Category Archives: NFL

Playoff Predictions after Week 15 (NFC edition)

You can read about my AFC predictions here.

NFC

The NFC playoff picture is done and dusted, and week 16 will be a mere exhibition for all playoff bound teams. We shall see which team rests their players and which teams believe that playing time is crucial in developing momentum.

NFC Wild-Card Round

Philadelphia Eagles versus Dallas Cowboys

 

Will the Cowboys actually break their jinx and win a match in the postseason? If that were to ever happen in this lifetime, I doubt it would be this year. The Eagles look to be gaining steam at the right time and are playing well on offense with or without Brian Westbrook. The Dallas Cowboys still look erratic, although Tony Romo is showing maturity in handling the famed December meltdown.

Prediction: Eagles 21, Cowboys 14

Arizona Cardinals versus Green Bay Packers

This match would actually take place twice in a row, as they would face each other come week 16. The Green Bay defense is playing their best football in recent memory, and Aaron Rodgers have proven he can be a leader. Now let’s see how he leads in the playoffs. Green Bay to win in a shootout.

Prediction: Green Bay 39, Arizona 34

NFC Divisional Round

New Orleans Saints versus Philadelphia Eagles

 Should the Saints be worried about their two game losing streak? I say no. This team may be inexperienced in the playoffs, but they have leaders who have been there before and can rally the team. Drew Brees and Darren Sharper are veterans and essential to the team’s success not only by their performance, but also by how well they can motivate the team.

Prediction: Saints 41, Eagles 27

Minnesota Vikings versus Green Bay Packers

How much of a feud is there between star quarterback Brett Favre and coach Brad Childress? Viking fans should hope that it wasn’t much. The Vikings and Packers are evenly matched with playmakers catching the ball, and studs on defense. The one thing that the Vikings have that the Packers don’t? A certain player with the initials A.P. Favre to do a trey on his old team!

Prediction: Vikings 25, Packers 18

NFC Championship

New Orleans Saints versus Minnesota Vikings

Unlike the AFC, the NFC championship will be the two top ranked teams from the conference. Brett Favre likes to throw it, so does Drew Brees. The Saints have more playmakers on defense though. This should be a match for the ages, but the Saints will probably come out on top, while Favre and Childress exchange punches on the sidelines (only half kidding!).

Prediction: Saints 32, Vikings 30

Superbowl

New Orleans Saints versus Cincinnati Bengals

The grandest stage of them all! The black and gold of the Saints will take the field on a Starlit February night in Miami to take on the orange and black stripes of the Bengals. I think the New Orleans Saints will outmatch the bengals where it matters, with Brees putting up 200+ yards while the Bengals cannot get their run game going.

Prediction: Saints 26, Bengals 10

Superbowl Champions: New Orleans Saints

The end of a fairytale story that started shortly after Hurricane Katrina. The team have boosted the morale of a city and state that needed something to cheer for.

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Playoffs Prediction After Week 15

Now that week 15 is almost in the books (other than the one Min/Chi game that would not affect the standings), let’s take a look at how the playoff picture looks now.

AFC

The AFC division leaders are all confirmed. We have New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts reclaiming their position as AFC East champions and AFC South titles respectively after losing it last year, the Cincinnati Bengals as new AFC South champions and San Diego Chargers coming out tops in a very mediorce AFC West division.

Right now, there are 5 teams in the wild-card race. If Baltimore Ravens win against the Oakland Raiders and the New York Jets win against a Bengals team that might be looking to rest their starters, and I believe they will, then the two teams will secure the two wild card spots, with the Ravens being the higher ranked team based on a better record against common opponents. The Denver Broncos need either of them to lose, while the other two teams, Houston Texans and Pittsburgh Steelers, need all three teams to lose to be in with a shout.

For the sake of discussion, we shall assume that the Jets and Ravens both win.

AFC Wild-Card Round

The Jets will face division rivals the Patriots in what is surely to be a heated contest. The Ravens will then face their division leaders as well in the Cincinnati Bengals, while players from the Chargers and the Colts can enjoy the action from their living rooms as they get a bye.

New England Patriots versus New York Jets

The teams split the regular season matches with one apiece, but the Jets victory came in week 2 when Mark Sanchez was on fire and Tom Brady have yet to discover his Midas touch. Their 4 straight victories leading up to week 15 claimed the AFC East Crown, and also unveil the Tom Brady of old. The Patriots defense looks suspect at times, but expect the Moss-Welker-Brady axis to be too strong for the Jets defense.

Prediction: Patriots 34, Jets 10

Cincinnati Bengals versus Baltimore Ravens

The Cincinnati Bengals play with heavy hearts as they lost two endearing members of their team. Wife of defensive coordinator, Mike Zimmer, was like a mother to the players while wide receiver Chris Henry passed away in an unfortunate incident. The Ravens have been inconsistent this year, and have not strung together consecutive victories since week 3. Expect the Bengals defense to torture Joe Flacco and the Bengals to come out on top.

Prediction: Bengals 21, Ravens 17

AFC Divisional Round

Indianapolis Colts versus New England Patriots

There is no way to choose between the two most successful franchises of the decade and be absolutely sure of your decision. I’ll go with the New England Patriots because they have a coach in Bill Belicheick who has to be considered in best coach ever debates, while Jim Caldwell is still unproven in the playoffs. Expect a squeaker.

Prediction: Patriots 28, Colts 27

San Diego Chargers versus Cincinnati Bengals

The Chargers are riding a 10 game winning streak and there have been calls for Phillip Rivers to be considered as NFL MVP of the season. I don’t think he deserves the award. I also don’t think their defense can stop Cedric Benson. The bye week is probably a bane rather than a boon for the Chargers, who I predict will go one and done in the playoffs, then costing Norv Turner his job.

Prediction: Bengals 21, Chargers  17

AFC Championship

New England Patriots versus Cincinnati Bengals

Yes, I’m predicting the 3rd and 4th seeds to be in the AFC Final. It’ll be a classic battle of a running Bengals offense against a passing Patriots offense in a battle to see who can wear down the opponent more and who can put more points on the board. The Bengals are going to the Superbowl!

Prediction: Bengals 17, Patriots 14

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Should they go for 16-0?

As the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints continue their trailblazing form, the question grows bigger and bigger. It looks likely that it will be answered, or at least half of it anyway, come this thursday when the Colts face the Jacksonville Jaguars. The question? Aim for 16-0, yes or no?’

Let’s look at the positives first. You get the chance to go for the holy  grail. To some, going undefeated might just be bigger than winning the Superbowl itself. Every year, a new Superbowl champion is crowned. But it’s rare to see a team go undefeated. To see either the Colts or Saints join the Patriots in the same decade would be a once-in-a-lifetime event. Even if they don’t win the Superbowl, going undefeated will immediately put u in an elite class of unbeatables like the Miami Dolphins of 1970 and the New England Patriots of 2008.

Why they should go for 16-0

Another reason why you should just go for broke and aim for 16-0 is the momentum it brings going into the postseason. The starters will play at an extremely competitive level all the way to the postseason, and they still get a week to rest before their playoff journeys begin. If everything goes as planned, the players will be fresh and they will remain competitive. It’s a win-win situation.

It also brings an air of excitement to the city, and keeps the hype on the team. All that attention would bring additional pressure on the team to succeed. It would be a pre-playoff test of how your players handle the pressure. This is particularly important to the New Orleans Saints, where most of their players have yet to taste Superbowl glory, while the Colts retain a large part of their 2007 Superbowl winning team.

Why they should not go for 16-0

It isn’t a bed of roses though. The risk of injury would linger every time a player is slow to get up. That’s the main motivation for the decision makers, Sean Payton and Jim Caldwell, to sit their starters. If they choose this route, they would hope giving them an extended period of rest would bring the players back, more rejuvanated than ever to make that final push for the season.

It also gives your backups a chance to shine. By the way the team performed this year, many of the players would expect a raise in salary. By having your backups play, and if they could do a commendable job, it gives u a bargaining chip on the negotiation table where they don’t necessarily need to overpay if they have a capable replacement already on the team.

What they should do

Jon Madden pointed out in a recent interview that by resting some players while others play is creating a hierachy system in your team and it destroys the all-for-one, one-for-all concept. There’s the risk of creating disharmony in the locker room if they try this, which is why they should’t.

What they should do instead is put them in for the first half. Tell your first team players that they should try to put as many points on the board before the match is handed over to the backups. At half-time, regardless of the score, pull the entire first team offense and defense. This also gives the backups an additional incentive to not  let the team down.

Thoughts?

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