Sadly, this column is almost at an end for this season. I feel like we have grown. I feel like we have learned from each other. Like a protagonist in a compelling novel, we faced adversity and felt better for it. Aw, forget all that mushy stuff. I'm mad! Football is almost over. I might have to work on the weekends. I may have to spend time with others. This is awful. Forget what I said about the 18 game regular season, Rodge, let's go for 22 and take this thing through the worst month of the year. February stinks.
Before we get to the picks, let's get back to some of the more memorable lines from this column over the course of the season:
BEST CALL OF THE YEAR:
THE BEST WOW DID THAT TREND CONTINUE STAT
WORST PRE-SEASON PREDICTION
OKAY, TIME FOR THE PICKS
Sunday, January 20, 2013
San Francisco @ Atlanta- So, why is Copernicus holding a turtle? Did he re-name it Erik Walden after last weekend? The disease of recent memory is going to point out a lot of things in favor of the Niners. They looked great against the Packers and Jim Harbaugh is becoming one of those coaches that feel like they always know what they are doing. In order words, the exact opposite how Falcons fans feel about Mike Smith when short yardage or clock management is involved. He is lucky that Pete Carroll still believes in icing a kicker and also calls bad time outs (cough, cough, end of first half).
Still, the Falcons have things going for them. Matt Ryan is 34-6 at home. The Falcons have actually beaten the Niners the last 4 times that they have played. Three of those four wins were within 4 points. The one blowout was in 2009 when the Falcons trounced the Shuan Hill and Glen Coffee Show 45-10. #1 seeds at home are 6-0 since 2005. Being a #1 seed at home and getting points, Falcons fans certainly can play the "We just beat the hottest team in the league and you still don't believe in us" card.
The Falcons, though, have a hobbled John Abraham and still have no real run game. They surprised the Seahawks early with over 80 yards in the first quarter. Then, with a lead, they rushed 4 times for 9 yards in the third quarter. Overall, they called 17 passes and 10 runs WITH A LEAD, AT HOME. PICK: (SF 6-3)
Baltimore @ New England Color the Council unimpressed with the Ravens ability to beat Peyton Manning in the playoffs. I guess when everybody does it, it is hard to be impressed. (Editor's note: Only 11 teams have done it, and New England and San Diego have done it more than once, he really should have said Most of the AFC).
For the Ravens, they need to see more from the last name Moore. Last year, Sterling Moore broke up the season against Baltimore. This year, Rahim Moore managed to forget the rule that safeties have to play as deep as possible with a lead at the end of the game. He also forgot about the clock and then tried to go for a pick with two hands when his angle was bad. Belichick, forever being the forward thinker, got rid of Moore in the middle of the season to make sure the Ravens could not conduct more research this game. The Patriots don't have a guy named Moore on the active roster.
This game, though, will be a challenge for the Ravens defense. Ray Lewis will be exploited by Aaron Hernandez at some point or another. They won't be able to adjust and take advantage of a barrage of short throws. From the beginning of the fourth quarter until the end of the game, Peyton Manning attempted 15 pass plays. Only four of them were at targets more than 10 yards past the line of scrimmage. His longest was 15 yards. That was the game-deciding interception. Another was a 12 yard out to Stokely that took longer than an audiobook of "War & Peace" to get there. All in all, those fifteen targets averaged out to 6.4 yards down the field. All the Ravens did was keep Ed Reed deep and then get an extra guy or two in the 5-15 yard area on every play.
The Council does not think Tom Brady will show the same tendancies.PICK: (NE 8-1)
LAST WEEK: 2-2
SEASON: 169-94-1 (64.2%)