With the exception of the following statement, this entire blog will be dedicated to that wonderful thing we call playoffs and all the goofs that I made during the preview earlier this season. But before we get started, I just want to say, “Leeds! You wanna talk about Leeds!? You kiddin’ me?! At Old friggin’ Trafford! Leeds!
At the beginning of the year, I made the bold prediction that the Oakland Raiders would be our 2010 Super Bowl champions. I obviously made this calculation in jest, but they were only a ridiculously bad quarterback away from perhaps making the playoffs. They went 6-10 with JaMarcus Russell, Charlie Frye and Bruce Gradkowski. They might have had a chance with Jeff Garcia. Too bad we will never find out... I also presumed that 25 of the 32 NFL teams had a realistic chance at going to the Super Bowl. The 7 teams that I thought had no chance included: the Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Tampa Bay Bucs, San Francisco 49ers, and the Cincinnati Bengals. Whoops. I was right about 6. I had no idea that the Bengals would win THAT division, and the Saint Louis Rams would only win once in THAT division. But I’ll take it. Oh, and I was right about what it takes to be a winner in the National Football League. I had said QB play, head coaching skills, and a functionally sound front office. Look at some of those positions that are now in the playoffs. Andy Reid, Tony Romo, Kurt Warner, Tom Brady, Norv Turner, Jeff Lurie, Brett Favre, Mike McCarthy, Drew Brees, Carson Palmer, Aaron Rodgers, Bill Polian, Bill Belicheck, Peyton Manning, etc... You could say (at least in the NFC) that the top 6 teams had the 6 best quarterbacks. This is just about true in the AFC too. You should take Roethlisberger ahead of Mark Sanchez and Joe Flacco, but other than that... Raiders, Rams, Bills, Browns take note. Go get your quarterbacks.
NFC West - I had it Seattle, Arizona, St. Louis, San Francisco. I didn’t think that Vernon Davis and Alex Smith could get the 49ers to 8 wins, nor did I think the Rams would forget about the end zone. Arizona got me again, but Seattle just tanked it. Jim Mora Jr. isn’t the coach I thought he was. Thank you for that one, Denny. Fitz is definitely division’s best player on offense. D.R.C. I might have been close on too. (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie).
NFC South – Well, at least I got the two best players right. I said Drew Brees on offense and Julius Peppers on defense. I thought the Saints would have a winning record, but definitely not the #1 seed. My division order went; Falcons, Saints, Panthers, Bucs. Just missed. But Atlanta dealt with a ton of injuries, and Sean Payton is one of the league’s best.
NFC North – Vikings, Bears, Pack, Lions. My team did better than I thought they would do, minus the Buccaneers game. The Bears didn’t have a chance after the Urlacher injury week 1. I figured with Brett, the Vikes would do it. Adrian probably didn’t win division’s best offensive player, but I thought Aaron would be 2<sup>nd</sup>, and he’s progressed even better than I thought he would. Briggs probably loses out to Jared Allen and Charles Woodson, however. Bears let me down, but I have no problem with that.
NFC East – The toughest division in the NFL to predict on a yearly basis. I thought the Giants would be the best team in the NFC, and for a while they were. The first month, and then it was crash and burn. I don’t understand it, because on paper, they are the most balanced team in the NFL. But I missed badly on this division. Giants, Eagles, Redskins, Cowboys. Tony Romo proved me wrong. I thought they had a very difficult schedule (they did), with a lot of tough road games (they did), and they couldn’t beat great competition (but they did). Redskins need some direction, but they have a nice defense. I had DeSean Jackson for best offensive – it’s really close between DeSean and Romo, and DeMarcus Ware on defense. Probably got that one right, but Trent Cole and Jay Ratliff were huge for their teams too. Brian Orakpo is studly.
Playoff teams correct: 2. Minnesota and Philly. Ouch.
AFC East – Patriots, Bills, Jets, Dolphins. I went solely on quarterback play here, and the Bills killed me. I was right on Chad Pennington getting hurt, but Chad Henne did better than I thought he would. Mark Sanchez also impressed a bit more, but that defense was every bit as good as I thought they’d be. In the AFC, I wouldn’t want to play the Jets right now, because their defense can score more points than their offense. Bills really, really made me look bad. All because of that damn fumbled kickoff in the first game. They would’ve beaten the Patriots and who knows what would’ve happened next. Randy Moss? Probably not. Most likely Tom Brady or Wes Welker for Offensive POY. But Donte Whitner was a decent enough pick. Darrelle Revis wins it though.
AFC North – I hemmed and hawed over the Pittsburgh Steelers during the preview, and they go on a five game losing streak. Ouch. If they win even 3 of those, I get this division almost perfect. Steelers, Ravens, Bengals, Browns. The Bengals impressed me, but I get the feeling that they just got some teams at the right time. The Packers with their messed up offensive line, Steelers in some really lucky finishes. Could have beaten the Broncos though. How’d they lose to the Raiders?! Ravens did what I thought. Tough team to beat, not overly great. Browns didn’t answer any of my questions, and it could be a while. “I’m not sold on Cedric Benson at all.” Probably wins best player in division though. Keith Rivers was a sexy pick, but no one player really stands out defensively since Troy and Ed went down with injuries.
AFC South – Boo yeah! Brian Cushing = stud. Got that one right. Colts cruise. That too! Texans go... wait for it... 9-7! Another money pick. Titans come back to earth... guessed it! Jags stink... well, maybe not, but they weren’t special. Finally, my great football mind shines through. That Peyton guy wins offensive player of the division, although Andre Johnson and Chris Johnson made it damn close. Freeney on the other side... eh.... I’ll give it to Brian Cushing. Monster year.
AFC West – ZZZZZzzzzz. I said something along the lines of, “San Diego has this division on lockdown.” Easy. Denver made it interesting for a couple of weeks, but their true colors shone through in the end. I went Chargers, Broncos, Raiders, and Chiefs. Boom! Two in a row. Denver was better than the year before, but not by much. Raiders were better than the Chiefs, but not by much. It really was that easy for the San Diego Chargers. Rivers and Asomugha. I guess, but Champ had a nice year. Brandon Marshall could have won it too.
Playoff teams correct: 4. Better. Missed on Pittsburgh and Houston. But barely.
New England v. Philly. Still have a shot at it, but it gets really tricky for me. Eagles could’ve played at home for at least one game. Now need road wins all the way to Miami. New England is hard to read. Still wouldn’t want to play them though.
MVP – Randy Moss. No. Way off. Peyton Manning and/or Chris Johnson. Brett Favre and Drew Brees right behind the two of them.
ROY Offense – Knowshon Moreno. No. Nice season, but Percy probably gets it. Mark Sanchez did well though.
ROY Defense – Brain Cushing. Yes! All three USC linebackers are animals, but this one probably did a little more. I would not be crushed if Clay Matthews won it though. Next fifteen years on the Green Bay Packers, that guy.
Potential Surprise Team – Green Bay Packers. Yes. They exceeded even my expectations. The rookie class was great. The quarterback is special. I wouldn’t want to play my team right now.
To the top – Among others: Aaron Rodgers, Pat Willis, Andre Johnson, and Calvin Johnson. All these guys are now household names and probably all-pros. Calvin could’ve shown us a little bit more.
See you later – Among others: Chad Ochocinco, Larry Johnson, Clinton Portis, and Albert Haynesworth. Chad stuck around for a little while. Larry’s gone. Clinton’s probably gone. Haynesworth wasn’t Titan good.
I honestly don’t know. The six seeds are as scary as the one seeds. This is going to be a great playoff season. Maybe a few weeks ago, one of these teams stood out above the rest (Saints). One of them was probably lucky to get in (Ravens). But I think any and all could win Super Bowl 44.
Philadelphia v Dallas. Very tricky game to pick. Everyone wants to pick the Cowboys, but I don’t think the Philadelphia Eagles care where they play. Romo still hasn’t done it yet, and Donovan has. That being said, I’m sure the Dallas Cowboys are getting mighty tired of hearing about the 13 year drought. I’ll pick them to win.
Green Bay v Arizona. Another tough game to pick. Hottest quarterback in the league playing against Mr. Playoff. Injuries might play its part, but I do think Dom Capers will have something cooked up nice for the Packer defense. It’s easy to pick Green Bay, but I’d rather be wrong, so I’ll say Arizona.
New York Jets v Cincinnati. I think it’s quite easy actually. Rookie quarterback on the road in his very first playoff start. Jets will take this one, and Mark Sanchez goes on a little Joe Flacco run. No way can Carson throw on this D, and Chad will be very quiet.
Baltimore v New England. Nice match up. Joe got worked earlier this year, but I think the Ravens will be better this time around. Yet, I did pick the New England Patriots to get to the super bowl, so why hold back now? I’ve already knocked out one of my playoff teams, and I can’t do it twice. New England to win.
I could very easily go 0-4, like I did in the divisional playoffs last year. Remember that? Eagles beat the Giants, Cards knocked off the Panthers, Ravens upset the Titans, and Steelers got past the Chargers. But that’s why this is fun!