Saturday, January 19, 2008

Championship Predictions

So, after two rounds I'm 5-3 in predicting outcomes. Too bad the Seahawks and the Colts let me down last week. Especially Indy. Way to defend the home turf there Indy. And while we're at it, a big hand to the Colts' fans who booed the Punt, Pass, and Kick winner wearing a Patriots jersey. Careful Colts' fans, your insecurity is showing. OK, enough mockery.

San Diego at New England: So, who wants to be bold and pick the Chargers to win? Part of me would like to, but with Tomlinson and Gates both at less than 100% if they even play, I have a hard time believing they've got a chance. Then again, Rivers might not be quarterbacking (As Kissing Suzy Kolber says: Feel the Volektricity!), and who knows? Maybe Norv Turner has entered some sort of fugue state where he's coaching on a plane far beyond our ken. Unfortunately, that level may not be beyond Belichek's ken, and he's got the talent, and the homefield. To a certain extent I'd like to think the Pats would start feeling the pressure of the 19-0, and maybe make them tighten up, but I don't see it happening. New England 35, San Diego 20. {Update: The Chargers were more game than I gave them credit for. Stayed in it all the way into the 4th quarter before they faltered. Final score - Pats 21, Chargers 12}

New York at Green Bay: I know the Giants are hot right now, and that Eli is 9-1 on the road this year, but their secondary is banged up, and I believe the Packers are the better team anyway. Yeah, Favre is still fully capable of having that multi-interception game I predicted last week, but really, who are you going to put more faith in at this point to not screw up, Favre or Eli Manning? Eli's been playing better recently, but the two playoff games have been against one team that basically took the last few weeks of the regular season off, and another team that had played out of sync enough they might as well have. The Packers, conversely, look like a team that has all their parts working fine right now. Plus, I think the Packers will be willing to run or keep extra blockers in to keep the Giants pass rush off Favre, compared to the Cowboys who adopted the Mike Martz school of offense last week: Send out a bunch of wide receivers, and don't keep anyone extra in to block, even after it becomes clear your QB is getting battered silly by the pass rush (witness Romo's throwing the ball out of bounds when there was nobody near him yet). Packers 27, Giants 24. {Update: It seems I gave the Packers coaching staff more credit than they deserved. At the 2 minute warning, they've run the ball a grand total of 13 times. This even though every pass Favre throws seems to be coming out too low, or too short. Lawrence Tynes with the chance for the game-winning FG, and he shanked it. I won't be surprised if Coughlin kills Tynes before OT starts. Assuming he isn't too cold to move. And early in OT, Favre throws another pick, and hey it's time for the Lawrence Tynes Show! And he made the kick! Good for him, maybe Tom Coughlin won't cut out his liver and sacrifice it to his dark gods. Final score: NY 23, GB 20}

Well that's just great. Now the only thing standing between the patriots and 19-0 is Eli Manning? How depressing. If the Pats win, we have to hear from their annoying fans. If the Giants win, then that's consecutive Manning Bros. Super Bowls, and we're on the verge of Apocalypse. Oh dear.


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Divisional Round Predictions

Before we get to that, lets take a look back at last week. I went 3-1, not too shabby by my standards. I actually called the Washington/Seattle game almost perfectly, except I didn't think Washington would ever actually take the lead. Tampa screwed me over, and Jacksonville nearly did the same. The Chargers/Titans game had less scoring than I expected, but it went pretty much how I figured.

Seattle at Green Bay: I think Seattle is gonna pull this off. I think they can shut down the Packers running game, though Ryan Grant has looked pretty good the second half of the season, and if they put pressure on Favre, I think he'll have one of those "gunslinger" games with lots of interceptions. I'll probably regret this, but Seattle 20, Green Bay 13. {Update: I was right, I do regret my prediction. So much for Seattle shutting down the Packers' running game. Final Score - Green Bay 42, Seattle 20.}

Jacksonville at New England: By all accounts, there won't be any weather conditions that would make throwing the ball hard. And Jacksonville's pass defense isn't as strong as their run defense, and they haven't shown many signs of being a team that likes to blitz. Which is too bad, because crazy blitzing teams seem to be the ones that can stymie the Pats the longest (Baltimore, Philly). Plus, the Jags haven't really shown that they're a team that's good at coming back if they fall behind early. They're built to hold a lead, not overtake a deficit. And at this stage, I wouldn't advise picking against the Pats until someone actually shows they can beat them. New England 35, Jacksonville 17. {Update: The Jags kept it close a lot longer than I thought they would, for all the good that does them. At some point, I have to think someone is going to try and play the Lawrence Taylor to Tom Brady's Joe Theisman. Final score - New England 31, Jacksonville 20.}

San Diego at Indianapolis: I have to think the Colts are looking to make up for that earlier loss to the Chargers. You know, the game where they lost by two because Peyton threw six picks and Vinateri missed two field goals? And that was in San Diego. The Colts are healthier now, playing at home, and the Chargers didn't show me anything last week that suggests they can run with the Colts in the postseason. Indy 42, San Diego 14. {Update: Well thanks for making me looking like an idiot, Indy. I'm thinking Tony Dungy's odds of retiring just went way up. Getting beat at home by a Norv Turner-coached team will do that to you. Final score - San Diego 28, Indianapolis 24}

New York at Dallas: Man, I hope Romo plays well and the Cowboys win. I can't believe I just said that, but if Romo plays poorly, and especially if Dallas loses, we'll never hear the end of this crap about how Jessica Simpson is a distraction. Granted the Cowboys haven't played all that well the last month, and the Giants have been fighting for their lives, but it's still Eli Manning on the road against an actual good team (a situation he hasn't had much experience with this year). Unfortunately, I think Dallas will play ball control because T.O. is less than 100%, which lets the Giants stay close, then Romo will make a critical mistake that will cost the Cowboys. New York 19, Dallas 17. {Update: Damn I'm good. Only two points off. To be fair though, I think I overestimated how injured Owens would be. he seemed to be doing pretty well in the first half, not that it wound up doing Dallas any good. Final score - New York 21, Dallas 17}


Saturday, January 05, 2008

First Round NFL Playoff Predictions

Just for the hell of it. Four games, and I don't have a horse in the race among them, except to hope one of them is capable of beating the Patriots if they have to. I've got no love for those '72 Dolphins, but I'm just petty enough to not want Tom Brady to have the 19-0 record on top of all his other accomplishments, personal success, and supermodel dating. Keeping in mind I haven't paid that much attention to the games this year, here's my picks:

Washington at Seattle: So Washington's riding some kind of emotional "play for Sean Taylor" high right now, and making Todd Collins look better than he ever has. (Geez, I remember when Collins was supposed to be the heir to Jim Kelly, in the pre-Rob Johnson/Doug Flutie days). Their offense seems to consist of basically Clinton Portis runs and passes to Santana Moss. Seattle played in a lousy division (I can say that, I'm an Arizona Cardinals fan, I know how bad the NFC West was), passes a lot, and plays in a deafeningly loud stadium. Given we're talking January in Seattle, I have to think that would favor the better running team, which is the Redskins, who also have the better rush defense. I want to say Washington. I remember the 2002 St. Louis Cardinals, who rallied after Darryl Kile's death and made it to the NLCS before they ran out of gas, and I'd like to take the Skins on that, but somehow I just can't trust Todd Collins on the road in a playoff game. I think Washington falls behind by halftime, and can't come back. Seattle 27, Washington 13. {Update: Final score - Seattle 35, Washington 14}

Jacksonville at Pittsburgh: The Jags beat the Steelers not to long ago, and it wasn't as close as the 29-22 score suggests, and now Pittsburgh is missing Willie Parker. The Jags beat the Steelers at their own game, just pushing them around all over the field, especially on offense. I think the Jaguars are like the Redskins: they're great if they've got the lead and they can just pound Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew at you all day long, but they aren't so good if they need to play catch up. Of course, I think the same is true of the Steelers, though I think Big Ben's a somewhat better passer than Garrard. I'll take the Jags to make it 2 for 2 against the Steelers, 30-21. {Update: Final score - Jacksonville 31, Pittsburgh 29}

New York at Tampa Bay: Oh, do I have to? A Giants team "lead" by Eli Manning, versus a Tampa team that mailed in the last two weeks of the season? In spite of Tampa's seeming indifference to, you know, actually competing, I'll take them, because the Bucs are still pretty good at getting pressure on the QB, and that seems to be when Eli always falls apart. I think Jeff Garcia's going to get hit. . . a lot, but he'll hang in there and make a few plays with his feet to get some first downs and get Tampa a win. Tampa 19, New York 14. {Update: Final score - New York 24, Tampa Bay 14}

Tennessee at San Diego: The Titans hosted the Chargers not too long ago, and had them down for about fifty minutes. Then the defense wore out, because the offense couldn't stay on the field more than thirty seconds, and Phillip Rivers kept get chances until he finally figured out how to complete some passes. That's the Titans problem, their defense can beat a team up, but eventually they wear down because the offense doesn't do enough to help them out. And Norv Turner seems to have figured out that San Diego's chances for success lie with lots of LaDanian Tomlinson, not Phillip Rivers. I don't think it should have taken him five weeks into the regular season to figure that out, but what do I know? I'm not coaching an NFL team. I think this time that the Titans wear out a little sooner, because they get even more LT than they did last time, and so the Chargers start pulling away midway through the third quarter. I don't think it'll be a blowout, though. San Diego 24, Tennessee 14. {Update: Final score - San Diego 17, Tennessee 6}

And now, we sit back and watch as I go 0 for 4. The hard part will be watching the games with the usual idiotic commentary. Guess I'll have to have the mute button ready. Hope we at least don't get any celebrity guests in the booth.