Well, without posting, I quietly made predictions for the Packers & Steelers last week. You’ll have to trust me on that. So, being 8-2 for the playoffs (I’m counting the Packers/Eagles win b/c my contingency occurred), I feel obligated to pick this game, even though I fully admit that it’s basically a toss up.
That said, I think the Packers are going to be a little stronger, though the air, than the Steelers. Ryan Clark (Steelers DB) might have some trouble with the Pack WRs. Polamalu is still a beast and could change the game all by himself, as could any of the Steelers LBs. But I think Rodgers will put up enough points early to withstand the late-game prowess of Big Ben. But if it’s within a TD on the final drive and Ben gets the ball, only a fumble from one of his teammates will stop him from winning the game. So to be logically consistent, I’ll have to go with the Packers by more than 7. Let’s pick 31-21, Pack.
I hope that Rodgers is able to get his first ring tonight. Pitt’s guys have 2 already (for the most part) and the only thing I can really say against Rodgers is that he has trouble closing out games/seasons…..now is his chance to win on the biggest stage, and I would love to see him do it.
Enjoy the game and the commercials, everyone. The national anthem could be a great one too….I’m optimistic.
Well, it’s game time and I’ve had time to weigh my options. I had planned on doing this a couple days ago, but came down with a persistent little cold, so I have been exhausted. So, here’s what I think. I’ll also throw out a score for all of them, just to see how close I can get.
Starting in the AFC….
Jets vs. Pats. The Game is Afoot! Losing their safety a few weeks ago and a corner (Coleman) in practice this week does not bode well for stopping Brady. I think that Revis can shut down one WR (Branch?….not sure he could totally stop Welker). But that means that the other, along with everyone’s all-american Danny Woodhead could be running free. And Benjarvis Green-Ellis is going to get some carries I’m betting. The Jets are going to have to find a way to score with the Pats. Having KR Brad Smith a little dinged up won’t help.
I think the holes in the Pats defense from last year (that made me know that the Ravens would beat them) have been patched and they seem to be peaking late in the season. I think the Jets still have a shot to run the ball, but they’re going to need great QB play to win…..play the likes of the best QB of all-time…past or future….royalty has called him “a miracle” and “king of the impossible”. Yes, that’s right……QB of the NY Jets…..Flash Gordon! I rewatched part of that movie the other day and it could not have felt more apropos. And did you ever notice that Baron (Timothy Dalton) looks a bit like Danny Woodhead? Barring Flash’s resurrection, Pats win 34-13.
Ravens vs. Steelers
I don’t think Flacco is quite there yet. Ben has been and still is. That’s all there is to this. I saw a stat this week that Flacco is 0-5 lifetime vs. Roethlisberger. Big Ben makes it 6-0, in another hard-fought war. I’ll say 28-24, Steelers. X-factors in this game are the 2 safeties….Polomalu with that achilles injury and Reed missing key practice time due to his brother. That could lead to more big plays than usual here, hence the high score pick.
Bears vs. Seahawks
Well, all you Jay Cutler fans will finally get to see if he’s any good in the playoffs. While I thought that Seattle could run and score against the Saints, I think that’s going to be much tougher against the superior Bears defense and outside. As long as Cutler doesn’t throw a pick 6, I think the Bears contain Seattle. And yet I feel like the Bears offense might struggle too, so I”m going to go against the whole year’s history and pick Seattle to lose a close one. Robbie Gould is the difference maker in Soldier Field. Bears 16. Seahawks 14.
Atlanta vs. Green Bay.
Fascinating game between the most stable and the most dangerous teams in the NFC. This Atlanta team feels a bit like the Atlanta team that lost in the Super Bowl before. I kinda think it’s going to happen again. I expect Roddy White to play a big part here, because it might be tough sledding for Turner against that defensive front of GB. Rodgers help dispel a bit of his stigma (in my mind) of not closing out opponents last week, but I just think Atlanta finds a way to win again. Let’s go with the same score as their regular season game, 20-17.
So, enjoy the games. To recap:
Steelers bury the Ravens in the Cask of Amontillado
Falcons through the air
By the way, I’m not sure how I feel about the fact that I’m in the date range for this new, 13th zodiac sign. It feels contrived, and yet I have no doubt that it’s based on more science than this set of predictions. Oh, and check out the NY Post cover from yesterday (Return of the Jet-I) and the Wes Welker foot-references interview if you haven’t seen them yet. Both awesome.
Ok, here are my predictions for today….some exciting detailed predictions too.
Indy vs Jets: When I think about this game and the flaws of Indy over the course of the year, I see the Jets coming through with a win (possibly a big win, but probably close). I think they run Shonn Greene a lot, like last year against SD, and I think that Peyton Manning gets frustrated with his WR corps. I think Revis shuts down Wayne, and Cromartie can cover Garcon fairly well. I will give Garcon one big play though. And here’s the bold prediction: With Collie out, Blair White will make a mental mistake that frustrates Manning, and this will lead to Manning forcing a ball to someone else on Indy’s final drive, leading to a game-sealing interception (perhaps even on a ball to White).
Saints vs. Seahawks: I want to say Saints big. I do. But Ivory and Thomas are both out. Shockey & Graham are out or limited. Jenkins is out. The Saints lost 2 in a row to close the year. And yet, I still want to say that they win big. I want to. But for some reason, I get the feeling that Seattle is going to not suck. In order to succeed, I think they need to do the one thing that they can’t do: run the ball successfully. I am not sure, but just maybe. And maybe with Jenkins out, they can get a big play to Big Mike (Williams, not Oher). And if Earl Thomas or Aaron Curry (best available in his draft) can pick off Brees, it could just happen. If they keep it close, then they have to win. All Seattle’s losses were by 15+ points this season. So if it’s close, they win. Simple as that. So, I think that even while the Saints seem like a strong favorite, I can’t shake this feeling.
So my picks: Jets & Seahawks. Crazy, I know.
We’re going to stay at a friend’s place tonight and have an open house at our place tomorrow, so I won’t be back before Sunday’s games, so here are those comments for those games.
KC vs. Baltimore
People are jumping on the KC bandwagon. I’m not. I love their run game, but I love Baltimore’s Defense and Ray Lewis’s impact. Bowe is hot, but I just think that KC benefitted from not playing a strong run defense all year long. This will be the test, and I think they fail. I think it’s not a total blowout unless Flacco is hot, but I think it’s not that close either. Baltimore 34-17.
Eagles vs. Packers
Toughest game to call, and the 2 most dangerous teams when they’re on. If Vick and DeSean are healthy, I think the Eagles win. It really depends on that. They were both beaten up last week so I’m not sure, but we’ll see. For all that I love Aaron Rodgers (and it’s a lot), I find that he has trouble closing out games. Big trouble….like he’s bad at it. So if it’s close late, I like the Eagles. It’s all about the health of the speedy twosome. If they get beaten up, Pack wins.
Picks: Baltimore & Philly
Happy New Year and happy NFL playoffs.
It’s well past time that I had somewhere to write all these sports thoughts, and this will take some of the burden off my sports email friends. This blog will probably talk more about football than other things, but will cover nearly every sport at one point or another. I plan on providing perspectives that either don’t get said on sports shows, or touch on detail beyond what a 5-minute segment allows.
So, as an opening, I thought I would use my day 2 or 3 reaction to LeBron’s Decision and how it gives Kobe Bryant something he could never possibly have before.
The excerpt below is taken directly from an email I sent a friend on July 10. Jim Rome had an intro very much like this today on Rome is Burning on ESPN. Since it’s worthy of a TV show, I figure it’s worthy to open my blog. Plus, I said it 10 days earlier. In order to preserve the authenticity, I pasted from my email without editing, so please pardon the excessive ellipses and parentheses. I’ll have more to say about competition vs. titles later.
So welcome and I hope you enjoy the observation below.
This occurred to me this morning….I think the person who benefits most from LeBron going to Miami (other than Chris Bosh who played the tagalong kid role perfectly) is……Kobe Bryant. He now has the new opportunity to jump from all-time star to NBA Legend. If he can beat this superteam this year, he has a chance to surpass all current evaluations about him….a chance he never had beating all the “regular” teams out there. But if he can be a team specifically designed and orchestrated to win, now THAT would be legendary. He could get up there with Jordan, Magic, and Bird with something like that…especially if he beats them 2 years in a row.