Posts Tagged ‘Championship Round Week’

Overall: 163-101
Last Week: 3-1

Patriots @ Broncos

Red Forehead

Fuck Tom Brady. It’s infuriating to still see everyone credit Tom Brady when the clear difference-maker on the Patriots is Rob Gronkowski. Brady immediately regressed to mediocre when Gronk was hurt, but he’s back to being a world-beater who gets rid of the ball in less than two seconds when that monster is roaming the field. The New England Patriots trained a polar bear to catch passes. Gronkowski doesn’t need to be open to catch passes. Gronk will just maul whatever unfortunate soul is around him and grab the ball mid-air in his teeth. This isn’t Brady vs. Manning as much as it is Gronkowski vs. The World.

The Gronk’s Prayer is a thing that exists…

Our Gronk who scores in sevens,
Hollowed be thy brain.
Thy kingdom dumb.
Thy will mix rum,
On turf as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily meat spread,
And don’t forgive us our trespasses,
As we don’t forgive those who double-cover against us,
Lead us directly and repeatedly into temptation,
But deliver dat sexy body from evil.
For spikes in the endzone,
With great power, bring you glory,

Rob Gronkowski is One Man Gang. There’s no question who the man is in New England. Gronk is the straw that stirs the drink—and then proceeds to pound that drink and drink everyone else’s. But I have to believe that Good finds a way. Everyone but Peyton Manning knows this is the last hurrah. How sweet it would be for Peyton to bring his record against Brady to 3-2 in the playoffs, and a shot at riding off into the sunset with a ring. A man can dream. Peyton is pulling out all the stops, he even rope-a-doped the Steelers last week by falling down (without being touched) only to get back up to throw and make the biggest play of the game. The Patriots are back at full strength while Denver is limping into the game with a still-injured Peyton Manning. In 2009, I was at the 4th and 2 Game in Indianapolis—the only NFL game I’ve ever attended. It’s not quite the same with Manning at the end of his career, but he’s the only player I’ve witnessed get in Belicheat’s head. Manning brought the Colts back from the brink, and there was no way the Patriots wanted to give him the ball in those final moments. Everyone in that stadium knew Manning was marching down the field to win that game. No question about it.

In order for the Broncos to win this game, it is going to take a similar heroic effort from Peyton Manning AND a monumental defensive stop to finish the game. Those odds aren’t great. But there’s a chance. Even if it is just for old times’ sake, I want to believe Good will triumph over Evil.

Win: Denver Broncos

Cardinals @ Panthers

The Nature Boy once said, “To Be THE Man, You’ve Gotta Beat THE Man! WOOOOO!!!!!”


The Panthers made Ric Flair (Carolina hometown boy) proud last week by beating the Seattle Seahawks. Carolina eclipsed the NFC’s Super Bowl representative from the last two years. But the Panthers aren’t alone on the mountain top yet. Arizona is coming to town as the last remaining obstacle in the Carolina Panthers’ path to the Super Bowl. Carson Palmer has been shaky since injuring his finger, and the Cardinals are lacking the depth—namely, on defense and running the ball—to finish out this final stretch. If Carolina contains David Johnson out of the backfield and puts the clamps on big plays, then Arizona is going to have a tough time hanging with the Panthers. As the best running team in this Final Four, Carolina has an advantage by being able to run the ball down anyone’s throat. Arizona has a chance because of Bruce Arians’ ballsy play-calling, but that also can backfire real quick if Carson Palmer turns the ball over. Last year, Cam Newton proved he could walk away unscathed after rolling his car. It’s going to take a lot more than a car wreck for the Cardinals to stop him today.

Win: Carolina Panthers

Overall: 170-94
Last Week: 3-1

Last week, I went 3-1 but lost the only game that mattered. I would gladly trade that meaningless 3-1 for a 1-3 record if it meant we got to watch Peyton Manning in another AFC Championship match—preferably against Tom Brady. But it was clear Peyton Manning was 60-65% with a partially torn quad.

Everyone knows we’re destined for a Super Bowl showcasing Patriots vs. Seahawks. And Bill Belicheat will uncover a new evil genius way to skirt the rules, but Tom Brady will still get all of the credit.

Because “clutch” exists. The thought makes me want to vomit. In two weeks, the likes of Bill Belicheat, Tom Brady, Pete Carroll, Richard Sherman, and Russell Wilson will invade Arizona—where I currently reside. I hate these people with a fevered passion. I think I will have to leave for a while so I am not within 30 minutes of them at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.

Since the Super Bowl slate seems inevitable, I’ll throw caution to the wind and put any ounce of power I possess into making the arguments on how the Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts can pull off the upset win. Why? Because the thought exercise will make me happier than continuing to mope about seeing more of the Patriots and Seahawks. I don’t care if I get both games wrong this week. Hopefully there’s some karmic influence that can create an Aaron Rodgers vs. Andrew Luck dream Super Bowl.

Packers @ Seahawks

If Aaron Rodgers were 100% healthy, I could find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for the Packers against the Seahawks and Coach Double Rainbow (Pete Carroll). But without complete mobility to escape the pressure of Seattle’s quick defensive front, Green Bay will struggle to convert on 3rd Down. The Packers will need to give Eddie Lacy a healthy dose of carries to knock Seattle around. James Starks also needs to be involved to provide a change of pace and quick burst on screen passes. And just when the Seahawks can’t take the abuse of being run ragged, Green Bay should start Randall Cobb in the backfield and shift him all around to gift him separation and the opportunity to make plays.

Aaron Rodgers is great, but executing a lethal running attack is the way the Packers win. Mike McCarthy may not have the commitment to stick with the run if it falters for any stretch, but a limited Aaron Rodgers needs to be limited and simply pick his spots. When the ball is near the goal line, only then should Rodgers risk scrambling. The way Rodgers performed last week against the Cowboys was admirable, but that was the Dallas defense playing a lot of prevent packages. Seattle will blitz and put pressure on Green Bay’s offensive line, which means Rodgers needs to have a quick trigger with smart decision-making skills.

It’s not impossible, but a Green Bay win in an uphill climb. The Packers need more than just Aaron Rodgers to win this game. Focus on a strong, punishing running attack should do wonders to help keep the game close—especially limiting Seattle’s chances to score more than 24+ points. The recipe is there if the supporting cast can step up, but Green Bay can’t avoid many mistakes.

Win: Green Bay Packers, 26-23

Colts @ Patriots

Andrew Luck was the silver lining to last week’s unfortunate outcome for an injured Peyton Manning. As a franchise, the Colts couldn’t be in more capable hands than Andrew the Giant. Watching Andrew Luck play is a different experience than any other QB. Luck oozes a certain intensity and physicality that’s typical from a linebacker. While the confidence is much-deserved, the decision-making isn’t always rational as Luck attempts to rocket passes into tight windows through multiple defenders. Just like his face, it isn’t always pretty. Indianapolis was lucky that Luck’s interceptions were glorified punts.

It didn’t cost the team the game, but it might this week against New England.

In order for Indianapolis to win, Andrew Luck needs to play his greatest game ever. New England’s defense has a stout front line, versatile linebackers, and a Hall of Fame cornerback that enables Bill Belicheat to be creative and scheme different ways to dissect an offense. Luck needs to kill the Patriots scrambling with his legs and using his physical prowess to simply overpower everyone.

Luck Slobber

Marshawn Lynch can have his Beast Mode, but Andrew Luck needs to unlock Caveman Mode.

“I’m pretty sure Luck spends his offseason training with grizzly bears, pulling salmon out of the White River with his horse teeth, and fueling Bigfoot sightings all over rural Indiana.” – Carl from Aqua Teen Hunger Force

Don’t be surprised if Andrew Luck steals a page out of Peyton Manning’s playbook by employing Peyton’s patented double-stiff arm—where he stuffs the football under his chin and just pushes everyone out of the way with both arms. I’m afraid Indianapolis played their best all-around game against Denver. A repeat performance against a stronger, healthier Patriots team seems so unlikely.

Along with Luck and luck, the Colts will need an inhuman performance from Daniel Herron. Running up the gut with a small RB that likes to call himself Boom will result in Vince Wilfork eating him whole and digesting his bones. Indianapolis needs to use their lateral quickness against New England’s linebackers instead of going right into the bellies of their fat defensive linemen.

The only time I’ve stood in an NFL stadium was November 19, 2005. It is now known as the 4th and 2 Game. With a few seconds before the two-minute warning and the Patriots up 34-28, Bill Belicheat didn’t want to give Peyton Manning the ball so Tom Brady went for it on 4th and 2 with a short pass to Kevin Faulk. Maybe it was a crazy call since New England was around the 30-yard line in their own territory.

But I would still defend that call. I was in that stadium. The feeling in that stadium was palpable. It didn’t matter what the distance was to score the touchdown. If you gave Peyton Manning the ball, he was driving the length of the field and he was scoring that touchdown. No one doubted it.

Once the Colts drove Kevin Faulk into the ground, Peyton Manning predictably drove the length and threw that TD for a Colts win, 35-34. History might repeat itself in this game. Even at this early stage, Andrew Luck has reached that point where the opponent is afraid what will happen when he has the ball. Anything can happen. Success or disaster is only a throw away.

Maybe, just maybe Andrew Luck can pull that horseshoe out of his ass.

Luck Yay!

Win: Indianapolis Colts, 35-34

Last Week: 4-0
Overall: 166-95-1

Patriots @ Broncos


Last week went perfect going with the chalk. Denver is the gambling favorite in the fourth Brady vs. Manning match-up in the playoffs, but it’s hard to see the Patriots as a heavy underdog. For all the hype leading up to this game, the team who runs the ball better and more consistently will win. New England dominated the Colts by riding LaGarrette Blount while Denver bested the Chargers largely behind the running efforts of Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball. However, the Broncos left the door open for San Diego in the second half when they abandoned the run with the lead. I don’t understand the reasoning behind Denver’s decision to forgo the run and lean more on the short passing game, which makes me believe that whichever team’s coach blinks first will lose this match-up.

Do you think Bill Belichick will blink? I don’t. Although both teams are banged up, losing Chris Harris could be a potentially fatal (at the very least devastating) obstacle to overcome with New England able to spread the field. Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola are going to nickel and dime Denver to death and the Broncos will also have to contend with Shane Vereen out of the backfield. Nothing reads in favor of Denver. But I believe in Peyton Manning. Without a defense yet again in the playoffs, Manning will have to will his team to victory. At least this time Manning has a running game to shoulder some of the burden. I would love to see Montee Ball have a breakout game on the national stage. New England will provide a variety of versatile looks on defense to try to force Manning to make tight throws or take coverage sacks. Traditionally, Manning takes what the defense gives, but those final drives are what make the difference.

Everyone always goes with Brady over Manning because of the Super Bowl rings. But put Peyton on those New England teams and they’ll vie for 5 or more titles. In the hypothetical game against aliens for the fate of the world, I will choose Peyton Manning every time. The math is simple.

18 is greater than 12.

Win: Denver Broncos, 34-31

49ers @ Seahawks

Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson will be this generation’s epic QB showdown—though some of the luster will wear off since they’re in the same division and already face each other twice in the regular season. Ultimately, I don’t trust either one right now. Both of these teams have been successful because they landed a QB in the later rounds, which allows them to allocate those big bucks elsewhere. As a result, San Francisco and Seattle have phenomenal defensive playmakers with the 49ers owning the edge in the linebacker core and the Seahawks having the best secondary in the NFL. These teams are the exact mirror image of one another, which makes predicting the outcome of this match-up merely a toss of a coin. Although I think Seattle jumps out to an early lead thanks to a defensive TD, the 49ers seem likely to control the pace of the game with their more physical offense and playmaking ability downfield. But the Seahawks will fight their way back and Russell Wilson is capable of leading a classic playoff comeback. Seattle has been overrated all season. And you cannot ignore the Arizona Cardinals coming into the CLink and upsetting the Seahawks despite 4 interceptions from Carson Palmer. Without Percy Harvin, Seattle will operate without any true playmaking pass receivers. On the other end of the spectrum, San Francisco has a healthy Michael Crabtree to pair with Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis. Either team can win this game, but the 49ers stand the best chance to claw back into the Super Bowl.

Win: San Francisco 49ers, 23-20