Tomorrow wll be day 70. Tomorrow will also mark day 1 of the NFL playoffs. Frankly, you should all thank your lucky stars that I’ve been able to go this long without talking about sports. You know how much I talk ablut my beard on this blog? Well, I talk about sports even more than that in the real world. Oliver is a good beard, and I’m proud of him. But Oliver and I have only been together two and a half months… sports and I have been together since my youth.
I will spare you (for the moment) a dissertation on my love of the St. Louis Cardinals (which is greater than many parent’s love for the children). I will avoid gloating about the Orange Bowl victory of my Iowa Hawkeyes (try living in Iowa City for any amount of time without falling in love with Kinnick stadium). I will also save conversations about my lesser loves, the Indiana Pacers and Hoosiers basketball teams.
Trust me when I say that these teams are MY teams. I use the first person pronoun “We” when referring to them. They may seem like an odd collection of teams, but I have lived in all of these places while forming my attachments. I do not waver. I have stuck with them in bad times, I have cheered in good times. I have painted my chest or face in their respective colors. They are MY teams.
But tonight, we will focus on the upcoming NFL playoffs. I live in the greater Cincinnati area, and I have for much of my life. One might assume that I was a Bengals fan. One would be wrong. I ahd already thrown my allegiance behind the Indianapolis Colts long before I moved to Bungles country. I LOVE the Colts.
Now, I can go into detail about this Colt’s team and the end of their pursuit of perfection. I can talk about our pieced together secondary or the importance of Jeff Saturday to our no-huddle offense. I’m not a casual fan. Instead, I will now offer my playoff picks for this year: try to guess who I have winning it all…
******^^^^*****if you don’t love football… I’m not going to be funny or cute or talking about beards for the rest of this post. so… just a heads up. if you don’t want to read legitimate amateur analysis of playoff games and potential playoff games, then you can take the rest of the night off. come back tomorrow. much love.******^^^^^^^*******
Bengals over Jets.
I know the Jets dominated last week. But there were a number of mitigating factors. It was in New York. Cedric Benson didn’t play. Neither did several cogs of Cincy’s defense. The Bengals didn’t show their whole arsenal as they were already locked for the playoffs. Oh, and I don’t like rookie quarterbacks on the road in the playoffs. Give me the Queen City Kitties with a 20-13 win in the cold.
Patriots over Ravens
I could give you a full post about how much I hate the Patriots. Bill Belichick gives me bile. But they know how to win, especially in Foxboro. Their defense isn’t what it was, and it won’t carry them all the way, but it’s good enough to beat a pretty vanilla Baltimore. Baltimore is just “okay” in every aspect of the game. They aren’t bad… they just aren’t good. Brady will exploit the secondary and Julian Edelman will fill in admirably for Wes Welker. Pats win 27-17 in Gilette Stadium as Flacco throws two picks.
Cowboys over Eagles
Last week was NOT a fluke in this game. Philly is too dependant on the deep ball to Desean Jackson, and the ‘Boys have found ways to limit that. Dallas will exercise some playoff demons in the new stadium. A steady dose of Felix Jones and Marion Barber will wear down a thin front seven for Philly. I love the tight end matchup as Witten is among the best and Celek is an emerging star, but by the end of game Dallas will show their edge in the overall talent department. Dallas never trails and wins 30-10 while McNabb searches for answers.
Packers over Cardinals
Green Bay is just too hot. Their offensive line has improved dramatically from the unit that had Aaron Rodgers running for his life early this year. Charles Woodson has been a shutdown corner all year, and he’ll have his hands full with Larry Fitzgerald in the most fun matchup of the night. The big question is how much will Boldin play, and how affective will he be? But even if he plays and is his normal self, I just can’t picture Arizona slowing down a loaded Green Bay offense. Too many weapons. Give me Green Bay 34, Arizona 24 in a game that is close until the final minutes.
Chargers over Patriots
Probably the scariest team coming into the playoffs. San Diego lost their finale, but they are playing some impressive football. The passing attack is balanced and stacked. The running game can appear at any time with Sproles and Tomlinson. The defense doesn’t make stupid mistakes, and they have the best special team’s in the game. Playing in San Diego, probably in the baby blue uniforms, their passing attack beats up an overwhelmed Patriots secondary. Iowa Grad Nate Kaeding kicks four field goals as San Diego advances in a 26-20 win.
Colts over Bengals
The Colts give Lucas Oil Stadium a victory in its playoff debut. Without Antwan Odoms the Begals lack the necessary pass rush to threaten the Colt’s no-huddle offense. Benson, Johnson, and Scott run the ball well, but Cincy is forced to settle for field goals while the Colts score touchdowns. Double coverage takes care of Reggie Wayne, and good linebacker-play helps keep Dallas Clark in check, but screen passes to Addai and slants to Austin Collie make the difference. Manning isn’t sharp, but he’s still better than Palmer in a 28-19 win.
Cowboys over Vikings
Brett Favre makes a few big plays, but he also makes a few huge errors. The Vikings have lost their identity. Peterson controls the tone early in the game, but as the Cowboys put up points the Vikings start throwing. Shianoe has a nice game, but Rice and Harvin can’t get going. Witten has a monster game and Roy Williams catches a bomb for a crucial touchdown. Cowboys win on the road, 31-17.
Saints over Packers
This was the toughest game for me to pick so far. I already said how much I love the Packer’s passing attack, but I think the city of New Orleans makes the difference. The scoring will be fast and furious, and the Pack will take a lead while the Saints find their timing. In a back and forth game, the many weapons of the Saints pull out a victory. Meachem and Henderson have big games as Woodson focuses on Colston. The Saints give a huge boost to the Big Easy with a 40-34 win. Green Bay has a shot at a game-winning touchdown, but Sharper knocks it down.
Colts over Chargers
I may be picking with my heart, here. Historically, the Chargers sort of own the Colts. But I honestly believethat the Colts are too strong for them. Brackett, Session, and a nice game from the interior defensive line force a bunch of third and longs. Then Freeney and Mathis make Rivers’ hurry into some bad decisions. Oh, the Charger’s will move the ball, but the cover 2 defense takes away the deep ball to Floyd and Nenee, forcing them to move the ball with posession passing to Gates, Tomlinson, and Jackson. Manning finds his rhythm in the second quarter, completing big passes to Clark and Garcon while Addai and Brown do a great job in blitz pick-ups. The home crowd and a Rivers fumble in the fourth quarter lead to a 30-23 win and a Super Bowl birth for the Colts.
Cowboys over Saints
The Cowboys put the whole game together and hand the Saints a tough loss. This will be an excellent game. The Boys use the same formula that knocked the Saints from the ranks of the unbeaten. Ball-control offense with the occasional big play thrown in. The Saints can’t find the rhythm and a few balls get tipped or dropped by their wideouts. They have some success running up the middle, but they can’t get to the edge and the Cowboy linebackers play well. Romo uses Miles Austin to perfection and Felix Jones runs wild. Cowboys win 27-21.
Colts over Cowboys
I know you are shocked. I just feel that Manning and company are the best in the game. In a surprise move, the Colts come out running. Addai and Brown take turns, racking up yards in the first half. It’s effective, but not very point-producing. Marion Barber and Jason Witten lead the Cowboys to a half-time lead. But Manning, your Super Bowl MVP throws three second half touchdown passes, including two to Reggie Wayne who comes alive and beats a few double teams. Romo throws a late touchdown pass to make it interesting, but Addai and Manning lead a long drive to kick a field goal with under two minutes to play, salting away the win. Colts win 30-20.
Here’s hoping. Anyway. Back to beard talk and amusing anecdotes tomorrow. Go Colts!!!!