Happy Friday from the “Hit Hard by Hercules” Northeast. I’m posting a bit early as the snowflakes are piling up outside the window.
Looking forward to my surprise guest next door ------>.
The kids have no school today or tomorrow as that was all canceled last night. Other towns nearby have school and my work is open--fortunately, I had already put in for the day and had it off back in October. Wow...the swami power exists inside me! Must mean I need to make picks and predictions for the weekend football!
NFL WILD CARD ROUND:
Kansas City 23 at Indianapolis 17
Remember when Kansas City was undefeated and looked like the best team in the league? Yeah, that seems like it was a long time ago. Of course, the Chiefs are able to play their second-stringers and keep up with the Chargers last week. For Kansas City to win, they do best at home with the crowd behind them and the fans whipped into a frenzy. Now, as a Wild Card team they are on the road in Indianapolis.
The Colts are a strange team. Andrew Luck is a damned good quarterback. The Colts beat Kansas City in week 16 and have won three in a row and found a running game. If Kansas City can get the ball to Jamaal Charles in space, they are fine on offense. The Colts are still without Reggie Wayne on offense, and that will hurt them in the playoffs. Hard to pick the Colts here even at home.
New Orleans 23 at Philadelphia 25
Saturday night sees a very good New Orleans Saints team face off against an exciting Philadelphia Eagles team led by first year coach Chip Kelly. Philadelphia has a huge advantage playing at home, as the Saints are just not the same team on the road. The Eagles have LeSean McCoy who has carried their team all season long regardless of quarterback.
The Eagles defense is not very impressive overall, but then again neither is the Saints defense. Yes, the Saints defense added coordinator Rob Ryan who has improved the defense by leaps and bounds, but the Saints defense was historically bad last season. The X-Factor in the game is Saints quarterback Drew Brees. Brees, when on, is an unstoppable force. The problem is that he is usually on at home. I expect the Eagles to continue to run the ball and play keep-away from the Saints offense.
San Diego 31 at Cincinnati 30
Cincinnati SHOULD beat San Diego. That out of the way, I have no faith that Marvin Lewis and Andy Dalton are the kind of duo that does anything other than snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory. Sure, the Bengals are undefeated at home this year, but that seems like it is putting a whammy on them. Gio Bernard is an explosive running back, but he cannot beat out BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Andy Dalton threw 33 touchdown passes….and 20 interceptions. For the Bengals, they need Marvin Jones to have a big game opposite AJ Green or else the team is in trouble.
The Chargers are charging hard. Ryan Matthews finally broke out at running back. Young wide receiver Keenan Allen had a breakout season. Former New England Patriots running back Danny Woodhead is a first down machine. I have never like Philip Rivers, but I give him credit for his toughness and desire to win. I don’t trust the Chargers defense, but Andy Dalton will figure out a way to choke.
San Francisco 34 at Green Bay 27
Green Bay has Aaron Rodgers. Otherwise, this team is sub-.500 as they proved all season long without Rodgers. That said the 49ers have Anquan Boldin (thanks, Ravens!) and a healthy Michael Crabtree. Crabtree makes the offense click, and with tight end Vernon Davis and running back Frank Gore to complement young quarterback Colin Kaepernick is enough to get enough points to outscore Green Bay against the 49ers strong defense.
Yes, Randall Cobb makes the offense better in Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. But the defense is not good enough and the 49ers defense is improved enough from their hiccups earlier in the year. Expect the 49ers, a good road team, to defeat the flawed Packers.
Sugar Bowl: Alabama 24 - Oklahoma 18
This game will be over by the time the blog posts, but I’m doing it early so I can make the pick. Personally, I’d rather watch Alabama go up against Auburn again--that’d be great to see. Of course, undefeated Florida State has earned their place in the title game (since there is no playoff until next year). Alabama would be a favorite if in the title game (‘bama fans are already not acknowledging the end of the Auburn game) since coach Nick Saban rebuffed the Longhorns and is actually staying. Alabama should finish strong against a squad that still has not settled on a quarterback. Of course, as long as they throw out a running quarterback against Alabama, they have a chance to score on the strong defense. It would be easy to expect Alabama not to be up for the game, but I expect T.J. Yeldon to make the difference Thursday night and lead the Tide to victory.
Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma State 45 - Missouri 48
It’s Big 12 versus the SEC...so Missouri in a cakewalk, right? Both squads got to the Cotton Bowl due to failing down the stretch. Missouri should have beaten Auburn but the defense disappeared. Oklahoma State was ahead of Oklahoma with less than two minutes to play and managed to lose in spectacular fashion. It should still be a shootout and entertaining. If you gamble, take the over. Neither team is a superb defense, but with Missouri stud pass rusher Michael Sam giving them the chance of a big play, I will go with Mizz.
Orange Bowl: Clemson 38 - Ohio State 27
Ohio State feels they belong in the BCS Championship (as does Alabama), but they get Clemson in the Orange Bowl. Of course, Alabama lost on a fluke, while Ohio State just plain laid an egg and lost to Michigan State to end up here. Playing Clemson, who lost to South Carolina and Florida State, is hardly a marquee matchup. However, Tajh Boyd at quarterback for Clemson is excitement all on its own. Add in Ohio State missing top quarterback crusher Noah Spence (suspended for violating “undisclosed” rule) and Clemson should pull ahead and win.
Compass Bowl: Vanderbilt - Houston
GoDaddy Bowl: Arkansas State - Ball State
Wait, what? These aren’t real bowls...these don’t belong at the end of the bowl season. These belong in mid-December with the rest of the crappy bowls. I refuse to pick these games.
National Championship Game: Florida State 38 - Auburn 24
Auburn has two miraculous victories (tipped pass on 4th and 18 against Georgia and missed field goal return for a touchdown against ‘bama in the Iron Bowl) and are calling themselves a “Team of Destiny”. Jameis Winston is the Heisman Trophy winner and leads an undefeated Seminoles squad who has won every game handily. The only squad to score more than 17 points was Boston College back in September (34 points). There have been some duds on the schedule (Pitt, Nevada, Bethune-Cookman, Syracuse, Idaho) and even the ranked squads--outside of Clemson--are hardly world-beaters (Maryland, Duke, Miami). Not sure it is always a good formula to have teams with such a layoff, but Auburn is good not great. Florida State should pull it out.
OK, all. Stay toasty! Have a great first weekend of 2014.