So after college football decided to corrupt at least half of its major games by allowing players who obviously committed violations to play in BCS bowls, the NFL wild card weekend/NCAAF national championship can no longer be considered as the best week in football. Thus, because this is the last weekend with at least four games of NFL playoff football, the Divisional round is now by far the best football available to watch during the year.
Furthermore, before getting into picks, I’d like to point out that the Dean of Admissions of my Medical School wears a Titans beanie in the winter. Because he is one of the best interventional cardiologists in the country, I have no other choice but to say Steve Mcnair/Eddie George are the greatest QB/RB duo of all time. This point is non debatable.
So before anyone realizes that the NFL pulled the same nonsense the NCAAF pulled by allowing the Pats to basically get off with no real penalty for cheating these past x-seasons (also would like to point out that their “camera-man” was caught cheating in Denver with recently-fired Josh Mcdaniels, a previous assistant coach with the Pats), let’s still proceed with the kinda-true-belief that the successful teams in the NFL playoffs are still representations of heart, determination, and composure, and not what brings in the most ratings.
But rather than continuing to play debbie-downer, let’s talk about this weekend.
When making picks for the divisional round, it’s often easy to fall in love with the teams that won in the wild card weekend. Teams are much more disciplined, hyped, and unified in any playoff game, but because you haven’t seen the teams with byes play yet, you unconsciously start to believe that the wild card teams have playoff necessities that you haven’t seen by the second round home teams yet. Therefore you must approach with caution and analyze strengths and weaknesses without getting caught up with ESPN highlights and postgame interviews from the prior weekend.
Below are a few of our picks. Did I pick with emotions based on Wild card weekend? Of Course. Was there any reason to write the paragraph above then? Obviously not.
Packers v. Falcons:
Packers in a relatively easy win. I don’t trust Matt Ryan in these big time situations, and I trust Rodgers. 35-24 Pack.
Cutler is a psycho, Carroll is loving that his college football edge is actually paying dividends in the NFL, and old man Hasselback is trying to make it happen one last time. I love this game, although it probably features the two least-talented teams left. I never bet against Carroll in a very meaningful game that’s somewhat even in talent. 17-9 Hawks.
I’m a huge Sanchez fan. But he sucks. If he doesn’t throw three picks in the endzone, Jets win. But he will. 41-10 Pats.
Slugfest. Dirty play. Hines Ward rips off someone’s facemask then tells the world he’s a warrior. Ray Lewis finally admits he was an accomplice in a murder. More importantly, Joe Flacco admits he’s no Rapist, I mean, Ben Cheeseburger. 17-9 Steel.
Packers v. Falcons
I like the Falcons at home, where Matt Ryan has been impeccable. I also don’t have too much faith in Starks and the Packers run-game; what we saw last week was a reflection of poor defense, not a “new-found” run game. Give me the Falcons’ proven balance.
Bears v. Seahawks
I like the Bears at home. I don’t have much faith in Cutler, but I have even less faith in the Seahawks winning a road playoff game, because their regular season road record was abysmal (2-6). I know that the last time the two met in Chicago, Seattle won, but something tells me Cutler won’t be shut out this time, also, I’m confident the Chicago run game will manage more than 50 yards between the two running backs.
Patriots v. Jets
I like the Patriots, but this is going to be a close one. Give me Belicheck and his ability to make a game plan against Santonio Holmes; give me Brady over Sanchez; give me Vince Wilfork having a big game making running lanes for Green-Ellis and others. I know that Rex Ryan lives for games like this and I have a lot of respect for his defense, but at home, the Patriots have looked dominant this season.
Steelers v. Ravens
I like the Steelers. This is going to be a slugfest and both offenses are going to have to improvise, in which case I take Ben Roethlisberger (reluctantly). The Ravens are going to press, push, and hammer, but Big Ben has the capacity to avoid sacks, get outside the pocket, extend plays and complete passes. I wouldn’t bet on this game though.
Packers v. Falcons – UPSET ALERT
Yes, Matt Ryan is incredible at home. Yes, the Falcons are a balanced team. Yes, the coach has instilled confidence and poise in his troops. Yes, they have a number of game winning drives. Yes, they have not been given enough credit for how exceptional their record was this season. Yes, Yes, and Yes. Packers wins. The Packers defense will bring pressure from all angles on Ryan, while stacking the box through elaborate schemes to stifle the Falcons run game. The Falcons will get off to a slow start (despite the incredible energy in the stadium) by way of some key mistakes. Rodgers arm, poise, leadership, and third down conversion percentage will keep the Packers ahead for most of the game. Matt Ice will keep Atlanta in it, but ultimately fail on the last drive. How poetic. Packers 31-28.
Bears v. Seahawks
The Bears defense will knock Matt Hasselbeck out of the game, there by ending his career with the Seahawks. The only thing that could make this a fair fight is: Jay Cutler reverting back to the terrible decision maker that he was; the Seahawks getting four turnovers; and Leon Washington returning two kicks for touchdowns. Even then, I could still see the Seahawks losing. Despite being a good home team, the Seahawks are really bad on the road. Bears 19 – 7.
Patriots v. Jets
If the Patriots were not at home, I would be willing to bet against their young and inexperienced defense. If the Patriots were playing a game changer, Payton Manning, I would be willing to bet against them. If the Patriots were playing a team they had not drubbed a couple of weeks ago, I would be willing to bet against them. Fact is they are not. They played the Jets, in what was billed to be “The Game of the Year,” and handed it to them. To the Jets credit, they logged a nice road victory against the Colts. However, there is a dirty little secrete about this team and it has nothing to do with foot-fetishes. They just aren’t that good. Patriots 24 -10.
Steelers v. Ravens
Seriously. No, Seriously … I challenge anyone to look me in the eye and tell me they KNOW which team will win this game. Even if you were to get this one right, you would not be willing to put your house on it. Thus, I’ll spare the praises of both defenses, of Big Ben and his “will to win”, the exceptional running games, and the good possession players. Lets table all that and agree when two products are virtually equal; you take the home team in the playoffs. Steelers 13-9.