New Orleans at Seattle Seahawks
I've been saying all year long that the Seahawks are the best team in the league. I predicted a Denver-Seattle superbowl since last years playoffs, and I still stand by my statements. It will be vitally important for New Orleans to put up touchdowns early in the game to not only quiet the crowd but build their own confidence, and take away Seattle's confidence. If they get behind early and have to play catchup, they play right into Seattles hands. Meanwhile its important for Seattle to have a balanced offensive attack. Once they get the running game going, the passing game opens up, then read option, play action, trick plays, etc. all open up. Like I said before the first meeting, I like the Seattle offense against the Saints defense over the Saints offense against the Seattle defense. I think the Saints defense will step up and make it a close one, but Seattle has so few weaknesses and so many strengths, I'm taking Seattle by 6.
Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots
Andrew Luck is such a unique QB, he reminds me more of Aaron Rodgers than Manning. While belichick is the ultimate mastermind, I think the Colts pass-rush will step up and slow down Brady just enough for Luck to win the game. I think the Patriots and Colts have been the two toughest teams to predict the score. The Patriots D has been banged up all season. They've been involved in almost every flukey game this season. They beat the Saints on a horrible non-holding call. They lost to the Jets on a penalty. They lost to the Panthers on a horrible non-PI call. They beat the Browns on a horrible call. They beat the Broncos on a fumbled punt. But they have had a very average to below-average defense all year long. I just see the Colts as a more balanced team. I dont trust this heavily 1-sided teams in the playoffs. I'm taking the Colts by 2.
San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers
The Niner defense has clear weak points that teams have been exploiting week after week, but all these teams seem to have had major flaws. They've been scraping by alot of these teams, but one team they could not get lucky against is Carolina. Kaepernick will struggle against the better defenses in the league. Carolina might just have a better front 7 than San Francisco. As much as I don't like Cam, I have to take him over Kaepernick. He has proven multiple times this season he has the ability to lead a game winning drive. Carolina has the speed at linebacker to keep up with Kaepernick. It will be a heavily defensive game, just like the first game, but I think both offenses will look deep in their playbooks to score points. Carolina by 2.
San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos
This is one of the easier predictions of the post-season. Denver should have absolutely no problem taking care of business. Had the Bengals not had 2 stupid interceptions and 2 fumbles in their own territory, they would have taken the game. Playing a slow conservative game against the Broncos is simple not going to work unless they have a tough defense to compliment it. The Broncos are hungry and you have to be a Superbowl calibre team to stop them. Broncos by 10.
First Round Recap:
-I was 3/4 in the first round. I was off by 1 in the Niners and Colts games, and off by 5 in the Saints game. I really thought the Bengal defense would've been able to carry them, as long as Dalton didn't blow it. I severely underestimated how inept he actually is.
-Andy Dalton is terrible, I'm officially off the Dalton bandwagon. Last season what I saw in him was a good arm, ability to make all the passes, decent accuracy, good chemistry with many weapons, and average vision which I thought would improve. Now what I see out of him is, a good arm, average accuracy, poor decision making, average vision that hasn't improved in 3 years, and decent chemistry with weapons. It sounds harsh but the Bengals lost solely because of Andy Dalton. I hear Dilfer on ESPN saying it was a team loss, that the defensive line got owned all game long? If you take away Brown's 58 yard carry, which came after the Bengals just had a turnover on downs and it was pretty much a guaranteed loss, the Chargers had 138 yards rushing on 39 attempts, that's 3.5 ypc. Compare that to the Bengals' 113 yards on 25 attempts for 4.5 ypc. The Bengal defense came up with 2 critical stops in the 3rd and 4th quarter, holding SD to field goals, keeping the game close. It really all came down to Dalton.
-The Saints didn't put up as many points as I thought they would against the Eagles, but when they needed to score points, they did, including a 5-minute time-killing drive at the end to set up the game winning field goal. A good point about Foles, one of the reasons he doesn't throw alot of interceptions is because he takes many sacks. He took a few critical drive-killing sacks that really hurt them.
-Andrew Luck, wow. Some people knock him for digging the hole in which they had to climb out. Yes he made some dumb passes that were picked, but the 3rd one should've been caught, instead bounced out of the defenders hands. His adjustments during the game are what separate him from other QBs, he can correct his own mistakes and make all the adjustments needed during the game. A QB that can consistently perform in the clutch is a Superbowl winning QB. I have no doubt he will win multiple Superbowls by the time his career is over.
-Niners barely sneak by Green Bay, the dropped pick on the flat or the FG that went through the defenders arms, both could've saved the game for the Packers. I have great respect for the Niners defense, but I honestly feel like this is the luckiest team as of late. The big frank gore run against Seattle, the Matt Ryan bobbled catch picked for a TD, the cardinals defensive collapse at the end, despite playing tough all game long, and now this. I don't think the Niners can get lucky against the Panthers. If they can get through the Panthers and Seahawks, then I will be proved wrong. I wish the Packer D was healthy, it feels like Matthews is the only player on the Packer D that has the speed to keep up with Kaepernick. If they want to get passed the Niners they need to draft another speedy outside linebacker or defensive end. That's how Seattle and Carolina built their team and thats why Kaepernick struggles against them.