Monday, January 30, 2012

Super Bowl XLVI Prediction

I know it's Monday and there is still 6 days to go before the Super Bowl but I have a little time right now to get my prediction written down.  I have a fairly busy week this week with leading small group, several times speaking and this weekend helping take some college students down to Myrtle Beach for Converge (winter retreat for college students across the state of South Carolina).

Once again, I go into the Super Bowl matchup with a 6-4 record after correctly predicting the conference championship games.  This year's matchup is a rematch of Super Bowl XLII back in February 2008 between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots.  New York vs. Boston, another epic matchup between those two cities.

The last time both teams were in the big games was that matchup that saw the then undefeated Patriots lose to the underdog Giants.  I'm sure there will be many references to that game for the next week or so.  In fairness, these are two different teams now than when these two teams faced off 4 years ago.

This version of the Patriots have a defense that is less than stellar, though they did pick it up in the playoffs.  Their receiver corps is probably less talented than the previous version but their TEs with Gronkowski and Hernandez are better (though the health of Gronk's ankle will come into question).  I would say the Pats running game this time around is a little better and one can never count out Tom Brady especially with a week off to rest up.

This version of the Giants has again a top notch front 4, I would say their linebackers are probably not as good as their SB winning team and their secondary is hit or miss.  Their receiving corps is better this time around with Nicks, Cruz & Manningham.  Their running game is probably better but it's inconsistent though recently they've been a little bit more consistent.  Eli Manning is playing better this year and could rightfully be considered a top flight QB.

Last time around I picked the Pats because I wanted to see an undefeated season.  This time around there's not that so it makes for a harder game to figure.  Both teams have their strengths and weaknesses.  Both head coaches (Tom Coughlin & Bill Belicheck) are veteran coaches who know how to win.

Best way to decide?  Go with the fantasy football team.  I have three players in this game:  Wes Welker and Stephen Gostkowski for the Pats & Ahmad Bradshaw for the Giants.  Both Welker & Bradshaw had weeks where they scored the most points for my team in the regular season.  Welker had more of those.  I'm going with that.  Pats get revenge for Super Bowl XLII and beat the Giants.

Patriots 27 Giants 24

Monday, January 23, 2012

Random Sports Reflections

As I take a few minutes out of a cold, rainy Monday in the Upstate of SC to ponder about some stuff...

*True to form, I picked the AFC & NFC title games correct just like last year.  Well if that holds to form, whoever I pick for the Super Bowl should win right?  Haha, hmmmm probably not so fast on that one.  Lot of time to think through that.  I am glad that Baltimore isn't going.  That would've been a rough game to watch.  It's like the Yankees playing in the World Series, not worth watching cause I don't like them.  Instead we get a rematch of Super Bowl XLII.  I'll have my thoughts & predictions of that game next week.

*Sad to hear about the passing of Joe Paterno over the weekend.  It is a tragic story in many ways and one that can at times leave one speechless.  I refrained from blogging about the story when it came out last November.  Partly because I didn't know what to say & partly because it seemed that everyone else was talking about it.  I didn't know what I could contribute that was any different.  The whole scandal is a reminder of how we live in a fallen world.  I hope that JoePa was a believer and I hope that would give comfort to his family as they mourn his loss.  And I hope that there is continued prayer for the people of Happy Valley and the Penn State community for those who are having to deal daily with the effects of the actions of Jerry Sandusky.  And I hope that there are believers in that area who are able to share Christ and let Him work & heal broken lives there.

*If you haven't yet, check out the site SportsYapp.  They are a part of Sports Spectrum, a magazine that talks about Christianity and sports.  They have a podcast that's updated fairly regularly and have done some interviews with some players, reporters and announcers sharing their testimonies like Dave Pasch, Clark Kellogg, Chris Broussard and Brett Kern.  There's a link to the latest podcast here on my blog (it's on the right side of the page, just scroll down and you should see it.)  Really good stuff and I suggest giving a listen sometime.

Friday, January 20, 2012

2012 Conference Championship Picks

Well after a great 3-1 Wild Card round predictions, my divisional round picks fell flat on their face.  I went 1-3...but in my defense I didn't see the Saints turning the ball over 5 times & not double covering the Niners' best receiver (Vernon Davis), nor did I see the Texans muff a punt that swung momentum early in the game & the Texans couldn't ever recover, nor did I see the Packers receivers dropping so many passes...for what it's worth (Ironically, last year I was the same record after the divisional round 4-4).

So now the conference championship games.  To be honest, both games are eh to me but it is what it is.  There are two scenarios that I'd be fine with and there are two that would make for an ugh Super Bowl.  You can probably guess which two would make for an ugh Super Bowl (just think Super Bowl XXXV).  Okay onto my picks (as always the scores don't really matter just the picks).

The first conference title game is the AFC Championship game between the Baltimore Ravens vs the New England Patriots.  Let's be honest, is there any doubt who I'm picking in this game?  But for the sake of a semi thorough review, here goes.  The Ravens are coming off a victory against the Texans in the divisional round.  Their defense is playing well and when they utilize the run game with Ray Rice, they are a good team.  However, I'm not sold on that secondary (aside from Ed Reed) and I don't think that Joe Flacco is reliable in the big game or on the road (which this game is both a big game and on the road).  The Patriots are coming off a beat down of the Broncos.  Yes the Patriots have one of the worst defenses statistically in the league this year and they didn't beat a team with a winning record in the regular season.  But the Pats still have Tom Brady, they still have the offensive weapons.  On Sunday it will be the Pats' strength (offense) vs. the Ravens' strength (defense).  What puts it over the edge?  Two guys on the Patriots (Wes Welker & Stephen Gostkowski) were on my fantasy football team that won the championship, Ravens had 0.  Advantage Patriots

Patriots 31 Ravens 17

The late game is the NFC Championship game between the New York Giants vs the San Francisco 49ers.  To be honest, probably most NFL fans would've rather saw the Saints and Packers in this game but this is the game we've got.  The Giants are coming off a victory against the defending Super Bowl champs while the Niners are coming off a victory over the Saints.  A lot of people are comparing this Giants team to the one that won the Super Bowl in February 08.  I think the better comparison was one I saw earlier this week with this team and the Packers team of last year.  They have a great pass rush and the passing game is right up there.  Rushing has been kind of inconsistent but it's kinda coming into form now.  They are a team that seems to be hot at the right time but it also could be they're catching teams at the right time.  On the other side, the 49ers have had a stingy defense and a great running game.  Jim Harbaugh, in his first year as the Niners head coach, has turned this franchise around and have put them in a position to go to the Super Bowl since the mid 90s.  Alex Smith has looked more like the #1 pick this season.  However, this team is the more inexperienced team when it comes to the playoffs and their receivers dropped a lot of passes last week, something they cannot afford to do this week.  This one is very tough to pick.  Both teams have a legit shot of winning.  Giants have the experience but the 49ers are at home.  49ers have a tough defense but Eli Manning has become one of the elite QBs in the league.  Looking at my championship fantasy football team roster, I have one player from each team (Alex Smith vs. Ahmad Bradshaw).  Deciding factor:  Alex Smith was on my bench, Ahmad Bradshaw was a starter.  Going with the Giants

Giants 20 49ers 13

Friday, January 13, 2012

2012 Divisional Round Predictions

Well, I didn't do too bad with my Wild Card predictions going 3-1 (missed on Atlanta but then again they didn't show up last week).  This weekend's games have some easy to root for teams for the most part.  Lets see if I can keep the winning tradition going (as always the scores don't really matter just the picks).

The first game of the weekend is New Orleans vs San Francisco.  The Niners are in the playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade.  They have a stifling defense & a potential coach of the year in Jim Harbaugh.  The Saints are coming off a win against Detroit in the Wild Card round.  This is a tough matchup.  The Saints aren't the best road team in the world but they do have playoff experience and a top QB in Drew Brees.  The Niners do have a solid running game in Frank Gore and the aforementioned tough D.  Out of the 4 matchups, this will be the toughest to pick.  However, despite the road concerns, I'm taking the Saints.  Their defense will give Alex Smith fits.  I think for another week Saints fans can chant "Who Dat?"

Saints 27 49ers 17

The night game on Saturday is Denver vs New England.  Brady vs. Tebow II.  A lot has been said the first time around so there really isn't more that needs to be said.  Patriots won the first game though the Broncos put up a great fight in that game.  That time it was in Denver.  This time it's in New England.  Tebow had a great game last week against the Steelers.  And New England hasn't won a playoff game since the 2007 season.  Then again, if we go by history the division winner that no one expected to win in WC round lost the next round.  Think this time will be no exception.  Close one but think it'll be the Pats again.

Patriots 34 Broncos 30

The early Sunday game features Houston vs Baltimore.  Let's face it.  I don't like Baltimore and will not pick them to win.  Even with a 3rd string QB and little playoff experience, Houston does have a tough running game & their defense is top notch.  Plus I don't think Flacco is that great a QB.  Texans keep hope alive in Houston

Texans 24 Ravens 10

The final game features the NY Giants vs Green Bay.  They matched up earlier in the year with the Packers pulling out the victory in dramatic fashion.  The Giants are coming off a win against the Falcons and many are comparing them to the team that won the Super Bowl in the 2007 season.  Eh, I'm not really seeing it.  They are still inconsistent and their secondary is weak.  Aaron Rodgers can and will exploit it.  Packers keep up the chance for a repeat

Packers 37 Giants 27

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012 Wild Card Weekend Predictions

2012 is here and the first post of 2012 is predictions for the Wild Card round of the NFL playoffs.  Lots of intriguing matchups this first week of the playoffs and will be tough to pick.

(FYI, this is my opinion, the main thing is who I'm picking & not the score...)

The first game on Saturday will see Cincinnati vs Houston.  This is a rematch of a regular season game in week 14 which saw Houston win at Cincy.  This time the game will be in Houston.  This is the first time the Texans have reached the playoffs & this is the third time for Cincy since 1990 (which was the last time they won a playoff game).  The Texans are essentially on their 3rd string QB as they lost their top two to injury during the season.  Cincy has a rookie QB in Andy Dalton starting for them.  Though Houston had a stumble towards the end of the regular season, I think their defense will be enough to get them through this round and get their first ever playoff win.

Texans 27 Bengals 17

The second game on Saturday will see Detroit vs New Orleans.  This game is also a rematch of a regular season game in week 13 in which New Orleans won at home.  For Detroit, this is the first time they've been in the playoffs since 1999.  New Orleans is two years removed from their Super Bowl win.  The Lions have an explosive passing offense but not much of a running game.  The Saints offense are clicking on all cylinders & QB Drew Brees is an MVP candidate.  Like the Texans/Bengals matchup, don't think Lions will get revenge here.  Saints will roll.

Saints 37 Lions 24

The first Sunday game is Atlanta vs the New York Giants.  Atlanta is in the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time in their history and a year removed from being the #1 seed in the NFC.  The Giants are in the playoffs since 2008 season, the year after they won the Super Bowl.  Some are saying this Giants team is like the Super Bowl team of 2007.  I'm not so sure.  I think this Falcons team is better than last year's team and I think could be "sleeper" team to make the Super Bowl.  It'll be close but I think Matty Ice (Matt Ryan) will get his first playoff win.

Falcons 27 Giants 20

The final Wild Card game is Pittsburgh vs Denver.  Big Ben vs Timmy Tebow.  This is probably the matchup that everybody "knows" how it's going to be.  Pittsburgh did a good job in bucking the trend of Super Bowl losers the previous year not making the playoff the next year.  Since 2000 only Tennessee in 2000, Seattle in 2006 and Indianapolis in 2009 and now Pittsburgh pulled it off.  In the previous 3 instances, only the Seahawks won a playoff game that next playoff season (the WC game against Cowboys with the botched FG attempt).  The Steelers come into this game with a hurt Big Ben (who should play) and a now hurt RB Rashard Mendenhall (who is out for the playoffs) but have a very tough defense.  The Broncos are in the playoffs for the first time since 2005 and did so by "backing" into the playoffs.  It has been a roller coaster year with Tebow at the helm after a 1-4 start.  They had a 7-1 run then lost their last 3.  A lot (and I mean a lot) of people are bashing Tebow (rightly so or not).  I don't think I've ever seen a player who was a "nice guy" who gets critiqued so heavily.  Although I'm not happy that Tebow helped contribute to the Titans not making the playoffs (with the crazy scenarios) I'm tired of so many people bashing him.  Most everybody is picking the Steelers to demolish Denver.  But this game is in Mile High and don't know how mobile Big Ben will be.  This game has a feeling of last season's Saints/Seahawks game.  We all know how that game turned out.  I think for at least one more time this season, it'll be Tebow Time

Broncos 20 Steelers 17