Super Wild Card Weekend did not disappoint. Will Alabama vs. Ohio State?

Create: 2021-01-11
Update: 2021-01-12
Score: 6
Safe: No
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Monday, January 11, 2021
You may be feeling pretty down about it being Monday and all, but it's important to keep things in perspective. At least you didn't start off the NFL season 11-0 before losing four of your last five games and then getting spanked by THE CLEVELAND BROWNS in the first round of the playoffs. Unless of course you're a Steelers fan ... in which case, I don't think I'm gonna be able to help you feel better this morning. Sorry 😬.
On the bright side, we don't have to say goodbye to football just yet because we've got another big game to watch/bet on tonight. College football's national champion will be crowned and it will be glorious.
As you can probably guess, this morning's newsletter features a whole lot of pigskin. Hopefully we can get your week started right.

📰 What you need to know
1. What's in store for the NFL's Divisional Round 🏈
As you've likely figured out by now, the freakin' Cleveland Browns have won a playoff game! The last time that happened the year was 1994, Bill Belichick was Cleveland's coach and Nick Saban was his defensive coordinator. A LOT has changed since then.
And while the Browns and their fans are likely still soaking up the glory of that long-awaited playoff victory, we're gonna go ahead and look ahead already. "Super Wild Card Weekend" is officially in the books, which means that the Divisional Round matchups are set, so let's see what we can look forward to next weekend:
  • Chiefs (1) vs. Browns (6): The Browns pulled off the upset and now they'll get to face a well-rested Chiefs team that's looking to repeat as Super Bowl champs. If Cleveland wins this one they may just be a team of destiny
  • Bills (2) vs. Ravens (5): The Bills survived a nail-biter against the Colts this weekend, while Lamar Jackson picked up his first career playoff win in a tightly fought battle against the Titans. This one could be a toss-up, and it should be one heck of a game
  • Packers (1) vs. Rams (6): Jared Goff is still on the mend from thumb surgery but his Rams are moving on thanks to a stunning win over the Seahawks this past weekend. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are waiting and they should be pretty big favorites
  • Saints (2) vs. Buccaneers (5): Ah, Brady vs. Brees for a third time -- that's going to be a storylines feast, and it should be a pretty good game too. New Orleans has won five straight against Tampa Bay and has outscored Brady's squad 72-26 this year, so the Saints are probably going to be favored here
You know what we can't look forward to next weekend? An NFL game on Nickelodeon, and that's a huge bummer considering yesterday's broadcast of Saints-Bears on Nick was an awesomely weird time. "SpongeBob SportsPants" intro song ✅ Slime cannons ✅ Terrible Cardi B impressions ✅ Incredibly weird graphics ✅
Honestly, the jokes and memes on Twitter during the Nickelodeon broadcast made the entire experience so much better, and I was left craving more Nickelodeon during the Browns-Steelers nightcap. Should we always just have an incredibly bizarre secondary feed just for the sake of the memes? I think so. It's not too late, NFL.
In all seriousness, it was pretty neat to see the Nickelodeon broadcast geared toward being more entertaining, engaging and informative for a younger audience. I would have eaten that up as a kid. Heck, I clearly ate it up even as an adult with no kids. I'm starting to think I still have the brain of an 8 year old.
2. Alabama vs. Ohio State predictions from our experts 🏈
Happy CFP National Championship day! While I'm a bit sad that the college football season will officially come to a close tonight, we do still have a very intriguing title game to look forward to later. It's Alabama vs. Ohio State in the finale to close out one of the weirdest and most unprecedented college football seasons in history, so who's gonna win? 
Well, we've got a full panel of experts at our disposal so we'd be silly not to ask them, right? Here's who they're picking:
  • Barrett Sallee: Ohio State +8 | Ohio State 35, Alabama 31
  • Tom Fornelli: Ohio State +8 | Alabama 38-31
  • Dennis Dodd: Ohio State +8 | Alabama 48, Ohio State 42
  • Chip Patterson: Alabama -8 | Alabama 48, Ohio State 35 
  • Ben Kercheval: Ohio State +8 | Alabama 38, Ohio State 31
  • Jerry Palm: Alabama -8 | Alabama 37, Ohio State 27
  • Adam Silverstein: Alabama -8 | Alabama 41, Ohio State 31
  • Jack Crosby: Ohio State +8 | Alabama 42, Ohio State 35
If you're looking for some deeper analysis, our guys have you covered there, too. My guy Chip has laid out five keys for the Buckeyes to win it all, while Mr. Dodd has put together a handful of keys for Alabama's success. 
Honestly, at this rate I don't really care who wins, I'm just rooting for the best game possible. This bowl season has been largely underwhelming due to opt-outs, blowouts and cancellations. If we can end things on a high note, it might be easier to look back on this season with positivity despite all the weirdness.
3. The Ravens and Titans really don't like each other 🏈
Yesterday's Ravens-Titans game was one of the better games of the week, and it also happened to be the one that birthed the most hot takes. That's thanks to an ending that featured the Ravens dancing/stomping on the Titans' logo at midfield after an interception essentially sealed the win for Baltimore late in the fourth quarter. Then, Lamar Jackson and a bunch of his teammates raced to the locker room ahead of the final whistle, refusing to shake hands with Tennessee's players after the game. 
Of course, this pettiness didn't come out of no where -- the Titans ticked off Baltimore in Week 11 when they congregated on the Ravens logo and got into a verbal spat with the opposing side. Still, the Ravens' revenge seemed to tick a lot of people off yesterday but the team didn't back down after the game.
Here's what some players had to say:
  • QB Lamar Jackson: "They were standing on our logo and getting into it with our coach. That was disrespectful because we treat all our opponents with respect ... There wasn't any reason for us to shake hands."  
  • DE Derek Wolfe: "This is an emotional football game. Sometimes, you act out of emotion. It wasn't disrespect. It was more about team unity."  
  • DT Calais Campbell: "I was just following my teammates. I had no idea what was happening until I got there. But at the end of the day, respect is earned. Respect is earned."  
I'm a sucker for drama and theater so, personally, I had absolutely no problem with seeing Baltimore stomp their way across midfield. If you don't want your logo stomped on, don't put it on the ground. If you don't want opponents taunting you, don't let them beat you.
Keep the hate in sports. The next Ravens-Titans game just got a bit more interesting, didn't it? 
4. Heinicke Mania is upon us 🏈
The Washington Football Team may have come up short in their pursuit of a postseason victory on Saturday, but they did put up quite a fight against the Buccaneers and there was one guy in particular who can come away feeling like a winner: Taylor Heinicke
The Heinicke story is an underdog tale. He went undrafted out of Old Dominion and has bounced around a bit since entering the NFL in 2015. He also had a stint with the XFL's St. Louis BattleHawks last year, but he got an opportunity to truly shine this weekend.
  • Alex Smith couldn't suit up on Saturday due to a calf injury, so the 27-year-old Heinicke made his second career start
  • Heinicke delivered a gutsy performance, completing 26 of 44 passes for 306 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also led Washington in rushing with 46 yards and a touchdown on six carries
  • After the game, Heinicke received a ton of glowing praise -- including some kind words from Patrick Mahomes
Heinicke was on a one-year deal this season, so his big breakout over the weekend came at a pretty opportune time. He says he wants to stay in Washington, but, regardless of where he ends up, he probably just secured some more money and job security thanks to his play on Saturday. He also secured a ton of new supporters, for whatever that's worth. 
He may have won big this weekend but I consider myself a loser because "Heinicke" has been stuck in my head to the tune of "Hey Mickey" since Saturday.
📝 Odds & Ends
  • The PGA is moving the 2022 PGA Championship away from Trump Bedminster golf club as a result of last week's events at the U.S. Capitol
  • Here's what you need to know about the current NBA COVID-19 outbreaks
  • Justin Thomas issued an apology after a microphone caught him using an anti-gay slur after missing a short putt
📺 What to watch today
🏈 CFP National Championship: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 3 Ohio State, 8 p.m. | BAMA -8.5 | TV: ESPN
🏀 Pelicans vs. Mavericks, 8:30 p.m. | DAL -4.5 | TV: NBATV
📝 Top scores from last night
🏈 Browns 48, Steelers 37
Ben Roethlisberger set a record with 47 completions (on 68 attempts) for 501 yards and four touchdowns against four interceptions.  
💵 Winning wagers: CLE +201, Over (47.5)
🏀 Maryland 66, No . 12 Illinois 63
Darryl Morsell led the Terrapins with 19 points in the upset.
💵 Winning wagers: UM +461, Under (145.5)
🏀 Thunder 129, Nets 116
Kevin Durant returned from COVID-19 protocols and scored 36 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in a loss to his old team
💵 Winning wagers: OKC +265
 
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