Green Bay Packers fans, just sit back and relax right now

Steve Brownlee

Isn’t it nice as a Packers’ fan to be able to watch all the wild-card playoff games this weekend with hardly a care in the world?

You know you don’t have to fret about your favorite team losing, and you can also be comforted in that Aaron Rodgers is resting his pinky toe and a whole bunch of other players are healing up for nothing but home games until — or if — Green Bay gets to the Super Bowl.

Sorry, it’s just the musings of a Lions fan who wishes we could’ve had the late Marty Schottenheimer as our coach from the 1980s until the first decade of this century instead of Wayne Fontes and a host of other “rummies” whose last names began with the letter M — Moeller, Marinelli, Mariucci and don’t forget Mornhinweg.

The knock on Schottenheimer was that he won all kinds of regular season games but could never win in the playoffs.

Heck, that would be great — at least he was in the playoffs a lot!

I looked up his numbers on the Pro Football Reference website and saw his regular-season win percentage was a superb .613 (200-126-1) and playoff percentage was a paltry .278 (5-13).

But there are five playoff wins, eh? That five times as many as the Lions have in my 60-year lifetime.

OK, enough of my bitterness.

I also either didn’t know or had forgotten that Schottenheimer passed away almost a year ago on Feb. 8 at age 77.

I just hope he could enjoy his 15 years or so of retirement knowing he did something really only a few men could every claim to do, head up a coaching staff in the NFL.

Look at the carnage this week from the NFL ranks — there are eight head coaching positions officially open, counting Jacksonville and Las Vegas dumping coaches weeks or months ago midseason.

And they’re saying it’s possible more may be let go even at this “late” date, a whole six days after the regular season ended.

Ah, but let’s turn to the playoff matchups, where all is rosy — at least until one or two upsets happen, causing more fingers to get pointed and questions to be sternly asked.

Here are the wild card games in chronological order, with conference, seeding position, regular season record and TV network:



AFC No. 5 Las Vegas (10-7) at No. 4 Cincinnati (10-7), 4:30 p.m., NBC — These are two of the poster children for the theme of this season — inconsistency.

Vegas hit a dip midseason when they lost two in a row just before the Jon Gruden firing, which inspired two wins in a row before another skid of five losses in six games.

The Bengals were like a wild yo-yo, going week to week from thrilling victories to head-scratching losses.

I’ll take the potential in Cincy, especially as second-year quarterback Joe Burrow has played as many playoff games as Raiders veteran QB Derek Carr — none. Bengals, 31-24.


AFC No. 6 New England (10-7) at No. 3 Buffalo (11-6), 8:15 p.m., CBS — I find this the most intriguing matchup of the weekend after they split their two games late in the season.

I think New England’s win in Buffalo in the November windstorm ends up being an anomaly, but the fact the Bills have the most recent win could bode well for Bill Belichick & Co.

Always say “adjustments, adjustments” just like you’re a chiropractor. Patriots, 23-20.



NFC No. 7 Philadelphia (9-8) at No. 2 Tampa Bay (13-4), 1 p.m., Fox — Though Tampa has taken some big hits to their personnel, there’s a reason they’re four games better record-wise in this matchup.

Maybe if this game was played in the bone-chilling weather of Philly, I’d give the Eagles a chance to slow down Tom Brady and his merry band of Buccaneers. But in Florida, I gotta go with the Bucs, 26-19.


NFC No. 6 San Francisco (10-7) at No. 3 Dallas (12-5), 4:30 p.m., CBS — Uh, maybe I better revise my most intriguing matchup of the weekend statement — this one has all the makings of a classic, and more notably, a classic upset.

Every pundit is saying this is the worst matchup for Dallas, even their former players are saying that. They’re reading an awful lot into Arizona’s Week 17 win over the Cowboys, but then again, that was only two weeks ago.

While San Fran has all the makings of a plodding offense, they do have some nice receivers like Deebo Samuel and George Kittle.

But there’s been a lot of doubt about QB Jimmy Garappolo and his turnover tendencies, and that’s just what the Dallas defense thrives on. I see his numbers are 12 interceptions and eight fumbles, three of them lost fumbles, in his 15 games.

So what do you call picking an upset of an upset? Going by the chalk, I guess. Cowboys, 34-24.


AFC No. 7 Pittsburgh (9-7-1) at No. 2 Kansas City (12-5), 8:15 p.m., NBC — So the Steelers can make something out of nothing in a matchup like this, but that doesn’t mean they will, just that they can.

But I don’t see it against a battle-tested team like KC. Chiefs, 28-17.



NFC No. 5 Arizona (11-6) at No. 4 Los Angeles Rams (12-5), 8:15 p.m., ABC & ESPN — Ah, the first-ever Monday Night Football playoff game, as ESPN is shouting from the rooftops for all to hear. Of course, that’s because they’ve got the game.

For the second time, I may have to revise my intriguing matchup of the week to this one, if for no other reason than it’s division rivals that split during the season.

I’m thinking, though, that the highly touted NFC West really isn’t as good as everyone thought it was, so whoever survives this game could easily get bounced in Green Bay next weekend. Well, that’s if Tampa and Dallas win their games this weekend.

Arizona could put a double whammy on the Rams — LA doesn’t stop the run that well, and LA QB Matthew Stafford may feel the weight of the world and thinks that he needs to be the hero and force a throw or two, forgetting just at the wrong moment that he’s not in Detroit anymore. Cardinals, 24-20.


Last week — 9-7, 56 percent. Final regular season — 169-102-1, 62 percent.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.


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