Saturday, January 7, 2012

Playoff Picks

These are my picks to advance throughout the playoffs.

Each team's seed is listed in parentheses, home team in capitals.

Wild Card Round

HOUSTON (3) over Cincinnati (6)
Yes, Houston's lost their last three games, but they were all close.  Last week they lost by one to Tennessee, but let's not forget, T.J. Yates got hurt, and Andre Johnson, Arian Foster, and Owen Daniels didn't play.  All of them are listed as probable for today's game.  Even with Yates, not Schaub, this offense is scary, and the defense has played well all season.

Pittsburgh (5) over DENVER (4)
There's just no conceivable way Denver wins this game.  Pittsburgh's too good, Tebow's back to earth.  I love the kid, I hope he succeeds simply due to the man he is, but he's just not an NFL quarterback at the moment, and Pittsburgh will exploit that.

NEW ORLEANS (3) over Detroit (6)
The only thing separating these two teams is the fact that New Orleans is home.  These two teams are exactly the same.  Incredible passing attack, no run game, opportunistic defense.  It's going to be a shootout.  The Saints were upset last year in the first round, it will not happen again.  They're going to come out focused, determined, and with their success in recent years experience is on their side.  I love Stafford, but it's his first playoff game, along with the Lions' first playoff game since 1999.  Emotions will be high, but that's when you're susceptible to being engulfed by the moment.

Atlanta (5) over NEW YORK (4)
I'm a Jets fan.  I believe that's all that needs to be said.

Divisional Round

NEW ENGLAND (1) over Pittsburgh (5)
Roethlisberger's beat up, and history says New England has never struggled against the vaunted Steeler defense.  Conventional wisdom says New England wins this game.  However, conventional wisdom said New England should've won their first playoff game the last two years, both at home.  Look what happened with that.

BALTIMORE (2) over Houston (3)
I know T.J. Yates is significantly better than Sanchez, however it's hard for me to imagine a rookie quarterback going into Baltimore and succeeding against this defense.  Especially after watching how bad Sanchez did this year:

New Orleans (3) over SAN FRANCISCO (2)
I don't like this matchup for the Saints, but I don't like Alex Smith for the 49ers.  He was a scrub just last year, and yes he's turned himself into a functional NFL quarterback, but he's playing against Drew Brees.  I'll take an experienced Brees over a mediocre Alex Smith any day.

GREEN BAY (1) over Atlanta (5)
I'm just not sold on Matt Ryan and the Falcons.  They got blown out by New Orleans in Week 16, and to go to Green Bay and knock off Aaron Rodgers is an extremely difficult task.

Conference Championship

Baltimore (2) over NEW ENGLAND (1)
I cannot say enough about Baltimore's defense.  I think Brady struggles against them, and the Pats' defense is bad enough for Flacco to have a relatively decent game.  Flacco won't win the game, but as long as he doesn't lose it the Ravens will end up in the Super Bowl.

New Orleans (3) over GREEN BAY (1)
I don't like Green Bay's defense at all.  I don't like New Orleans' defense at all.  I love New Orleans' offense slightly more than I love Green Bay's offense.  This is a complete judgement call, as these two teams are about as even as you can get.  That being said, if it's a classic January day at Lambeau, it's going to be tough for the Saints.  However, I think if any team beats the Packers it's the Saints, as they should be able to score with them.

Super Bowl

New Orleans over Baltimore
I can't praise Drew Brees enough, and the gap between him and Flacco is as wide as the gap in the size stones Greg McElroy has in comparison to Mark Sanchez.  By the way, if McElroy's not starting over Sanchez next year I'm going to flip.  Baltimore's defense is the best in the league, but look at the last five Super Bowls.  The only teams that won without above average offense, in terms of total yards, were Pittsburgh in 2009, and the Giants in 2008.  The teams that won the other years had defenses ranked 5th, 25th, and 21st.  Obviously, a team with both a strong offense and defense is going to fare better, but lately, especially due to the recent rule changes, an offense team has the advantage.

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