Thoughts on the NFL playoffs and a bold Super Bowl prediction

The NFL crowned champions in both the AFC and NFC conferences last Sunday and now we are down to 2 teams playing in the Super Bowl next weekend in tropical Minneapolis. As a resident of the Twin Cities, I am thrilled to have the game in my backyard. It will be fun to watch some of the activities leading up to the big game. As far as attending the game goes, forget it! I do not have an extra 4k around to spend on a ticket! Regardless, I would like to mention some observations that I saw during the playoffs and make a prediction on the Super Bowl. Now granted, I am not one these highly paid sports writers who are probably much more knowledgeably than I am. I am just a fan with a few opinions and here are a few takes of mine on what went down during the playoffs.

1) Biggest Surprise. Prior to the playoffs starting, how many so-called experts had the Philadelphia Eagles going to the Super Bowl? The Eagles were in disarray at the end of the regular season. They lost their starting quarterback to a serious knee injury and looked terrible at the end of the regular season. Things did not even look good for them in the first half of their game against Atlanta. Suddenly, the Eagles got hot, came back to beat Atlanta and beat the Minnesota Vikings in rather surprisingly easy fashion with a back up quarterback.

2) Where is that vaunted defense? Along the lines of surprises, the collapses of the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Vikings should be mentioned. If someone would have said to me that Jacksonville would have a 10 point lead in the 4th quarter of their AFC championship game against the New England Patriots, I would easily put money on them to win the game. They have one of the best defenses in the game and for them to give up two late touchdowns was rather surprising. Even more surprising was the way Nick Foles and the Eagles scored and moved the ball at will against the Vikings top rated defense.  Sometimes there is nothing a defense can do against a hot quarterback.

3) Most memorable moment. The walk-off touchdown catch by Stephan Diggs of the Vikings during the Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints game will go down as one of the most memorable plays in NFL history. It is easily the most memorable play of this year’s playoffs and that game was also the best game of the playoffs so far.

4) MVP of the playoffs. I know everyone will say that Tom Brady should be the MVP so far and I can’t disagree, but what about Nick Foles of the Eagles? I might just have to give him the nod. He has really stepped up his play during the playoffs. Will he continue his fine play during the Super Bowl remains to be seen.

5) Wait till next year. So which team that was eliminated during the playoffs have the best up side for the future? You say to yourself, wait until next year. I would have to say it would be the New Orleans Saints. A great young team on both sides of the ball with a good veteran quarterback. They will be serious Super Bowl contenders next year.

6) The Patriots last hurrah? One has to wonder how much longer Tom Brady will keep on playing, especially at his high level. How much does he have left in his tank? Is that great dynasty coming to an end? Will Bill Belichick come back to coach the Patriots next year? These are curious thoughts that I have about the Patriots.

Now for a prediction on the Super Bowl. It would not surprise me if the Eagles win. They are playing extremely well and their defensive line might give Tom Brady fits. I just cannot bet against Belechick, Brady and the Patriots. Their experience will help them win this game 27-17 and the dynasty continues.

 

 

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A few random thoughts and predictions on the 2017 NFL playoffs

Like many football fanatics, I view tomorrow as a day like an official holiday. We have a couple of outstanding games with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. What more could an NFL fan want? I join many in eagerly awaiting these games. The day of the AFC, NFC championship games is one of the best days of the year in sports. It is a day that we can forget about all the problems in this world and just concentrate on some football. Having watch many of the playoff games, I have a few random thoughts and predictions that I would like to share.

1) Is Green Bay running out of gas? The Packers are the sexy pick to win the Super Bowl. They won their last 6 regular season games and 2 playoff games. Each one of those final 6 regular season games had a great deal at stake along with the 2 playoff games. I wonder what kind of toll that will have on their squad heading into their matchup with Atlanta. Playing that many highly important games in a row has taken some kind of toll on their team. On top of that, the Packers have many injuries to deal with. Will this magic run of theirs finally come to a screeching halt in Atlanta?

2) The overrated bye week. During the final weeks of the regular season, I kept on hearing pundits talk about how important it is to finish as a top 2 team and garner a bye for the first round of the playoffs. Well look what happened to New England, Atlanta and especially Dallas. Those teams came out flatter than pancakes and their rust was very evident. I think it is important to keep on playing every week so you don’t lose that rhythm and timing. Sure it is nice to rest players, but I doubt an extra week of rest will really make that much of a difference at the end of the season.

3) MVP of the playoffs. How can anyone argue that it is not Aaron Rodgers? He is playing at an unbelievably high level right now and his 8 game stretch might be arguably the best that any quarterback has ever had. He is the sole reason that the Packers are such a dangerous team right now. Add his playoff experience and the Packers are very legitimate Super Bowl contenders.

4) Do not fret Cowboy fans. If I were a Dallas Cowboys fan, I think I would still be in complete mourning over their heartbreaking loss to the Packers. This was supposed to be the year that the Cowboys make it to the Super Bowl based on their regular season.  It was not supposed to be another one and out for the Cowboys. But as they say, wait until next year. This loss may be a blessing in disguise for a very young and talented team. They will be contenders in the NFC for many years to come. But first of all, they need to shore up that defense a bit.

5) Generally bad games. The Dallas versus Green Bay game was an instant classic, but the rest of the games were rather boring and lacked any real drama. How many of the games would you want to watch again? The only game that comes to my mind is the above game. The rest lacked any type of drama.

Finally, it is time for me to reveal my predictions for tomorrow and why. I like both home teams Atlanta and New England to meet in the Super Bowl. Nobody in the league can stop Atlanta at home; they have a bit too much firepower at home. If this game were played at a neutral site, I would probably pick the Packers, but it is not. Plus Atlanta has the type of offense with a strong running game that might keep Aaron Rodgers off the field. I look for the Falcons to win 42-31. New England has some issues and are very ripe to be beaten but I just like the fact that they are playing at home. Furthermore, how can you bet against a team coached by Bill Belichick? He will find a way to win again. I like the Patriots 34-23. I hope everyone enjoys the games and best of luck to the fans and the teams still remaining in the playoffs. I wish my team were still playing!

 

 

Thoughts and a few bold predictions on the NFL playoffs

Being an NFL fan, the NFL playoffs are always among most favorite sporting events of the year. The one and done format is awesome. No long drawn out best of 7 series; every game is an elimination game.

At first glance, this year’s NFL playoffs have the look of being a very unpredictable one. How many of the 12 teams are totally solid picks to make it to the Super Bowl. In my opinion, none. The top seeds in both conferences have issues and question marks. Before last weekend, I thought the Arizona Cardinals were the best and most complete team in football. Now I am not so sure after Seattle handed them their lunch last weekend. New England was a very dominant team until their many injuries seem to have finally caught up to them. What about Carolina? They suddenly look very beatable late in the season. It can sometimes be a kiss of death to be a higher seeded team, and this year is no exception.

Many folks are picking a 6th seeded team, the Seattle Seahawks to advance and even win the Super Bowl. I have to respectfully disagree. Sure the Hawks are very hot right now and I cannot disagree about that. But let us take a look at the path they must face to get to the Super Bowl. They have to win 3 tough road games to advance to the grand final game. First of all, they have to beat a very good and hot Minnesota Vikings team on the road in adverse cold conditions. Being a team whose strength is the passing game, those weather conditions could greatly hinder the Seahawks in this game. I give them no more than a 50-50 shot at beating the Vikings. Sure they pounded the Vikes on the road last month, but the Vikings were missing several key defensive players who will be playing tomorrow. Should they advance, they would have to win a road game at Carolina followed by winning another road game at maybe Arizona. I really don’t seem them winning  back to back road games at Arizona and Carolina. I look for the best 2 teams in the NFC , Arizona and Carolina to play in an epic NFC championship game with Arizona winning that game and advancing to the Super Bowl.

The AFC really seems to be up for grabs. New England seems to be getting their key players back the playoffs. A lot of people love Kansas City because, like Seattle they seem to be the fashionable “hot team with momentum”.  A potential second round matchup with Denver would be very intriguing, 2 of the best defensive teams in the league, but despite some of Denver’s offensive problems, I still like to them advance and play New England at home for the AFC conference championship. Like the NFC championship game, I like the road team, New England to advance and play Arizona in the Super Bowl.  When all is said and done, I like Arizona to win the Super Bowl.

I certainly wish fans of all those playoff teams the best of luck. My Minnesota Vikings are still probably a few years away before they can go deep into the playoffs but who knows. It should be a very fun and exciting month of NFL playoffs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts on the NFL playoffs

If you are a fan of the NFL like myself, you had to be thrilled with what happened during the past weekend. I got a chance to spend some good quality time on my favorite recliner and was thrilled to watch some very exciting nail biters. A few of the games were among the best games of the year. They will be talking about the Denver, Baltimore game for years to come as well as the great finish between Seattle and Atlanta. There are only 4 teams left and I would like to share some of my personal observations from the playoffs so far.

1. Be sure to hug a Bronco fan.  Being a Minnesota Viking’s  fan, I can understand how every Denver Bronco fan must feel right now. I have been through the same disappointed with the Vikings. Your team is the top ranked team in the AFC, expectations to go to the Super Bowl are very high. Your team has a 7 point lead with 35 seconds left in the game and the other team has the ball on their own 30 yard line. Seems like your team is in the drivers seat right? Then the unimaginable happens. How can your team give up a 70 yard touchdown pass in that situation? There is absolutely no excuse whatsoever for that to happen. Sure Peyton Manning threw the pick later on but the real goats of the game were the Denver Bronco’s secondary. They will probably have nightmares all during the offseason for that bad breakdown in coverage. Did anyone really think Denver would bounce back and win that game in OT? I certainly did not!!

2.  Lost opportunities for Seattle. The runner ups for fan hugs is for those Seahawk fans. That was a crushing defeat as well. A sequence of plays, that really stood out in my mind, were the ones just before halftime. Seattle was driving for what appeared to be a touchdown or the very worst, a field goal. A score would of been very huge at that point in the game and would have given the Seahawks some momentum heading into halftime. Instead, they fooled around with the clock running down and could not even get off a field goal attempt. Those missed points came back to haunt the Seahawks. In a playoff game, every point counts, and of all the missed opportunities Seattle had, that one seemed to stand out the most.

3. The Packers D fails to show up again. I think Green Bay is the one team who really underachieved this weekend. I honestly thought they were the best team remaining in the NFC, but once again, I was wrong. Their defense is horrible, pure and simple. How can you allow an opposing quarterback to run for 180 yards? That is totally unacceptable and the blame has to be spread around by both the coaches and the players. I have seen the Packers play numerous times this year and they might be the worst tackling team in the NFL. Sure they have a great offense but come playoff time when you are no longer playing against the weak sisters of the poor, you need to play a little D and the Packers, for the second year in a row in the playoffs, have failed miserably in that area. It is time for some changes because your team is not built to win in the playoffs anymore.

4. The era of the new quarterbacks. Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick were playoff newbies this weekend and both were totally outstanding. They join a list of exciting new quarterbacks in the league. These new guys are all outstanding runners as well as passers and offer a lot of nightmares for opposing defenses(see Green Bay). It will be interesting how teams come with ways to stop a quarterback who can not only pass well but also run. I am personally not a fan of having my quarterback run all over the field but it sure is a tough offense to handle and might force teams to evaluate quarterbacks in a different way. Good 40 yard times might be a must for any future NFL quarterback.

This weekend’s conference championship games should be good ones. I agree with people who feel San Francisco would rather play Atlanta. Seattle should have won that game and would probably beat Atlanta 3 out of 4 times in a playoff series. Just my opinion!! In the other game, I cannot honestly predict what will happen. New England look very impressive yesterday and their offense seems to be more balanced this year. But Baltimore has the defense that can shut down the Patriots or at least hold them down. I wonder how the injury to Rob Gronkowski will affect the game. He sure is a valuable part of the Pats offense but they seem to have so many weapons to chose from. Sometimes I wonder if fate is on the Ravens side this year. When a team wins a dramatic game, it sometimes gives the team that added momentum in the playoffs. Maybe Baltimore is that “come out of nowhere team” this year.

I look for San Francisco and New England to advance to the Super Bowl. In the meantime, I am getting my favorite recliner warmed up for another day of NFL playoff football. I can hardly wait!

The best postseason in pro sports

If you follow professional sports like myself, you probably have an opinion about what sport has the best postseason. Some people I know actually like those long, dragged out best of 7 series that takes place in the NBA and NHL. Others love the story lines that postseason baseball often brings out. All those sports have great playoffs and drama but I feel the best postseason is courtesy of the National Football League.

The main reason I say this is that every game is an elimination game. You know how exciting those game 7’s can be. Well, every game in the football playoffs is loser go home, winner stays. I love that one game format where everything is on the line. A bad break or bounce and you are out of the playoffs. You do not have another game to fall back on. It is now or never and I love that as a fan. Combine that with the popularity of football and you have a great recipe for huge television viewership.

Another reason I love the NFL playoffs is the unpredictability of the playoffs. How would of thought that the New York Giants would come out of nowhere and win the Super Bowl last year or the Green Bay Packers the year before as a 6th seed. This year is no exception. I see a number of teams with a great chance of hosting the trophy on February 3rd. There is absolutely no clear cut favorite in the field. To me, that makes for a very exciting postseason. The NFL has done a great job is building parity and it really shows in the playoffs. I find it very dull in other sports when you can pretty much predict who will play in the championship series. The NFL is totally different. If you can predict at least one team that is going to the Super Bowl, than my friend, you might want to get on a plane and go to Vegas because betting is in your future.

My final reason is the Super Bowl and conference championship games. Is there a better Sunday on the calender than when the conference championships take place? In my opinion, it might even be better than Super Bowl Sunday. Nothing beats the excitement of seeing a berth in the Super Bowl on the line. And of course, is there a better and more hyped up game than the Super Bowl? I personally think that day should be declared a national holiday. You do not even have to like football to enjoy that day.

I know there are many fans in 12 cities, including mine, who are particularly excited about the playoffs since their teams are a part of the postseason. I wish a lot of luck to those fans. My Vikings have had numerous postseason appearances only to fall short many times. I love the excitement that a good playoff run can bring to a city.

The month of January can be a very depressing month but not if you love the NFL. The playoffs are like having Christmas extended another month. It is hard to beat the excitement that NFL playoff football brings.

Thoughts and predictions on the NFL playoffs

In a few short hours from now,  the best playoff  system in professional sports will begin with wild card weekend.  I have always considered the NFL playoffs to be the best because it boils down to a one game, win or go home system. Every game is a game 7.  The other sports have a playoff series and usually, the better will end up winning a longer series.  That especially holds true in the NBA.  The suspense and chance for an upset is greatly diminished with a playoff series.

This year’s NFL playoffs have a great pool of teams and maybe 7 or 8 have a great chance at going to the Super Bowl.  Sorry Seattle Sea Chickens!! A sub 500 team does not even deserve to make the playoffs! In the past, many teams such as Pittsburgh and New England have made the playoffs as a wild card and gone on to win the Super Bowl. It would not shock me if this happens again this year.  Even a 6th seed like Green Bay has a legitimate shot at going to Dallas. All of this parity will make for some very entertaining football in the next few weeks.

As a fan, I would love to see the following matchups during the conference championships. Philadelphia at Atlanta in the NFC game and Pittsburgh at New England in the AFC game.  Having Michael Vick return to Atlanta with a chance to reach the Super Bowl is something Hollywood could not even make up! And a New England, Pittsburgh matchup would be a classic. However, I doubt this will happen. I believe the New Orleans Saints will be playing in Atlanta for the NFC title. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh and New England will meet in the AFC game.  When all is said and done, Pittsburgh and Atlanta will be playing in the Superbowl with the Steelers winning another title.

Round 2 of the NFL playoffs, Will the Vikings tame the Cowboy?

I thought last weekend’s playoff games were very ho-hum for the most part, except for that thrilling shootout between Green Bay and Arizona.  I still can’t believe the game was decided on a defensive play! Definitely, one the most unusual endings in the history of the playoffs.  By the way, my counseling sessions with my Packer friends will end this week and may start again in a few weeks if Brett Favre wins the Super Bowl!

This weekend’s games should offer some really intriguing matchups which are sure to garner the interest of any fan. Since I am a big Viking’s fan, the tilt with Dallas is the one that I am really looking forward too. In fact, it might be the best game this weekend.  If you listen to all the national experts, why even play this game? They are already handing it to the Cowboys. Even though the Vikings are about a field goal favorite, Dallas seems to be the sentimental favorite among many. Sure Dallas is on a roll but they also have demonstrated the ability to self destruct during the year. The Vikings are undefeated at home this year so let’s just not hand the game to the Cowboys just yet. In fact, I believe the Vikings will end up winning. Having a week off really has helped some of their key players who been battling injuries. I just do not like the fact that E.J. Henderson is out for the rest of the season. He was one of the Vikings top defensive players this year and his absence will hurt the Vikings. The difference in the game will be really come down to who will win the battle at the line of scrimmage and I will be looking at that early in the game. Usually in a game with very good teams, the difference comes down to penalties and the kicking game.  The Vikings have a more reliable field goal kicker and that could be the difference in the 4th quarter.  I believe the Vikings will win a very exciting and close game.

The other NFC game should be a carbon copy of last weeks  game between Green Bay and Arizona. What is the over and under for this game, 150?!! No field goals allowed in the game! The Saints should also benefit from their bye week since they are a little banged up and should bounce back from their late season problems and win 57-43.  It should be a treat to watch both quarterbacks in this one.

The AFC games should go pretty much as scripted. Indy has too many weapons for Baltimore to handle, but the one game, which could have upset cred, is the San Diego, New York Jets game. The Jets have a very good running game and San Diego has had problems stopping the run. If the Jets get ahead, look out! But I believe the Chargers will prevail.

The games are becoming more and more important and this is why I will love spending time in front of my television this weekend.  I just hope my Vikings will make this weekend even more special for me and the people of Minnesota. But I just want to say, good luck to all the fans of the remaining teams. It is an exciting time of the year to be a fan of a playoff team.