Saturday, January 19, 2008

NFL Playoff Predictions

Usually I try to hit these on wild-card weekend, but that happened to be when my electricity was knocked out for three days, and I was in the middle of that ten-day flu shit that's apparently hit practically everywhere. So I'm way behind the usual curve now, but tomorrow's championship games both feature some surprise underdogs. Most people, including myself, had assumed that the Patriots juggernaut and the resurgent Packers would be in the mix, but I figured the Colts, banged up as they were, would squeak past an equally beaten Charger team just on the strength of home-field advantage. And nobody really looked good in the NFC besides Green Bay and Dallas, but the Giants have defied expectations.

AFC Championship -- Should we even bother? Randy Moss will be double-covered the entire time (and might be distracted by his adventures with a would-be shakedown artist this past week), but San Diego's safeties can be had, and if not, New England simply has too many offensive weapons to choose from. Cover Moss, they'll take six yards at a time from Welker or ten-twelve yards from Stallworth. Drop seven into coverage, and they beat you with Maroney, who would be a star on any other team int he league, but here is simply overshadowed by the rest of the talent. Billy Volek is a better backup than he's given credit, and is probably better and more reliable than Philip Rivers, but unless Volek can pick apart the Pats' defense, it's going to be an ass-pounding, snow or no. Patriots 38, Chargers 13.

NFC Championship -- This one could be closer, thanks to the Giants' excellent pass-rush tandem of Umenyiora and Strahan, but the Pack's o-line did just fine holding league sack leader Patrick Kerney down. The Packers' blazing, hard-hitting defensive secondary has probably been taping pictures of Eli Manning to the back of their girlfriends' heads the entire week in anticipation. It's just fun having a conference championship game in snowbound Green Bay for first time in forever, and the Pack will not disappoint. Packers 31, Giants 9.

Super Bowl -- This would be a great, if cliché-ridden story -- old lion makes triumphant comeback leading young team to showdown against a team with a perfect record, led by an outstanding former sixth-round pick who is at the prime of his career. Still, I don't think the Pats have faced a defense quite like Green Bay's all season, and if Atari Bigby settles down and plays to his potential, Charles Woodson and Al Harris will create havoc for Brady and his receiver corps all day. Favre has his own developing crew of receivers to work with, and each of New England's Super Bowl victories have only been by a field goal. It really comes down to whom you would rather have in your corner for the inevitable fourth-quarter comeback, and I seriously think Green Bay has a shot here. Packers 38, Patriots 35.


vonKreedon said...

Hey Cart - So, now that the old lion has been knocked out of the mix by the younger brother what do you think of the Super Bowl? As I've been telling my son, who is suffering from Pat's Derangement Syndrome, the Pats are 18-0 because they have the coaching and player skills/flexibility to figure out what is needed to win and then execute that strategy no matter what the situation.

So, Pats 24 Giants 21. Brady is the MVP, duh.

Heywood J. said...

Hey vK, how's it hangin'? For the better part of this decade, the Pats were one of those teams that seemed to have a system where you could plug somebody in and the team would keep going; it was not utterly dependent on the individual talents at the skill positions.

This year's model seems to be the opposite of that, especially at WR and QB. Their playbook has taken advantage of the specific skills of Moss and Welker, and had many drives of 8-10 consecutive passes that could probably not be sustained with Matt Cassel.

I gotta admit, the Giants have completely defied expectations and predictions, so I'm loath to prognosticate, but your guess sounds pretty good. But Brady has had a sloppy post-season, while Eli has been a model of control. If Strahan and Umenyiora eat their Wheaties and tear pretty boy a new one, this could be the biggest upset since Joe Namath took it to the Colts.

Whatever the result, the Patriots have been a great example of organizational culture, as opposed to, say, the Raiders. It kills me that Randy Moss has doubled his entire output at Oakland in just one season in Boston -- for about one-third the money.

More than anything else, that's why I wanna see the Pats fall flat. Because fuck him and his alligator-arming and route-dogging when he was here.

Paul F. said...

You mean Giants 38, Patriots 35?