Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Championship Weekend

I tried...I gave up

This refrain is from one of my favorite NIN songs. And it applies to me in a myriad of ways. But today, we're talking about my penchant to make incorrect football predictions.

I resisted a preseason prognostication post, since my previous attempts were as predictive as a primate with a dartboard. (Pardon me, I'll stop now. Probably.) And you'll note an absense of playoff predictions as well, which turned out to be a good thing. So far, I'd have compiled a mediocre 5-3 record, only one game better than the proverbial monkey.

But I'm going out on a limb and risking potential embarrassment today anyway. There's something almost seductive about having a hunch, even when rational examination of previous results shows that my hunches are as useful as Eli Manning in a windy Giants stadium.

This won't be a surprise, but I'm picking both favorites. Of course, the favorites were 1-3 last week, so it's not such a no-brainer. But I see both Pennsylvania teams winning, and winning big. I'm stealing from TMQ here, but bear in mind this promise as you read my take: All Predictions Wrong Or Your Money Back.

Baltimore at Pittsburgh: A rookie coach/QB combo has never won two playoff games before in NFL history...can we expect Harbaugh and Flacco to win three? Baltimore has played 18 straight weeks since their weather-induced bye in Week 2, including a very physical smackdown against Tennessee that left three defensive starters questionable for this game. Joe Flacco, a rookie QB, has been flawless, and is due for a big mistake in a big spot. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh's running game is getting healthy at the right time, and they are playing better now than they have all year. I see a standard Pittsburgh modus operandi for this game, with a close first half turning into a second-half blowout, helped along by a defensive TD.

Philadelphia at Arizona: Arizona is playing much, much better than when the Eagles crushed them 48-20 on Thanksgiving. Especially on defense, where they've forced nine turnovers in two playoff games, and given up fewer yards than any other playoff teams still alive (which include the first, second, and third-ranked defenses in the NFL.) But let's not get carried away...Arizona has beaten a rookie QB and a choke artist in two games. And offensively, they've faced two teams that couldn't rush the passer...which is the only way to neutralize the Cardinals passing game. The Eagles are a different kind of that is playoff-tested, doesn't make big mistakes in big games, and will pressure Kurt Warner like no one else in the NFC. For the Cards to win, they'll have to avoid mistakes under pressure from one of the best defenses in the NFL, in the biggest game in the history of their franchise...while forcing the battle-tested Eagles into mistakes of their own. I just don't see it. It'll be closer, but 31-17 still isn't close.

One more free prediction for next season: The 'best division in football' NFC South will have only one team with a winning record. Yes, they did compile the most wins of any division this season...but look at the competition: the laughable AFC West (no teams better than 8-8) and the mediocre-at-best NFC North, including the 0-16 Lions. This powerhouse division finished 0-4 against the NFC East and 0-2 in the playoffs, which is a glaring indicator of how good these teams really are when matched up against decent competition. I just had to get that shot in, because I'm sick of hearing how good these teams are, or more accurately...were.


Post a Comment

<< Home