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Friday, January 14, 2011

Divisional Picks: It's All About The Quest...


Carl: Hey Chris, you know what I just got?  The box set of 'The Lord of the Rings'.  It's awesome...

Chris: Yeah, but you remember that giant eagle they rode in the first one that then rescues them at the end of the third one?

Carl: Yeah, yeah.

Chris: Yeah, why didn't they just fly the eagle to Mordor instead of spending three movies walking there?

Carl: That's not what it's about Chris.  It's about...the quest...


Now to some, that may just seem like a random, yet hilarious, segment from a popular episode of Family Guy (Baby Not On Board).  And it is.  But to me, for today's purposes, it will stand to be rather multi-functional.  Not only does it make a good point in reference to a Lord of the Rings plot hole (I love finding plot holes), but it also does well to embody the spirit of this week's match up between the Pats and the Jets, and more importantly, the "pageantry" that's been leading up to it...


'Look out, Frodo!!'
Think about it, kids.  Just because the Jets' penchant for midweek smack talk lends itself to becoming old and played out by the time we reach Thursday and Friday, doesn't mean you'd want to trade it for anything in the world.  It is, after all, about "the quest", and all that comes with it.  So just because the banter becomes old and stale, doesn't mean we as fans should wish it away.  Because without it, without all the pre game angle-shooting, never ending press conferences and sensationalized headlines, it's just a football game.  OR to fit today's theme, it's just a couple of hairy midgets tossing a piece of metal into a volcano.  And that wouldn't be nearly as exciting, now would it?  No, of course it wouldn't...
'Google image search "Rex Ryan hobbit feet" + you STILL get Jenn Sterger! HA!...and DAMN!'
So while I won't go as far as to pair each character in the trilogy with a player or coach in this Sunday's game (although Brady would totally be the giant eagle and Rex would totally be licking and sniffing the Hobbits' furry feet), I do want to recognize the importance of the hype that's led up to it.  Even if it has become a bit unbearable.  It's the hype, after all, that provides the guaranteed entertainment.  IT's not whether or not the ending is what we had though, or even hoped it would be.  IT's the build up, the actual journey and the quest itself.  That's where the bulk of the fun lies.  So just because it's become a little tiresome and almost a parody of itself, don't look away.  If you do, you might miss the only chance you have to marvel at how appropriate and compelling this match up actually is...


Now, the Pats and Jets have their own trilogy to complete on Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium.  And while this match up may not be the last stop on either team's overall "quest", it will move one of the bitter rivals one step closer to being able to call themselves the NFL's 'Lord of the Ring' for the 2010-2011 season...


'The flaming I?'
And while my pick for this game may be as predictable to most as that last line was both corny and tacked on, I figure it's worth shellin' it out to you fine people anyway.  Ya know, because that's probably half the reason you chose to frequent my blog in the first place...


So here ya go, friends.  Another set of can't miss playoff selections that will hopefully tickle your fancy and fill up your wallet.  And remember.  IT's all about the quest.  So if you don' read the WHOLE thing, it's quite possible the world will fall into the hands of goblins and evil wizards...and quite possibly some sort of evil, flaming eye that's apparently the most powerful being in the universe.  Personally, when I hear "flaming eye" I think of Isaac Mizrahi (not even sure why I know who he is), but I think we've already deconstructed The Lord of the Rings enough for one blog, don't you?  Hey, it's not my fault it's been on Encore all week...


Thankfully, I won't have to contemplate watching it at all this weekend.  And neither will you.  Enjoy...         

Divisional Picks


New England Patriots (-8.5) vs New York Jets (Sunday @ 430 pm)

It's safe to say we all knew I was going to pick the Patriots.  Pick them to win, pick them to cover, pick them to win the freaking Super Bowl.  Hey, what can I say?  I'm on board.  The question then comes to this: Do I think the Patriots are going to blow the Jets out?  And the answer, is NO, no I don't.  Then again, I guess that may hinge on what your definition of a "blow out" is...

Despite seemingly every factor being in the Patriots' favor (they blew them out last time, Sanchez is awful in the cold, they're at home), it's just hard to blow a "good" team out twice in one season.  IT just doesn't really happen that often.  Not like I researched it, or anything, but I'm more than certain the numbers would back me up.  Beating a "good" team twice in one season, however, why that happens all the time, as our next game will clearly support.  And that's what I figure the Pats to do.  They'll beat the Jets.  Won't blow 'em out, won't let 'em "hand around", they'll just beat 'em.  By enough points to cover the spread, but NOT by enough points for the ingenious and industrious Patriot fans to spend most of the 2nd half using Photoshop and YouTube to create viral masterpieces that mockingly chronicle the mighty Jets downfall...

'Weeeeeeeeeee!'
I see Brady targeting CromartieDBs call him out (I'll let you decide what "DB" means in that instance).  Oddly enough, and I know it sounds sacrilege, but I see that strategy actually leading to a Brady pick early in the game.  Breaking his string of like 400 or whatever straight throws without a pick.  Naturally it will be followed by a Devin McCourty

But let me make one thing perfectly clear.  I'm not totally counting the Jets out of this thing.  I'm picking them to lose by more than 9 points, sure, but that doesn't mean I'd be shocked if they won the game.  Last time I checked, the Patriots' season ended last year at home with them as a favorite too, didn't it?  And also, if I'm not mistaken, the last time the Patriots' were so heavily favored in a playoff game was the 2008 Super Bowl, was it not?  And again, this may be a little sacrilege, but what happened in that game, huh?  Exactly.  So combine those paranoid elements with the fact that this secondary is still prone to giving up large chunks of yardage to less than stellar QBs, and you should clearly see that while the well rested Patriots should be able to win this one going away, it wouldn't be a total shock if they ended up in some sort of 4th quarter rock fight...

Obviously, I don't think that's going to be the case, but like any good journalist, I like to cover my ass.  Ya know, so I can pretend I was right after the fact...

Pats 31 Jets 17

And it's on to the next...  


Baltimore Ravens (+3.5) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (Saturday @ 430 pm)

Speaking of divisional rivalries, this one's got every bit the vigor of the Jets and Pats, it just doesn't get nearly the amount of hype.  Partly because their coaches and teams aren't nearly as entertaining and enigmatic, but mostly because the only things interesting in Baltimore and Pittsburgh are crab cakes and unemployment.  And lots of street drugs, if you're down with The Wire.  OK, maybe that's not entirely true, and realistically a little harsh, but I have a great distaste for both these teams, and just because I have to pick one of them, doesn't mean I'm going to be kind...

'Premeditation?'
In reality, it's a "Yankee" type hate that I have for both of these franchises.  I hate 'em because they're always good, and I respect them for it.  Not something I'd ever admit to during a game, but something that would make me seem ignorant should I not at least acknowledge it...

As for picking this game against the spread (ATS), I've decided to walk the finest of lines.  Well, not really I guess, seeing as I'll win with a wide range of outcomes.  But I'm taking that 3.5 points and using every last half of it...

Here's how I see it.  The Ravens are good.  They split with the Steelers this year, and they've proven over the last 2 seasons that they can win playoff games on the road.  In a lot of people's eyes, they're primed to take that next step.  While I don't necessarily disagree, there is one hurdle they'll still have to jump before I pick them in a spot like this.  They'll have to beat Ben Roethlisberger.  Something they haven't been able to do the last 6 times they've faced him.  And as has often been the case in the recent editions of this rivalry, it will be Big Ben leading yet another comeback and pushing the Steelers into yet another AFC title game...

What's that, you say?  Didn't I pick the Ravens?  Why yes I did.  And here's that fine line.  Big Ben's final drive leads to a come from behind 23-20 win for the Steelers over the Ravens, setting up an even bigger match up the following week in New England...

But hey, let's not get ahead of ourselves here.  One weekend at a time.  Remember, it's about the quest.  Gotta enjoy the quest...  


Green Bay Packers (+2.5) @ Atlanta Falcons (Saturday @ 8 pm)

I bounced around on this one a bunch, but eventually just went with the ole "first instinct" adage, and settled on taking Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers...

All year I've said (with mixed betting success, mind you) that I was believer in the Packers and a NON believer in the 13-3 Falcons.  Whether I'm right or wrong is totally another issue, but the point is here that I've decided to stick with my guns.  Even if Green Bay has gone from almost missing the playoffs to every body's flavor of the week...

So while the Falcons may be as good a home team as the NFC has to offer, I still like the Packers chances of  going in there and taking it down.  They've had to play with desperation for goin' on a month now, so they got that goin' for 'em.  And to be quite honest, a few offensive line issues aside, they have the most complete team in the NFC.  Probably the most complete team NOT named the New England Patriots, to be honest.  And after seeing what they did in New England with backup Matt Flynn @ the helm, I think anyone would be hard pressed to argue that fact...

In addition, another adage I like to adhere to is to always look at your pre season predictions before you start picking teams in the playoffs.  Why?  Well mostly so you can laugh at yourself, but also just in case you can spot some sort of trend, even if it only applies to you.  I happened to pick the Packers to lose in this year's Super Bowl....to the Colts.  But ignore the part where I was completely wrong for a second and focus on where I could possibly be right.  A team that was pegged for greatness at the start of the season, only to stumble a bit along the way.  Now, they're peaking at just the right time.  So I gotta figure, if I picked them to win the NFC back in August, and they're playing their best football of the season right now, it would be pretty stupid of me not to take them as a 3 point underdog, wouldn't it?  Why yes, yes I would...

Green Bay 27 Atlanta 20

Packers/Patriots Super Bowl?  That's what I'm thinkin'.  But no time for that now, either.  We're still questing, here...

Chicago Bears (-10) vs Seattle Seahawks (Sunday @ 1pm)

My final pick of the week is actually the weekend's 3rd game, but seeing as there was no way I was going to bury the Pats/Jets at the bottom of this week's picks, here we are....

For the Seahawks, their ride ends here, even if the Bears are the shadiest team to ever receive a bye.  To host let alone win 1 playoff game was more than Seattle could have hoped for this year, and while I don't expect them to "mail it in" with a berth in the NFC title on the line, I don't expect them to put up much of a fight, either...

'Rob Lowe? Emilio Estevez? Dammit!'
For the Bears, it's all about the two players pictured above.  It's about how much damage Julius Peppers can do on defense, and hopefully for Bears' fans, how little damage Jay Cutler can do on offensive.  Damage, that is, to his own team.  It's like he's Bernie in Weekend at Bernie's, and the Chicago running game and defense are the one's playing the roles of those two Teds holdin' Bernie up.  Pretty sure one of 'em was Jonathan Silverman and the other was that kid from St Elmo's Fire.  Ya know, the only guy from that movie whose name doesn't come to mind right away.  But neither of those guys were in The Lord of the Rings, so it's not important...

Point is, as long as Jay Cutler doesn't lose this one for the Bears, they should have no trouble winning.  And by the 10 allotted points, too.  Chicago might not be exactly what we think of when we think #2 overall seed in the NFC, but they can run the ball, and stop people on defense.  In my experience, that's a pretty good combination to have, especially in the one and done playoffs...

Bears 27 Seahawks 13

...and Petey Carroll will say "gosh darn it" in the post game press conference, as is his want.  It's just too bad they aren't playing this game at Qwest Field.  That really would have tied things together nicely...


Last Week: 3-1-1

Top Picks: 89-69-4 (.562)

Overall: 159-114-6 (.581)


By the way, if you missed Wes Welker possibly winning a lot of money from his Patriots' teammates by playing the Rex Ryan edition of the "Meow game" made famous in Super Troopers, you're gonna wanna check that out.  Other than that, that's all I've got for ya.  I promise that next week I'll actually unveil my long awaited College Hoops Top 25, and also that I'll do a better job of coming up a theme not inspired by my DVR.  Then again, those do tend to be the best...
'Enjoyed, I hope you did'

Carl: Oh, well have you ever seen Krull?

Chris: No.

Carl: Yeah, you don't need to see Krull...


Hope you enjoyed the Quest, friends, because after all, that is what it's all about.  Large eagle or not...

Oh, and have a great weekend...


Teddy Williams...
100...

#$>

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