Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Playoff Picks ... And NFL Draft Preview

I haven't been able to sleep much lately, thinking about three things:

1) How the heck did I miss all four playoffs picks last weekend?
2) Besides the Packers, who should I cheer for this weekend?
3) Is there any difference between being 'melodramatic' and simply being 'dramatic?' Why add the extra two syllables, unless you're talking about Carmelo Anthony and trying to be clever?

I have no answer for the third question. For the first question, the answer I've come up with is this: I got robbed. Plain and simple. My analysis was spot on, and I was betrayed by Tom Brady, who played his worst game in 2 months, and by Baltimore's defense falling asleep on a 3rd and 19, and by Seattle's inability to take advantage of another token bad game by Cutler. And I may have slightly misunderestimated the awesomeness of Aaron Rodgers.

I went 0-4 last week but I am holding my head up high, because my picks made good sense. If those games were all played again right now, I'd keep my picks exactly the same. Except maybe switch to the Packers +2.

Anyway, now I've moved on to the Championship round, in which I'll try to recover a winning record for the playoff picks. The picks are as follows:

Packers (12-6) @ Chicago (12-5)
Predicted Line: GB by 3
Actual Line: GB by 3.5

So let me get this straight: because of the way the seedings are determined, all Chicago has to do is beat a 7-9 team at home and they host the NFC Championship game? Does that seem fair to anyone? Chicago isn't even a top 10 team in the NFC! On a neutral field, I'd easily pick Green Bay, Philly, Atlanta, New Orleans, NY Giants, Tampa, Dallas, and probably even the Lions. I officially hate the way the NFL playoffs are set up.

I'm taking Green Bay in this game, even though I wish the line were 1 point lower. I like their advantages in key matchups. Chicago's best player is Julius Peppers, and he faces a strong LT in Chad Clifton. Chicago's only strength on offense is Cutler's arm, and Green Bay has a great secondary and a great pass rush to neutralize him and force him to make his typically terrible decisions. Chicago's excellent linebackers won't play a part because Green Bay rarely runs the ball and Rodgers is smart, creative, athletic and prudent. He throws great in the pocket, or out of the pocket. I like Green Bay's coaching staff in a huge mismatch over the goons named Mike Martz and Rod Marinelli, who helped run the Lions into the ground.

One thing that scares me is the "Nobody believed in us!" angle for Chicago, who is being disrespected as underdogs in their own stadium. But for one thing, Solider Field has never been known as a difficult place to play. For another, Chicago is disrespected because they suck, and even their own fans would admit this. And lastly, I think every player in the Bears' locker room knows that they have a very sub-standard quarterback and they've been lucky to win as many games as they have, dating back to the egregious week 1 game against Detroit. When players don't believe in their quarterback (and how could anyone believe in Jay Cutler?), it makes it hard to rally around him and win a tough game. I don't like Chicago's offense one bit in this game. Green Bay might actually have the best defense in the NFC, though their offense gets all the attention.

Don't be surprised if the Packers defense scores more points than the Bears offense. Also, don't be surprised if I miss my pick, yet again, because rarely does the better team actually win thanks to the ridiculous homefield/seeding rules. I'm still mad that 7-9 Seattle got to host 11-5 New Orleans. That game really did ruin the NFL Playoffs. It should have been in New Orleans, which would have been a win for the Saints, which means the Saints would have played Atlanta last week, and Green Bay would have beat Chicago, giving us a much better NFC Championship. The Saints got screwed, and so did each and every one of us who call ourselves football fans!

Go Packers. There is no upside to Jay Cutler, Mike Martz, Rod Marinelli and Brian Urlacher joining together on a stage to celebrate a Super Bowl championship. Especially when you consider that if Calvin Johnson's catch had been correctly ruled as a catch, Chicago would have been the #6 seed instead of the #2 seed. That one terrible call was the difference between 4 playoff seeds. Really?

Final Score: Green Bay 33, Chicago 10

Jets (13-5) @ Steelers (13-4)
Predicted Line: PIT by 5.5
Actual Line: PIT by 3.5

Well, quite simply there is no joy in picking this game. These are my two least favorite football franchises, and one of them will be in the Super Bowl. It makes me sick at night. I can't sleep.

But I have decided who to cheer for. It might not surprise you. The Jets.

Why? Because as much as I don't want to see Rex Ryan basking in his own immortal greatness, I thought of 3 reasons I wouldn't actually hate the Jets winning the Super Bowl.

1) Jason Taylor. Good guy, great career, he deserves it.
2) Mike Greenberg. My favorite radio personality by a mile. I would be happy for him.
3) Mark Sanchez. Huh? No, not that I like him or that he deserves it. But as a Lions fan, I want Sanchez to win a title for one weird and twisted reason: it demands excellence and accountability from Matthew Stafford.

When the QB who was taken 5 picks after you has a 6-1 playoff record and you have a 3-10 overall record, maybe the adoring media will hold you to a higher standard, and stop picking pieces of glitter out of your poop. Stafford is a B U S T, and nothing could make that more obvious that Sanchez holding the Lombardi trophy in one hand and the MVP trophy in the other.

Why do I want Stafford to fail, you might ask? Well, because I want the Lions to win. And the sooner we dump his ass and play Shaun Hill, the better chance we have of winning 8 or 9 games next year. Sorry for being realistic, but the line "If Stafford can stay healthy" just doesn't do much for me. I've seen Stafford healthy, and it ain't pretty.

So as much as I detest the Jets, and I do, I'll root for them wholeheartedly when my wife isn't watching.

Seriously. She caught me rooting for Baltimore last week and we had a pretty serious fight about it. It snowballed into her feeling that I did not like her family. It got pretty ugly. I tried to explain that it's merely about football, but in Pittsburgh, football=life, which is to say that nobody really cares about football.

They think being a "football town" means great football fans, but it actually does not. The opposite is true. Everyone is so enamored by their Black & Gold clothes and Bradshaw on a Wheaties box that nobody cares to watch the game. Nobody pays attention to the 60 minutes of the field. It's about cheering for a city, not for a team of 53 players. And that takes away from the whole point of the dang thing. Steelers fans essentially root for themselves, and not for their team.

They've won enough, and they don't deserve another Super Bowl. Three championships in 6 years would be a shame for a team that truly isn't elite. They are not a dynasty; not even close. They don't dominate; they merely survive.

As I explained to my wife last week, if the Steelers suffered an 0-16 season, all of their fans would disappear. They would put their stupid memorabilia in a closet and forget about it. There is no loyalty. There is no love. There is just loud, obnoxious, sense-of-entitlement gibberish coming from their mouths.

That's why I can think of nothing worse than a Steelers-Bears Super Bowl.

But for the pick, I am taking Pittsburgh, because they are a better team and they're at home, and they only need 3.5 when this line should be closer to 7.

The Jets put everything into last week's game and they were frankly relived to win. They didn't expect Brady to lay a huge egg and basically play like a backup. The Jets did not win last week; the Patriots merely lost. Same is true for the PIT-BAL game. Baltimore had them 21-7 at halftime, but gained a total of 4 yards in the 3rd quarter to blow the lead, then gave up a 3rd and 19 with 3 minutes left in a tied game. If they had stopped Pittsburgh and forced a punt, that game was theirs.

Both of these teams are lucky to be where they are, but the Jets are more lucky. They barely even belong in the playoffs. They beat Denver thanks to a phantom pass interference call (week 6), beat Detroit thanks to Suh's extra point and Stanton's incomplete (week 9), beat Cleveand thanks to an overtime fumble (week 10), and beat Houston thanks to an 80 yard drive in the final 50 seconds which happened because of blown coverage on 3 seperate plays (week 11).

The Jets went 11-5, but could have easily, EASILY, gone 7-9. The Steelers, on the other hand, went 12-4 and deservedly so. They might have been 13-3 if not for a suspended QB. Pittsburgh is clearly the superior team, and they're at home, so this pick is easy.

Final: Pittsburgh 27, Jets 18.

Ugh. That was painful. On to happier things, like the NFL Draft.

I talked last week about the Lions #13 selection. I've become increasingly convinced that we'll take a defensive player instead of a left tackle, and Von Miller seems to be the best choice. I've been checking into the other 12 teams' needs, and the teams immediately behind Detroit as well.

My overall feeling is that we'll see a lot of trades on April 28, particulaly because of quarterbacks.

Until some pieces have moved around and some dust settles, there is no use in creating a 2011 Mock just yet. Quarterbacks such as Vince Young and Donovan McNabb will be relocated. Kevin Kolb and Kyle Orton will likely be traded. Veterans like Marc Bulger and Chad Pennington will be looking to compete for a starting gig. It's possible that 4 quarterbacks could be taken in the 1st round, but it's also entirely possible that none will. Let's break down the teams that need QBs, one by one.

  • Vince Young to Oakland makes a lot of sense. Al Davis is crazy, and he hates Jason Campbell. I'm at least 50% sure that this happens.
  • Donovan McNabb will go to either Arizona or Tennessee. I lean towards Arizona, so he can mentor John Skelton.
  • Washington will stick with Grossman and John Beck. Mike Shanahan is arrogant enough to think he can win with those bums. Consequently, he'll be fired in 2011, and Washington will take Andrew Luck with the #1 overall pick, and he'll be coached by none other than Bill Cowher. You heard it hear first.
  • Cincinnati, Seattle, Jacksonville and Miami will likely retain their current quarterbacks, though none of them should. Those teams will all look for rookie QBs in rounds 3-5, hoping to hit the jackpot. They might look at guys like Bulger and Rosenfels for veteran backups.
  • Two teams will definitely be drafting QBs in April: San Francisco and Minnesota.

The 49ers and new coach Jim Harbaugh will want to start the rebuilding process with a youngster, and at pick #7 they should have their choice. There is a chance that Buffalo at pick #3 takes a quarterback, but it's a slim risk. They will probably stick with Fitzgerald, continue building their defense, and hope for Luck next year in more ways than one.

Blaine Gabbert is probably the guy for San Francisco, but don't be surprised if it's Jake Locker. Harbaugh is smart enough to steer clear of Mallet or Newton. He values intelligence more than skills.

  • Minnesota will also draft a QB. Leslie Frazier has said point blank that he wants the next Matt Ryan or Joe Flacco. That's the same kind of language that Lions' management used before taking Stafford. Minnesota will be happy to pick whomever San Fran doesn't between Locker and Gabbert.

I think those will be the only two QBs taken in the first round. Mallet and Newton will probably be snatched up by either Buffalo, Tennessee, Denver, or Cincinnati in the early second round. Like I said, we'll know a lot more when we find out where McNabb and Vince Young are headed.

For the Lions, I still lean towards an OLB or CB. I think they've got to be considering a trade up so they can land Prince Amukamara. San Fran might be willing to trade back to #13 and give Detroit the #7 pick. But Detroit rarely trades until the second round, so we'll almost certainly see them pick at #13. And I still think it'll be Von Miller.

More on this later. Hope you enjoyed the Top 75 as much as I did.


  1. Hey, you stole that melodrama vs drama thought from me.

    You Thief.

  2. yeah kind of
    but it is so perplexing
    i've been thinking about it for months