One of the greatest things I learned from my former Tribune teammate, the late Steve Huang, was the concept of betting against your own interests.
Did I want to see the Vikings win yesterday? Of course not. But did I want to have something to soften the blow on the off chance that they did? You bet! Logic pointed to the 49ers winning on Saturday. They had a bye week and were playing a team that was coming off a short week. Also, the Vikings hadn’t fared well in outdoor road games against teams that finished with a winning record. It was all there for me, but I decided to do what I did … and I have no regrets. Because sometimes, correctly applying something you learned is the biggest win of them all.
But also, the Vikings lost and I enjoy being petty from time to time.
Who’s got next?
- I’ll tell you who doesn’t have next, it’s the Baltimore Ravens, who were punched in the gut early and often in a lopsided loss against the Tennessee Titans. Derrick Henry ran for 180+ yards for the third straight game, Ryan Tannehill did just enough to continue the narrative of his revival in Nashville, and a stout defense forced turnovers against a Baltimore team that simply didn’t have clicking on all cylinders.
- Before you start blaming the layoff, note what I mentioned above about the Niners. Like San Francisco, it was Baltimore coming off a bye and Tennessee coming in after playing a brutally tough, hard-fought game. In theory, the Ravens should have taken care of business. HOWEVER, the Titans took it to the home team and are one win away from going to the Super Bowl. What a world.
- Derrick Henry’s lone scoring play was this:
Derrick Henry jump pass!pic.twitter.com/cYT6NzjMMN
— PFF (@PFF) January 12, 2020
- “Mariota is open,” screamed the BN Bears blogger, who knew he would have had #content if the oft-rumored Bears target would’ve caught a touchdown pass.
- Someone is going to make Mariota a well-compensated decoy this coming offseason. Hello, Bears?
- At some point, I’ll need to do a deeper dive on Mariota and share my findings. Mariota won a Heisman Trophy in college and was good enough to win a playoff game as a Titans starting quarterback, engineering a comeback against Kansas City that Matt Nagy still probably has nightmares about to this day. His prospect pedigree simply can’t be ignored. Then again, the same can be said about his inconsistencies and other reasons why he’ll hit the market in the first place.
- It is too easy to draw parallels to where Mariota will be in March and to where Ryan Tannehill was last offseason. A top-10 pick at quarterback who had arm strength and ability, but never lived up to his potential because of a lack of stability, only to click with a system that accents their strengths while minimizing plays in which their weaknesses. Heckuva concept, eh?
- With that being said, there are serious questions that need to be answered as to why Mariota didn’t put it together when given that offensive line, a bruising running game, and a defense that certainly looks good enough to get to the Super Bowl (and even win it).
- I had way too much fun last night celebrating gambling wins related to this game:
Baltimore closed as 10-point favorites over the Titans at the Caesars Sportsbook. Prior to Saturday, Baltimore was the only team in the Super-Bowl era that had failed to lose a game when favored by 10 or more points in a single game; Ravens had been 36-0 as 10+-point favorites.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 12, 2020
- Updated Super Bowl odds:
Updated odds to win Super Bowl 54 (Bovada):
— Odds Shark (@OddsShark) January 12, 2020
- Some might be enjoying themselves as they spike the football after a disappointing game from Lamar Jackson, but I bet your team’s starting quarterback can’t do this:
— PFF (@PFF) January 12, 2020
- Maybe fullbacks will make their way back into the fold now that running the ball is a thing again:
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) January 12, 2020
- Drool-worthy tight end play:
Kittle is fun to watch pic.twitter.com/dVzoijfvNK
— Olin kreutz (@olin_kreutz) January 11, 2020
- Are you still laughing about the national pundit who declared George Kittle wasn’t much of a blocker? Because I am.
- Maaaaaan, even the 49ers have quarterbacks who block:
Jimmy G makes pancakes pic.twitter.com/JdWEHnfx1a
— Matt Chatham (@chatham58) January 11, 2020
- The one Vikings highlight:
Great snag by Diggs as Witherspoon apparently gets sniped pic.twitter.com/2kahYJfBhB
— Ben Palmer (@benjpalmer) January 11, 2020
- Outside of that, Minnesota’s receivers couldn’t get much separation. Clearly, Michael Thomas of the Saints also noticed it:
- Petty football is actually great. Please do not debate this with me.
- Overall, Minnesota spent much of the game being bullied at the point of attack. Ideally, the Bears take note of that moving forward as they scheme against their future opponents.
- I wonder if Seattle has any answers to what Green Bay does well? Trends suggest this is an awful matchup for the Seahawks, but anything can happen on any given Sunday.
- Brandon Staley went from coaching Bears outside linebackers to the Rams’ new defensive coordinator in two seasons:
The #Rams are hiring Brandon Staley, formerly the #Broncos outside linebackers coach, as their new defensive coordinator, source said. A surprise hire and the first branch of the Vic Fangio defensive tree.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 11, 2020
- Going from coaching Khalil Mack, to Von Miller, to Aaron Donald in three consecutive seasons is living a charmed life. Good luck to Staley, who will get to coach against the Bears at some point during the 2020 season. (You can check out the rest of Chicago’s list of opponents here.)
- WHAT. A. MOMENT.
- Perspective on the year that was:
- Can’t believe I made it this far without mentioning Mahomes-Watson II taking place this afternoon. There are plenty of lessons to be learned from these two teams taking the field today. But because I didn’t want to belabor anything, I stayed away from it for most of the week. We’ll dive into it next week, as one of their respective teams will host the AFC Championship Game next Sunday.