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NFL Divisional Round Open Thread

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Nov 27, 2010; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels speaks during a press conference regarding the violation of integrity of game policy at Broncos Headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

Another year, another resounding rejection of coaching SUPERPROSPECT Josh McDaniels despite a lot of vacancies and…we’ll get to this tomorrow, but I think it’s fair to say an underwhelming set of candidates:

On Tuesday morning, the Packers hired former Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur as their head coach. It was a notable hire in that LaFleur, who had worked with Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay before getting one season to establish himself in Tennessee with his own concepts, had relatively little experience for such a marquee position. Clearly, LaFleur’s offensive philosophies merged with a Packers front office well aware that someone on staff needs to provide Aaron Rodgers with a modern offense.

The LaFleur hire was also notable in that the Green Bay job was the only one that Patriots offensive coordinator and former Broncos head coach (and former Colts head coach for about five minutes) Josh McDaniels interviewed for this postseason before withdrawing back to Foxboro. Also on Tuesday, during a media conference call in preparation for New England’s divisional-round game against the Chargers, McDaniels said that the Packers opportunity was the end of his interviewing spree this time around, and he’s staying with the Pats.

“The book is closed,” as McDaniels said, per Henry McKenna of Patriots Wire.

“But I shoulda been made after that last Super Bowl!” “The organization is not adding any new members.”

To further add to the amusement, the latest sequel to the AFC Least Human Centipede has apparently resulted in the Dolphins tabbing Patriots tablet-carrier Brian Flores. Granted, the Pats defense did show some improvement under Flores as compared to the guy who crashed and burned in Detroit, but…given that Patricia’s performance is typical of the Belichick tree, good luck with that.

Indianapolis (+4.5) vs. KANSAS CITY This is a fascinating game — indeed, in terms of weighted DVOA this is a matchup between the top two teams in NFL. I would lean towards Indy if I had to bet, with my biggest concern being not KC’s tortured history but that the only thing the KC defense does well (rush the passer) is also now up against one of the biggest strengths of the Colts, as you saw against Watt, Clowney et al. last weekend. If Luck has time he’ll roast this secondary and it seems likely that he’ll have tine. Combine that with Reid’s 2-minute-issues, and…while the Chiefs will move the ball too this feels like a close game between two excellent teams, and while I’ll be rooting for Andy to get another shot I’ll take the points in that scenario.

RAMS (-7) v. Dallas It wasn’t that long ago that the Rams looked like consensus Super Bowl favorites — at one point 538 had them at something like a 60% chance of winning the Super Bowl, about which cf. but still. I think they’ve now gone the cycle from being overhyped to a touch undervalued. The loss of Kupp has been a problem, but McVay is not going to be lulled into playing the Cowboys’ game like Carroll and Schotty were last week, and the Rams should be able to score. The really interesting question about the game is the Rams defense. Even with the injuries to the secondary this personnel coached by Wade Phillips should not have below-average defensive results, but they have. The question is whether they have another gear for the playoffs or whether this group doesn’t quite mesh and/or at 71 Wade has lost a little off his fastball. My guess is that against the solid but low-ceiling Dallas offense they’ll do enough to win with some measure of comfort, but I’m more dubious in later rounds.

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