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How the San Francisco 49ers Get Back to the Big Game

Well after a Week 18 full of dreck and a Wild Card Weekend of boring games the NFL came back strong in the Divisional Round with 4 great games.

Capped on Sunday by an almost monumental collapse and comeback and then the KC Buffalo game left me with my mouth hanging open and tongue wagging seemingly every time I turned around.

Bills people quit crying. You had a full game to try and win and you couldn’t do it.

Your dumb ass Head and Special Teams coaches kicked deep instead of a squib kick which allowed no time to run off the clock.

The Bills let Mahomes & company drive into field goal range in 10 seconds. TEN!

You called the coin flip and you f’d that up.

Then you couldn’t stop the Chiefs again. So, we’re blaming it on the coin toss?

I mean that’s almost as ludicrous as Thurman Thomas’s misplaced helmet in Super Bowl XXV being because “someone from Harry Connick’s band picked it up and moved it.” Or Bills running back Kenneth Davis telling people that Scott Norwood’s missed FG was due to “the wind from one of those Apache helicopters that was hovering over the stadium.”

Come on Bills fans, take a lesson from QB Josh Allen and get over it.

Kicking Some Arse

Kickers, for many fans are the bane of football. Just look at how many times in the history of the NFL and NCAA football the win or the loss for that matter has come down to a missed FG.

My buddy Dennis is going to hate this, but in College Football the most well-known tale is 1991’s Wide Right 1 when Florida State kicker Gerry Thomas missed a 34-yard game winning FG “wide to the right,” and Wide Right 2 a year later when Seminole kicker Dan Mowrey missed a 39-yard FG to tie the game at 19. That kick was also wide to the right.

In the NFL there’s Cody Parkey’s Double Doink in the 2018 NFC Wildcard Game.

Blair Walsh who was 32-33 on FG attempts inside the 30 in his career, shanking a 27-yard FG that would have sent the Minnesota Vikings to the Divisional Playoff Round and instead gave the Seattle Seahawks a 10-9 win.

Then there’s Gary Anderson, who had not missed a field goal all season, missing a 38-yarder to all but send the Vikings to the Super Bowl.

There’s the Ravens Billy Cundiff who so badly missed a 32-yard FG to punch the New England Patriots ticket to the AFC Championship Game.  

And of course, the aforementioned 47-yard wide right miss by Scott Norwood in the 1991 Super Bowl. But that one won me money because I had the Giants and the under. If it were good, I would have lost both. I was much less grumpy back in those days.

For me it will always fall on Doug Brien who had not one, but two missed field goals in the final two minutes of the 2005 Divisional Playoff game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. I had a substantial bet on the Jets to make it to the Super Bowl and Brien missed a 47-yarder with the score tied 17-17. He had a chance at redemption after Ben Roethlisberger threw an interception on the next play and Brien proceeded to miss a 43-yard attempt. The Steelers won in overtime.

But this past week the kickers came up big. Take the Bengals Evan McPherson who scored all of Cincy’s first half points with field goals of 38, 45 & 54 yards, capping it off with a 52-yard game winner at the gun. Most impressive is what McPherson told holder Brandon Allen before making the winning kick, “looks like we’re going to the AFC Championship.” Now that’s ballsy.

Then we have San Francisco’s Robbie Gould who banged a 45-yarder in the Lambeau snow to beat the Packers and send the 49ers to this week’s NFC Championship game. Not as impressive, but still the same result was Rams Matt Gay 30-yard FG for the win to get his team into that very same game.

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Championship Sunday Number Crunch – KC -7 vs Cincy

The Kansas City Chiefs are -7-point favorites over the Cincinnati Bengals, marking the 13th straight playoff game the Chiefs have been favored. It’s the longest streak of the Super Bowl Era. Of course it took an unbelievable course of events to keep the streak alive last week, but here we are.

The Bengals lead the all time series 16-14, but this is the first playoff matchup between the teams. In the last matchup in week 17 of the regular season the Bengals defeated the Chiefs 34-31 as +3.5-point underdogs.

The Bengals are 7-14 all time in the playoffs, but 2-0 in their two previous AFC Championship Game appearances.

The Chiefs are 17-20 in the playoffs and this is their fourth straight AFC Championship appearance. They are the first team to host four straight Conference Championships.

In the last 10 years the AFC Championship favorite has covered five and the underdog has also covered five.

Championship Sunday Number Crunch – LA -3.5 vs SF

Since New Year’s Day 2019 the 49ers are 6-0 SU against the Rams, winning by an average of 8.5 points per game.

It’s just three weeks after this very same matchup from week 18 of the regular season when the Rams were also favored by -3.5 against the Niners.

Interestingly enough on November 15th when LA travelled to San Fran to face their divisional foe the Rams were favored by that same -3.5-point spread.

In case you don’t remember what happened in those two previous games, here’s a reminder. On November 15th the 49ers smoked the Rams at home 31-10. Three weeks ago the Niners came back from 17-0 down in LA to beat the Rams 27-24.

The Rams and 49ers have met 144 times during the regular season, but they’re only faced off one time in the playoffs before today, in the 1989 NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park. Similar to their recent run, the 49ers beat the Rams 30-3.

After the game Rams QB Jim Everett said, “these are the bullies on the block, and we got bullied again.”

Just like the last ten AFC Conference Championships, in the last 10 years the NFC Championship favorite has covered five and the underdog has also covered five.

Grumpy’s Pick(s) of the Week

The late game on Championship Sunday has the LA Rams as -3.5-point favorites against the visiting San Francisco 49ers.

As mentioned above, if history is any model then today should go just about the same way those two previous meetings went. Or should I say the six previous meetings since the 49ers have won six straight against the Rams.

People continue to point towards the Jimmy Garoppolo factor and how they don’t trust him as a QB, but Jimmy is 14-4 ATS and 13-5 outright as an underdog in his career, including those two wins this season against the Rams. Oh, and that 13-5 record outright is the best of any QB in the Super Bowl era who have at least three starts.

Couple that with the fact that Garoppolo has yet to throw a passing TD or for over 200 yards in the playoffs and he has two interceptions and they’ve beaten the Cowboys and the Packers on the road and that’s good enough for me. Plus, do you really trust Matt Stafford?

I’ll take the 49ers +3.5.

That’s my safe play. I’ll also go SF +152 on the money line to win the game OUTRIGHT!

That’s right I’m calling for a rematch of Super Bowls XVI & XXIII, when the 49ers beat the Bengals or Super Bowl LIV when the 49ers fell to the Chiefs. Either way I think San Fran will be back at SoFi in two weeks.

I mean how sweet would it be to see Jimmy G going to the Super Bowl while a retired Tom Brady is sitting at home.

Enjoy Championship Sunday. I hope you are fortunate.