Overall: 167-93
Last Week: 4-0

Ravens @ Patriots

Gronk

Tom Brady hasn’t won a Super Bowl since 2004. Since his last Super Bowl title, Tom Brady is 9-8 in the playoffs while making the postseason in 8 years. Yet no one speaks a word about his recent stretch of futility. It’s sacrilegious. Everyone wants to tout the success of Brady during those 3 Super Bowl runs when the New England Patriots had one of the most dominant defenses in all of football with a stacked team and arguably the greatest strategic head coach. Nope, it’s all Tom Terrific.

If any franchise has been kryptonite for Tom Brady, it’s the Baltimore Ravens. Everyone and their mother are playing up the hype of Baltimore’s recent matchups against New England. What’s the missing piece that no one wants to bring up? Rob fucking Gronkowski. The Patriots won the one time The Gronk was healthy and played against the Ravens. Rob Gronkowski is the most physically imposing, dominant TE that I’ve ever seen play the position. He’s a man-child, but he towers over everyone. Gronkowski literally hurls defenders into cameras when he’s asked to block. He can catch any throw within a radius of 10 feet from his body.

Rob Gronkowski is the MVP of 2014. And if he stays healthy, he’ll be the MVP of the 2015 postseason. No one has an answer for him. If you double-team the TE, everything else opens up—the underneath routes, intermediate passing lanes, and the seam are all there for huge plays. While Baltimore has had success covering TEs this season, John Harbaugh is just as crazy as Jim Harbaugh if he thinks Will Hill can cover Gronk. Expect a huge impact from Rob Gronkowski, which will be the difference-maker in this game.

Good luck to any man who dares to get in that monster’s way.

Win: New England Patriots, 35-27

Panthers @ Seahawks

The Carolina Panthers are the one team that the Seattle Seahawks did not want to see in this Divisional Round. For whatever reason, Carolina is able to make these games ugly and slug it out with Seattle. I was all set to ride the Panthers to an upset this week, but then the news broke that Carolina would be without DT Star Lotulelei. Without their biggest presence in the middle, the Panthers will be very susceptible to Marshawn Lynch gashing them for gigantic, spirit-crushing runs. As long as Russell Wilson can convert on 3rd Down, the Seahawks shouldn’t have much of an issue with Cam Newton and Carolina today. If the Panthers can take out either Marshawn Lynch or Russell Wilson with an injury, then Carolina has an opportunity to stifle Seattle’s offensive attack and win on the strength of their defense. There’s not enough talent on offense for the Panthers to pull out a victory if their defense isn’t dominant.

Win: Seattle Seahawks, 24-17

Cowboys @ Packers

If anyone has ever had a calf cramp, you know it is debilitating. Now imagine straining your calf with tiny little tears in the muscle, and you are a professional athlete that excels based on your athletic ability. Mobility is what makes Aaron Rodgers special. He’s still elite when passing in the pocket, but turning a negative play into a positive by breaking a run and moving the chains by throwing on the run are those uber-elite traits that Tom Brady and Peyton Manning don’t possess. A QB that can harness that power is unstoppable. But no one has done it just yet. Can Aaron Rodgers perform at 75% of that level?

I’m concerned Rodgers will pop his calf if he tries to run. Even if he doesn’t attempt to escape out of pure instinct, there’s a high probability of re-injury if the offensive line can’t protect him. Despite all of the questions and uncertainty, I have faith that Green Bay can run the ball down Dallas’ throat with Eddie Lacy. Whether Mike McCarthy has the commitment to run is a different story. Although I like Tony Romo, this game feels like the Monday morning sports radio hot topic will undeservedly be Romo in big moments. Tony Romo is capable of winning this game. I’m just not counting on it. Chalk all the way.

Win: Green Bay Packers, 27-24

Colts @ Broncos

Since 2004, Peyton Manning is 8-7 in the playoffs with a Super Bowl title (more recently than Tom Brady) while making the postseason in 8 years. But no, he wilts under pressure. Let’s not take into account his consistently lackluster defenses and all-around supporting casts. It’s ridiculous that Manning wears that L for the 2012 playoff loss when Rahim “Daydream” Moore screwed up his one job as a safety and Baltimore streaked on to win the Super Bowl they didn’t deserve. It’s just easier to continue the agreed-upon narrative that Peyton Manning isn’t good in the playoffs.

In the last few weeks of the season, Peyton Manning was obviously crippled by a thigh injury that sapped even more authority from his throws. Call them wounded ducks if you want. Those wounded ducks go for touchdowns. As long as the Denver offensive line can pick up blitzes and protect Peyton, Manning will be able to throw against Indianapolis with success. But still expect C.J. Anderson to run the ball all over the Colts. A punishing running game is the best weapon for the Broncos right now.

The two biggest differences between the Patriots and Broncos this season are New England’s defense and Rob Gronkowski. Denver’s defense is not up to the same level as New England. The Patriots play together as a unit swarming to the ball and have Darrelle Revis to shut down receivers. Like the old Colts with Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, the Broncos can play extremely well with a 10-point lead by rushing the passer with Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware. But there are still issues with safeties in coverage and Denver has an underwhelming LB group that can’t stay healthy. And imagine if Peyton Manning had a Gronk. Even when he’s fully healthy, former basketball player Julius Thomas is barely 1/3 of the TE that Rob Gronkowski is for New England. Not only is Julius Thomas not healthy, but Demaryius Thomas might also not be healthy for tomorrow’s game. With whatever MASH unit takes the field on Sunday, I expect Peyton Manning to defeat his old team and their new stud QB. Andrew Luck will have his moments this Sunday and in the future. But this is still Peyton Manning’s time. He is a leader of men.

Peyton Manning is Greg Maddux and Tom Brady is John Smoltz.
Even now, I’ll still take Greg Maddux and his surgical precision.

Win: Denver Broncos, 33-24

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