Lazy man's guide to the NFL playoffs: What you need to know

You like football. I mean, not to the point where you're going to burn a jersey if a player leaves in free agency. But whatever, you like football. You manage have a fantasy football team, for goodness' sake! And more importantly, you and your buddies are going out this weekend to watch the playoffs.

Sounds fun and all, but don't be "that guy." The guy who refers to his fantasy tight end as "someone named J. Reed?" The guy who shows up and is like, "Who's in the playoffs this year again? Isn't C. Newton supposed to be good?"

I'm not saying you need to spit out PFF grades on Green Bay's backup right tackle, but having a modicum of knowledge -- or, more importantly, the appearance of knowledge -- is key. Otherwise, you're the guy at the party talking about those sick Bluetooth headphones you just copped during an Amazon flash deal. And no, no one cares about that 9x surge pricing you just got hit with on Uber on New Year's Eve. What else is left to talk about? Your feelings??? Oh, helllllllllll naw.

So clearly, you need some football info in your life, but the reason you're in this predicament is that you're entirely too lazy to look up all this stuff on your own.

It's all good. I got you.

Here's your lazy man's guide to watching the NFL playoffs:

Miami Dolphins (10-6) at Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5)


Season recap: The Steelers saw Le'Veon Bellsuspended to start the season, with Ben Roethlisberger suffering his usual midseason injury before doing the whole *coming back earlier than anticipated* thing. All things considered, Pittsburgh handled its mess better than anyone else in the AFC North -- thus, they're playing in the playoffs.

If you want to sound smart: Nothing makes you sound like you sort of know what you're talking about like a semi-coherent contrarian argument. Try this on for size: "Man, everyone's talking about Big Ben, but Lev Bell is actually the key to that offense. Dude's averaging like 180 total yards per game over his last six games. That's EPIC!!!" Proceed to watch everyone nod sagely.

Fun story you can share/Google with friends while beveraging: Bell is a borderline good rapper and goes by the handle Juice.


Season recap: The Dolphins exceeded expectations this year, no doubt. After bringing wunderkind Adam Gase in to be the head coach, Miami improved from 6-10 in 2015 to 10-6 in 2016 with essentially the same roster. Starting quarterback Ryan Tannehillsuffered a knee injuryin Week 14, so currently some character named Matt Mooreis playing quarterback. Seemingly out of nowhere, running back Jay Ajayi racked up three different 200-plus yard rushing games.

If you want to sound smart: Let's keep that counter-intuitive, hipster-style line of thought going. Throw this out there and see what's up: "I mean, do the Dolphins even need Ryan Tannehill? Matt Moore has a better quarterback rating (over 100) and a wayyyyy better touchdown-to-interception ratio." Someone who actually knows about football will probably disagree, but who cares? You just proved you have, like, real football thoughts or whatever. That's all that matters.

Fun story you can share/Google with friends while beveraging: Tannehill's wife is a jewelry model. Ajayi lived in London until he was 7 years old and has the most interesting accent in football.

Oakland Raiders (12-4) at Houston Texans (9-7)


Season recap: The team spent big money to bring in quarterback Brock Osweiler ... which, uh, did not go well. The Brock Lobster was one of the worst quarterbacks in football and was benched. "The Macho Man" Tom Savage came in, but suffered a concussionin Week 17. Houston is now in that super-awkward position of telling its players, "Hey remember that guy who was so bad we absolutely had to bench him? Yeah, that dude is back. But go ahead and trust him, you guys, he'll totally come through!"

If you want to sound smart: Go with the grain on this one and drop in well-accepted lines of thought like, "Man, if the Texans are going to win, they're going to have to do it with the run game and defense." Keep it super general; no need to stretch your football knowledge with stuff like yards-after-contact stats for Lamar Miller.

Fun story you can share/Google with friends while beveraging: The Texans have a tight end named C.J. Feidoraqhwhateverziu:#Hljk. I'm too lazy to Google the spelling, but a good no-phones game is seeing who can get the closest to spelling his name. Most accurate attempt gets a free beverage.


Season recap: The Raiders were coasting along until disaster struck in Week 16, when quarterback Derek Carrbroke his fibula. If backup Matt McGloin wasn't a random enough name for you, he, too, was injured, and now rookie Connor Cookis in line to start, setting up a super-marketable Cook-Osweiler showdown.

If you want to sound smart: Use a little sarcastic humor. For example: "It's going to be sooooo interesting seeing the Texans' super bad passing offense take on Oakland's super bad passing defense!" Which actually isn't super accurate, considering the Raiders' pass defense has been much improved lately, but whatever -- don't let facts get in the way of a good, super-snarky comment.

New York Giants (11-5) at Green Bay Packers (10-6)


Season recap: The season started with Aaron Rodgers fending off the two-headed gossip attack of "Bachelorette Fallout Guy" and "Olivia Munn Hot Takers." The Packers' 4-6 start prompted Rodgers to offer up a legendary guarantee of running the table -- and then he actually did it! LEGENDARY, BRO! Again, who cares if it's factually inaccurate to say he "guaranteed" anything? It doesn't sound nearly as cool to say Rodgers felt like the Packers could win six games in a row. We ain't talking about no feelings, man! We need hot takes and words like "EPIC" and "LEGENDARY."

If you want to sound smart: Context = legit. Someone is inevitably going to say, "Man, Aaron Rodgers is good!" That's when you jump in and say something like, "Yeah, man, once Jordy Nelson got healthier, Rodgers looked a lot better." Boom. Instant credibility.

Fun story you can share/Google with friends while beveraging: If you really want to stir it up, just start debating whether or not Munn has had a negative impact on Rodgers' career.


Season recap: The team moved on from head coach Tom Coughlin in the offseason and installed offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo to lead the way. With Odell Beckham and Eli Manning, much was expected of the offense, but it was an inconsistent product, to put it kindly. Still, the defense, with all its splashy offseason pickups, was much improved, and the Giants notched clutch wins.

If you want to sound smart: It always feels like the guy who makes historical callbacks really seems to know what he's talking about. You can be that guy. Say something like, "The Giants could mess around and win the whole thing again. Remember when they won those two Super Bowls? Eli is still Eli, and the defensive line reminds me a little bit of those Super Bowl teams." No need for exact dates or players. That's what Wikipedia is for.

Fun story you can share/Google with friends while beveraging: My God, just Google, "Ben McAdoo looks like ..." and read the Reddit thread. As always, the internet wins.

Detroit Lions (9-7) at Seattle Seahawks (10-5-1)


Season recap: Injuries, injuries, injuries. It was the first full season without retired running back Marshawn Lynch, and none of their remaining backs could stay healthy. Russell Wilson dealt with leg injuriesall year, and all-world safety Earl Thomas is done after breaking his tibia in early December.

If you want to sound smart: It always plays well when you go to a slightly lesser-known player for your sports take. Something like, "I just don't think the Seattle defense is anything special without Earl Thomas. He was the guy that would erase any mistakes in the secondary!" This will invariably spark some kind of Richard Sherman debate, which is always fun.

Fun story you can share/Google with friends while beveraging: Sorry boss, not a whole lot here for you. No Marshawn = Less fun.


Season recap: The Lions came back from an astounding EIGHT fourth-quarter deficits, an NFL record for a season. Matthew Stafford is getting the ball out quickly and spreading it around to a bunch of guys you may or may not have heard of, depending on if they were on your fantasy team. The biggest problem has been the defense. Opposing teams are completing an almost laughable 73 percent of their passes against the Lions' secondary.

If you want to sound smart: Nothing will give you football street cred faster than naming an offensive coordinator, and as it so happens, Detroit has one of the best coordinator names in the business. "Man, that Jim Bob Cooter has done such a great job. Jim Bob Cooter is really in sync with Matthew Stafford. Don't be surprised if Jim Bob Cooter gets a head coaching gig this offseason." I'm relatively confident that, if you say Jim Bob Cooter's name 12 times at midnight into a bathroom mirror with the lights off, Jim Bob Cooter will show up and set up a short passing game for you.

Fun story you can share/Google with friends while beveraging: See who can find Matthew Stafford wearing a forward-facing baseball cap in 2016. Winner gets a beverage.

The teams with a bye

I can feel your eyes glazing over, and I know your fingers are itching to close this window, get a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and fire up that Netflix account. You've got about three seconds left in you -- I get it. So let me give you the three-sentence breakdown of your top seeds.

New England Patriots (No. 1 seed, AFC): They good. Tom Brady is handsome. Yes, you kinda, sorta root against them, and you're not totally sure why.

Kansas City Chiefs (No. 2 seed, AFC): Andy Reid is a good coach, but he can't manage the clock, even after like 47 years in the league. Alex Smith hates throwing more than 7 yards downfield. Tyreek Hill is fast.

Dallas Cowboys (No. 1 seed, NFC): Dope offensive line. Dak and Zeke are stupid good. Older Cowboys fans are semi-secretly rooting for Tony Romo to take over again and lead the team to a championship.

Atlanta Falcons (No. 2 seed, NFC):Matt Ryan deserves the MVP, but he probably won't win, because Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady both had really good seasons, too. Ryan looks like that super-good-looking dad who runs on the boardwalk with his two Labradors every Saturday. Julio Jones is a beast, but he sometimes disappears.

If you stuck with it, good for you; it's the most un-lazy you've been in weeks, and you are so going to crush it this weekend, bro. So kick up your feet, fire up that Xbox and go to work on "Madden." You totally deserve it.

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