Week 20: #NFL Game Predictions (w/ spreads & analysis)
CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND EDITION
Green Bay Packers 13-4 (+7.5) @ Seattle Seahawks 13-4 (46.5): Seahawks 27-24 Seahawks 28-22 (OT)
Sunday, 3:05 PM, CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA (Weather: 50% rain, mid-40s)
Reasons: Aaron Rodgers can’t do it alone. The Packers running game came into its own as the season progressed, including a 100-yard performance from Eddie Lacy against the Cowboys in the Divisional Round, and the defense is vastly improved, including the 10th-ranked run defense, and yet Green Bay is going to need every ounce of it and much more. The Seahawks are simply dominant. The Seahawks are the NFL’s top rushing attack, pass defense, and scoring defense; the Seahawks are also the league’s 3rd-ranked rush defense and 10th-ranked scoring offense. The team’s only weakness is the passing game - ranked 27th. That’s right, Russell Wilson is the statistical weakness on this team. The Carolina Panthers came into CenturyLink field perhaps the hottest team in the league outside of New England and its host, and they had their hearts ripped out in the 4th quarter, specifically by one Kam Chancellor, who ran back an INT for a TD and leapt the line twice in an effort to blocked a late FG; he was actually successful the second time, but it was called back on a penalty. Aaron Rodgers can’t do it alone, and he won’t have to with these improved Packers, but even if the eventual league MVP were healthy the Packers wouldn’t stand much of a chance…and Rodgers isn’t healthy. The Seahawks become the first team since the ’03-’04 Patriots to return to the Super Bowl, and most likely face the Patriots when they get there.
Are you kidding me? The Packers led 16-0 lead at the half, and realistically, it should have been 24-0. Then the Packers held a 19-7 lead after a Mason Crosby FG with 10:53 left in the 4th quarter. That lead lasted through 5:13, when strong safety Morgan Burnett intercepted Russell Wilson, but then inexplicably fell down for a short 4-yard gain, rather than the potential 20+ yard gain that appeared to be attainable. Burnett claimed he didn’t want to fumble, momentarily forgetting he was running against the Seahawks’ offense, not their famed defense. Wilson was hit so hard on a crosscheck block by Clay Matthews on the INT that it was literally a miracle Wilson wasn’t injured. Miracles you say? Funny I should mention it. Following that play all hell broke loose…for the Packers. It would be all heaven breaking loose for the Seahawks, as the Good Lord finally finished his chores and got to the game just in time to help his proud servant Russell pull off the most improbable comeback I’ve seen since the old Houston Oilers lost a 32-point lead to the Buffalo Bills in 1993. Following the Wilson hit the Seahawks circle the wagons and immediately got the ball back. Wilson scampers into the End Zone with 3:52 remaining. It’s now 19-14. The Seahawks, feeling their newfound momentum, decide on an onside kick. The Packers put their hands team on the field and Steven Hauschka kicked the ball right to the Packers’ sure-handed Brandon Bostik’s…facemask. Obviously the Seahawks recovered the onside kick. Seahawks ball. Beast Mode, touchdown. Wilson to Willson, two-point conversion. HaSean “Ha Ha” Clinton-Dix, the Alabama rookie who had played one of the games of his young career, inexplicably stops defending Willson and literally allows the easy conversion. It’s now 22-19 with 2:09 remaining. The Packers are literally watching this game slip through their fingers after being outscored 22-3 in the second half. The Packers managed only 48 yards on the ensuing drive, but Crosby hit a 48-yard FG with 0:14 remaining. Overtime. Did you really expect the Packers to get the coin toss after all this? The Packers held them to 3rd down, before two straight 35-yard bombs to Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse sealed the game. The Seahawks became the only team since the 2003-2004 New England Patriots to return to the Super Bowl, and will try to become the first team since those Patriots to win back-to-back Super Bowls. What do you know; they’re playing the Patriots.
Indianapolis Colts 13-5 (+6.5) @ New England Patriots 13-4 (54): Patriots 30-21 Patriots 45-7
Sunday, 6:40 PM, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA (Weather: 90% rain, high 30s)
Reasons: First the Colts beat a Bengals team without AJ Green and then they played a Broncos team without a healthy Peyton Manning. I’m not saying the Colts’ playoff run hasn’t been impressive so much as I’m saying the Colts should still be considered a one-dimensional team that relies far too much on the league’s best young quarterback. Sure, the Colts ran for 114 and 99 yards in their two playoff wins, respectively, but 46 of those yards came from the aforementioned Andrew Luck, and without Luck’s totals the Colts averaged only 3.5 yards per carry. As for the defense, don’t be fooled by the 11.5 ppg Indianapolis allowed over the same stretch – I refer you to line one. Like I said, the Colts are a one-dimensional team. The Patriots are not, and they’re fresh off a battle with their nemesis Baltimore Ravens, false accusations and all, in which New England came from down 14 points twice to get the chance to host the AFC Championship – their fourth straight.. The Patriots appear to be at full strength for the occasion for the first time in those four games, and it couldn’t come at a worse time for the statistically inferior Colts. To compound matters, Mother Nature plans to attend the game with rain, a wintry mix, and near-freezing temperatures. Not only is that terrible news for the dome-dwelling Colts, it’s great news for the weather-tested Patriots. The Patriots will attempt to win their 4th Super Bowl in six tries during the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era (only 14 years), and will most likely face the first team to return to the Super Bowl since they last did it in ’03-’04.
First it was the Tuck Rule, something completely out of the New England Patriots’ hands, which first formed to Anti-Patriots Alliance (APA). The tuck rule was somehow invented on the spot, the APA claims, to benefit a coach who had enjoyed minimal NFL success to that point with the Cleveland Browns, and a second-year quarterback taken with the 199th pick in the draft. Then it was bitter Rams’ players, specifically Marshall Faulk, formerly my favorite all-time running back due to his skill and surname, who came out and accused the New England Patriots of cheating by filming the Rams’ practices and getting a Super Bowl edge. The APA wasn’t as strong in the early years, so this claim took years to gain steam. The Greatest Show On Turf has never accepted being beat by the lowly 2001 Wild Card Patriots. I wonder if the Patriots ever thought of accusing the New York Giants of anything after their (two) improbable Super Bowl win(s)? Then it was SpyGate. The New England Patriots were allegedly filming the New York Jets’ practices and gaining advantages. Guess who blew the whistle? Eric Mangini, former Patriots’ coach, the very man responsible for training the video coordinator accused of filming practices. So Mangini sees his trainee, assumes he’s filming practice, and rats out the team that essentially started his NFL career. “Rat” assumes the Patriots actually filmed anything. The NFL confiscated the tapes. However, people are more willing to think that the NFL was involved in some huge inexplicable cover up with the Patriots rather than assuming there was nothing to see, and with the league knowing Mangini had already embarrassed himself within NFL circles, spared him more embarrassment for blowing a pointless whistle and simply put the matter to rest. Yes, the NFL fined Bill Belichick and the Patriots and took away a draft pick for SpyGate, but the same league said they didn’t know about the Ray Rice tapes, and then hired their friends to investigate them. Do you trust this league? Then it was the Aaron Hernandez situation, where people claimed the Patriots knew of Hernandez’s gang ties, but ignored them to get his services, as if the Patriots abandoned all of their morals so they could have a potentially great tight end. See, this is what people conveniently forget: even if all of these allegations were true, the games still have to be played and players like Hernandez still have to develop. People even grasped at straws with Bill Belichick’s recent new formations, all legal, and tried to claim Belichick cheated his way through the playoffs. Finally we sit in the midst of DeflateGate, the latest Patriots witch hunt, and perhaps the most comical of all. Without even belaboring the issues, suffice it to say these types of things happen all the time in games, including examples from other teams this year, there’s almost no way to prove Belichick had anything to do with deflating balls even if it were true, every expert that has been asked has claimed it’s not an issue, and certainly wouldn’t have affected the Patriots-Colts game, and most importantly, the officials were handling the balls the entire game, yet it’s a media firestorm after the fact. Please. The fact is we’re talking about the New England Patriots, and they don’t play ball too far down the road from Salem, MA. They know all about witch-hunts. No, this game doesn’t even deserve a review, because there was no game. The Patriots, as they have in every other meeting with Andrew Luck, demolished the Colts in every aspect of the game. The only story here is the rest of the country’s pathetic attempts to constantly try and take what the Patriots have accomplished away from them. Guess what? Your team cheats. Every team does. The greatest teams in history did. Your coaches pull every stop and search for loopholes. Your team has a scumbag on it. And your team does whatever it takes to win. Here’s the difference: your team doesn’t, the Patriots do. The New England Patriots have nothing to apologize for. Bill Belichick is the greatest coach in the history of this failing game, and Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback who has ever played in it. Get over it.
Check back Saturday for Week 21 #NFL Game Predictions (w/ spreads & analysis) SUPER BOWL EDITION at ProFootballMedia.com!
2014 Playoff results (through Championship round): 7-3 wins (.700); 7-3 v. spread (.700)