Saturday, January 21, 2012

Championship Round Predictions; I Officially Know Nothing

I’ve successfully managed to beat around the bush this past week, but I can no longer delay the inevitable fact that I have absolutely no clue as to how this postseason will conclude.  Although my predictive powers are not in tact at the moment, I can safely say I know what I want to happen.  And, really, why entertain the notion of something else?  As Tim Tebow knows, if you wholeheartedly want something to happen, people will give it to you. 

Certainly predicting winners has its self-satisfying, look-what-I-did moments, but how long does such a feeling really last?  No, really, how long does it last?  It feels like it’s been half a century since I’ve made a pick worthy enough for self-applause.  I would much rather spend my time talking about things I would like to happen as opposed to things that will ultimately make me look like an idiot.  With that in mind, here are my weekend picks. 

I want the rematch; I’m ready.  It needs to happen.  As we all look ahead to possible Super Bowl matchups, the notion that we may see it again is as enticing as something that is very enticing.  Even after all the elapsed time, people still talk about the game more than any other one in recent memory.  The first bout had everything you could need: an underdog, back and forth scoring, spectacular plays, and, ultimately, one team coming out on top because, on that day, they were simply better.  The victorious team outplayed the opposition, out coached the opposition, and captured victory because of their own superior play rather than a let down from the foe.  NFL fans around the world caught lightening in a bottle the first time.

You know the game I’m talking about.  You know the rematch I want to see.  Say it with me now, loud and hostile, “Harbaugh Bowl Part 2!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

To get pumped up for this potential affair, please allow me to entice you with the chop-licking statistics from the first battle between the San Francisco 49ers and their head coach, Jim Harbaugh, and the Baltimore Ravens and their head coach, John Harbaugh. 

People say it’s a passing league.  Well, people, you had better rethink that idea because H.B.I. (Harbaugh Bowl I) had a grand total of 257 passing yards!  Who doesn’t want to see that again?  And if you think the teams covered the passing gap in rushing yards, think again!  In the 16-6 game, the two teams combined for 166 yards on 56 carries.  That’s an average of 2.96 yards per carry!  So, it was a defensive game.  I mean, the quarterbacks are Joe Flacco and Alex Smith.  Even their teammates think they’re bad! There must have been a bunch of turnovers then, right?  False once more!  There was just one! 
Loud noises!
Fan’s today don’t know anything about good football.  We’re a bunch of amateurs in a fine winery rushing to the Manischewitz.  We don’t appreciate beauty even when it’s right before our eyes (or in the case of H.B.I., the eyes of the 15 people who get NFL Network).  There were more punts in the H.B.I. than points from touchdowns.  If that’s not the definition of grungy, old school, über-exciting football than I don’t know what is!

I know it sounds boring, but believe me it won’t be.  Us fans just need to leave what has become a comfort zone of sorts.  Five hundred passing yards and 60 combined points are great and all, but I’m telling you (because the senior citizens at ESPN tell me), defensive, snore-inducing football is so much better… 

Then again, maybe we aren’t ready to leave the offensive comfort zone…

If at this point you haven’t been able to decipher the underlying sarcastic voice throughout this entire column, you are either (A) my mom or (B) some other person that knows nothing about football or verbal irony.  So, without further delay, I can say with full not sarcasm, I am rooting so, so freaking hard for this years’ big game to be a rematch of Super Bowl 42.

A San Francisco, Baltimore Super Bowl would actually be the worst thing that could happen for my predictive reputation.  I’ve contended these are both overrated teams for much of the season.  If they meet in two weeks, I am going to have some major questions to answer, mainly from myself.  But, at this point, my opinion is already entirely wrong.  You cannot make it this far based on anything but talent and coaching.  They are both very good teams. 

Everyone is ready for the Super Bowl 42 rematch.  Patriots fans need their redemption.  They’ve had to listen to Giants fans carry on and on about their superiority to New England for the last four years.  It only increased after the Giants beat the Patriots earlier this season.  These two factors mean that New England fans would probably enjoy this Super Bowl victory more than any of their previous ones.  Meanwhile, Giants supporters are already convulsing from the possibility that they can continue on their we-own-the-best-team-of-the-decade football rant for the foreseeable future.  As for the non-biased NFL fan, this type of animosity and arrogance within two fan bases has set the stage for a Facebook status and Twitter feed battle of epic proportions.
The responsibility of keeping Gronk in check will
fall on Ed Reed.
For the above reasons, and because I believe the Giants and Patriots are the two best remaining playoff teams, they are my picks to advance to the Super Bowl.  Of course, when a gem of a Super Bowl lingers, someone is going to crash the party.  Not to mention, it seems like the entire Western World is going with the Super Bowl 42 rematch as well. 

Tom Brady must look at Peyton’s situation and think to himself about how fortunate he is to be healthy and this close to another Super Bowl because, in the crazy game of football, every snap could be his last.  He may never get this close again and I don’t think he’s going to let them lose now.  As discussed extensively in my last column, Gronkowski and Hernandez are going to decide the success New England has against the good Ravens D.  Baltimore is probably the team most capable of defending the tight end within the current schemes.  Lewis is still one of the top linebackers, especially against the pass, and behind him is Ed Reed who may very well be the best coverage safety ever.  This means the Ravens will be using Lewis in man or short zone coverage with Reed lurking behind him.  The problem is that still won’t get it done against Gronk, especially when Baltimore must also deal with Hernandez.  New England’s defense has been better lately and they’re at home.  I want the Patriots to win (my pinky just incinerated from writing that) and that’s why I’m picking them. 
Official pick: Patriots 27, Ravens 17

The Giants and 49ers met earlier in the season and San Francisco was able to pull out a close victory.  I believe the Giants will win this game because of their front four on defense, a formula that won them Super Bowl 42.  As I was watching TV Friday afternoon, Steve Young said he believed that Alex Smith has the type of confidence that will serve him well in this postseason.  However, if this is the case he needs to be careful not to get too confident.  Harbaugh should keep his team in check and make sure they don’t abandon the running game and the safe, consistent offense that brought them this far.  If Coughlin doesn’t blow the game with an overly conservative first quarter game plan, the Giants will win. 
Official pick: Giants 24, 49ers 21   

So there you go.  I suppose those qualify as predictions.  At this point, it’s as good a way to do it as any. 


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