Can you believe it? There are only three games left in the 2012-13 NFL season. Let me say that again: There are only three games left in the 2012-13 NFL season. As much as I so candidly love the playoffs, when this time of year rolls around, the tissues are out and the mood is somber; football is coming to an end. Wasn’t it not too long ago when Dallas squared off against New York on “Wednesday Night Football?” This is unfair.
Last week was beyond crazy, not just in the NFL, but in the land of sports. That’s why I’ve compiled a love/hate list as well as a welcome (Head Coach edition)/farewell list. As you will notice, my “Love list” contains a significant amount of Browns news, but you have to respect my fanhood. Okay, you don’t have to.) And because these kind of lists can be extensive, I’ll keep them to five a piece. After this, we’ll get to the picks this Sunday.
1) Jimmy Haslam- Not only has the new Browns owner come into Cleveland with a bang, he’s already leaving a massive footprint. Besides from assembling an eager front office and coaching staff (more on them in this list), he’s bringing marketing to the shores of Lake Erie. “Cleveland Browns Stadium” is now “FirstEnergy Stadium.” I agree, not the flashiest name, but if it brings in more money, I’m all for it. Why do you think the Patriots have success? Bob Kraft built one hell of a facility, and to my knowledge, that brings in the kind of people you need to run a successful franchise. Congratulations, Jimmy Haslam, you’ve earned my trust, and I’m beginning to like you. A lot. Even if you’re a Republican (I’m kidding).
2) Mike Lombardi- Welcome back to Cleveland, Mike. After more than a 5 year absence from the personnel side of the league, Lombardi is returning. As a “BS Report” staple, I’ve had the pleasure of listening to Lombardi for quite some time, but I’m not the biggest advocate of his perspective. Although, if he does bring back the “Belichick Philosophy” from the 90′s, I’m all for it. Optimism is the most important trait of all, and that’s what I have for the Banner/Scheiner/Lombardi era of the Cleveland Browns front office. If only Holmgren & Heckert could of figured it out, though.
3) Ray Horton- After demanding a release from the Arizona Cardinals, one of the most talented DC’s in the league is headed to Cleveland. Things could not be better for the Browns. Aside from Norv Turner taking over the offensive reigns, Horton- a head coaching candidate this offseason- is brining his experience to a young, ambitious defense. Much like the one in Arizona. Although Dick Jauron had his success, Horton brings a new kind of feel to the table. One that’s needed.
4) Colin Kaepernick- Ladies and Gentleman, your new Tom Brady! After winning the Super Bowl this year, all Kaepernick has to do is win 2 more, and then marry a super-model to eliminate the possibility of winning another one. But be allowed to lose when it’s all on the line. Sounds good, huh? I’m all for it, Colin, so take notes.
5) The Baltimore Ravens- Ray Lewis, Jacoby Jones, and Joe Flacco. Peyton Manning can thank them- as well as Rahim Moore- for another playoff loss. Two weeks ago, I wrote that the Ray Lewis retiring story may not be real. Well, I think it is. These Ravens are playing inspired football, and they could very well make the Super Bowl, as long as the Ray-Train hasn’t run out of steam. And let’s be honest, that guy doesn’t run out of anything.
1) Manti Te’o- Well, this is the most bizarre sports story in quite some time. Is Manti telling the truth? Was he in on the hoax? Is it really a cover up because he’s gay (not that there’s anything wrong with that)? Only time will be able to tell for this controversy. But it will surely question his character, which will certainly affect his future in football.
2) Chip Kelly- I thought you were on your way to Cleveland, Chip, but you deceived us. How dare you. Screw you and your silly flip-flopping. I hope Rob Chudzinksi and Jimmy Haslam kick your ass. Sincerely, a disgruntled Browns fan.
3) Lance Armstrong- May not be football related, but I had to mention it. Armstrong may as well be the largest fraud in sports, and I’m not accepting your apology. Rick Reilly wrote about it earlier this week, and he was right. There is nothing to say or feel except disappointment.
4) Peter King- This one’s a little over the top, by no means do I “hate” Peter King, he just deserves a little blasting. And because I want to rub it in his face. King’s Super Bowl pick of Packers-Broncos fell apart last weekend, and I just wanted to give the reminder that mine is still alive (more on this later). Keep on writing, Pete. Oh, and I love the tweets as well.
5) Peyton Manning in the Playoffs- There’s two things Peyton Manning hates: The postseason and the cold weather. This two factors force Peyton to make unprecedented mistakes, and that will always be his biggest downfall. Unfortunately.
1) Bruce Arians- Arizona will love you. Kevin Kolb will love you. Larry Fitzgerald will love you. John McCain might hate you. But you’ll do well in Phoenix, Bruce. #Chuckstrong.
2) Marc Trestman- This is the sneaky-good hire of the offseason. Take a look at his credentials, they’re magnificent. In five years, when the Chicago Bears have two Super Bowl rings, we’ll look back and say, Wow, Marc Trestman! Really, Marc Trestman!
3) Chip Kelly- We already went over this. It doesn’t help that I hate the Eagles, either.
4) Mike McCoy- Almost like Chudzinski, I’m skeptical of this hire, but I’d bet that it will work out rather than not. With a solid man under center, a great OC in Whisenhunt, and an underrated location (I’ve heard SD’s awesome), the Chargers will succeed.
5) Gus Bradley- Very shocked that Bradley got a head coaching gig over Ray Horton, but I’m not complaining. However, if Mike Mularkey couldn’t do it, can Bradley?
1) Peter Carroll and Russell Wilson’s Rookie Campaign- That was one exhilarating run for the Seahawks, and they didn’t go down without a fight. The departure of Bradley could affect the defensive outcome, but as long as Wilson and Carroll are at the helm, only good things will come.
2) Green Bay Packers- Many thought Rodgers had it in him again, and maybe he did, but his defense didn’t. He still contains the most upside at the QB position, and we know that can go very far. And as his mentor knows, you can’t win ‘em all.
3) Houston Texans- I never thought Houston had the caliber to make a run at the Super Bowl, guess I was right on that front. The roster may go over a mini-makeover as well as some minor-tweaking, but the Texans are far from being washed up.
4) Peyton Manning’s Prime- Yup, I said it. That’s it, my friends. Call the undertaker, Peyton Manning’s prime has passed away. This was his last shot at a Super Bowl, and it vanished because of Joe Flacco’s arm. Yikes.
5) Stan Musial- A true legend of his time. Baseball will miss you, Stan. Rest in Peace.
Well, let’s get to the picks because this is technically a guide to the NFL playoffs…
Here’s how my picks fared last week:
Wild Card Weekend
(3) Houston defeats (6) Cincinnati. (Correct.)
(3) Green Bay defeats (6) Minnesota. (Correct.)
(5) Indianapolis defeats (4) Baltimore. (Incorrect.)
(5) Seattle defeats (4) Washington. (Correct.)
(1) Denver defeats
(5) Indianapolis (4) Baltimore. (Incorrect.)
(2) New England defeats (3) Houston. (Correct.)
(1) Atlanta defeats (5) Seattle. (Correct.)
(2) San Francisco defeats (3) Green Bay. (Correct.)
(2) New England defeats
(1) Denver (4) Baltimore.
(2) San Francisco defeats (1) Atlanta.
Super Bowl XLVII
(2) San Francisco defeats (2) New England.
So those are my revisions, and the coveted Super Bowl pick is still alive. Can you believe I made that pick in May? Neither can I. Onto this weekend’s games:
San Francisco 49ers @ Atlanta Falcons (Sunday, 3:00 PM ET, FOX)
By no means would I be surprised if the Atlanta Falcons bought a ticket to New Orleans this Sunday, but I think destiny has other plans. The Niners are playing well-rounded football and Atlanta tends to struggle on at least one side of the ball. But Matt Ryan is the winningest regular season QB of all time by QB’s in their first five seasons with 56 wins, that’s impressive. Ryan knows how to throw the ball and he knows how to win. That’s a deadly combination. But on the other side, charisma is the name of the game. Whether it’s the coach, the QB, the defense, the history, they got it all. And according to Harbaugh, no one has it better than them. Niners win.
Baltimore Ravens @ New England Patriots (Sunday, 6:30 PM ET, CBS)
Can Brady and Belichick advance to their sixth Super Bowl? Where does that put Brady on the most Super Bowl appearances by a QB list? The answers to those questions are yes and first. No other QB has appeared in six Super Bowls, and as of now, Elway and Brady sit atop the list with five. I wrote about the Ravens above, and this year appears to be a lot different from last, but that seems to be the case for both squads. The Ray Lewis retirement party could be obtaining another rain check, or it may finally begin. New England has the experience and the leadership. Baltimore has the energy and the talent. Both teams have the guts. But only one can move on. It could be a mirror image of last season, or the opposite. The tale of Tom Brady is back, and another chapter is about to be written. Patriots win.
Let’s hope the Super Bowl pick holds true, or I’ll end up like this guy:
And for the Browns fans out there, our favorite Cleveland comedian- Mike Polk Jr.- is back. These are sure to bring a few laughs:
(This one’s before the hire of Chudzinski.)
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