By: Jesse Ulrich, Chad Holmes, Jake Sutton, Chris Miller, Jeremy Lippiatt, and Ryan Flippo
The Conference Championships are upon us!.... and we are one step away from another boring Patriots Superbowl. So before we predict the Conference Championships, let's see how we did last week and because we did not cover it last week, we will talk about our Preseason Playoff predictions.
Last Week's Predictions:
Jesse Ulrich: Patriots, Seahawks, Packers, Colts (4-0)
Chad Holmes: Patriots, Seahawks, Packers, Broncos (3-1)
Tyler Dawson: Patriots, Panthers, Packers, Broncos (2-2)
Jeremy Lippiatt: Patriots, Seahawks, Cowboys, Colts (3-1)
Jake Sutton: Patriots, Seahawks, Packers, Broncos (3-1)
Chris Miller: Ravens, Seahawks, Packers, Broncos (2-2)
Ryan Flippo: Seahawks, Patriots, Packers, Broncos (3-1)
So I can unscientifically say that the person who watched the least amount of football this year is the best at predicting the playoffs! But how did we do before the season started?
Our Preseason Playoff Predictions
I am guessing I got my mojo back after my terrible playoff predictions before the season started. Denver over San Francisco in the Superbowl? Yikes! Like everyone else my NFC is just terrible, but my AFC is alright considering how everyone else was also choosing Denver to go all the way, and Peyton Manning's descent into to MJ on the Wizards territory is just terribly sad to watch. It was foolhardy to predict a Superbowl between my favorite living Quarterback, Peyton Manning, and the embodiment of everything I want my Madden Quarterback to be, Colin Kapernick.
Welp, I batted .500 on the AFC and NFC games (but my Panthers pick never had a chance, so really I should've gone 3-4...). The "Patriots" had to pull some shenanigans to defeat the Pre-Cogs but that's what "Patriots" do. I knew Peyton was struggling but I thought that the rest of the team would step up and shut down the Colts but man-o-man was I wrong. That team had zero fire in them. Wasn't even pathetic, just.. sad.
On the NFC side the games ended predictably. The Cowboys had their chances but by the 4th quarter Rodgers decided he had enough and entered his Konami cheat code to finish the game. The Seahawks/Panthers game was still pretty close, but The Chancellor decided he wanted to show boat with a 99yard pick six. He really ruins a lot of games with his awesomeness.
Well after some good games and not so entertaining games from the divisional weekend, I went 3-4 on my Rant9 picks. I correctly tabbed 3 of the 4 Championship contenders from our Preseason picks as well. Even though I did not do the best overall on the preseason picks, I consider this a win. Last weekend the Patriots/Ravens game met expectations; The Panthers could not contend in the long haul Saturday night, as expected; The Cowboys damn near ruined everything but Rodgers went ahead and locked up that MVP vote (so say we all) and the Colts proved that they made the right call opting for Luck over Manning. How terrible did Manning look? Shockingly bad.
I talked about how wrong I was about the Jets and Vikings last week, so I'm going to break away from these losers and recap the Divisional Round games!
Wow, Peyton looked bad. He's looked that way for almost half of the season! I don't care if he was playing injured or not, that whole team looked terrible and he looked like he was just trying to not throw a pick. After the Broncos sacked all of their coaching staff, I'd be shocked if Peyton didn't announce retirement soon. His goose is cooked. Oh hey, guess who has Brock Osweiler in our Yahoo Keeper league? This guy! Other than the Colts winning, the other results weren't entirely surprising (and really neither was the Broncos shitting the bed). The Panthers were in it most of the game until Cam started throwing pick sixes. The Packers won in Lambeau off a karma-tastic call that didn't go Dallas's way, although nice blown call on the Randall Cobb non-catch (maybe?).
The Patriots came back against ELITE QB JOE FLACCO who, in true elite fashion, threw two elite back breaking interceptions with the game on the line. Seriously, the guy is one of the highest paid QBs in the league. ELITE. In far more hilarious news, the Bills also hired Rex Ryan as their coach. A team with no offense and a top defense paired with a coach who knows nothing about offense and failed to develop one in six years with the Jets? THAT'S GOOD HUSTLE!
I was real high on Cincy doing much better, no idea why. I did have the Colts over the Patriots so there is still a possibility I'm right with that one. I was also super high on San Francisco, I just thought they should make it in again I guess. I did have Green Bay and Seattle meeting and Green Bay moving on. I just didn't quite get the pieces in the right places, but I still had some of the pieces in the game. Granted not all of the pieces, but some of the pieces. My Grand Pappy had a saying, “Sometimes the pieces aren't always there and you have to fucking make do with what you fucking have.” Agreed GP, agreed. Oh, also I'm 3-1 from last week, NOT BAD!
My preseason playoff picks look pretty brutal. NO and SF in the NFC is just bad. No two ways around it. At least I had Indy in the AFC championship and on to the Super Bowl. I guess last week Bones should have talked to preseason Bones about whether or not to pick Indy. Not to get all cliche-y, but that was one of the most “Passing of the Torch” games I have ever seen. I, for one, welcome our new neck-bearded overlord. Flacco just couldn't find a way to finish for me in my other miss of the weekend. I guess my grasp of the AFC is not very good. At least I got both NFC games right. Seattle over Carolina was no surprise. That Seattle D at home is a nightmare. I hope Rodgers brought an extra cup. And now for the final game of last week...bwahahahahaha. Sorry Cowboy fans, but that was just too funny. Having your playoff run end based on questionable calls (that are named after a Lion player) after advancing based on questionable calls is just too good. Excellent troll job by the Lions twitter, as well.
Here's hoping I can improve on that 2-2 record from last week.
As we've covered extensively, the NFC stands for No Freaking Clue. I think I suffered from fantasy football inflation when making my NFC picks; I should've known better than to think that NO, CHI and PHI would all be able to march into the playoffs on the back of their respective offenses. I will say, I did at least refrain from openly mocking Tyler for picking DAL to win their division, which is almost as good as actually predicting it myself! In the AFC, the thought never crossed my mind that one division would get 3 teams in, which is why I had SD instead of BAL. I did miss the Cinderella run by the Colts, but I would like to take this opportunity to point out that I am the only one here with a complete Super Bowl still alive from my preseason. I'll hang my hat on that and move on.
All things being equal, I would totally be a Packers fan. A team owned by the town and not some billionaire asshole? Sign me up! But, having New York Jewish parents leads to certain things, like me being a Giants fan. Yet, if someone out of these 4 teams has to win the Superbowl, I want it to be the Packers. Aaron Rodgers is incredible to watch and their receiving corp is fantastic. To the game at hand, it really depends on which Seahawks team shows up, the one killing teams with either terrible QBs or no WRs, or the team from earlier in the year that couldn't seem to score any points and traded away one of the best offensive weapons in the league. If Rodgers is healthy, and the Seahawks can't do anything on offense, he will eventually find a way to score enough to win.
Packers 24-Seahawks 17
I want the Seahawks to lose but I just don't see it happening. They will put on their best Operation Barbarosa impression and blitz Rodgers until he's a steaming hunk of flesh left on the outskirts of Green Bay (wink wink). However, the Packers do have a chance in pulling off the upset. If they can take away the run game from Lynch and Wilson they have a shot. Wilson tossed some beautiful passes last week but you have to play the odds and assume he won't have repeat performance. The Battle of the Surnames is what I'm looking forward to the most. Wilson to Wilson or Rodgers to Rodgers, which will prevail?
Seahawks 28 Packers 24
How great is this? Packers take down the Cowboys and get to go into Seattle to maybe right the wrongs of the past. I hope this time Rodgers will not be afraid to throw it Richard Sherman’s direction… I mean, if Cam Newton can do it, so can Aaron-freaking-Rodgers. Looking back at recent playoff games (in my memory,) I think what wins these divisional rounds and championship rounds ultimately are the teams that adapt and do something new. Maybe it is simply something they have been trying to do but finally succeed at, or the team just tweaks itself just right to overcome the other's game-plan, which was based on film study from the regular season. The Packers have made more changes and will be more unpredictable than the Seahawks for two reasons (1) the running game has come on, and it isnt just Lacy, Starks and Kuuuuuuhhhhn have made good gains too. The O-line opened up huge holes in recent weeks, they have improved to the tune of 152 rushing yards against the #2 rushing defense in the league, the Detroit Lions, then 122 against the Cowboys. If the Packers decide to run, they can do it; and (2) Aaron Rodgers' style has been forced to adapt to only playing on one leg. The Seahawks know that he likes to roll out and throw out of the pocket, and now he can't simply do that because of his calf. I saw in the Cowboys Divisional round game Rodgers was moving around differently than I am used to seeing. That pocket movement made him more unpredictable and opened up big plays. I see more of that freestyle pocket sliding happening this weekend in the Championship game, which should open up huge plays and will be the difference maker. The Seahawks, to me, have not changed a bit. They run the ball, do excellent on defense and have good special teams... all of which can be planned against. I’m going straight homer with this one, and expect the Packers to bottle-up Lynch (under 100 yds, 1 TD [yes, that’s “bottled up” in my opinion for the Beast in his own home]); humiliate Russell Wilson (11-25, 175 yds, 0 TD, 2 INTs, 50+ yds rushing) and go score crazy on that storied defense to shut the 12th man’s face up. I’ll say Rodgers goes 26-33, 300 yds, 3 TDs, 0 ints and Lacy goes over 100 yds with a score.
I’ll take the Pack 28- 'Hawks 16.
Whatever GT says, it will be wrong...
On paper this should be a good game, but in reality the Packers just can't get it done in Seattle.Hey remember that time Golden Tate made that “catch” propelling the Seahawks to victory during the referee strike (how many times do you think that will be brought up by Joe Buck and Troy Aikman)? Or that time they completely destroy the Packers in the opener this season? Pete Carroll has Aaron Rodgers' figured out. Sorry Sutton, I just don't see it happening. Green Bay isn't smash mouth enough and that is how you beat the Seahawks. Plus now that the Jets have hired Todd Bowles as their head coach, I can take my vested interest in Dan Quinn out of the equation. I really don't have anything witty or intelligent to say about this game (story of my life, amirite guys?) so I guess... Seahawks 34, Packers 16?
REDEMPTION! This is where and when the Packers get it. This game is going to be a great one! I don't see the packers losing to the Seahawks a third time in 3 years. I just don't. The Packers are hungry and now their collective dicks are ready to play some smash mouth football. They do need to protect Rodgers since he's kind of gimpy at the moment, and if they give him time and keep him clean then I think they have a win on their hands. I know I picked against them last game, but that was a test. They passed the test, even though the refs said that catch wasn't a catch. Like Grand Pappy used to say, “Barns can't be erect overnight; they need blood, sweat, and non-ginger tears.”
Packers 34 - Seahawks 28
The ghosts of Fail Mary's past haunt this game. Green Bay is looking for redemption. Too bad Rodgers has a bum calf and is playing against the best defense in the NFL. Seattle has an amazing home field advantage as well. It even tricks refs into believing a non-catch is a catch. It's almost magical. I love cheese and beer (what I assume are GB's top exports) way more than fish and smug self-satisfaction (which are probably Seattle's top exports), but I just don't see how Fatty McCheeseblood can beat Douchie McLocallysourced. Wilson is playing at a high level, right now. Even if Rodgers is clearly better, I will take Wilson vs. the GB defense over Rodgers vs. the Legion of Boom.
Seahawks 30 - Packers 20
I like Sutton's point about teams being willing to adapt in the playoffs. I'm not sure that Rodgers being forced into less scrambling is a good thing for the Pack, though, at least at first glance. I suppose if that has caused Green Bay to go to their run game more, that could be a net positive if that means they really can run the ball against that Seattle front and take some pressure off their defense on the road. It seems easy to say this will be Rodgers vs. Wilson and may the best QB win, but if the game becomes high scoring I think that actually favors the Packers. Wilson is the real deal, Lynch is a Beast, the 12th Man is formidable - all those things are true. I just feel like Rodgers may actually be living his own sports movie this season. Go Pack Go!
Packers 35 - Seahawks 31
You know what, I can't do it anymore. I can no longer hate the Patriots, like my friend Jake Sutton, I have come to appreciate their amazing coaching, the clutch play of Tom Brady, and the fact that they have had to do the most creative things in order to win. In a normal universe, they would be my favorite team, they shouldn't be faulted because their coach does not give a fuck about how the media view him. But I can't let go of my sports hate, I NEED MY SPORTS HATE!
Patriots 31-Colts 24
The "Patriots" take on the Colts in what will surely be a classic, nail biting 20 point blowout. Unfortunately, for the Colts they will have to play a team that actually gives a shit and when that happens they get their asses handed to them. However the Colts sorta do have a chance still. They just need Brady and their center to act their respective ages, for Gronk break his bionic arm, and hope Revis takes an early vacation to his own private island, they can totally pull it off....no they can't.
"Patriots" 35 Colts 14
Luck is the next generation’s Brady/Manning, whatever QBs come in the next few NFL drafts will have to deal with his dominance for the next decade. I see them making the playoffs every season he is under center, and he is already proving that he will perform well in the postseason, unlike his predecessor. Brady and the Belichick Patriots are disturbingly good. They are always in the AFC championship or damned close to it. Belichick has to go down as the modern day Lombardi, and I give the team’s success credit straight to him. I believe Brady does too, as he just restructured his deal again to free up cap space for the team so they can retool in the off-season and stay dominant. It is clear to me that Brady understands his success is due to the talent around him placed there by his head coach/GM, not his own talent. Him not being a greedy bastard at the expense of his team’s overall success is another point in his favor making me dislike them that much less. Belichick is just that consistently dominant and he is able to think outside of conventional wisdom (and rules, if it suits him). Now, I want the Colts to win this because I like new people participating in the bowl, but I don’t know if I can pick against the Patriots at home. I’ll take the Patriots to win 31-24 [but will hope for the Colts to win 24-21 on the leg of Vinatieri.]
Thank God the Patriots beat the Ravens last week. Clearly the lesser of two evils. In response to Jesse's editor's note regarding Hernandez: Hey, at least they didn't actively try to cover it up. Dude was released pretty much immediately. I'm not saying they're the classiest franchise in the NFL, but leaps and bounds better than the Ravens. Anyway, on the this week's game! I've gotta admit, I'm pulling for the Colts in this one mainly because I'm a big Andrew Luck fan. Speaking of which, my sister-in-law is a former Colts fan but bailed on them in favor of Denver because she was really just a Colts fan because of Peyton Manning. She claims she and her family have been a Broncos fans her entire life. Really? Because I'm pretty sure you had a Colts jersey at one point. And she's not the only one. There were literally thousands of people who do this shit. People who are just “[insert good player's name here] fans” are the worst type of fans. It's one thing if you aren't an NFL fan and follow teams that your favorite college players go to. I get it. Lots of OU fans used to be Vikings fans because they pretty much only drafted OU players several years ago. That adds up. But let's stop this bullshit fake fucking fannery because if you're going to commit to a NFL team for YEARS you don't get to change because your favorite player left. That said, I'm taking the Colts and Andrew Luck here even though he literally got me 0.36 fantasy points in my championship game. Come the FUCK on man!
Colts 26, Patriots 21.
YES! Colts beat the Broncos, I knew it!!! I knew Manning just wasn't into it and the Colts wanted it so bad they could feel it in their loins and the loins of their fans. This is going to be a tough game, New England can play very well on both sides of the ball and they have a lot of options to get things done. PLUS A DOUBLE PASS PLAY IN THEIR POCKET! I love a good double pass play. I was watching the college bowl games during the Santa season and saw TCU and Baylor both pull off a successful double pass play. I was yelling a lot at the TV during this time, as I really enjoy these. The Pats have a lot going for them, but they have an arrogance of being at this level, yeah we do this shit all the time, we got this. The Colts are like the low man on the totem pole that is happy to just be asked to show up. What the Colts don't know is that their dicks are MORE ready to play than the Pats' dicks! They have this great moment from the win over Denver and it carries over to their WIN over the Patriots! Like my Grand Pappy said, “Colts don't prove me wrong on this one assholes.”
Colts 33 - Patriots 27
Samsonite! I was way off! So, I picked both these teams to lose. I can't wait to get this pick wrong, as well. Luck looks like someone took Brady's playoff mojo and fisted it into Mannings soft, shitty body and then grew a neck beard. He seems to actually be elevating the play of everyone around him. The Patriots are vulnerable. On paper, the Patriots are the more complete team. Better running backs (sort of), better wide receivers (kind of), better tight ends (definitely) , slightly better QB (maybe) and better defense (neither is great). Colts have a little bit of a ToD (team of destiny) feel to them and the Pats aren't good enough to overcome that. Knowing my history though, I can't wait to watch the Pats vs. Pack in the Super Bowl.
Colts 34 - Patriots 27
God bless Luck and his 0.36 championship points. I still needed every Gronktastic point of my own to take advantage of Tyler's misfortune, though. And it's Gronk that really sways this game for me. It's cliche to say at this point, but he really is a matchup nightmare. Vontae Davis is a great CB for Indy, but I don't believe he can cover Gronk 1-on-1 all game long. And whatever moves Pagano makes to compensate for Gronk's effect on the Colts D, I'm pretty sure Belichick already has 3 counter moves ready to deploy. I agree with Bones: the Pats are vulnerable, but the Colts are more vulnerable, especially on the ground. The Pats are practically Borg-like in their ability to adapt their personnel and formations to take advantage of those vulnerabilities in the most brutally efficient way possible, and Gronk's unfair prowess as both blocker and receiver unlocks all of that for New England. Resistance is futile.
Pats 30 - Colts 23