I picked three of the four wild card games correctly last weekend. Unfortunately, my “miss” involved my beloved Washington Redskins, who lost to Seattle in a controversial game in which their franchise quarterback either stayed or was left in too long by his coach and suffered a potentially career hampering injury. That situation warrants a post of its own, but I will leave that one to the professional pundits.
Perhaps this has left me in a risk taking mood of my own. As you will see, my choices for this week probably won’t get a lot of support. But, hey, what do I have to lose. I’m not putting any money on these matches. Just follow my reasoning (or lack thereof!).
Baltimore at Denver
I wouldn’t root for the Broncos if they were run by Pope John II. They ARE managed by John Elway, who dissed the old Baltimore franchise by refusing to play in my hometown. Bum.
In any case, the going theory is that Peyton Manning is unstoppable and the Broncos are on a long winning streak. As I noted last week, however, the Ravens are on a crusade of their own. It’s the swan song for Ray Lewis and potentially Ed Reed, too. Furthermore, Joe Flacco (“Flakoo” in Baltimorese) has a lot to prove. He was one dropped/stripped pass from a Super Bowl appearance last year.
Both Joe F. and the Ravens defense (including the suddenly dominant Paul Kruger) will use their emotion and underdog status to pull the upset.
Prediction: Ravens 24 Broncos 20
Houston at New England
Like the Ravens, the Texans were crushed by this weekend’s opponent during the regular season. Who cares? This is the playoffs. Just win baby (in the words of AL Davis). In another contest decided by emotion, the Texans will run Arian Foster left and Arian Foster right and Arian Foster up the middle and keep the ball away from Tom Brady. The Patriots, for whom a Super Bowl contest is old hat, will come out flat. Matt Schaub will find Andre Johnson enough to make a difference. Both the quarterback and his Hall of Fame receiver will be playing with a chip on their shoulders. I would be remiss if I abandoned a Houston team I chose to win the Super Bowl last summer here in January. When they’re on, I still think they are the best overall team in the game.
Prediction:: Texans 27 Patriots 24
Seattle at Atlanta
The gamblers appear to be favoring the Falcons, but most of the professional talking heads seem to be saying that the streaking Seahawks will win. The reasoning is that Atlanta is a soft team that plays well during the season, but folds during the playoffs. Some are even picking Hollywood Peter Carroll’s brutes for the Super Bowl.
I admit as a Redskin fan that there is no love lost between me and the ‘Hawks. Trash talking Richard Sherman needs to watch his back the next time his team plays Washington. He didn’t just go after other players, he dissed ole Mike Shanahan, ar0using the ire of Trent Williams, who tried to mash his face in. Sherman’s response was not even juvenile. Try maybe nine-ish.
I just think Atlanta, like the other put upon teams in this tournament, will rise to the occasion over the slights they are given by the media. They have a team of talented veterans and they are playing at home. Then, there is the west to east travel thing, which the Seahawks deny has an impact. But it probably does.
Prediction: Atlanta 32 Seattle 17
Green Bay at San Francisco
This is a tough one. But I think it will all come down to quarterback play. Aaron Rodgers is considered to be the best QB in football and Colin what’s-his-name, while possessing some positive attributes, is a rook. The 49ers’ defense will keep them in the game, as will Frank Gore. I think the Packers will also want to avenge the loss they incurred at Lambeau against San Francisco earlier in the season. The latter came within a hair of playing in last year’s big game and they’ll want to atone for that loss. However, I think Green Bay believes they are the NFC’s version of the Patriots and belong in the Super Bowl every year. They’ll be out to prove it.
Prediction Green Bay 30 San Francisco 20
My prognostications set up the following scenario for the entrance games into the Big Show.
Baltimore at Houston
Green Bay at Atlanta
As my policy this year is to not predict ahead, I will wait until next week to make the picks for teams involved in these games.