Welcome back, football fans, to our quasi-professional football picks! Each week we will pick game winners based on Vegas over/under lines, and add some the greatest preview commentary in the world! That’s right, ESPN, we said it.
It’s the Divisional round of the playoffs, and our analysts are hard at work squeezing those last few gags from teams, even such stale, game-focused teams like the Atlanta Falcons. Let us see if their up to the challenge!
Saturday, January 12th, 2013
Baltimore Ravens @ Denver Broncos
LINE: Broncos by 9
Did you know, this NFL thing is actually a sporting contest involving (of all things) American Football ? No, neither did I. It seems our Fascist Editor didn’t seem to think this was relevant when he asked me to provide commentaries all that time ago, back in 2009. I assumed it was some sort of battle of mythical beasts, like one of those turn based card games where you get hit points and collect crystals and things and throw rocks at Gorgons or whatever. Can you imagine how much of an idiot I now feel like? (don’t answer that). Anyway, now that I finally understand the concept of it all, I can assure you that these flights of fancy, the plethora of wildlife knowledge , and extensively researched Viking history I impart on a weekly basis will have no further place in my reports. No, from now on, it’s all about the football, the good old football..the football, the whole football, and nothing but the football. Aaaarrrghh a horse is getting attacked by a bird, run for your lives!
In an epic battle, old foes Peyton Manning and Ray Lewis will meet once again. And when I say “old foes,” I don’t mean that they’ve been foes for years… I mean they are both literally old and falling apart. Manning needs Frankenstein-esque neck bolts to keep his gigantic head from falling off his body, and Ray Lewis had a Robocop arm attached to his body in order to be able to play in the post-season. The reality is, one good sack might actually kill both of them at the same time… and that’s kind of what I’m rooting for, because the prospect of having sportscasters across the country lose their two favorite players to masturbate over fills me with joy. (Err, not that any thoughts about masturbating sportscasters fill me with joy. Umm… yeah. So.) However, if Peyton Manning doesn’t die during the game, expect him to light the Ravens up and continue his quest for the “Goddammit, Eli will NOT win more Super Bowls than me” bragging rights.
Well, it’s going to be cold in Denver. So cold that Peyton Manning for the first time in his career is considering wearing gloves. Also, it should be noted that Manning is in his first year at Denver and after playing his entire career indoors is not all that used to cold weather conditions. The good news is the Broncos have a good running game and their defense is really good. Also, the Ravens, after an emotional victory at home, are ripe for a letdown. Not to mention that the Broncos are a better team both offensively and defensively. A fast start from Denver will likely doom the Ravens given the conditions. It’s pivotal for Baltimore to establish time consuming drives if they’re to have a chance.
Evil Peyton Manning:
This game has two football monoliths going in opposite directions. On the Ravens we have international dancing superstar/bone-crunching linebacker Ray Lewis on his farewell tour from the NFL after announcing his decision to retire after this season. On the Broncos we have offensive coordinator/elite quarterback Peyton Manning showing everyone in the NFL, especially the Colts, that he still has enough in the tank to take a team to the Super Bowl.
This matchup of future Hall of Fame players on offense and defense is eminent on the field (while Denver’s offensive line will try to prove otherwise). The question is, will the Ravens defense slow down the Peyton Manning Show enough to give Joe Flacco time to work the ball down the field with Ray Rice and Anquan Boldin?
An even better question is, will Ray Lewis’ dance moves be eclipsed by Peyton Manning’s chicken-dance audibles, which looking vaguely like the chicken-dance of members of the Bluth family in Arrested Development? This leads to an even better question: will Arrested Development have a new season, movie, or was this all just a Bluth family hoax?
Time will tell, for all involved. I think the Ravens will cover, which probably means they really won’t.
Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49ers
LINE: 49ers by 3
Often with mobile quarterbacks, an opposing defense will assign a middle linebacker to act as a “spy” whose only job is to chase that quick sonofabitch down. He has no coverage duties, no obligation against the running back, he just has to run after the quarterback. I kind of hope Green Bay does this, because I would like to see AJ Hawk try to chase down Kaepernick. Just picture it; a physically (and mentally) slow Hawk, lumbering from sideline to sideline trying to keep up, his scraggly hair flapping in the breeze coming off the San Francisco Bay… good times. Meanwhile, between the ridonkulous SF running game and Green Bay’s utter inability to run the ball, I expect the time of possession in this game to be roughly 80-20 in the 49ers favor. Of course, since time of possession means bugger-all in advancing to the playoffs, I expect the scoreboard to be what really matters.
The 49ers have the home field advantage here, right? Well, that’s about the only advantage they have. Oh, they have a better defense, you say. News flash, regular season defensive superiority is good for one thing: the regular season. In addition, much of the 49ers good play on defense was predicated on Justin Smith doing his thing up front which made everything else work well. He’s the proverbial straw that stirs their defensive drink. With him out they haven’t been nearly as effective. With him back, albeit neutered, it will be interesting to see how well they function. I think the game comes down to how well the Packers o-line protects Aaron Rodgers. And here’s the further irony of home field advantage. Unless it’s a truly hostile environment (see Seahawks, Seattle) the quiet provided to the home team while on offense actually helps the opposing team’s defense when it comes to signaling and calling defensive plays. So the advantage is neutralized at best. Colin Kaepernick is also a wildcard. If he can play well on the big stage then he gives them a chance to win this game. If not, I think the Packers will win decisively.
Evil Peyton Manning:The 49ers are once again in the playoffs after years of continual transitions in the coaching staff. Now the team must contend with continual transitions in player personnel, as the Colin Kaepernick VS Alex Smith quarterback debate is joined by a Billy Cundiff VS David Akers kicker competition. This kicker comparison isn’t as dramatic, considering game plans for kickers really just revolve around booting the football between the goal post uprights and not shanking the ball out of bounds on kickoffs. Still, it’s drama that the 49ers don’t need, and who knows, maybe Jim Harbaugh will have the lefty Akers and righty Cundiff kick the ball at the same time for better distance and aim. It may confuse everyone: defense, coaches, sports analysts, everyone.
The Packers, meanwhile, have continued to fly under the radar in the game plans, with the only drama being some needling tweets from Greg Jennings’ sister about quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Now they must show the world that they can keep up in a high profile game against a team whose back-up quarterback is debatably as good as the starter.
I’m sticking with my Super Bowl prediction no matter who is under center or kicking the ball, although with my luck the 49ers will pick up Mark Sanchez and start him just to make things difficult.
The Green Bay Packers were named after the Indian Packing Company who originally paid for the team kit and allowed them the use of some waste ground on which to play. That is all very honourable, but in these days of recycling and over-consumption, I must say that excess packaging is one of the banes of my life. I have a very small kitchen, and the recycling people only visit our street every two weeks, which means that until they do, all the waste packaging from everything I buy has to sit in carefully separated piles on my kitchen floor. Now, I don’t know how many of you have tried to stack a fortnight’s of paper, bottles, cans and plastics in tidy and separate bundles, but they don’t get on well. I only have to slam a door or fall over drunk in the wrong place, and that can create a tidal wave of unwanted air movement which will them blow through the kitchen , upsetting the intricately constructed tower of empty milk cartons, which topples over and falls into the tin cans that then clatter about the place, tipping the stack of old cardboard boxes and unread junk mail, until my kitchen floor looks like a bloody landfill site. But hey, at least it keeps those pesky rubbish tips tidy ! Whoever came up with the idea of recycling was clearly a selfish idiot, or at least, somebody with a much bigger kitchen than mine.
Seattle Seahawks @ Atlanta Falcons
LINE: Falcons by 1
Aside from the ‘home field advantage’ (and for more on that please see the Packers/49ers capsule), I think this is a very evenly matched game that tips in favor of the visiting Seahawks. You might say that Matt Ryan has more playoff experience than Russell Wilson, and you’d be right. But while Ryan’s playoff experience consists only of home field losses and Wilson’s is a victory as a visitor, I would argue that the advantage is with the Seahawks. And I think it’s safe to say that the Falcon’s great WR’s are evenly matched by Seattle’s big, physical CB’s and S’s. So I think the Falcon’s game plan comes to this: how well can they run on Seattle and can they get the ball to Tony Gonzalez on a regular basis. If they can do these things they have a chance. If not I think the Seahawks can run on them. And Wilson has proven to be a very dynamic runner and passer. Should be interesting but I think in a battle of birds of prey, the ‘Hawks win.
Evil Peyton Manning:
The Seahawks once proved me wrong and got the job done last week against the Washington Redskins. Their playoff tour continues to Atlanta, where they will try to prove that they can win a game on the East Coast for the second week in a row while proving that lime green is a winning color.
The Falcons, meanwhile, have had a bye week to dwell on last year’s playoff disaster, headed by Matty Ice melting in Hotlanta. Will we see a repeat? Will we see some drama worth reporting instead of having to stick with team strengths and weaknesses commentary? I’m picking the Falcons, which is as vanilla as the history between these two teams.
I took a train to the coast on Tuesday. I have a friend who just moved to a seaside town not far from me, and it was a great to see him and take the chance to look at the sea. It’s been a long while since I’ve been able to stare that far into the distance while sober, and I’ve always thought that there’s something very special about coastal towns in the middle of winter. The difference between an English beach in summer and winter is that, in the summer, the people there tend to go mad and undo the top button on their overcoats regardless of the weather. It’s just something us crazy Brits like to do. It gives us a sense of freedom and pneumonia. The great British seaside food is, of course, Fish & Chips. Chips are a delicacy here, and basically consist of a small paper bag full of salt, garnished with the odd finger of potato that has been simmered in lukewarm lard until sodden, then smothered in enough cheap vinegar so that the enamel on your teeth has no option but to jump from your mouth screaming for its life. English cuisine is the best in the world you know, it’s just our food that is shyte !
Okay, fine. If there’s still room on this Seahawks bandwagon, can I get a seat? The other day, my coworker said he’s rooting for the Seahawks because nobody is talking about Russell Wilson. Which would be fine, if there weren’t fifty thousand talking heads, all of whom are saying “Russell Wilson is the guy nobody’s talking about!” as they then fawn over his third-round pick status, his lack of height, his mobility, his Twitter feed, his jock size, and his mama. Okay, I actually haven’t heard anything about his mom. She’s not dead or anything, is she? Meanwhile, here are the Falcons again, trying desperately to at least win a damn playoff game on Tony Gonzalez’s behalf. Poor Tony… he probably won’t ever get to hold a Lombardi Trophy aloft… or even get to watch the team on the other side of the field do it. He’ll have to content himself with his millions of dollars, and the prospect of being an underwear model and NFL analyst for the rest of his life.
Houston Texans @ New England Patriots
LINE: Patriots by 10
Evil Peyton Manning:
When these two teams last played in Foxboro, we saw the decimation of one of the up-and-coming elite teams in the Houston Texans by an elite coach/quarterback combo trying to prove they still have it in the New England Patriots. This led to the Texans dwindling enough to lose their playoff bye week and homefield advantage through the rest of the playoffs.
However, I’m still sticking with my assertion that the Texans sleepwalked through that game in order to make sure that they didn’t tip their hand to Bill Belichick, whose intelligence gathering on opponents rivals that of the CIA. Allegedly.
The Texans will play better. They may even win. Luckily, I don’t have to go that far with a line this big. Ladies and gentlemen, witness the end of an era as the Texans defeat the Patriots 34-31.
Reading up on the Texans, I was impressed to see that they have their own theme song called “It’s Football Time In Houston”, which seems like a decent thing to sing when your team strides out onto the field of play. Back in 2003 they decided to commission a new song, presumably to bring things up to date a little, to move with the times and keep in with the kids and stuff. This song, however, was soon rejected and consigned to the rubbish bin of eternity, which is no surprise at all when you realize it was written by Chad Kroeger of Nickelback. It wasn’t just Texans fans who protested against the song. In a show of unity never before seen in the NFL’s entire history, not only Texans fans, but fans of every other team also protested loudly, as did fans of baseball, soccer, horse racing, music lovers and in fact people of every race colour and creed. Even the deaf and the dead complained as much as they could. In fact, the only person that didn’t complain is that arsehole who posts all those interesting videos of alien looking fish, people falling off skateboards, airplane near crashes, rednecks with guns, students lighting farts, and 150 greatest fails, onto Youtube and then for some reason sets them to a bloody Nickelback soundtrack. Enough is enough. Whoever you are that is doing that, be warned, unless it stops right now, I will find you, and I will kill you ! (Yes Chad, that means you)
So, remember how last week I implied that RGIII and the Redskins were going to the Super Bowl and winning it all? Yeah. I think I pretty much caused the massive knee blowout that RGIII had, because the football gods basically hate me (as my pick record can attest to). So here we go: I’m really excited to see Tom Brady and the Patriots win it all. They are a good and deserving team. The last thing in the world I would want to see is JJ Watts falling on Brady and rupturing Brady’s spleen. I certainly wouldn’t want to see a section of scaffolding fall from the stadium and crush Bill Belichick and his homeless-guy hoodie. I’m serious, guys… this team can go all the way. (Of course, if this actually happens, then I have to watch the Texans play another week. Crap.)
On paper this seems to be the most lopsided matchup of the weekend. I think on the field it may also be the most lopsided matchup of the weekend. No casual fan wants the Texans to win this game. Only casual fans with a vehement hatred of the lovely and talented and devastatingly handsome Tom Brady or the impish, hoodied, brooding Bill Belichick want the Texans to win. Why? Because everyone wants to see Manning versus Brady in the AFC Championship game. Trust me, no one wants Flacco versus Schaub (yawn). To that end I think fans will get what they wish for. The Texans will have to play a perfect game (unlikely) and the Pats will have to play a horrific game (unlikely) for the Texans to get a victory. So while JJ Watt will likely bat down a pass or two, and even get a sack perhaps, the more well coached team will likely win. And good thing because Giselle B can be a b!tch on Twitter when her boy wonder has a bad day.
Rob Wheatley: 133-130
Steve Elle: 132-131
Darby Shaw: 130-133
Evil Peyton Manning: 127-136