Monday, January 31, 2011

All-Star..... Game?

I am one who likes the best players in a league in a given season to come upon a city and take part in events honoring their season and play a game for fun. All of that constitutes an All-Star game, and I am fine with them. But, there is a double standard. In one league, we criticize the players for not trying hard enough, and in another, we criticize because the game means something. What is the true meaning of an All-Star game, with all of the individual criticisms facing each league? defines an All-Star as an athlete chosen as the best at their position from all teams in a league. Now with all of the 4 major all-star games in the U.S and Canada, normally the game is a glorified exhibition where the players are there to have fun for the enjoyment of the fan who probably spent too much for the tickets. At least for the money, the fans should see something that is similar to an actual game. Take the Pro Bowl for example. The game means nothing, and most of the players don't want to get hurt, but an outward showing of effort would be nice. In the NHL All-Star game, I laughed when Marc-Andre Fleury let in 4 goals early on in the game, when the night before he was dominating in the Elimination Shootout. Does the effort by these players justify the hype surrounding the game? No, and most normally ideas to spice up these games fall flat, as evidenced by Bud Selig putting meaning to the Midsummer Classic. So, what is the true meaning of an All-Star game?

Maybe the meaning is for the players to have fun, and enjoy themselves. Sure that sounds nice in principle, but what happens when the players stop playing and the effort wasn't there? If I was paying hundreds to thousands of dollars to watch people stand around, I'd go to a political convention. So, what about putting the best from America and Canada against the best of the rest of the world? MLS does that, but that only works when America and Canada are not the premier destination. And finally what about for the owners and comissioner? This All-Star game idea is a real gold mine. It would matter more if people could watch the game, as 2 of the All-Star games are not on OTA TV. But here is the real reason why this game means nothing. It isn't a centerpiece event.

The Sports hype machine doesn't hype up All-Star games like they do major matchups in any sport. You may see more leadup to a Yankees/Red Sox game in May than you would for the All Star game. Jets/Patriots was hyped much more than the Pro Bowl. The NHL has the Winter Classic, which is now the midseason major event, not the All Star Game, which had been left for dead until Raleigh saved it. So, without the hype, do you think the fans, or the players will care as much? No, not as long as the game is a glorified exhibition. But, this game means something to the many fans who paid thousands of dollars to see the game live, instead of on their couches.

The game is for the fans, and their entertainment. It's to show off a city to the rest of the country, like Raleigh or Phoenix. It's to give the rabid football fans of Hawaii a chance to see a live pro football game with out flying 8+ hours to the mainland. The fans want to see their favorite players on the same field, or sheet of ice, or court for 1 night. The All-Star games meant more back in the time where players outside of your own team were harder to see nightly. Now, the games meaning is diluted. But the fans still come back. The meaning of an All-Star game is so that the fans can be entertained, and that the players can bring that to the fans, even if the same players are sent every single year. These games will never meet up with the hype that may be brought upon other regular season games, and as long as the game is not close to a real representation of the particular sport that will continue. All-Star games should just be fun times where the tension of a season eases for 3 days, and the fans can enjoy themselves too. Effort is relative, and as long as these games have no real meaning in a season (cough cough Bud Selig), the games are just fun to see. No matter what changes are made to spice up the game, it's still an exhibition for the fans.

And honestly, that's all the All-Star game should be.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Road to North Texas

It has been one of the most interesting seasons in the NFL's history, and it has ended with the Packers and Steelers competing for the NFL's ultimate prize in Arlington. Both teams took very different routes to get there, but will now be on the same plane, for one Sunday.

The Packers had tons of injuries this season, guys like Ryan Grant, Jermichael Finley, and even Aaron Rodgers who suffered 2 concussions, and yet the Packers fought through all of that to make the Super Bowl. What was their season changing moment? Maybe the fight they put up in New England in Week 15 to the very final gun with Matt Flynn at QB, and from a team that had just lost to Detroit, this was a marked improvement. Aaron Rodgers showed why he may be one of the best in the NFL in the Divisional round game in Atlanta, and when he struggled against the Bears, the Packers defense rose up to the occasion. They are the first 6 seed in the NFC to make the Super Bowl, but they never looked like a 6 seed. And now they'll put the experience used to beat the top 3 seeds in the NFC to good use against the AFC Champion Steelers.

For Pittsburgh, many didn't think the Steelers would get this far. Without Ben Roethlisberger during the first 4 games, many thought it would be impossible for them to win 3 games. They almost won 4. Their defense was again the backbone of the team, and it helped them through the starts by Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch. Their season changing moment was in Week 13 when Troy Polamalu sacked Joe Flacco and forced a fumble that eventually led to the Steelers game winning TD. If they didn't win that game, the Ravens would have hosted their Divisional Round tilt, and nobody knows what could happen if the 2 rivals met in Baltimore. The Steelers comeback was pretty amazing against the Ravens, and even though they almost lost a 24 point lead against the Jets, their D made up for the problems the offense had. Aaron Rodgers will have a tough time picking apart the Steelers D.

So, on the road to North Texas, only the Packers and Steelers are left. Who will win? I don't even know yet, and you'll have to wait until next week to see the analysis. But for now, if you're a Packer or Steeler fan, enjoy this win, and prepare for a fun game in 2 weeks. If not, enjoy the Super Bowl anyway as a football fan, because who knows what will happen with the CBA.

Who will be the final team standing on the podium at about 10:15 PM EST on Sunday February 6th, 2011?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

My 2011 Conference Title Analysis

I’m not really good at this picking thing. My Super Bowl champ from the preseason is out, as well as both halves of my pre postseason Super Bowl. I’m 3-5 in the playoffs, and hoping to get to 5-5, with these picks, and amazing analysis.

NFC Championship Game:

6 Green Bay Packers @ 2 Chicago Bears 3 PM SUN FOX

They’ve played 181 times previous to this meeting, and only once before in the playoffs. That was nearly 70 years ago, a week after Pearl Harbor was bombed. This bone rattling rivalry heats up again, but who will raise the Halas trophy, on their way to maybe a Lombardi trophy?

Green Bay Offense vs. Chicago Defense

I’ll admit it; I’m enamored with Aaron Rodgers. The way he played last week in Atlanta may have been the best playoff performance by a QB, ever. Granted, the Falcons secondary was a sieve, but that is beside the point. Here is one though; the Bears D will be the best they have faced in the entire playoffs so far. The only caveat to that is that the 2 teams know each other very well and there will be no secrets. Rodgers can throw the ball to many different receivers, and at times can surgically cut apart a secondary. But, on the track that Charles Tillman cursed about, that may be more difficult. Rodgers did throw for 316 yards back in Chicago in Week 3, yet that was in September, and the track didn’t look like concrete. He also had Jermichael Finley, but I don’t think that will be too much of a detraction for the Packers offense. What they have to do, is establish James Starks on the ground. He wasn’t really needed last Saturday Night, but he will be here. If the Packers establish the run, then the Bears D will load the box more, and Rodgers will be able to attack the secondary. The Packers show commitment to the run, but after time that will wane. Rodgers’ freight train of success will stop in Chicago, and the Bears D will wreak havoc on the Packers O, when Rodgers is uncomfortable in the pocket, and the coverage’s are air tight.

Advantage: Chicago

Chicago Offense vs. Green Bay Defense

Jay Cutler’s first playoff performance may be a bit misleading due to his impressive numbers. He did throw a TD pass on his first throw of the game, but we know what a powerhouse Seattle is. He had some near misses on INT’s that were dropped, or tipped up, and that is typical Jay Cutler. Here’s where his advantage lies, though. He has a more consistent ground attack with Matt Forte and Chester Taylor. Even though Jay Cutler was the Bears leading rusher in the Week 3 game, Forte had 91 yards on 15 carries in the regular season finale. Jay Cutler however, had a poor game, and that is where the troubles lie for the Bears. Will the good or bad Cutler show up? If the bad Cutler shows up, then the Bears are in for a long day. The Packers D as we know can blitz from many different angles, and Jay Cutler did seem confused by it in the 2 meetings between the squads this year. For the Bears to win, they need a consistent running game, and the good Cutler to show up like he never has done before. I can’t trust him to do that. The Packers D will show up big here.

Advantage: Green Bay

Intangibles: Home field advantage has meant next to nothing in these playoffs so far, but the Bears have it a bit different. The much maligned field puts the Bears, who are a more physical team defensively than the Packers offense, which is a bit more reliant on speed and spreading the field.

Advantage: Chicago

Player to Watch: James Starks

I think his success may go a long way in determining who wins this game. The Packers need to be able to suck the Bears in with play action, and get more defenders to commit to the run, and the only way that will happen is if the Packers run the ball well. Starks needs the success that he had against the Eagles, and that will be a tough challenge for the rookie running back out of Buffalo.

Pick: Green Bay

It may seem like Chicago has more advantages here, but here’s the catch for that. I would much rather have Aaron Rodgers against a good defense than Jay Cutler against a good defense. Wouldn’t you?

AFC Championship Game:

6 New York Jets @ 2 Pittsburgh Steelers 6:30 PM SUN CBS

The Jets have 2 great road wins under their belt, but they’ve deviated from the trash talk formula. The Steelers needed a big comeback and a David Tyree-esque catch in order to stun the Ravens. Which one of these teams will create magic on a cold day in Pittsburgh?

New York Offense vs. Pittsburgh Defense

The same issue I have with Aaron Rodgers, I have with Mark Sanchez. He hasn’t faced a good defense yet in these playoffs, and he arguably has looked worse overall. He has a running game though. The Steelers stop the run very well, and remember that the Jets faced the Steelers in Week 15 without Troy Polamalu. The Jets will try to establish the run, and I doubt against the Steelers that will happen. For the Jets to win, they need to play efficiently, and they can’t turn it over. The Steelers D was great last week, and the points for the Ravens came mainly on short fields. Rex Ryan has to hope Mark Sanchez comes up like he did last Sunday, but I don’t think that will happen. The Steelers have a big advantage here.

Advantage: Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Offense vs. New York Defense

In their Week 15 meeting, the Steelers offense was actually not that bad, it’s just that the Jets D came up big when they needed to. The Steelers ran the ball effectively enough, and Ben Roethlisberger made some pretty good throws. The Jets D comes up big when they have to, and this same D has some questions. Who do you put Darrelle Revis on? Do you put him on Hines Ward, to take away the possession receiver, or Mike Wallace to take away the deep threat? In Week 15, Revis was on Ward, and Wallace had a big day. 102 yards, plus the slot receiver Emmanuel Sanders also had a decent game. The Jets have to cover those guys well with Antonio Cromartie and their safeties. The Steelers O-Line was weak in their protections last week, and the troubles could continue against a good Jets D. If the Steelers don’t protect well, then the Jets could control the tempo defensively. But, I never assume that the QB will be sacked left and right, so I give the Steelers the advantage.

Advantage: Pittsburgh

Intangibles: The Steelers are at home, but as we’ve seen, being at homes means next to nothing. The Jets are a great road team as we know, and there really is no reason to see why the Jets are in trouble just because they’re playing in Pittsburgh.

Advantage: New York

Player to Watch: Mike Wallace

For the Jets to control the tempo defensively as I said, they need to contain Mike Wallace. How they do that, remains an open question. If Darrelle Revis is on him, then Hines Ward could have a big day. It remains the biggest question to see what the Jets will do, and whoever is left over could become the difference maker in this game, and I think Wallace will have a big day.

Pick: Pittsburgh

Even though I’ve picked against the Jets in the last 2 weeks because I doubted them, I don’t doubt them now. I think Pittsburgh is a better team right now, and they will give the Jets tons of problems.

I hope to do better this week!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My All Important Tribute to Vic Ketchman

Many of you may not know who he is, unless you are a Jaguars fan, or check everyday. Vic Ketchman was the head writer for, but now he is moving to the Green Bay Packers. I just wanted to write something in tribute to his tenure with the Jaguars, and what he meant to the fans.

His columns were amazing, as he brought in NFL history to his modern-day NFL writings. He wrote stuff that almost nobody else dared to do. He had his "10 Things" every week for the Jaguars in order to beat the upcoming opponent. His all important Power Rankings were sometimes the most accurate power rankings in all of the internet. He had an in-game blog where he talked about the game as it happened, which were amazing to see his thoughts as the game progressed. But most amazing of all, was his "Ask Vic" column, where he answered fans questions with his own personal twist. Those were funny, and insightful at the same time. They were some of the best written columns anywhere on the NFL, and they will always be a part of Jaguars lore.

I have one moment that I remember which shows what influence Vic had on Jaguars fans, and later the NFL. During the 2007 Playoffs, in the week leading up to Jaguars vs. Patriots, Vic was mentioned in the national media for his power rankings, which had an asterisk beside the Patriots logo, for cheating. National media was all over the site, and any time I saw the asterisk afterword, I laughed. He even included the Florida Gators in his power rankings during the 2008 season, and even though it was a joke, it showed his connection to the fans of Jacksonville.

I know Green Bay may be a better football market than Jacksonville, but fans will still be sad for this loss. No matter what free agents the Jaguars lose during the upcoming offseason, the toughest will be Vic. As an aspiring writer, I can only hope to be as good of a writer as Vic is. I hope he brings his columns and other items to Green Bay with him, so those fans can know what Jaguars fans loved and still love about him.

Enjoy Green Bay, Vic. All Jaguars fans will miss you.

Friday, January 14, 2011

My 2011 Divisional Round Weekend Analysis

Now it’s time for a divisional round filled with rematches, divisional or rematches of games in the regular season. This could be a fun weekend, and I’m here with my late analysis.

5 Baltimore Ravens @ 2 Pittsburgh Steelers 4:30 PM Saturday CBS

This maybe the hardest hitting, toughest rivalry in the NFL today, and they’ll meet again early Saturday. Can the Ravens edge the Steelers on the road unlike the 2009 AFC Title Game?

Baltimore Offense vs. Pittsburgh Defense:

Last week, the running game for the Ravens was held in check until the end of the game by Kansas City, but Joe Flacco made all the throws in order to generate a spark. Other than the fact that we know that Baltimore will have trouble doing this again, they have to at least try to establish themselves with a physical presence on the ground, or start with swing passes to Ray Rice in order to keep the offense from sputtering. The Steelers will have Troy Polamalu, so that may quickly negate any sustained offensive momentum the Ravens could gain. Cam Cameron will have to call a slightly better game than he did in Week 13 (that fumble by Flacco to give the Steelers the lead), and the Ravens will have to play pretty much a flawless game to win, which against the Steelers is a tough sell. Therefore, the Steelers D gets the check, albeit slightly.

Advantage: Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Offense vs. Baltimore Defense:

The Steelers offense didn’t have the greatest of games against Baltimore in their 2 meetings either. Big Ben gets a broken nose, and the Steelers didn’t get true momentum until their final drive in the Week 13 game. The Ravens D has been prone to giving up big pass plays, despite last week the Ravens locked that down. Mike Wallace is fast enough to get past the corners and attack the safeties if they’re over to help. The Steelers did the run the ball decently in their 2 matchups with the Ravens, but I don’t think that will decide offensive success for the Steelers. If Ben Roethlisberger can make the throws when he has to, and can stay on the field, then the Steelers can dictate tempo offensively. They get the check here, but again, not by much.

Advantage: Pittsburgh

Intangibles: The Steelers are at home, where the have lost 3 times this season, once to the Ravens, and another time to essentially Ravens mark 2, the Jets. The Ravens had a short week to prepare, and the Steelers have had 2 weeks. I think the Steelers are well rested, while Baltimore is still a bit nicked up from Kansas City.

Advantage: Pittsburgh

Player to Watch: Ray Rice

If he doesn’t have a big game, either on the ground or catching screens and similar passes, than it will be a long day for the Ravens offense. He is the key for them to relieve some pressure and open up throws down the field for guys like Todd Heap, Derrick Mason, and Anquan Boldin.

Pick: Baltimore

Why them you may ask? I gave the advantage for everything to the Steelers. Yes, but this game is one that is so close, that it’s essentially a pick ‘em game. I think this is the chance for Joe Flacco to put a stamp on his early career with a big win like this one, and so I’ll take him and his Ravens (and not because I have them in the Super Bowl)

6 Green Bay Packers @ 1 Atlanta Falcons 8 PM Saturday FOX

When these 2 teams met up in Atlanta back on Thanksgiving weekend, it was decided by a field goal in the last 10 seconds. Will this game be the same?

Green Bay Offense vs. Atlanta Defense

Well, the big thing for the Packers on Sunday wasn’t their passing game; it was James Starks, the rookie running back out of Buffalo. The Packers attempted to run plenty last week, and it worked very well. In the first meeting between these 2 squads, Aaron Rodgers threw for 344 yards and a TD. If he didn’t fumble on the 1 yard line, then the Packers would have likely won. The Falcons have to contain Aaron Rodgers to a degree, in order to have any chance of stopping him. The way to do that will be from their pass rushers, John Abraham and Kroy Biermann. If Atlanta gets a consistent pass rush, then they may be able to stop Aaron Rodgers. But, I just don’t see that happening.

Advantage: Green Bay

Atlanta Offense vs. Green Bay Defense

Matt Ryan, remember, lost his 1 and only other playoff start, but that was 2 years ago in Arizona. He has only lost 2 times in the Georgia Dome as a starter, and trust me it gets loud in that dome. The Falcons ran the ball very well in the 1st meeting, as Michael Turner ran for 114 yards. He’ll have to do that again in order to set up the throws for Matt Ryan. The Packers D was great in stopping Mike Vick last Sunday, and they’ll need another good outing to stop Matt Ryan and all of his weapons. The Packers didn’t let the Eagles dictate tempo with their running game, and they’ll have to do the same against Atlanta, as they run to set up the pass. In games where the Falcons have to set up the run with the pass, they don’t do very well. Despite the fact that the Packers can do that, I don’t believe they will.

Advantage: Atlanta

Intangibles: Atlanta doesn’t lose too often in the Georgia Dome, but that loss to New Orleans did help them out plenty with saying that we can’t take opponents too lightly when they come here. Green Bay is beatable on the road, so I’ll take the dome field advantage.

Advantage: Atlanta

Player to Watch: Michael Turner

Like Ray Rice is to the Ravens, Michael Turner is to the Falcons. If he is able to establish a good ground game for the Falcons, then the Falcons offensive options can triple. If he doesn’t start well, Green Bay can pounce on a vulnerable Falcons team early, and often.

Pick: Atlanta

Even though I did have Green Bay going to the Super Bowl, I just think Atlanta is a slightly better team, with a great home field advantage. They are consistent, not streaky, and the Packers have been a bit streaky this season. I like Atlanta here, but not by much.

4 Seattle Seahawks @ 2 Chicago Bears 1 PM Sunday FOX

Yes, even I was a bit shocked that Seattle won last Saturday against the Super Bowl Champs. Do they have enough in them to take down the Bears?

Seattle Offense vs. Chicago Defense:

I have to admit, why did I think Charlie Whitehurst would start for the Seahawks last weekend? Matt Hasselbeck had a fantastic game, where he reminded me of the Matt Hasselbeck that took the Seahawks to a Super Bowl once upon a time. In their first meeting, Hasselbeck threw for 252 yards and a TD, in what may have been Mike Williams’ coming out party. The Seahawks also ran the ball decently, and that is something they’ll have to do again. But, one thing has changed. The Bears defense then is very different from the Bears defense now. The Bears have played badly in 2 of their last 4, but mind you that was against New England and the Jets. The Seahawks didn’t have the best offensive game against Chicago in Week 6, so therefore against a rested Chicago D, I like the Bears D to win out here.

Advantage: Chicago

Chicago Offense vs. Seattle Defense:

Here is where the Seahawks won in week 6, with sacks. They had 6 of them. With a very potent team of pass rushers in Chris Clemons and Raheem Brock, they’ll look to again stifle Jay Cutler with a good pass rush, against a suspect offensive line. If the Seahawks get that kind of pass rush again, then look for Jay Cutler maybe to reform into the gun slinger Jay Cutler that threw all of the INT’s in 2009. It would help if the Bears were able to run the ball better than they did in Week 6; they only ran for 61 yards. They’ll have to do better than that, and they can, because Mike Martz’s ego isn’t as big now as it was then. The run will set up the pass, and if game manager Cutler shows up, the Chicago offense will be hard to stop. I didn’t assume the Falcons would get a big enough pass rush to truly fluster Aaron Rodgers, and I’m continuing the precedent here. I don’t think the Seahawks will get enough of a pass rush to turn Jay Cutler into the one Bears fans don’t want to remember.

Advantage: Chicago

Intangibles: What does Seattle have left in the tank after they expended all of that energy last Saturday? That is a good question, and I think that they are a bit spent emotionally. The Bears will easily be able to pounce on that.

Advantage: Chicago

Player to Watch: Jay Cutler

A bit cliché, I know, but remember the two Jay Cutler’s I had mentioned before. If the good one shows up, the Bears are awfully tough to beat. If the bad one shows up, or the good one doesn’t get offensive line help like in week 6, then the Bears offense will struggle, and Seattle can pounce.

Pick: Chicago

Despite all of the great things Seattle did last week, I just don’t think they’re enough to carry them here. The Bears D and special teams are super bowl caliber, but will the offense get there in this game? I think they will.

6 New York Jets @ 1 New England Patriots 4:30 PM Sunday CBS

Round 3 of Jets/Pats, and what a fun game it will be. Will the Jets be able to back up their talk again, or will New England do what it does so well, win at home in the playoffs?

New York Offense vs. New England Defense:

It can’t be stated enough how many strides the New England D has made this season, from being the weakest link and potentially a serious problem, to now being a focal point for teams. It isn’t the Steelers or Jets D just yet, but it still is pretty good. Still, it has had its problems. They don’t stop the run particularly well, and that is what won the game for the Jets last Saturday. The Patriots know they have to stop the run in order to win, or at least in order to give the Jets O some problems. Where the Jets will win or lose this game potentially is on the arm of Mark Sanchez. He had a pretty bad game last Saturday, as he was constantly overthrowing receivers, and making some bad decisions. They all didn’t matter in the end, but they will matter on Sunday. Sanchez will have to use Dustin Keller, and guys like Santonio Holmes to his advantage, and make good decisions. I think they’ll do just enough to get the advantage.

Advantage: New York

New England Offense vs. New York Defense

Now, I honestly don’t think that the Jets will play a passive defense again this Sunday, do you? The Patriots tear apart that kind of D and they probably will again if the Jets try it. We know how good Tom Brady is, and what he can do, but the key for New England is to run the ball well. The Colts didn’t do it, which allowed the Jets to send enough guys in coverage to play all of the Colts’ weapons. The Patriots can run the ball better than the Colts, and if they do, the Patriots will have the balance that they need to effectively attack the Jets. The question is, which Jets D shows up? The week 2 or week 13 D? I think it will be a mix of both, and that bodes well for the Patriots. If that happens, the Pats can truly take a stranglehold of the game. I think the Patriots offense will have a good enough game here.

Advantage: New England


The Patriots are playing at home, where they simply don’t lose. Tom Brady has lost 1 home playoff game, and that was last year against the Ravens. I don’t see the Pats falling flat on their face like that again.

Advantage: New England

Player to Watch: Mark Sanchez

Is there anyone else with the spotlight burning brighter on him than Sanchez? He has to play much better than he did last weekend, and he needs to be at his best in order to keep up with the New England offense.

Pick: New England

Can you go against the Patriots at home? Especially when Tom Brady starts at home in the playoffs? I can’t. Even though the Jets will keep it close, I don’t see the Jets doing enough to pull it out, so Rex and his Jets can’t back up their talk.

There you have it, hope I’m better than the 2-2 picking record last weekend.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

My 2011 Wild Card Weekend Analysis

I wrote this last year, not on this site, but it still worked out pretty well. So, why not try again? Sorry about the length, if you care about that.

It’s time for the playoffs. The playoffs have the best teams and the most exciting football of the year, all in 4 weeks. And, this is also the most analyzed 4 weeks in sports. And I will now do my part to contribute to this, by analyzing the playoffs straight through until the end. I may be wrong, but I don’t care. This is what I think, and that’s it.

5 New Orleans Saints @ 4 Seattle Seahawks 4:30 PM Saturday NBC

Yes, we all know how comical the mismatch is on paper. The Saints are 10.5 point favorites, which is quite a lot for a road team at any time, let alone the playoffs. Take off the 3 points the odds makers give to the home team, the Saints are 2 TD favorites. Is the mismatch as comical as we see it?

New Orleans Offense vs. Seattle Defense:

Yeah, I know the Saints are going to win this battle. But let’s give the Seahawks some credit. They have had their moments this year, and they get a bit of a break with the mounting toll of the Saints injuries. Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory are on IR, and the Saints will have to lean on Reggie Bush, Julius Jones, and DeShawn Wynn to carry the load. But, when have the Saints ever been a running team? It’s Drew Brees, and always will be. As long as he’s playing, I can’t say that New Orleans will struggle on offense. Seattle has some great defenders like Lofa Tatupu, but the Saints are too good offensively for the Seahawks to stop them, and yes, the Saints will run the ball very well.

Advantage: New Orleans

Seattle Offense vs. New Orleans Defense:

The first question everyone is asking is who is starting for the Seahawks? Matt Hasselbeck, but I don’t truly think it matters. Charlie Whitehurst played decently enough to lead Seattle to victory against the Rams, but since Hasselbeck is the starter, it doesn’t matter. Even though the Saints have injuries here too, I don’t think Seattle’s offense, which is off and on more than any other team, can cope with what Gregg Williams will throw at them. The Seahawks cannot run the football for anything, and that will make the Seahawks one dimensional, and so on and so forth. Even with the injuries, I can’t see it helping the Seahawks any.

Advantage: New Orleans

Intangibles: The Seahawks play at the home of the 12th man, in College Station, TX. No, they are in Seattle and that stadium is pretty hard to play in. Don’t underestimate the injuries taking their toll on the Saints, and a cross-country trip on a short week as well. Hey, the Seahawks have something going for them.

Advantage: Seattle

Player to Watch: Reggie Bush

He must have great games for the Saints offense to be as good as it was last season in the playoffs. He gets a good start against the terrible Seattle rush D, dead last in the NFL.

Pick: New Orleans

I just can’t see Seattle winning this game, even under the helpful circumstances for them. Pete Carroll may enjoy being the head coach of the 1st 7-9 team to make the playoffs, but he won’t after this game. Week 11 will repeat itself here.

6 New York Jets @ 3 Indianapolis Colts 8:00 PM Saturday NBC

The last time we saw a rematch of the previous year’s conference title in the following year’s playoffs was after the 2004-2005 season, when the same Colts played New England in the divisional round. It didn’t go well for the Colts. Will the Jets suffer the same fate?

New York Offense vs. Indianapolis Defense

The Jets seem to have the perfect formula to beat the Colts, a great running game, and a QB who can at times play game manager. But, the Colts have now decided to start to stop the run. They stopped Jacksonville, Oakland, and Tennessee, 3 of the best running teams in the NFL, in 3 consecutive weeks. What makes me think the Colts can’t do this again? Well, the Jets have the wrinkles in their offense that the other 3 don’t have, for example, a semi-decent passing game, which the Colts have to respect. If Mark Sanchez plays as he did last season in the playoffs, then the Colts will struggle. Sanchez has had his “bye” week, and he should be rested and ready for the playoffs. The Colts have done a great job in the past 3 weeks, but that will change here.

Advantage: New York

Indianapolis Offense vs. New York Defense

Rex Ryan may think his D is the best in the league, but remember what Peyton Manning did to them in the 2nd half of the AFC Title game last year. The Jets don’t develop a consistent pass rush with their front 3, and that forces them to blitz, very, very, often. Peyton Manning loves to pick apart the blitz. And, he has a running game now to back up his arm. Donald Brown and Joseph Addai are running very well, and the Jets can stop the run, but Peyton can now use the play action to his advantage. The Jets lacked a corner last year to stop Pierre Garcon, and now they have Antonio Cromartie. But, they won’t have enough to stop the mighty Colts.

Advantage: Indianapolis

Intangibles: The Colts are getting healthy at just the right time. The Jets are much better on the road than they are at home. The Colts are great at the “Big Oil Drum”. I like the home team here.

Advantage: Indianapolis

Player to Watch: Jacob Tamme

The Jets couldn’t contain Pierre Garcon because they didn’t have the corner to defend the Colts wideouts. Now, they have 2 of the best, but somebody will be left open. That guy will be Jacob Tamme. Can he step up to the role that Dallas Clark played?

Pick: Indianapolis

Even though the Jets have the perfect makeup to beat the Colts, I can’t go against Peyton Manning right now. He actually has a running game now, and he is red hot. The Jets won’t be able to back up their talk.

5 Baltimore Ravens @ 4 Kansas City Chiefs 1 PM Sunday CBS

The Ravens have won the most road games in the playoffs since 2000, including 3 in the last 2 seasons. The Chiefs haven’t won a home playoff game since Marcus Allen was a star running back in 1993. Young vs. Old, who wins?

Baltimore Offense vs. Kansas City Defense

The Ravens offense may not be the most potent in the league, but they have a consistent QB, a great RB, and a wide-out that can make plays. That’s a pretty deadly combination, in the playoffs no less. The Chiefs D is 14th in the NFL, so they are pretty decent, but can they stop the Ravens O? I don’t think so. Ray Rice can run wild when he has to, and Joe Flacco has Anquan Boldin, who has had the big year we all expected. The Chiefs D is good enough to contain the Ravens to a point, but not enough for an advantage pick by me.

Advantage: Baltimore

Kansas City Offense vs. Baltimore Defense

You will be surprised by what I have to say here. The Chiefs have the league’s best rushing offense, with Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles. The Ravens are 5th in the NFL in stopping the run, so I think the KC potent back tandem can be contained here. But here is where the shock comes. The Ravens are 21st in stopping the pass, and Ed Reed is injured. Matt Cassel has Dwayne Bowe, who had a point in the season where he was the hottest player next to Mike Vick. Cassel also has rookie Tony Moeaki, who can make amazing catches and also make good plays everywhere on the field. Now, the Ravens D has had chokes this season, most notably against the Texans, who became their old selves in order to give the Ravens the win. I think Kansas City can exploit this weakness. Enough to the point where I actually think the Ravens will have serious troubles.

Advantage: Kansas City

Intangibles: The Ravens win on the road in the playoffs. The Chiefs are one of the most dominant teams in the NFL at home. The Ravens haven’t looked so hot in the last 2 weeks, but they’ve at least won, compared to the Chiefs, who got whacked at home by the Raiders. Even so, I still like War Paint and the War Chant.

Advantage: Kansas City

Player to Watch: Matt Cassel

He has to have a great game in order for the Chiefs to win. He has a chance to do that. Will he have games like the St. Louis game? Or games like he did in Indianapolis? That’s the big question surrounding this game.

Pick: Baltimore

Even though the Chiefs may have the Ravens D in problems, I don’t see that having too much effect on the game. Baltimore was my preseason Super Bowl pick for the AFC, and even though I won’t try to weasel them into the Super Bowl, I still think they’ll win this game.

6 Green Bay Packers @ 3 Philadelphia Eagles 4:30 PM Sunday FOX

The Packers beat the Eagles in Week 1. This is a very different Eagles team, and also a different Packers team. Which team wins in this rematch?

Green Bay Offense vs. Philadelphia Defense

Aaron Rodgers didn’t have a good game back in Week 1, but the Eagles were healthy at that point. The Packers were healthier on offense then, but now, I would take the Packers weakened offense over the Eagles weakened defense. Aaron Rodgers has the weapons on the outside to pick apart any defense, let alone an Eagles D which has lost 4 starters due to injury. The Eagles D haven’t looked very good since the Redskins game. If the Packers can hang a 45 spot on one of the best D’s the NFL, hangover or not, that is impressive. They also scored 27 points, albeit against a bad pass D, with a backup quarterback. That’s even more impressive. The Packers can set up everything with Aaron Rodgers throwing, and despite the fact that the Packers can’t run the ball for anything, they still have an offense that can tear apart the Eagles young and undermanned secondary, and line backing corps missing it’s heart and soul.

Advantage: Green Bay

Philadelphia Offense vs. Green Bay Defense

Michael Vick is well rested from his quad injury. The Eagles have a dynamic running back in LeSean McCoy, and speed on the outside that only Al David could’ve wished to draft. The problem for the Eagles is that their offensive line still has some problems. Those problems cropped up against the Bears, Giants and Vikings. It was that the Eagles can’t contain a blitz. Those teams sent the house after Mike Vick, and he struggled against it. When he’s faced with a pass rush like that, he reverts back to the old Mike Vick habits which make us scratch our collective heads. The Packers have the D Coordinator in Dom Capers that can send the house after Mike Vick, and disguise it well enough that Marty Mornhinweg can’t detect it. Mike Vick will have to have the time to make the throws and plays that make us say, “Wow!” I don’t think he will, with Clay Matthews bearing down on him and with the Eagles offensive line issues.

Advantage: Green Bay

Intangibles: The Eagles haven’t been that great at home. The Packers have had to essentially play playoff games for the past 2 weeks in order to get here, and they are the hot team in this matchup. Even though the Eagles are rested, the Packers have a slight advantage here.

Advantage: Green Bay

Player to Watch: Dmitri Patterson

He has been burned by many a wide-out at times this season. If he gets burned like that again, it will be a long day for the Eagles secondary and D coordinator Sean McDermott. Aaron Rodgers and Donald Driver could have a field day against Patterson if he plays as he has in the past.

Pick: Green Bay

Even with Mike Vick being the amazing superhuman that he is, this is the matchup the Eagles feared the most. The Packers are the hot team, and can expose the Eagles weaknesses better than maybe any other team in the NFC. The Eagles haven’t played a complete game since Week 14, and that’s excluding the benchwarmer game last week. Take the amazing 4th quarter against the Giants out of the picture, and they aren’t here right now. The Packers take this one, maybe easier than people expect.

I hope this is enough for you, and hope you take my opinion seriously, as compared to Chris Mortensen, and or Primetime "Deion Sanders".

Sunday, January 2, 2011

My 2011 NFL Playoff Predictions

I will have more on the Wild Card picks later in the week.

Wild Card Round:
NFC: (5) NO over (4) SEA (6) GB over (3) PHI
AFC: (3) IND over (6) NYJ & (5) BAL over (4) KC

Divisional Round:
AFC: (2) PIT over (3) IND & (1) NE over (5) BAL
NFC: (1) ATL over (6) GB & (5) NO over (2) CHI

Conference Title Games:
NFC: (5) NO over (1) ATL
AFC: (1) NE over (2) PIT

Super Bowl XLV:  (1) NE over (5) NO