Life in the fast lane will surely make you lose your mind…Dalton, Foles, Smith and Rodgers are left with nothing to do but spend time working on their discount double checks while trying not to disturb Bob’s dream or they may find themselves behind the wheel of a large automobile and asking themselves “how did I get here?”
Left to Take to the highway…walking down a country road are
Luck, Brees, Newton and Rivers ..pondering that certain play that kept them from sleeping after the game, the one that got away.....that a cold swim causes shrinkage and it is possible to be a guilty bystander.
on Highway 61 revisited
…Manning, Kaepernick, Wilson and Brady remain alive with a chance to go to the SB. This is why we play…to be A number one, top of the heap, the highest you can get in this sport is to be the QB of the team that wins the last game of the season…Brady has won 3 lost 2, Manning won 1 lost 1, Kaepernick is 0-1. When you lose this game most people forget you were even there…what was the name of that Buffalo Bills QB that went to four consecutive SB’s and lost them all?
I fell to 6-2 in the NFL playoffs after starting 6-0
I guess the homer in me really showed it’s ugly head in picking San Diego to beat Denver. I just wanted he Pats to have another home game and was willing to put logic aside.
I’ll make no excuse in picking Carolina, at home with a solid D should get that for you.
Now I find the 49ers hard to pick against.
The NFL has the match ups they wanted.
New England and Denver, Peyton and Brady…
San Fran and Seattle, Wilson and Kaepernick.
As agent J form MIB would say:
“The best of the best of the best…with honors.”
The New Jersey SB with or without weather will feature the
The match ups most wanted by the league.
Sorry NFL fans you will get either one of the old guard from the AFC Brady or Manning
Playing against one of the new generation of multi talented QB’s
the NFC’s young and exciting QB’s Wilson and Kaepernick
The story lines will out pace the Pro Bowl non conference showdown selection between Sanders and Rice
You will hear Peyton this and Peyton that…Brady Brady Brady
Colin and Russell,
Harbaugh and Carroll
Belichick and Fox
Bruno and Mars
The divisional games were not quite as exciting as the wildcard round but it seemed the better teams won.
The Seahawks sent the Saints packing, the 49ers exposed the Panthers weaknesses with...perhaps some controversial officiating. The Broncos hung on in a game just didn’t seem as close as the seven point dif and the Patriots literally blasted the Colts with six rushing TD’s.
The Pats ran the same plays over and over and over again and the Colts coaching staff admitted later, we knew they would run and we prepared for them to run and we just couldn’t do anything about it.
Saturday’s game was a coming out party for rangy rookie LB Jamie Collins in for LB Brandon Spikes. Collins, a 2nd round pick from Miss State can cover TE’s, can rush the passer and can read and react…He played Safety as a Freshman, Linebacker as a Soph and Junior and DE as a Senior. He was recruited out of HS as a QB so he is a solid all round athlete.
Will the Pats run the LeGarrett/Ridley/Vereen machine vs Denver? Sure, why abandon that, but Denver is better vs the run than the Colts (who isn’t).
so I see Brady throwing more because a Jack Del Rio defense has never been able to stop TB12
Will Peyton be on his game in the AFC Championship game?
I say yes. With the weapons he has (four guys with double digit TD’s)and the home crowd Peyton will elevate his play if elevate is possible.
The forcast calls for a sunny 58 degree day in Denver. A great day for football, no excuse and no advantage.
I’m looking for a shootout in the mile high city and I think once again Brady’s Pats come out on top for the 11th time in 15 games against Manning.
Final…42-38 and New England to represent the AFC in SB XLVIII
I've heard some call the AFC Championship game the NFL Legacy Bowl.
With 37 year old Peyton playing 36 year old Brady for bragging rights as the best QB evah….but Harry says, wait! what about Joe Montana?????
Hummmm… remember that guy?
cheesy mustache and all
Out of the senior circuit I could see the at home with that crazy loud crowd Seahawks
taking down the 49ers in a defensive battle... but I can also see an ugly battle between Anquan Boldin
and Richard Sherman
grabbing and holding smack talking, fistacuffs and shoving if the zebras let them play then it will get out of hand………..Russell Wilson won’t throw for 300 and Kaepernick won’t run for a TD.
Pete Carroll will melt down and hug every player, coach and cheerleader just before the drive... that ends it with the 49ers kicking a game winning FG and Harbaugh
will scream like a scorned school girl at the refs after EVERY play but in the end the 49ers go back to the SB with a 22-20 win
San Francisco and New England…in NJ…in February
So fans, break out the loufa rice cake Quinos and toss them on the grill,
invite Ramsey over to watch the game because you may hate him but they always win when he’s there,
step back into the basement, go get another… even if it’ scary down there
put on that stupid ice dancing song on the juke box and remember
Hello and welcome to another Wednesday of deep thoughts. This is the blog where I complain about the darkness of January. The lights and Christmas decorations are down and it is back to the normal routine. In years past, January was the time that I spent helping my son groove his baseball swing in preparation for the coming baseball season. Although I was able to spend a few sessions in the batting cage over the break, the damn flu ruined the last week we had together. Oh well, thankfully, we are both feeling better now. I just heard yesterday, that he was able to run the required 2 miles in under 16 minutes. He said he hacked and coughed his way around the track, but was able to gut out a 15:47. Oh well, in a few more weeks it will be February and time for college baseball!
I should probably not get ahead of myself as we have a bit of football left. Last weekend was probably the best weekend of the year for football fans. Two NFL games on Saturday and Sunday…pretty much a full weekend of football. Since the games have been well covered by others this week, I won’t cover them again. Looking forward to next weekend…two great games are on tap. The NFC game is rather interesting…two West Coast teams with old school defenses battle in Seattle. Do you remember the term West Coast Offense? What happened to offense on the West Coast? This 49er team is nothing like the teams of Bill Walsh. San Francisco and Seattle don’t so much beat teams as beat them up. As I eyeball this matchup…I like the 49ers. The front 7 for SF are solid…and Kaepernick has more weapons than Russell Wilson. I would bet money that neither team passes for more than 200 yards, but if one does, my money is on Kaepernick. I know that many are high on Russell Wilson, but I will borrow a line from Tom Hanks in BIG…I don’t get it. Seattle’s offense is one dimensional and without some semblance of a passing attack, I just don’t see how Seattle wins. The 12th man will help, but because the 49ers have played in this environment before, I don’t see this as much of an advantage. I like San Francisco by 4.
The AFC game is entirely different. This game will be mistakenly be called Brady vs Manning. More accurately, it should be called Manning vs Brady and the hoodie. I know that some like to find fault with Belichick, but for me he is the best coach of this generation. The dude is just a master of game plans and adjustments. For the Patriots to win this game, it will take an exceptional game plan…and a bit more smoke and mirrors. For those that expect the Patriots to continue their power running…I think you are wrong. The one thing about Belichick is that he never does the expected. I have a hunch that he believes that Brady will need to outgun Manning to win this game. In the first game, the Broncos ran at will on the Patriots patch work defense. The Broncos had such a comfortable lead that Manning never had a chance to find his groove. I have a hunch that the Broncos will not let this happen again. Yep, I am calling it…a shoot-out. First team to 50 wins…my gut tells me that the Broncos squeak out a win, and I would not be at all surprised if a kick return by Trindon Holliday is the difference. The odds are that whichever team wins this game will be losing to the NFC in the Super Bowl. Remember that defense wins championships…right?
Did you hear about the injury to Ranger’s pitcher Derek Holland? He got tangled with his boxer on the stairs and messed up his knee. Dude had to have micro fracture surgery last week and will miss a good part of next season. Instead of talking about his recovery, most fans and reporters want to speculate on how he was injured. Jeff Kent’s name has been used to compare this incident. Because Holland plays in a non-contact hockey league in the off season, many want to blame the injury on hockey. I read at least one player that played against Holland come out to state that Holland was not injured in his last game. Of course, this does not satisfy the cynics. Keith Olbermann had Holland's picture up and was talking about his injury. I really enjoy Olbermann, but I think he missed on Holland. How can a guy that grows a mustache that bad luck lie? Holland's odd injury got me to thinking about other crazy injuries to athletes. Here is a list of a few, but feel free to remind of any that I might have missed.
Tony Dorsett dropped a mirror on his toe and missed several games with a broken toe.
Sammy Sosa earned a spot on the DL due to a violent sneeze.
Ken Griffey Jr. missed a game when his cup slipped and pinched a testicle. Ouch!
Bill Gramatica tore his ACL after celebrating a 42 yard field goal.
Gus Ferotte had to leave a game with a neck injury after slamming his head into the padded wall after scoring a TD.
Glenallen Hill suffered cuts, bruises and scrapes after a sleep walking crash. Dude was having a nightmare about spiders…no word if the spiders were on the field.
Brandon Inge injured his oblique while tucking his son’s pillow under his head.
Wade Boggs missed games from an injury suffered while putting his boots on.
Pitcher Adam Eaton stabbed himself opening a dvd.
Vince Coleman missed the 1985 World Series after being run over by the tarp machine.
My personal favorite is the injury to John Smoltz... he burned himself ironing his shirt. Apparently, John did not realize that you need to take the shirt off before you iron.
Did you happen to see that Justin Bieber is in hot water with law enforcement after egging his neighbor’s home? Bieber faces felony vandalism charges for the alleged egging. I heard an update on this late Tuesday as apparently police got a search warrant for Bieber’s home and found 18 people passed out at his home. Reportedly, a large amount of cocaine was found at the residence. I wonder if this will affect Bieber’s Visa? 2014 has not started out well for Justin.
That is all I have, but I will leave you with a bit of Jack Handey…
"I think my new thing will be to try to be a real happy guy. I'll just walk around being real happy until some jerk says something stupid to me."
"If you lived in the Dark Ages and you were a catapult operator, I bet the most common question people would ask is, 'Can't you make it shoot farther?' 'No, I'm sorry. That's as far as it shoots.' "
Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a few deep thoughts of your own…
So the NFL final four is set, and to no real surprise, we will see Seattle face San Francisco, and New England will take on Denver...BRADY VS. MANNING....Again! Well all you Manning lovers, Brady has won 10 of the 14 meetings they've had, and he's going to take another one...Why am I so sure of this? BECAUSE I SAID SO! Oh, sorry, sometimes I just get stuck in Dad mode...Anyways, because Brady is better...He owns Peyton...Because the Patriots are better...Because no matter who is injured on their squad, they will find a way to beat you...Look what they did Saturday...All the sudden, they were the NFL's best rushing team, pounding the ball down the Colts' throats all night...Total dominance...Who knows what wicked plan they'll pull out for the Broncos...Who cares, they're gonna win...It's Monday, and you're getting "The Lock of the Week" already!
So who will the Patriots be facing in the "Super Bowl" per me? Well, that would be the team I signed my fandom to at the beginning of last year, the Seattle Seahawks...So, no matter how much it pains my wife, and her family, and the many Gabbers that hail from New England, I'll be all in with the Seahawks....
-Moving on to college football...Penn State, the home of child rape cover-ups have hired their second coach to follow in the evil footsteps of Joe Paterno, after Bill O'Brien took the Houston Texans job...Next to try to erase the stains left by Sandusky, Paterno, Spainer, McQueery, and all those fucking assholes is James Franklin, formerly of Vanderbilt...Nothing like Penn Rape hiring a guy who was accused of covering for some of his players who had raped around campus, to help re-establish their reputation! They guy was "cleared" by Vandy, but come on...Do you really want a guy with that hanging over his head, when your school has been through what PSU has been...What dummies!
-Speaking of dummies...The Baseball Writers Association made their picks for the Hall of Fame, and as usual, they were fucking idiots...No 100% vote for the likes of Maddux and Glavine..."Ruth, Cobb, Mays, no one got 100%!"SO FUCKING WHAT...That doesn't make it right...It just makes you stupid! And shorting Craig Biggio by 2 votes...Fuck that...Dude has the numbers, and clearly wasn't 'roided up... Four gold gloves, 3,060 hits, damn near 291 home runs, and 414 stolen bases, 668 doubles, and 55 triples, 1844 runs, and 1175 RBI...Damn good numbers there for a Catcher turned Second baseman...
I also think Tim Raines, and Mike Piazza should have gotten in...Piazza has the 'roids cloud held over him even though there has never been anything that has implicated him, except for the era that he played in...But as a catcher, Piazza's numbers are there...But for some reason catchers get overlooked by the HOF...Do you know how many catchers are in the Baseball Hall of Fame?
But the biggest news about the HOF voting was Dan Le Batard of ESPN, who has also been a baseball writer in Miami gave his vote to Deadspin to let the public give their imput on who he should vote for...over 30,000 people voted, and he filled out a legit ballot based on that...His ballot did not include Jacque Jones or JT Snow...Unlike a few other ballots...Yet, Le Batard was stripped of his vote for life, and banned for at least a year from the Baseball Writers Association...I thought this was ridiculous....Then I watched Keith Olbermann, and he pointed out just exactly how disgustingly full of shit the BBWA is....
Well, don't those guys look stupid!?!
That's it...I'm trying to fight off a bug...But this weekend I did try to start getting ready the OLYMPICS...
And, I've been wondering about my son's future in FOOTBALL....
While waiting in anticipation of the full season trailer for Game of Thrones Season 4...
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
In the lead up to last night's playoff game between the Patriots and Colts, there were more than a few pundits who thought the Colts would win this game.
And while I had no illusions that Indy was going to roll over and play dead for New England, I thought anyone picking the Colts outside of their hometown newspaper reporters were utterly insane.
And it turned out that I was a bit more on the money than usual. The Colts didn't roll over and play dead, but they got their collective butts handed to them nonetheless.
The final score of 43-22 doesn't really do justice to how the Patriots dominated this game.
It was a game where Tom Brady was essentially a game manager. I don't know if the game plan included planning around the forecasted crappy weather, but Brady was just 13-25 for 198 yards last night. There were no TD passes and no INTs.
Instead he spent most of the night handing off to a battering ram run game led by LeGarrette Blount's (pictured below) 166 yards and 4 TDS (including a 73 yard scamper that broke the Colts back). The yardage total tied a team playoff record held by Curtis Martin and the four touchdowns are a new team playoff record.
But Blount wasn't the only object of trauma used against the Colts last night. During the rotation of backs in the game, Stevan Ridley (pictured below) got his chance to shine. The yardage total of 52 yards might not be all that impressive but his two rushing TDs were a nice additional bit of scoring. The six rushing TDs by the Patriots are now tied for second in playoff history.
And while the tendency is to overlook an important part of establishing any kind of run game, a big shout out has to go to the Patriots offensive line. They did give up two sacks of Brady, but otherwise, their job was magnificently performed as the opened up holes in the defense for the run game to burst their way through.
The Patriots defense was a bit rough in the first half of the game. Giving up 22 points means you won't grade out as an A plus but Colts QB Andrew Luck passing for 331 yards on the evening were mitigated by the four INTs picked up by the Patriots (two by Alfonzo Dennard). Also, between the score of the game and the fact that the defensive line shut down the Indy run game (69 net yards), Luck HAD to be throwing the ball a lot.
Luck (pictured below) is going to be a big star in the league, I think that much is obvious from how his first two seasons have gone. But last night showed that he has a ways to go before he is the king muckety muck in the AFC. While they survived his three INTs the previous week in their comeback against the Chiefs, Indy's luck ran out when he followed that up with four picks this week. Turnovers will come back to bite you in the ass sooner or later.
So the Patriots put on a power run and smack you in the mouth defensive performance last night and head off to their third straight AFC title game next week. They don't find out if it will be Denver or San Diego until later this afternoon, but if they can continue to play this kind of football, they can continue to be the most surprising edition of themselves in a number of years.
BOSTON COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Women's Basketball - The Eagles picked up their 7th win a row with a 70-63 win over Virginia Tech. They had a 13 point at one point in the second half only to let the Hokies climb back to within 2 points at 65-63 before finally putting them away. It was freshman Kelly Hughes (pictured below) that hit a big 3 point shot with 26.2 seconds left that helped ice the game. Hughes finishes with 12 points in all.
Kristen Doherty (pictured below 1st) had 16 points as did Nicole Boudreau (pictured below 2nd). Katie Zenevitch finished with 13 points and 9 boards.
With those seven straight wins, I had hopes that going into their matchup with #2 Notre Dame that they would give the Irish a game. Alas, it was not to be as the Eagles got crushed 95-53 to end their run of victories and leave them at 10-6 on the season.
Doherty (pictured below 1st) had 13 points, 5 assists and 5 steals to lead BC. Zenevitch (pictured below 2nd) scored 11 points and grabbed 7 boards. She topped the 1,000 point mark for her career. Lauren Engeln scored 10 points but turned the ball over 6 times.
By the way, next week I'll be headed up to Conte Forum to see the women's team take on North Carolina.
Men's Basketball - The men's team was on the road to play Virginia Tech yesterday afternoon. The game was on TV so I postponed my plans to go out and run some errands so that I could watch the game.
And I got to see a pretty decent ball game. It wasn't pretty by any means, but the Eagles ended up coming away with a 62-59 victory. They are 5-11 on the season but the win is their first in 3 tries this season in ACC games.
Lonnie Jackson (pictured below) led the team with 17 points and 6 boards. Olivier Hanlan finished with 14 points. Ryan Anderson had a hard time finding his stroke yesterday. He ended up with 6 points but made up for the lack of offense by grabbing 11 rebounds.
The best thing for the Eagles was seeing Dennis Clifford (pictured below) on the court. He's been out for the majority of the season with chronic knee problems. But yesterday he gave them 21 minutes. His numbers were a respectable 6 points and 6 boards, but more importantly he gave them some size on the court and solid defense.
Just a quick update. I was in a College Bowl Pick 'Em over on Yahoo. I finished 5th overall in yet another example of my total mediocrity in fantasy sports this season.
Hartford - The Hawks rough season continued as the team dropped a 61-57 decision to Stony Brook. They are now 4-11 on the season. The loss dropped them to 1-1 in America East conference play.
Cherelle Moore (14 points, 6 rebounds) and Amber Bepko (12 points) led the team
Missouri State - In their Missouri Valley Conference opener, the Lady Bears squared off against Wichita State and got their heads handed to them by the Shockers 98-68. The loss ended their four game win streak.
The game was close in the first half but the rout was in the second half. The Bears shot 57.1% from the foul line and just 2-13 from three point range.
Bry Snow had 19 points and 7 boards to lead MSU. Kenzie Williams and Tyonna Snow finished with 18 points apiece.
The Bears bounced back on Friday night with an 85-56 win over Bradley. The big win saw all 12 players score for Missouri State led by a career high 16 points from Katie Palmer (pictured below)
Bry Snow had 13 points to go with career highs in steals (4) and blocks (3). Kenzie Williams scored 11 points, which is her 13 straight game in double figures. Tyonna Snow hit for 10 points.
Tennessee - The Lady Vols picked up two more wins this week. But one of those wins came tough while the other was a strong blowout.
Against Georgia, Tennessee won 85-70, but not before nearly blowing a 27 point lead after Georgia went on a 21-0 run from the 7:20 mark in the second half to just under the 2 minute mark. Ariel Massengale led the team with 28 points and Isabelle Harrison finished with 18 points and 10 boards. Meighan Simmons added 11 points.
In their game against Ole Miss, Tennessee rolled to a 94-70 victory. Massengale (pictured below 1st) was again the leading scorer for the game. She finished with 23 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. Harrison had 16 points and 10 rebounds. Andraya Carter (pictured below 2nd) had 14 points and 6 boards. Simmons tallied 12 points and Cierra Burdick had 7 points to go with a team high 9 boards.
The team is now 12-2 on the season.
I dropped the Celtics down from the top of the post this week to slightly mix up the order of things and because they've continued their losing skid over the last week and it is mostly painful to watch. It has been four more losses for Boston as they dropped to 13-24.
They got blown out 119-96 by the Thunder with Avery Bradley and Jeff Green scoring 19 points. Kris Humphries added 14 points.
Before the Nuggets game, the team traded Courtney Lee to the Grizzlies for guard Jerry Bayless. Lee has been unhappy with his role on the team and while he didn't make a pest of himself about it, the move is probably best for all concerned. The problem is that Bayless wasn't exactly lighting it up in Memphis. He was hitting just 37.7% of his shots before the trade.
To make the numbers work for the salary cap, the Celtics sent a 2nd round draft choice to the Thunder for Ryan Gomes but he was waived immediately in a strictly financial move.
And then there was that Nuggets game. So to speak, because the Celtics got run out of the building 129-98. Green had 17 points to lead the team's offense. Brandon Bass had 15 points and 7 boards. Before fouling out of the game, the seemingly forgotten Vitor Faverani had 10 points and 5 boards.
On the road, Boston got 24 points from Jordan Crawford and Avery Bradley but came away from their game with the Clippers with a 111-105 defeat. Bayless added 11 points in support.
On Friday night, the game was much closer and intense. The Warriors still ended up prevailing over Gang Green though when Stephen Curry hit a jumper over Kris Humphries with 2.1 seconds left. Final score 99-97. Green had 24 points and 11 boards and Humphries scored 16 points and grabbed 14 boards. Jared Sullinger came off the bench for 21 points and 11 rebounds.
The seven game losing streak has the club in a free fall and I'm at a loss to figure out what might help them get back on the winning side of things.
BASEBALL HALL OF FAME
There's been a lot of kvetching back and forth over the Dan Le Batard story this week. He's the Florida sports columnist who gave his baseball Hall of Fame voting ballot to the Deadspin.com website so the fans could vote for who they thought should be in the HOF.
This is in direct opposition to the rules of voting for the HOF and while the majority of people I have read online over the last few days support what Le Batard did, I find it to be just another case of Le Batard being a gigantic penis as he always has been when I've seen him on TV.
If you don't want to vote, don't vote. If you think the process of selecting who goes to the Hall of Fame is flawed, work to fix it. But don't go around being an ass about things. You will get support, but only from like minded people rather than converting those not already on your side.
For his crimes of journalistic integrity, his membership in the Baseball Writers Association of America was suspended for a year and his Hall of Fame voting privileges were permanently yanked.
I'm in the minority opinion but I say good riddance to bad rubbish. Now if only ESPN and his home Florida newspaper would stop polluting the airwaves and print newspaper with his self serving pinheaded ways.
Music - The new Adrenaline Mob CD Men of Honor isn't due out until February 18 but you can check out the lyric video for the song "Feel The Adrenaline" below.
Books - I finished reading the Hank Phillippi Ryan thriller The Wrong Girl this past week. I loved it and I'm already eagerly anticipating the next book in the series.
Of course, I also picked up some new books to grow my "to be read" pile a little more. I got two books from Laurie R. King called The Pirate King and Garment of Shadows. The books tell a tale of an older Sherlock Holmes and his wife Mary Russell. This series has been a marvel since the first book The Beekeeper's Apprentice and though I'm behind in my reading of the books, they are always highly anticipated.
The other book I picked up was the science fiction novel by David Weber called A Rising Thunder. It is the latest paperback release in his Honor Harrington series. This is another series that grabbed me from the first book and never let go. He's continued the main series, but Weber has had two spinoff series as well as a young adult series to go with it. There's a comic series coming out soon and I believe there will be a movie at some point too.
Happy Friday, Gabbers. (Yeah, that picture sure is a nice creepy way to start the day! 70's sex symbol there...kind of like when I went to Youtube to show my daughter what "Moves Like Jagger" meant by showing her Mick & David Bowie singing and dancing in "dancing in the street" video...scarred that poor girl for life and ruined the song for her!) Had myself a nice break over the Holidays but am back to the grind of way too much work and hard at work at the writing front. No time to dilly-dally (I’d freeze in place with the hideous cold weather outside all this week!).
NFL PICKS: DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF ROUND:
Saints 24 at Seahawks 25
Seattle at home is a beast. I thought the Eagles would sneak past the Saints last week, and it was a close game decided at the end. It was a considerable monkey off the back of quarterback Drew Brees in getting past that road playoff/cold weather outside game. The Saints are not likely to light it up in Seattle with the 12th man cranked up an extra few decibels in the playoffs.
Seattle, as hard as it is to believe now based on the 2013 regular season, lost on the road in the playoffs to Atlanta last year. The Falcons jumped out to a 20-0 lead then let the Seahawks go ahead 28-27 with less than a minute to play. At that time, the dominant Seattle defense laid an egg and let the Falcons march into field goal range to win it with a last minute field goal. If Seattle spent the past two weeks sitting around reading their press clippings, it could open a door for a Saints shocker, but I just do not see it this week.
Colts 17 at Patriots 24
In the Boston area, a lot of writers have already written off the Colts. Yes, losing wide receiver Reggie Wayne was a key blow, but that comeback win last week against Kansas City was a thing of beauty to view. Kansas City had the game won. Over. Done. Pack your bags and head to the airport to fly to New England over. Then the Colts went into their shotgun, no-huddle three-and four wide receiver sets. The Chiefs countered with some lazy zone coverages and suddenly it was a ballgame again.
It was a tough call as to if the Chiefs blew the game or the Colts won it. The Chiefs had been ravaged by injuries throughout the game and had Junior Hemingway (who?) in for wide receiver Donnie Avery and Knile Davis (I forgot the Razorback back was on a pro roster!) in for star running back Jamaal Charles. Despite that, coach Andy Reid got all pass happy in the second half and seemed to forget he could run the clock down by calling running plays and improve his team’s chance of victory.
Well, Bill Belichick is a bit smarter than Reid. Also, when the Chiefs defense lost cornerback Brandon Flowers it was suddenly the “watch T.Y. Hilton abuse Dunta Robinson” show in Indy. Throwing to Hilton at Robinson in the second half, Hilton was four receptions on four targets for 64 yards and a touchdown...a perfect 158.3 QB rating for Luck when he attacked that matchup.
I’m not calling a blowout this Patriots offense is not going to put up 40 or 50 points a game anymore, but I expect New England to execute the offense and force a few key turnovers to win a close, hard-fought game. Winning big and winning easy is a regular season kind of thing….at this point, the teams are too tough and too closely matched in talent to have a blowout.
49ers 19 at Panthers 16
This game is a coin flip. They played a great game earlier in the season in week 10 (won by the Panthers 10-9). San Francisco’s offense was in a funk at the time without top wideout Michael Crabtree. Carolina was at the peak of their prowess. That said, both offenses just plain stunk. It was a classic defensive battle with two strong squads beating the crap out of each other.
I’m excited for this game on Sunday afternoon (why 49ers fans in Cali have to watch at 10AM is ludicrous, but Manning in the 4:45pm game Sunday is ratings gold for CBS). I think the 49ers offense is clicking and should jump out early to take the crowd out of the game. I think the final will be close, but the game will be a long, field-position punt fest after San Francisco gets up by two scores early. The Panthers will come back fast and furious, but expect San Francisco to have one more defensive stand to hold on and lineup the AFC West rematch with Seattle next week in the NFC Championship Game.
Chargers 31 at Broncos 34
Let me be clear: I am rooting hard for the Chargers and a home AFC Championship for New England. That said, I keep replaying this game in my head and cannot see the Broncos choking at home in the playoffs. Yes, Peyton Manning has eight one-and-dones on his resume in the playoffs, but this team has too many weapons on offense and do not have to face the Ravens defense.
I figure that the loss of Von Miller will be something that bites the Broncos in a big moment in the playoffs, but I just cannot see it happening against the Chargers. Yes, the Chargers spanked the Bengals, but that was the Bengals! Yes, I hate the Bengals. That is true. But the defense was weaker due to some injuries and Andy Dalton is just not a top-flight NFL quarterback who can win a playoff game. I obviously overcompensated my Cincinnati Bengals hatred by giving them too much credit.
Yes, I have no doubt that Peyton Manning is someone who can be beaten in the playoffs, but that is true of any passing offense. Like New England against the Jets and Ravens in the playoffs in years past, the referees let defensive backs play and that separation between the teams shrinks considerably. Sure, Manning could blow it...but he saves that for next week.
* * *
As always, there’s plenty of Hal B. online this week. My first part of the key matchups for the Patriots vs Colts game is up at MusketFire.com here with part two due up on Friday night or Saturday morning.
My article at Cover32.com looked at who deserved the regular season “Game Ball” for the Pariots. New content will be up some time today as well (usually after 9AM) looking at the Patriots - Colts matchup with a different twist as well at http://cover32.com/patriots/.
Finally, I was back on H4TV’s blogtalkradio on Monday talking NFL and BCS Championship football (link is not available, sadly), but I am back in the swing of baseball at last. Last night I was on the H4TV MLB Access show talking Hall of Fame Inductees, Steroids, Free Agents, Hot Stove, and forcing the conversation towards the Red Sox whether anyone liked it or not!
As always, I’ll have another game preview on Saturday afternoon before the playoff game for the Patriots on Cover32.com and the instant analysis shortly after the game concludes at MusketFire.com.
All right, Gabbers, that’s all from this corner of the Internet. Thanks for stopping by. Have a great Friday--stay warm, stay dry--and have a super weekend, all!