Since our preseason NFL picks worked out so well (Cowboys-Saints #1-2 in the NFC!), I knew that Sue's playoff picks would be in high demand. So as I close out the last hour of "work" for 2008, I bring to you some unsolicited thoughts on this year's playoffs that are probably not that different than any of the thoughts by the other 328332093270932732 people who write about the NFL on a regular basis.
1. I can't remember the last time that all four wild card teams were held in higher regard than their division-winning round one opponents. This is what you get when you decide to roll with eight divisions, giving seeding priority to those division winners. The NBA faced a similar problem a few years ago and responded by seeding the playoffs based on records, while still reserving a spot for even the shittiest of division winners. I'd like to see the NFL adopt this format. Actually, I'd really like to see the NFL revert to three divisions per conference, but as OBJ points out, sports leagues rarely revert to the past when it comes to expansion/realignment...it's all about moving forward. So just a simple re-seeding of the playoffs would be fine, just so we don't have to see things like a 12-4 Colts team having to travel halfway across the country to play an 8-8 Chargers squad.
2. I've been picking against the Falcons all season long, and it's served the local football collective well. Why stop now? The Birds are actually favored at Arizona this weekend, but I see Cardinals winning a close one, making everyone who is finally giving the Falcons their due feel like a dunce. The Cardinals run defense isn't half-bad, so if they can stuff the run at the line of scrimmage, they'll be forcing a slumping Matt Ryan to beat them. Even with a shoddy pass D, the Cards will take that matchup with a rookie QB on the road in the playoffs. Likewise, I have no faith in the Falcons secondary or one-man pass rush stopping that sick Zona passing attack either.
3. Joe Flacco and the Ravens stout defense travels to Miami in the other rookie-QB-on-the-road game, which should be a field day for both defenses. Unlike OBJ, who has the Ravens making the AFC title game at a minimum, I view this game as a toss-up. The Dolphins simply don't turn the ball over that much, and much of the Ravens offense this season has been aided by good field position created off turnovers. That said, as a Jets fan, I've watched Chad Pennington in the playoffs, and RayRay, Eddie Reed and Co. have to be licking their chops. The over-under in this game is 37.5. Thats probably 27.5 points too high.
4. I think Indy could/would win the Super Bowl. Other than maybe the Steelers, I'd even anoint them the favorite. But going to San Diego to play a hot Chargers team that always plays them close is the worst possible matchup in Round One for them. By the way, how appropriate was it that LaDanian Tomlinson waited until Week 17 to have his fantasy breakout game, after every league championship had been decided? That, combined with his groin injury and question of if he would be ready for this weekend's game, were easily the locks of the year, at least until the inevitable fracases outside of Philips Arena after the Weezy show tonight have the ATL Spirit brass on the phone Monday at 9am offering Panic a blank check to come back and play next New Year's Eve.
5. I will not be watching the Vikings-Eagles game. Pretty interesting though how the Vikes opened up at 1-point favorites and now, 2 days later, Philly is favored by 3. Everyone's been overrating the Iggles all year long; so again, why stop now? Also, props to Brad Childress for naming Gus Ferotte the starter "for the remainder of the season" only to bench him for an equally inept Tavaris Jackson during the stretch run for the playoffs. That should work out well.
6. Beyond Round 1 in the NFC, the Giants and Carolina look like locks to re-create their epic Week 16 showdown in the NFC title game. I'm taking Carolina in the NFC, for reasons that will probably make no sense on the eve of the NFC title game. OBJ is taking the Giants, because well, it's the easy way out. Personally, I just think he wants to see 80 Archie Manning interviews when his predicted Giants-Colts Super Bowl (aka Manningasm) plays out.
7. As for the AFC, I know the Titans are getting no love; because much like with the Giants beat-up receiving corps, you can't overlook the injuries to their defensive line. Kerry Collins has also looked ineffective of late, and other than Flacco, is probably the worst QB standing in the AFC. As long as they can continue to run the ball, I do think they will make the AFC title game and possibly the Super Bowl; but as I stated earlier, I believe the Colts and the Steelers are the best two teams in the NFL, and you'll see the winner of that matchup (be it in the Divisional Round of the AFC Championship) hoisiting the Lombardi Trophy in early February (move it back to January, Rog).
OBJ AFC: Colts over Ravens
OBJ NFC: Giants over Panthers
OBJ SB: Colts over Giants
Joe Friday AFC: Colts over Titans
Joe Friday NFC: Panthers over Giants
Joe Friday SB: Colts over Panthers
Yeah, I probably should've told you up above that you could've skipped that wack-ass analysis and just peeped the predictions right there, but that's about as fun as listening to someone bitch about if they just hadn't benched A.J. Bryant in Week 14 they would have won their fantasy league. We'll be back next week to completely revamp our predictions and hopefully delete this post without anyone noticing. Until then, Happy 2009 and be safe.