***Ed Note, these pics were made midweek but couldn’t get posted early due to technology issues. Picks published in their entirety and unchanged***
I said all year I have no faith in Andy Dalton and when all the marbles were on the line, I still picked him to beat an electric Charger squad. And how does he repay me? By playing like @ss on a stick. Picks, fumbles, bad reads…just argh.. So there you go. The entire AFC North is officially in the loser lounge and The Bengals have extended their decades long post season win drought. Last time the Bengals advanced in the playoffs, they were in the AFC Central and they beat the Oilers to do it.
Sour grapes were the meal of the day in Philly as some players explained their loss to the Saints as luck…well, for the Saints. They didn’t mention that their defense looked like soggy lettuce.
The game of the week though, if not of the decade, was Indy vs KC. Andrew Luck went bizzerk on the Chefs vaunted defense in the 2nd half , scored 986 points and broke every record known to man. Well, not really, but close. The Colts play in the 1st half still concerns me though. The Patriots are not going to fall apart in the 2nd half like Kansas City did.
Oh and Green Bay lost. I guess Discount Double Check had one too many of those braughts.
So who goes to the Conference Championships? Keep reading.
The Broncos vs The Chargers
Phillip Rivers has been on fire all year. He just needed his defense to catch up and it really looks like they are trying. Of all the teams left in the AFC they are definitely the hottest. Dare I say better than they were when they smacked the Broncos? Yes, I dare to say that. Now you can’t make too much of the win over Cincy considering Bad Andy took a detour to atrocious and his new toy Giovanni Bernard helped with a goal line fumble. But here they are ready to make another statement no one thinks they are going to hear. And they won’t. Manning isn’t about to go home because of some dude in a bolo tie. The Broncos have had two weeks to fix whatever ailed them last time they saw these dudes and I’m sure it’s been plotted, graphed, power pointed and practiced all to hell. Manning might experience his yearly post season choke in Foxboro, but it won’t happen this week. Broncos by 14. Dang, did I say Foxboro? Yup.
The Patriots vs The Colts
The Pats have suffered some serious losess to their defense over the season. What they have left is patched together with duct tape and fishing wire. The Colts have been about as bipolar as the Bengals except Indy has a real quarterback. If the Colts that showed up in the first half last week take the field in Foxboro, they’re going to get smacked. If the Colts that showed up in the second half take the field, the Pats are in for a long night. But they won’t. As exciting as that game was, I believe it was an aberration. Luck will look back on that night when he’s 85 and explain it to his grandkids as his most awesome achievement. Over, and over, and over again like grandpas do. Pats fans should be a bit concerned about all those replacement defensive players, but Brady has been able to lull his young receivers into a rhythm and if his defense packs it in, he should be able to outscore Andrew Luck. Pats by seven.
The Seahawks vs The Saints
I’m still not on the Seahawks bandwagon. I have no idea why. Maybe the 49er fans ruined it for me when they put up those billboards in Seattle bragging about all their Lombardis as if they already determined those two teams would see each other in the NFC championship game. Maybe it’s because I haven’t warmed to Sherman or Tate or Wilson for that matter. I don’t know. What I do know is that the Saints still haven’t totally leaped the road woe hurdle. Yes, they beat Philly, but in unspectacular last-minute fashion and the Eagles defense was looking uninspired. If you have been paying attention though, you have noticed that there’s been a drop off in production in Seattle. They aren’t as pristine and sharp as they were last time they played New Orleans. Beastmode has been less beastly. The offensive line has been less stout. The run defense has sprung some leaks. If New Orleans has been paying attention, they need to figure out how to capitalize. Will they though? I don’t think so. Even in its withering state, Seattle’s defense will be able to keep Brees in check. Seahawks by three.
The Panthers vs The 49ers
What we have here are two vicious defenses and two very mobile quarterbacks. Neither Kaepernick nor Newton have had blazing numbers this year, but Kaepernick has the better weapons. The previous meeting of this pair found Carolina on the winning end, but there is no reason Crabtree and Boldin shouldn’t be able to negotiate Carolina’s secondary this time. Unless the Carolina front’s pressure gets to Kaepernick and manages to cut him off at the pass, then San Fran might have a long day. This is a hard one to pick, but you know I am going to wish doom and gloom on San Francisco whether it makes sense or not. Then again, if the 49ers go to the Superbowl and win they will be able to shut down all that Steeler fan we-have-more-trophies-than-anyone-and-its-a-big-deal-even-though-our-team-has-been-around-since-the-crusades yappin. Naw. Not worth it. No one cares what Steeler fans say. Panthers by one point.
Before I go.
Congrats to Lovie Smith. His decision to not take an Assistant/Coordinator job last year paid off and he managed to save Leslie Frazier from the unemployment line as well. Sweet. I’ve never been a Tampa fan and never will be, but I wish Lovie the best nonetheless, unless Tampa plays Baltimore. Then .. well… I don’t.