Saturday, January 12, 2013

2012-13 NFL Divisional Playoffs

Another good week of football.  We're down to 8 teams and may the best win.

Baltimore @ Denver - The next step in the Ray Lewis Retirement Roadshow goes to cold Denver.  The snow/sleet has already fallen and by gametime, it should be brutally cold.  A lot of people don't give the Ravens a chance to win because Manning has beat this team consistently over the years.  I for one give the Ravens a good chance to win this one.  They have a consistent running game and if Joe Flacco can have a good performance they win this one.  Gotta keep Manning on the sidelines and they have to disguise their coverages.  Manning isn't unbeatable, as a matter of fact he's 9-10 in his playoff career.  The defense is going to have to get atleast 1 turnover (the more the better) and they are going to have to stop the running game.  Pray for the 'good' Flacco.

Who to watch: Haloti Ngata, Ray Lewis, Joe Flacco, Dennis Pitta.  Haloti and Ray are going to have to cause problems upfront for the Denver run game.  The better Ngata plays, the better Ray plays.  Nuff said.  Flacco seems to find one receiver a game and stick with him.  He's gotta spread it around and he's going to have to get Pitta involved against these Denver LBs.  He can't just throw to Smith or Boldin the entire game.  I'll throw Ray Rice in here too because he's going to have to run the ball and not turn it over like he did last week. 

The Broncos come in on the longest win streak.  They have the QB they wanted in Manning and they have a good ground game to go along with it.  It will be cold and Manning doesn't play that well in the cold, so that's a concern.  Did I mention this Denver defense?  Well they are good too.  They can rush the passer, stop the run and they do like to hit.  They are the favorites and this ought to be a slobberknocker of a game. 

Who to watch: Champ Bailey, Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil.  I picked defensive guys because Peyton should handle the offensive side of the ball.  Bailey is going to probably cover Boldin and shut him down and then Miller and Dumervil are going to have to stop the run.  Shouldn't be too hard for this team to get the win, but there's always a chance. 

Winner: Broncos, but I'm a Ravens fan and I hope they find a way to make me look bad.  I want this Ray Lewis retirement party to continue. 

Green Bay @ San Francisco - This is going to be a game.  The Packers travel out to the Bay to play the 49ers and they actually look like they are ready for this one.  The Packers get their receiving corp back and they showed last game that they might have some semblance of a running game.  The real question is can they keep Aaron Rodgers upright in the pocket?  The Packers defense is healthy and we'll see if they can round back in form.  I said last week that having Woodson back will help and I think that goes double in this game. 

Who to watch: Aaron Rogers, the OL, the defense.  I guess I should have just said the entire team, eh? The offensive line has to give Rodgers time against that 49ers defense.  He has all of his guys back in the WR corp, but he needs time to get them the ball.  Rodgers is going to need to have a big game in what I think will be a shootout.  The defense is going to have to find a way to stop that 49ers running game and make Kapernick beat them. 

The 49ers have to do what they've done all year, run the ball and play defense.  I could play QB for this team with the squad they have.  With that said, this game comes down to Kaepernick.  He can't be the reason the 49ers don't win this game.  If he is, there will be many who jump on Harbaugh about the QB change. I honestly think he did the best thing and actually has the opportunity to look like a saint if Kaepernick struggles and he brings in Alex Smith and he wins the game.  No harm, no foul. 

Who to watch: Kaepernick.  I'm sorry to put it all on the kid, but he's just gotta maintain and make sure they win this game.  It should be fun. 

Winner: Packers in a mild upset. 

Seattle @ Atlanta - The best game of the weekend.  The Seahawks are coming into Atlanta with swagger and nothing to lose.  Russell Wilson already has a playoff win and this team continues to win the way it was put together, defense and an offense that can capitalize.  The this is probably the second most physical team behind the 49ers and they love to hit. 

Who to watch: Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, and the Defensive backfield.  Wilson has got to be the guy he's been all year long and make good decisions and not turn the ball over.  Marshawn Lynch is coming in to this game with a sprained foot.  I hope he's healthy, but he's gotta give this team his all.  All week there has been talk about the matchups on the outside with these big WRs.  Please don't forget Jacquizz Rodgers and Tony Gonzalez. 

The Falcons come in with a lot of pressure on them.  They have the monkey on their back about their postseason struggles and that is very real.  They are going to have to start this game out strong on the fickle Atlanta crowd may turn on the home team.  They have it all, a good ground game, Matty Ice at QB, a dangerous combo of receivers and homefield.  Can they pull it off?

Who to watch: Tony Gonzalex, Matt Ryan, run Defense.  Gonzalez is one of those last good guys playing this game for one reason and one reason only, a Superbowl ring.  He will be a mismatch in that Seahawks secondary.  Matt Ryan has got to lead this team.  He's got to get this team moving and put up some points.  The Falcons don't play the run well as a team, and if Marshawn comes to play, they gonna need to do that or they are staying home with a quickness. 

Winner: I got the birds,....not the Durty ones though.  Seahawks.

Texans @ Patriots - The Texans want this game, I mean when you have an opportunity to play Game 2 against a team that embarrased you a few weeks ago, you want the rematch.  not much to say here, this team has to show up and play ball against the Patriots or this might be a breaking point for this team. 
Who to watch: Matt Schaub. Yes, I'm putting it all on him.  If he would have showed up last game maybe they would have been closer, but this is Schaub's time to show and prove.  If Schaub plays well, this Texans team wins. 
The Patriots still have Tom Brady as their QB, right?  This team is getting healthy at the right time and they will be ready for a pissed Texans team.  The Patriots are solid all around and they are always prepared.  I wouldn't want to be the Texans. 

Who to watch: Patriots defense.  I want to see how they scheme to beat this Texans team.  I say take away the run which would entail a good game by the big man upfront, but I also see them blitzing from their corner position because there's only one guy I gotta watch out for on the Texans as a WR.
Winner: Patriots.

Who you got?!?!?!?!?

Friday, January 04, 2013

2012-13 NFL Playoffs Wild Card Weekend

Next up, Wild Card Weekend and the games are looking lovely.  Things couldn't be better unless your team happens to be at home for the playoffs.  Let's jump right in and see if we can pick some winners. 

Cincinnati @ Houston - I think this is the best way to start the weekend off.  The Bengals travel to Houston with hopes of upsetting the Texans at home.  The Texans have a good defense and they have all of the pieces on offense, but right now this Texans team is playing horribly.  The running game with Foster just isn't clicking like it has in the earlier part of the year.  The Texans passing game is best when that rnning game works because Schaub is more of a play-action QB.  The Texans have to find a way to get back on track so that they don't have to rely so heavily on their defense.

Who to watch: Matt Schaub and the offensive line.  For the Texans, they are going to need a big game from their QB and they gotta find a way to run the ball again to make that happen. 

The Bengals come in and they are clicking.  Their offense can put up numbers, but the most important part of the Bengals (right now) is their defense.  The Bengals defensive line can get pressure or stop the run with their front four which just makes the rest of that defense better.  The running game may take a step back with the Law Firm being dinged up, but I expect a solid game from the Bengals.

Who to watch: Jermaine Gresham, Brandon Tate, Brian Leonard, and Geno Atkins.  We know AJ Green is going to get his, but it's going to be up to someone else to help him out and I expect Gresham to really step up, but Tate will have to pull some weight also.  If Green-Ellis is as dinged up as they say, they are going to need Leonard and others to literally carry the load.  Atkins is having a great year and if he continues his play, he just might be the MVP of this game. 

Winner: Bengals in a slight upset.

Minnesota @ Green Bay - This is the 3rd meeting of these two teams this year with last week being the last game.  The Vikings are led by possibly one of the most amazing specimens the NFL has seen in years with AP returning from a knee injury last year and literally tearing up the league.  He has faced the Packers twice this year and has amassed 409 yards in those two games.  Think about that for a second 409 yards in 2 games and they had a chance to scheme for him.  The Vikings defense has been solid for the most part and has kept this team in games, which seems to be all they need to do with AP running.  The question mark for the Vikings is at QB. 

Who to watch: Christian Ponder, period.  We know what AP is going to do but the question is whether Ponder can make the Packers pay for loading up the box to try and stop the run.  In the last game, Ponder probably played his best game as a pro and the Vikings won to make it into the playoffs.  Can he do it again?

The Packers have been sloppy the past few weeks and their weakness (offensive line) has reared its ugly head.  Rodgers can't keep taking hits like he is and with the health of some of his favorite targets in question, the Packers appeared regular.  In this game Rodgers will have a full compliment of his receiving corp (Cobb, Finley, Driver, Nelson, and Jennings) and that should help immensely.  On the defensive side of the ball the Packers get Woodson back which may slighyly improve their run defense.  Woodson has always played both run and pass well and his return will have this defense feeling itself. 

Who to watch: Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, Packers defense.  Hopefully Cobb and Nelson are both injury free and they can play without concern.  If all of these receivers are healthy, Rodgers becomes much more dangerous.  The Packers defense has been rather talkative this week heading into this game about limiting AP to under 200 yards.  Clay Matthews has been the most vocal, this will take a total team effort to keep AP under 200 and win the game. 

Winner: Packers at home and Rogers is going to be money, just watch. 

Indianapolis @ Baltimore - The first of our rookie QBs steps up to the plate for his first playoff game.  Luck has been good this year and has led this team to the playoffs with seemingly all odds against him.  They really don't have a running game and the defense has played some inspired ball as of late to keep this team close to give the rookie a chance to lead them to wins.  This team has dealt with their head coach battling cancer and finally getting him back on the sidelines.  With coach Pagano on the sideline, this Colts team will be playing for something more than just themselves.

Who to watch: Andrew Luck and the Colts defense.  This is all on Luck to get his team through this game.  He's going up against an inspired Ravens defense (they are playing for something more also) and they are going to Baltimore.  The Colts don't play well on the road.  The Colts defense is going to have to show a pulse and possibly getting some turnovers.

The Ravens are coming in and haven't looked good the past few weeks on defense, but they do get back Ray Lewis.  To step things up a notch Lewis announced that he is retiring after this year.  Talk about moving all the chips to the middle of the table.  We all know that this team is going to win or lose on offense.  Flacco looked great last week and we'll see if he can repeat. 

Who to watch: Joe Flacco, Ray Lewis.  Flacco is going to have to play well and have confidence in his game.  Last week repeated will work will.  If Flacco falters, can this team still win?  Ray may be playing in his last game and the question is does he have any more moments left in the tank?  As a fam of Ray's I hope so. 

Winner: Ravens. In my best Teddy Riley voice, 'It ain't over' for Ray Lewis, yet.

Seattle @ Washington - The Seahawks come in this game led by Russell Wilson.  They have played good defense and relied on Wilson to get the offense going.  A big assist to Money Lynch has also worked for them.  As good as the offense has played, the defense has possibly played better.  They have made this Seahawks team special.  The Seahawks don't play as well away from home, but I think they can be special enough this week. 

Who to watch: Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, and Seattle recievers.  This is Russells' first playoff game and he has to play within himself.  The more under control he is, the better chance this team has of winning.  How does he play under control, well let your veteran Lynch run the rock.  Get the skittles going.  I often look at the Seahawks receivers and I wonder which one of them will step up and play well each game.  I don't feel like they have a true #1.  Marshawn is going to have to have a good game.  He needs close to 100 yards and some receptions to help his team win. 

The Redskins have RGIII.  That ought to be enough for most, but this defense that he'll be playing against is tough.  So the Redskins are going to have to depend on their other rookie Alfred Morris.  Morris has carried the load at the RB spot for the Redskins and he has done a helluva job.  The Redskins are going to have to have a great game from both of their rookies to win.  The defense looked good in their last game because they blitzed Romo a lot, but I'm not sure that will work against the Seahawks.  London Fletcher has been the glue to this defense and he's gonna need to bring them together again. 

Who to watch: Alfred Morris, RGIII, and Barry Cofield.  Morris is going to have to have a big game on the ground to keep this Seahawks defense honest.  If he can, I like RGIIIs chances of airing it out a little against a good Seahawks defensive secondary.  Barry Cofield has got to provide a veteran presence on that line and make some plays.  If the Redskins don't stop the run, it's all over for them. 

Winner:  I would love for the Redskins to win this one, but I think the Seahawks will win a close one.

Who you got?!?!?!?!?