It’s Conference Championship week! Only two weeks away from Superbowl Sunday. Time to stock up on Doritos and order the party platter. Fans of the remaining four teams are probably going to bed restless, like a child anticipating Santa. But we still have a couple games to go to decide who’s playing in the big game. We can celebrate the week by looking at how badly I picked last week’s games. Because while I had a great Saturday, Sunday’s picks really couldn’t have been farther apart from the end result. I was nearly as bad as that Dez Bryant call. Don’t get me wrong, I know the call was made technically correct. But the NFL somehow keeps skating by with the super vague language of a ‘football move’. The idea of possession and its definition can be silly sometimes. Like how a quarterback can be “intercepted” when a receiver grabs the ball and then immediately drops it high enough for a defender can grab it before it touches the ground. Still, at least that game was close and by picking Dallas, I didn’t look completely dumb. The other game on Sunday was a different story. Indy went down early but took command of the game shortly thereafter and never looked back. The outcome of the game was not in doubt. It got so bad that Denver’s home fans were booing the offense. The offseason we may see the end of Peyton Manning’s playing days. Or maybe it really was that torn muscle holding him back. Time will tell.
The truth of the matter is that games this time of the year are just harder to pick. It’s only good teams left. This week, we have three of the best four teams from the season left standing. No offense to Colts fans, but I’m not counting them in the season long power ranking elite grouping. Still, picks don’t make themselves. So in looking at the games ahead, I have to find something about these teams that make me believe they’re a winner. And then state my case.
In the NFC matchup, it feels a lot like last year’s Superbowl. The quarterback playing better than anyone else in the league versus the league’s most physically dominant defense. Last year the Seahawks were able to capitalize on playing with the lead against Manning, a quarterback about as mobile as toddler taking his first steps. Rodgers’ ability to make plays not only out of the pocket but while on the move, avoiding defenders and to do so with impressive accuracy is what separates him from nearly everyone else playing the position. So with him coming in with a reported leg injury, much of this game could come down to how mobile he can be. The Packers have played for years without any real running attack, forcing Rodgers to display his brilliance more demonstrably. Eddie Lacy can certainly help take some of the focus off of him, but this game will likely still fall on his shoulders. All of this is before even considering the idea of trying to take down Beast Mode for sixty minutes. I’m taking the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.
For the AFC bid to the Superbowl, I think the pick feels a little bit easier. New England has several advantages here. Team experience, coaching are clear checks on the Patriots side. Still, facing a QB that could be soon considered elite (or is he already) in Andrew Luck always makes a pick feel a little less safe. Indy will have to find a way to slow down the probably not human Gronk, a Herculean feat if possible. The Patriots are the favorites here and with good reason. But something feels funny about this game. Indy hadn’t beaten an elite QB all year until last week, and I’m not sure that even counts with the way that Manning had been playing. This matchup feels different without Playoff Manning helming the Colts. And I shouldn’t be doing this. I’m telling myself not to. I had even picked against them before I started writing this, but this Sunday I’ll be taking the Indianapolis Colts.
And there are my picks to make the Superbowl. Different than how I would’ve seen myself going from the start of the season, but that’s how the league goes. Let me know below what you think of the picks. Who did you have winning the games?