BayAreaBall Musings: Playoffs?!?! You wanna talk playoffs?!?!
Aaron: Alright Frank, it’s 2013 already which means soon-to-be abandoned New Year’s resolutions and NFL playoffs. The 49ers don’t play again until a week from Saturday with as yet to be determined opponent, and the Raiders don’t play again until about 9 months from Sunday. Therefore we get to enjoy this weekend’s Wild Card round as neutral observers and amateur scouts with no real vested interest in the outcomes. Lots to talk about for sure, including our Super Bowl predictions, but let’s use that to tickle everyone’s ass with a feather while we talk about this weekend’s matchup’s first.
In the NFC, we’ve got the Vikings at the Packers in a rematch of last weekend’s OT Vikings win in Minnesota, while a couple of explosive young QB’s face off when the Seahawks play at the Redskins. Over on the AFC side we’ll see the Bengals travel to Houston to take on the suddenly shaky Texans, where Baltimore’s old team will bring their young QB to what could be Ray Lewis’ final NFL game as the Colts play at the Ravens.
What are your thoughts on this weekend’s games?
Frank: Welp, glad to see we both survived the Apocalypse Aaron unscathed and zombie outbreak free. Our reward, 4 pretty awesome Wild Card Playoff games this weekend. So let’s start with the 2 Saturday games first Cincy vs Houston and then Green Bay vs Minnesota. I really don’t see why the Bungles can’t take down the Texans even though they’ve been atop the AFC all year. If we were basing the game purely on momentum and the irregular heartbeat of Arian Foster, I would say that both are way in favor of the Bengals. Cincy is coming into the series riding a 3 game winning streak that was capped off by a victory over the hated Ravens, even if they weren’t at full strength, in the last game of the season. Plus I don’t think what happened last year against Houston is going to happen again this year because Dalton is a year older and wiser and I think the defense is playing infinitely better than it did going into last years playoff game. Oh and Matt Schaub is being Matt Schaub right now so the Bengals got that going for them.
Then we have the late game of the “Discount Double Check” Packers versus the Minnesota Peterson’s. I think this is the game I’m most excited for because I have a feeling it is going to be an offensive shootout. I think AP is going to run roughshod over the Packers run defense just like he did last week and there isn’t going to be a damn thing the Pack can do about it. But what the Packers have going for them is that Vikings Cornerback Antoine Winfield is going into this game with a broken hand which will limit his ability to play man and press coverage. Oh and Minnesota also has another problem working against them and it is Christian Ponder! He won’t be able to take enough pressure off of the Cyborg, Adrian Peterson with the passing game which is just gonna make it harder for the Vikings to keep pace offensively this time around even though Peterson will probably score 3 touchdowns on 3 separate 86 yd runs. Thus thoroughly out dueling his own QB in the yardage department. Is it possible that Ponder will only throw for 115 yards? I think so…
So my picks for Saturday are the Bengals and Packers. What about your picks for Saturday and give us your thoughts on the Sunday Matchups?
AR: It’s a little troubling how much we agree. I think the Bengals have the defense that the Texans used to have, anchored by Geno Atkins. JJ Watt is still a beast but it sure looks like the world is crumbling around him. I’m not expecting a shootout necessarily because the Cincinnati offense hasn’t exactly been tearing up the league lately but I think they’ll do enough to put pressure on Schaub, who will promptly fold and get people to start wondering if the Texans need to find a new QB. Schaub for Romo anyone?
I also think Green Bay will do enough to get past Minnesota. Peterson is in that rare place, especially rare for running backs, where he has the experiential knowledge to know what to do and a body that’s still able to execute what his mind commands. That window of convergence is generally pretty small for any athlete but it’s almost imperceptible in running backs if it’s ever even reached at all. Peterson’s been in that zone all year and I expect another monster performance on Saturday. As flawed as the Packers are (no running game, extremely suspect defense, shaky kicker, etc) they do still have Rodgers, and as great as Peterson is a QB has a much bigger impact on a game. He will be the difference.
Sunday gets going with a little Luck vs Lewis in Baltimore. The Colts have been a team that has appeared to be greater than the sum of its parts all year and have won an extraordinary number of games in the 2nd half. Generally that’s unsustainable and I think it catches up to them eventually, I just don’t think it’ll happen this week. Baltimore hasn’t looked right all year. For some reason they don’t seem to realize that Ray Rice is their best player and therefore don’t give him the ball nearly enough. On the other side of the ball the once mighty Ravens defense isn’t what it used to be. They’re still good enough to get to the Super Bowl but they need an offense that can carry the team more often than not and they just don’t have that. Luck’s relatively unimpressive TD:INT ratio 23:18) doesn’t tell the story. He’s shown an uncanny knack for selective amnesia and bouncing back from mistakes, and that’s what will happen Sunday. The Ravens will force a turnover or two and take a lead into the 2nd half but their offense won’t be able to put the game away and the lead will be something like 6 or 10 rather than the 14 or 21 it probably should be, and that’ll leave the window open for Luck to make plays in the 4th quarter and win the game.
The 2nd game Sunday is probably the most eagerly anticipated because of the rookie QB’s set to square off at FedEx Field. On the one hand I think RG3 is a better player than Russell Wilson, and on the other hand I think Seattle is a more complete team. I just can’t shake the years of seeing Pete Carroll struggle as an NFL head coach, and Seattle has always been a team that struggles on the road. This one is going to be close and a compelling case could be made for either team. The NFC East wasn’t very good this year and I actually do think Seattle is probably the better team, but even so I’m leaning towards the Redskins. If this game was going to be played in Seattle I think the Seahawks win pretty easily. In DC though? I need to see them beat a good team on the road before I can feel confident picking them.
FG: This is the moment when our selection pattern goes south Aaron. While I do agree with you about the Ravens not being the same old Ravens squad and the Colts seemingly having upset special written all over them, I gotta go with the Ravens. I just think that John Harbaugh is a smart enough coach to know that Ray Rice needs to be the focal point of the offense and will give him the lion’s share of the offensive play calls. Plus anytime you can limit Joe Flacco’s impact on a game you have to do it. Plus the power of the final Ray Lewis Pre-Game Speech and Dance is going to tip the scales in favor of the Ravens which is Bad “Luck” for Andrew. Sorry I couldn’t help myself with that pun.
As for the awesomely mobile quarterback bowl, I think I’m going to have to go with Seattle here. Like you said, they are probably the all around better team and the Redskins are going to have the advantage playing at home but I think the game is going to come down to defense & who can stop who’s running back first. This is where I think Seattle will have an easier time slowing down Alfred Morris then the Redskins will in trying to slow down Beast Mode. Plus Seattle will be fully cycled up on PED’s heading into this game so I gotta give the nod to the Seahawks.
Since we’ve covered Wild Card weekend, let’s wait till next week to tackle the 2nd round that way we can go a little more in depth with the Niners and if they may have a way easier road than last year to get to the Super Bowl. But to close out this week’s Musings, let’s make our Super Bowl Predictions now that way we can come back in a couple of weeks and see who crapped the bed in terms of their picks.
My picks for this year’s Super Bowl will be (Drum Roll)…. The Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots! This may surprise some people but I think the fact that everyone is hating on the Falcons so much is actually going to propel them into the Super Bowl. I literally have no scientific backing for this choice other than the fact that it goes against all conventional wisdom and is based purely my fascination with everyone hating this team. Let’s save who I think will win the Super Bowl for next week’s musings. Aaron who are your two picks for making the Super Bowl this year?
AR: Well that means we half agree, because I also think the Pats are coming out of the AFC again. I don’t care what city they’re playing in or what uniform Peyton Manning is wearing, I still don’t think his noodle arm can get past Brady and the Pats.
In the NFC I have to say I still like the 49ers though I’m not at all confident with the pick. It’s more of a process of elimination thing where my homerism is probably the tie-breaker. The truth is I think all the teams in the NFC have some significant flaws and questions surrounding them and I can see maybe 4 or 5 of them surviving the NFC side of the bracket and playing in New Orleans.
So now that we know the Patriots, Falcons, and 49ers won’t be going to the Super Bowl, next week we can take a look at who the Niners will end up playing. Enjoy the stress free football experience this weekend my friend.
FG: Until next week Aaron, when we find out what big jinxes we were to all the teams we picked!
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