Saturday, January 31, 2009

Super Bowl Preview

Time once again for me to try my hand at predicting the Super Bowl. Since my playoff picks were not too accurate this year, I need to try and redeem myself here.

Underdog factor
This year, both teams have a little bit of it actually as not many people expected either of these teams to be in it. However, you'd have to say that the Cardinals play that role best. They've never been in the Super Bowl and they've been the underdog according to Vegas every week throughout the playoffs. They haven't gotten any respect from any one in the media until the NFC Championship game. I think they have a slight "something to prove" edge here and it should carry them throughout the 1st half.

2 Week Layoff
The advantage here is almost always to defense. Which is a big reason why defenses play such a crucial role in championship games. Offenses often get out of sync and nothing like a week off and a few thousand interviews to get QBs and their WRs out of rhythm. Plus, as much as I often think playoff experience is overrated, the Steelers have been to the Super Bowl and know how to prepare despite the media distractions. Advantage Steelers.

Quarterback Play
How well your quarterback plays makes a big difference in the web and flow of a game like this, that is dramatically slower than a normal football game and is a game that can really play with your head. Both quarterbacks are good leaders and both have been to the Super Bowl before and won it. I think the Steelers though have an advantage here though because I feel like they can pressure Warner more than the Cards can pressure Roethlisberger and make Warner make mistakes. Advantage Steelers.

Those are my 3 keys to the game, and the team that does the best at each of them will be the winner. I think the 1st half will be low scoring with the Cardinals taking a slight advantage into the locker room, probably 14-10 or maybe 10-7. I feel like the Steelers make their move in the 3rd quarter and don't look back although I expect the Cardinals to keep up for a little while.
Final Score: 34-24. And take the over 46.5.
Troy Polamalu is your MVP.

Friday, January 2, 2009

NFL Playoff Picks

Since 2001 when I missed just 1 game, I've been trying to pick the winners of every NFL playoff game prior to the playoffs starting. Just picking the winners straight up, not against the spread. My career record is really good, but still, I'd like to go undefeated one year. Without further ado, here goes:

Wild card games:
Colts over Chargers. Tough one to pick as I like to pick hot teams coming into the playoffs and both of these teams qualify. But LT and Gates are both banged up slightly and Indianapolis is the better team despite having to travel across the country.

Ravens over Dolphins. The toughest opening round game to pick for me. Joe Flacco on the road or Chad Pennington at home. I do think it will be a low scoring game with lots of defense. The Dolphins showed me something last week by taking it to the Jets in a must win game, but I think the Raven defense will be too much for them and the Ravens do just enough to win.

Falcons over Cardinals. The Falcons are hot right now and the Cardinals are cold. They can't even sell the game out to lift the blackout. If this game were on the East Coast, it would be a blowout (in favor of whoever were playing the Cardinals) but at home I think they keep it close. I hate picking rookie QBs in the playoffs, but here, I just don't see the Cardinals finding a way to win.

Eagles over Vikings . This game will be decided by turnovers. Both teams were impressive in the final week of the season, but you have to look at more than just that. With Westbrook healthy and the defense causing more takeaways the last couple weeks, I like the Eagles to win. But if the Vikes hang onto the ball and the Eagles make some mistakes, then it wouldn't surprise me to see Minnesota pull this one out.

Division Round:
Titans over Ravens - This should be a great game to watch. Overall, I think the Titans just have too much talent overall and I don't think Joe Flacco has two playoff upsets in him, not yet. He needs some more experience because we start picking him to lead a team deep into the playoffs. The Titan defense will be ready for this game.

Colts over Steelers - Home Field advantage is a big help here and will help make an exciting game and the Steelers are playing great football right now. However, Indianapolis is the hotter team right now, will have the momentum coming off their Wild Card win and have the playoff experience to make a run.

Panthers over Falcons - Again, on the road, I'm not sure Carolina pulls out the win, but they play very well at home and experience will be the key here.

Giants over Eagles - I just don't the Eagles having enough to stop the Giants. They are a team that want to return the Super Bowl very badly and have played with that intensity all season. Even with the Plaxico distraction, they should get through this game handily.

Conference Championships
Titans over Colts - I think. Another tough game for me to decide. I like the Colts playoff experience, and they should be able to slow down the Titans running game, still, I'm just not sure they have enough defensively to win the game. Should be a shootout.

Panthers over Giants - In a major upset, the Panthers go up to New York and surprise the Giants by 1) catching them off guard and 2) simply wanting it more. Without the deep threat of Plaxico, the Carolina D can hunker down and slow down the New York offense. Should be one of the better playoff games though.

Super Bowl.
Titans over Panthers - How about this AFC over NFC. I'ver considered the Colts making it here, the Titans, and the Steelers. All three would ruin the Panthers day again and once again send them home from a Super Bowl without the Lombardi trophy. I just think the AFC is better this year and will win whichever team makes it here.