Jobu predicts the NFC side of the 2012 NFL Divisional Playoff Round.
Last week, I picked the Seahawks and the Packers to win their wild card matchups and advance to the divisional round… They did. Yes, I know… I’m pretty tremendous, but let’s get on with the NFC Divisional Round picks!
Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49ers: Saturday, January 12, 2013 – 8:00 PM
Last week, we covered the Packers and the abundance of weapons they put at Aaron Rodgers‘ disposal every week. It’s an embarrassment of riches. In their game against the Vikings, Rodgers went out and threw for 274 yards and a TD, and the Packers defense finally stopped Adrian Peterson (only 99 yards in the game). That led to a pretty dominant win for Green Bay, and they earned the chance to play the 49ers.
Basically, they just need to follow the same formula they used against the Vikings: stop the 49ers offense and throw the ball all over the field. Rodgers completed passes to ten different receivers in that game… ten! They don’t have anyone who can run the ball, but the 49ers stop most running backs anyway. Just throw the damn ball.
The 49ers, meanwhile, are no joke. They won the NFC West this year with an 11-4 record, mostly due to that defense and the emergence of one Colin Kaepernick (my friends and I aren’t sure if his nickname should be Kaepernickus or Pumpernickleus) at QB. The 49ers were 6-2-1 under Alex Smith, but let’s face it. He’s not good. At least he’s not elite. Coach Jim Harbaugh dumped Smith for Kaepernick the first chance he had (a concussion in Week 10), and the second year QB out of Nevada led the 49ers to a 5-2 record over the last seven games.
As much as people in my fantasy league hate to admit it, Frank Gore still has it going on. He started all 16 games this year, rushing for 1,214 yards and 8 TDs. With him and Kaepernick, who ran for 415 yards and 5 TDs in his short season, the 49ers can move the ball on the ground. If Kaepernick needs to throw the ball, he can go after Michael Crabtree (85 catches, 1,105 yards, 9 TDs), but if he’s covered, it’s slim pickings from there. Vernon Davis is a bust, and Mario Manningham and Randy Moss did not have very good seasons. That being said, Moss will catch a TD in this game.
If the 49ers can pound the ground with their running and play the tough defense they’re known for, they should win this game. Unfortunately, I think Aaron Rodgers is just too good, and he has too many weapons at his disposal. The Packers will win their way into the NFC Title game, and possibly beyond. 27-13.
Seattle Seahawks @ Atlanta Falcons: Sunday, January 13, 2013 – 4:30 PM
When I predicted that the Seahawks would win against the Redskins in overtime, I wasn’t aware that Mike Shanahan was a tyrant who would let Robert Griffin, III play on a weakened knee and set him up to tear his ACL and MCL, so my score was off. Anywho, Russell Wilson really came into his own in this game and shut down some of those non-believers. Wilson threw for 187 yards and a score, and added 62 rushing yards. Marshawn Lynch, meanwhile, ran 20 times for 132 yards and a big score, and Seattle won 24-14 after being down 14-0. All they really need to do to beat the Falcons is the same thing they did against Washington, and they’ll be OK.
The Falcons got themselves a first-round bye this year, which saved them the embarrassment of a third consecutive first-round playoff loss. Second round, baby! I don’t know why, but I don’t buy the Falcons right now. I know they absolutely pounded my Giants in Week 15, but they need to win a playoff game before I’ll take them seriously. Plain and simple.
They do boast a great team though. They started the year 8-0, and ended up 13-3 and the NFC South Champs. It was well deserved, as was their bye. Success can come easy when you have an elite Quarterback on your hands, and I think that Boston College’s Matt Ryan (“Matty Ice” to you, jerky) is just that. From his days as the QB of the Eagles, Ryan has shown a knack for winning close games, especially late in games (hence, the nickname). This year, he really came into his own. The fourth year QB threw for career highs with 4,719 yards and 32 TDs. Pretty impressive.
It’s a good thing Ryan was as good as he was, because the Falcons running game was in turmoil all season long. Michael Turner (800 yards, 10 TDs) looked more like Ike Turner this season. He would have been completely irrelevant in fantasy football if not for the fact that he was pretty much a lock for a 1 yard TD run every week. I think he might be done. Jacquizz Rodgers threatened to steal Turner’s job pretty much on a weekly basis, but never fully stepped up to the challenge either. The point is, the Falcons will be throwing.
Ryan has a lot of options to throw to. First and foremost is Roddy White (92 catches, 1,351 yards, 7 TDs), who is one of the better receivers in the league. Next on the list is Julio Jones (79 catches, 1,198 yards, 10 TDs), who also came into his own this season and put up some impressive numbers of his own. Finally, if the Seahawks manage to cover both of those guys, all Matty Ice has left is Tony Gonzalez (93 catches, 930 yards, 8 TDs), who is possibly the best Tight End in the history of the league. Yes, the Falcons passing game is stacked. If the Seahawks can’t stop it, it’s gonna be a long game.
Personally, I like to bet on the long shot. On paper, that’s the Seahawks. In real life though, it’s hard to tell. Will the Falcons continue their post-season folding act? Will the Seahawks continue to ride the unbelievable wave of momentum they are on? I just don’t know. To be honest, I’m not even sure I know who I want to win. I love the Seahawks’ story, but I’d love to see a fellow Eagle lead his team to a Super Bowl win… I’m literally going to eeny meeny miny mo this one… right now… Don’t worry I’m not doing the whole “my mother punched your mother” part of the rhyme. I don’t promote that kind of violence. Anyway, the winner, according to my eeny meenies… is… Atlanta. By a score I’ll now make up… 28-17.
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