Monday, January 15, 2007

A look ahead to the Conference Championship Games

Today, we'll take a look at next week's AFC and NFC Championship games. But first, let's take a look back at last week's games.

Indianapolis 15 - Baltimore 6

For some reason, I was pretty confident Indianapolis would win this game. it was the only one I was truly sure of. I thought Peyton Manning and the Colts rushing attack could drive the ball on the Baltimore defense. In the end, I wasn't completely right, nor was I completely wrong. While the Colts failed to score a touchdown, Manning was continuously able to convert on third downs. I thought he played an extremely gritty game, and while his stats weren't very good, he was clutch when he needed to be. And with the game on the line in the 4th quarter, the Colts shoved Dominic Rhodes down the Ravens' throat, and there was nothing Ray Lewis and company could do about it. On another note, Steve McNair should be ashamed: in the playoffs, the time when he needed to be good, the reason why his new team signed him, he failed to generate any offense whatsoever. Worse yet, he followed Manning's 2 interceptions with 2 interceptions of his own, on the very next drive. Very un-clutch, and very unlike a veteran quarterback of his stature.

New England 24 - San Diego 21

I should've seen this one coming. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady just don't lose in the playoffs. But as much as it is a rule to not bet against them, it is an even bigger rule never to bet Marty Schottenheimer's teams in the playoffs. The Chargers multiplied mistakes in this game. Fumbles, dropped balls, stupid penalties: they were out of control. Not only that, Marty's play calling was out of control too: the man who has become known as ultra-conservative seemed more interested in shedding those labels than winning the game. He gave the ball to LT, their MVP as well as the league's, only 23 times, even though Tomlinson was averaging over 5 yards per carry. The Patriots seemed to not know what to do when he had the ball. Yet, Marty put the ball in Rivers' hands, and the youngster couldn't pull out the victory. Furthermore, he called a challenge on a play where there was no doubt the call on the field was the right one. He decided to go for it on 4th-and-11 instead of kicking a 46-yard field goal. In a word, he was awful. On the Pats' side, like Manning, Brady had a shaky game. But when it came down to crunch time, like at the end of the first half and in the 4th quarter, he made plays. I thought Belichick made a great call on the 2-point conversion. The Pats have been there, and in this game, it showed. They let the Chargers beat themselves and made enough plays to prevail.

New Orleans 27 - Philadelphia 24

What a game! That was a great one, surely the best one this weekend. On one side, you had the Saints relying on their workshorse, Deuce McAllister. On the other, Westbrook was hitting big runs, and Garcia was killing the Saints with the deep ball. I thought one of the turning points of the game was Shawn Andrews, the all-pro guard of the Eagles, injuring his neck. His replacement, Scott Young, wound up making a couple of key mistakes. The other turning point? Andy Reid making an atrocious call to punt on 4th down with less than 2 minutes left. Even if the Eagles didn't make it, they would've at worse probably surrendered a field goal and at least gotten the ball back 6 points down. Bad call. Otherwise, I salute the Eagles for a strong effort. Their defense, I thought (and I know Huy will strongly disagree) showed a lot of heart at the end of the game. They tried hard. But they were tired. And McAllister was on fire. But again, great game.

Chicago 27 - Seattle 24

Unlike the other NFC matchup, this one was a sloppy affair. Botched punts, broken coverages, fumbles, interceptions. The Seahawks shot themselves in the foot on more than one occasion. The vaunted Bears defense looked awfully human, surrendering big drives to an offense led by Shaun Alexander and Hasselbeck, neither of whom was at 100%. Rex Grossman threw some beautiful passes, really beautiful. But he also made plays that made you wonder if he belongs in the NFL. In the end, it was one of his beautiful passes, to Rasheed Davis in overtime, that won the game for the Bears. Like the Patriots, the Seahawks watched their opponent hand them the game on a plate. Unlike the Pats, they just couldn't grab a hold of it.


The rules say Brady beats Manning. The rules say Belichick beats Dungy. The rules say Manning will choke and Brady will pull it off. I migh be making a mistake, but I'm gonna go against the rules. I think the Colts will run the ball down the Patriots' throats. Watch Joseph Addai on the stretch play. Watch Dominic Rhodes pound it inside. The Colts will put 150 yards rushing on that defense. Manning will throw 1 or 2 picks, but he will pick up huge 3rd downs, like he did against the Ravens. And he will hit Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrisson for a big one each. On the other side, the Colts will stack up 8 men in the box, like they've been doing. The Patriots will respond by throwing a lot. They'll put up some points, but it's gonna cost them a couple of turnovers. And when Brady is on the sideline, with 4 minutes left, waiting to get his offense back on the field, he will watch Addai and Rhodes eat up the clock and score the field goal that puts Indy on top by 10 points with just over a minute left. (Indy 30 - NE 20).


First of all, Grossman will probably serve us with another couple of beautiful deep passes. The Eagle showed the Saints' secondary can be exploited. But unlike Garcia, he will throw a couple of picks as well. And in a game where the Saints will march up and down the field on the Bears' defense, that will prove to be the difference. McAllister will pound it. Bush will bounce it outside. Brees will exploit the weak safeties and throw it over the top. The Saints offense is much better than the Seahawks', and that will translate into a flurry of points. (NO 31 - CHI 17).

Make no mistake, whoever wins the AFC Championship game will win the Super Bowl. Now, let's see what my bros think.

See ya!

Dwarf out.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Wild finishes for 2 wild-card games...

Tonight I'll take a look back at the 4 wild-card games from the past weekend, and then we'll peek ahead to next week's divisional playoff games.

A Look Back

  • Indianapolis 23 - Kansas City 8: Contrary to what the 3 interceptions might say, I don't think Manning had a bad game. He meticulously dismantled the KC defense, and when he and Marvin Harrison didn't miscommunicate (in which case the ball wound up in Ty Law's hands), the Indy offense put points on the board. Still, if towards the end of the 3rd quarter the Chiefs still weren't completely out of it, it's because Manning threw those interceptions. In the end, it didn't really matter because the KC offense took 41 minutes to get a first down. Thumbs down to Herm Edwards for not doing what he could to win the game: putting Damon Huard in should've been done at the beginning of the 3rd quarter.
  • Seattle 21 - Dallas 20: How Dallas figured running the ball was the right strategy against a defense that featured a safety and dime back as starting quarterbacks is unbelievable. I would've put Romo in the shotgun and let him air it out against the depleted Seattle secondary. But I hate the Cowboys and the Fat Tuna, so it's all good. Kudos to the Seahawks for hanging in there and showing the character of a championship team. Oh, and as much as I hate the Cowboys and was happy to see them lose, even I felt bad for Tony Romo. That's just sad... poor guy.
  • New England 37 - NY Jets 16: This game was much closer than the score indicates. The Jets moved the ball well against New England. Pennington had a good game and hung in there for the most part. Towards the end of the game, though, the Jets inexperience showed a bit and that's when the Pats' veterans showed they've been there before. Also, that's when Lawrence Maroney finally got going.
  • Philadelphia 23 - NY Giants 20: Boy can heart make all the difference. In the 4th quarter, Eli Manning showed heart in the face of the blitz-heavy Eagles defense, and he overcame a 2nd and 30 to throw the tying touchdown. But then, Brian Westbrook showed even more heart, running through the Giants defense despite suffering from severe leg cramps at the time. Great performance by a great player.
A Look Ahead
  • Indianapolis at Baltimore: Peyton Manning will not throw 3 interceptions again this week. That being said, I don't see the Indy offense putting up too many points either. So the question is this: can Steve McNair and the Baltimore offense (which has been pretty inept this year) put up more points than the Colts. Short answer: no. Indianapolis 24 - Baltimore 16. (Veillotron's pick: Baltimore. Sweet LP's pick: Indianapolis).
  • Seattle at Chicago: Seattle put up a valiant effort last week. They might get a corner back this week, which would help tons. I believe Chicago will not repeat Dallas' mistake and they will attack the Seattle secondary. The only problem is Rex Grossman is so inaccurate, he will still throw 3 interceptions. Still, the Bears defense will hold. Chicago 20 - Seattle 13. (Veillotron's Pick: Seattle. Sweet LP's pick: Chicago)
  • New England at San Diego: Tom Brady is the best quarterback in the league right now. Plus, he always saves his best for the big games. But as good as he will be next Sunday, he will not be able to keep up with Tomlinson and his gang of SuperChargers. Rivers will make a couple of big plays, but LT will run for 150 yards while catching 1 TD pass and running in 2 more. San Diego 34 - New England 31. (Veillotron's pick: New England. Sweet LP's pick: New England)
  • Philadelphia at New Orleans: It's great to see the Saints there. The Eagles will have trouble stopping the Saints' offense. Lito Sheppard is out, and Brees will go up top often and connect a few times. But this is a different Eagles team than the one the Saints faced earlier in the season. They are showing a lot of heart, and with Brian Westbrook taking on a bigger role, they have learned to finish games. This will be a wild one, and it will go down to the wire. Philadelphia 38 - New Orleans 35. (Veillotron's pick: New Orleans. Sweet LP's pick: New Orleans).
I would like to point out, before I go, that I was 4 out of 4 in my predictions last week. The scores were a bit off, but still impressive. Let's see if my brothers beat me this week.

Dwarf out.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The long-awaited return...

Hey all!

It's great to be back on the blog. Now, things might change a little bit in 2007. After talking to some of my faithful readers, I decided that I will keep the blogs shorter this year, but write more often. So stay on the lookout...

Now, before I get into my predictions for this weekend's NFL Wild Card games, I would like to give a special shoutout toVeillotron, who perhaps had the biggest night in the history of our pool yesterday: his team scored 28 points! Yes, you read that right: the second-to-last team in the pool got 28 points in 1 night. Cujo got a shutout, Ovechkin had 3 points, Marleau had 4, Ryan Smyth also had 4, and he had 6 other players with 2 points. That, my friends, is an amazing night.

Now, onto my NFL Picks:

Kansas City at Indianapolis: The last time these 2 teams met, not a single punt was attempted. This could be the same type of game. 2 things are for sure: Larry Johnson will run wild on the Indy defense and Peyton Manning will torch the very average KC secondary. In the end, it's going to come down to who gets the ball last and who can score the quickest. That's the Colts. Indianapolis 41 - Kansas City 34

Dallas at Seattle:
Here are 2 teams that are literally backing into the playoffs. Neither of those teams has any momentum right now. The Seattle secondary is hurting badly, and that will be exposed by Tony Romo. Still, Romo is going to make mistakes. And with the Dallas defense having huge issues these days, 1 or 2 mistakes could make the difference. Seattle 24 - Dallas 17

NY Jets at New England:
The Patriots suffered a real blow when they lost S Rodney Harrison for this game and possibly more. The Patriots will try to impose their running game, but the Jets will be ready for it. This game is gonna come down to the play of the QB's. In the end, I don't see either Brady or Pennington playing a great game, but when the game is tight, I have learned that you don't bet against Brady. New England 16 - NY Jets 10

NY Giants at Philadelphia:
The Giants finally played a good game last week against Washington, but it was, after all, just the Redskins. Look for D-Coord. Jim Johnson of the Eagles to crowd the line of scrimmage to stop Tiki Barber and try to confuse Eli Manning. That means that there will be single coverage on the outside for most of the game, so the Giants will get a few big plays. But Manning will freeze, he will get sacked, and he will most likely throw 1 or 2 costly Interceptions. Offensively, the Eagles will run the ball well and support Jeff Garcia who will shine. Philadelphia 34 - Dallas 24

See you next week for analysis of the games!

Dwarf out.