Well, now it’s Championship weekend. Falcons and 49ers over in the NFC meanwhile Pats and Ravens in the AFC.
Let’s get to it.
San Francisco (-4) vs @Atlanta
Atlanta is such a fraud team. The kind of fraud team that would win this game if I pick against them. But really that’s a chance I’m willing to take. We saw the 49ers a few weeks back and just how good their offense is against a passing offense. Matt Ryan is no Tom Brady which means the game will be even tougher for the Falcons. I hope Atlanta makes me wrong but I’m taking the 49ers in the NFC Championship for the second year in a row.
@New England (-9) vs Baltimore
This line opened at 9.5. Really? On what planet are the Pats this year 9.5 points better than the Ravens? They played each other back in week three…
I prefer the end zone camera. This shows for sure that it was no good.
Stupid replacement refs.
I’m a true believer in not poking the bear. I don’t think that advertising Ray Lewis’s retirement party is a smart move. I don’t think pissing him off is a good idea. You could end up murdered and his white suit he was wearing that day could go missing.
I think the Pats can win this game. I think the Pats are the better team overall. It’s going to take a mistake free game for sure. They can’t allow a 97 yard Ray Rice TD on the opening play from scrimmage. They can’t allow the Baltimore receivers to get behind the safeties. And they certainly can’t let Joe Flacco beat them by chucking it up and getting some bullshit pass interference call (I’m looking at you Arrington).
I don’t think the Pats offense is going to have problems. Whatever the Ravens decide to take away, the Patriots will adjust. If they take away Welker look for a Brandon Lloyd, Aaron Hernandez party. If they decide to focus on shutting down the running game, watch Welker blow up.
But at the end of the day, the nine point spread is absurd. Like the 49 game, I hope I’m wrong but I’m taking the Ravens to cover, Pats to win.
49ers and Pats in the Super Bowl, sounds like I picked that before. Yup, last year same pick. Can’t believe I had Carolina there with the 49ers in my NFC Preview column or Carolina beating them. What was I thinking. Oh well, I picked the stupid Chiefs who had the worst record in the league winning west. You can’t win them all. Here’s hoping the Pats can this week and again in two weeks.
Filed under NFL, Patriots
The column is a day late because the lovely folks at Comcast decided to have a major outage in my area Sunday night. It’s OK it lasted until yesterday afternoon. But they’ll credit my account for the downtime. That $2 on my $176 bill I’m sure will be noticed. Thank God we were out to watch the Pats. Had my cable gone out at kickoff there would be hell to pay.
Did we see that coming? I certainly didn’t. I was afraid. That Jets game two years ago was just running through my head. 45-3. I feared Houston wad going to come in and blow the doors off the Patriots. Payback for the Monday night beat down.
The kickoff that was ran back almost all the way didn’t help my feelings. But the defense held them to three and I had a little confidence. It was gone on the three and out, but the defense kept showing up. For the first half anyway.
As I’m watching the game, I kept thinking the offense was the problem with the Pats, not the defense. Walker dropped like four balls early and I was cursing him. Then Gronk goes down. I don’t think he was ever right. I think they realized he was not going to last in the playoffs and decoyed him. As soon as there was contact, they pulled him for good.
The balance eventually flipped back with the offense looking good and the defense fading late giving up some garbage time scores. Remember this defense held them to 13 until 10 minutes left in the game and then Houston got their final two touchdowns. Meanwhile the Pats had the whistles working against them late in the game much like the challenges/booth reviews.
The offense managed a late field goal to finally put the game away but I got a little nervous in the fourth quarter. Their inability to close games has cost them two Super Bowl titles. I didn’t want that being a precursor of things to come again this year.
But first Baltimore who knocked off Denver. It’s going to be a tough game. My picks will come Friday.
Filed under NFL, Patriots
I was going to do a team a day but figured I could wrap it in on column. So here’s how I grade each team’s 2012 performance.
Red Sox (D-)
You want to give them an F. They start the year with hiring Valentine and gushing over how great he is and how he’ll fix the team etc. I’ve chronicled enough this season of them just being a giant bag of suck. The get out of the F though since they fired Valentine. They also traded Beckett, Crawford, Gonzalez, and Punto (the ultimate throw in) but did nothing with the money saved. They didn’t sign any huge names or contracts this offseason (maybe they learned their lesson) but named a manager pretty quickly working out a deal for Farrell.
2013 doesn’t look much better. If they pitch, they’ll be decent, but I’m not holding my breath.
You have to think back to when they were still playing since they’re now on day 106 or something of their lockout. But a low grade since they followed up their Stanley Cup with a first round bow out in the playoffs. Then there was the Tim Thomas chaos where he was going to be in a bunker in Colorado preparing for the apocalypse.
2013 could be decent. The core of the team is young and could make another run…if they play hockey this spring.
They get props for making it to the Eastern Conference Finals. They followed it up with losing Ray Allen in the offseason. Then signed Jeff Green to a contract no one in the NBA thought he was worth except Danny Ainge. They built such a strong team on paper that when I was in Vegas they wouldn’t take money on the C’s. They’ve started this season looking old and playing without heart. I heard a text that asked, “When Jeff Green had heart surgery did they take it out?”; he stinks. The team ends 2012 under .500.
2013 doesn’t look much better. Perhaps a trade or two could make it change for the positive, but I don’t see it coming. The outlook is bleak.
I flip flopped with an A- or B+. They lost the Super Bowl but it was close. They could have won. But the followed that up by trading up in the draft and snagging contributors. They reupped Gronk and Hernandez. They brought in some guys this offseason that didn’t work out. They traded for Talib mid season to immediately improve their secondary and even with losses to Arizona, Seattle, San Fran, and Baltimore they have a bye in the playoffs.
With that bye, 2013 could be good. I’m obviously hoping for a fourth Super Bowl title but understand it’s not a guarantee.
Overall highs and lows in 2012 for Boston sports, I expect more of the same in 2013.
Now I ask the headline question based upon a few weeks ago. Because with the Texans rolling and on their way to Foxboro we all figured if the Pats didn’t win out, they’d lose the chance for a bye.
From there the Pats beat Houston, lost to San Fran after going down ugly early, and looked lost at the start of the Jacksonville game last week. Yet somehow, they were still mathematically alive for a bye coming into yesterday. Oh they’d need help but by kickoff they knew it was a possibility as the Colts beat Houston in the 1pm game.
And as I watched this young, inexperienced defense pitch a shutout against a decent Miami team, I kept having this cartoon flashing in my head.
The Pats absolutely pulled a rabbit out of their hat. After some ugly early season losses to Arizona, Baltimore, and Seattle, you really didn’t think this team would roll. There were some sports talk radio people screaming they were a .500 team in the making. Yet at the end of the day they’re still the #2 playoff seed and will have a week to rest guys even more.
Hopefully that means Talib and Dennard will be healthy for divisional action, and Gronk can regain the use of his left arm. Ninkovich going down shouldn’t be overlooked. He’s a key guy on the defense. Hopefully the extra week helps him too.
Now exhale and enjoy the extra week off.
Filed under NFL, Patriots
The NFL regular season is less than a month away and I totally intend on giving you a full preview. That being said, the headline is that way for a reason.
I think the Pats are headed back to the Super Bowl.
I know it’s a huge leap considering they’ve played one preseason game and didn’t look amazing in it, but here’s some of my thoughts.
First off, it’s only a preseason game. You didn’t get to see the first team offense put there the whole time. Hell at that point your o-line wasn’t even who you’re going to field week one. So calm down on the offense not clicking right out of the gate.
Second, your running backs looked good. Again, preseason, lets not get too excited one way or the other but when you consider they’re running behind the patchwork o-line it makes you pretty psyched to think what they’ll do with a real line in front of them.
Third and final point (for this post anyways), they’re defense looked good. Rookie boy Jones looked legit on the edge rush. Something the team has been missing since Willie McGinest.
So I know it’s only one preseason game, and I’ll certainly have some fun breaking down the divisions with W-L records later on. The bottom line is I really just needed a break from the train wreck Sox, and a Super Bowl heading football team certainly helps that.
Filed under NFL, Patriots