As we promised in last week’s What We Learned piece, it is time for us here at Sports Blog Movement to breakdown this play-off season, because like we always say, there’s a ton of stuff you need to know that the usual suspects in the sports media will miss while they are busy lapping Peyton Manning’s spooge off a locker-room floor. Having said that, let’s break this down by conference.
The Actual Conference Play-Off Power Rankings:
This has nothing to do with the seeding of the tournament; this has everything to do with who is playing the best football right now.
- San Diego
- Indianapolis Colts
- New England
- Kansas City
Don’t look now, but the Chargers are 5-1 in their last six games, and that includes road wins over both Kansas City and Denver. The Colts has a stretch in the middle of the season where they were shakier than Michael J. Fox, but they are the one of the few teams in the AFC that can play defense; they only given up 20 points in their last three games. Plus, they are the only team out there that beat San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, and Kansas City…sort of defines “team that can beat anybody,” doesn’t it?
The Patriots and the Broncos should each get one win at home, but they also look to get exposed by somebody. Numbers don’t lie; Peyton Manning is one-and-done in four of his last five play-off appearances, and while Tom Brady should be MVP for how far he’s dragged that Intensive Care Unit formerly known as the Patriots, he’s been like watching a guy at a craps table on a streak of consecutive “passes.” At some point, he has to come up “snake-eyes,” and injuries aside, these aren’t the Patriots of ten years ago. We just don’t buy Marvin Lewis and Andy Reid coached teams until they give a reason to believe they can win in January. Cincinnati can look like a completely killing machine at times, but the week after they look like they tripped and fell in said body disposal device. Their unreliability is the reason that they can usually pull off one win, but if they do they are so spent that the next week they don’t stand a chance.
The Actual Games:
#6 San Diego at #3 Cincinnati
- If Cincinnati wins, they face New England
- If San Diego wins, they face Denver
- Vegas Says: Bengals -7.5, Over/Under 46.5
San Diego is red hot but since the game is in the Queen City and the Chargers are in the play-offs largely because the NFL is officiated by dimwits, the spread started at over a touchdown. The Chargers can absolutely beat the Bengals. But we highly doubt even with a low-watt gurgler like Marvin Lewis manning that ship that Andy Dalton is going to throw four picks against a team that arguable should be playing beer pong this weekend. The Chargers got the better part of a raw deal that saw Pittsburgh get screwed out of a playoff spot, but it’s hard to feel sorry for them after the whole Mike Tomlin debacle. But they have a team that is red hot and they are playing like the apocalypse is coming.
However, their secondary is little more than a Kool-Aid pitcher filled with blue food coloring. The weird thing about that is a safety (Eric Weddle) is their leading tackler, which means they are awful in the front seven or teams simply don’t respect you enough to back off their passing attack. Since San Diego is twelfth against the rush, it’s not the first one. Cincinnati will have to put Andy Dalton in the position to make big throws without tossing four picks like he did against the Ravens last week.
Speaking of Dalton, here’s the real question: Are there any two goofier-looking dudes in the NFL than the two quarterbacks playing in this game? Andy Dalton (not so ironically)looks like Raggedy Andy huffed an Ace Hardware full of glue, then drew a self-portrait which came to life. He honestly looks like if you took a dump onto a paper plate and handed it to him, he’d get all wide-eyed and say “Wherrzuh forks at, guys?” Meanwhile Philip Rivers looks like a guy stuck inside a life-sized chipmunk costume who makes gloves out of baby skin in the offseason.
#5 Kansas City at #4 Indianapolis
- If Indianapolis wins, they face New England
- If Kansas City wins, they face Denver (unless San Diego also wins)
- Vegas Says: Colts -3, Over/Under 46.5
In a match-up that seems all too familiar, the Chiefs will head into Indianapolis to face the Colts – a team that laid them to waste just a couple of weeks ago. Only that game was in Arrowhead, so why are we supposed to expect them to stroll into Indianapolis and look like the second coming of Christ? Andy Reid has done a great job in Kansas City, but he had nowhere to go but up. They were 2-14. It’s not like the guy was going to go in there and have a couple of one win seasons in the least patient of all the major professional sports, and then explain it to the press like they are in the rebuild stage. But lately, that’s what they’ve looked like. It’s certainly not the type of play that would warrant the amount of money they are paying Alex Smith to move to Butt Crack, Missouri from the most beautiful city in the country.
Here’s what we know about the Chiefs:
- They started 9-0, and are to be commended for such a performance.
- The only team that they beat in that stretch that was worth half of a fuck is Philadelphia, whom Reid is fairly familiar with and wasn’t that great at the beginning of the year.
- Once the games started to get harder, they looked painfully average.
- They lost to Denver twice.
- They have lost five out of their last seven, and the two games that they won during that period were against Oakland and Washington which is not only unimpressive; it’s also considered legally abusing the handicapped. Felonies all around.
- Nobody expects them to really do anything, and with good reason.
The Colts are strong and their most-treasured statistic is their resume. They’ve beaten not only the Chiefs in Kansas City, but also Seattle, San Francisco (handily) and Denver. However there are also dark points on the same piece of paper: They lost at home by thirty points to the Rams, and allowed the Arizona Cardinals to score forty points on them. Plus, their schedule after the bye week was one of the weakest you could ever imagine, and they only went 6-3. The loss of Reggie Wayne meant that the seven or ten point bump they would need to beat a team such as a New England or Denver in the postseason is no longer there, so we don’t expect them to go very far should they win this game.
The point here is that this game could very easily be bad football, which is probably why it’s the Saturday afternoon match-up.
The Actual Conference Play-Off Power Rankings:
- San Francisco
- New Orleans
- Green Bay
The upside for San Francisco is that it really doesn’t matter how Colin Kaerpernick plays, so long as he doesn’t give the ball away. The 49ers running game can power them all way. Same goes for the Seahawks. More on that later.
#6 New Orleans at #3 Philadelphia
- If Philadelphia wins, they face Carolina
- If New Orleans wins, they face Seattle
- Vegas Says: Eagles -2.5, Over/Under 55
This one seems a little suspect because it was hard to not expect more out of the Eagles this past week against the porous Dallas defense. 24 points against the Cowboys after 54 against the Bears? Something doesn’t seem right there.
But that doesn’t mean they won’t beat New Orleans, who is number five on our power rankings for several good reasons. Had they not suffered such bizarre head scratching losses to teams like the Jets and the Rams, maybe they’d get to host a playoff game in the Big Easy instead of having to play outside in the freezing cold against a team that has light years more of a running game than they do. We also smell a rat with the point spread because usually the odds-makers are so far up Drew Brees’ ass that the multivitamin that he just swallowed will hit them in the eye, but this week they are scared to death of the Saints. We don’t blame them either, because aside from the final Buccaneers game, the Saints have played like they’ve been main-lining Ambien.
That’s not a new thing, either. The second half of the Saints’ season hasn’t exactly gone as planned. They’ve looked dazed, lost, and plenty of other adjectives that you might use to describe yourself after a night partaking in the best Bourbon Street has to offer. Thankfully for them, they will be facing the worst pass defense in the NFL in Philadelphia – a spot that was previously held by the Cowboys until the Eagles played…Dallas? This is a hangover that may be too hard to figure out. There isn’t going to be much grey area when it comes to this game – it’s either going to be awesome or it’s going to be a mess. With a brutal Nor’easter making it’s way towards the East coast this week, we’re guessing mess.
Now, for some serious honesty…While Adrian Peterson sells more Wheaties and athletic wear, and leads the league in dead kids he didn’t know about, LeSean McCoy had the best season of any NFL running back. It’s really odd more people aren’t talking about that, so there must be a reason. That reason would be Nick Foles, who despite the fact he looked clueless in his first starts, he would be a runaway winner Rookie of the Year if they only counted what he did after Week 9…well, that and the fact that he’s not a rookie, but you didn’t know that.
Foles has performed so well that when the news came out on Wednesday that Michael Vick believes he will have a starting job in the NFL next year, we immediately knew two things:
- Michael Vick still hasn’t learned how not to say stupid shit to the press (even after all that time behind bars to think about it)
- Michael Vick isn’t going to be playing for the Philadelphia Eagles next season
Chip Kelly has installed an offense that couldn’t be any further than what Nick Foles is built for, yet Foles has been wildly successful in running it. DeSean Jackson has quietly had a good year, accompanied by Riley Cooper (sans his country music concert vocabulary).
#5 San Francisco at #4 Green Bay
- If Green Bay wins, they face Carolina
- If San Francisco wins, they face Seattle (unless New Orleans also wins)
- Vegas Says: 49ers -2.5, Over/Under 49
In yet another example of how backwards the NFL is when it comes to playoff seeding, the San Francisco 49ers will travel to Wisconsin to face a team that has four wins less than they do. That complaint is going to warrant its own piece as soon as one of these teams loses, and one of those teams might be the 49ers. They’ve had a season that’s been full of close calls, but when you look at the games San Francisco has lost, it’s not hard to see why they should win this one, with the sole exception being if their balls freeze to the inside of their jocks the minute they set foot off the plane.
But even after all that, on the road they are only 2.5 point favorites, which should tell you something. Perhaps it’s because they can’t be trusted in what is going to be brutally cold weather in a road game where Frank Gore will not be 100%. Or it might be the fact that they could have easily lost that Atlanta game in Week Sixteen had Atlanta not handed it back to them on a silver platter. Shit, who are we kidding? The only silver thing the Falcons is a hand-crafted, sterling enema tube, and even that is clogged with Tony Gonzalez’ Super Bowl dreams.
But what about Green Bay? They will have their fearless leader back, but everybody forgets they can suck wind just as easily with him as without; the Packers were 1-2 in ther first three with Rodgers and the complete supporting cast, before injuries made the Packers training room look like a aid station during the Battle of the Somme. Make of that what you will, but no matter how you slice it, this match-up will come down to one thing and one thing only…how well Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson read San Francisco’s pass coverage in hopes of exposing them for big plays.
If they can pull it off, they can get the crowd to raise hell early, which always increases the Packers’ chances. If they can’t, Ryan Braun will likely be on Rodgers’ speed dial and there will likely be another “hetero-but-not-really-lifemate” January getaway in Puerto Vallarta for those two. Originally, they were headed for Cabo San Lucas, but the thought of running into a semi-nude Sammy Hagar was too appealing.