NFL Pick ‘Ems (Super Bowl 50)

DEN @ CAR (SB50)

I have a bit of a confession to make:

I was never really “done” with the NFL. I didn’t watch the games… but I still kept up with scores, stats, and noteworthy news and what-not. But I didn’t watch any games! That counts for something, r-right? Yeah. Totally.

I watched the AFC/NFC Championship Games.

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Well, what’s done is done. I will happily indulge in Super Bowl 50 with no regrets. Putting aside my Brett Favre-ish sense of guilt, let’s talk about the match-up.

The Denver Broncos are not the offensive juggernaut they were the last two years. They are now a team being carried almost completely by their defense. It is because of this defense that Denver gets so many chances on offense to score some points, which they took advantage of against New England two weeks ago. I was impressed with how Denver’s offense played during the first half of that game, but then they scored a measly three points after halftime. That is not something you want to do against the top scoring offense of the Carolina Panthers.

Speaking of the Panthers, they’ve looked completely dominant with their last two playoff games. Jumping ahead by, what, 24 points before Seattle scored anything? And then they completely obliterated Arizona in what may have been the most one-sided NFC Championship I’ve ever seen. I knew they looked good in the regular season with an easy schedule, but they just destroyed two back-to-back good (albeit inconsistent) teams with decent defenses. Denver’s #1 defense will be the ultimate test, however.

For me, this almost seems like the make-up for a repeat of Super Bowl XLVIII, only Denver doesn’t have the #1 scoring offense of all time and a better defense. While I don’t think the game will be a blowout, I think there could be a good chance that it might. Carolina has looked way too good all year and every time I feel they’ve met their match, they blow them out of the water. The only real weakness I see in Carolina is their secondary, which won’t be much of a problem because Peyton Manning has been putrid throwing the ball all year. Carolina is loaded on pretty much every other position. All they need to do is play a clean game and they’ve pretty much won it.

Who knows, though? I’ve said the same thing about Denver. I keep thinking they’ll lose against better teams and they keep on winning. I would’ve bet my house that New England would’ve destroyed them in the AFC Championship game, but they pulled out of that one despite a second-half nap by their offense. It’s an intriguing match-up of “Who’s defense is better?” I feel Denver’s defense is more preventive of points, but Carolina’s defense is all around stable.

I think the key factor in this game is Cam Newton. Will he be able to handle the pressure of Denver’s pass rush and their tight secondary? Will he take advantage of his legs and will Denver’s defense allow him to run ’em over? If he continuously turns the ball over, it’s Peyton’s game. Otherwise, I think Carolina has the better chance here.

Winner: Carolina

Thoughts on the AFC/NFC Championship Games & Super Bowl Predictions

Peyton Manning has thrown for a record 55 touchdown passes and 5,477 passing yards in a single regular season and is now on his way to his third Super Bowl appearance in his career. A win there may just cement his status as the greatest quarterback of all time, or at least in this era. He took over a team who’s last two super bowl appearances (and wins) were done by the hands (and legs) of a hall of fame quarterback who couldn’t win “the big one” for most of his career. Peyton Manning now may follow suit in his old age.

The Seattle Seahawks went 7-9 in 2011. In comes Russell Wilson and suddenly the team is 27-9 with him as the starter. Their defense has been an impressive force all season with Richard Sherman hyping it up on the field and during post-game interviews. Their one and only Super Bowl appearance came in 2006 when they went against the Steelers in a match-up most Seahawks fans consider a fixed game.

Both the Broncos and the Seahawks are number one seeds. The Broncos have the (record breaking) #1 offense, while the Seahawks possess the #1 defense. Peyton Manning is trying to establish the greatest season for a quarterback in the history of the NFL. Russell Wilson has already proven that his size isn’t a factor to playing the position of quarterback, but wouldn’t it be a nice touch to add a Super Bowl ring to his resume? The Broncos and Seahawks have the same record, the exact same record, in fact. 7-1 at home and 6-2 on the road, bringing their total to 13-3.

It’s perfect. It’s too perfect. This is primed to be one of the greatest super bowl match-ups of all time.

Which is exactly why I bid against it.

For those of you who are curious enough to care, these were my picks all throughout the playoffs:

Wild Card- CIN over SD, IND over KC, GB over SF, NO over PHI. (2-2)

Divisional- SD over DEN, IND over NE, SF over CAR, NO over SEA. (1-3)

Championship- NE over DEN, SF over SEA. (0-2)

I’m 3-7 when picking games during the playoffs this year, but hear me out! The last two years, the Super Bowl was won by the fourth seed in the playoffs, which gives me every reason to believe in all of these underdog teams to overtake these colossal obstacles. When Ray Lewis said “This will be my last ride,” that seemed to be a magic potion for the Ravens to win it all. They beat the Colts, the Broncos, and the Patriots, all of which were superior teams. The Giants the year before defeated the Falcons, the Packers, and the 49ers, all of which were superior teams. These results are the magic of sports that got me so fascinated in late season hot runs. These are the results that led me to believe that the Saints could pull an upset at Ford Field. It led me to believe that the 49ers would go all the way this year, along with the Chargers, because why not? The last two years showed sub-par teams winning the Super Bowl, and then said teams get progressively worse with every passing season. It completely left all possibilities of a #1 seed versus #1 seed Super Bowl this year out of my head. It seems as though sometimes the best teams truly deserve to go to the Super Bowl. It seems that not all underdogs win. I guess this is one such year that has me completely lost in terms of predictability. Who knows who will win the Super Bowl?

This unpredictability is exactly why I’m going to go with the perfect scenario. I told myself before the championship games that if the Seahawks won against the 49ers, then they’d win the Super Bowl. But I’m going against my own upset-happy beliefs and am siding with the Broncos. It may not have happened for Brady during his record breaking 2007 season, but it will happen for Peyton Manning. His perfect season will come to an end with a second Super Bowl ring. The Broncos will win the Super Bowl.

And because of my 3-7 record in game picks during this 2013 playoff run, I can only imagine how off I will be when Manning throws six interceptions against the Seahawks defense. February 2nd can’t come any faster.

Thoughts on the Results of the NFL Divisional Rounds & Predictions for the Super Bowl

No comebacks.

That’s something you do not see often in the NFL, especially with playoff teams. After seeing Andrew Luck bring back the Colts from a 2,134,679,234 (accurate number) point deficit against the Chiefs, they couldn’t get past 22 points against the Patriots after the Colts’ defense got slaughtered, giving up a whopping six rushing touchdowns, four of them coming from a player that didn’t start one game in 2012. Cam Newton scored ten points against the 49ers’ incredibly consistent defense in the first half. By the end of the day, they were in the red zone twice, only achieving a measly three points, and the 49ers’ defense didn’t allow a single point during the second half. Philip Rivers was primed to bring the Chargers back to at least tie the game, but his team’s defense just couldn’t stop Peyton Manning. Drew Brees took it one step further. After completing an onside kick, the Saints had a little under thirty seconds to go over fifty yards. They got about fifteen, until Marques Colston tried to be a hero and “lateraled” it to Khiry Robinson after making a sideline catch. Only problem though; it was a forward pass, which effectively ran out the clock. This game was probably the most agonizing to watch, especially seeing as though the Saints could have very well tied the game. The catch made to seal the 2012 Seahawks-Packers game is enough evidence to support that Drew Brees could’ve put it in the endzone with his arm, and the Saints had already converted a two-point conversion earlier in the game. I sincerely believed that would be the case, but all for naught.

And so, the AFC-NFC Championship games come down to four teams with 12+ regular season win records, this being the first time since I became a fan of the NFL that this has ever happened. It gives a refreshing twist on the playoffs, as there is no really “hot” team going into these two games, except perhaps the 49ers, who won two road games just to get to Seattle to face their rival Seahawks. It truly is an AFC-NFC Championship to remember, as both games will play host to two ongoing rivalries, with the NFC being between division rivals and the AFC game being between a media proclaimed “rivalry” between two of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Despite the fact that Tom Brady has been playing less like a hall of fame quarterback and more like a game manager this season, his dynamic running game should prove a challenge for Denver’s defense, regardless of their success against the combination of Woodhead, Brown, and Mathews. From what the past few games have shown me, I expect the 49ers-Seahwaks game to be low scoring, but so does everybody else. However, what I have noticed is that the 49ers offense has flourished against stiff competition from both the Packers and the Panthers of all teams. The Seahawks had trouble the whole game passing the ball against the Saints, except when it mattered most. The 49ers won’t let that happen. We could blame the wind, we could blame the bye week. Whatever the case, I genuinely don’t think the Seahawks offense will get a lot out of the 49ers defense.

My prediction for the Super Bowl: Patriots vs. 49ers