Saturday at 4:30 PM marks the beginning of the start of a march to the Super Bowl. Here at TSHQ, we will make our attempts to give you insight on what to expect going forward as we move towards the Feb. 6th date where the new (or New Orleans case maybe, the same) Super Bowl Champion will be crowned. We’ve brought just about all the writers on this one to lay the predictions. I (Bryan Doherty) took a break from stinking up the College Football Bowl Games to bring our collection of talented writers together for their picks on a variety of questions regarding this years NFL playoffs. Joining me at the prediction table will be my college football partner K.M Venne, the CEO Seth Cox, CBB guru Gus Elvin, NBA guy (when he’s here) Justin Keller, Draft projector Brent Mullis, “Mixed bag” writer Coley Michalik, NHL guy Stephen Bochanski, one of our two golf guys, Jimmy, and newest member Cole Zwicker. So with no further introduction, here’s our writers predictions:
Jets over Colts, I hate the Jets more than anyone but I think people are too quick to discount them because they have Mark Sanchez at quarterback. Last season the Jets almost made it to the Super Bowl with Mark Sanchez at the helm and this year they have an improved running game and a more confident Sanchez who has played okay the last few weeks against two good defenses in Pittsburgh and Chicago. The Colts are hot and its tough to pick against Peyton Manning but I think their lack of a running game and key injuries will finally catch up to them and I like the Jets to pull off the so called upset. Look for a revitalized Jets running game with Shonn Green and LT running like they did early in the season against the 25th ranked run defense in the NFL.
Ravens over Chiefs, The AFC North went back and forth between the Ravens and the Steelers, while the Chiefs coasted in a weak AFC West. The Ravens are built on defense and power football but now due to Joe Flacco’s continued progression and the acquisition of Anquan Boldin the Ravens are more dangerous on offense than ever. The Chiefs had a great run and have a very young nucleus that could make them a consistent playoff team in years to come but this year is not the year in Kansas City as Baltimore is just more talented and more experienced, and just the better overall team in this Wild Card showdown. Jamal Charles and Dwayne Bowe are two of the most exciting young players in the NFL but this match up will be all about Ed Reed, Ray Lewis and that vaunted Ravens defense.
Saints over Seahawks, New Orleans went under the radar most of this season because of the success of the Atlanta Falcons, but the Saints also had a very good year considering the injuries they had on the offensive side of the ball. The Saints are too explosive on offense for the 27th ranked defense in the NFL, not to mention Seattle has no running game and will probably turn to inexperienced and mostly erratic Charlie Whitehurst at quarterback. I think this is the easiest pick as Seattle needs a miracle to hang with a potent Saints offense headlined by Drew Brees and Marques Colston.
Eagles over Packers, this is a great match up and I have switched my pick 3 times already but I am going with Michael Vick and the birds. I think Michael Vick will be too much to handle for a Packers defense that looked lost once Vick entered the game during the regular season meeting in week 1. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have been playing inspiring football the last few weeks and I am tempted to go with #12 and the Pack but the game is in Philadelphia and Michael Vick has been close to unstoppable this season. LeSean McCoy is the X-factor for me, because if the Eagles can run the ball, it will open up DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Macklin down the field. The Packers have played well all season without a running game or their star tight end but this week those absences will be exposed as the Eagles will outgun a hot Green Bay team. I like the Eagles in a close one, in the most exciting game of the Wild Card round.
I’ve got to take the Colts over the Jets…the Jets were the “cool” Super Bowl pick (well, at least according to Rex Ryan), but head to head, I’ve got to take Peyton Manning over Mark Sanchez at this point in their careers.
I see the Ravens beating the Chiefs. The Chiefs are a nice story, but I see Baltimore’s defense being the diference.
In the NFC, call me a homer, but I’m taking the Eagles over the Packers in a potentially high scoring game. Andy Reid will be ready for this one and so will his team.
As much as I would LOVE to pick the Seahawks, I’m going with the Saints. Do I need to give any reasons?
Jimmy McIver: I’ll go with these but who knows which side the officials are on! New Orleans, Indianapolis, Baltimore, Philadelphia.
New Orleans over Seattle
This pick is most likely unanimous, but unlike some I don’t think New Orleans will cover. Their two west coast games this year were a loss to Arizona, and a nail biter against San Francisco. Seattle will keep it within 10, but they won’t win this one.
New York over Indianapolis
In the short career of Mark Sanchez, he is one of the best road QBs in the NFL. This is also a game in a dome, and when given favorable conditions, he does quite well. It also pains me to say that I don’t think Manning will have a good game. The Jest defense will just be too much for him, and that isn’t a stretch looking at some of Manning’s performances this year. Rex Ryan will get his revenge here.
Baltimore over Kansas City
As much as I want to pick the Chiefs, I just can’t. They haven’t beaten a quality team all year. The one thing they do well, running the ball, is also what the Ravens are great at stopping. The only way to win is to beat them through the air, which they are capable of doing, but Cassell is too inconsistent.
Philadelphia over Green Bay
The Packers have accomplished a major feat by making the playoffs with so many injuries, but this is as far as their journey goes. I don’t really have a good reason for this, but I just think Philly has too many weapons to be stopped.
Saints over Seahawks- Even with a Clemson grad leading them, Seattle will probably get blitzed by about 20 in this one. Offensively they’re pretty feeble and defensively I don’t think they’ll have any answer for the Saints.
Jets over Colts- Am I anti-Peyton? Well I think that’s documented by now, but the Colts have limped through this season, losing to a lot of average football teams. I think the Jets D, not having to worry about a Clarke will be huge. I think they can take Wayne out of the game and I don’t see Garcon or Tamme beating them. Plus, though the Colts have been great against the run lately, I think the Jets O-Line will manhandle them. Only thing that makes me waver on this pick is Sanchez.
Ravens over Chiefs- I give the Chiefs a better shot than most. It’s just so tough to run on the Ravens with Ngata there and I don’t think they have enough playmakers at WR to beat the Ravens through the air. Probably a low-scoring game as I don’t have a ton of faith in the Ravens offense right now either.
Eagles over Packers- This is a toss-up to me as well. I just think too many people are on this right now and without a running game of any sorts, I’m not sure the Pack can expect Rodgers throwing 40 times to get it done. Not ready to bury the “Iggles” just because of some late season troubles. But I don’t think the Eagles are a SB threat.
Colts over the Jets. Neither of these teams have lived up to preseason expectations yet both find themselves in the playoffs. Peyton Manning has done a tremendous job with a depleted team around him and was fortunate enough to lock up home field for the opening round match up. To me, the Jets are the most overrated team in the post season. Somewhere lost between “Hard Knocks”, Rex Ryan’s foot fetish, and Antonio Cromartie’s children is the Jets ability to play football, especially in big games. In all honesty, the Jets are nothing more than an 8-8 team. The three game stretch of Detroit, Cleveland, and Houston should have been four consecutive losses (after being shut out 9-0 on their home field by the Packers). These wins did not show the teams make up or character at all. They were, in fact, flukes and they will be exposed by Manning and the Colts immediately.
Saints over Seahawks. Honestly, if the Seahawks win this game, I will be more shocked than when Tony Romo couldn’t score from the three yard line and then muffed the place kick.
Ravens over Chiefs. I have been high on both of these teams since training camp. Its a shame the Chiefs have to go up against such a prolific defense in the first round because I would have picked them over both the Jets and the Colts. John Harbaugh may be the most underrated coach in the NFL and will lead his Ravens to another first round road victory.
Eagles over Packers. In Week 1, the Packers took care of Kevin Kolb. It may have been a better idea if they let him play well and not knock him out of the game. Michael Vick would win MVP in most seasons for his play since he was given his first opportunity to re-showcase his talents. The Packers have been great all season, and I absolutely would not be surprised if they won this game, I just feel more confident picking the Eagles.
K.M Venne: Colts, Chiefs, Eagles, Saints. I’ll take the Colts to repeat in the AFC Championship rematch, blitzing Peyton Manning doesn’t work, and Manning has a very good playoff record vs. QB’s that arn’t very good on the other team, overall I think the Colts just present too many problems for the Jets. The Chiefs I like, they will have a huge home field advantage, and while Flacco won a road playoff game last year, I can’t see him being of the quality to do that two years in a row. As for the Eagles, I want to see Aaron Rodgers win a playoff game before I pick him to do so. They played in Philly week 1, and when Vick got in, he looked unstoppable. You know he will be confident going against the Pack’s defense, which was much healthier back then then it is now. And as for the Saints, I’m taking the Saints. I don’t need to spell that pick out. Seattle can eat it.
Seth Cox: Colts, Ravens, Eagles and… Seahawks. Now, now, now, don’t crucify me yet. The truth is the numbers are not on the Saints side, and quite frankly after they clinched they sounded a little content to me.
No Super Bowl winner has won a game in the following playoffs since the 05’ Pats, and truthfully the Saints have struggled out west. I am not saying the Seahawks are a better team, I just think the Saints are ripe to be beat, and the Seahawks will do that.
New Orleans Saints over Seattle Seahawks – Should be self explanatory. I get that Seattle is better at home and the Saints have never won a true road playoff game and if Seattle were good, I’d consider those factors. Since they’re not, I’m expecting a huge Saints blowout here.
Indianapolis Colts over New York Jets – I’m not sold on either of these teams as I think they’re both horribly flawed, but the Colts defense shouldn’t have a hard time with this sputtering offense of the Jets. Tomlinson reminded everyone why the Chargers let him go, Greene’s been a major dissapointment and I still don’t trust the Sanchise when it matters. Even though I don’t like the Colts, I see them winning here.
Baltimore Ravens over Kansas City Chiefs – I’m kind of torn on this game as I really expect Kansas City to play well in its home playoff game, but the playoff victory drought may continue for the Chiefs here. They didn’t look very well last week and I’m not sure how the distraction of Charlie Weis’ departure will affect their offense. I see Baltimore pulling this one out.
Philadelphia Eagles over Green Bay Packers – This may seem like the game of the week, but I’m not impressed by Green Bay. They can throw, sure, and they may keep it close because of that, but they’re one dimensional and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Philadelphia bring the pressure all game long. Green Bay’s defense isn’t bad, but LaSean McCoy can hurt Green Bay as equally as Michael Vick, and I see Philadelphia taking this one.
Saints over Seahawks
It doesn’t matter who starts between Matt Hasselbeck and Clipboard Jesus. The only way this game stays relatively close is if Leon Washington has a field day returning kicks. The Hawks have no pass rush and can’t defend the pass, two condemning attributes against a QB like Brees. Offensively the Hawks give up the 10th most sacks in the league, so expect Gregg Williams to send the cavalry. Did I mention Seattle has no running game either? Nothing more need be said. The Saints win in a laugher..
Colts over Jets
The Jets don’t have enough offense to contend on this level and their professed dominant ground game is a farce. LT tailed off after his early season success and since week 8 (excluding the meaningless week 17 game against Buffalo) NY has totaled just 5 rushing touchdowns, which is deceiving even then as 3 came courtesy of Mark Sanchez. Furthering NY’s cause for concern is the Colts run D has been surprisingly stingy of late. Manning torched the Jets in the AFC title game last year and if Indy gets an early lead Sanchez will be forced to deal with the Freeney Mathis combo, which spells doom for the Jets prospects. No way I’d take Sanchez on the road over Manning in a playoff night game with all other factors shaping up to be relatively equal (the Jets D is overrated). The loss of Collie and Clark will eventually catch up to the Colts, but not this week.
Ravens over Chiefs
The Chiefs haven’t beaten a +500 team all season and the trouncing Oakland put on them over the weekend all but laid to rest the significant home field advantage talk. Needless to say I don’t like this matchup at all for KC. The Ravens are battle tested and have proven they can win at any venue. They are near impossible to run against, meaning outside of Charles potentially breaking one the outcome will rest almost solely on Matt Cassel’s arm. Cue Ed Reed licking his chops. KC has also gave up 42 sacks in the regular season (8th worst in the league) so Suggs and company should wreak havoc at the line of scrimmage. If Cam Cameron ever decides to give Ray Rice the football he should have enormous success as well. Overall the Ravens in my opinion are a bit overinflated. Their defense isn’t what it used to be, specifically on the back end where they’ve been exposed consistently, and their offense isn’t in sync, but KC doesn’t have the means to exploit these weaknesses. I’ll usually never take a run first team over Baltimore, which is obviously the case here.
Packers over Eagles
Easily the most difficult game of the weekend to predict. If there is a defense that can contain Michael Vick it’s Don Capers’ unconventional blitz happy scheme. Vick took more sacks in shotgun than any other quarterback this year, so look for Charles Woodson and company to come early, often, and unexpectedly on numerous cornerback blitzes. If you give Vick time to throw and let his blazing fast wideouts get deep he’ll drop 40 on you, but if you force him to make quick decisions under duress he’s human, which is precisely what I expect Capers to do via constant pressure. Green Bay is also stout against the run, so there really isn’t a weakness on that side of the ball. The reluctance in picking the Packers is obviously their complete lack of a ground game, which is putting it lightly. Luckily Rodgers has proven he can put up points without a rushing attack, which he’ll have to do to outscore the Eagles. I like Rodgers and the Packers D enough to go against my better judgment here. There is always a surprise on Wild Card Weekend, why can’t it be here?
2) Which team entering the postseason as a Wild Card has the best shot to win a Super Bowl?
Seth Cox: Ravens. They have a great defense, a solid offense, and get cold weather teams the entire way. I have confidence in Flacco, and think that their ability to run the ball, and pass when need be can get them there, even though they won’t get there.
Brent Mullis: My pre-season pick, the New York Jets, have the best chance to win the super bowl. They have a very good defense and plenty of weapons on offense. All they need is good play out of Sanchez, which I think they could get. My next pick would have to be New Orleans, then Baltimore, and lastly Green Bay.
Jimmy McIver: I’ll go with the Breeze and New Orleans – of course they need to get their mojo back in playing on the road and have their voodoo fans make’n lotz of noise!
Coley Michalik: Saints. At Seattle isn’t exactly the twelfth man it used to be and New Orleans was here just a year ago. I believe the Saints can go into Atlanta and win in the second round, and there is no reason they couldn’t beat the Bears or Eagles. The Saints match up a lot better than the Ravens do in New England, even though they won handily just a season ago.
Cole Zwicker: Saints
This has to be an NFC team considering the Patriots stranglehold over the AFC and the apparent wide openness of the NFC. The Saints have one guaranteed win in Seattle, so based on that fact alone they get the edge here over Philly or GB. They have also already shown the ability to win on the road in tough environments (see Atlanta), so they are as equipped as any to win three straight road games and be in play for the title.
Stephen Bochanski: The best Wild Card team to reach the Super Bowl is the Green Bay Packers. Yes, I know I picked the Eagles to beat them, but they are a pretty solid team led by Aaron Rodgers, who will soon be considered one of the best quarterbacks in the league. I’d like to pick the Ravens, but it’s going to be very tough to get through potentially both the Patriots and the Steelers in the AFC.
Bryan Doherty: I’d agree with Coley its the Saints. They’ll beat Seattle. Then they go to Atlanta or Chicago. I actually think they’d rather go to Atlanta who they’ve played twice. Thats a toss-up to me but I like New Orleans. People buried them way too early. I’ve been telling people (Coley can clarify this) to not sleep on the Saints for months now.
K.M Venne: The Saints. I’m actually going to take them to make the Super Bowl. So that should say it all. I still think at the end of the day, the Saints have the offensive weapons and the offensive coaching to get points, and a confident defense that will believe it can make big plays to turn games around. That’s a nice combo.
Justin Keller: The wild card team that I think has the best shot at winning the Super Bowl is the Baltimore Ravens. Baltimore, easily, posseses the most talent of any roster to make the playoffs and are four great games from Joe Flacco away from winning the Super Bowl. As has been the case for almost a decade, Baltimore’s defense is among the best in the league and it’s offense finally posseses the weapons necessary to compliment that tenacious defense. If Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron makes a conscious effort to allow the run to set up the pass then Baltimore could be in terrific shape to run the gauntlet and win the Super Bowl.
Gus Elvin: Saints-I like New Orleans as well due to the fact they get the 7-9 Seahawks and either the enigmatic Bears offense or the Falcons a team they have played twice already. The Saints should roll over the Seahawks in the Wild Card round somewhat easily and will still be fresh and healthy enough for their second round game. If they match up with the Bears I would really like the Saints chances even outdoors in cold Chicago because I still don’t buy that Jay Cutler is an elite quarterback and wouldn’t trust him to make smart decisions with the game on the line. Cutler has thrown 42 interceptions in 31 games with the Bears and consistently forces the ball into tight coverages. I think the Saints on defense even though they have only 9 interceptions on the season would have plenty of chances to pick off Cutler and if they were able to force a couple of turnovers, with Drew Brees leading the offense you’d have to like the Saints chances. If they matched up with Atlanta, the Saints would play their division foe for the third time this season, and when Drew Brees and Sean Payton have so much tape and experience against a team, look out. I think Sean Payton discovered some match ups and mismatches in their last meeting with the Falcons and I think they could be very valuable in a rematch with Hot ‘Lanta. I think the Saints, the reigning Superbowl Champs are going under the radar and have a very manageable path to the Superbowl starting off against lowly Seattle and then with either beatable Chicago or familiar for Atlanta.
3. Which Non-Superstar will have the biggest impact on their team’s playoff success?
Justin Keller: I just mentioned him earlier, but LeSean McCoy’s been silently delivering in Philadelphia all season. Why Jackson and Vick get a lot of the credit for the offense (and rightfully so), McCoy’s been able to provide Philadelphia with some balance offensively as the season has progressed. His abilities as a pass catcher contribute to the offense as well and I can see him delivering big time for the Eagles.
Cole Zwicker: (Warning: Homer disclaimer)
Considering he amassed 1257 yards (5th overall), 10 td’s (tied for 7th overall) and almost 21 YPC (second only to Desean Jackson) and didn’t make the Pro Bowl/isn’t widely considered an elite wideout I’m going to roll with the assumption he’s not a star (despite the fact I think he is). It’s no surprise that when the Steelers put up points Wallace is almost always the catalyst (see last two regular season games). Wallace is really the only deep threat on the team and by extension the one true big play guy. If the Steelers are going anywhere in the playoffs they obviously have to score, which means Wallace needs to get vertical and not allow opposing defenses to shrink the field. There isn’t a corner on earth who can stay with the best deep threat in football, so I expect the 60 Minute Man to have a huge run.
Honorable Mention: Aaron Smith
If Troy Polamalu is the most irreplaceable defensive player on the team, Aaron Smith is second. Smith won’t put up gaudy stats but he’s quietly the best 3-4 end in football and the lynchpin in the Steelers run defense. Pittsburgh’s run d was already historically good this season allowing just over 62 yards per game (good for 5th best all time) playing largely without Smith due to torn triceps, but with him they’re literally impossible to run against. With Smith in the lineup the Steelers limited Michael Turner to 2.2 ypc and similarly Chris Johnson to 2.1 in route to giving up just 2.8 ypc over his 6 games which was extrapolated by qb scrambles. The Patriots ran for over 100 yards against the Steelers in their week 10 meeting, which with Smith would have never happened. Smith is expected back after the bye, meaning teams will be one dimensional when facing the Steelers which would be huge with bad weather.
Bryan Doherty: Well Pierre Thomas is on IR now. Alright I gotta change my pick. Give me Brent Celek to have a big postseason. Why? Well I don’t have a good reason. When your top pick gets hurt you kinda have to scramble for a pick so that’s what this is.
Jimmy McIver: Darn if I know, I do know there won’t be any “Stars” on helmets in the Playoffs till the Cowboys find a new owner. About the only lift Jones knows is in his FACE and that’d be good if it’d scare the pants off the Cheerleaders!
Coley Michalik: BenJarvus Green-Ellis: The Law Firm has never fumbled – ever. The Patriots have had the best quarterback in the NFL this season and boast the best record in the league. Those outside of New England may not know how much of an impact Green-Ellis and second year man Danny Woodhead have been on the success of Tom Brady in the post-Randy Moss era. The Patriots learned their lesson against their Super Bowl loss to the Giants and will return to their dynamic and efficient small ball to help them this post season. They will rely on an established run game that they will utilize early and often and, also, in order to keep the clock moving late in the game. The Law Firm notched 13 rushing touchdowns this season on over 1,000 yards on the ground and should continue to move the chains and set up play-actions and screens for the rest of the offense.
Gus Elvin: LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia
I know “Shady” is rising in terms of star power in the NFL but at this point I would say he still overlooked due to other stars on this Philadelphia team, say Michael Vick or DeSean Jackson. McCoy ran for over a 1,000 yards this season for Philadelphia but just as importantly led the team with 78 receptions out of the backfield. McCoy is the key in the Eagles screen game and has become one of the best pass catching backs in the NFL in just his second season. I look for LeSean McCoy, the pride of Harrisburg to have a coming out party in the playoffs and I see him as the key to the Eagles postseason success. DeSean Jackson is a great talent and an explosive playmaker but he can disappear at times(only 47 receptions), so look for a consistent McCoy to help move the chains on the ground as well as through the air, leading the Eagles to a win this weekend against Green Bay as Philly tries to make a run deep into the playoffs.
Seth Cox: Jacob Tamme has become a nice TE in the NFL. So it stands to reason that for the Colts to even make it out of Wild Card weekend that Peyton needs his new security blanket to continue to produce. Tamme will be the cheap yards that Manning will need in the middle of the field to open up the Jets and Steelers defenses if they want to have a shot to make it back to the Super Bowl.
Brent Mullis: This guy is pretty productive, but I’m not sure you can call him a star yet. Rob Gronkowski will be a huge key for the New England Patriots. If he has success, the Pats offense is near impossible to stop. If he doesn’t, well, they are a lot less scary.
Stephen Bochanski: The non-star player who will make the biggest impact in the playoffs is Dimitri Patterson. If he can not be the worst cornerback in the world and force some throws to Asante Samuel’s side, the Eagles should be dangerous. If not, it could be a very quick exit.
K.M. Venne: Reggie Bush. Sure, he has the name of a star, but let’s face it, he’s no honest-to-God NFL star. But I think the Saints will work him into the offense at key spots, and his ability to change a game on special teams gives the Saints an X-Factor equal to the Bears or Eagles, a key towards a possible NFC Championship Game victory.
4) Potential Matchup you most want to see come to fruition
K.M Venne: Colts/Pats AFC Championship game. We all want to see that, right? It’s great football, always highly entertaining. Sadly, I don’t think we get it.
Stephen Bochanski: The potential matchup I’d like most to see is Baltimore against Pittsburgh. What a great rivalry, and it never disappoints. It’s what the playoffs are all about.
Justin Keller: I want to see New England vs. Baltimore. Baltimore, to me, seems like the team with the biggest shot at knocking down the Patriots and, given the way last season’s game went down, I can imagine New England would want to seek some revenge on the Ravens as well. Ed Reed’s health gives Baltimore a chance against New England’s deadly passing attack and the Ravens are still built to stop the run as well. It’d be an interesting match up, for sure.
Bryan Doherty: And the 2nd answer Coley stole from me, probably because we talked about it the other day. I would also love to see a 3rd Ravens-Steelers game in the Divisional Round. Those games are almost always classics and the distaste each team has for each other would be nuts. Also, because that would mean we don’t have to play Baltimore potentially as the Steelers have had their number to an extent. There’s a lot of potentially good games this year though. Should be a great playoffs.
Coley Michalik: Eagles at Falcons for the NFCCG. The story line writes itself. Michael Vick and the Falcons have an estranged relationship to say the very least. Matt Ryan has allowed Falcon fans to forget about their troubles as he led his team to the top seed in the NFC. Vick has made the Eagles a legitimate Super Bowl contender and has been one of the feel good stories of the year. His return will be met with a wide range of emotions and even promises to be a great match up on the field as well. Both teams have explosive offenses with above average defenses, and if this does occur I see the Eagles pulling out the win.
Gus Elvin: Pats and Jets
If the Jets can upset Indy, the Jets would have a chance to redeem themselves against the Patriots in Foxborough the site of the 42 point shellacking at the hands of New England on Monday Night Football. I think this division rivalry would be exciting to see and I couldn’t see the Patriots possibly winning by 42 this time around. I think if Mark Sanchez and the Jets can knock off the Colts it would make for an exciting football game surrounded by a ton of different story lines but I would still see the Pats prevailing, though by far less than 42 points. This is my choice not because it would be the most exciting game but because of the rivalry and media surrounding both camps, I couldn’t imagine anything sweeter than seeing Tom Brady and this new look Patriot offense silencing Rex “Foot Fetish” Ryan and his “Hard Knock” Jets.
New England vs Indianapolis. Isn’t that what everyone wants to see? I know I want to see if Peyton can start to climb his way back up the QB totem pole, currently third or fourth best QB in the game.
Jimmy McIver: Being there’s no team from Texas in the Playoffs, there’s not any matchups that excite me, so it’s down to which teams have the sexiest cheerleaders!
Brent Mullis: The potential match-up I want to see is Atlanta vs. Philly, just so I get to hear everyone complain about how hyped up this game will be. Heck, I don’t necessarily think it’s a huge deal, but I’m going to hype the hell out of it if it happens. It would definitely be fun to watch.
Cole Zwicker: Baltimore at New England. Who doesn’t want to see the Patriots fall (save for nearly everyone on this blog)? Baltimore is really the only team who has proven they can go into Tom’s house and win, thus as a fan of a team with little chance to beat NE I desperately want to see this matchup. I obviously wouldn’t mind seeing another classic Baltimore Pittsburgh game either.
5) Team with 1st round bye most likely to go out in their first game?
Bryan Doherty: Pittsburgh. Atlanta could possibly get Seattle, though unlikely. Chicago could get a dome outdoor team like New Orleans outdoors. I think the Steelers, no matter who they get (IND/KC/BAL) have the potential to lose. Yes, I think KC could beat Pit. The Steelers at least to me are slightly overrated and I think a good defense can defend them pretty easily. How the Steelers defense performs would be the question. I think the Colts or Baltimore could give them hell.
K.M Venne :The Atlanta Falcons. Hey, I got the Saints winning the NFC. What more do you want?
Jimmy McIver: That’s easy, the first one to go bye, bye!
Gus Elvin: Chicago Bears. The Bears, either will play Philadlphia or New Orleans(No the Seahawks do not have a chance against NO) and either one of these teams would match up well with a Chicago team that one week looks very impressive but on other weeks loses to the Redskins and the Seahawks. I said it before I am just not sold on Cutler and I think Chicago’s run game has taken a step back this season, leaving them to rely heavily on their defense and special teams to make up for an enigmatic offense run by Cutler that lacks star power at the key skill positions. Philadelphia is an explosive team that is used to cold weather which is Chicago’s biggest advantage in this game, and would be able to weather the elements and compete with Chicago. I would like Michael Vick and the Eagles in the rematch between these two teams because I think the Eagles are just much better on offense both running the ball and throwing it down the field. In a closely contested match up, Philly would have the better QB and would win the game behind the arms and legs of #7. On the other hand if the Bears get the Saints, I look for New Orleans to outgun and out score the Bears as long as the game is not played in 2 feet of snow. The Saints offense moves the ball on everyone and I think Drew Brees will protect the ball while Cutler will take chances giving the Saints a great chance to knock off Da Bears.
Stephen Bochanski: The bye team most likely to lose their first game is the Chicago Bears. It’s really a process of elimination as I feel they might be the “weakest” of the top teams.
Cole Zwicker: Chicago. I don’t trust Cutler on a big stage, especially against a good front four or a team that blitzes a lot. The Bears offensive line is anemic to the point it’s surprising Cutler isn’t a corpse right now. If the Seahawks can go into your house and physically impose their will on you I can’t get excited about your prospects. Their D is solid, but I haven’t been a believer in that offense since day one. Why start now?
Justin Keller: I don’t see any number one seed losing in their matchups but if I was forced to pick between the two, the most obvious choice is Chicago. The Bears have won all year long, but they’ve done it unimpressively. And to sports idiots like ourselves, style points do matter. I don’t entirely trust Jay Cutler or their receivers and while I think their defense is solid (although not great), the team may not be built to win a championship.
Seth Cox: Pittsburgh is the team here. They get the Colts or Ravens, and both teams can go into Heinz and win a game in my eyes.
Brent Mullis: I’d go with the Bears. It’s no secret I’m still not a believer in Cutler. He is capable of blowing up at any moment, and until I see a stretch where he plays like a super bowl caliber QB, he won’t be one in my mind.
Coley Michalik: I wouldn’t be surprised if the Steelers got bounced in their opening game in the second round. All four of their losses came against playoff teams and they only posted two wins (Atlanta Wk 1; 15-9, Baltimore, 13-10) against teams still alive in the second season. Roethlisburger and Polamalu are two of the best the league has, regular or post-season, so it’s hard to pick against them but they just seem to be missing their allure against upper echelon teams this season. Considering I picked the Colts and Ravens to advance it means Manning will be taking his team to Heinz Field. The way Brady picked apart this defense earlier this season makes me believe that Manning can play similar enough to get the job done on the road.
6) NFC Champ. Game Prediction
Jimmy McIver (this applies for 6 and 7): Ya kid’n me, that’s why I don’t keep up with it and leave it up to you guys aside from the fact, my Mom told me to never pick my nosey in public.
Cole Zwicker: Atlanta over New Orleans. Yes the Saints just went into the Georgia Dome and won, but if it were ever possible to extract a 110% effort from a team it would be here. This game would mean everything to the Falcons and the city of Atlanta, so they get the emotional intangible factor (not to mention they’ve been the better football team). Matty Ice is 20-2 at home as a starter. I’ll play the percentages..
Coley Michalik: Philadelphia at Atlanta with Michael Vick leading the Eagles to victory.
Brent Mullis: Atlanta vs Philly. The Falcons take this one.
Justin Keller: Atlanta Falcons vs. Chicago Bears – I see both teams taking advantage of home field and, given the way Chicago defended Michael Vick in the regular season, I think they could handle him in the postseason as well. I imagine this game would be the low profile game that the NFL doesn’t want, but home field matters in these matchups. I do worry about Atlanta letting up if they do face the Saints and beat them, just for the fact that it would be a great personal battle for them. For that very reason, I could envision Chicago coming in and upsetting Atlanta and that’s who I’m going to pick as well. The Falcons biggeset weakness is their secondary and, while Cutler will commit a turnover or two, I don’t see it being deadly as the Bears upset Atlanta and move on to the Super Bowl.
Gus Elvin: Philadelphia @ Atlanta , Winner: Atlanta Falcons
NFC- To be honest I think the winner of the Green Bay and Philadelphia game could make a run and win the NFC but I’m gonna make a safe pick and take the rested Falcons who will only need to win one game to get to the NFC Championship game. Philadelphia has maybe the most talented team in the NFC but I think asking them to win three tough games in a row is an awful lot to ask of a team especially when the third game would be against a team of the quality of the Saints or Falcons. I like young Matt Ryan to come of age and out duel Drew Brees in a classic Divisional round game against the Saints and then lead his Falcons to a home win over the Eagles. Roddy White has been outstanding all season and will show he is a better receiver than DeSean Jackson even though he doesn’t get all the media attention as Atlanta takes another classic against their former quarterback Mike Vick. Mike Vick will play well indoors against his former team but the Falcons offense will be too explosive for a banged up Eagles defense resulting in a shootout that Atlanta will ultimately win. Falcons over the Eagles as Roddy White outshines Jackson, Michael Turner outshines LeSean McCoy and Matt Ryan puts a sudden end to Michael Vick’s Cinderella season in the building where #7 used to be employed on Sundays.
Seth Cox: Eagles vs Falcons. The Falcons get Seattle in round 2 at home, the Eagles have to go to Soldier Field. The Eagles and Mike Vick roll into Atlanta for what will be one of the more intriguing Championship Games in a long time. And the Eagles pull it out.
Stephen Bochanski: The NFC Championship game will be between Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles (go ahead, call me a homer again). Two weeks ago, the Eagles were supposed to be going to the Super Bowl, but now they’re considered mediocre. It’s one or the other and I’ll eat my crow if they get destroyed by the Packers. That said, I’m picking the Falcons to win the game.
K.M Venne: The Saints defeat the Chicago Bears in Soldier Field to return to the Super Bowl, making for a really annoying 2 weeks of ESPN.
Bryan Doherty: New Orleans over Philadelphia. I have both of the top NFC teams with byes going down in the Divisional Round. I think in the NFCCG you would see a shootout between two offensively talented football teams. I’m just really high on the Saints again. I think they’re way under the radar for a team who finally has their whole offense back. They should win easily this weekend and then if they get Atlanta, they’re indoors. The only place I could them struggling is at Chicago if they got single-digit temps and snow or something.
7) AFC Champ Game Prediction
K.M Venne: In another road victory, the Steelers defeat the Patriots, who look dominant, but I worry may have peaked a bit too soon. Can this team really play this well over this long a stretch? I have my serious questions. Plus I picked the Steelers to win the AFC to start the year. That also is a large, large factor here.
Justin Keller: New England vs. Pittsburgh – After surviving the Baltimore game, New England will have clear skies to a Super Bowl. Let’s face it: they are the best team. New England already has blown out Pittsburgh at Pittsburgh this season and I don’t see this game being much different. Especially with the game being in New England, I see the Patriots taking advantage of their home field and finding a way to win and advance to the Super Bowl.
Coley Michalik: Indianapolis at New England with the Patriots by 10 at the Razor.
Gus Elvin: Baltimore @ New England, Winner: New England Patriots
AFC- I like the Patriots to win as expected over New York and host Baltimore who qualify for the conference title game with wins over Kansas City and I think then Pittsburgh(I took the Jets over Indy). If it is Pittsburgh and Baltimore, I’m giving the edge to the Ravens because they should have swept Pittsburgh if not for one forced fumble that led to the Steelers lone touchdown and doomed the Ravens late in the teams Dec 5th match up. I think the Ravens have a better offense, a less turnover prone quarterback and a better defense and circle Ed Reed as the difference maker against Roethlisberger and the Steelers. In this rematch of last seasons postseason game, New England will be out for revenge and jump on the Ravens early on in the proceedings but be forced to hold on late as Flacco leads Baltimore back on the road. In my preseason AFC title game prediction I’m changing the winner and going with New England behind should be NFL MVP Tom Brady over Baltimore to represent the AFC in the Superbowl.
Seth Cox: Colts vs Patriots. Can The Hoodie and Bieber beat Peyton Manning again and give another huge blow to the Manning as best QB in the last decade? Can Peyton Manning will his team to another Super Bowl? Give me the Patriots in this one, by the slimmest of margins. You know what, on second thought, forget it, Peyton slays the dragon, Colts win.
Bryan Doherty: New England over Pittsburgh. I think the Jets come to Foxboro and though they play us somewhat tough, Sanchez just always sucks when he comes here. I think the Pats rattle him and win by about 10. I then think the Steelers get Baltimore at home, and in another GREAT game, I think the Steelers get by on a late comeback drive. The Ravens, if they could ever get consistency from their offense, I think could win it all, but Flacco hasn’t been great, and I just think this year is setup for a 3rd AFCCG between Pittsburgh and New England, something Cole probably wants to avoid.
Brent Mullis : Baltimore vs New York. Still got to go with New York in this one. As I said earlier this year, I will go down burning with this team.
Cole Zwicker: Pats over Steelers. Bibier has the Steelers zone defense figured out, and unless LeBeau gets really creative Pitt really has no counter to NE’s passing attack. The Steelers O line is also in shambles and were exposed during their week 10 outing. Hoodie is a mastermind and always finds a way to take away an integral component to a teams success, which means you can expect to see double coverage on Wallace like you saw in the 4th quarter of week 10 after he went crazy. In the end too much Brady and not enough turnovers..
PS: This may or may not have been the biggest reverse jinx in the history of mankind..
Stephen Bochanski: The AFC Championship game will be between the Ravens and Steelers. This was the game I wanted to see, and I’m going to predict I’m going to get it. Watch, the Ravens are going to smash their way through the AFC and win the Championship game.
8) Super Bowl Champion
Stephen Bochanski: Super Bowl winner? If I’ve gone this far picking upset after upset with the Ravens, I’m going to say they win the Super Bowl. Maybe we’ll see Ray Lewis fly away on a rocket-laser-shooting-spaceship at the end of the game.
Jimmy McIver: Odds have to be with New England so I’ll go with’em and being they are called “Patriots” helps a lot in doing that!
K.M Venne: In a Super Bowl of Steelers and Saints, the real winner will be all of us. We get two of the 3 best coaches in the NFL squaring off for the title, it should be a highly entertaining well played game. I give the edge in this one to the Steelers, and immediately regret having went down this road, because I don’t really want to see either of these teams win the Super Bowl this year, but hey, you can’t always get what you want…
Coley Michalik: Patriots over Eagles, again. The Patriots have conquered every obstacle that has been thrown their way. Michael Vick has been one of the most electrifying players (again) the league has ever seen but I do not think he will have enough to overcome New England. Tom Brady wins Belichick his fourth title in a “rebuilding year”.
Brent Mullis: J-E-T-S, JETS, JETS, JETS!!! As I said, I’m sticking with them, even though I will most likely look like a fool for it.
Bryan Doherty: New England over New Orleans. I hope I’m wrong on the NFC because New Orleans is the one team I fear over there as a potential opponent if the Pats get through the AFC. The Pats have been so good at not turning the ball over (NFL record for fewest), that they should be able to go up and down the field on New Orleans. Sean Payton going against Belichick would be epic and I would be worried about their passing attack against our secondary. The Pats having played so well for so long now makes me weary that they’re overdue for a letdown week which now couldn’t come at a worse time. But I still like their chances with how brilliant Brady has been to win it.
Seth Cox: Eagles vs Colts: Peyton falls short again, Vick becomes a folk hero in Philly, Donovan McNabb gets fatter, everyone feels better about dog fighting.
Cole Zwicker: Pats over Falcons. Chalk city. The Pats don’t beat themselves, so you essentially have to outscore them or keep the ball away from them. The Falcons have an elite and balanced offense, but I’ll take the Pats in any shootout, so Atlanta really has to kill the clock and keep the Pats D on the field. Easier said than done..
Justin Keller: Predictable, boring prediction alert: I think New England will win this year’s Super Bowl. From start to finish, they’ve been the most balanced team and they’re the team most adept to perform on both sides of the ball and they have the best offense in the NFL. With Chicago being my choice to make the Super Bowl, I don’t see New England, honestly, having much issue with the Bears in the game and I think the winner of this year’s Super Bowl will be the New England Patriots.
Gus Elvin: New England vs Atlanta, Winner: New England Patriots
In a match up of the master and the protege Brady and the Patriots edge young Matt Ryan and his upstart Falcons in a game filled with offensive fireworks. Ryan who since he has been at Boston College has been compared to Brady will have a chance to knock off Brady but will come up just short as the revamped Patriots finish this dream season off with a Super Bowl. Brady and the remaining Patriots from the 07 team have unfinished business and will finally get redemption with a Super Bowl win over Atlanta. Matt Ryan and the Falcons will be back but this year belongs to the Patriots who since trading Randy Moss have went on an improbable run led by Tom Brady and previously unheralded names like BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead to win the franchises 4th Super Bowl title.
There you have it, your picks and analysis on this years NFL playoffs brought to you by The Sports Headquarters. By all means, leave comments, call us idiots, question our IQ’s. But whatever you do, give us a read (which I guess if you’ve gotten this far you read something). Keep checking in as Gus Elvin continues to break down some of CBB’s major conferences, Brent and Seth give you an early jump into the NFL draft, Stephen brings you some NHL updates, and soon K.M and I (well maybe I should stay out) will take our gambling to College Basketball as we go H2H with the CBB guru of TSHQ. Thanks guys. Hope you enjoyed the read.