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.
The road to Super Bowl XLVII is littered with ridiculousness, and now we are at the gateway to see which two teams in the NFL were the least hilarious by actually winning.
Sunday, January 20th, 2013
San Francisco 49ers @ Atlanta Falcons
LINE: 49ers by 4
So this is it, the big one, the final deciding game to decide who goes on to play in the final and who goes home to cry in a corner with no friends and no free beer. Here in England, the big sporting event used to be the FA (Football Association) Cup, everybody watched it. The week before that game, there was always another match which people didn’t speak of, the one that decided who was the worst and who was the biggest and best of the losers. Yes, it was the battle for third place.
It never mattered how great a team had been throughout the FA Cup competition, how many goals they’d scored, or what plucky little underdogs they had been, for as soon as they stepped into the arena for the battle for third place, all respect for them was dead. Who wants to see two teams of weary, disillusioned, beaten down grown men fighting for scraps ? It’s humiliating for the players and, more so, humiliating for the viewer who has effectively paid money to watch things die. This isn’t some fast, furious, heroic death either, not like a Bull in a ring, no, this is the death that takes time and lingers on, slowly sucking the soul, the very essence, away into the stinking, sodden ground where the worms can feast on the never forgotten festering failure. But this isn’t that game, which is a relief. I’d hate to get all heavy at this stage of the season.
I’m sending this from a tool shed in an undisclosed location. After a year of god-awful picks, Vegas has finally sent a brigade of thugs to collect on my bets. I’m not entirely sure they’re not tracking my movements through the GPS in my phone, or the one they implanted in my rectum that one night I got really wasted in the Luxor. At least, that guy SAID it was a tracking device he put in there. But I digress. This game comes down to the QB who has earned the right to have playoff success but hasn’t (Ryan) versus the guy who has no right to be in the Conference championship (Mr. I’m-just-going-to-waltz-into-the-starting-job-mid-season Kaepernick). But realize the only thing that matters here is the talking heads of sports masturbating over the prospect of a Harbaugh Bowl again this year.
It’s pretty disrespectful, in the NFC Championship game, for the visiting team to be favored over the home team, especially when the home team had the best record in the NFL so what gives? Glad you asked, specifically here is what gives:
- The 49ers have a better defense
- The 49ers have a more dynamic QB
- The 49ers have a better running game
- The 49ers have a more willful coach
- The Falcons best defensive player is injured
- The Falcons QB seems like a really swell guy
- The Falcons coach seems like your happy, fat uncle
- The Falcons blew their wad on an improbably, last minute win that got the playoff monkey off their back
Now on Sunday none of this matters; the game must be played and there’s a chance that the Falcons summon the requisite juice to get things done and win this game. I just don’t think that happens. I think the 49ers adjust better at halftime than the Falcons do, they’re a far more physical team and they have a killer instinct that is a projection of their coach’s personality. Not to mention Mike Smith, a coach with the most generic name in football, seems satisfied with the accomplishments of this season while Jim Harbaugh seems like he wants to pull his hair out, even after a win.
Evil Peyton Manning:
49ers coach Jim Harbaugh proved me wrong, again, by not having a field goal formation that featured David Akers and Billy Cundiff kicking the ball at the same time. So maybe he’s not totally out of his mind, which he keeps on proving with the stellar play of Colin Kaepernick. The bicep kissing may be a little much, but Kaepernick is proving that run-and-gun quarterbacks are the wave of the future.
Meanwhile, the Falcons are proving that they won’t lay down in the playoffs like they have in past seasons after defeating the Seahawks in the final seconds of the game. Matty Ice truly proved that his nickname is fitting by leading his team down the field for the winning field goal.
The 49ers are favored on the road, and that’s good enough for me.
Baltimore Ravens @ New England Patriots
LINE: Patriots by 9
Okay, I give up. I tried to jinx Brady last week, and instead I knocked out every other quality veteran quarterback in the playoffs. I hope at some point the deal Bob Kraft made with the devil comes due and we can watch the Pats crash and burn. I’m actually hoping Satan pops out of Beyonce’s cleavage at halftime and drags Belichick, kicking and screaming, into the bowels of hell (AKA back to his position as head coach of the Browns). Also, hopefully Ray Lewis goes along for the ride, as God has ordained (because God cares about football).
I find it interesting that the Ravens dismantling of the Pats earlier this season, coupled with their dismantling of the Broncos last week (ok, dismantling is a bit strong, the worst pass defense of all time on a deep pass is more likely the cause, but I digress) isn’t worth more than minus nine points on the betting line. I find it interesting, yes, but not surprising. Why? Glad you asked, specifically here is why:
- Tom Brady trumps Joe Flacco
- Bill Belichick trumps John Harbaugh
- Brandon Spikes trumps Ray Lewis (that’s right, I said it), on Sunday at least; the previous 17 years? Ray Lewis all day
- Aaron Hernandez trumps Dennis Pitta
- The Pats RB of the week trumps Ray…ok, Ray Rice trumps unnamed Pats running back
- Hoodies are cooler than shirts
- Brady’s girlfriend trumps Flacco’s girlfriend…or boyfriend
- Robert Kraft is richer than Steve Bisciotti
But given all of this evidence, masterful as this analysis is, once again the whole ‘on any given Sunday’ mantra holds true. So we’ll see.
Evil Peyton Manning:
If there is one thing that the digital talking heads in sports want to see most of all in these playoff games or the Super Bowl, it would be another star for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. This isn’t a gold star based on another ring and MVP honors, mind you. The general consensus is that we need more Sad Tom Brady memes. Last year we clearly didn’t get enough, just a couple of sad faces and his super-model wife Gisele Bundchen screaming about how the rest of the team let her husband down.
The Ravens camp, meanwhile, is ready for the release of millions of celebratory Ray Lewis dance memes. Even now, my GIF creator is planning on splicing Lewis’ Dancing with the Stars routine with another, more prolific, dance reference.
I probably shouldn’t count my chickens before they hatch (*hint hint*) because both teams have overcome major injury issues and personnel scrutiny to get this this far. Unfortunately, there is no way to play a Super Bowl game with 3 or 4 teams at the same time.
There’s not much I can tell you about these two teams that is either legal or true, which is a pity because I’ve heard some incredible stories and have photographic evidence to back them up along with DNA matches, dental records, video and audio recordings, signed confessions and a certificate of authenticity from the Pope, but never mind about all that. Usually on a Saturday afternoon, just around teatime, my weekly NFL research package is parachuted in from Inept Owl HQ. This package contains everything I need to know about the teams: their history, financial records, personnel, their structural weaknesses, and then I also get pictures of animal boners drawn by our Editor. Often there will be a message attached, “This is funnier than you”, so I started including stories about animal boners in my NFL reports and the drawings stopped. Now I can sleep at night again. It wasn’t the subject matter of the drawings I found so disturbing though, it was the sheer detail!
Rob Wheatley: 133-132
Steve Elle: 132-133
Darby Shaw: 130-135
Evil Peyton Manning: 128-137