There is nothing more precocious for us to do than to predict the outcome of anything, publish it, and expect people to care. But we are doing it anyways. Welcome to the Terrordome, and The Working Title’s roundabout way of predicting the 2013 NFL Playoffs.
At around 12:53 AM last night I walked out of the very sticky Issaquah Regal Cinemas debating whether I had seen the best movie of my lifetime. That movie of course being Quentin Tarantino’s newest vehicle, Django Unchained. If you haven’t seen it, see it, and if you have seen it, let’s high five about it. I thought the movie was perfectly compelling, and the often grizzly imagery fit the just as horrifying time period that the film was placed in. But Jamie Foxx stole the show, as he somehow combined his Horrible Bosses character, MotherF***er Jones, with the Reading Rainbow guy’s portrayal of Kunta Kinte in the 1988 mini series, Roots with the revenge driven performance Russell Crowe gave in Gladiator. If the movie needs any more validation, the musical stylings of Rick Ross make their way into the film.
In all of my prognostications for this weekend’s games I included Sean’s picks. That way you can all keep score at home who is better at pretending to know what they are talking about better. There’s a Subway sandwich at stake for the better of the two of us The first round of playoff games that we have come this weekend, with doubleheaders on both Saturday and the Sabbath in what is known as “Wildcard Weekend”, which might be my second all-time favorite use of alliteration behind Bilingual Bloodbath. In order of appearance, followed by Sean’s prediction, followed by my own snarky commentary, preceeded by an apt quote from Django, then followed by my own prediction are this weekend’s NFL games.
Cincinnati at Houston, Saturday 1:30 PM Pacific, NBC, Houston is 5 point favorites, Sean: Houston
“I like the way you die, boy” -Django Freeman
In this case, I like the way the Texans have died over the last month. This game features two teams that are headed in complete opposite directions. Houston is perhaps the biggest enigma in the NFL, being the only team to beat Denver in Denver this season and who had home-field all but locked up in the AFC before taking a nap against Minnesota at home and then waking up from that nap a week later against Indy. Problem is they woke up in the third quarter. Their once hyper-efficient offense has sputtered, and they often have games that make you question how good they really are. The Texans needed OT to beat Jacksonville and Detroit (listen to Mike Pereira explain how they didn’t actually beat the Lions here), and got thrashed by Green Bay and New England. Color me unconvinced that the Texans are really contenders. Problem is that the other side of the coin, predicting a Bengals victory, would imply that the Bengals are any good either. I remain unconvinced that the Cincy offense is any more diverse than “Dude, we have AJ Green”, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis was questionable with an undisclosed vowels-in-his name injury, but will play and he gives the Bengals the semblance of a run game they will need to extend drives against Houston. My faith in the Bengals lies with the fact that they already won a playoff game. Cincy faced a must win in Week 16 IN PITTSBURGH. And won. Houston has had no such response to must-win games (albeit to clinch home field versus a playoff spot) and has appeared disinterested if not incapable of winning these types of games as they went 1-3 in the last four weeks. Cincy meanwhile is playing well, winning 7 of their last 8 contests. I’ll say that the hot team gets out to an early lead that Matt Schaub is incapable of coming out from under, Geno Atkins has multiple sacks, Sean’s wrong, JJ Watt looks like Ivan Drago in the steroid era, and Cincinnati wins 24-21.
Minnesota at Green Bay, Saturday 5 PM Pacific, NBC, Packers are 8 point favorites, Sean: Green Bay
“Aint nobody that hasn’t heard of Candieland,” -Django Freeman
I’m being politically correct and paraphrasing a little above, but in this case Candieland was to the South as Lambeau Field is to the NFL. And Aaron Rodgers is just as bad of a man as Monsieur Calvin Candie come playoff time. It really is too bad that the Vikings got this draw, because if you saw them play against these very Packers last week, and if you have ever seen Adrian Peterson run then you would think that they could beat just about anyone. But I just don’t see it happening at Lambeau. The high in Green Bay on Saturday is 26 degrees. How fun does that sound for a dome team? The Packers are finally getting healthy, as they should have Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings and James Jones all in the receiving corps at the same time seemingly all season and they get their defensive MVP back in Charles Woodson. Woodson anchors that secondary that has proven to be very good at creating turnovers over the last few years against Christian Ponder in his first career playoff game. The only way the Pack lose this one is if their big weaknesses really get exposed. The Packers have a ground game that only Mike Leach could love. With no premier back they struggle when they can’t convert the 3rd and 6’s that the run game provides for them. They also allowed Mr. Pizza Hut/State Farm to be sacked a league-high 51 times this season, and Seahawk fans know especially what sacks can do to the Green Bay offense. Their 8 takedowns of Rodgers in Week 3 were definitely entirely responsible for the Seahawks win. I may be talking myself into picking the Vikes, but I just can’t see Christian Ponder and his kicker sleeves coming into Lambeau and getting it done. Barring a Peterson 150+ performance where the Vikes pick Rodgers off twice and sack him another five AND Ponder takes care of the ball, the Pack win this one fairly easily. Packers 35, Vikings 20.
Indianapolis at Baltimore, Sunday 10 AM Pacific, CBS, Baltimore is a 7 point favorite, Sean: Colts
“I think we all think the bags was a nice idea. But, not pointing any fingers, they could of been done better. So how bout, no bags this time, but next time, we do the bags right, and then go full regalia.” -Bag Head #2
The funniest quote in all of Django is going to be made into a very extended metaphor about the Baltimore Ravens. Watch. The Ravens came into this season with the very confused and misguided approach that they could be a wide open, pass heavy offense capable of putting forty points a game on the board. The problem with that is that would be the heavy reliance on the NFL’s biggest chotsky, Joe Flacco. Flacco operates very similarly to how I do, in that given enough time, either of us will eventually ruin something. Joe Flacco is not the air it out, master of reading defenses that this system under ex-offensive coordinator Cam Cameron required. Nor are Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith anything above pretty good receivers. Nor is Ray Rice to be ignored. Ray Rice is 25 years old, in the absolute prime of his career, and he received his least amount of touches since his rookie season. Three rookies got more carries than Rice did in 2012. In the Ravens’ 10 wins this season, Rice averaged 18.5 carries a game. In their six losses, just 12. In those 10 wins Rice also averaged 4.3 catches a game. In the six losses, just 3. There tends to be positive results when Ray Rice touches the ball more. Therefore, the bags (Joe Flacco being capable) were a nice idea. So how bout the Ravens go no bags this time, give Ray Rice the damn ball and then reassess the offense next season and go full regalia. It’s that simple. Chuckstrong has been a fantastic story all season for Indianapolis, and the Colts did manage to win 11 games with a rookie QB, although Andrew Luck is the least rookiest rookie of all time, but they have some facts to face. They beat just three teams with winning records all season, all of which at home. They have a bottom half defense and have achieved plenty this season to be considered a success. Plus Chuckstrong may have met its match when Ray freaking Lewis may be playing his last game in Baltimore. Long live the greatest linebacker that I have ever seen (no offense to Aaron Curry), and I will always remember him for the play below. Ray Rice gets the rock 25 times and the Colts’ clock strikes midnight. Ravens 31-Colts 21.
Seattle at Washington, Sunday 1:30 PM, FOX, Seahawks are a 3 point favorite, Sean: Seahawks
“Gentlemen, you had my curiosity. But now you have my attention,” -Calvin Candie
The above is what I fully expect the world to be saying about the Seahawks come Sunday night. In what is surely the most intriguing matchup of Wild Card Weekend, I see the Seahawks bringing the absolute ruckus Sunday night. Why? Because they’re awesome. The Redskins took advantage of a very desperate Tony Romo last weekend and have taken their college offense into absolute legitimacy. Not since Mike Vick and Warrick Dunn have a QB and RB looked so deadly as runners as RGIII and Alfred Morris have. I think part of Morris’ mystique is that he is a black guy named Alfred, so when people try to tackle him they kind of stop to make sure that he isn’t actually Toby Gerhart in disguise. How else could a guy who ran a 4.67 at the NFL Combine put up over 1,600 yards in his rookie season? Regardless, I expect the Seahawks 10th rated rush defense to at least neutralize the pistol attack early, much like they did against San Francisco, and then pounce. The Hawks have their own RB/QB running combo that is pretty good, and I don’t see the Skins defense being as dynamic as Seattle’s to stop that type of combo. The Seahawks have their full cast of superhumans back in the secondary, with Brandon Browner back from suspension and Richard Sherman back from continuing his F-U tour of the National Football League, this time in the court of law. I forecast one of those two making some game-changing play followed by a 15 yard taunting penalty that no one will care about. Having those two back allows the Seahawks to stack the box and cheat against the run, much like they were able to do against Cam Newton in Carolina. The Hawks had admittedly an offensive hiccup against St. Louis last weekend, but they still averaged a torrid 11 yards per pass attempt and 5.1 yards per rush. The six sacks allowed by the Seahawks last week came against St. Louis’ league best pass rush squad, and face the 23rd ranked pass rush in Washington that is much less threatening. Russell Wilson with more time to throw means the Seahawks have more opportunity to extend drives and create big plays, and at that point is when they are most lethal. Robert Griffin III is one hell of an equalizer though, and he is more than capable of taking over this game by himself. However I see this as an our 11 vs. your 11 type of game, and I think the Seahawks are better in every dimension of that system. The dream stays alive, call it Hawks 24-Redskins 10.
We will continue to do this for every playoff weekend in the NFL, and we can continue to watch Sean Carr’s choices wilt in the cold January wind each and every week. Go see Django.
And Go Hawks.