Wow, did you watch the Packers/Saints game on Thursday night? I'm not sure if it's because I haven't watched football in eight months, but it seriously felt like the NFC Conference Championship game. The energy was flowing... both QB's were outstanding... Sproles and Cobb made spectacular punt/kickoff returns... the Saints came back storming back after being down 42 to 27 with under six minutes to play... and ended with the Packers stuffing rookie Mark Ingram on the final play of the game at the one yard line.
Both offenses were outstanding and unstoppable. I was surprised to see the Packers give up so many yards, but after thinking about it... they played Drew Brees and the Saints. They're just that good. It essentially came down to one turnover and huge plays by the Packers defense on a 3rd & one, and two 4th and ones.
As a Green Bay fan, I'm super excited about this season. The talent runs deep on this team and I truly like their chances to return and defend their Super Bowl title.
Since this blog is my soapbox, today I'll reveal my playoff picks for the 2011 NFL season. Now before I begin... I should let you know where my football knowledge stands. I'm not an expert... a guy who watches every highlight of every game. Nor am I a fair weather fan who just pretends to like the Packers and Seahawks.
I'm the guy who follows his two teams on a weekly basis... as well as takes in a Raider or 49er game every now and then. And since I play fantasy football... I'll also keep track of who's doing well and who isn't. So the following picks are based on stuff I've heard on ESPN and local morning radio, my gut feeling, along with a little wishful thinking...
AFC North: Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)
AFC South: Houston Texans (11-5)
AFC East: New England Patriots (13-3)
AFC West: San Diego Chargers (10-6)
Wild Card: Baltimore Ravens (12-4)
Wild Card: New York Jets (11-5)
AFC Wild Card Weekend: Ravens beat the Chargers
AFC Wild Card Weekend:Texans beat the Jets
AFC Divisional Playoffs: Patriots beat Texans
AFC Divisional Playoffs: Ravens beat Steelers
AFC Conference Championship: Patriots beat Ravens
I don't support any teams in the AFC, but I'm a fan of some of their rivalries: Browns vs. Bengals, Colts vs. Patriots, Patriots vs. Jets, and my current favorite... Ravens vs. Steelers. They're going to meet three times this season (can't wait until tomorrow's game)... and beat the hell out of each other... which will open the door for the Patriots.
Ever since Brady and the Patriots strung together three Super Bowl victories in four years... I've strongly disliked them. So, I truly hope I'm wrong with my selection.
Now the NFC is a little different, because I have two teams I support in this conference: the Seattle Seahawks & the Green Bay Packers. And if the stars are aligned... one of them will be playing for the Lombardi Trophy in Indianapolis on 5/2/12.
Here's how I see things playing out...
NFC North: Green Bay Packers (12-4)
NFC South: Atlanta Falcons (12-4)
NFC East: Philadelphia Eagles (11-5)
NFC West: Arizona Cardinals (9-7)
NFC Wild Card: New Orleans Saints (12-4)
NFC Wild Card: Detroit Lions (10-6)
NFC Wild Card Weekend: Eagles beat the Lions
NFC Wild Card Weekend: Saints beat the Cardinals
NFC Divisional Playoffs: Packers beat the Eagles
NFC Divisional Playoffs: Saints beat the Falcons
NFC Conference Championship: Packers beat the Saints
I originally picked the Falcons to meet the Packers in the NFC Conference Championship... but after watching Thursday night's game... I changed my mind. I still think Atlanta will win the NFC South by having a better record within their division (5-1... the only loss coming to the Saints in New Orleans... while the Saints will be 4-2, because they'll lose to the Falcons in Atlanta and to the Buccaneers at home).
Sadly it won't be the Seahawk's turn to make a run at the Super Bowl. I love them and will cheer them on... but they're in a rebuilding phase and will continue to be in that state as long as they have Jackson (or Whitehurst) at the helm. Nope... I see the 49er's helping the Cardinals out by taking down the Rams in a surprise win in St. Louis and at the same time shooting themselves in the foot as the victory costs them the #1 pick and their shot at Andrew Luck.
As for Vick and the Eagles... I'm not buying into the hype that they're the most talented team. Actually... I think they're the 4th best team in the conference. But they're the best in the East.
And remember I said a little wishful thinking inspired some of my picks... well Detroit securing the last Wild Card spot is definitely wishful thinking. We all know they're not the same old Detroit Lions. But how far they go remains to be seen. I'm hoping they hold off the Cowboys for the final playoff spot.
As you can see... I've picked the Packers to return, even though a lot of people don't think it will happen. If you're in my shoes, it's pretty simple. Their defense is balanced, talented, and is in the top 10 (if not 5) in the NFL. Although it's hard to say after one game... it looks like their special teams will hold their own. Ryan Grant is back... and along with James Starks and John Kuhn... the ground attack should be better than last year. And let's be serious... their passing game is scary. Aaron Rodgers is an elite QB and has an unreal amount of targets to throw to.
Which leaves me with my Super Bowl prediction. Brady vs. Rodgers. Belichick vs. McCarthy. Patriots vs. Packers.
Wishful thinking? Maybe... but that's who I've got. What about you?
What are your NFL playoff predictions?
And what do you think of mine?
Looking forward to reading your picks... and better yet... looking back in five months to see who was right. Have a great weekend everyone. Sayonara!