Friday, January 15, 2016

NFL playoff predictions

Though, as they say, anything can happen on any given Sunday (or Saturday) in the NFL, the four playoff games on tap wouldn't seem to be that hard to predict. Let's take a look at them without even getting into the point spreads.

Green Bay @ Arizona.

The Packers have been a mystery all year. They started off hot, got shaky due to injuries, but held on to make the playoffs. The Cheesers then thumped the Redskins in Washington. But those were the Skins -- not the Cardinals. Just three weeks ago Aaron Rodgers and Co. got blasted by 30 points in Arizona. There is absolutely no logical reason to think a similar result won't happen again.

Prediction: Arizona by a bunch. Those guys are good.

Pittsburgh @ Denver.

The Steelers are the only team in NFL history to enter the post season without the services of their top receiver (Antonio Brown -- concussion) and running back (DeAngelo Williams -- leg injury). On top of that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has a sprained shoulder and likely won't be able to throw long passes. To win a game, a team has to score points. The Steelers will be hard-pressed to do so against the likes of the Broncos' defense. Despite the hype, the return of Peyton Manning is a non-story. He's on his last legs and everybody knows it. But even old chicken neck should be able to exploit the not-so-talented Pittsburgh secondary.

Prediction: Broncos roll.

Seattle @ Carolina.

True, the Seahawks stumbled earlier in the season, and the Panthers themselves went into Seattle and pulled out a late victory. And the 15-1 record of Carolina was no small feat. Granted, the Seahawks caught a miracle in Minnesota to stave off elimination in a wild-card game, but I've been saying for weeks to look out for these guys. They were within one last second bad break themselves last year from winning another Super Bowl. Been there, done that in crunch time. Plus, their star running back Marshawn Lynch has finally healed up and will be good to go for this game. Carolina's QB Cam Newton may well be a "freak" and an MVP candidate, but is he really ready for what Seattle will bring in a playoff game? I think not. Throw in the revenge factor for the earlier home loss and.....

Prediction: Seattle makes it to a third straight NFC championship game.

Kansas City @ New England.

The most interesting match up of all. The two teams were almost polar opposites during the regular season. The Patriots started off on a long winning streak, but stumbled badly down the stretch losing 4 of their last 6 games. That included wrapping up the regular season with losses to the NY Giants and Miami Dolphins, both of whom have since parted ways with their head coaches. Conversely, the Chiefs started out miserably, but then got hot and won their last 11 in a row, including going into Houston and blistering the Texans 30-0 in another wild card game. Very impressive stuff. Bill Bellichick and Tom Brady have gained a reputation as miracle workers over the years -- always finding a way to make more out of less. But the Pats are seriously dinged up. Rob Gronkowski is a maybe, their O-line remains in flux, their top two running backs are still out, and their collective defense has been exposed as vulnerable in recent weeks. Brains are good, but sometimes relying on smoke and mirrors to outsmart a pack of hungry rabid dogs doesn't work out so well. Especially when they're already in the house and smell meat. That can have a way of getting ugly.


Make that 12 in a row for KC.

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