here. Eff you, Brees.
Los Angeles Rams (5/1)
RH: Their coach is millennial Jesus. BUY!
SW: Sell, but I almost copped out for the hold. The Rams were number 1 in DVOA before resting their starters, and were in the top six in all three phases of the game. In ELO, however, they are 8th, behind the Vikings, Eagles, Saints, and Falcons – whom they play first. In other words, just pick your favorite nerd stat on this one.
AK: The Rams may have the league’s best defensive player (Aaron Donald) and running back (Todd Gurley). They have the highest scoring offense in the league. I know the talent is there… yet I just don’t believe. Every time I watch Jared Goff play I spend 2 hours convinced he’s garbage, and 30 minutes trying to figure out how he ended up with 300 yards and 2 touchdowns. I still don’t believe Goff can make plays when things get tough, and I just don’t believe the Rams are ready for a deep run. Sell.
KB: Sell -not sure I can take this team seriously after witnessing this:
Atlanta Falcons (10/1)
SW: These might, hands down, be the most ludicrous odds of the whole lot. The odds should be listed in Vegas as “10/1 ft. Ludacris”. Atlanta lost absolutely no one of importance from a team that came as close to winning the championship as any team can get without sealing the deal. They fought through a nightmare-tough schedule and a stacked conference to win 10 games, including a split with regular-season DVOA champ New Orleans. Do not sleep on them.
JC: I think they’ve underachieved all year, but they could reach the NFC championship game with wins over the Rams and Eagles – two teams they can absolutely beat. I’ll buy at 10/1 odds.
ML: Sell, and for exactly the same reason everyone else is a buy – they’re the same team that was in last year’s Super Bowl. Which means that they were all there. In person. They LIVED IT. And no one comes back from that.
Carolina Panthers (12/1)
AK: Sell – Cam Newton has a better chance of finally outsmarting the Batman than going to the Super Bowl:
JC: It’s felt like teams have been giving the Panthers pity wins all season. If I had to pick an NFC playoff team that I thought the Browns could beat (other than the decapitated Eagles), it’d be the Panthers. Even if it’s just 1 out of 10(thousand) tries and even if I have no idea what I’m talking about, the mere existence of a human thought that includes the phrase “the Browns could beat” in relation to a team is not good news for said team. Clear sell.
SW: Buy, for largely the same reason as the Falcons. The Panthers performed admirably against a brutal schedule – they split with Atlanta, beat the Patriots, barely lost to the Wentz-led Eagles, and beat the Vikings. The only surprising loss on their resume is a 17-3 loss to the Bears, but even with that I think they have arguably the most respectable set of outcomes given their schedule. Take a look. Whoops, I meant here (or did I?).
- These odds should be read as “ten to thirteen” (bet $13 to win $10, plus your original $13 back)”. 2/1 odds would indicate a chance to double your money (bet a dollar to win $2, plus your dollar back), and so on.
- When we initially began this exercise, the Eagles odds were 3/1; the shift in odds didn’t shift anyone’s opinion.