2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

Here's the open thread for discussing all of this weekend's divisional-round action. On Saturday, we've got Atlanta at Philadelphia followed by Tennessee at New England. On Sunday, we start with Jacksonville at Pittsburgh, then New Orleans at Minnesota.


389 comments, Last at 16 Jan 2018, 11:07am

#1 by drillz // Jan 13, 2018 - 4:02pm

(ATL-24 vs PHI-14) (N.E.-27 vs TEN-17) (PIT-21 vs JAC-10) (N.O.-20 vs MIN-17)

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#2 by Mountain Time … // Jan 13, 2018 - 5:27pm

Predictions: Pats lose, Brady demands to be cut, signs with Washington to be around his buddy Trump. FO.com traffic is decimated after 90% of readers' heads explode

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#4 by Mountain Time … // Jan 13, 2018 - 5:36pm

So are Vikings and Saints fans cheering for Philly here?

Edit: no, you'll all want Atlanta to win because then the NFCCG is in the Twins or Nawlins

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#3 by joe football // Jan 13, 2018 - 5:33pm

It's chat or go home for all the marbles in FO slack gameday chat! For people who are already in, just go to https://kotakuites.slack.com/messages/fo/details/. For anyone that wants to join a star-studded cast of their favorite FO posters for gameday chat, we're getting lazy at this point in the season so just follow https://tinyurl.com/ydyqh626 for an invite

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#5 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 13, 2018 - 6:18pm

Those were some seriously non-sensical scoring drives.

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#6 by Mountain Time … // Jan 13, 2018 - 6:40pm

Collinsworth: "I wish I could show America what the Falcons defense looked like last year"

Isn't it fortunate then that you're employed as a commentator for national football broadcasts and you can actually do that. You also had a week to prepare some tape...

Re: Jay Ajayi I wonder what kind of message the other Dolphins got when Ajayi was traded out of the Miami dumpster fire to the Eagles. If you want to send the locker room a message, it probably works a lot better to do it like Belichick and send Jamie Collins to Cleveland. But then lots of things work better if you do them like Belichick.

Whatever happened to this being a copycat league? I could do with seeing more teams copy Belichick.

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#7 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Jan 13, 2018 - 7:16pm

Terrible decision by Pederson to not go for it there. Did he get cold feet after the time out?

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#8 by sbond101 // Jan 13, 2018 - 7:26pm

And of course a high profile playoff game involves a high leverage "catch-rule" play. Makes you proud to be an NFL fan.

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#10 by JIPanick // Jan 13, 2018 - 7:29pm

Was that a catch by any standards they've ever used? I feel it was a clear incomplete and Collinsworth was just trying to promote controversy.

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#11 by sbond101 // Jan 13, 2018 - 7:33pm

What do people think about the Eagles waiting until 1:19 to take their time outs?

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#18 by Sifter // Jan 13, 2018 - 8:06pm

I thought it was fine. They waited until the time Atlanta might have started running out the clock ie. first and goal. Earlier than that would have been speculative and most likely wasteful IMO.

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#12 by Mountain Time … // Jan 13, 2018 - 7:44pm

Really weak playcalling on that last Falcons goal-to-go series

1st down: obvious fade to 11, well defended and incomplete
2nd down: inexplicable middle shovel screen, incomplete
3rd down: slant to 11 short of goal line, could have been a good call if they followed it with a handoff to Coleman or at least PA
4th down: I'm not against the general idea of the bootleg, but even if Jones didn't fall I'm not sure how it could have worked

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#14 by JIPanick // Jan 13, 2018 - 7:51pm

Pederson tried to give the game away with that field goal, but Atlanta's OC does not accept charity.

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#15 by duh // Jan 13, 2018 - 7:51pm

This is a little hindsight bias I think. They took 3 shots to get the ball to their best player and arguably the best receiver in the league when he was single covered. A better throw on the slant probably would have meant 6.

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#23 by Mountain Time … // Jan 13, 2018 - 8:37pm

My issue with the first down play is there's single coverage, and then there's single coverage

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#110 by Will Allen // Jan 14, 2018 - 7:26am

It could have worked if the Falcons best player doesn't mistime his jump/ catch. It wasn't an easy catch, but it was an eminently catchable ball. I was very surprised to see it go through his hands.

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#113 by Will Allen // Jan 14, 2018 - 8:18am

Yeah, his normal body control really seemed to be out of whack, after getting off the turf. Normally, if you asked the Falcons if they'd like a road playoff game, with Jones given the chance to win with that catch, they probably say that was ok with them.

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#114 by Will Allen // Jan 14, 2018 - 8:18am

Yeah, his normal body control really seemed to be out of whack, after getting off the turf. Normally, if you asked the Falcons if they'd like a road playoff game, with Jones given the chance to win with that catch, they probably say that was ok with them.

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#16 by Steve B // Jan 13, 2018 - 8:00pm

Nothing hindsight about that 2nd down shovel pass call. I thought it was horrible as I saw it unfold. I understand wanting to get Julio the ball, but Coleman was averaging almost eight ypc. He should've got it at least once.

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#17 by Steve B // Jan 13, 2018 - 8:02pm

And pretty clear there was no backup plan on fourth down if Julio wasn't open

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#19 by Cythammer // Jan 13, 2018 - 8:08pm

Pederson eschewing a fourth down attempt on that last Eagles drive may have been questionable, but he did go for it in the first half to get the Eagles their only TD. Outside of the Falcons' final attempt, that might've been the play of the game.

On the subject of that last play, I would have liked to surprise them with a run. You only needed two yards.

Anyway, I think DVOA is going to have the Eagles as being solidly the better team in that game. They had advantages in total yards and yards per play, while Atlanta had good fortunate in the fumble luck department.

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#21 by RobotBoy // Jan 13, 2018 - 8:16pm

And mere hours after I predict the importance of Alan Branch in stuffing the Titan's run game, he is declared inactive.

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#22 by BJR // Jan 13, 2018 - 8:30pm

Tremendous coaching effort from Pederson, Schwartz and co.

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#24 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Jan 13, 2018 - 8:48pm

Did someone kidnap Mike Mularky before the game and replace him with a Westworld robot? This is some unpredictable and aggressive play calling by the Titans offense so far.

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#25 by Mountain Time … // Jan 13, 2018 - 8:50pm

The only good Tom Brady is a bored Tom Brady

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#26 by ChrisLong // Jan 13, 2018 - 8:53pm

Pats D has been garbage most of the year, and we saw it on that Tennessee drive. If they don't get it together they will lose, Henry is too good of a clock-killer.

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#296 by Hextall_27 // Jan 14, 2018 - 6:27pm

They have given up 141 points in their last 11 games for 12.8 per game.

Garbage? I don't think that word means what you think it means.

They had a rough first 6 games as they figured things out. I'm not sure what that has to do with the last few months though.

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#27 by stoste // Jan 13, 2018 - 8:53pm

Great start to the game. Trying not to get too excited but that catch was amazing and the playcalling by Mularkey is surprisingly adventurous. I really like the way we've opened the game.

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#29 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Jan 13, 2018 - 9:00pm

The Titans only path to keeping this game competitive is to zig when the Patriots expect them to zag.

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#28 by Steve B // Jan 13, 2018 - 9:00pm

So guess we shouldn't expect holding to be called on NE tonight

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#30 by Steve B // Jan 13, 2018 - 9:07pm

A BS OPI call wipes out a first down for TN. Shocking.

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#31 by stoste // Jan 13, 2018 - 9:09pm

OPI? Seriously?!?!?!?

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#32 by Cheesehead_Canuck // Jan 13, 2018 - 9:12pm

There’s the mandatory bullshit PI call everyone outside New England knew was coming.

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#33 by Steve B // Jan 13, 2018 - 9:12pm

Blindside block not called

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#148 by duh // Jan 14, 2018 - 1:55pm

There were some terrible calls last night but this wasn't one of them Hogan hit him shoulder to shoulder which is completely legal.


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#34 by Rocco // Jan 13, 2018 - 9:28pm

Must be nice to be able to get announced penalties reversed.

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#42 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 13, 2018 - 9:35pm

NE got the NFL to bury a video that had been subpeonaed by the Senate.

Reversing a call is nothing.

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#43 by Rocco // Jan 13, 2018 - 9:36pm

I'm sure Pats fans will have GIFs of an uncalled hold they'll post without any sense of self-awareness.

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#35 by Mountain Time … // Jan 13, 2018 - 9:29pm

When does a penalty call become set in stone? I don't remember the refs announcing one call, then switching to another one like that

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#39 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 13, 2018 - 9:32pm

Detroit at Dallas, couple years ago. They annosynced PI, marked it off, then reversed it.

Purely as a coincidence, the head of officials spent the week on Jones's yacht.

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#45 by Mountain Time … // Jan 13, 2018 - 9:40pm

I looked this up, and it was a "party bus" with Stephen Jones, but it's hardly different


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#36 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 13, 2018 - 9:30pm

Man, when the announcers are talking about shady officiating, something is badly wrong.

Somehow NE manages to get a first down on 4th from a false start. Only after a position coach walks down and whispers sweet nothings to the side judge. Clearly no conspiracies, though. That would be silly.

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#37 by Steve B // Jan 13, 2018 - 9:30pm

Refs just going in with no lube on TN tonight

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#38 by morganja // Jan 13, 2018 - 9:30pm

There we go. No reason to watch any more of this nonsense. I didn't think it was going to be that incredibly bad. But wow. Those were some really bad calls there.
And the NFL can't figure out why people are watching less and less every year....

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#40 by Mountain Time … // Jan 13, 2018 - 9:33pm

I think McDaniels got upset Mularkey was upstaging him so he opened up the good playbook they were saving for Pittsburgh. Some really beautiful play designs by NE

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#44 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 13, 2018 - 9:37pm

We know Kraft has connections to Putin. Do you think he'd have a contrary ref killed?

Maybe just their family.

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#71 by roguerouge // Jan 13, 2018 - 10:39pm

This anti-semitism again? Another data point for an irrational conspiracy theory thread for this site.

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#80 by morganja // Jan 13, 2018 - 11:02pm

Why don't you stop with the antisemitism nonsense? Who is being irrational here? Me stating irrefutable, documented, facts:

1) Robert Kraft and Sheldon Adelson are very close friends.
2) Sheldon Adelson is a mobster whose racket is gambling. Especially sports gambling.
3) The Patriots are perceived to benefit from otherwise inexplicable reffing, as evidenced, for the umpteenth time, by this game.

You on the other hand, are equating criticism of the Patriots with the most horrible genocidal holocaust the world has ever endured. Men, women and children, starved, tortured and murdered.

That is not something to be trivialized. Just stop.

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#97 by RobotBoy // Jan 14, 2018 - 12:26am

V.I. Lenin was an ally of Leon Trotsky who had an affair with Frida Kahlo who was married to Diego Rivera who painted political murals and helped make public them popular in the U.S. Therefore, all public murals are obviously part of a communist plot to overthrow the West.

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#101 by PatsFan // Jan 14, 2018 - 1:13am

Because anti-semites like you never ever have prattled on about how people who just, accidentally happen to be Jewish control this, or run that, or are involved in shady conspiracies, etc.

No, that's never ever happened.

And they've never every tried to excuse it with the same tired crap you keep pulling.

Just keep on reading your Protocols of the Elders of Zion so you can figure out what your next set of excuses for why you're not, really you're not an anti-semite. You're just asking questions.

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#115 by deus01 // Jan 14, 2018 - 8:27am

While I think the that the Patriots conspiracy theory is crazy I wouldn't call it anti-Semitic. If he was making claims about other conspiracy theories that invovled Jewish people in positions of power than I would agree that the motivation would likely be anti-Semitic, however, as far as I know that hasn't been the case and this specifically involves the Patriots and gambling magnate and the religion of either is not important.

This conspiracy nonsense is starting to spread into ever comment section though, can we all just stop responding to any of those comments and just agree that it's crazy?

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#129 by Noahrk // Jan 14, 2018 - 11:06am

I think the anti-semitic discourse idea was started by Aaron the other day on a thread and I didn't get it there, either. Every "bad guy" belongs to a group of people - religious, race, nationality, etc. Accusing any one certain guy of being a bad guy shouldn't lead to accusations of being anti that group of people. Unless I'm missing some major context here.

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#66 by voytron // Jan 13, 2018 - 10:23pm

The only reason the crap Titans are even playing in this game, and I use the term "playing" loosely, is because of bad officiating. The bad calls in that game changed the outcome. This game is currently 21 to 7. Bad calls happen, and in this game, they're having minimal effect.

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#67 by Steve B // Jan 13, 2018 - 10:31pm

Here comes the Pats' homers...

Again, people would have an easier time with a "bad calls happen" explanation if we didn't see this regularly with NE.

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#78 by sbond101 // Jan 13, 2018 - 10:56pm

This is a fair comment; especially in a matchup like this where which team is playing with the lead really changes the game. The Pats leveraged a couple of relatively minor favorable calls into a decent lead, which has eliminated the power run game from the Titans game plan, which makes the matchup ridiculously one sided.

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#89 by sbond101 // Jan 13, 2018 - 11:28pm


In terms of actually questionable calls at the leverage point of the game, were talking about am OPI & a special teams false start. Maybe throw in calling the Eric Rowe play late in the second quarter illegal contact rather than PI for a third if your generous. That's 2-3 penalties for <30 yards.

Two of them were pretty high leverage, but get some perspective. The fact that they were an important part of the game really says more about the nature of the matchup and all the things that had to go right for the Titans than anything else.

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#93 by Steve B // Jan 13, 2018 - 11:45pm

I thought they were "a couple of relatively minor favorable calls"? Now they were "pretty high leverage"? My perspective is that I see stuff like this routinely go in NE's favor.

Both things can be true - As expected, NE was clearly the better team, but the officials had their thumbs on the scale just in case.

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#94 by Lyford // Jan 13, 2018 - 11:50pm

"the officials had their thumbs on the scale just in case..."

The Decker OPI looked right live, but on replay, was clearly wrong. The officials got that one wrong, and it cost the Titans a completion for a first down.

I don't see any other calls worth mentioning. Tennessee clearly jumped on the punt. What else would qualify as a bad, or even a questionable, call?

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#298 by Hextall_27 // Jan 14, 2018 - 6:37pm

Amen to that. I am hearing rumors that Triplette will *retire* (forced out)

The Chiefs won that game by a point on that 2 point conversion and they also should have had the ball after the sack fumble earlier. Those are not questionable calls that people can have an opinion on (like the loons who think Gronk does not get called for offensive PI often and that DBs don't get to hang on him like barnacles on the Vikings party boat)

Jesse James did not make a catch, but it was close enough to debate.
There is no debate that Triplette made the 100% wrong call on the sack fumble.
The 2 point conversion was also horrible but not as obviously blatant since he did back up a bunch and deal with a bunch of contact (still a very bad call)

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#47 by Steve B // Jan 13, 2018 - 9:42pm

Should've at least let one of the refs spike the ball after TD

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#49 by stoste // Jan 13, 2018 - 9:42pm

The refs are bad but I don't believe the conspiracy stuff. They just make bad calls. As a Titans fan who benefited from this last week I certainly don't think they were on our payroll at Arrowhead. Great, Pats just scored again...

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#59 by Mountain Time … // Jan 13, 2018 - 10:00pm

Up until today I thought the whole ref conspiracy thing was funny (at least theoretically), but seeing it dominate the discussion like this is getting tedious. There were a couple of bad calls, sure, but there's always a couple bad calls. Even the "false start no wait neutral zone infraction" was more clumsy than nefarious.

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#64 by Steve B // Jan 13, 2018 - 10:14pm

You're forgetting or leaving out all the NON-calls. Name the last you watched a NE game and thought the officiating wasn't in their favor.

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#68 by Will Allen // Jan 13, 2018 - 10:35pm

I keep requesting an irrational conspiracy thread, for those who like to howl at the moon. I used to be half-kidding. Not anymore.

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#72 by roguerouge // Jan 13, 2018 - 10:41pm

Seconded. I'm not going to support a site with this kind of anti-semitism going un-moderated.

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#77 by Steve B // Jan 13, 2018 - 10:51pm

People posting anti-Semitic stuff should be removed. Most of the posts calling out the officiating don't have that.

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#88 by Hoodie_Sleeves // Jan 13, 2018 - 11:18pm

Its utterly amazing that a poster who provides almost no content outside bitching about the Patriots is the one they're willing to let hang around after all the anti-semitic nonsense.

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#90 by morganja // Jan 13, 2018 - 11:30pm

What is wrong with you? If you have a an accusation to make of antisemitism, state what it is. Otherwise, just stop. You might think its funny to equate criticism of the Patriots with the genocide of men, women and children in the Holocaust, but its not.
It's sick. Get some perspective. Or get some therapy. Either way, just stop with that nonsense.

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#92 by Hoodie_Sleeves // Jan 13, 2018 - 11:38pm

I'm not talking about your Patriots nonsense, I'm talking about the Sheldon Adelson, Robert Kraft anti-semitism nonsense.

The fact that you're a garbage poster otherwise is just icing on the cake.

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#95 by morganja // Jan 13, 2018 - 11:57pm

What specifically have I said about Robert Kraft and Sheldon Adelson that is antisemitic?

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#300 by Hextall_27 // Jan 14, 2018 - 6:40pm

Your anti-Patriots prattle is boring and pathetic. Why not just stop on that basis?
The benefit is that it also stops the character attacks.

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#124 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 14, 2018 - 9:55am

Is Kraft Jewish?

I've always assumed he was descended from James Kraft (of the cheese company).

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#257 by Athelas // Jan 14, 2018 - 4:54pm

Yes, he is Jewish. No to the Kraft Foods connection. Most of his wealth came from the packaging company of his wife's family (which he greatly increased in value).

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#102 by PatsFan // Jan 14, 2018 - 1:18am

Another strawman to cover your anti-semitism.

No one's comparing your criticism of the Pats to the Holocaust. And you're giving yourself far to much credit to compare anything you do to something at that a high level of evil, planning, etc.

You're the banal, casual anti-semite (though one who still enables the badness of the competent anti-semites of the world) by going on about how those Jooooooz control the media, Hollywood, money, sports leagues, and so on.

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#75 by justanothersteve // Jan 13, 2018 - 10:47pm

I wonder if we'd have heard the same conspiracy stuff about the Walsh 49'ers or the 70's Steelers had the Internet existed back then. Immaculate Reception anyone?

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#96 by Alternator // Jan 14, 2018 - 12:09am

morganja's done it in the past, though he hasn't here. His conspiracy theories read like Alt-Reich posts sometimes, with the names changed to slander the innocent.

Mostly he's just a teenage troll pouring out his angst to the world, but it's pretty tedious to slog through after so long.

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#98 by morganja // Jan 14, 2018 - 12:38am

Really? Quote me. Copy and paste any comment I have ever made that is antisemitic. Quote any comment I have ever made that is Alt-Reich.
Those are some despicable accusations. One might say slander.
Once again, I am going to refrain from making any personal attacks. Most likely, Your comments are meant to be just trolling and you might think them funny. Get some perspective. Go visit Auschwitz. Tour the Holocaust museum.
Don't trivialize genocide.
There are still survivors alive. Go talk to them. The Holocaust isn't a joke to be used to troll people who don't like your sports team.
Have some respect.

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#108 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Jan 14, 2018 - 6:37am

Yea, I’m wondering myself. I roll my eyes when Morganja starts posting his anti-Patriots conspiracy nonsense, and I disagree with pretty much everything he posts, but I honestly don’t think he has ever posted anything that can possibly interpreted as anti-Semitic.

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#122 by Alternator // Jan 14, 2018 - 9:12am

Overtly, no. Implied, yes.

Sheldon Adelson actively promotes Jewish causes, both political (he's staunchly pro-Israel and donates accordingly) and and philanthropic (among the many charities he donates to, many are focused on helping Jews). Robert Kraft is an observant Orthodox Jew, and his charitable donations match that (to a lesser degree than Adelson, though).

Now mix in the "They secretly Rule The [NFL] World!" conspiracy nonsense, along with the unfounded gangster accusations, and sprinkle with frothing hatred, and it's not hard to see bigotry.

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#134 by morganja // Jan 14, 2018 - 12:59pm

Unfounded gangster accusations? What is it exactly you think Adelson does for a living?

You know who else believes the 'gangster accusations'?

The NFL.

Read the Sin City article about the Raider relocation to Las Vegas. Or any article about it for that matter.


The NFL owners refused to let Adelson own a part of the team because of his 'ties to gambling'. Which is a very polite way of putting it.

From the Guardian:

Or the notoriously antisemitic paper the Jerusalem Post:


In Israel, where I gather you have never spent any time, Adelson is a known gangster, and his 'pro-Israeli charities', as you put it, is his anti-democratic backing of Netanyahu.


I don't want to discuss any of that here. But if someone is going to hurl the despicable accusation of antisemitism at me, then I am going to refute it.

Sheldon Adelson is, putting it politely, involved in organized crime. That has nothing to do with his ethnicity, and certainly nothing to do with his alleged religion. It has to do with Sheldon Adelson.

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#87 by Will Allen // Jan 13, 2018 - 11:10pm

There is a certain subset of Vikings fan who has been convinced for decades now that Walt Disney, the Rothschild dynasty, the Rockefeller clan, the Queen of England, and the College of Cardinals at the Vatican, bring in Spanish dubloons in a fleet of black helicopters,the night before any Viking elimination game, to persuade the zebras to cast the purple headed favorites into the pit, just as they seem to be about to advance.

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#91 by morganja // Jan 13, 2018 - 11:33pm

It's not a conspiracy, every one of those people you mentioned are alien space lizards. They've come here to infiltrate and conquer the earth, and to make sure the Vikings never win a Super Bowl.

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#50 by BJR // Jan 13, 2018 - 9:45pm

After the callous, cowardly decision to punt on 4th & 2 from midfield, I'm cheering New England to win by as many as possible. Mularkey deserves to be embarrassed.

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#52 by Rocco // Jan 13, 2018 - 9:50pm

That's the Mularkey we know and love.

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#53 by Will Allen // Jan 13, 2018 - 9:51pm

That is awful preparation

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#54 by BJR // Jan 13, 2018 - 9:53pm

This is a coaching mismatch of monumental proportions.

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#56 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 13, 2018 - 9:55pm

Has he considered letting Magic 8-Ball make his decisions?

That might at least confuse Belichick.

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#60 by Mountain Time … // Jan 13, 2018 - 10:02pm

I saw that too but I'm not sure it would actually have worked like that. TV angles can be really misleading about this kind of thing

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#63 by BJR // Jan 13, 2018 - 10:07pm

Even so, what was the thinking behind the play call? What were they going to had they gained the first down with a run up the middle? Spike it and throw a hail mary? And that was after the hideous time-out. Just an unacceptable sequence of events.

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#55 by Steve B // Jan 13, 2018 - 9:54pm

This is WWE level stuff. The league should be embarrassed.

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#57 by stoste // Jan 13, 2018 - 9:56pm

Poor play call, bad running by Henry, horrific use of a timeout. Mularkey needs to go.

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#65 by stoste // Jan 13, 2018 - 10:15pm

Mularkey said he wants the players to "overcome everyone" in the second half.....that would include himself then.

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#79 by Cythammer // Jan 13, 2018 - 10:59pm

Funny how the result of last week's Chiefs-Titans game ended up being bad for almost everyone. Bad for Chiefs fans for obvious reasons. Bad for neutrals because it resulted in this horrible Titans-Pats matchup. And finally, bad even for Titans fans because it meant that Mike Mularkey got to keep his job.

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#86 by Cythammer // Jan 13, 2018 - 11:09pm

No need to mention them since everything always goes their way anyway, it's simply assumed.

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#99 by MC2 // Jan 14, 2018 - 12:45am

I'm not sure which is worse: the posters who constantly gripe about conspiracies to fix games, or the posters who constantly accuse other posters of bigotry.

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#103 by RobotBoy // Jan 14, 2018 - 2:15am

Out of all the places available to vent conspiracy theories and gripe about the diabolical Bob Kraft, FO seems one of the more unlikely. Until now, I assumed most readers came here specifically to escape. 'Your team sucks', blah blah blah, 'Oh yeah, deflate this,' blah 'Goodell hates us, that's why the refs..' blargh 'the Illuminati are among us!'

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#104 by RobotBoy // Jan 14, 2018 - 2:37am

I noticed a few times that the refs were letting DBs get away with hooking the arm of a receiver as he went up for a reception. Happened on the Davis TD, hence the one-handed catch, and on a third down play during the Pats second possession (I think). It's hard to see the DB doing it if you're a sideline official and the receiver is on the outside. All you can see is the one handed grab which isn't always enough to make the call.

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#105 by PatsFan // Jan 14, 2018 - 2:56am

Can't say I can remember ever seeing a false start flag reversed to a penalty on the other team.

For all the fawning in the press about NE after this, TEN made NE look better than it really is. Some (many) truly head-scratching coaching decisions. And it seems like TEN stopped trying way too early.

Should NE be lucky enough to advance out of the AFCCG, I don't see them beating NO or MIN. Not that they can't, but I think the odds are against it.

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#107 by RobotBoy // Jan 14, 2018 - 6:36am

NE has major flaws but some of the most gaping have been pretty well paved over. Yes the Titans lost their right tackle early but the run defense was excellent, the pass rush had seven sacks and some of those were coverage sacks, which speaks to a fairly solid game by the secondary (although Malcolm Butler is still struggling and McCourty seems to have lost a step). Also, it seems like TB 12 has recovered from the injuries that nagged him toward the end of the season.
That said, the difference in coaching talent was the true takeaway. Didn't Mularkey consider the possibility that the Patriots would run no huddle or throw to running backs? The Titans tried a few things early, especially on that TD drive but afterwards, they were as predictable and depressing as Monday morning.
The tongue bath from the local media is to be expected but even if these aren't the 2007 Pats, they were on a different planet than the Titans. The game seemed over by the middle of the second quarter. People were right to pay attention to the calls that went against the Titans, as those calls extinguished the team's already minute chances of winning.

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#116 by Athelas // Jan 14, 2018 - 8:42am

I appreciate this thread that is actually about football analysis!
(I really wish there was an ignore button for some posters.)

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#106 by PatsFan // Jan 14, 2018 - 2:58am

And watching the PHI-ATL game and reflecting on the past few weeks, how can there be such inconsistent catch/no-catch calls when a single person is doing all those reviews??

(Oh, and why the hell did Belichick challenge that completion call with about 4:30 left in the NE game? Does he hate Mularkey and wanted to try for an FU? Was wondering about that with the failed garbage time bomb to Cooks, too.)

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#109 by coboney // Jan 14, 2018 - 7:18am

Belichick doesn't have a filter for 'game over' or for where the line really is. he pushes it constantly in everyway he can, and that includes not taking his foot off the gas pedal generally.

That sort of edge is part of what has made him a great coach. It's also led to the investigations of sorts by the NFL and it's also why a lot of folks dislike him.

That said, he's still probably the best coach of all time - and I say that as a 49ers fan who would normally take Bill Walsh on anyone there. Brady imo is a great QB and stands among a group of peers - Belichick is the great coach and leads that group - or is part of a very small group that has Walsh and a couple others.

As for the catch/no catch thing. I'm HOPING that someone got to the officiating room at New York and explained the whole clear and incontrovertible evidence thing and we'll stop seeing so many overturns on plays that are borderline. Today looked good that way - more stands and let it go with what was on the field.

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#119 by Athelas // Jan 14, 2018 - 8:58am

About that challenge--the PFW guys, with only a little joking, suggested Ernie Adams, who calls the challenges, might have already left his seat and Bill was left adrift.

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#307 by Hextall_27 // Jan 14, 2018 - 6:53pm

How about this:

Bill, go ahead and challenge. It is obviously a catch but lets savor this win for a few minutes. I'd leave my seat and join you early, but leaving early is for Home Depot guys.

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#126 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 14, 2018 - 10:01am

Watching live, I thought the Jones catch was, but was not at all confident about how replay would rule on it.

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#112 by stoste // Jan 14, 2018 - 8:08am

Although NE held up against the run, I think they were there for the taking in the air but Mariota was didn't see the open man a few times and instead pulled it down to run, then took a sack. I'd need to go back and look at the all-22 but you could see on multiple occasions Romo pointing out that Mariota had an open receiver and brought the ball down too early. I've got high hopes for our future as we've been steadily improving since we drafted Mariota but I really don't see him developing to that next level with Murlarkey as the HC. It was great to make the playoffs and that victory over the Chiefs was like a dream but now we're stuck with a HC that can't manage a game when the stakes are at their highest and is adverse to having a modern offense. As for the rest of the playoffs, I don't care who wins the SB as long as it isn't Pittsburgh or NE. 11 titles between them - I really hope we get a different team hoisting the Lombardi.

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#118 by Athelas // Jan 14, 2018 - 8:43am

Although I am a Patriots fan, I totally understand. The joy of the Philly or Minny fans would be fun to watch!

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#133 by morganja // Jan 14, 2018 - 12:30pm

I would love to see the Vikings, Eagles or Saints win it all.
I didn't follow the Titans this year. I had no idea they were anywhere close to being in the playoffs. How much of the issue is Mularkey and how much of it is the pieces that he has? Is it something that can be fixed as he acquires the players that his system needs? Or is it just bad coaching?

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#120 by BJR // Jan 14, 2018 - 9:01am

It was depressing to witness the chasm in coaching competence last night, and we can assuredly expect Belichick to run rings around whichever of Tomlin or Marrone he faces next week. So short of outstanding performances from Pittsburgh's offensive stars (much less likely now that it is evident that Brown is nowhere near full health), or an heroic defensive effort from Jacksonville, he will be coaching in another Super Bowl.

If there's a reason for optimism among neutral NFL fans wishing to see competitive football, it's that the remaining coaches in the NFC all appear to be of high quality. Zimmer/Shurmur against Belichick/McDaniels should be a terrific matchup. Pederson/Schwartz showed yesterday that they could conjure up a game-plan to knock off a team with a large advantage at QB (although of course Brady is another step up in class). Sean Payton has his faults as a coach, but we know he is willing to be extremely aggressive situationally, which will of course be required to defeat New England.

I honestly don't care who wins, I just want to see competitive, competently coached/executed games unlike last night's in Foxboro.

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#141 by Cythammer // Jan 14, 2018 - 1:33pm

I think you are way over-emphasizing the importance of coaching, as people on anlytics-oriented sites often do. The game is still played by the players, and we could find many, many times in Belichick's career that he lost to inferior coaches. They'll be favorites next week, but no way can you just pencil in NE already.

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#258 by Athelas // Jan 14, 2018 - 4:57pm

I hate to agree with one of my least favorite posters, but it seemed to me that the Steeler coaches lost that game.

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#352 by RobotBoy // Jan 14, 2018 - 8:18pm

And yet far more often than he's lost to inferior coaches, Belichick has beaten them, often with a team that was less talented than the one they lined up across from. No one is penciling in the Patriots but it's ridiculous to argue that Belichick doesn't provide NE an enormous advantage.

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#371 by t.d. // Jan 14, 2018 - 9:45pm

not sure i'm ready to put him in canton yet, but so far, marrone has had buffalo's best record in 18 years and then won as many games as gus bradley did in four years in one season-plus, and he's already won in gilette as a head coach, so i'm perplexed as to where the supposed incompetence lies. not sure the jags will be able to do as well defensively against whatever the hell new england runs, but there's no way in hell brady completes any of roethlesberger's zero-margin-for-error touchdown passes against coverage that tight. guess we'll see

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#121 by BJR // Jan 14, 2018 - 9:10am

Man the Eagles look like championship team if only they had good QBing. In the interests of football fans everywhere, should they reach the Super Bowl, can they not arrange with the Vikings to loan back Sam Bradford?

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#127 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 14, 2018 - 10:04am

It would be easier to Pollard Brady early in the game, and just deal with Garop... err Hoyer.

Schwartz is the kind of asshole who would do it, too.

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#135 by Raiderfan // Jan 14, 2018 - 1:15pm

Wow, on the opening drive it looked as if the Steelers think they do not have to play.

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#140 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Jan 14, 2018 - 1:32pm

That would be an interesting attitude, considering what happened the last time the Jags came to Pittsburgh.

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