Friday, January 11, 2013

Divisional Round

DivisiONNNNNNNN DIVISION! Like Fiddler on the Roof! You know what I'm trying to say? Okay let's just get to it.

Playoff Picks
Sean: 3-1
Jon: 3-1
Steve: 1-3

* Note that all picks are against the spread, not straight up.

Broncos v. Ravens (-9)
Google Image Search: "Peyton Manning Derp"

Sean: The Ravens did a decent job against a Colts team that was missing its offensive coordinator and play caller and welcomed back heroic murderer Ray Lewis. Meanwhile, the Broncos have been anointed as the best team in the AFC for some reason that I'm not quite clear about. They play in a horrible division and their best win was in Week 15 against this same Ravens team. Peyton Manning is obviously an unbelievable player and has had a great season but I think 9 points is too high. Flacco, the alleged best-named QB, is good enough to keep this under 10. The Ravens are the pick.

Steve: The Broncos have benefited a LOT from an easy schedule. But to their credit, their losses all came to very good teams (Atlanta, Houston, New England), and they beat all the teams they should have. Their only wins against good teams, however, were Week 9 against Cincinnati and Week 15 against Baltimore. However, this is a Baltimore team that -- bless its heart -- lost 4 of its last 5 regular season games, and beat a weakened and not-that-good-to-begin-with Colts team last week. The Broncos will continue to take care of business against Baltimore. Broncos by like 13.

Jon: The Broncos have yet to beat a good team this year. They're the "hottest" team heading into the playoffs (although Houston was the "coolest" and they did all right last week), but that doesn't really mean much. However, Peyton Manning owns Baltimore, and I fully expect him to own Baltimore this week, which hasn't been able to withstand the absolute onslaught of injuries they've suffered on defense this year. Ray Lewis will be emotional and the Ravens will be fired up, but he's absolutely pathetic in pass coverage now and Manning will methodically blow them up. Also, I'm beginning to think Joe Flacco is the new Mark Sanchez, an average QB who wins because of defense or lucky match-ups and everyone wants to call great. I don't think he's one of the ten best QBs in football. Manning is one of the three best and Broncos cover easily.

Patriots v. Texans (-9)

Sean: Nine points here isn't too much. As surprising as it is, I'd rather have Joe Flacco than Matt Schaub at this point. To beat the Patriots, you basically have to be able to score 30 points because no matter how good your defense is, they are going to score in the 20s. The Patriots are definitely going to have one of their trademark "suck and lose in the playoffs inexplicably" games, but it just won't be this round. The only chance the Texans have is if JJ Watt can force a turnover or they can make a huge special teams play. With Gronkowski healthy, however, they have no chance. The Patriots are the pick.

Steve: If two teams play each other multiple times in a season, each game is generally more different than one might expect. Just because the Patriots beat the Texans by the same score that Alabama beat Notre Dame doesn't mean that the Pats will waltz through this game. This will be a tough game no matter how you slice it. But the Patriots are at home, they're well-rested, everyone (Gronkowski) is healthy, and they SHOULD get this did. I'm not gonna predict that they'll suck in the playoffs like they have every year since 2007, even though maybe I should. Patriots by 100.

Jon: I don't think Matt Schaub is healthy. He made a bunch of throws last week that looked like he absolutely lacked any arm strength, including that TERRIBLE out route that got pick-sixed. If he were playing better, I'd pick the Texans to cover because the Patriots have problems covering dominant receivers (everyone has problems with this, as otherwise those receivers wouldn't be dominant, but the Patriots have gotten burned by #1 guys a lot this year per Football Outsiders) and the Texans have Andre Johnson. As it is, I'm picking the Patriots to cover, setting up the insufferable Manning-Brady ESPN O-Face Week. I can just see Ron Jaworski furiously pleasuring himself at the thought of it. Now I want that image out of my head desperately.


Niners v. Packers (-3)

Sean: The Niners are favored and at home in this game because of the replacement refs' call against the Packers in Seattle. Anyone who forgets that is a bad sports fan and should understand that the Packers got fucked because they'd certainly be favored if this game were in Lambeau. And no, I'm never going to get over this even if they win the damn Super Bowl because I'm a petty asshole. Anyways, karma helped the Packers last week when Joe Webb came in after the Packers injured Ponder the week before, giving them a pseudo-bye. The Niners defense is terrifying but they are vulnerable with Justin Smith injured and by the fact that linebackers, Bowman and Willis, can't be on field at the same time when the Packers use four receivers. The return of Woodson is a huge boost against the Niners' zone read. The Packers are obviously the pick in a super close stressful game.

Steve: This is the NFC Championship Game. The Battle of the Birds in Atlanta has no bearing on who will come out of the NFC. I think the Niners going with the inexperienced though more talented Kaepernick does not benefit them in this scenario. He's too much of a question mark, whereas Alex Smith, for all the things he isn't, isn't a question mark. I think we can depend on 2 turnovers from Kaepernick in this game because of inexperience. I'm going Packers.

Jon: Should it come as any surprise that I'm picking the Packers? Sure, they got blown out in the first game of the year (30-22 but it was not nearly that close) but they hadn't quite figured out how to play with their terrible offensive line yet (this happened in the Super Bowl season, too). Now, they're rolling Rodgers out a lot and letting his terrifying of cadre of receivers go to work. Also, no more 25 carries for beyond washed up Cedric Benson - I'm so beyond tired of Mike McCarthy trying to establish the run early in games. It just means the Packers have a couple three-and-outs to start and then are playing catch-up, which they invariably do by PASSING the ball. It's infuriating. On the 49ers side of the ball, they have one of the two best coaches in football, and an inconsistent though potentially explosive offense. I expect this to be a close game but Rodgers to pull it out in the end.

Falcons v. Seahawks (-2.5)

Sean: The Falcons are like that old Rodney Dangerfield sketch where he talks about respect or alternatively that song by Aretha Franklin where she sings about respect. They went 13-3 and (sure they won a lot of close games but Matt Ryan is actually really good at taking his team down the field at the end of close games) still don't get any respect. Their reliance on Michael Turner is still idiotic and they have to put the ball in the hands of Roddy White and Julio Jones more than anyone else if they want to win. The Seahawks' cornerbacks are a good matchup for their receivers because they are big (and guilty of using PEDs but one got off on a Braun-like defense) but I just don't think the Seahawks have enough offense to beat them. Marshawn Lynch is obviously a beast but Russell Wilson won't be so lucky with dropped interceptions and fumbles becoming twenty-yard gains this week. The Falcons are the pick.

Steve: The whole "Falcons can't get it done in the playoffs" thing isn't a reflection on the Falcons' ability to perform in the playoffs. It's a reflection on the fact that they're just not as good as their record would indicate. The Falcons don't have a super impressive win this year. They did beat Denver, but that was in Week 2, which was a) a home game, b) before Denver gelled as a team, and c) a replacement ref game. They won by 6. Their most impressive win came recently against the Giants, when they won 34-0, but if anyone was watching the Giants this year, we know that we take any win or less against the Giants with a grain of salt. They're just a weird team. But all that said, this is still a good team. This is a REALLY good team. Seattle is a good team too, but they're not as good. Seattle on the road is weak, and Atlanta at home is really strong. Gotta go with Atlanta winning by at least a field goal, right?

Jon: Fuck it. I said I wanted Seahawks-Packers in the NFC Championship Game last week and I'm sticking with my guns. It's ridiculous that the Falcons aren't even favored by three in Atlanta (meaning Vegas thinks Seattle a better team than Atlanta), but the Seahawks really are a better team and they've beaten a lot of good teams, while Atlanta beat Denver about 3 months ago and no one since. Atlanta has a great passing game with two great receivers but Seattle has a huge, physical defensive backfield ("Adderall"-aided), and they can challenge the Falcons' receivers one-on-one. Both teams will put up points, but Seahawks win a great, back-and-forth game.

Enjoy the games, knuckleheads! They'll be enjoyable.


  1. "If he were playing better, I'd pick the Texans..." Nice use of subjunctive, Jon. But with only two "fucks" in the entire three-man post, you guys either have found a thesaurus or are dealing better with your anger issues.

  2. Where are you guys this week? What you're actually doing work? I don't believe it, especially since you didn't watch the Remember the Titans marathon last night.