It’s that time of year again. The playoffs have started in the National Food-ball League and this week it’s the Divisional Playoff Round. I have to admit that life got in the way of my previewing the Wild Card Round but when you think about, the dishes that were eliminated (Cincinnati Chili, Minnesota Lutefisk, Indianapolis Milk Pie & that load of Bull coming out of Washington DC) did not produce any real surprises. So with my favorite team bias somewhat in check (not really, in fact not a chance) it’s time to preview the four games that we have coming up on the plate.
The Baltimore Ravens at The Denver Broncos – From a football angle, this is the game with the most media friendly storyline. Baltimore Ravens hero & face of the franchise Ray Lewis is retiring when his team loses in the playoffs and Peyton Manning has come back from four neck surgeries to lead his Denver Broncos to the top seed in the AFC. The money in Las Vegas has the Broncos as a Nine point favorite but in the National Food-ball League, Las Vegas is nothing more than another neverending buffet. What really matters is what’s on the plate. Now a bucket of Boiled Shrimp with some Old Bay Seasoning may have been enough to derail a bowl of midwestern chili but it’s not going to be enough when the Ravens come to Denver. They better be bringing a bucket of boiled crabs, a section of newspaper for the table and more than a few mallets if they think they can beat the Broncos. And what will Broncos be serving up to counteract this attack ? While I never ate them while I lived there (and with good reason), I think the Broncos will bring a large platter of Rocky Mountain Oysters to the game as a sign of how they are going to “Say Goodbye To Ray” on Saturday afternoon. (How do you like that “Unkindness” Cousin Liz ?)
Broncos 34 Ravens 19
The Green Bay Packers at The San Francisco 49ers – From a football perspective, this game has all the makings of a classic. The Packers want revenge for the opening day loss the Niners pinned on them and the Niners need to show that they can take that next step. Injuries have slowed the receiving corps of the Packers all year but that still didn’t stop Discount Double Check from throwing 39 TD passes. The Niners were rolling with Alex Smith at QB and then he got a concussion. They never lost stride and may have even gotten a little bit better when Colin Kapernick stepped up as his replacement. But in the National Food-ball League that is neither here nor there when what we are really talking about is Wisconsin Cheese & San Francisco Sourdough. While I love me some sourdough, I can see the bread getting dunked & covered in a creamy Beer Cheese Soup. The cheese would have to trump the bread in this situation.
Packers 33 Niners 27
The Seattle Seahawks at The Atlanta Falcons – The Seahawks are probably the scariest team to come out of the Wild Card round. They have an oversized bull at running back and an undersized rookie quarterback that wasn’t supposed to beat out the high priced free agent quarterback the Seahawks are now looking to dump like that last cup in the office coffee pot around 4pm. The Falcons have looked great all year but a couple of late flops have caused question marks to be buzzing around them like flies at a BBQ picnic. From a National Food-ball League Standpoint, the Seahawks bring an impressive array of Pacific Northwest Salmon to the plate and with some of Etta’s “Rub With Love” in their back pocket I think they take the victory from a big steaming plate of Shrimp & Grits. Like Joe Pesci proved in “My Cousin Vinny”, you need time to properly cook your grits and I don’t think that time is right in Atlanta.
Seahawks 24 Falcons 14
The Houston Texans at The New England Patriots – the last time these two teams played each other back in December, the Walking Talking Touchdown Tossing Ken Doll that is Tom Brady shredded the Texans vaunted defense like they were shredding mozzarella for a pizza. The Texans do have revenge on their mind but they are going to need to forcefeed a healthy dose of Arian Foster to the Patriots to have any chance at all. Houston finished the season with all the excitement of day old dry brisket and while I do prefer BBQ over Lobster every day of the week and twice on Sunday, I do think that the Patriots are going to drop another perfect Thermidor on the Texans and no one is going to miss the BBQ Sauce.
Patriots 38 Texans 10
So that’s how I see this weekend both on the gridiron & on the plate. What are your football and/or culinary choices for these four games and what would you offer up differently ? See you next week when we talk about who is going to the Souper Bowl.