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:
Green Bay at Minnesota, 1 p.m- The How Savvy is Mike McCarthy Bowl. The Packers have too much pride to give up the record to AD, but can they be sneaky enough to keep this game close until a late score gives the Vikings the win so that the six seed Vikes have to go to Lambeau with Christian Ponder? I mean, no team really wants an extra game and it could be said that they fear AD much more than Cutler, but still, Christian “Housedad” Ponder in the playoffs? PICK: (GB 6-3)
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m- The Cincinnati Bengals have not had consecutive winning seasons since 1981-1982. Those were the first two seasons of Cris Collinsworth. If they do it this season, it will happen for A.J. Green in the same manner. Clearly, the Bengals need Matt Millen at GM, wide receivers are the key to their team. It seems that the best gift for Steelers fans is a jury duty stint for Todd Haley. PICK: (PIT 7-2)
WEEK 15: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SCOTT ZOLAK
Denver at Baltimore, 1 p.m- I’m stealing a line here and am not ashamed. We are going to find out just how smart Joe Flacco is this week when he gets his play calls from a cardboard cut-out. There was a joke here about Peyton Manning, Jim Caldwell, cardboard cut-outs and Frankenstein, but Manning’s ridiculous return made it null and void. PICK: (DEN 5-4)
THE BEST WOW DID THAT TREND CONTINUE STAT
Chicago at San Francisco, 8:30 p.m- There hasn’t been a quarterback match-up this good in the series since Cody Pickett faced Kyle Orton in 2005. The Bears have not won in San Francisco since the 1985 Super Bowl season, losing the last seven times by an average score of 34-6. The Bears haven’t scored more than 15 points in those games and have been shutout three times. The Bay Area is not kind to the Chicago club. PICK: CHI 4-3)
Atlanta at New Orleans, 1 p.m- The Saints playoff run story spliced with ending the undefeated season for Atlanta is just so easy that it has to happen, right? Also, I am sick of the stats that show weak schedules for 7-1, 8-0, 6-2 teams. A team that has played 8 games and played 8 opponents that have played 8 games will have a 1/8 effect on their own strength of schedule. That is 64 games. Minus 8 games is 56 games. 28-28 is .500. 28-36 is .438. There are so many flaws to almost all strength of schedule arguments. Remember when Denver was supposed to have the toughest sked in the league? Now people are talking about how easy it is. PICK: (ATL 9-0)- Writer's note: I was shocked at the 9-0 here.
Oakland at Kansas City, 4:05 p.m- The Most Likely to Finish 0-0 Game of the Week. Congratulations to the Raiders for being featured two weeks in a row. It’s going to be a bit awkward when Brady Quinn tries to push Jamaal Charles into the end zone on the final play of the game and then throws a beer bong at Matt Leinart. PICK: (OAK 7-2)
Dallas at Baltimore, 1 p.m- It was reported that Mark Sanchez’s recent run of four games in a row below 50% complete happened for the first time since 1999. The last culprit; Stoney Case, 1999, Ravens. PICK: (BAL 11-2)
Minnesota at Washington, 4:25 p.m- Mysteriously, the Billy Cundiff Highlight DVD cuts off at January 21, 2012. The DVD is produced by “Billy Cundiff Productions.” Moral of the story: You can start your own production company even on a kicker’s salary in the NFL. PICK: (MIN 11-2)
WORST PRE-SEASON PREDICTION
8/24-San Diego at Minnesota 8PM- Adrian Peterson will start this game and rush for 310 yards just to show that he can still rack up centuries of yards against the Chargers. Sadly, it will amount to 1/3 of his season total. (SD 10-1)
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%)