MIKE BURKE

Allegany Communications Sports

Here we go, now. The #NFLTheTVShow intramural tournament begins on Saturday and will last into late Monday evening this first weekend because, of course, the TVShow sold its soul long ago.

So, who ya got? Well, it’s pretty much impossible to beat Vegas unless “Raiders” is attached to it, but I’ll go first.

We’ll start with the Baltimore Ravens Sunday night at the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Bengals are the AFC North champions for the second straight year, but most importantly, Baltimore is the champion of our very own three-team 2-Hour Drive Conference (2HDC), #NFLTheTVShow version.

Since the Ravens are the only team of the three to make the playoffs, they are our champion by default. The Ravens are also the reigning Maryland state champion based on their most recent victory over Landover, albeit in the preseason, but, what the hell, two hours is two hours no matter how long it takes to count the minutes.

Not only that, if you are a Ravens fan, you have the T-shirt: “WE MUST PROTECT THIS PRESEASON!!!”

Anyway, since the beginning of time, and including in the era of the TVShow, teams have won playoff games with defense, running the ball and the quarterback making plays when it matters. The Ravens get checks in the boxes for a good enough defense, as well as the running game, unless there is yet another Nordberg-type injury to one of the running backs.

As for the quarterback making the big play? Afraid that’s where the Ravens are in trouble since they really don’t have a quarterback. Of course, they have no receivers, no passing game and no clue (they don’t even suspect), but it is what it is.

Still, if the Ravens are able to run the ball; if they allow their defense to do its job and let the offensive line, J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Kenyan Drake (remember him?) do what they do and keep the ball out of the Bengals’ hands, they have a chance. A legitimate chance.

Still, I can’t see a way the Ravens beat Cincinnati (-9.5 to 10), and I’ll take the Bengals to cover.

Seattle at San Francisco (-9.5 to 10): Under head coach Kyle Shanahan (or is it Adam Sandler?), the 49ers have the goods in the way of The System – see Joe Theismann, Doug Williams and Mark Rypien winning Super Bowls in the Joe Gibbs system – in that they run the football and have very dangerous weapons who can break a game open because they don’t have to run the football. The 49ers also have a defense that allows them to break a game open, which is exactly what they are going to do.

Take the Niners to win and to cover.

— L.A. Chargers (-2.5) at Jacksonville: I didn’t get a chance to see the Chargers play too much this season. Of course, I didn’t see Dan Fouts play that much when he played in San Diego. Watching a late-afternoon game from San Diego or L.A. (in Eastern time) is like watching a dream or something. It’s too bright, too sunshiny, too clean and too wholesome looking, none of which I have interest in experiencing in this way of life I have chosen.

Now … where was I? Oh, yes. Jacksonville is such a hot team these days that I’m willing to excuse the Ravens for having a bad loss down there to these Jaguars.

Trevor Lawrence is well on his way. He’s in the process of becoming one of the great quarterbacks in the game. The kid’s got talent; he’s got smarts. The kid’s got grit. I like grit.

Take the Jags to cover and to win.

— Miami at Buffalo (-13 to 13.5): Too easy. The Dolphins have always bored me (see above) and Buffalo is just a great team. Not only that, the Bills have somebody and something on their side. This one is easy.

The Bills cover and, obviously, win.

— N.Y. Giants at Minnesota (-3): The Vikings lost me when they moved into a domed stadium long after deciding to lose Super Bowls for a living. They’d sure like to lose one now, the way they should have lost to the Commanders this season.

The Giants, on the other hand, have grit. I like grit.

Giants cover and win.

— Dallas (-2.5) at Tampa Bay: The Cowboys are this, that and a pack of baseball cards. Whatever. They should have never gotten rid of Jimmy Johnson.

The Buccaneers are NFC South champs with a losing record and their quarterback is Tom Brady, who is, I don’t know, a hundred?

Here’s something weird and so TVShow – really caught my attention: Since 2002, Tom Brady’s teams’ postseason record is 35-12. Since 1966, the Dallas Cowboys (that would be America’s Team) has a postseason record of 35-29.

So if the Bucs win at home on Monday night against Dallas, who was just humiliated last week by little Danny Snyder’s soon to be former team, Tom Brady will have more playoff wins to his credit than will the entire Dallas Cowboys history, which I think is hilarious. And I like Tom Brady as much as I like the Cowboys, which is not so much.

The Cowboys, though, will win this game. They just will.

In the words of the great Daphne Moon, “I don’t know why.”

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT