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Tuesday, June 19 2018

NFL Predictions 2008: Championship Games

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This has been a very unpredictable series of games even though only one game (Atlanta/Arizona) has been a rematch. Nevertheless I have managed to stay on top of it. Last week I was 2-2 straight up, 2-2 against the spread and 3-1 playing the over/under. Considering the huge Arizona upset no one (other than Yahoo’s Michael Silver) predicted was possible I am happy with that showing. It left me exactly 5-3 in all categories for the playoffs. Overall I am now 168-95-1 (63.6%) straight up, 135-118-11 against the spread and 135-22-7 on the over/under.

Philadelphia (11-6-1) @ Arizona (11-7): pick AZ +4/under 47

 

I did a radio interview on the eve of Thanksgiving. Donovan McNabb had just been benched during the team’s 36-7 loss at Baltimore to drop them to 5-5-1. In the previous week he embarrassed himself by revealing he was not aware an NFL game could end in a tie. The next day his Eagles were scheduled to host these Cardinals who at the time were 7-4 and walking away with the NFC West. Naturally I was asked to discuss my thoughts on the game. Philly would handle them I said. I went on to sarcastically talk about “poor McNabb” and discuss how many quarterbacks floating around the NFL would love to have been to 4 NFC title games. Guess what? This is his fifth. I believed in him then, and I believe in him now. Earlier in the interview I said the Titans would “do nothing in the playoffs” but I digress.

 

There are reasons Philly won so convincingly (48-20) in that first meeting. Arizona was bloodied from a tough 37-29 loss to the still rolling Giants, then had to travel east and play on a short week. Basically they had no opportunity to prepare for a stout defense. The experience will help them immensely in this game. If Boldin does return to the lineup healthy enough to play they have a better chance to pull the upset. How many guys do you know who can miss 4 games and finish with over 1,000 yards receiving? His big touchdown helped them dispatch Atlanta in the opening round. The injury to tight end Stephen Spach, who somehow had become a factor after being invisible, means Jerheme Urban needs to step up. They need all hands on deck in this game. Philadelphia has players in the secondary who are ready to go. Larry Fitzgerald will earn every catch.

 

Defense is going to be the difference in this game. I have to take a stand and it’s a bit of a gut feeling. Weather is not a factor inside the dome so conventional wisdom says some points might fly. I see both defenses playing their best football of the season by far. I know Arizona’s defense finished well below the other teams playing on this day (the top 3 in total yards allowed) but no one questions their solid effort in these playoffs. Philadelphia schemes better than most and has the talent to execute. Warner seems to be living out a prayer in these playoffs with two solid games featuring a combined 2 turnovers and 1 sack. His defense will have more trouble making McNabb look bad than the other way around. I could call this game either way and be confident. I spent all week looking for the key factor to sway me in one direction or the other. Would it be Arizona’s dream season at home carrying them? Might it be Philadelphia’s road warrior mentality and suddenly loose approach? Every time I play it out in my head I see Asante Samuel. Remember when he left the Patriots and said he wanted a chance to win a title? Everyone laughed. I wonder where his teammates from New England will be watching him play in this year’s Super Bowl. There. I’ll go with that, but it’s really, really close and might take overtime: Philadelphia 23, Arizona 20

 

Baltimore (13-5) @ Pittsburgh (13-4): pick PIT -5.5/over 33.5

 

The Ravens want everyone to think they are not tired. I’m sorry, but they are. Playing 18 games in a row is tough. They can bring ESPN’s Rachel Nichols to their facility to talk about bringing pizza into their ice downs or whatever that weird segment was about. It doesn’t change the fact that the human body can only withstand so much punishment and it showed last week. I mostly like Joe Flacco. Someone asked me if I thought he could win twice in these playoffs. I said yes because if you read the other preview you’ll see I thought way back in Thanksgiving that Tennessee would lose their first playoff game. He has had a great run, but can we hold off on the Hall of Fame? In two playoff games he is 20/45 for 296 yards and 1 touchdown. Those would be decent numbers for one game. The team is still alive because he has no sacks or turnovers. I would need smelling salt to revive me if he survives the game dubbed by some as “World War III” with goose eggs in those columns.

 

Here is what I don’t like about Flacco. When I was covering the draft it stuck in my mind that he had in my mind fled from a position fight at (ironically) Pittsburgh in favor of lightweight Delaware. He couldn’t beat out Tyler Palko? Where is that guy these days? I think he took over Tatum Bell’s job peddling cell phones. Okay settle down Google maniacs trying to correct me. Palko was signed off the street to a future contract by the Cardinals. How sweet would it be for the Ravens to play the Cardinals in the Super Bowl? Palko wouldn’t be on the roster, but maybe he could be somewhere on the sideline yelling at Flacco in an effort to rattle him during the Super Bowl. I can only imagine the trash he could talk because hey he beat him out right? This is all in good fun, but the point is that I want my quarterback to approach a fight head on. Flacco appears to be headstrong now which is great. I wonder how confident he will be after getting his bell rung a few times at Heinz Field? His lip service is one thing as he talks about wanting to get back up. Give it a few years kid and you’ll realize those hits add up.

 

I want this to be a great game. I don’t care if it’s the first 4-2 game in NFL history (no, I didn’t look that up to verify) to tell you the truth. I would love to see this live up to the hype. It does remind me of a title fight in boxing. Either way the first game turns out Pittsburgh is going to have someone standing in their way of a record sixth Super Bowl title. It’s either going to be a crazy tenth rematch in the playoffs against their Keystone rivals Philadelphia who beat them 15-6 or former coordinator Ken Whisenhunt trying to undo them. I know I just gave away the result, but it should be obvious by now. The only shocking part is the margin. As I said I want this game to be close. It will not be. The Steelers are going to wear them down and knock them out. When the attacking starts it will never stop. When Flacco needs to deliver crisp passes into traffic they will be intercepted and taken to the house. Cheer up kid you just turned 24. At least he won’t have to suffer through flaming out on his actual birthday (which was the 16th) as Jake Delhomme did: Pittsburgh 24, Baltimore 10

 

NFL Predictions 2008: Championship Games | 4 comments | Create New Account
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NFL Predictions 2008: Championship Games
Authored by: Anonymous onSaturday, January 17 2009
Damn, norcalfella.  Insight and entertainment, again.
NFL Predictions 2008: Championship Games
Authored by: dbsmall onMonday, January 19 2009
  1. I have now predicted the winners during playoffs exactly twice.  That's all.
  2. I won my last-man-standing pool, <i>again</i>.  But I took Arizona in week 2 (which should tell you how confident I was that they wouldn't make it this far.)

I'm just glad Oakland has a bye during the first week of the Super Bowl.
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