Coach Mora: What's that?
I said, do you think we could talk about the playoffs?
Coach Mora: Plaaaayoffs?? Don't talk about plaaaayoffs!! You kidding me???
Uh, no coach, I'm completely serious. I wanna talk about the playoffs.
Coach Mora: Plaaaayoffs?? I just hope we can win a game.
Well, with all do respect, I think I'm gonna talk about the playoffs anyways.
So here goes.
I can honestly say, I've never been less confident about picking a weekend of football games. Three of the four matchups are repeats of last weekend's competitions and every single one of them was a blowout! You'd think that would make picking easier. But, in my opinion, it makes it ten times harder. The Eagles weren't supposed to lose 24-0 to the Cowboys. They were favored to win. The Packers-Cardinals matchup had the chance to be a dandy, but the Packers tried and the Cardinals didn't. The Packers won 33-7 and the Cardinals gave us no insight into the playoff matchup. And lastly, and very sadly, for a Giants fan/Jets root-against-er, the Jets toasted the Bengals 37-0. Not only are the Jets now, this is realllllly tough to say, in the playoffs, they have built up confidence and a legitimate shot to advance to the seconddddd round. It can only mean one thing: there's a legitimate chance I could sleep through two playoff games this year. Only the Jets could do this to such a true sports fan. I just can't bare to see the Jets run with Thomas Jones on first and second down. Then on third down, a passing situation, bring in their wide receiver/kick returner to run again! Sanchez was 8-16 for 63 yards last week. And the Jets won 37-0!!! 63 yards and no touchdowns from your quarterback, and you win 37-0 nothing!!! 37-0!!!! Could an NFL team be less exciting??? Now that its playoff time, will the Jets even let Sanchez throw??? I don't think I would either. Sorry for digressing, but as you can see, I'm a pretty passionate anti-Jets fan. But back to the article.
The last matchup features a Patriots team that ya gotta figure could have one more run in them before the fall of the great dynasty, versus a Ravens team that I can't quite figure out. They seem really good. They should be really good. But they're not that good. I dubbed them my favorite to win the AFC earlier this year, and without a win versus JaMarcus Russell last week, they wouldn't have even made the playoffs come year-end.
I think what I'm trying to say is...
Don't bet on my picks. I won't even be making any trips to Atlantic City to bet on my own picks (That is partly, because I opened a bank account in AC two weeks ago. A bank account that keeps all the money I brought, and puts it towards the casino's quarterly earnings). But if I was kidnapped and dropped off in a casino in AC, and naturally couldn't resist the urge to throw my money away, here are the bets I would make.
New York Jets @ Cincinnati:
Before this season started, I watched Hard Knocks. I became a Bengals fan watching that show. The Bengals instantly catapulted themselves ahead of the New Orleans Saints, as my second favorite team in professional football. And if the Giants keep it up, they'll be #1 soon. I never gave up on the Bengals, picking them to beat the likes of the Ravens, Steelers, and other good teams they came across. And they beat them all. But half-way through the season, when they became pretty much a lock to win the division, the Bengals slipped, and slipped, and slipped. And then they lost 37-0 to the Jets. Now the Bengals look like a pretender, ready to take an immediate exit from the playoffs in front of their home crowd. They're playing the same Jets team that embarrassed them last week. Chad Ochocinco is facing off against the same guy that's the reason Chad might be Chad Revis in the coming weeks. Carson Palmer is taking on the #1 defense in the NFL that will blitz him to death next week. All with the memories of his first playoff pass being the end of his season and possibly potential brilliant career a few years ago in his head. The Jets have every reason to believe they will win this game. And regardless of the lines, they are the odds on favorite to do so. And just because I can't stand them so much, they will likely win this game. Everything is in their favor. They're probably the better team. But damnit I watched this YouTube clip before I made this pick! Watch the first minute and 18 seconds and tell me you wouldn't take the Bengals too. You just can't do it.
Jets 16 - Bengals 27
Philadelphia @ Dallas:
Last time Tony Romo and the Cowboys played a Saturday night playoff game, this happened. Quite possibly my favorite non-Giant playoff moment looking back on it. Saturday, Romo returns to Saturday night playoff football with a chance to redeem himself, against my other least favorite divisional foe, the Eagles. Believe it or not, I actually picked the Cowboys to win both matchups this year (I have no proof of this, but ya just gotta believe me. It's weird, I was saying they were gonna get killed in Week 17 all year and I changed my mind last minute for some reason). I'm starting to half-believe the Cowboys are the balanced and complete team I feared they would be for so long. And with no clear-cut favorite to win the Super Bowl standing in their way, it pains me to think the Cowboys could actually win the Super Bowl. But then again, so could the Eagles. I thought they were gonna win it last year, and somehow the Cardinals came out of nowhere to take them down. Now I didn't see the whole game last week, but I feel like the Eagles didn't give the Cowboys their best shot. I mean they seem overmatched, but in the NFC East, anything can happen. I mean the Giants won a game 44-12 in an NFC East matchup, and they might be the worst team in the NFL. This game will have me changing my mind everyday after I write this article, but I think, the Cowboys are gonna win. I love the Eagles in late-season/playoff games, but I don't know. I think the starting center is a bigger loss than people realize, I think they rely on Desean Jackson big-plays too much (which they were inches away from getting last week, and could very well get this week), I think they don't utilize the solid running backs they have enough, and I don't think their punter can hit the low-hanging, 90-yard scoreboard enough times in a row to cause the Cowboys to forfeit late in the game.
Eagles 24 - Cowboys 27
Baltimore @ New England:
Michael Clayton handed the Patriots a win versus the Ravens earlier this year. With the Ravens driving, on a 4th-and-short inside the redzone, Clayton let a sure first-down bounce off his wide-open chest in the closing minutes of the game. The Patriots left, thanking their lucky stars, while the Ravens kicked themselves into a 3-game losing streak. My early season AFC favorite, fell apart. But they rallied to make the playoffs, and find themselves with a chance to avenge their early season loss in a game that really matters. On the other side, there's the Patriots. Let's face it. They've been really shaky this year. And Brady has looked a little off. Just enough, to keep him human. The Pats defense is pretty bad. The Ravens defense has been so much better in the past. Wes Welker is done for the season, and stunt Wes Welker (Julian Edelman) has some big shoes to fill. Ed Reed's health is in question. Brady is one of the best playoff quarterbacks of all-time. Flacco hasn't done anything statistically in his short playoff career. The Patriots can hardly run. The Ravens have two elite running backs. This game couldn't really be more of a toss-up. And while I'm leaning towards the Ravens, its just really hard to pick against this Pats team that has been a dynasty for much of the decade. I don't know, I just don't think the Ravens are there right now. If Rice was around when their defense was unstoppable I'd be right behind them, but I don't think the defense is there right now. I'm taking the Patriots.
Ravens 16 - Patriots 24
Green Bay @ Arizona:
This is the most difficult pick of the week for me. I'm a huge believer in both these teams and I really like both these teams. It's like picking between America and apple pie. I can't stop thinking about the Cardinals' improbable run last year. But I also can't stop thinking about how rare it is for that to happen two years in a row. And then there's the injuries to Anquan Boldin and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Those are HUGE question marks. And look how the Packers responded to the shelacking they took from the Vikings. They improved their offensive line, reduced the sacks on Rodgers, and enhanced their running game. On the defensive side, they've never looked better. Even after they lost Aaron Kampmen and Al Harris for the season. I'm telling you, this team could be a Super Bowl contender. They would beat the Vikings in a rematch. I wanna see that rematch. But if there's one thing the Cardinals showed me last year, and again against the Vikings this year, its that they come to play in big games. And when they come to play, boy can they be good. The Super Bowl was inches away from being theirs last year. If Cromartie is healthy, there's not too many teams that can handle this young defense. On offense, Beanie Wells, is a nice addition, Fitzgerald is capable of anything, and Warner loves to play in Super Bowls. For the Packers, Rodgers is something else. Far better for the Packers than Favre right now. But I don't think its his time, just yet. Deep down I kind of hope it is. Because I would love to see him put the beat down on Favre. But I don't know. The Cardinals have a knack for looking terrible before they look amazing. And they looked pretty damn terrible last week. I guess its their version of the calm before the storm.
Packers 27 - Cardinals 34
Ps. I took all four home teams. That will never happen.
Images taken from Google Images