Sunday, January 23, 2011

2011 Playoff Pickery -- AFC/NFC Championship Games

The Spread Sez: Green Bay (-3.5) at Chicago

Joe: So, here's the thing: the two teams that are looking the strongest right now are the Packers and the Jets, and my first inclination was to go with them. But between the letdown factor (more for the Jets than the Pack but still) and the fact that beating the three best teams in your conference on the road in consecutive weeks is hard enough for one team to pull off, much less two, and suddenly picking counter to the trends feels like the smart call. I'm tempted to REALLY go counter and pick the Bears here, but they just seem outgunned in almost every respect, and the Packers look like a team coming together at the right time. Plus, the theme of this NFL season really does seem to be "Tearing Down the Brett Favre Myth", and nothing would put a capper on that better than Aaron Rodgers in the Super Bowl. Pick: Packers 27, Bears 17

Aaron: Last week, early in the first quarter of their Divisional Round game, the Seahawks opted to punt on 4th and short with the ball just past midfield. Seattle was on the road in a scoreless tie and chose a passive game of field position over any attempt at offensive aggression. Now, I'll concede that "offensive aggression" is a corny choice of words -- better suited for any Billy Blanks straight-to-VHS release in the 1990s -- if you'll admit the 2010 Packers wouldn't have punted in the same situation. Rodgers really can do no wrong at the moment. And, while I think there IS some superstitious ju-ju to be concerned about when everyone is picking the same team to's possible that everyone is right. Pick: Packers 24, Bears 7

The Spread Sez: New York Jets at Pittsburgh (-3.5)

Joe: So...the Jets. My adopted playoff team this season, primarily as mercenaries against the Patriots, partly out of a protection instinct for Mark Sanchez (who, I should point out, once again exhibited the schizophrenic but increasingly more assured accuracy of a very young QB who's getting more experienced), and partly out of hometown loyalty even though I don't really know too many Jets fans and if forced to choose I'd be a Giants fan besides. Anyway! They beat the Patriots. Mission accomplished! The Steelers aren't an exciting team or an interesting team or a team that's all that fun to watch. They're tough to root for with Roethlisberger front and center like he is, but they're tough to get all that riled up to root against otherwise. The drop-off in intrigue from a Jets Super Bowl to a Steelers Super Bowl is precipitous. More bad news for Roger Goodell, then. Pick: Steelers 20, Jets 17

Aaron: Here's another reason to admire the hyper-reactionary sports media -- when the Jets were laid to waste by the Patriots late in the regular season; this was all the reason needed to think New York had no chance against New England in the playoffs. Yet, when the Jets went into Pittsburgh and beat the Steelers late in the regular season; the same mouth-breathing talking heads have been insisting this is a different Pittsburgh team now. The Steelers aren't likely to benefit from the same combination of shady officiating and 53 Baltimore Ravens simultaneously disappearing in the second half as they did last week. Ben Roethlisberger has survived in front of the unlocked bathroom stall that serves as his offensive line; but at some point there's going to be a defense that breaks through and forcibly bends Ben over. Pick: Jets 17, Steelers 14

1 comment:

SHough610 said...

The Packers were pretty much the consensus pick to go to the Super Bowl from the NFC this year. In my work pool I picked the Eagles to go all the way in one bracket and the Packers in another. I thought whoever won that game would win the Super Bowl and I stand by that.