clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Mailbag: Did Aaron Rodgers Steal the Horseshoe From Eli’s Ass?

It’s back, just in time for the divisional round of the NFL playoffs

(Getty Images/Ringer illustration)
(Getty Images/Ringer illustration)

Q: Please refresh my memory … what’s a mailbag?
— Sully, Chicago

BS: I guess I deserved that — it’s been 21 months since the last one. A mailbag is a column in which I answer actual emails from actual readers, many of whom happen to be named Sully. You can send those emails to themailbag@theringer.com. Got it? Let’s do this.

Q: Are we really getting a mailbag? I always knew that boycotting your HBO show would bring the mailbag back! Looking forward to it, thanks!
— Stefano F.

BS: One effective way to get into the mailbag — backhanded compliments that secretly hurt my feelings.

Q: That horseshoe that Eli had secured up his ass? Aaron Rodgers stole it. How else do we explain all of these Hail Marys? As a Pats fan, I’m officially worried. The Eli up-the-ass horseshoe has been the only thing that could stop Belichick-Brady, and now somebody else has it. What do we do?
— Dave in New Jersey

BS: Here’s what we do — we root for the Cowboys to knock off Green Bay in Round 2. If the Pats make 51 (I’m done with Roman numerals), you know who I definitely don’t want to play? The first QB in NFL history who makes you say, “I’m not going to be even remotely surprised if someone catches this Hail Mary.” As much as I love Dave’s up-the-ass horseshoe theory, it’s just not true — Rodgers is way better than that.

Quick tangent: The “Who’s the greatest QB ever?” question isn’t nearly as easy to answer as questions like, “Who’s the greatest NBA player ever?” (MJ), “Who’s the greatest actress ever?” (Streep), “What’s the funniest Seinfeld episode ever?” (“The Contest”) and “What’s the worst decision I ever made?” (agreeing to wear this outfit on a television show).

(HBO)
(HBO)

So much of a quarterback’s success hinges on coaching, defense, weapons, injury luck, divisional quality, a few close games, a couple of draft picks … I mean, Joe Montana lucked out with Bill Walsh and Jerry Rice. The greatest offensive mind ever AND the greatest receiver ever? Come on. The Football Gods gave Brady the greatest coach ever and an inconceivably lousy division, as well as various 21st-century rules/training/science/dieting advantages that inevitably swell a quarterback’s prime. And Peyton Manning spent his entire prime playing in a dome with Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, and Edgerrin James, then found a second life in Colorado when the Broncos enhanced his performance. And the players helped too. (Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all week.)

Meanwhile, John Elway overachieved with forgettable rosters before hitting the QB lottery late in his career: Suddenly he had Terrell Davis (best running back I’ve ever seen), Shannon Sharpe, Rod Smith AND Ed McCaffrey. What happened? Denver went 46–10 during Elway’s final three seasons and grabbed two Super Bowls, leaving poor Dan Marino alone with the “never won a ring” narrative (and yeah, Marino was great too). I remember starting the 1990s thinking, “If my life depended on one football game, I’d want Joe Montana as my quarterback,” and leaving the 1990s thinking, “I’d be happy with Montana OR Elway.” And again, nothing changed other than Montana’s body broke down and Elway stumbled into some weapons.

For that and many other reasons, I can’t imagine us ever collectively agreeing on a GOAT QB. Montana submitted the greatest-to-that-point 10-year stretch in an especially violent, decidedly QB-unfriendly league. Brady will retire one day with the greatest all-around career — like Montana if Montana had lasted for eight to 10 more years. Manning threw up the biggest numbers and, along with Marino and Favre, goes down as one of the three scariest heat-check QBs. Johnny Unitas, by all accounts, was the best of the pre-Montana signal-callers. And until Rodgers started doing Rodgers stuff, Elway was the most naturally gifted quarterback I had ever seen (as well as the one that frightened Bill The Pats Fan most).

But I would never rank those guys. There’s just no right way to do it. Great quarterbacks are like great actors, great rappers, and great boxers — ultimately, it doesn’t matter where you’re ranked, just that you made the list. Right now, any rational list includes Montana, Brady, Elway, Manning, Marino, Favre and Unitas in some order. You could pick every other case apart. Steve Young goes down as the “What If?” QB of my lifetime — if we were playing out his career 20 times, we got stuck with one of the unluckier outcomes (and it was still pretty great). Terry Bradshaw and Troy Aikman were right-place/right-time guys. (Sorry, it’s true.) Kurt Warner and Michael Vick had moments of real brilliance that never lasted long enough. Drew Brees, Warren Moon, and Jim Kelly are/were very, very good — but never great. It’s too soon to judge Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson. Anyone else is a reach.

Except for Rodgers. He’s the overwhelming favorite to become our next addition to The List. But has he made it already? I’m not even talking about the obvious numbers stuff like, “In Rodgers’s last six seasons, he’s thrown 210 touchdowns and 40 picks,” or, “Rodgers has been directly involved in 48 of Green Bay’s 56 touchdowns this season (including playoffs).” Consider the following five points:

1. Eight weeks ago, Rodgers promised the floundering Packers would run the table … and they did.

2. Over the past 13 months, Rodgers single-handedly turned the Hail Mary into a play that’s just called the Mary.

3. His surreal ability to extend football plays by four to five seconds breaks defenses, swings football games (like we witnessed with that first score against the Giants on Sunday) and makes it impossible to tell if his receivers are good. I mean, is Randall Cobb good? Is Davante Adams good? Was Greg Jennings good? How the fuck would we know? Has anyone created more unexpected fantasy starters and fantasy sleepers than Aaron Rodgers? Remember that time you bid $10 for Jarrett Boykin? Or James Jones, who led the 2015 Packers with 890 yards and eight touchdowns, then never played football again?

4. The Cowboys are better than Green Bay, they’re playing at home, they’re coming off a bye, they already beat Green Bay by 14 (in Week 6), and they should be able to run the ball down Green Bay’s throats … and they’re laying only four points because Rodgers is involved.

5. On my last podcast, a fired-up Mike Lombardi decided to compare every remaining NFL playoff team to a character from The Wire. I won’t spoil all of them, but there were two mortal locks on that list — the Patriots as Avon, and the Packers as Omar. Because Rodgers is Omar. He’s a one-man gang. You’re always afraid of him, you can’t ever count him out and you never know when he’s coming. And those three Hail Marys (THREE!!!!) were football’s equivalent of Omar escaping Marlo’s crew with the five-story balcony jump.

Followed by this moment:

Here’s my point: I’ve never accepted that Rodgers was definitely on The List (or my list, anyway) until last weekend, when he shrugged off a slow start and started carving up the Giants like The Bye Bye Man. I asked my friend Weinberger, a Giants fan, how his family reacted on Sunday as they watched Rodgers start doing Rodgers stuff. “We just got quiet,” he said. “Just silent.” In the words of Marlo Stanfield, that’s some Spider-Man shit right there. No horseshoes needed.

Q: You talk about the gambling nirvana of going 11–0 in the playoffs, but isn’t going 0–11 just as difficult to achieve? I am off to a flying start at 0–4 (thanks partially to your as-always stellar advice). Shouldn’t there be a name for this?
— Eric, Temple, Texas

BS: That’s called the Equinox Lifetime Membership after every college kid who got crushed gambling in the NFL playoffs then called their parents asking for money to “join a gym” because “they’re having a special right now.” If you go 0–11, you have to pretend you’re getting the lifetime membership — it’s the only way to cover the damages.

Q: If you could combine a city’s teams and make players from different leagues available for cross-sport trades, what would be your ultimate “Who says no?” trade? Think the Cubs trading Kyle Schwarber to the L.A. Angels to get Aaron Donald from the Rams to the Bears, but better.
— Caleb Payton

BS: Rob Gronkowski to the Rams, Blake Griffin to the Celtics. It’s perfect. Gronk goes to Hollywood, does Gronk things and gives the Rams the A-list star they desperately need. Griffin gives the Celtics the scoring/rebounding forward they desperately need. And it’s probably even money for whose body breaks down first. I say that with undying love and respect for Gronk, a 27-year-old warrior with two herniated discs, a torn ACL, two different breaks of the same arm, a mysterious infection and a high ankle sprain under his hood already. And Belichick loves getting rid of stars two years early instead of two years lat — wait, am I actually explaining the logic of a Griffin-Gronk trade that can never happen? My bad.

Q: Is there anything in The Book of Basketball that has held up worse than comparing Marc Gasol to Frank Stallone?
— Devin McCullen, Green Brook, N.J.

BS: Actually, yes. Right before I roll out my 96-player Hall of Fame Pyramid, I mention leaving four spots open (for an even 100) and the odds of current guys grabbing those four spots. Here’s that list from the paperback (December 2010):

What holds up worse? Brandon Roy having better odds than Steph Curry? Curry and Tyreke Evans having almost the same odds? Brook Lopez getting mentioned over James Harden and Russell Westbrook? Or me making Rondo one of my four best bets? This was only six years ago! (Thinking.) You’re right, nothing’s worse than me comparing Marc Gasol to Frank Stallone.

Q: History doesn’t repeat, but it rhymes. With condolences in advance, doesn’t the Texans-Patriots matchup this weekend have a little whiff of Tebow beating the Steelers? Texans money line at +1000 or more, just saying. There’s going to be a well-nobody-saw-that-coming at some stage.
— Tom Etherton

BS: The legalization of marijuana bodes well for future mailbags.

Q: Listening to your Jerry Maguire podcast now. Tour de force. But wouldn’t Matthew McConaughey have also crushed it as Jerry?
— Adam Glucksman

BS: McConaughey wouldn’t have crushed it as much as Cruise crushed it, but the added scene when Jerry gets stoned with Rod Tidwell would have been stupendous. By the way, we taped that podcast one week before Deadline’s interview with Cameron Crowe revealed that Crowe wrote the movie for … Tom Hanks! Who knew??? That almost broke my brain. (Yes, Hanks turned it down.) Crowe also revealed that Connie Britton nearly ended up with the Renée Zellweger part and that Cuba Gooding Jr. beat out Jamie Foxx for Rod Tidwell. I continue to think that “Hollywood Movie Casting What-ifs” would be a riveting book.

Q: I have been a diehard loyal Knicks sufferer for more than 25 years. Sadly, I was born into it. Nothing, and I mean nothing, surprises me anymore. To sum up the 21st century as a Knicks loyalist, this clip is the single most enjoyable Knicks in-game moment of the 21st century for me (and a majority of fans as well, I’d bet). Please bear in mind that it’s 2017.
— Morris

BS: I have the solution for you: Trade Derrick Rose to Brooklyn for Jeremy Lin. Run it back — Linsanity The Sequel! If the mailbag can make a comeback, anything’s possible. By the way, Morris is right. It’s the five-year anniversary of Linsanity and that clip still gives me goose bumps. BANNNNNNNG!!!!!!

Q: On your podcast, you mentioned the scared look on Connor Cook’s face and Khalil Mack not acknowledging Cook near the sideline before the game. What about Derek Carr NOT EVEN TRAVELING WITH HIS TEAM???? This has to be the biggest vote of no confidence EVER. It was briefly reported right before the game that Carr wanted to watch at home with his family. HUH???!!! If I would’ve known this, I would have bet heavily against the Raiders (and I don’t gamble). Your take?
— Mark, Omaha, Neb.

BS: I veered from the Playoff Gambling Manifesto on two things last week: “Never take a bad QB on the road” and “Never take the points in a playoff game unless you think the underdog can actually win.” Why? Because I’m terrible at gambling sometimes! I thought you knew! You can’t get stuck with the Connor Cook Face and a concussed Matt Moore in freezing-cold Pittsburgh weather. That reminds me …

Q: Did you see the fucking independent neurologist at the Miami game (after the hit that almost fucking killed Matt Moore)? He asked Moore a couple questions, and Moore obviously didn’t tell the truth since he wanted to go back in the game. And did you hear fucking Simms and Nantz after the hit? He “didn’t lose consciousness,” he was just “hit in the jaw” — as if those two things fucking make it better. I am done with football.
— Sam

BS: A four-F-bomb rant! Got a few of these after the Moore play. Wasn’t the concussion protocol designed to avoid situations where a player rolls around in groggy agony for a couple of minutes, gets up, and pulls the “I’m fine, put me back in!” routine? Our friend Chris Nowinski from Boston University’s CTE program has become an invaluable Twitter follow; he’s like the concussion protocol guy you can actually trust, only he’s sitting on his sofa or in his office. He tweeted after the Moore play, “Playoff priorities! Miami QB Moore crushed helmet-to-chin, can’t stand for 2 minutes, missed one play.” I’m trusting Nowinski over the NFL, if that’s OK.

Q: Why do all the old-fart sports commissioners refuse to use the incredible technology at our fingertips? I can use an app on my phone to have condoms delivered to my condo at 3 a.m., but the NFL has to watch TV replays to figure out if the ball crossed the goal line?!? Come on, Sports Czar, Make Professional Sports Great Again!
— Devin, Toronto

BS: Any tennis major can tell you within 30 seconds whether a 125-mph serve touched one-tenth of the baseline, but the NFL continues to be overwhelmed by any ambiguous touchdown or out-of-bounds play, and it still measures first downs with chains and pudgy white guys like it did in the 1920s. The good news is it’s gotten much better at shamelessly bullying innocent cities for new stadiums. That reminds me …

Q: My Chargers could’ve spent $750 million of their own money to build a new football stadium in San Diego. The NFL and the city would have chipped in the rest of the cash. Instead, they’re paying $650 million to leave behind 56 years of history and fans that love them so they can move to a bigger city that doesn’t want them, where they will play in a 27,000-seat soccer stadium for two years, then become the tenants of the L.A. Rams. Sorry, Sports Guy, I don’t have a question.
— Manny D

BS: You know how you could have ended that email? With a hearty round of applause for everyone in San Diego who refused to get extorted by the Spanos family, played a game of stadium chicken with him, sped toward him at 100 mph and eventually sent him scrambling into the guardrail so he could become the Poor Man’s Clippers to the Rams’ Clippers. (There’s no Lakers in this scenario.) Sure, it hurts to lose the football franchise that they’ve had since 1961, and it’s probably a little perplexing to be a one-sport city when it’s one of the most beautiful cities in America. But at least they kept their collective dignity, right?

We broke down the Chargers’ flimsy extortion plan in our HBO piece about the hilariously misguided Convadium (back in October, before it got voted down), but it’s worth mentioning again: Cities get screwed over by these “state of the art” stadiums, again and again, after teams hold a loaded revolver to their heads and offer dreadful deals that they have to either (a) begrudgingly accept, or (b) regretfully turn down (and lose their team in the process). When it’s a new baseball stadium (81 home games plus playoffs) or a new NBA arena (41 home games plus playoffs), the math might make sense. But when it’s an 80,000-seat football stadium used for eight football games, two preseason games and a couple of concerts, how in God’s name does that make sense? What are you doing for the other 350 days? Aren’t there dozens of better ways for a city to spend hundreds of millions? Especially this decade?

Dean Spanos opted against funding his own San Diego stadium because it would have been a suicidal business move. By contrast, Stan Kroenke wanted to build his own Los Angeles football stadium because it was a fantastic business move. For maybe $3 billion total, he owns the signature team in America’s second-biggest market, the obvious Super Bowl stadium every four years or so, the obvious venue for America’s next World Cup final, the obvious stadium for the 2024 Olympics (if L.A. gets it), the obvious home for every major L.A. concert, the new site of the NFL Network’s headquarters, a new home for the NFL combine, a new destination for every major soccer friendly and a fun partner right next door with the Forum.

You know why Kroenke didn’t try to get Los Angeles to pay for any of it? He wanted it all for himself! These guys always think with their wallets — always. It’s the same reason Spanos wanted help from San Diego; he knew it was a bad deal. But this happened on Roger Goodell’s watch and Paul Tagliabue’s watch — once they rigged the CBA so owners could keep more and more of their own stadium revenue as long as they kept figuring out increasingly creative ways to generate it, then potentially three relocations in 14 months became inevitable. The NFL doesn’t care about us. It never did. We’re an ATM to them.

Q: You tweeted that the Rams and Chargers were going to be a “Lakers/Clippers situation only both teams will be treated locally like the Clippers.” The Clippers have sold out for, like, six years. Wouldn’t that be a good thing?
— Andy Lewis

BS: The difference other than seating capacities: From 1984 through 2010, the sad-sack Clippers survived only because they were a significantly cheaper, significantly more accessible alternative to the Lakers. Many basketball fans (including me) bought Clippers season tickets to see the visiting teams (short term) while hoping the Clips would eventually fall face-first into a franchise player (and in 2012, suddenly, they had two). Football doesn’t work that way. Nobody buys NFL season tickets for visiting teams. Even worse, you get lost in Los Angeles — it’s a bandwagon sports city except for the staples (the Dodgers, Lakers, UCLA and USC), as the Rams found out last season. Juggling two NFL franchises is flat-out ridiculous. Why didn’t Spanos use that $650 million to renovate the old Chargers stadium and keep his own market? I will never understand this one.

(One bonus subplot: Aren’t you secretly excited to see what an NFL game will be like in a 30,000-seat stadium? Easier parking, less traffic, less clutter, better seats — what if it’s awesome? You couldn’t drag me to the Coliseum to bake in the sun for a Rams game at gunpoint, but seeing the Chargers play in a soccer stadium? I’m intrigued! What if the demand outweighs the supply? What if it becomes football’s Fenway Park for two years?)

Last Chargers note: I love the Patriots and I’ve rooted for them my whole life. When was the last time I attended a home game in Foxborough? 2004, before the Red Sox won the World Series and either of my kids was born. I watch them on TV. It’s fine. You know what else? Foxborough is like 90 minutes from Boston if there’s traffic. Inglewood is two hours from San Diego (and there’s always traffic). I know it hurts, but you’ll be fine. We’re all proud of you.

Q: With the Chargers moving to L.A. and the Raiders off to Vegas in the near future, which abandoned city will take L.A.’s place as the primary threat to fan bases who refuse to build their team a new stadium?
— Alex E., Somerville, Mass.

BS: Oakland. Lock it down. It’s our fastest-growing American city, there’s a big baseball/football play to be made, and you have God knows how many Silicon Valley billionaires living within an hour of it. By the way, Mark Zuckerberg would never do this, but imagine if he were a huge sports fan and decided to overpay for the Athletics and for an NFL team to immediately move to Oakland, then built the Facebook Dome and rigged Facebook’s feed to be a steady stream of fake positive news about both of those teams? After 2016, I’d believe anything.

Q: Is it just me, or do Kansas City and Atlanta feel like underdogs this week? I know they’re both favored, but don’t you just have that gut feeling that Pittsburgh and Seattle, both with Super Bowl–winning QBs and coaches, are better and that a loss by either would be surprising?
— Alex Kryah

BS: It’s simple: Nobody trusts Atlanta’s defense and coaching; everyone’s afraid of Pittsburgh’s explosiveness and Seattle’s big-game experience; and nobody feels totally great about taking Alex Smith and Andy Reid against a hot team. I don’t mind laying five with a fantastic Falcons offense at home, especially against the Round 1 Overreaction team (Seattle, whose value got pumped up by a mediocre Lions team).

But Steelers-Chiefs? On paper, that’s a crapshoot: Too many guys on both sides can break off 50-yard plays, and I trust Roethlisberger (two picks, one near-pick against a half-asleep Dolphins team) about as much as I trust Smith right now. Throw in Reid and Mike Tomlin — two of the 21st century’s goofiest game-management coaches — and there’s an 89 percent chance that this game will be decided by one gigantic play, one crippling turnover and one raging, blood-engorged coaching boner. I’m grabbing the Chiefs minus-one for two reasons:

1. Have you seen the Roethlisberger-on-the-road splits?

2014, home: 6–2, 23 TD, 4 INT, 8.85 YPA, 114.8 rating
2015, home: 5–1, 16 TD, 7 INT, 8.59 YPA, 102.4 rating
2016, home: 5–1, 20 TD, 5 INT, 8.47 YPA, 116.7 rating
2014, road: 5–3, 9 TD, 5 INT, 7.39 YPA, 91.0 rating
2015, road: 3–3, 5 TD, 9 INT, 8.19 YPA, 86.0 rating
2016, road: 5–3, 9 TD, 8 INT, 6.73 YPA, 78.4 rating

Yeeesh. I’m even more convinced that Banged-up Ben is throwing the Chiefs three picks on Sunday. Can they catch two of them?

2. The Chiefs are slightly better suited at home for a disjointed special teams/turnovers/big plays/boners game (especially coming off a bye). In fact, Turnovers, Big Plays, and Boners was the title of Andy Reid’s book.

Q: With the win at the Golden Globes of the TV show Atlanta, does this mean this is the year of Atlanta and I should put all my money on the Falcons?
— Scott Simcock

BS: I don’t think the Year of Anything can include Dwight Howard unless it’s the Year of Why Did We Do That? Poor Dwight. At some point, I’m going to write The Book of Basketball, Second Edition: A Quick Influx of Cash, and placing Dwight in that 100-person Pyramid will be damned near impossible. Was he a Level 1 guy or a Level 2 guy? Would you have wanted him on your team for 15 years? Should Dwight’s 2009 Magic team get more credit for embracing ThreeBall and being ahead of its time? And was there a worse 21st-century NBA fan experience than Hack-A-Dwight, short of being in the stands in Detroit when Artest and Captain Jack came charging up?

Q: Considering everything we know about the CFB Selection Committee, if we had picked any four NFL teams (conferences aside) for an NFL playoff, who would get in?
— Doug Lindblom

BS: Dallas, New England, Atlanta … and Pittsburgh because they beat the Chiefs in Week 4, which would be followed by everyone losing their minds over the Chiefs getting screwed. But imagine the possibilities for corruption, incompetence and general mayhem with a Goodell-run NFL Playoff Selection Committee? The college committee features five athletic directors (including Texas Tech’s Kirby Hocutt, who runs it), four former college coaches, one former NCAA executive, one former sportswriter, and Condoleezza Rice; the group includes 10 old white dudes among its 12 members, and somehow it manages to be infinitely more diverse than Trump’s Cabinet.

Using that as our model and knowing what we know about Goodell after 10-plus years, I think his NFL Playoff Selection Committee would look like this: John Mara, Dan Rooney, Steve Bisciotti, Jerry Jones, Bill Polian, Tom Coughlin, Chris Mortensen, Bob Iger, Les Moonves, Troy Vincent, actress Kate Mara … and maybe Rooney Mara, too.

Q: I’m from Buffalo and was born in 1992. I have witnessed every single manner of crushing defeat, dumbfounding organizational decision, and ridiculous article headline imaginable, and now, 17 playoff-less years later, there is still no light at the end of the tunnel for my Bills.

Your Patriots were saved by Brady and Belichick. Is there a combination of coach and QB out there, somewhere, that will bring the Bills out of the dungeon of mediocrity and back to competence? Is there any hope? I’ve accepted that the Lombardi Trophy will never grace a parade at City Hall. All I want is one wild-card playoff game. That’s all I’m looking for. Hell, I’ll settle for one Week 17 game that matters.
— Bill S., Buffalo

BS: What about Sean McDermott and Jay Cutler? That wasn’t what you had in mind? Given that Cleveland has the no. 1 and no. 12 picks, I think our updated Tortured NFL Fan Base Rankings look like this:

1. Buffalo
2. Cleveland
3. Minnesota
4. Detroit

And there’s a HUGE drop-off to no. 5…

J
E
T
S

JETS! JETS JETS!

Q: Getting excited about an NFL season and remembering you’re a Lions fan is like getting excited when you see “Nudity and Strong Sexual Content” on HBO and remembering you’re about to watch Oz.
— Steve R., Tennessee

BS: You know you picked the wrong sports team when you’re figuring out elaborate ways to compare it to prison sex. Speaking of jail …

Q: Are you aware that a barely recognizable Brendan Fraser is now playing a crucial role on The Affair as a villainous prison guard who ejaculates onto a picture of Dominic West’s character’s wife?
— Mike Piekarski

BS: Very, very, very aware. It’s the most frightening Brendan Fraser moment since he fought Matt Damon naked in School Ties. Is it wrong that I’m more excited about Brendan Fraser’s comeback than any other comeback right now? Read this post.

Q: When Matt Patricia inevitably gets hired away to be a head coach, shouldn’t Belichick bring Rex in for an interview like Trump did to Romney? Make him kiss the rings, then twist in the wind for a few days. “Yeah, Rex, we’ll be in touch.” Would Rex take that interview? He has to, right? Or is it too obviously a trap?
— Angus, Nantucket, Mass.

BS: Rex takes the interview just so he has more material for his inevitable book, which he could start selling right now as “Just like George Karl’s book, except it’s even more outspoken and more uncomfortable and inappropriate and I’m going to do three times as much apologizing after it comes out!” Speaking of inevitable, I think the Patriots shut out Houston this weekend or come close. Something like 30–0 or 34–3. The Brockening is NOT going to enjoy himself on a chilly Saturday night in New England.

Q: On your podcast in September, you cheated on Brady with a younger, more handsome QB whom we will just call “Jim G” to protect his identity. The karma ensured that the Patriots will lose in some epic fashion this winter. What Ringer story will be the most painful for you to read next month?

A. “Timeouts? I don’t need no stinkin’ timeouts” — How Andy Reid’s fourth-quarter brilliance in Foxborough brought the Chiefs back from 14 down and ended Bill Belichick’s career even though Reid had used all his timeouts in the third quarter.

B. “Brady 2.0” — How Brady’s walk-off two-point reversion pass in the Patriots’ 24–23 loss in the Super Bowl ended his career and established Dak Prescott as his heir apparent and undisputed leader of a new dynasty in Dallas.

Pick one.
— Jerry Rei

BS: Any Patriots loss would be painful. It’s a seven-way tie for all of them. One of Brady’s most amazing accomplishments has been Jedi mind-tricking everyone into forgetting that he’s 39 years old and that this could end at ANY time. Hold on, I’m running the list of 40-year-old quarterbacks who’ve won a playoff game:

1. Brett Favre, 40 years, 99 days

And we’re done. And so was Favre about two weeks later. He was never the same. So please, Patriots fans, if you’ve ever listened to me on anything, listen to me on this one: Enjoy Saturday night’s probable shellacking of the Texans. Savor every minute of it. Savor every great Brady play. This might be the last easy playoff game of his career. You just never know.

Q: I have a terrible feeling about this game.
The Ringer’s Bryan Curtis (emailing me while en route to Dallas Wednesday)

BS: Let’s break it down:

The case for Green Bay: Omar Little Rodgers against Dak The Playoff Virgin Prescott + back-door cover potential + Dallas might be rusty + AARON RODGERS HAS THROWN THREE HAIL MARYS IN THE PAST 13 MONTHS AND HE MIGHT BE A WITCH.

The case for Dallas: Rodgers can’t work his magic if he’s standing on the sideline as his opponent is ripping off nine-minute drives. Why would anyone think Green Bay’s undersized defense can handle Dallas’s massive offensive line and keep Dak and Zeke off the field? Throw in Dom Capers (yikes), Jordy Nelson (ouch), a raucous Cowboys crowd (plus Jones family box celebration shots!), and at least 22 shaky calls favoring Dallas (remember, every Cowboys playoff game is worth a few extra million viewers for Fox), plus all the Packers fans complaining about Buck and Aikman on Twitter and … I mean … you can see where this one is heading.

My final picks:

New England 34, Houston 3 (Pats cover)
Kansas City 25, Pittsburgh 22 (K.C. covers)
Atlanta 34, Seattle 23 (Atlanta covers)
Dallas 32, Green Bay 24 (Dallas covers)

Finally, thanks to the barista at the Culver City Starbucks who left me an unexpected present on my Starbucks cup this week …

Yup, these are my readers.

Send a question for Bill’s next mailbag to themailbag@theringer.com.