Wednesday, January 12, 2011

NFL Playoff Predictions: Round 2

Kansas City will keep it close against the Ravens. There’s no way Seattle can beat the Saints. Are you ready for more bold playoff predictions from RTS?

Graham
Let's start with the easiest call of the week to make: the Patriots are going to steamroll the Jets. Without Jim Caldwell there to save their asses, I don't see any way the Jets beat the Patriots.

By the way, I know the foot fetish jokes are old, which is why I'm furious that I didn't think of this sooner. At work last week a few of us had the Jets-Colts game on and sure enough the foot jokes start flying. So I finally chime in and say, "You think Rex Ryan was furious when barefoot kicking went out of style?", then went on about him approaching Nick Folk in the locker room to convince him to try it, promising to rub his callouses, etc. Maybe it doesn't translate in print, but it killed. But it came weeks after the whole thing came out. I'm slipping.

Anyway, back to Jim Caldwell for a second. What other obvious decisions can he botch?

"Hmmm...my gas gauge says I'm low, but I'm sure I can make it another 50 miles."
"This meat seems awfully undercooked. Whatever, I'm sure I'll be fine."
"Look, we're drafting Hasheem Thabeet and that's that!"

Chris
The Colts-Jets game was exhibit A in why Jim Caldwell sucks. If I recall, we both said he botched the Super Bowl as well (saying the difference in the game ended up being Sean Payton's balls vs. Jim Caldwell's, uh, lack thereof). Anyway, I tweeted this Saturday night, "Jim Caldwell is killing independent Peyton Manning." (You are damn right I just quoted a tweet of myself in an email that I'm going to post on my blog and then link to it on facebook. Take that world!)

Anyway, Peyton's got a few elite years left, maybe what, 1-2, and he has to sit there and watch Jim Caldwell call timeouts for the other team? What an asshole. The Colts aren't my team, but I really am disgusted watching men make millions of dollars to be incompetent. If I wanted to watch assholes make tons of money for being incompetent, I'd start following politics. I'd prefer to watch brilliant coaches one-up each other back and forth, like chess, or something. Is that too much to ask, for coaches to be equally as smart as us at football strategy?

As for your Rexy Ryan joke, it sounds very good. Next time put me on speaker phone. I'm not sure if I told you this, but after the Ryan thing came out, I thought SNL had great material for a skit where Ryan is walking around the locker room after a game and all the players quickly drop their towels covering their man parts when he walks by to cover up their feet instead. How would that not have worked for SNL? Oh yeah, cause no one watches it anymore.

So yeah, I hate to quickly dismiss the Jets at Pats since that's what we did with the Seahawks, but I don't see a scenario in which the Pats lose, unless it involves Jim Caldwell Tony Allen-ing Bill Bilichick. (Tony Allen - verb, means to beat up and steal someone else's job with no consequences).

Graham
I like how we learned nothing from dismissing the Seahawks. "Meh, whatever, the Patriots will handle them, why bother."

Don't think we can do that with the other AFC game though. Baltimore-Pittsburgh is a tough one to call. As a Rashard Mendenhall fantasy owner, I can tell you Pittsburgh's ground game was useless the last 6 weeks of the season. I see no reason why it changes now.

So can Big Ben and the passing game win it? I'm not so sure. But then again, do I want to pick Joe Flacco to walk into Pittsburgh and pull out a road win? I'm not so sure about that either. Here's what I am sure about: this game is going down to the wire. I'm taking the Steelers. Barely.

Chris
Ravens-Steelers is good, hard-hitting, but ultimately boring football. I mean, I know this game is going to be like 13-10 or 17-14 or something like that. I have a hard time believing that the winning team even breaks 20. It's just field position, punts, and you pray you don't make a backbreaking turnover. Can't I just flip it on at the start of the 4th quarter? Philly-GB, that was a game that I had no clue about. It could've been 45-38, one team could've cruised, or it could've been what it ended up being. There are simply not a lot of options with Baltimore-Pitt. Unless Ben date-rapes Joe Flacco or something.

Anyway, this game is a coin-flip to me. And the smart pick is Pitt. But I like Baltimore as a team more, and hate Big Ben. So why not stick with my preseason love of Baltimore?

Graham
I'm with you on the boring part. Reminds me of 1980s NFC East "battles" that announcers over 70 drool over, even though they're boring as hell.

Chicago-Seattle...crap, I have no idea what to make of this game. I hate the Bears, and not just because I'm a Packers fan. As crazy as it is to say about the #2 seed, I just don't think they're that good. And I don't trust Jay Cutler one bit. This seems like one of those games where he could throw 4 picks.

Then there's the Hawks...all jokes aside, from what I saw of the New Orleans game, they were the better team. It would be one thing if the Saints shot themselves in the foot and handed it to Seattle, but that didn't happen. The Hawks legitimately earned that win. You know, just like we predicted. (Note: must redact previous blog post). Now, it's one thing to do that at home. Can they do it on the road, in the cold? I'm saying yes.

I trust Matt Hasselbeck more than I trust Jay Cutler, and I think that makes all the difference. Hasselbeck isn't reckless- if he can't exploit the secondary like he did against New Orleans he'll keep it simple. Cutler can't do that, he only knows one way to play and if it isn't working, he keeps trying anyway. I think he makes a couple of critical mistakes that cost them the game. And the f'ing Seahawks will go to the NFC title game.

Chris
I couldn't, COULDN'T, be less interested in Bears-Seahawks. I assume Chicago will win, but Seattle did throw me for a loop. They are playing for 2nd place, that's all I know. I would be shocked if the winner of this game made the Super Bowl. So really, why put more thought into it? The Bears should win this game and then lose. Although a Pack at Bears title game would have me sweating if I were you.

By the way, how stupid is it that the Falcons win the NFC and then have to play Green Bay instead of Seattle thanks to seeding and division bullshit. Shouldn't the Falcons have the right to pick? I think Bill Simmons wrote about this once upon a time, and I'm too lazy to look it up, but how cool would it be if Sunday night the Falcons and Patriots both had press conferences to announce which team they played next week. And how cool would it be if Bill Bilichick just flipped a coin and said, "I don't give a shit who comes to Foxboro next week. We're kicking their ass." He just throws up a coin and walks out before it lands. This isn't a better idea than the Falcons having to play the Packers instead of the Seahawks?

Graham
As badass as it would be for Belichick to flip a coin and walk out, it would be even better if he didn't even bother attending the press conference and sent an intern instead. Some nervous 21 year-old gets up to the podium..."So, um, this is a bit awkward, but Mr. Belichick said he was going on vacation this week until Sunday and that I should come here instead. He said he was going to some island where they don't even get cell service. He said he'd know who they were playing when the other team ran out on the field. So, uh, here I am I guess."

Chris
Even better! Get Mr. Goddell on the phone right now. Tell him RTS is on the line with brilliant playoff scenarios.

Graham
And while we're on the phone with him, we can ask how he can claim to be concerned with head injuries while simultaneously forcing an 18-game schedule on the players.

Anyway, Packers-Falcons. I'm saying Packers, obviously.

Chris
Speaking of 18 game seasons, why don't they have an 18 game season with 2 bye weeks and each player can only be active for a maximum of 17 regular season games. So, a guy gets injured and misses a week or two, he can play the rest of his games, but the iron men like Peyton and what not, those guys are going to have to be forced to miss 1 game. Now, you wouldn't sit him in the first 10 games, right, cause he might get dinged up later, but still, it's week 14 and the Colts have the 3-9 Cardinals at home. Do you go ahead and just rest Peyton, or does everyone rest in week 20? I'd love to see this.

And how much would it torture you as a fantasy owner, waiting to see which week your guy is healthy and sits out. Plus, would you sit your best players out at the same time and just take a loss, or try to stagger it. Jim Caldwell's head just exploded.

Packers win...but why Graham, or rather, how?

Graham
I hate your idea, just for fantasy purposes. It drives me insane enough as it is. One time during fantasy baseball, after the rosters locked for the week one of my relievers announced he had to miss the week to go to China to finalize the adoption of a kid. I was livid. I don't know if I've ever been that mad. You have 6 months in the winter to take care of that stuff, don't do it during the season.

Anyway, where was I?

Oh yeah, Packers. Look, I quoted all the stats in last week's preview. Not they appear to have a running game as well. And I won't publicly predict against my favorite team. So Packers it is.

Chris
But half of your info from last week revolved around the stats the Packers put up at the Eagles and Kevin Kolb. Now you are just going to ignore the stats that your beloved Cheese put up at Atlanta when they lost? I'm not saying you have to pick the Falcons, but last week, you really did sell me on the Packers. I would've flippantly picked the Eagles and gone 1-3 in my picks. You talked me into a very respectable 2-2 (since no one in their right minds would've picked Seattle). So explain exactly how the Pack win? James Starks is the key difference between this week and your previous Georgia Dome loss?

Graham
There were only a handful of Eagles-exclusive stats, but ok, I'll play along.

-Here is the Packers' margins of defeat for their 6 losses this season: 3, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4. They can play with anyone.

-One of those losses was to Atlanta by a last second field goal. You'll never believe this but the Falcons were in position to make that FG because Green Bay went to the prevent defense. Anyway, in that game Green Bay's leading rusher was Aaron Rodgers, with 51 yards. Brandon Jackson, who is a worse runner than Hasheem Thabeet, piled up exactly 26 yards on 10 carries. Now, I'm not going to suggest that after one good game Starks is the second coming of Barry Sanders, but let's just say he can do a little better than 2.6 yards per carry. That gives Green Bay another weapon to use against Atlanta.

-On the flip side, they held Matt Ryan to 197 yards passing, including just 49 yards to Roddy White. If the Packers can take White out of the game again, that's a big blow to Atlanta.

-Clay Matthews had 0 PDs in that game. That's huge. he needs PDs for them to be effective. In fact, no one on the team had a PD, that has to change.

-One of the days I will figure out what a PD actually is, but I'm wondering now if it's Pass Deflections. Maybe I'll look it up. Maybe.

-Atlanta's three losses this year: Pittsburgh, Philly and New Orleans. They did squeeze out close wins against the Packers, Ravens and twice against Tampa. But they didn't once beat a quality opponent by more than six points. They fattened up against weak teams. By contrast, the Packers beat Philly, NYJ, NYG and Chicago all by seven points or more. We already know Green Bay will keep it close, so who's more prepared for it?

Chris
I am going with the Falcons

Graham
I always thought you were a loser.

Chris
I think this is the hardest game to pick. Atlanta sure did choke and tighten up against the Saints at home a few weeks ago. The pressure is on them. Are we sure Matty Ice won't melt? Zing! I think it'll be Packers at Bears for the right to lose to the Pats. I'm with you buddy. (Cue "That's what friends are for.")

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