Jobu previews the AFC Divisional Round playoffs… Who is going to move on to the conference championships?
So I only missed one game in the first round of the playoffs, and that was when I picked the Indianapolis Colts to beat the Baltimore Ravens in their Sunday Matchup. Not even Jobu himself can be perfect, readers. I looked at the brackets this week and I noticed the Giants are still not playing. When I didn’t see them on there in the first round, I assumed they had the bye… Maybe they got one of those two week byes cuz they’re defending champs? Anyway, let’s see what’s on the docket for this weekend’s games!
Baltimore Ravens vs. Denver Broncos: Saturday, January 12, 2013 – 4:30 PM
The big story for this post season run by the Ravens is that Ray Lewis is retiring, and he wants one last Festivus to celebrate. Yeah I somehow missed this tidbit until this weekend, but apparently the Ravens don’t use the term “playoffs.” They call January football “Festivus.” I’ve never been a big Ravens fan at all, but this kind of endeared them to me. I wouldn’t mind some Festivus for the rest of us either, right?
Anyway, the Ravens’ Wild Card matchup with the Indianapolis Colts is actually the only one I got wrong last week. It wasn’t a knock on the Ravens or their abilities, because everyone knows they wait until their matchup with the Patriots before they choke. I just thought the Colts’ story was going to carry them through one big playoff win. The Ravens won their matchup 24-9, pretty much dominating the game from the get go.
The Colts defense basically refused to cover or tackle anyone. Joe Flacco only completed 12 passes, but threw for 282 yards and two scores. Bernard Pierce ran just 13 times, but racked up 103 yards on the day, and Ray Rice averaged 4.7 yards per carry. That’s how the Ravens won this game. They played solid defense and got a lot of big plays. If they keep playing like this, the Ravens will go far.
That brings us to the Denver Broncos. The Broncos have always managed to put together solid, competitive teams, and this year was no different. This year, however, they have something they haven’t really had since the days of John Elway, and that’s an MVP candidate at QB. 36 year-old Peyton Manning has bounced back from the neck injury that held him out for all of 2011 in amazing fashion.
Most importantly, Eli’s brother made all 16 starts this season, proving he’s back to being one of the most durable QBs in the game. He didn’t just go on the field and tip his cap every week though. After a shaky start, he was pretty dominant, finishing the year with 4,659 yards, 37 TDs and only 11 INTs. He and Adrian Peterson are probably the favorites for MVP this year. I kind of hope Peyton wins it. Better story. Either way, he’s the key to their success on the field. The Broncos running game hasn’t been quite up to snuff. Willis McGahee (731 yards, 4 TDs) got hurt after week 10, and Knowshon Moreno (528 yards, 4 TDs) has been forced into action… Peyton will be throwing.
Manning improves any receiving corps just because he’s the one throwing the ball, but the Broncos actually have a pretty good one. Demaryius Thomas really came into his own this season, catching 94 passes for 1,434 yards and 10 TDs. His counterpart, Erick Decker, brought down 85 balls for 1,064 yards and 13 TDs (my fantasy team thanks you). If those guys are covered, Manning can throw it to TE Jacob Tamme (52 catches, 555 yards, 2 TDs), or the ageless Brandon Stokely (45 catches 455 yards, 5 TDs). Seriously though… Stokely’s gonna retire the day after Peyton does, right?
OK before this gets any longer, let me get to it. Sticking with the theme, I think the Ravens are going to lose this game. The Broncos will win it 24-21, and jump into the AFC Title game.
Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots: Sunday, January 13, 2013 – 4:30 PM
So I picked the Texans to beat the Bengals and move into the divisional round because of Arian Foster, Matt Schaub, Andre The Johnson (yes we’re copyrighting that nickname) and that Houston defense. Turns out, unlike last year, I was right, as the Texans rolled past the Bengals, 19-13. This week is going to be a much bigger challenge for the boys from Houston, though. On the other side of the ball this time are the AFC Eastern Division Champion New England Patriots.
I don’t want to get too into the 13-3 Patriots because that’s Jerry’s job, but let’s just say they have a very good team. They are led, of course, by Giselle’s husband, and future Hall of Famer, Tom Brady. Because he’s good at football, Brady had another very good season in 2012. The part time model racked up 4,827 yards in the air, and connected on 34 TDs, even without Rob Gronkowski on the field for a lot of the season. Brady also did a great job of not turning the ball over, throwing only 8 INTs all season long. His TD/INT ratio was tops in the league, because he’s great. The Pats’ leading receiver this year, despite last year’s allegations that his fingers were made of butter, was Wes Welker (118 catches, 1,354 yards, 6 TDs). Brady also has the option to throw the ball to guys like Gronkowski (although he might be limited), Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Lloyd and maybe even Deion Branch if he feels like giving to the elderly.
The Patriots actually have a pretty solid running game for once. Steven Ridley (290 carries, 1,263 yards, 12 TDs) leads a pretty solid combination that also features Danny Woodhead (76 carries, 301 yards, 4 TDs and 446 receiving yards with 3 scores), Shane Vereen (not Ben, 251 yards, 3 TDs) and everyone else Belichick seemed to want to hand the ball off to instead of Ridley when I needed a big fantasy football score (Brandon Bolden two tries from the 1 in week 16… really Bill?). Anyway, improved pass rush has also helped the Patriots continue to put up wins this year. Their secondary might be somewhat questionable, but I think the rest of the talent on the team can mask that very well.
I’ve said enough about the Texans this week, and last week, to tell you that they are also quite good. They went 12-4 this year, and that’s with losses in three out of their last four regular season games. Schaub has a golden arm, Foster is among the elite of NFL running backs, and Andre The Johnson is huge. If those guys can all get it going, and possible defensive player of the year J. J. Watt (20.5 sacks) can put Brady on the ground a couple of times, the Texans might be headed to the AFC Title game. Everyone knows that the way to beat Tom Brady is to knock him around early. Even in his sharpest outfits, he can’t seem to overcome that type of in-your-face pressure (we all remember 2007 and 2011, don’t we? Sorry, Jerry. It’s all I have to hang onto right now).
I’m going to go out on a limb with my pick this week. Something tells me Watt’s going to put Brady on the ground… quite a bit. Schaub will dissect the Patriots secondary too, and the Texans will win this one, in a shootout, 37-31. Sorry Jerry. The buck stops here! Also, I probably wouldn’t have picked the Patriots against anyone, because I hate them and I’m biased. Remember when I picked the Giants to win the Super Bowl? Even though it happened, that was absurd. Best of luck to your boys, sir.
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