Welcome to the playoff party, everybody. It's time to kick back, eat some snacks, drink some beers, and watch the Patriots romp to yet another Super Bowl title. I know Roger Clemens and Brian McNamee are still slingin' lawsuits at each other while they sort this whole roid scandal out, but for now it's time to focus on the positive. Time to focus on America's NEW pastime and figure out who's gonna come out victorious in this weekend's divisional playoff tilts. Let's take a look, shall we?
Seattle Seahawks (+8) @ Green Bay Packers
"We want the ball, and we're gonna score!" Those were the words spoken by Seattle QB, Matt Hasselbeck in 2003 after the 'Hawks won the OT coin toss up in Green Bay. The result? Well, Seattle got the ball, Matty threw the ball, and Al Harris jumped the route and took it pick 6 to the house for the score, and the playoff victory (above). This time around, I like a similarly close game, so I'm taking Seattle and the generous 8 points. Matt Hasselbeck and the Seattle offense don't really do much for me, but it's their relentless defense that has me thinkin' they have a shot to rob one from Brett Favre and the Pack at the cozy confines of Lambeau Field. While both teams only give up 18 points a game (tied for 2nd in NFC behind Tampa), it's the pressure that Seattle's D-line and linebackers can get on the QB that are tipping the scales for me. Led by Pro Bowlers Patrick Kerney and Lofa Tatupu, the Seahawk defense should make life difficult for Favre, and will hopefully make RB standout, Ryan Grant, who rushed for nearly a thousand yards in '07, a non factor. If they can, they can just sit back and wait for Favre to chuck up the one wounded duck that could make the difference in the game. Much like Dallas, who you'll read about further down the page, I think the Pack had a great season, but are more or less running out of gas now that the playoffs have arrived. Seattle is hitting their stride, and that's just as important as home field if you ask me. A close game favors the 8 point dog, so take the kid on the Campbell's Soup label, as opposed to the guy on the Vicodin bottle...
New England Patriots (-11) vs Jacksonville Jaguars
Usually I start off my picks with the Patriots, but seeing as they are playing the 2nd game on Saturday, I decided to make them my 2nd pick. Again, that's the only reason they are 2nd this week! After the last few posts, I've had people giving me heat about how it sounds like I think the Jags are gonna come away with the win this week, and I just want to go on the record for the final time saying I DO NOT think that's gonna happen. My whole point all along, has been that the Jags are the one team not named the Colts that has a shot at beating the Pats IF they play a perfect game and get some breaks. So, seeing as that's an unlikely scenario, especially in Foxboro, I'm gonna take the greatest offense of all time, and feel very comfortable in doing so. Look for Maurice Jones Drew and Fred Taylor to give New England a little trouble on the ground, but their tendency to score quick on the ground, might also turn into their downfall. Quick scores by the Jags, will be answered with quick scores by Tom Brady, Randy Moss and the Pats, and I just don't think Garrard and friends will be able to match them point for point the whole game. Additionaly, and I have no evidence to point to this, but I really think the vaunted Pats D-line is going to give the Jags' offensive line fits all day long. Despite averagin only 18 passes a game, their offenive line allowed nearly 3 sacks a game this year. Do the math, and that's 1 in 6 times that they dropped back to pass that they were sacked. Throw in all the "pressures" and "hurries", and I just get the feeling that Seymour, Wilfork, Warren, Green and the entire LB corps will be in the backfield all night long, which sould lead to some 3 and outs, and hopefully a few turnovers. So, part of me thinks that this one, while still a win for the "local 22", might be just close enough for Jacksonville to cover the 12 points. However, seeing as I've picked the Pats nearly every week, and they've gone 16-0, that's more than enough to have me pick my boys yet again, and take the nearly 2 touchdowns. Not saying I'd bet the house, but if it's not your house, then I say go for it. I can't go against karma at this point, right? Especially when I'd still be picking the opposition to lose! No matter how close, this one's just another stepping stone to perfection, folks, so sit back and enjoy it...
Indianapolis Colts (-8) vs San Diego Chargers
Every year that there seems to be a "dominant" team, there also seems to be a team that's simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. This season, that team is the Indianapolis Colts. In any other year, the Colts would have a clear path to a Super Bowl repeat, but since they will undoubtedly have to go through the Patriots, I can't say I like their chances. Point of all this? The Colts, much like the Pats, are head and shoulders above every team left in the playoffs, so to pick them to lose is downright asinine. A few early scores by Peyton and crew should help take LaDainian Tomlinson out of the game, and with Antonio Gates on the shelf for this one, that should be all she wrote. You can point to Peyton's 6 INT game in a loss to the Chargers earlier this year if you're trying to make a case for SD, but a closer look at that game will show you it was even more of an improbable win than it seems on paper. Despite picking Peyton Manning a mind-boggling 6 times, the Chargers only managed ONE touchdown on offense the entire game, and still needed Adam Vinatieri to miss a game winner in the final seconds to come away with the W. Remember what I said about needing a perfect game, and then needing the other team to mess up? Well, it happened in week 10 for the Chargers, and I wouldn't bank on it happening again...
New York Giants (+8.5) @ Dallas Cowboys
Taking into account the feelings I've had all season, this pick is going to look a littler strange, but hear me out. All year I've basically bashed the Giants, and praised the Cowboys, but I not only like the Giants to cover in this game, but I don't hate their chances of coming out of Big D with a win. They're unreal on the road (8-1 after last week's win @ Tampa), they're playing the best football they've played all season and they're coming in to face a Dallas team that seems to have more questions than answers these days. The media and fans are all over Tony Romo for his vacation with Juggsica Simpson in Mexico last week, and while Terry Glenn might be back on the field at close to 100%, it's the health of T.O. that has everyone worried. Owens practiced for the first time on Thursday after his high ankle sprain in week 16, though he is still questionable, and the Cowboys flat out haven't scored a TD in the 6 quarters in which they've been without the game-breaking wide-out. Now, I'm not worried about Romo because he may have been "eating melons" in Me-hi-co all week, I'm worried that his bag of tricks might come up a little short this time without his #1 weapon. The numbers don't really bare me out, as Romo is 35-52 with 8 TDs and only 2 picks this year against the G-Men, but I just feel that with a running game hell bent on controlling the clock, and a defense prone to creating big turnovers, the Giants have just enough to hang around this time and keep the game close into the final minutes...
Last Week: 4-1-0
Overall: 64-43-5 (.594)
Not to be outdone by the NFL, NCAA Basketball is in full swing right now as all the big guns enter conference play. Big games this week saw Rhode Island slip a bit with a loss at Dayton, while Washington St. held the course with a big Pac 10 win against USC, but most of the big fireworks are still yet to come. Teams will come out of nowhere thanks to RPI heavy conference schedules, while many small conference schools like Butler may fall off the radar, but it's important to keep a watchful eye on them all. Fear not, though, my good friends, because even if you can't keep a third eye on all these rink-a-dink games, you know I got yer back. As for the poll this week, 3 new teams jump into the top 10, which is to say that 3 previously dank teams have fallen from grace a little in my eyes. Remember, teams don't necessarily rise and fall in my poll because of wins and losses, but rather on how I perceive their chances would be "today" of winning the NCAA Tournament in March. For instance, Duke didn't lose this week, but fell out of my top 10 because of a weak 10 point win against Temple. Last time I checked, Temple blows, and beating them by a mere 10 points tells me you're probably not one of the top teams in the nation....at least right now. So, without further ado, here's the latest, freshest, and most on point poll in all the land...
College Hoops Top 10
1. Memphis (14-0) 1
2. UNC (16-0) 2
3. Kansas (15-0) 3
4. Washington St. (14-0) 4
5. UCLA (15-1) 6
6. Georgetown (12-1) 5
7. Michigan St. (14-1) NR
8. Tennessee (13-1) NR
9. Butler (15-1) 10
10. Texas A&M (14-1) NR
just missed: Duke, Indiana, Vanderbilt, Dayton, Xavier
dropped: (7) Marquette; (8) Indiana; (9) Duke
Think my poll is bogus? Well, that would make you ill informed. But, if you really wanna go toe to toe with me, then do yourself a favor and catch some of these big time games this weekend. Granted, a few of the matchups below may seem a little "off the board", but if you wanna be a true contenda when it comes to fillin' out those brackets, you'd be doing yourself a service by turnin' on the tube and catchin a few of these while you're swillin' back a couple (or few dozen) cold ones...
Washington St. @ UCLA
NC St. @ UNC
Vanderbilt @ Kentucky
UCONN @ Georgetown
Notre Dame @ Marquette
Kansas St. @ Oklahoma
Virginia @ Duke
Stanford @ Oregon
Syracuse @ West Virginia
Alabama @ Arkansas
Georgetown @ Pittsburgh
Oklahoma @ Kansas
Now, sadly to say, no teen queens got themselves pregnant this week, and no major celebs went to rehab, so I don't really have any semi hysterical stories for ya. However, there does happen to be a little thing called the Presidential primary goin' on, and I'd like to this time to officially throw my support behind anyone not named Mitt Romney or Hillary Clinton. Simply put, Romney looks too much like Reagan, and I don't want another Republican in the White House right now, and Hillary may possibly be more of a dude than I am, if you get my drift. So, when it comes down to it, I'll either be voting for Barack "the Rock" Obama, or any super liberal wing nut that happens to make his/her way onto the ticket, a la Ralph Nader. Hey, I never said I was a political expert, and when it comes down to it, I usually find myself voting for the guy with the coolest/funniest name. Sounds like Osama, huh? Well, that's good enough for me! U-S-A! U-S-A!