The first week of the playoffs is here, which means that the word count of this column shrinks considerably. I’m sure you are wondering how I did on my picks this year, I came in around 66% or better most of the time, only having two losing weeks. I think. Frankly, I didn’t keep very good track this year. It’s been a busy year. A lot of transitions, got laid off, got a new job, still trying to find a place where I can be a creative for a living, a writer, whatever. This cubicle shit is killing me. I’m better than that. Working on it.
So, as for the picks this week. I was wrong about the Bears, they didn’t make the playoffs. The Cowboys choked (as expected) and the Giants were unable to make it in. And then all the coaches started getting fired. The only one who didn’t deserve it was Lovie Smith. The rest were bums guilty of bad decision making and scapegoating. Then there are the Jets, who fired the GM but allowed Rex Ryan to keep his job. Which is a joke. The guy clearly proved this year that he has no fucking clue what he’s doing with the tools provided him.
Here’s some additional predictions for the offseason. Mark Sanchez to the Raiders. Tebow to the Jags. Alex Smith to the Cardinals. Vick to the Jets. I also predict, assuming they get a coach worth his salt, the Browns will be a playoff team next year. Mark the fucking tape.
Cincinnati at Houston -4.5
Coming into the playoffs after a loss, Houston has got to be wondering what went wrong against the Colts, because the Bengals will be watching that tape for sure. The Bengals are coming in off a high, having to win their last couple games to get into the show. So they have a pretty stout opponent in Houston, and with Law Firm most likely out after a leg injury, they will have to rely on the passing game to get things going. Look for AJ Green to have a career day against corners that seemed a bit on the lazy side this week. Of course, this is the playoffs and players tend to step it up. Plus, statistics favor the home team in these situations. This one is tough though, as the Bengals defense is one of the most underrated in the league. I don’t think they stop Foster though, he’s AP lite. Houston to win at home.
Minnesota at Green Bay -9.5
I don’t think the Vikings beat the Packers two weeks in a row. Not at Lambeau field, and not in the playoffs. Adrian Peterson came within 9 yards of breaking the single season rushing record, yet after the game was humble enough to not acknowledge that fact and concentrate on the win. I think AP shreds Green Bay again, but not enough to win. Ponder needs to step up his game if AP is to be effective again. The play action has to work, the Packers need to be afraid of Ponder’s arm. I think they surprised the Packers last week, I don’t think it happens this week. And with Jordy Nelson back and running the team (you see him pick up the red challenge flag and school the coach) the Packers should move on to the next round. Packers to win.
Indianapolis at Baltimore -6.5
The Colts went from worst in the league last year, to the playoffs this year. That’s a hell of a turnaround, and here’s why. Anticipating the return of Manning, the Colts made sure that the offensive line was beefed up to previous standards. Last year, it didn’t matter cause the QB’s sucked. This year, with Andrew Luck, that beefed up offensive line gave him the chance to succeed, and that he did. Ballard came on strong later in the year, thanks to that offensive line, and TY Hilton is defining himself as an elite receiver. The defense has had their problems, but the run defense is stout, and it’s going to have to be against Rice and the Ravens. But I still don’t think they can fully succeed without Ray Lewis leading the defense. I think the Colts come out firing, build up a lead and force Flacco to throw the ball, which can sometimes be good or bad. First upset of the playoffs right here. Colts to win.
Seattle at Washington +3.0
This was actually the easiest game for me to pick. The Seahawks are defensively, not to be messed with. This game matches up two QB’s with similar styles, and two running backs (Lynch & Morris) with similar styles. It’ll be interesting to see who breaks off more yards. It’ll be Lynch. The Redskins offense, with RG3, relies on the zone-read option, which brings in the safeties and gives RG3 either a passing lane or a running lane. This only works if he’s 100% healthy, and he’s not. If there is no threat of him breaking off a huge run, then the zone-read is useless. The Cowboys defense was no test of this, the Seahawks defense will be. They’ll be running a contain and will be after RG3 like crazy. Seahawks to win.