I had to include the self-aggrandizing, self-important title for this post. How could I not? I meant to write up a post last week, but I waited too late and I was too busy bloviating on and on about testosterone replacement therapy. I’ve waited until the last minute to write this one, and this is my favorite time of the NFL season: the divisional round of the NFL playoffs. I haven’t saw the Rams make it this far since January 2005, but despite that, it’s always fun to watch other fans celebrate wins or vociferate season ending woes. The most interesting thing that makes for, well, the most interesting narrative when it comes to every year’s divisional round is how the number one and two seeds will do coming off a bye. Without further ado:
New Orleans Saints @ Seattle Seahawks
I despise the Seahawks and I don’t mind the Saints. Emotional favoritism vs. logical objectivity at each other’s throat here. Back on December 2nd, the Seahawks crushed the Saints in Seattle, and well, a month later, here we go again. It’s going to be rainy and windy — the typical weather that the city of Seattle will bring. Sean Payton has had the Saints practicing elsewhere rather than at a Seahawks’ facility. Smart. There were rumors that the Seahawks taped the Saints’ walkthroughs last time and knew the signals Drew Brees was calling. Hey, any edge by any means necessary to win, right? Huge game, and you can call me whatever you want, but I’m going with the emotional pick here, and I’m always a sucker for seeing a team exact revenge and payback. I love all things ‘revenge’ and ‘payback’. Oh, when the Saints! … Come marching in! … Oh, when the Saints come marching in! … I’ll stop while I’m kind of ahead.
Prediction: Saints 24-16.
Indianapolis Colts @ New England Patriots
Andrew Luck is a molecular structured beast. The Colts are in rebuilding mode, and yet he’s took them to the playoffs in back to back years while only being a second year quarterback. He’s something special and he’s going to be a joy to watch play over the coming years. There’s not one single unlikeable thing about him as a player unless you are a Chiefs fan right now. On the flipside, he’s running into a brick wall tonight against the New England Patriots. I’m speechless over what Tom Brady and Co. have accomplished this season. Honestly, and I know that I ‘nutride‘ (ha) Brady more than I should, I reckon Tommy Three Rings has had a more impressive season than Peyton Manning and the Broncos. Outside of Julian Edelman, the oft-injured Danny Amendola and Kenbrell Thompkins (who?), Brady has only had Rob Gronkowski for a couple of games and nobody else. Listen, I know Peyton tossed 55 touchdowns, but note his weapons compared to Tommy boy. I’m going on a slightly off-topic tangent here, but I’ll go with the seasoned veterans of the Patsies to take down the Colts, but listen, we’ll be seeing Luck and Co. many times in the future, rest assured, but as of now the Patsies are heading back to their third consecutive AFC title game.
Prediction: Patriots 31-24
San Francisco 49ers @ Carolina Panthers
I hope the Panthers win this game outright. The two teams played earlier this season and I believe the Panthers won 10-9, sacking Colin Kaepernick six times. I also believe the Panthers peaked last month and the 49ers are peaking right now with Michael Crabtree having returned, and that team just walked onto the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field last weekend and trumped the hot Packers. The Panthers’ defense is a much more menacing opponent for Kaepernick and Co. to face, but the 49ers’ offense has gone through a lot of progression and maturity since their last game. On the topic of the 49ers’ defense, Aldon Smith is playing at a high level, and I don’t think he was even on the field last time. Cam Newton truly has his work cut out for him. As much as I’d like to see the Panthers win, I’ll roll with my objective pick this time around. The 49ers will meet the Saints in yet another rematch in the NFC title game.
Prediction: 49ers 16-10
San Diego Chargers @ Denver Broncos
I think Peyton Manning is an all-time great, but I’m also a detractor. He’s been a one-and-done player nine times in the playoffs in his career. Football truly is the ultimate team game, but he’s put on a lot of questionable performances over the years, and while the Broncos lost as a team to the Ravens last year, Peyton did throw off his back foot in overtime with that last interception which was a boneheaded Brett Favre-esque decision. Ah, whatever. The Broncos were held to under 30 points three times in the regular season, and the Chargers were the team doing the damage to them twice. They played in Denver about five weeks ago on Thursday Night Football and the Chargers beat them 27-20. I’m proud of Philip Rivers. He’s gotten lost in the shuffle the last couple of years because of Norv Turner and a team with questionable weapons outside of Antonio Gates. Now he’s paired with head coach Mike McCoy (former quarterback, offensive minded coach, positive influence) and received a gift in having a multi-faceted offensive weapon in Danny Woodhead. 32-year-old Ronnie Brown played well stepping in for Ryan Matthews, and the Chargers’ defense has been getting the job done. They’ve won five consecutive games. I’m buying into the hype. I’m really big on the Chargers right now, and they’ll be saying “hi” to Tommy Three Rings and the Patsies in the AFC title game next week.
Prediction: Chargers 34-28