AFC & NFC Conference Championship Picks

January 17, 2014

AFC Championship – Patriots at Broncos (Sunday 3pm)
Both teams have injuries.  Both teams can run the ball.  And oh yeah, both teams have marquee QB’s as it’s Brady vs. Manning for the 15th time in their storied rivalry.  In the passing game, Denver has the more talented weapons (D.Thomas, J.Thomas, Welker, Decker, Tamme vs. Edelman, Amendola, Vereen and crew).  Certainly revenge is on the Broncos mind after blowing a gift-wrapped 24-0 lead in Foxboro in November. But, can the Pats do just enough to keep Manning off his game (as they have in the past)?  Heart says Pats, head says Broncos.
Players to watch: (NE: Shane Vereen / Den: Monte Ball).
Winner: Broncos

NFC Championship – 49ers at Seahawks (Sunday 6:30pm)

Hands down, the 49ers are playing their best ball right now.  Three straight road wins (Arizona, Green Bay and Carolina) speak to that.  The difference could come at QB.  Colin Kaepernick has had less than stellar results in two straight one-sided losses in Seattle.  On the other side, Russell Wilson’s in a prolonged month-long slump.  If Seattle’s offense can’t make big plays, they won’t make it to NY/NJ.
Players to watch: (SF: Anquan Boldin / Sea: Doug Baldwin)
Winner: 49ers

Last week: 4-0
Season: 172-90-1


NFL Divisional Playoff Picks

January 10, 2014

Saints at Seahawks (Saturday 4:35pm)
Rain and a a very loud 12th man in Seattle could stunt that stout Saints offense.  So could a very good Seahawks defense.  The x-factor will be the very inconsistent QB play of Russell Wilson.  Which ones shows up could be the difference between a blowout and an upset.
Winner: Seahawks

Colts at Patriots (Saturday 8:15pm)
After all is said and done, it’ll be the Patriots running game that should be the difference.  The Patriots are almost a lock in the Divisional Round after getting the 1st round bye (only a loss to the Jets in the 2010 Playoffs blemishes the Brady/Belichick record).  That having been said, the Colts and Andrew Luck should still be around to make things interesting in the fourth quarter Saturday night.
Winner: Patriots

49ers at Panthers (Sunday 1pm)
SF is hands down playing the best football in the NFL right now.  Home, away, warm, cold, rain, snow, it hasn’t mattered lately.  The question is can the Panthers defense hold the Niners down long enough (like they did in November in SF) so that Cam Newton and the Panthers offense can make enough plays to win.
Winner: 49ers

Chargers at Broncos (Sunday 4:40pm)
It’s the spot Peyton Manning fans dread most.  The 1 and done spot. Peyton’s 9-11 playoff record speaks to that in the 3rd matchup of the season between these two (each winning on the road). It’s hard to see Manning acting like Andy Dalton did last week.
Winner: Broncos

Last week: 2-2
Season: 168-90-1


NFL Wild Card Playoff Picks

January 4, 2014

It’s playoff time!!!!

Chiefs at Colts (Saturday 4:40pm)
Can the Chiefs turnaround their late season swoon? Can the Colts protect Andrew Luck enough? Can Alex Smith make enough plays?  At this point, there’s something missing from the Colts.  Jamaal Charles has to come up big for KC!
Winner: Chiefs

Saints at Eagles (Saturday 8:10pm)
Can the Saints play well outdoors below 30 degrees? Can Nick Foles keep it going in the playoffs? No Pierre Thomas for Saints, who I just don’t trust away from the Dome!
Winner: Eagles

Chargers at Bengals (Sunday 1pm)
Do you trust the Bengals – losers in the past two seasons in this spot? Can you trust the Chargers outdoors in the snow/rain? Two words: Andy Dalton.  Three words: don’t trust him.
Winner: Chargers

49ers at Packers (Sunday 4:45pm)
Ice Bowl II with below zero temps expected.  Can the 49ers put up the points to match Mr. Rodgers in the cold? No Clay Matthews for Green Bay which will be big across the middle vs. Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin.
Winner: 49ers

Last week: 13-3
Season: 166-88-1


Full NFL Playoffs Schedule – 2013

December 30, 2013

WILD CARD ROUND
Saturday, Jan. 4
Chiefs at Colts, 4:35 p.m.(NBC)
Saints at Eagles winner, 8:10 p.m. (NBC)

Sunday, Jan. 5
Chargers at Bengals, 1:05 p.m. (CBS)
49ers at Packers, 4:40 p.m. (FOX)

DIVISIONAL ROUND
Saturday, Jan. 11
TBA at Seahawks, 4:35 p.m. (FOX)
TBA at Patriots, 8:15 p.m. (CBS)

Sunday, Jan. 12
TBA at Panthers, 1:05 p.m. (FOX)
TBA at Broncos, 4:40 p.m. (CBS)

CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS
Sunday, Jan. 19
3p AFC Championship (CBS)
630p NFC Championship (FOX)

SUPER BOWL XLVIII
Sunday, Feb. 2
MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J., 6:30 p.m. (FOX)


Clearing the Deck – NFL Week 17

December 29, 2013

Clearing the deck for the final week of the regular season in the NFL…

* Kudos to the Broncos, Patriots, Seahawks and Panthers who did what they were supposed to do Sunday – win and keep their respective 1 and 2 seeds in the AFc/NFC.

* The same can not be said of the Bears, Dolphins and Ravens, who all blew a chance to get into the playoffs with a win.

* Congratulations to Rex Ryan, you earned the right to return to the Jets for 2014 and what should be a contract extension coming.

* The Steelers probably wish KC’s Ryan Succop was a better kicker. His 41-yard FG miss at the end of regulation cost Pittsburgh a spot in the AFC playoffs (won by SD).

* Black Monday is here around the NFL and the firings will be swift.  Already reportedly out: Rob Chudzinski in Cleveland and Mike Shanahan in Washington.  Moves could be coming in Oakland, Minnesota, Tennessee, Detroit and Tampa Bay (Schiano to Penn State?). (UPDATE: Chudzinski already fired as of 9:30pm Sunday night)

* Do you think the Seahawks are a little concerned with Russell Wilson’s play the last month heading into the playoffs?

* Do you think Aaron Rodgers makes a little difference in Green Bay?

* Talk about being stacked in the NFC: the 49ers and Saints are 5th and 6th seeds.

* Who’s a bigger disappointment in the NFC North: Lions or Bears?

* Give the NFL its due, week 17 was full of drama!

* Let the playoffs begin!


NFL Picks – Week 16

December 19, 2013

Dolphins at Bills (Sunday 1pm)
Suddenly, the Dolphins have playoff life after last week’s upset over the Patriots.  Win out over the Bills and the Jets and they’re into the 2nd season. It doesn’t hurt this week that Thad Lewis is in for EJ Manuel even though Lewis beat the Dolphins in Miami earlier this season.
Winner: Dolphins

Saints at Panthers (Sunday 1pm)
The NFC South Title is on the line here in a rematch of two weeks ago. Don’t count on the Panthers being as bad this Sunday as they did then. Saints could be dropping to a possible 5th or 6th seed witih a loss here.
Winner: Panthers

Vikings at Bengals (Sunday 1pm)
No cupcake for the Bengals, who suddenly find themselves with the Ravens breathing down their neck in the AFC North.
Winner: Bengals

Broncos at Texans (Sunday 1pm)
Time for Peyton and crew to wrap up that #1 seed.
Winner: Broncos

Titans at Jaguars (Sunday 1pm)
Two teams working on keeping momentum for 2014.
Winner: Jaguars

Colts at Chiefs (Sunday 1pm)
Playoff preview in KC as these two teams are likely to meet in the 1st round.
Winner: Chiefs

Browns at Jets (Sunday 1pm)
Can the Jets finish .500 to save Rex Ryan’s job?
Winner: Jets

Bucs at Rams (Sunday 1pm)
Too bad for St.Louis that last week’s win over the Saints is the exception rather than the rule in 2013.
Winner: Rams

Cowboys at Redskins (Sunday 1pm)
An absolute and utter mess.  That applies to either team. It’s just a matter of who’s going to give it up last.
Winner: Cowboys

Giants at Lions (Sunday 4pm)
The Giants are looking towards 2014 on their own.  As for the Lions, Justin Tucker’s 61-yard FG may have them looking towards 2014 as well.
Winner: Lions

Cardinals at Seahawks (Sunday 4pm)
This could get ugly in Seattle.  The Cards are good, but the matchup is scary bad for them this week.
Winner: Seahawks

Patriots at Ravens (Sunday 4:25pm)
Two teams seemingly going in opposite directions.  Grab your lunchpail, it’s always a battle between these two teams.  Expect nothing less this time.
Winner: Ravens

Steelers at Packers (Sunday 4:25pm)
To Aaron Rodgers or not to Aaron Rodgers.  That is the Packers question as they climb right back into the NFC Playoff Race, courtesy of the Dallas Cowboys.  UPDATE (Fri 2pm): Aaron Rodgers officially out for week 16.
Winner: Packers

Raiders at Chargers (Sunday 4:25pm)
Hail Mary time for the Chargers.  Win out and have the Ravens and Dolphins lose out.  Not likely.
Winner: Chargers

Bears at Eagles (Sunday 8:30pm)
O-F-F-E-N-S-I-V-E S-H-O-O-T-O-U-T!!!
Winner: Eagles

Falcons at 49ers (Monday 8:40pm)
The 49ers are the 2nd best time in the NFL. Unfortunately for them, they will be a 5th seed in the NFC Playoffs.
Winner: 49ers

Last week: 9-7
Season: 144-78-1


NFL Week 14 – Clearing the Deck

December 8, 2013

Clearing the deck for a snowy week 14 of the NFL season…

* The Patriots win the battle (13 points in the final 63 seconds in a comeback vs. Cleveland) but may have lost the war, losing TE Rob Gronkowski with a reported torn ACL.

* The Chargers, Dolphins and Packers survive!

* Yes, NFC, there’s still some fight left in San Francisco.  Just ask Seattle.

* Ditto in the AFC with the Chiefs.

* Can the last one in Washington, DC please turn off the lights? Pitiful.

* The Lions can’t stand prosperity.  The Eagles, in a blinding snowstorm, sure can though.

* If you missed the final few minutes of Ravens/Vikings, do yourself a favor and watch it on replay. Six, yes 6, fourth quarter lead changes!

* Somehow, the Cardinals continue to win. Yet, at 8 wins, they’re on the outside looking in for the NFC Playoffs.

* Don’t look now, but the Bengals are still undefeated at home and looks like they’ll be there for at least one playoff game this January.

* The Broncos put up 51 points against the Titans, but keep an eye on Wes Welker, who suffered in second concussion in less than a month.