Saturday, January 9, 2010

Cue The Dramatic Music

It's Playoff time once again in the NFL, which means a lot of hooting and hollering from everybody on all the networks, and loud music and everything else that goes along with it, while I just want the damn game to start.

As per usual, I'm offering up a full slate of Football picks. Last season, I did not fare so well, getting killed by an 0-4 Divisonal round. As per usual, I've waited until the last possible minute to post this, not because of indecision, but because of pure laziness.

Once again, and for the 7th season in a row, my team has found themselves out of the mix, however respectable their performances may have been. But for the first time in several years, I can feel somewhat confident in my belief that next year may mark a return to the Playoffs for the 49ers. The base is in place and the talent is there. Right now, they need a few more pieces, and that string of victories that will put them over the top.

This season, we've got some of the old and a bit of the new in the playoffs, and it kicks off today at or around 4:30pm, or whenever Tiki Barber stops laughing at his own jokes. Whichever comes first.

Saturday, 4:30pm
New York Jets (9-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)
The Jets made it into the playoffs by sheer dumb luck, but sometimes that's all it takes. Everything is gravy for them from here on out. The Bengals got off to a flying start, but really just managed to hang on down the stretch. Both of them had some pretty bad losses late in the year. In the Jets case, they recovered mainly because the Colts lay down for them in Week 16 combined with a perfect alignment of their stars involving Miami, Houston, Pittsburgh and Denver all losing games, leading to them pummeling Cincinnati last weekend. This put them in the playoffs so that they could go back to Cincinnati today and play the Bengals again. I think it's safe to say that the Jets won't be winning this game 37-0, if only because the Bengals know that the Jets will be relying on their running game over the talented, but skittish Mark Sanchez, and they'll also have their full complement of offensive weapons available to them. Marvin Lewis isn't dumb, he knew that the Jets would go all out last weekend, and if they won, they'd be playing them again today. Why show the Jets anything? I still think the Jets are going to be able to win this game, if only because their defense can keep the game close. But the Bengals defense is vastly underrated. It's a pick-em game that won't be decided until the 4th quarter. But if you're the Jets, you'd better hope you have a lead and you'd better hope that your defense can come up with a stop when it needs to. Because if they're behind and Mark Sanchez has to make a play to win the game, they're pretty much screwed.
My pick: Jets 19, Bengals 14

Sunday, 8:00pm
Philadelphia Eagles (11-5) at Dallas Cowboys (11-5)
I'm a little tired of hearing about Tony Romo, who seems to get the kind of treatment reserved for people like Derek Jeter despite the fact that the only thing he's been successful at is bagging Jessica Simpson. The Eagles, on the other hand, have Donovan McNabb, who it appears has been on his way out of Philadelphia for 6 straight seasons. Basically, there's no shortage of turmoil on either side of the ball. This is another game where these two teams played each other last week, and it seemed as though Philly was the team that laid down and let Dallas run all over the place. Once again, I don't see the same scenario repeating itself. Everybody seems to be in love with Dallas these days, and I just don't buy it. I didn't think they were that good at 7-3, and I still don't think they're that good. They boast a running game of 3 scatbacks and a Quarterback that can be pressured into mistakes. Philly may not be better overall, but they have experience and will probably unveil a few wrinkles in the form of Michael Vick to swing the game in their favor.
My pick: Eagles 28, Cowboys 20

Sunday, 1:30pm
Baltimore Ravens (9-7) at New England Patriots (10-6)
This, oddly, is the only game of the weekend that doesn't feature two teams that played each other last weekend. It features, instead, two teams that slogged through some woefully middling seasons. For the Ravens, it was the realization that their once-great defense had grown some holes. For New England, this seemed like 3 different seasons in one. First, there was getting Tom Brady back in his letter-perfect form following missing the entire 2008 season. Then, there was the middle of the season, where they were putting it all together, and finally, at the end, some damaging road losses and some crippling injuries, most notably to Wes Welker, lost with a knee injury, and some nagging injuries to Brady and Randy Moss. But one of the Patriots strengths during their continued run of success has been their ability to rise to the occasions and play their best when the games mean the most. Most of the time, they have come out on top. It may not be enough to carry them to THE BIG GAME, but it will be enough to get them past Baltimore.
My pick: Patriots 27, Ravens 17

Sunday, 4:40pm
Green Bay Packers (11-5) at Arizona Cardinals (10-6)
I would have picked the Packers to win regardless, however my hatred for the Cardinals has begun to bubble to a level normally reserved for teams like the Phillies or the Rams. Their run to THE BIG GAME last season was cute and charming, and got us some nice moments of Kurt Warner praising Jesus, but I'm sick of them. The Niners twice showed how to expose them on offense, pressuring Warner into throwing sooner than he would have liked, and also exposing weaknesses in their receivers' ability to hold on to the ball. Green Bay has run up some staggering numbers on offense, Arizona's defense is full of holes, and this game is going to feature a lot of offenses moving up and down the field, some big interceptions (and I mean interceptions, not turnovers) and in the end, we won't be hearing anything about Jesus.
My pick: Packers 44, Cardinals 31

Enjoy the games, but before you do that, enjoy this video, not to be missed if you're a fan of anything, really:

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