Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014 NFL playoff predictions

The moment has finally arrived!  Amateur night!

It's the one night in the Ohio Valley when all the weirdo freaks come out and instantly become active, joyous participants in that which is ultimately meaningless.  So what's it gonna be?  Ballroom dancing with a Frank Sinatra Jr. impersonator at Ernie's Esquire?  Or how about a "ring in the New Year" celebration at the Oglebay Park conference room?  You get a "complimentary" $5.00 glass of champagne and side of escargot (with ample salmonella poisoning) - that's how I want to bring it on home - puking my brains out during the epic Arkansas vs. Boise St. game.  What about celebrating the big night at one of the countless gambling parlors?  How exhaustively depressing is that?  I think I'd prefer the food poisoning.

Obscenely revolting.  That's how I describe NYE in the valley.  Hell, it could be worse I suppose.  Wheeling's bad enough.  What about hanging out in neighboring Bell-Dirty or some kind of Beech Bottom Route 2 shit?  Seriously, what the fuck is that?

So I'll likely be having a calmer, more introspective New Year.  Gigi's working, so I'll probably just be hanging at the homestead.

The upside to all of this - you get to read my NFL playoff predictions.

Wildcard weekend:

San Diego at Cincinnati (-7)

I like the Bengals to get their first playoff victory in ages.  Chargers are coming off that insane finish.  I look for a major letdown.  Cincy's run defense is tough.  Look for huge numbers from AJ Green.

Cincy  34
San Diego  17

San Francisco (-2.5) at Green Bay

This is the tough one.  San Fransisco has a strong run game (both defense and offense).  That plays well in the cold of Lambeau Field... BUT, I think the return of Aaron Rodgers is just too much.  I like the momentum factor.  At some point, Kaepernick will make a critical mistake.  I'd take Green Bay by a field goal.  Home upset.

Green Bay  23 (OT)
San Fran  20

Kansas City at Indianapolis (-3)

Indy looked strong in their recent victory at Arrowhead.  I like them even more indoors - on the fast track of Lucas Oil Field.  Andy Reid looks slower and heavier than ever.  I think Indy comes out firing (quick 17-0 lead) and KC just won't be able to get back in the game.

Colts  31
Chiefs  10

New Orleans at Philadelphia (-2.5)

This is the big upset.  I know.  I know.  Saints don't play well outdoors.  Big whoop.  I'd sooner go with Sean Payton's experience over Chip Kelly (rookie NFL head coach).  And Philly has had some bad, historic chokes at the Linc.  I think this game will be a shoot-out thriller.

Saints  37
Eagles  34


Division round

Cincinnati at New England:  Predicted line (New England -9)

I'd go with Bill Belicheck over Marvin Lewis and Tom Brady over Andy Dalton any day of the week.  Nothing too shocking there.  Patriots at home in January.

New England:  30
Cincinnati:  21

Indianapolis at Denver:  Predicted line (Denver -10)

Denver:  34
Indy:  21

I think Indy will put up a fight and keep it close in the first half.  But Manning is just too much of a professional.  I'd look for him to blow it open in the second half.  I just can't envision a divisional round Broncos dismissal.

New Orleans at Seattle:  Predicted line (Seattle -8)

I remember a playoff game when New Orleans came into Seattle as 10 point road favorites... and they lost.  Seattle is too just tough at home.  Here's where the outdoor elements catch up with the Saints.  Situations are reversed this time, but Seattle wins again.

Seattle:  24
New Orleans: 19

Green Bay at Carolina:  Predicted line (Carolina -4)

Division round home teams generally fare well, but out of all the match-ups, I think the Panthers are the least likely to advance.  Take head coach McCarthy and Rogers with the experience factor, even though their team is not as strong.

Packers:  21
Panthers:  20

AFC Championship:

New England at Denver (-5)

Yeah!  A weirdo 5 point favorite.  I just think Peyton wins it this time at home, especially after that heartbreaker loss to the Ravens last year.  The injuries and the altitude finally catch up with the Pats.

Broncos  24
Patriots  14

NFC Championship:

Green Bay at Seattle (-4)

Sounds like a low-scoring, rough day for Aaron Rogers.  I'd look for the Seahawks defense to tee off on him.  I think Seattle is due.  Way more noisy and disturbing than that synchronized "Go Pack Go" routine.  I'm just glad that all of the championship games will be played outdoors (unless Indy pulls off a miracle).

Seattle:  23
Green Bay:  13


Seattle at Denver (-3.5)

Probably the most easily predictable match-up in the past decade or so.  Ahh, the half point hook.  I'd love to see it in a Superbowl.  I like Pete Carroll and all, but I just can't envision him hoisting the trophy.  Hopefully, I'm wrong since I've always been a big Seahawks fan.  Let's just hope the executive crowd freezes their collective asses off at Met Life Stadium.

Prediction:  Hopefully some freezing night rain and a close Denver win.

Broncos:  21
Seattle:  19


I'll be having a party for the AFC/NFC Championship games.  The exact time hasn't been set but if history is any indication... 3pm sharp on Sunday, January 19.  BYOB.  I'll be doing an all APPETIZER extravaganza.