NFL Divisional Playoffs: The General Picks Them All
8 teams are playing for 4 spots in the AFC and NFC Championship Games on January 24th. Don’t you want to know who’s going to win? I promise to tell if you can stick with me through my unorthodox reasoning!
My colleague Tony also has his picks coming for this weekend and in briefly discussing the games we managed to disagree on 75% of this weekend’s matchups. It just cracked me up to see two completely different opinions “in house”. I guess that’s why we play the games!
I started thinking about this weekend the moment that the Ravens were definitely going to play the Colts and I was immediately torn. How can I pick against the Colts? How can I bet against Peyton Manning (who is now a 4-time MVP)?
How do I justify the Cowboys? How do I ignore Brett Favre’s recent “playoff transgressions”? How do I ignore the Saints “backing in” to the playoffs? Let’s find out!
Baltimore @ Indianapolis
Baltimore and Indianapolis meet courtesy of Baltimore’s destruction of New England last weekend in which the Ravens looked perfect and the Patriots looked unprepared. I know the first argument I’ll get is “…but the Colts will come prepared!” While I agree I think this game goes deeper.
Indy will run out Peyton Manning, who is calling his own game, and he’ll throw the ball to Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Pierre Garcon and company for most of the game. Why, because the Colts can’t run the ball!
If you look at their Running Back corps it goes 4-deep: Joseph Addai, Donald Brown, Mike Hart, and Chad Simpson. While I think Joseph Addai is “o.k.” and I think Donald Brown could be really good, “could be” isn’t helping right now.
Without a solid running attack what incentive do the Ravens have for respecting the line of scrimmage? You could end up with Ray Lewis crushing slot receivers and Ed Reed having enough time to jump routes.
If Ed Reed is jumping routes interceptions WILL happen, and if Ray Lewis is tackling slot receivers someone is going to get hurt!
Look at the Ravens going 4-deep at running back: Ray Rice, Willis McGahee, LeRon McClain, and Jalen Parmele. Granted, I don’t even know who Jalen Parmele is, but I’ll bet you he’s learned something from Rice, McGahee and McClain.
Let’s put it this way. If this corps of runners stays together (which is unlikely given free agency) they could all run for 1000 yards in a season at the same time. Yes, even McClain as a Fullback.
Why would the Ravens run the ball all day? Joe Flacco has some kind of mystery thigh injury and he’s not been very accurate this season. Yes, he could hit Derrick Mason for a couple bombs, but he won’t sling the ball all over the field.
If the Ravens run the ball the way they should they’ll hold the ball for about 40 minutes. Given Indy’s propensity to pass the Colts will be stuck with short possessions. This rests the Baltimore defense and gives the Baltimore offense a chance to take a breather as they continually run the ball…and the clock.
I’m not saying the Colts will have a bad game, but they won’t have the ball long enough for the “quality” of their game to matter.
BAL – 34 IND – 21
Arizona @ New Orleans
Arizona travels to the Superdome with the idea that this is Kurt Warner’s last “hurrah”. New Orleans is hoping they don’t screw up since they backed into the playoffs. When you start 13-0 and finish 13-3 that says something.
With Kurt Warner, apparently, retiring after these playoffs I wonder if there is a little extra motivation to get him another ring. I remember when Ben Roethlisberger told Jerome Bettis he was going to win him a Super Bowl in 2006 before he retired. Perhaps the same is true for the Cardinals.
Because the Cards had such a hefty lead that they gave away against the Packers I only have one question. Is the Cardinals offense better than advertised? They totally abused the “great” Packer defense that I was so in love with last week.
Here’s my concern. I start talking about Darren Sharper and this incredible Saints defense and they don’t live up to the hype. It would be just my luck! Randall Gay, Jabari Greer, Malcolm Jenkins, Darren Sharper, Johnathan Vilma, and Sedrick Ellis make for a scary defense, but that didn’t mean anything last week so why should it matter this week?
Did anybody notice Tim Hightower last week for Arizona? He ran for 19 yards on 7 carries and caught 3 passes for 21 yards. But those 40 yards were a TOUGH 40 yards. When the crunch is on they can flip the ball to this kid and let him run somebody over for a First Down.
The Cardinals also have Steve Breaston in their back pocket. With Larry Fitzgerald getting double-covered Breaston caught 7 passes for 125 yards last week. He made one catch in particular with a defender basically lying on top of him! Who needs Anquan Bolden anyways?
You could make the same kind of arguments for the Saints offense, but they can only say they have Drew Brees, Marques Colston, Robert Meachem, and Reggie Bush. The weapons are there, but there’s no one for “tough yardage situations”. Do we really expect Reggie Bush to run downhill and pick up 3 yards on 3rd down?
I think this is why the Saints dropped 3-in-a-row after going 13-0. Everyone figured out how to make them work for their conversions. Teams were willing to give them all the passing yards in the world as long as New Orleans’ 3rd down conversion rate was low.
This is why they lost their final 3 games 67-44. They couldn’t get the extra conversions they needed to run down the field and answer their opponent.
Without an “answer” for the Cardinals the Saints will fall behind and never catch up.
ARI – 48 NO – 31
Jets @ San Diego
If you’ve been following me all season you know that I don’t trust the Chargers and I still don’t. I’m willing to make some concessions before I make the pick.
First, Phillip Rivers is incredible. Second, so is Antonio Gates. Third, so is LDT. Fourth, so is their defense. (Oh, and Darren Sproles too!) So, what makes me distrust the Chargers?
Norv Turner. Yes, he’s taken the Chargers to the AFC Title Game and I can respect that, but there’s something about him that makes me think he’s the “Les Miles of the NFL”. He’ll make a dumb decision or call the wrong play and that’ll be that. I can just feel it.
To counter that you have the New York Jets and Rex Ryan. He believes 100% in his team and has even said “Why shouldn’t we be favored in all our playoff games?”
Combine his belief with Mark Sanchez, Braylon Edwards, Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene to get the maximum offensive output. Yes, the Chargers have Quentin Jammer and Antonio Cromartie, but Braylon Edwards is 6’3”. Jammer measures 6’ and Cromartie at 6’2”. That inch is all it takes for Edwards to catch “the big one” at the right moment.
All the Chargers have is Vincent Jackson, and who will be covering him? Darelle Revis. I think we’ve all seen the stats. Revis has held Andre Johnson, Randy Moss, Marques Colston, T.O (twice)., Davone Bess, Steve Smith, Antonio Bryant, Roddy White, and Chad Johnson under 35 yards receiving. I think the same will hold true for Jackson.
Dinking and dunking to Gates all night will not solve the Chargers’ problems and running LDT and Sproles all night will only complicate matters. Why?
Because this is a “passing” team!
Add to that Doug Plank coaching a version of the “46 defense” for the Jets, and the Chargers’ next stop is horror. (In case you didn’t know, Doug Plank IS #46, spawned this defense for Mike Ditka and is a darned good coach!) San Diego can score, but not enough.
NYJ – 27 SD – 17
Dallas @ Minnesota
Dallas and Minnesota, I guess, could be considered the “marquee matchup” of the weekend. Tony Romo’s on a hot streak and Brett Favre is…Brett Favre.
The Cowboys has finally won a playoff game after a 14 year drought and now they can prove themselves. The Vikings backed into the playoffs and are hoping to not screw this one up.
The Vikings lost 3 of the final 5 games by a combined total of 109-128. I know! They lost 3 of 5 and they won the point differential. Personally, I think the difference is the 44-7 blowout of the Giants in the final week of the season. Take that game out and the total is 102-84.
The Vikings feature Favre, Adrian Peterson, Bernard Berrian and Percy Harvin. Their defense has Jared Allen as an anchor with Chad Greenway and the Williams “not brothers” up front.
If the Cowboys intend to score they have to run Marion Barber and Felix Jones up the middle for some respect. They’ll most definitely get said “respect” from the aforementioned linemen.
Now, the Dallas passing game MUST work. Miles Austin is turning into a superstar before our very eyes, Roy Williams is available if he “shows up”, but Jason Witten and Tashard Choice are easy targets on the outside.
Tony Romo can afford to “dink and dunk” to Witten and company and just wait for Austin to get open. Do we really expect Antoine Winfield or Cedric Griffin to cover Miles Austin? I don’t, and it only takes a couple bombs to rip the hearts out of the Vikings and their fans.
If the Cowboys take the fans out of this then home field advantage is gone. Now the Vikings are relying on Brett Favre to make the crucial throws. Do I trust him? No.
Brett Favre won’t throw 5 interceptions, but he’ll throw the wrong interception at the wrong time and the Vikings’ season will be over. I fully expect him to end things for Minnesota the way he did for Green Bay in 2007…with an interception.
Once again, the Vikings can score, but not enough. Plus, they CANNOT avoid the inevitability of a colossal “Favre error”. Sorry Vikes fans. Maybe next year.
DAL – 31 MIN – 27
I know you may not agree with all of these picks, but you can’t deny my logic. The only thing we have to do is wait and see if I’m right.
I really don’t think I’m “drinking the kool aid” on the Jets, and I certainly don’t believe in Norv Turner. Keep your fingers crossed for me! As always, please feel free to love me or hate me with your comments at SteroidsLive.com!