I’ll post my NFL predictions for this season now and talk about a couple of things I think will crucial this upcoming season. A couple of things to look out for will be the age of the New England Patriots’ defense. No one expects them to run the table again in the regular season but people might be in for a surprise if their age finally catches up to them and they end up losing 4 or 5 games. Also, who knows how injured Tom Brady really is and how effective he’ll be in the early parts of the season?
In the NFC, Aaron Rodgers has been handed a wonderful team but a great receiving group and all he has to do is not try to be Brett Favre. If he can stick to the short passes and allow the receivers to do their work with YAC as they did last year along with the new found running game in Ryan Grant – the Packers could really repeat as one of the top two seeds in the conference. New York Giants on the other hand have lost two considerablely talented players on defense and will that blow be big enough to keep them out of the playoffs? I doubt it because their offense has matured well enough and Eli should be able to carry a team to a couple of wins just by himself this year.
In the playoffs, you can never count out Brett Favre and certainly he’s not done with the way he played last year. Cold weather will be not be an issue and just might be something to provide Jets’ fans with something to hope for. However, let’s all be realistic. The Jets went 4-12 last year and just making the playoffs this year will be a dramatic improvement so I doubt they advance much further even though I do have them winning a game in the post-season.
Is this the year that Tony Romo finally breaks through and stops choking in the clutch? I think so. Packers losing Favre drops their main threat to be #1 once again in the conference and they had all the opportunities in the world to beat the Giants last year in the Divisional Round and if Romo can control the ball, they would have at least been a game away from going to the Super Bowl. No reason to expect the same progress this year, if not a little bit more poise and potentially a couple more wins in the post-season.
Does a Manning win a Super Bowl this year as well? Well that would make it three years in a row with Peyton and his Colts beating the Bears in 2007 although the loss of Jeff Saturday in the early parts of the season can slow down their progress but probably not enough to keep them from winning the division yet again en route to the Super Bowl XLIII victory on February 1, 2009.
Predictions are after the break. Continue reading “NFL Predictions… What Are Yours?”
So as you could have probably deciphered from the previous post that the Packers put a beat down on the Seahawks. Certainly, I failed to account for the weather that certainly affected both teams. The slick ball early on caused two fumbles for the Packers even though the second one was a solid tackle from the defense. On the flip side, Seahawks were never able to get going offensively where balls they should have caught slipped out of their hands and the running game was seemingly stuck in the snow. I was afraid the youth of the Packers would finally catch up with them and it showed a little bit early when Grant fumbled on the first two drives but boy did he make up for it with franchise record for rushing yards in a post season game. Another well played game by Brett Favre and his wide receivers who continue to get a majority of their yardage after catching the ball (YAC!). Now they go on to face the winner of the Giants/Cowboys game (vs. Giants at home, on the road if against Cowboys). Oh by the way, Brett Favre is 0-9 in his career at Texas Stadium.
The game of the weekend as I had earlier predicted certainly lived up to it in 3 of the 4 quarters – Patriots just dominated the 3rd quarter which proved to be the difference maker. Tom Brady looked like he was going for some XBox Live Achievement for consecutive passes completed at one point but finished the day going 26/28 (92.9%) – which is a post season record for highest completion percentage in a game beating Phil Simms’ 86% (I think). Jags did a good job taking Randy Moss out of the game but they were still unable to stop Tom Brady and his passing attack. David Garrard had a great regular season with only 3 interceptions but he also had 3 in 2 post season games and it caught up with him today on his final drive of the game. He’s a smart quarterback who will develop into a star in the league if he continues to play like this. A little disappointed with the lack of a running presence by the Jags with either Taylor or Jones-Drew (combining for 68 yards). Now the Patriots will host the winner of the Chargers/Colts game, both teams who can keep with the Patriots offensively but the question will still remain… Can any defense slow down these Patriots?
Well here we go, NFL Divisional Playoff Weekend is just about here.
Seahawks at Packers (Saturday @ 4:30 on FOX)
I really want to see how Brett Favre decides to play this football game. He has lost 6 of his last 8 playoff games and could be his last game in Green Bay. Hopefully he does not play like he did in the Dallas game, going back and just slinging every pass 50 yards down the field. The Packers need to continue doing what got them to the playoffs this season – spread out the wide receivers and allow them to gain yards after the catch as well as using Ryan Grant to keep defenses honest. I think if the Packers still to that game plan, Seattle just cannot score enough points to beat them this year, maybe if they had Shaun Alexander of a couple of years ago where they would run over everyone but this year they ranked 20th in the league on the ground and with passing game that is only decent, I think Green Bay squeaks out a win in Lambeau Field. Green Bay 27-24.
Jaguars at Patriots (Saturday @ 8:30 on CBS)
This is probably going to be the best match up of the weekend. The Jaguars are coming off an impressive victory in Pittsburgh and you know the Patriots after their 16-0 regular season performance do not want their season to end with a disappointment. I like the way the Jaguars defense plays and forces the offenses to become one dimensional with their great rushing defense. Yes the Patriots are great a passing team but the Jags have an athletic defense that could pose trouble for the likes of Moss or Welker. I think if the Jaguars just hold their own in the early stages of the game and do not succumb to a deep pass or two early, they are a team that can probably will out a win later in the games where so many other teams have failed. I think that because of their quarterback David Garrard – who is no Eli Manning, no AJ Feeley and certainly no Kyle Boller – he is a much better quarterback and only threw 3 interceptions in the regular season… that is going to be key, protecting the football. For everything that the Patriots have done this year, you certainly cannot count them out but do not overlook the Jaguars because I see them winning this game. Jaguars win 31-24.
Chargers at Colts (Sunday at 1 on CBS)
If you want to see a game with two high powered offenses, this is the game to watch. It is not only Peyton Manning vs. LaDainian Tomlinson, but Manning has so many options in Wayne, Addai, Clark and now add Harrison into that mix as well. Phillip Rivers will be troubled with the apparent loss of Antonio Gates who is still game time decision will not be 100% even if he plays but they have added Chris Chambers since the last time these two teams met and that will provide some balance in the Charger attack. Chargers pulled out a lucky win earlier in the year when Adam Vinatieri missed a chip shot, I have a feeling Manning will not let the game be that close this time around. One thing that is often overlooked about this Colts team is their defense. The D ranked #1 in the league in scoring, allowing just over 16 points a game and while they put up nearly 30 that does not bode well for their opponents. No team has put up over 25 points on the Colts this year and it will still be the case after this game. Colts win easy 35-21.
Giants at Cowboys (Sunday at 4:30 on FOX)
So Eli Manning finally got that monkey off his back last week with an impressive win over the Bucs. The Giants certainly have everything working for them right now – they have the momentum, they have the confidence in their quarterback and everyone seems to be on the same page and traveling to Dallas, they are going to need every bit of that if they wish to pull out a victory. The Cowboys pretty much limped into the playoffs losing 2 of their last 3, scoring only 12 points in the loses. Tony Romo and company should benefit from the extra week’s rest and the home field advantage but the winning streak the Giants have can be very dangerous. Everyone says it is very difficult to beat a team 3 times in one season but I think if they have done it twice already, they sort of know what to do against you and unless the Giants make dramatic changes I do not see how they will avoid making it 3 straight.A healthy TO should provide to be the difference maker in this game, I see the Giants falling just a little short. I know I am going to take beating from some over enthusiastic Giant fans but I will stick by my original prediction, Cowboys win 24-17.
That’s why you play the entire 60 minutes. Jaguars give up a 18 point lead in the 4th quarter but come back for a 31-29 victory. They are the only visiting team to win in Pittsburgh this year and they did it twice, hats off to the Jags. I apologize to any Steelers fan that I might have teased during the game, they did play one heck of a game.
In the earlier game, Seattle seemingly dominated that game early on with tons of pressure on Collins and the Redskins never really got into the groove of things. You have to admire what they did, winning four straight but you can only run so high on emotion and the Seahawks were just the more talented team Saturday.
I went 1/2 with my picks today… can use a little boost from the Giants tomorrow if they decide to show up to play. The Chargers game seems like a blow out but I guess that is why you play the game.
In other news, ABC in conjunction with Facebook held back to back debates which was entertaining. In the Republican corner, I think John McCain and Fred Thompson did real well, keeping their collective cool and Romney took quite a beating from all corners. Iowa winner Mike Huckabee did pretty well to avoid any major arguments that usually the front runner from Iowa might face. I think he is going to have a strong showing in New Hampshire even though I still think McCain and Romney finish 1-2. Does two second place finishes for Romney where he has heavily spent time and money mark the end of his campaign? I doubt it but I am not sure how many more hits they can take.
For the Democrats, Bill Richardson was the clear cut winner. The “Big 3” traded quite a few barbs and he was the only one to keep his cool. He cut the tension several times like the “I’ve seen hostage negotiations more civil than this” and then being the only candidate to honestly answer the “mistake” question where he supported a Supreme Court Justice nominated by President Kennedy who ended up the opposite side of the abortion issue with Richardson and was against civil rights. So that was a good laugher from Richardson, gained a lot of respect from me.
Before I call it a night, I wanted to get my playoff predictions in for the first round at least. Feel free to post your predictions in comments section.
The four games this weekend are Washington at Seattle and Jacksonville at Pittsburgh on Saturday while New York Football Giants at Tampa Bay and Tennessee at San Diego are on Sunday.
I think the Redskins are a great feel good story after the death of Sean Taylor. They won their last 4 games to get into the playoffs and look for them to ride that at pull off an upset at Seattle. The Seahawks to me never really got things going on the ground with Shaun Alexander who only got 700 yards on the season while the Redskins have really come together. Look for Clinton Portis to get a pair of rushing touchdowns and I will take Washington in this one, 24-14.
Jaguars at Steelers is probably the marquee match up this weekend. The Jaguars pulled out a gutsy 7 point win in Pittsburgh about 3 weeks ago in the snowy and awful conditions. I think the Steelers will be better prepared for the Jaguars this time but the loss of Willie Parker has to hurt their chances. Big Ben has been a total monster this season with 30+ TD passes but I do not think that will be enough as the balanced Jaguars attack will once again tame the Steelers. Jaguars by 3, 27-24.
If Eli Manning plays anything close to the way he played last week against the Patriots, the Bucs have no shot this week. That being said, it is still Eli Manning we are talking about. He has led the Giants to 3 straight playoffs but he has yet to do anything once he has gotten there. I really think this is his breakout year in the post season. His confidence has been building, his teammates are supporting him, and we have not heard anything from Tiki Barber which is always a good sign for the state of affairs in the Giants locker room. I think Eli throws 3 TD passes and Jacobs runs in for another as Giants win in a rout, 31-10.
Finally, Titans at Chargers. Who would have thought after the 1-3 San Diego start that they would be hosting a playoff game? Give credit to Norv Turner for really turning that club around and going 10-2 to finish off the season. They have beaten the Titans already earlier on this season and do not overlook the squeaker they had past the Colts in the middle of the season. Certainly this could post an intriguing Pats/Bolts matchup but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Vince Young for the Titans is still banged up and will not be 100% even though he’ll start and Chargers ‘lightning’ offense should be more than enough to control this game from the start. 24-10 Chargers.
Let the playoff season begin…