Saturday, January 7, 2012

2012 NFL Playoff Pickery -- Wildcard Weekend

Last Week

Aaron: 12-4
Joe: 10-6

Current Standings

Aaron: 169-87
Joe: 169-87

After 17 weeks and innumerable smarmy barbs, Joe and I tied in this year's NFL Pickery. Tied. For the first time ever. I blew a decent-sized lead early and Joe lost his lead late. Regrettably, I showed no faith in my Oakland Raiders in September and October, while Joe might've had too much trust in Tim Tebow in the regular season's final two weeks. There is, of course, only one contrived way of settling this once and for all. More picks! This time with ambiguous tiebreakers that I haven't thought up yet!

Cincinnati at Houston (-3)

Joe: What a travesty these AFC playoffs are. Three garbage teams and three more with glaringly fatal flaws. And one of them is going to be making the Super Bowl. Anyway, it's not Houston's fault they're garbage. They had garbage thrust upon them with a string of unfortunate injuries. Meanwhile, this Bengals team is probably not as bad as they're being touted to be, the fact is that all nine of their wins came against non-playoff teams and all seven losses came against teams in the playoffs. They've pretty much established their position in the hierarchy. Houston 23, Cincinnati 17

Aaron: I cannot remember the last time two relatively nondescript, narrative-free teams met in the postseason of a professional sport -- outside of Major League Baseball's first-round Division Series or the 16-team socialism program that passes for playoffs in the NBA or NHL. As Joe writes above, there's a good case to be made for why the Bengals should lose this game, but I think their decent run defense is capable slowing down -- not to be confused with shutting down -- all-world Texans RB Arian Foster. This would put the game in the hands of banged-up third-string Houston QB T.J. Yates at some point. Not the most soothing sentence ever written. Cincinnati 21, Houston 20

Detroit at New Orleans (-9.5)

Joe: I am tempted to go against my first instincts on all four games this weekend, because that's how the Wild Card round usually goes for me. But this one ... defense that can't stop anyone versus offense that can't be stopped? Trying not to outsmart myself here. New Orleans 41, Detroit 21

Aaron: The Lions have indeed been playing at an Arena Football level on offense over the past few weeks. But, since their October 30 upset loss to St. Louis' execrable NFL entry, the Saints haven't allowed more than 24 points to an opponent -- including the Falcons (twice), the Giants and (wait for it) the Lions. New Orleans 38, Detroit 14

Atlanta at NY Giants (-3)

Joe: Ugh. This game. I've fully swallowed the party line on the Giants this week -- they're a hidden dragon in the NFC who are getting healthy at the right time and could pose a unique threat to a Green Bay. I've also bought the line on the Falcons -- soft and unable to hang with the big boys (they beat a grand total of two teams with winning records this season). Dome team playing in the frigid cold. The only thing giving me any kind of pause is my utter certainty. When was the last time THAT worked out for me? NY Giants 28, Atlanta 24

Aaron: I've gone back and forth on this game all week. There have been WAY too many references to the Giants' 2007 Super Bowl-winning season in response to the late run of good health that the 2011 team is experiencing. While I'm concerned enough about Eli Manning's time-tested ability to inexplicably wet the bed against bad teams in any given week; the best-kept secret in football might be Falcons QB Matt Ryan and his intermittent disappearing acts against good ones. NY Giants 34, Atlanta 14

Pittsburgh (-8) at Denver

Joe: Oh GOD. This damned game. It's like the universe is conspiring to give me every reason to take Tebow and the points. I've found Pittsburgh to be weaker than they've appeared all season. They lost their running back. Big Ben is injured. They've got other players with altitude sickness or whatever. Isn't this exactly the kind of team Denver could grind down long enough for something stupid to happen? St. Timothy of Gainesville hasn't pulled off anything miraculous in the last few weeks, but the Broncos defense only has to fall on top of an inopportune fumble in the fourth quarter before his halo starts shining again. I can't even stomach making this pick. Pittsburgh 16, Denver 14

Aaron: This seems like one of those games that gamblers will hate themselves for on Monday morning. Throw out last week's 7-points-allowed performance against the Chiefs' laughable offense and it's clear that the Broncos' defense should shoulder a lot of the blame for the team's recent malaise. Tim Tebow was his usual inefficient self in losses to New England and Buffalo -- just without the reachable three-point deficit late in the game. Up until now, I was in agreement with Joe: an ugly, low-scoring game that would, in some way, be impacted by all of Pittsburgh's injuries and trace elements of Tebow mojo. Sometimes, however, an obviously better team beats the ever-lovin' sh*t out of an obviously inferior one. Pittsburgh 31, Denver 0

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