I know Jack
Do you know Jack? His last name is Shit and I know him very well.
Last weekend I had the following four teams pegged to advance:
Teams that actually won: Steelers. Oy!
If I had to pick one game for a guaranteed, no way in hell they lose, bet your house on it, absolute lock it would have been the Carolina game. No way the Panthers, who haven’t lost at home all year lose to the Cardinals who haven’t won on the east coast all year. Right?
Man alive! Five Delhomme interceptions (FIVE!!!) later this disaster goes in the books as one of the more bizarro games in NFL history. Everything most people expected to happen happened, only in the exact opposite way. Arizona did what they wanted on both sides of the ball while Carolina, with the leading rushing attack in the league only handed the ball over to Stewart and Williams 15 times.
Not to take credit away from Arizona, but Carolina played right into their hands. Their strength all year has been their power rushing and they went away from that almost immediately. Everyone knows you play to your strengths and the Panthers’ strength was rushing. When you only go to the best part of your game 15 times, you’re doomed. Sure, they were down early, but it was still…you know…early. Don’t abandon what got you there in the first place. It’s not like they were having trouble, either. Williams averaged 5.1 yards a carry and Stewart an equally healthy 4 per carry.
I blame myself. I picked the Panthers as part of my ‘Streak for the Cash’. Sorry, Carolina fans. It’s all my fault.
A look at the other games:
Baltimore at Tennessee: Um, yeah, sorry Hammen. I really thought Tennessee had the better all around team. In my defense, the Titan’s offense moved the ball shockingly well against the Ravens’ defense. If it wasn’t for the 153 turnovers (or there about) Tennessee would be hosting the next round. Just an awful game to watch, by the way. Both Carolina and Tennessee will be sitting at home thinking they beat themselves rather than being beaten by superior teams.
That has to be a worse feeling.
As for Baltimore, yes they took the ball away, yes they played tough defense, but can we please stop anointing Joe Flacco as the next great playoff quarterback. He was 11 of 22 for 161 yards and a touchdown. And nearly half of those yards came on a long pass at the beginning of the game.
Let’s put it this way – If your team gathers three turnovers while not turning it over once yourself, you should be winning by more than 3 points on a last minute field goal.
Congrats, Ravens, but it certainly seems the Titans were more responsible for beating themselves then you. Of course, you should consider the source on that opinion.
Eagles at Giants: I figured this would be a blood bath and it probably would have been if Old Eli didn’t suddenly reappear. It was 2005 all over again complete with the Manning face, Eli throwing his arms up in exasperation as if he shouldn’t be blamed for throwing a ball 10 feet over a receiver’s head. How a quarterback with his body language ever won a Super Bowl is beyond me.
Hey, speaking of which. What does this loss do to the legacy of this particular Giants team? Was last year’s Super Bowl win just the luckiest win in the history of the NFL? Were the Giants really the best team last year? It sure seemed so when they rolled to an 11-1 record only to fall apart at the end.
If they have an average season next year, how will this team be remembered?
The Eagles, meanwhile, seem like the bandwagon pick now. Not even two months ago they slogged it out to a tie with a shitty Bengals team. It could be one of the worst games ever. Unarguably, it’s in the top five.
Now, they’re one win away from the Super Bowl. What the fuck is going on this year?
Chargers at Steelers: Finally! A game that actually went as expected. This game sure looked like last year’s AFC Championship game with Tomlinson sulking on the sidelines, Sproles trying in vain to keep his team’s hopes alive and Rivers showing once again he is a force to be reckoned with.
Unfortunately, for San Diego the Steelers are a better team. They stopped when they needed a stop, they scored when they needed a score and they showed why they are probably the favorite of all the teams remaining.
I should point out that the divisional round of the NFL playoffs is when home field advantage matters most (you can look it up if you don’t believe me. I won’t be offended).
This of course means 3 of the 4 home teams lost.
I would give up, but that’s no fun. Instead let’s take a look at the matchups for next week. This way I can look even more ridiculous when Arizona meets the Ravens for the Super Bowl.
Pittsburgh vs Baltimore: Expect another 13-10 barn burner with these two defenses. Although – unlike Tennessee – the Steelers are too well coached to self destruct like the Titans did. All things being equal in a tight game would you want Big Ben deciding your fate or Joe Flacco? I know, I threw that out last week, but I’m still not impressed with him. Have him throw for 200+ yards in a meaningful game when his team really needs him and I’ll reconsider.
Prediction: Pittsburgh by 6
Arizona vs Philadelphia: Here’s the thing. All rational thought points to the Eagles making this Super Bowl a Pennsylvania state fair (assuming the Steelers win, as well). They have a more balanced attack (compared to the Cardinals, any team has a more balanced attack), they have a better defense, and they have one Mr. Brian Westbrook.
However, they also have Donovan McNabb at quarterback and it’s hard for me to shake the image of him dry heaving during the biggest game of his career. There were moments during the Giants game where his stage fright seemed quite apparent, sometimes throwing at the feet of his receivers as he rushed the throw. Add the Eagle’s standard schizophrenic personality and the Reid/McNabb habit of losing NFC Championship games (no matter where they’re played) and I’m having trouble picking this game.
On the other side we have the experienced, God praising and seemingly very hungry Kurt Warner and his usual arsenal of weapons. If you weren’t impressed with Larry Fitzgerald before, these last two playoff games should have changed that. The guy could make Ryan Leaf look good. He just goes after any ball in his area even if it’s underthrown and he’s double covered.
So, which way do I go? Traditionally, home field doesn’t mean much in the Championship round, but tradition has been beaten to death and left in a ditch on the side of the interstate this year. And it’s not as if the Cardinals have the loudest fans in the league.
In the end I have to go with the team that’s been here before (even though it usually means losing). The Eagles. I’m allowing a condition here, though. If this comes down to the final 5 minutes and the game is close, the Cardinals will win. Between Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb, Philly’s clock management is fucking atrocious. And that’s being kind.
If it’s close, the Eagles will choke and give Arizona a chance to pull it out in the end. Don’t be surprised if this ends with Warner throwing a hail mary with Fitzgerald jumping over five Eagle defenders to come down with the ball.
Also, keep in mind I know nothing.
Absolutely nothing at all.
Jack Shit, indeed.
Today’s distraction: 25 most anticipated movies of 2009. Personally, I’m amped for ‘Watchmen’ (Rated R, no less!!), ‘Avatar’, ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ (Spike Jonze rocks!) and ‘Shutter Island’. Those of which I’m dubious: ‘Funny People’, ‘Transformers 2’, ‘Terminator: Salvation’ (it’s directed by the same guy that made those horrid ‘Charlie’s Angels’ movies), and ‘Friday the 13th’. Did they really have to remake that movie?