“Best weekend of the NFL season” my ass. Maybe if you’re a fan of one the 8 remaining teams. As an Eagles fan, I’ll take the anticipation and lead up to Week 1 before my hopes are eventually crushed, thank you very much. But I digress…
Apologies for the lack of content yesterday. I was violently ill. I’m still very banged up today, but at least I’m a semi-functional human. So I have that going for me. Anyway, this will be an abbreviated picks post.
The Ravens just aren’t a very good football team, in my opinion. Two things stand out to me on the Ravens:
1) They were not a good road team in 2012. The Ravens were 4-4 on road, which doesn’t sound all that bad, but when you look at each of those 4 road wins individually, they’re very unimpressive:
- 9-6 squeaker over the 2-14 Chiefs.
- 25-15 win in Cleveland in a game the Browns led with 5 minutes to go.
- 13-10 win in Pittsburgh with no Ben Roethlisberger.
- 16-13 OT win in San Diego in a game they should have lost if not for the Chargers’ inability to make a tackle on 4th and 29.
2) The Ravens defense is high on reputation, but was mediocre this season. 17th in yards, 20th in points. Ray Lewis in particular had a bad season this year. He missed 10 games, but even when he played he wasn’t anything remotely close to the player he once was. Lewis has 1 TFL this season.
Last year he had 3. That was good for 187th in the NFL. Frankly, lack of impact on the field is probably why he’s retiring. My guess is that he knows he’s not the same player anymore, and doesn’t want to go out as a liability, which I believe he has already become.
Meanwhile, the Broncos have impact players all over the field. They had 4 legitimate All Pros in Peyton Manning, Ryan Clady, Von Miller, and Champ Bailey (2nd team), but more importantly, their All Pros also happen to play the important positions on the field.
Love Denver, big… 34-13.
When these two teams played Week 1, the 49ers absolutely whipped the Packers in the trenches on both sides of the ball. While that was over 4 months ago, getting whipped in the trenches isn’t the same as a QB or some other skill position guy having a bad day. If you can so thoroughly dominate a team Week 1, I don’t see much of a reason you can’t do it in the playoffs 4 months later unless you’re suffering from injuries up front, which the Niners are not (for the most part). A QB can have a bad game and bounce back. I’m not sure entire offensive/defensive fronts can magically get that much more physical over the course of a season.
It’s not easy betting against Aaron Rodgers, who is the superior QB in this game by a long shot, in my opinion, but I simply don’t trust the Packers’ ability to protect him. Niners 26-21.
What are the Falcons’ biggest strengths offensively? Receiving trio of Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Tony Gonzalez. However, Seattle may very well have the best secondary in the NFL, and a group of speedy, talented linebackers that can all cover.
What are the Falcons’ biggest strengths defensively? Ability to force turnovers. They tied for 4th in the NFL in takeaways this season. The Seahawks only turned the ball over 18 times this season (7th in the NFL).
Meanwhile, what is the Seahawks’ biggest strength offensively? The run game. 2nd in the NFL. The Falcons were 21st against the run this season.
Seattle’s win last week in DC was Matt Ryan’s worst nightmare.
In Week 13 of the 2010 season, the Pats bent the Jets over their knee and spanked them to the tune of 45-3. A month and a half later, they lost to those Jets in the divisional round of the playoffs.
In Week 14 this year, the Pats had their way with the Texans 42-14, and the Texans really limped down the stretch.
What happened to the Patriots in 2010 is certainly possible, but I don’t see it. The bottom line for me is Tom Brady >>>>> Matt Schaub.