I wish I could say I was excited for these two Conference Championship games but I’m really not. Where are the storylines? None of these teams make for all that appealing of a Super Bowl to me. See my rankings of the potential matchups below (from most interesting to least interesting) and tell me you don’t agree…
1. New England vs. Minnesota: Vikings on their home field with a strong defense against the best QB (Tom Brady) of all-time. I would not hesitate to pick the Vikings straight up.
2. New England vs. Philadelphia: The two best teams during the regular season (prior to Eagles QB Carson Wentz’s season-ending ACL tear) face off in what would be a rematch of Super Bowl XXIX.
3. Jacksonville vs. Philadelphia: Because the winner of this game would have no geographical advantage. Likely a hard-to-watch defensive struggle.
4. Jacksonville vs. Minnesota: If the Jaguars knock of giants Pittsburgh and New England on their home fields, they can’t be ruled out here. But the Vikings would have a decided advantage playing on their home field.
I’m actually looking forward to the day Tom Brady and Bill Belichick retire and/or leave New England. Picking against New England with both still at the helm is foolish – you’ll be wrong a lot more often than you’re right. And honestly, talking about parity in the NFL with the Patriots still in the peak of their dynasty takes some of the shine away from that argument. Is there such a thing as being TOO good in sports? Guess we’ll find out once again starting this weekend. Now on to the picks…
Happy New Year to all! What a fun weekend of football it was despite the fact that my Monday bowl game predictions went a whopping 0-5 straight up (but fortunately we won’t discuss those in this column)! Let’s hope that’s not an omen for things to come regarding my picks in 2018.
Before I predict both the NFL playoffs, I wanted to offer some brief thoughts on the coaching departure of Bruce Arians from the Cardinals.
Having gone 49-30-1 in the regular season as Cardinals coach, considering at times he was working with significantly inferior QB play, is very impressive. Arians’ one playoff win in three tries was a thriller against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in early 2016 though Arizona couldn’t get past the Panthers the following week in the NFC Championship Game.
As discussed in last Friday’s column, I honestly believe that Wednesday night’s Foster Farms Bowl is quite a setback for Arizona’s football program. The reaction in Tucson towards Rich Rodriguez’s team is one of apathy as is…fans have proven that they aren’t going to pay to watch star QB Khalil Tate nor an underachieving program. I feel as though most people in Tucson wait for the bottom to drop out when watching Arizona football…and it did so once again with under two minutes to play on Wednesday night in a 38-35 loss to Purdue.
So what can be done to rectify the problem? In my opinion there are only two realistic solutions:
You know that game Keno that is played in most, if not all casinos? Pretty much picking random numbers and hoping they hit. Similar to the lottery in that intuition and luck are the only chances you have for success. I feel like making predictions on some of these NFL games this week are similar – there’s no rhyme or reason as to whether a chunk of these players will show up with max effort.
And Todd Gurley, after destroying my two top fantasy teams these last two weeks, you have my vote for NFL MVP. No need to play this week against the 49ers. Enjoy your week off and congrats to you and your Rams on a heck of a regular season. Now go do some damage in the playoffs!
It’s a pretty depressing feeling when your favorite NFL team is eliminated from playoff contention with two weeks to play, especially when they’ve been regulars nearly your entire adult life. But I have to give my Green Bay Packers credit off-the-field, they made the CORRECT decision to shut down Aaron Rodgers instead of play him for two meaningless games to end the 2017 regular season.
Rodgers rushed back from a broken collarbone suffered in Week 6 against the Vikings and while effective against the Panthers in Week 15, he wasn’t his usual pinpoint-passing self. Green Bay’s window to win another Super Bowl with ARod is getting shorter by the season but I’m confident they’ll be a playoff contender with him in 2018.
One of my favorite times of the year, well not just the holidays, but it’s college football bowl season! Instead of picking each and every game on the blog, I set up a different kind of postseason predictions challenge. Ten questions, some multi-part, that answers just about everything I’d want to know about the bowls.