Friday, January 16, 2015

Big Boy Pants

Championship weekend has arrived in the NFL once again, and after three straight years of involvement, the 49ers aren't around and therefore I can sort of sit back and watch these games like a normal person instead of a catatonic wreck. Then again, given the depth of my feelings toward the two NFC Championship participants, maybe it's better if I make other plans. Last weekend, I made three conventional picks and one calculated gamble and unlike in the Wildcard round, everything worked and I went 4-0. New England beat Baltimore in a rousing double-comeback affair that sort of exemplified everything that makes Tom Brady great. Seattle didn't totally humiliate Carolina, but they came close enough, winning a game that probably was closer than it should have been because Carolina scored in garbage time. The shootout I expected in Green Bay didn't happen and had things broken one way or the other early in the game, the Cowboys could have pulled off the upset. But they couldn't capitalize, they didn't get the call on the Dez Bryant catch/no-catch call and even if they did, they couldn't stop Aaron Rodgers, who did the Discount Doublechecking rather than receiving it this year. Then, there was the Indianapolis/Denver game, which I thought Indy would win, and they did because all of a sudden Peyton Manning started looking really really old, and his receivers forgot how to catch passes. This was just as I expected. The Colts fell behind early but clawed their way back, eventually took a lead and rode the momentum home from there. They had a pair of long scoring drives in the 2nd and 3rd Quarters, the Broncos could find no rhythm, and they could have conceivably sent Peyton Manning into retirement with one more puss on his face.

So, now we're here.

Sunday, 3:05pm
Green Bay Packers (13-4) at Seattle Seahawks (13-4)
The matchup that everyone wanted is probably the matchup I least wanted to see but knew was unavoidable. Green Bay and Seattle were the two best teams in the NFC for a majority of the season, and after they both started slow, they got their acts together and at one point or another were really stomping everyone in their path. The Packers certainly have the more potent offense right now. Rodgers is at the top of his game, and Eddie Lacy has performed well when he's had to, to say nothing of the fact that the Packers have a no-name group of receivers that look better than they deserve to because of who's throwing them the ball. Seattle can score points too, because America's Sweetheart Russell Wilson does Russell Wilson things and Marshawn Lynch is on another cycle of HGH is "tough to tackle." They don't have sexy receiving options, but they get the job done. Defensively is where the game will probably be decided, because where the Packers, as you well know, are led by this decade's Brian Bosworth, Clay Matthews III, the Seahawks are led by Shire Specialty Pharmaceuticals Richard Sherman and his mouth, combined with Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor and Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright and Cliff Avril and the names just go on and on and on until you want to smash your head in. Which is a pretty accurate description of what they'll do to you. And that's before we even begin to talk about the Clink, where you can rest assured the "Soundtrack of 1,000,000 people rioting" will be playing over the PA speakers throughout the game. So, basically, although I'd like to not see this happen again, the Seahawks have too much on their side for the Packers to be able to overcome. Rodgers might do his best, but why fight it.
Pick: Seahawks 27, Packers 21

Sunday, 6:40pm
Indianapolis Colts (13-5) at New England Patriots (13-4)
Since the beginning of the Andrew Luck era in Indianapolis, the Colts have been regularly and thoroughly flattened by the Patriots every time they've matched up. I don't know for certain that this will happen again this time, but I do think that the Patriots are going to come out on top in this game. Though the Colts have been winning on Luck's talent and general guile, they have also been winning with the "groundswell effect," which I mentioned earlier, where they may fall behind early, but they kind of hang around, and hang around, and maybe they lead by 3 points at halftime, and they get the ball coming out of the half and score and then get a turnover and coast home. That won't quite work against the Patriots, who have been known to run the ball down the Colts' throats and not give Luck a chance. The Colts can't run the ball much, although this Little Mack Herron fellow has been a nice story, he's also their 4th option at RB. This means Luck is going to have to throw a ton in order to keep pace, and though Wimpy Flacco had success doing so last week, he still couldn't beat the Patriots. The Patriots proved they can finagle themselves out of the depths last week, twice coming back from 14-point deficits behind Brady, some offensive formation chicanery (which to the best of my knowledge might have been slightly unsportsmanlike, but not illegal), a trick play that resulted in a Touchdown, and a defense that held the line when they absolutely needed to. The Colts might be able to hang around and make this interesting, but on another one of those cold New England January nights, I don't think they have enough to take down the Bill Belichick Machine.
Pick: Patriots 34, Colts 28

So, once again, there you have it. Order your Pizza now, maybe Peyton Manning himself will deliver it since he's not playing tomorrow.

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