NFL 2010 Playoff Musings

Before getting to a sponsor and my picks for the week, I offer some football musings as the regular season winds down.

For those looking to a much superior approach, here is veteran analyst John Clayton.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/columns/story?columnist=clayton_john&page=1stand10/10week16

First let’s start with the NFC Worst. If the 49ers beat the Rams and Seattle loses at Tampa, all 3 teams will be 6-9. That means the division winner will have a losing record. Unfortunately the Rams and Seahawks play in the final week of the season, preventing the division winner from being 6-10.

I love it because it is so laughably bad. Some people will want to change the rules to deny the division winner a home playoff game. Let it go. This is an anomoly, and the NFL is fine the way it is. If the Saints go 12-4 and have to go on the road to play the 7-9 NFC Worst team, those are the rules. The 12-4 Colts lost a few years back to the 8-8 Chargers in San Diego. Those are the breaks. You have to play every single week, and a home game guarantees nothing. A couple years back the NFC Title Game featured a pair of 9-7 teams in Philly and Arizona. The Cardinals got their by shocking the 12-4 Panthers in Carolina.

The rules are they are, and it goes in cycles. Leave it alone. If a 12-4 team loses to a 7-9 team, too bad. Plenty of teams pad their record on a soft schedule anyway.

One big game this week is the 9-5 New York Giants at the 8-6 Green Bay Packers. If the Giants win, they are in and the Packers are out. Yet if the Packers win, both teams are 9-6. The Packers would own the tie-breaker. So the Giants could go anywhere from the # 2 seed and a 1st round bye to out of the playoffs completely. Green Bay will have Aaron Rodgers back, while this could be a grudge match of the NFC Title Game 3 years ago when you know who threw the key interception and the Giants won in overtime.

Another big game is the 10-4 New York Jets at the 10-4 Chicago Bears. I have been saying all year that the Bears are pretenders. Yet they are the only team to have clinched their division, although other teams have all but clinched. The Jets could go anywhere from the # 1 seed and home field throughout (not likely) the playoffs to out of the playoffs completely (also not likely). The Bears are the # 2 seed, but that hold is tenuous.

The blockbuster Monday night game has the 10-4 New Orleans Saints at the 12-2 Atlanta Falcons. Early in the season Garrett Hartley missed a 29 yard field goal for the Saints, allowing the Falcons to win a stunner in overtime in New Orleans. Now the Saints travel to Atlanta, where Atlanta is unbeaten. If the Falcons win, they are the # 1 seed for sure. If the Saints win, they still trail the Falcons by one game, but if the 2 teams finish tied the Saints could get the top seed.

Brett Favre is doubtful for the Vikings, which means nothing. # 4 either plays this week, or gets the week off and plays next week. The Vikings are out of it, but the legend of Favre is still being written for 2 more weeks.

The 8-6 Indianapolis Colts are at the 7-7 Oakland Raiders. The Colts are tied with the Jaguars but the Colts have the tie breaker. The Raiders at 7-7 are eliminated from the wildcard but can still win their division. The Chiefs are 9-5 and the Chargers are 8-6. If somehow the Raiders beat the Colts, and the Chiefs lose at home to the Titans (possible but not likely), the Raiders would be at the Chiefs in the final week of the season. If San Diego loses one of two (very possible…they are playing bad teams including Cincy, but both games are on the road), the Raiders and Chiefs would be playing for all the marbles. No matter what happens, the Raiders are much improved, and their is real optimism going into next year. As for the Colts, Joseph Addai might be back after missing 8 weeks with injury.

The Tennessee Titans at 6-8 need a miracle to make the playoffs. They have to win twice, and have Indy and Jacksonville lose twice. With all 3 teams 8-8, the Titans would have the tie breaker.

As for New England, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore, any of these cold weather, physical teams could go on the road and knock out another one. Ironically, Baltimore has the best chance to go into New England and beat them, as they did last year. Pittsburgh has beaten Baltimore in Baltimore this year, and could do it again, although Baltimore won in Pittsburgh. Unless this is the AFC Title Game, the winner of that bloodbath could be too beat up to win the following week. New England has beaten Pittsburgh on the road twice in the playoffs and would easily do so again if needed.

The Jets could be a factor. They beat Pittsburgh on the road but lost to Baltimore at home. The Pittsburgh win came down to the final play while the Baltimore loss was by one point. Both Baltimore vs Pittsburgh games came down to one play near the end. The Jets got carpet bombed at New England, but beat them at home.

So the only thing I know is that I do not know anything. Now that is honest analysis, and why I love football.

Those are my musings. Now for a word from a sponsor.

eric

“Super Bowl Favorites: Patriots & Falcons Lead The Way

The odds have been updated and it’s not really a surprise to anyone: BetUs’s favorites for Super Bowl 45 are the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons.

Both teams are somewhat surprise favorites for the Super Bowl as not many people expected this at the beginning of the season. It’s not that these teams were not capable; it’s just they had more questions to be answered than the perceived favorites.

As it stands now, both the Patriots and Falcons sit at 11-2 atop both of their respective conferences.

The Patriots appeared to have quarterback Tom Brady back in his MVP form and head coach Bill Belichick has done a phenomenal job with the young defense. They continue to improve on a weekly basis. More importantly, the offense doesn’t seem to miss Randy Moss, who was traded midseason.

For the Falcons, they had fewer believers at the beginning of the year but the bandwagon is growing now. The offense is humming as it usually does with Matt Ryan, Roddy White and Michael Turner leading the way. But now the defense has come to play as Mike Smith – formerly a defensive coordinator in Jacksonville – has become respectable.

Interestingly enough, home field advantage is huge for both teams. The Patriots have won 26 straight regular season home games that Brady has started and the Falcons are 18-1 in their last 19 home games that Ryan has started.

With both teams pacing each conference, both should have home field advantage in the playoffs and both will be tough to stop given how well they play in their own confines.

As we hit the home stretch in the NFL season, don’t be surprised if it is the Patriots and Falcons that are left as the last two teams standing in Super Bowl 45.”

Now that a sponsor has had their say, here are my picks for NFL 2010 Week 16.

Carolina Panthers @ Pittsburgh Steelers was the Thursday night game.

(Steelers by 13.5, they cover)

Dallas Cowboys @ Arizona Cardinals was the Saturday night game.

(Cowboys by 6.5, they win but fail to cover)

New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills

(Patriots by 8, they win but fail to cover)

New York Jets @ Chicago Bears

(Bears by 1.5, Jets win outright)

Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns

(Ravens by 3, they cover)

Washington Redskins @ Jacksonville Jaguars

(Jaguars by 6.5, they win but fail to cover)

Tennessee Titans @ Kansas City Chiefs

(Chiefs by 5, they win but fail to cover)

Detroit Lions @ Miami Dolphins

(Dolphins by 3.5, they cover)

San Francisco 49ers @ St. Louis Rams

(Rams by 2, 49ers win outright)

San Diego Chargers @ Cincinnati Bengals

(Chargers by 7.5, they cover)

Houston Texans @ Denver Broncos

(Texans by 3, Broncos win outright)

New York Giants @ Green Bay Packers

(Packers by 2.5, Giants win outright)

Seattle Seahawks @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

(Buccaneers by 6, they win but fail to cover)

Indianapolis Colts @ Oakland Raiders

(Colts by 3, they cover)

Minnesota Vikings @ Philadelphia Eagles is the Sunday night game.

(Eagles by 11.5, they cover)

New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons is the Monday night game.

(Falcons by 2.5, Saints win outright)

eric

2 Responses to “NFL 2010 Playoff Musings”

  1. I completely agree with you about keeping the NFL the way it is, when it comes to schedules and playoffs and all. I’m not sure where you stand on the contract talks, but I get the feeling that you like I are not convinced of position. It’s a tricky problem.

    I lean, like others, to a Falcons-Patriots Bowl, but wouldn’t be surprised with something else. The Jets-Bears game might be telling, might not. The Steelers and Colts have real problems, maybe insurmountable. The Ravens do too, but they look good just the same. The AFC has only one real threat, and that’s the Pats.

    The NFC is another story. The Saints, the Falcons, the Evils, and a couple others are really good teams, all capable of Super Bowl victory.

    Peace 🙂 JMJ

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