AFC VS NFC 2011 NFL Pro Bowl Free Pick & Preview: Give me the AFC in this one. I like the Vick/Brees dynamic for the NFC, but Peyton Manning and Phillip Rivers give the AFC a nice chance to do work through the air. I doubt Vick will be running all that much, so the threat there isn’t as great. The NFC has nice running backs, but with Chris Johnson, Foster, and Jamaal Charles, the AFC is loaded with game breakers that should do well in this format. I also just think the AFC is the tougher conference, no NFC West on that side. I like them to win this week.
I also think the NFC loses more star power in the Super Bowl. I mean, the Steelers didn’t get a receiver in the pro bowl, Big Ben wasn’t voted in, Mendenhall had a great season, but he wasn’t voted in. I guess they lose something defensively, but the Steelers are full of blitzling linebackers and the Pro Bowl is 4-3 based. Both sides will miss big playmaking stars that are Super Bowl bound, but I think the NFC loses the most with the Packers’ players missing the game.
The AFC just has the tougher group of guys defensively, at least guys that are too competitive to play soft, even in a game like this. They have those key play-makers that I mentioned earlier, CJ and Charles (among many others) and with Manning and Rivers leading the way, accuracy won’t be missing from the AFC.
I like the AFC by a touchdown.
AFC (+1.5) @ NFC
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns Week 17 2010 Free Pick: This game is taking place at 1pm ET which means the Steelers will still be playing for a possible bye in Round 1 of the playoffs. A bye is huge, especially this season with so many teams that are so even. It’s a free pass to Round 2 and a big week off for all your key players trying to get healthy. The Steelers could really use that. All they have to do is beat the Browns, because they hold the tie-breaker over Baltimore and nobody else in the AFC can win 12 games (outside of 13-2 New England of course). Because of this, there’s no way the Steelers rest their players for next week. If they get by the Browns, they get to rest EVERYONE next week.
Now, that doesn’t mean this is a gimmie by any means. The Browns have played tough all year, beaten good teams (like New Orleans and New England), and they run the ball with success. The key there is that last one, and it’s key because I don’t think they can pull that off against the Steelers run defense.
Pittsburgh gave up just 74 yards rushing last week to a bad Carolina team, but a bad Panther team that had been running the ball pretty well down the stretch. Like the Panthers, the Browns don’t pose much of a threat through the air.
Because they can give all their attention to stop Peyton Hillis, they should be able to do so without much trouble. That means I like the Steelers to win by at least 10 in Week 17.
While many love the Super Bowl and all they hype it brings – and others love the 4 game format of Week 2′s NFL Playoffs – the Conference Championships are my absolute favorite time of the year in the NFL. Don’t take that as to mean that I have the perfect drop on games in Week 3 of the NFL Playoffs, but take it from me, there is no better time to sit down and watch football then AFC/NFC Championship Sunday. There are 2 games instead of 1, and while the Super Bowl often disappoints or is a blowout (though not recently) – these games are often tight and full of fireworks. Plus, there’s something about the right to go to the Super Bowl – that’s what these guys are fighting for. That’s the difference between Week 2 and Week 3 – Week 3′s winners face off in the final game – so 4 teams are playing for the Super Bowl – just one win away. It’s as good as it gets. Anyway, that’s enough about that – I rocked it up last week, finishing a Giants win away from a perfect week. But 3-1 will have to do as my playoff record moves to 5-3 overall. Here are my picks for this Sunday’s NFL action.
Philadelphia Eagles (-3) @ Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals have been awesome. They beat a very good Atlanta Falcons team that everybody (including myself) thought would oust Arizona from post-season play. Then the Cardinals walked into Carolina, where the over-hyped and overrated Panthers hadn’t lost a game all season long, and Arizona won easily in a landslide over the Panthers. Now Arizona hosts the Eagles as the two worst records in the NFC Playoffs face-off for a chance to meet the AFC’s best in the Super Bowl. Brilliant. The Eagles ousted the run-heavy Vikings in an ugly game. Then they stepped onto New York’s home-field for the second time this season and made it two of two against the defending champs, this game meaning more than the last. And now they are headed to Arizona trying for their 3rd straight road playoff win in as many chances. I have to admit, I didn’t think either of these teams would make it past Week 1. And I also have to admit, I think the road team wins again on Sunday. The Eagles haven’t had much trouble with teams that don’t run effectively, and I don’t think Arizona will do much running against the Eagles. With a very good secondary that has really come together, Philadelphia feasts on drop back passers and they make plays on balls in the air. Edge has been better and Hightower has some power and speed, but the Eagles won’t have much to worry about in the run department from the Cardinals, and that gives this game to Philly.
Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-5): Unlike the first game on Sunday, these are the two teams I expected to be around this late. I liked Baltimore to trounce the Dolphins (and they did) and I liked them to pull out a tight one against the Titans (and they did). I also liked the Steelers to dominate the Chargers (and if they did anything, they dominated). So if you can add, “One and one and one is three” I’m feeling pretty smart if you know what I mean! Okay, enough butchering great music – back to business. If you’re one of my trusty followers, you know exactly how I feel about betting against teams that should have lost last week and won. I love to go against those clubs. The Ravens are a prime example of that. If it weren’t for some freak fumbles, a missed field goal, and a poorly thrown pick in the red-zone, the Titans would have taken this game easily. I know the Ravens are a turnover causing group – but Tennessee played a majority of the game in Baltimore’s territory. The leading passer was Kerry Collins, – he had 281 yards to Flacco’s 161. The leading rusher was Chris Johnson (and he only played for 2 quarters) with 72 yards, and LenDale White’s 45 yards was only 5 yards less than Baltimore’s entire rushing output on Sunday. The Ravens found a way to win – they obviously have the will to do so, but it will catch up with them this week. They’ve played 17 straight weeks heading into this weekend’s contest. The Steelers have had the benefit of two bye weeks during that time. The Steelers defense is at least as good as Baltimore’s group, they are more fresh, playing at home, and privy to a better offense to help them out. I like the Steelers in this one, despite the big spread.
Good luck this week my loyal readers! And Enjoy the BEST SUNDAY IN FOOTBALL!