Gazing into his crystal ball – or maybe it’s actually a snow globe today – Nippertown sportswriter Jesse Jacobs predicts the outcome of this coming weekend’s NFL Divisional Playoffs…
PREDICTION: BALTIMORE RAVENS 13 @ PITTSBURGH STEELERS 16
The Baltimore Ravens come rolling into Pittsburgh for a win-or-go-home rubber match this Saturday. The two teams mirror each other in nearly every aspect of the game, but Pittsburgh does everything just a little bit better. The Steelers aren’t exactly a sentimental story with their unchaste leader Ben Roethlisberger at the helm. They should, however, knock off the Ravens and move onto the AFC championship.
Reason to watch: Troy Polamalu (Jh-ahn-suhn). Polamalu is the Colin Mochrie of the NFL, playing with an unprecedented level of improvisation. Polamalu would not likely appreciate the comparison to Mocharie, but I don’t appreciate his Head and Shoulders commercials, so we’ll call it even. Polamalu is good for a minimum of one unfathomable highlight per game. Whether it’s a Superman dive over the entire offensive line or an interception with his teeth, Polamalu will justify the price of admission.
PREDICTION: GREEN BAY PACKERS 31 @ ATLANTA FALCONS 17
I hope this game is more competitive than I expect it to be, because in theory it should be awesome. The Falcons hit a last second field goal back in week 12 to squeeze by the Packers, 20-17. The Packers’ leading rusher in that game was Aaron Rodgers with 51 yards. Green Bay has since established some semblance of a running game with rookie James Starks and Brandon Jackson. Bret Favre attempted to practice with the team this week, but was promptly kicked in the groin by every citizen of Green Bay. Favre still expects to play though he’s listed as questionable.
Key to victory: The stronger run game will determine the winner in this one. Can lethargic Atlanta running back Michael “The Burner” Turner overcome the irony of his nickname? Turner could always just embrace the nickname “fatty” given to him by teammate Ovie Mughelli (not sure how Mughelli has eluded a nickname of his own). Nicknames aside, it will take at least 100 rush-yards by Michael Turner for the Falcons to move past the Packers to the NFC championship.
PREDICTION: SEATTLE SEAHAWKS 24 @ CHICAGO BEARS 21
We all know this upset is going to happen. The Seahawks are going to irritate their way into our hearts one fluke at a time. It doesn’t hurt that they are playing the one team less likeable than they are. To be fair, the Bears deserved more respect than they received this season. Chicago needs a star, and they just don’t have one at the moment. The Bears franchise is a public relations nightmare considering the team’s most identifiable faces are Jay Cutler and Mike Martz. Cutler is essentially Ben Roethlisberger without the allegations and Martz is a crazier, football version of Mickey Rooney.
Top Five Obstacles Preventing a Seahawks Super Bowl Run:
1. Lane Kiffin will coach the game if Pete Carroll gets nervous.
2. Marshawn Lynch might skip the game to go to Dave and Buster’s.
3. Mike Williams noticed the vending machine is stocked with M&Ms.
4. The Seahawks might remember they’re the Seahawks.
5. Matt Hasselback may die of old age.
I do not have analysis to back my pick of the Seahawks, nor am I willing to provide any, because the impending win will defy all logic.
PREDICTION: NEW YORK JETS 10 @ NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 34
Rex Ryan has won the superlative for “most likely to be told to shut up.” That prestigious award may be Ryan’s last win before next fall. Ryan has somehow turned the football version of the New York Yankees (Patriots) into the good guys. The Patriots should decimate the Jets this Sunday. New England spent the week staring at a bulletin board full of Rex Ryan smack talk. Additionally, the Patriots still start the football-playing mutant offspring of Justin Bieber and Zac Effron at quarterback. Good luck, New York.
Dumb-gate: The controversies, media attacks, and personal vendettas are successfully overshadowing the game of the weekend. Yes, I’m forecasting a blowout, but only in spite of Rex Ryan’s arrogance. The Jets are one of the most talented teams in the NFL, and the Patriots are the best-coached team – maybe in all of sports. If this game goes to overtime, we can consider the second round of the NFL playoffs a success because we will have witnessed the best game of the postseason. An overtime scenario also ensures a sound bite from a player who doesn’t understand the new playoff overtime rules. This player will not so coincidently be a member of the losing team.
Story by Jesse Jacobs of The Ballston Journal
JESSE JACOBS’ NFL PLAYOFF ROUND-UP:
Seattle Seahawks 41, New Orleans Saints 36
New York Jets 17, Indianapolis Colts 16
Baltimore Ravens 30, Kansas City Chiefs 7
Green Bay Packers 21, Philadelphia Eagles 16