NFL Picks - Super Bowl XLIX

New England vs. Seattle

Another year, another pointless regular season. I'm sorry for ruining it for you back in August, but if I remember correctly I did say "spoiler alert." Hopefully you can forgive me and try to enjoy what should be a tremendous Super Bowl match-up. Listening to the noise out there, most media folks say this game won't be as lopsided as last year's finale; a bold prediction considering that that was an historical blow out. Dynamite stuff guys. Let us not forget that prior to that game many were forecasting a very competitive contest much in the same way they are this time around. I'm not saying that I expect a shellacking this Sunday, but merely predicting a closer game is no prediction at all. If we look back to more recent history, namely Championship Sunday, the Patriots are the ones coming off a blowout win after hammering the Colts by 38, whereas the Hawks had to scratch and claw and beak(?) their way to an OT win. At first glance this would indicate that New England is playing better ball and should be favored on Sunday. However, if we dig deeper into Super Bowl history we get a different perspective. Seven Super Bowl match-ups have featured a team that won their conference championship game by 20+ points versus a team that won theirs by 7 or less. The latter squads are 6-1 in the Super Bowl. Looking at that I feel like I have no choice but to pick Seattle. It's nice when juicy statistics like that line up with personal beliefs (and yes, the beliefs are also occasionally juicy). The Hawks probably feel like nothing can stop them after their miraculous comeback against Green Bay. Consequently I expect the D to be hunting come Sunday; look for a New England fumble on their first possession. That's it folks! Enjoy the game and I'll see you in seven months ... Oh wait, I almost forgot.

Seahawks 24-17


NFL Picks - Conference Championships

Green Bay @ Seattle

It's the league's #1 scoring offense against the #1 scoring defense. Of course, the Packers are only tops in points when you factor in all of their games (which isn't totally unfair), but if we look at Green Bay on the road (where the placement of the 'at sign' above would indicate that they are this Sunday) we'll find that they only put up a pedestrian a 21 points per game, over 17 less than at home. You might even say that in this situation they're calf the team they are at Lambeau. If Aaron Rodgers looks as hobbled as he did last week the Hawks' defense could very well dominate. And if Rodgers looks fully healthy ... copy and paste ... the Hawks' defense could very well dominate. As for the other side of the ball, I think we're looking at a big rushing day from the home team. And when I look at that what does it look like?

Seahawks 30-14  

Indianapolis @ New England

Brady and Belichick are back in the AFC Championship game. They've been here a lot, I think it's like nine times or something. As for their opponents, this is a first for Luck and Pagano ... wait a minute, Luck and Chuck! Start printing the shirts, and don't forget to send me all the profits. Andrew Luck's brief but devastating history against the Patriots has been well documented. With Luck at QB the Colts are 0-3 against New England, losing by an average of 26 points with the defense surrendering at least 42 in each game. I don't expect the Pats to reach that total again after seeing the Indy D dominate last week in Denver. Then again, they were playing against what I can only assume was Cooper Manning in his brother's uniform. I'm not sure why it happened, but the details will inevitably surface, and I'm guessing it will involve hostages or diarrhea ... or both? Anyway, an improved effort from the Colts' defense should make this closer than their previous contests, but I still expect New England to move on.

Patriots 31-23


NFL Picks - Divisional Round


Baltimore @ New England

It's time for round two of the NFL playoffs and boy do we have some interesting match-ups in the AFC. Interesting, but also a bit predictable (COUGH ... Go back and check my preseason picks ... COUGH ... Ignore half of the NFC ... BURP ... Whoops, I thought that would be a cough). There's plenty of postseason history between these two squadrons recently, with this being the fourth time the Ravens have made a January trip to Foxborough in the past six seasons. Up until this point Baltimore is 2-1 in those games, so we shouldn't be shocked if they are able to pull off the upset on the road. Then again, I'd be less shocked if the Patriots won. Then again, I'd be even less shocked if I had worn rubber gloves that day that the power lines went down; I might have been able to save those people too. I expect a close game that the home team finds a way to win.

Patriots 24-20

Carolina @ Seattle

When asked about his team's three consecutive losses to the Seahawks in the last three seasons Cam Newton said that he's not worried because both teams are different now. Well he's right, the Seahawks' defense is better than they were when they held the Panthers to 9 points in October. And this game is being played in Seattle, which cannot be said about any of the past three contests. In other words, Newton better hope that this game is similar, because if it's different it probably means things will be much worse for him.

Seahawks 23-6 


Dallas @ Green Bay

It's the match-up America wanted. And from the looks of it it's the match-up the NFL wanted as well. The Cowboys showed great determination last week in their comeback victory over Detroit. Nothing was going to stop them, not even an announced pass interference call. But so what if Dallas needed all the help it could get? They were at home, a place where they're a mediocre team. Now they get to go on the road where they're undefeated. Unfortunately for them the game is in Lambeau Field where no road team has won this season. The Packers have been dominant at home, especially on offense, scoring an average of 39.8 points per game. The cold weather and playoff atmosphere should bring that total down a bit, but I'm guessing they'll still score enough to get the win.

Packers 30-23

Indianapolis @ Denver

In his rookie season Andrew Luck made it to the playoffs and lost in the first round. In his second season he got to the divisional round and lost. So now in his third year it would only make sense for him to get to the conference championship. However, Peyton Manning (former Colts QB, look it up) and the Broncos stand in his way. Denver is undefeated at home this season and 24-3 in the Manning era. But included in those three L's is a playoff loss in the divisional round, so an upset here is not out of the question. The one thing I keep coming back to is Andrew Luck's tendency to turn the ball over; he's given it away 9 times in four playoff games. Committing turnovers on the road is hard to overcome, especially in the postseason. This might explain why Luck has yet to win a road playoff game. I don't think this will be his first.

Broncos 34-24


NFL Picks - Wild Card Round


Arizona @ Carolina

After Week 11 the Cardinals were 9-1 and the Panthers were 3-7-1. Now six weeks later the latter hosts the former in the opening game of the playoffs. Is it fair? Perhaps no, but are these the rules set forth by the NFL that all 32 teams agreed upon? After e-mailing representatives from all 32 teams I can now confidently say yes. The old adage states that defense wins championships, well Arizona better hope it also wins Wild Card games, because if it comes down to their offense they have no chance. Carolina had an abysmal stretch this season in which they went two months without a victory, but they've reeled off four straight wins to claim their spot in the playoffs. Apparently they've learned from their past mistakes. Just take it from Cam Newton, who earlier this season (actually) said "hindsight is 50-50."

Panthers 16-9   

Baltimore @ Pittsburgh

This one's gonna be a knockdown drag-out fight. After that gets cleaned up and the appropriate suspensions are applied it should be an interesting game as well. The Ravens haven't been very impressive the last few weeks against inferior competition, so a trip to Pittsburgh may be too much to handle. But then there's the matter of LeVeon Bell's knee, and the fact that it's not working correctly at the moment. It's rare in today's NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE that an absent running back would sway my pick, but that's the case here.

Ravens 27-24


Cincinnati @ Indianapolis

Andy Dalton on Wild Card weekend. I've seen this movie before ... Oh, sorry I was just flipping through channels and Drop Dead Fred was on; I guess I just started typing out my thoughts. But anyway, Andy Dalton desperately needs a win to get over the hump and to prove to those close to him that those past playoff mistakes weren't his fault, his imaginary friend was the one wreaking all the havoc ... Sorry, DDF seeping in there again. Unfortunately I just don't see it happening for Dalton and the Bengals. Why? Because I've never seen it happen before. And I only watch things I've seen before. Hence me staring blankly at Drop Dead Fred as I type ... Oh! Fred just looked up a woman's dress! She wasn't wearing any panties! Yikes, Fred is a pretty big creep.

Colts 31-24

Detroit @ Dallas

Much has been made of Ndamukong Suh and his stomp on Aaron Rodgers' leg last week, but c'mon, what is he supposed to do, not step on a guy? Besides, as Suh said, his feet were numb, which explains why for most of the game he was comically stumbling and sliding around the field Keystone Cops style. This Sunday the Lions and Cowboys are playing in a climate-controlled stadium, so any claims of numb body parts will ring false. Outside of the owner's box that is, because clearly Jerry Jones' altered face no longer has any feeling. There's a pretty handy stat that helped me pick this game: Matthew Stafford is 0-17 on the road against winning teams. GULP!

Cowboys 27-17