Well, I’m back. After an almost third of the year hiatus, writing and I have come back together. You may ask why I haven’t written in such a prolonged period of time, but I have my reasons. And because I have nothing better to do than tell you those reasons, here they are: (1) I never thought schoolwork would be so overwhelming to the point where I have negative free time (yes, negative free time)… (2) College is kind of important, so I’m trying my best to make sure I get in… (3) Frankly, if I decided to stay up in the wee hours of the night to bang out NFL columns, I wouldn’t be able to function. And it’s not as if I’m making a profit ($) from doing that, but the benefits aren’t important as long as my voice is heard. Therefore, the playoffs are my calling card, and there wasn’t a better time to reenter the PSB land than January. So, I apologize for the absence, but here I am.
Before we get into all the playoff banter, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on America’s most beloved franchise: The Cleveland Browns. (Okay, that’s a lie.) Anyways, the Shurmur, Holmgren, and Heckert era has came to an end as a man with pockets deeper than the ocean floor has made his way into northern Ohio. Personally, I enjoyed the former regimen, but when you can’t win, that’s that. Jimmy Haslam and Joe Banner most certainly have their priorities straight, and the process of interviewing coaches is well underway. Especially with Oregon’s lead mean, Chip Kelly. It’s by no means a done-deal yet, but I think the offensive mastermind behind the Ducks success is well on his way to dressing up in Orange-and-Brown. With the 6th pick in the draft, Cleveland will be rebuilding again, and probably not behind the 29-year-old rookie quarterback. Whichever way the ball rolls, I’ll be intrigued for the coming months.
The quest for my preseason prediction of a Niners vs. Pats Super Bowl in New Orleans to come true begins today, and more importantly, I’m attempting the impossible 11-0 prediction for all playoff games. No, not the point spread, just the winner. This isn’t about the gambling (well…), it’s about immortality and cementing your NFL knowledge. A lot has happened this season (too many storylines to count), and even a lot has happend this postseason (the coaching carousel), but it’s finally time to sit back and enjoy playoff football. Whether you like it or not. Before my non-professional analysis for games on tap for this weekend, here’s my prediction on the how the playoffs turn out:
Wild Card Weekend
(3) Houston defeats (6) Cincinnati.
(3) Green Bay defeats (6) Minnesota.
(5) Indianapolis defeats (4) Baltimore.
(5) Seattle defeats (4) Washington.
(1) Denver defeats (5) Indianapolis.
(2) New England defeats (3) Houston.
(1) Atlanta defeats (5) Seattle.
(2) San Francisco defeats (3) Green Bay.
(2) New England defeats (1) Denver.
(2) San Francisco defeats (1) Atlanta.
Super Bowl XLVII
(2) San Francisco defeats (2) New England.
We’ll see how that plays out. Onto this weekend’s games:
Cincinnati Bengals @ Houston Texans (Saturday, 4:30 PM ET, NBC)
Can you ever really trust Marvin Lewis in the postseason? Actually, can you ever trust Marvin Lewis? The lesson as always is absolutely not. And isn’t this the exact same game from last postseason in which Houston won by three touchdowns? Why yes it is. That should tell you something. Throughout the season, Cincinnati was the team you weren’t scared to play, but yet, they somehow snuck out ten victories to coast into the playoffs fairly easily. They only have one legitimate target through the air and it’s not as if the Law Firm is going to rush for 200 yards. Meanwhile, in southeast Texas, Houston possesses an overall balanced team that sometimes lacks a competent man under center. But that shouldn’t be an issue against this Bengals team, especially with Arian Foster. Houston may lack championship potential, especially after the last two weeks, but they’re looking for a rematch with the Patriots. And they’ll get it.
Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers (Saturday, 8:00 PM ET, NBC)
As football fans, I think we’ll agree that the Vikings got a tad lucky last week. Guess how many times they scored 37+ points all season before Week 17? Yup, you guessed it, not once. They won’t do it again, either. Especially not in Green Bay, or in the playoffs. Also, apparently Christian “I Can’t Believe I Might Be A Franchise Quarterback” Ponder doesn’t play all too well outdoors based on the stats compiled by Bill Simmons this weekend. Adrian Peterson may be having the single greatest season of all time by a running back, but he can’t possibly- single handedly- defeat Aaron Rodgers on the road in the postseason. Rodgers is playing exceptional football and an under-the-radar Super Bowl run is definitely in the works. His receivers are healthy, Antoine Winfield is banged up, and he’s also facing Leslie Frazier. So yeah, let’s chalk up a win for the cheeseheads. Not again, Minnesota, not again.
Indianapolis Colts @ Baltimore Ravens (Sunday, 1:00 PM ET, CBS)
It’s been one hell of season in Indiana, and that’s an understatement. Chuckstrong has never been stronger, and even amidst the news of Ray Lewis retiring, the Ravens don’t possess the firepower on the offensive side of the ball to defeat Chuck Pagano and Andrew “I’m Better Than RG3 And You Know It” Luck. Also, I’ve got this feeling that Ray-Ray isn’t actually hanging up the cleats unless Baltimore hoists the Lombardi Trophy. Makes sense, right? Just something to light a fire under his team, so he can retire, but he won’t go out after a season he barely played in. It’s just not him. Back to the Colts, if they win this game, and as long as Cincinnati loses, they’ll be playing Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos next weekend. I don’t even have to explain why that’s a must-watch game. It’s pretty much inevitable. You can put faith in Ray Lewis all you want, but Chuckstrong is unstoppable, at least for the moment.
Seattle Seahawks @ Washington Redskins (Sunday, 4:30 PM ET, FOX)
Well, Tony Romo did it again last weekend, and now RG3 gets to play in a playoff game just like his rookie counterpart, Andrew Luck. The Shanahan’s deserve a boatload of credit, but not as much as my favorite coach in the NFL, Pete Carroll. Mr. Carroll has put together one of the most competitive and most balanced teams in the NFL today, while making the correct decisions along the way (ex. Russell Wilson). That deserves something along the lines of a Coach of the Year Award, but Chuck Pagano and Bruce Arians rightfully deserve that hardware (not you, Leslie Frazier). Washington has a distinct offense that can hang with the best, but their ability to win rests in the hands of their sub-par defense. Yeah, some injuries have plagued them throughout the course of the season, but it might not matter against the Seattle “We’re Just As Good As Anyone Else In This Legue” Seahawks. Maybe the editor-in-chief of Grantland was right when he picked Seattle to win the Super Bowl behind Russell Wilson’s arm, but the Heisman Trophy winner may have something to say about that. However, even on the road, the Redskins won’t outlast Seattle.
Reviewing the Preseason Predictions
Peyton Manning will win Comeback Player of the Year.
Unless Adrian Peterson is considered a “Comeback Player,” even though he got hurt in Week 16 last year, Peyton Manning should have this one all wrapped up. But with my luck, AP will walk away with the award, even when a certain someone who didn’t play all of last season, deserves it.
Houston will NOT win the AFC South.
Was I living in a cave? Someone please tell me why I would picked the Titans to win this division. The Tennessee Titans?! They didn’t even put up a fight, the Colts did. Granted, Houston didn’t have a phenomenal season, but they still ran away with the division mighty comfortably.
Rex Ryan will lose his job.
Seven coaches lost their job on “Black Monday,” but Rex Ryan was not included in the list. New York had the kind of season I thought they would, but Jets management, surprisingly, made the right call. Ryan’s a fabulous coach who led his team to the AFC Championship in two straight seasons with Mark Sanchez, and he didn’t have the talent this season to compete, but he deserves to keep his job for another season. With the right offseason moves, the Jets could be a Wild Card contender once again next season. Hang in there, Rex.
Most competitive division: NFC South.
This one went way off course. Atlanta ran away with it, New Orleans didn’t live up to my expectations, Tampa was still mediocre (but definitely better), and Carolina still sucked. Should of picked the NFC East…damn.
Green Bay will once again have the best regular season record.
If it wasn’t for their offense being all out of sorts in the first portion of the season, this prediction might look a little better. However, the three seed and a division championship is still something to be proud of in Wisconsin. Did anyone else pick Atlanta to have the best record? Yes? No? Nobody cares?
Denver Won’t Make the Playoffs.
…and they got the 1-seed. Yeah, no comment.
Taking a Year Off: Mike Wallace.
Wallace ended up playing, but based on his performance, it was like he still took a year off. Free agency won’t be a nice as you thought, Mike. However, I’ll take you in Cleveland, because we could use anybody right about now.
New Orleans Won’t Have an Answer.
Hey, I got one right!
Rookie of the Year: Trent Richardson.
Richardson had an above-average rookie campaign, but he still isn’t in contention for Rookie of the Year. This one’s most likely landing in the arms of RG3, with Andrew Luck a close second.
Best Offseason Transaction: Atlanta Snags Asante Samuel.
Samuel had an outstanding year in Atlanta, especially with the season-ending injury to Brent Grimes in the secondary. And to think they only got him for a seventh rounder? I’m still bitter Cleveland didn’t acquire him. Not that it would have mattered.
Well, that’s that. Enjoy the games. See you next week.
About the Author
Written by Corey Rioux
A wise man once told me, "Sports are modern-day mythology." I tend to disagree. Proper grammar is optional. You can read my columns here: http://www.prosportsblogging.com/author/c_rioux23/ You can follow me on twitter at: @CoreyRioux You can contact me via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org