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Welcome to the blog of The Killer Nacho, known to most mortals as Timothy J. Sharpe, a Computer Science graduate of Messiah College and currently a Systems Analyst for Sunoco Logistics. Within this tome of pages, one will find my innermost thoughts about various things concerning things that I enjoy. These subjects include, but are not limited to, roleplaying, gaming, American Football (the NFL), things to do with computers, philosophy, movies that are awesome, TV shows that are awesome, my own writings and creative works, and dangerous Mexican snacks.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Divisional Playoffs NFL Predictions: Surprises and Expectations

I love the NFL. The way it supports both parity and blatantly obvious expectations makes it a fascinating and engaging league. Nothing made this shine more than last weekend's Wildcard round. There were games that ended up exactly the way I thought they would (The Jets bare victory over the Colts, and Baltimore's smearing of Kansas City) and games that took a complete 180 from what anyone and everyone expected (Seattle managing to score a victory over THE SAINTS?). But now that the dust as settled from a heated Wildcard round, what lies in store for us in the Divisional round? I'm here to let you know what I think! But first, some observations about the Wildcard round:
Holy Matt Hasselbeck, Batman!
  1. First and foremost... the Seahawks. As many of you know, I was vehemently opposed to them being in the playoffs. With a losing record in the league's softest division, I doubted they would be there. Still, I was one of the few that didn't think they would completely embarrass themselves in the Wildcard round. They were, after all, at home (Qwest Stadium is one of the better homefield advantages in the NFL) and were still an NFL team. The differences in overall talent from one team to the next in the NFL is greatly exaggerated, there is great parity. Having said all this, I still never expected them to actually win. I thought they would be in it for a few quarters, but eventually lose by like two scores. Much like the Seahawks being in the playoffs to begin with, this brings me mixed feelings:
  2. Part of me wants to say the Playoff system worked. Despite the Seahawks having a losing record in the regular season, they were more than able to hold their own. I'd much rather see them win than get demolished, I like quality football.
  3. However, at the same time, a MAJOR reason why they won, in my opinion, was homefield advantage. Like I mentioned earlier, Qwest Field provides one of the better homefield advantages int he NFL since the stadium was built to hold in the noise. Had they played the game in the Superdome, I'm not sure if the 'Hawks would have won. While I really do like the current playoff system since the "Win the division, get a home game" clause is simple and effective, I'm not sure how I feel about the 7-9 Seahawks getting a homegame while the former World Champion 11-5 Saints could not get one even despite a harder schedule.
  4. Matt Hasselbeck may have saved his career in Seattle. He was not the problem there anyhow, the Seahawks OLine has been atrocious all season.
  5. The Saints defense played way too soft. Not what we came to expect from a Gregg Williams defense. Then again, key injuries may have something to do with it.
  6. Wow, Marshawn Lynch. That's all I really have to say. While I still believe he is a completely pedestrian back, that late-game run to put a dagger in the hearts of the Saints was astonishing. If you haven't seen the highlight, make sure you do. It was all him.
  7. Unfortanutely, the Jets-Colts game went according to plan. Damn Nick Folk for not being inept when it truly mattered.
  8. While I expected Baltimore to cream the Chiefs, I did not quite expect it to be 30-7. I think a lot of the weaknesses that the Chiefs have had all season displayed themselves in this matchup. Their soft secondary and average offensive line were at the forefront. The Ravens creamed Matt Cassel, he had no time to do anything in that pocket. I do believe, however, the Chiefs are on the right track and will try to address most of these issues in the off-season.
  9. Jamaal Charles is an amazing running back. I wonder why the Chiefs even bother with Thomas Jones. Charles is the real-deal.
  10. Michael Vick seemed to have faded later in the season once teams have gotten used to him. While he still makes the Eagles more dynamic than say, Kevin Kolb, I'm unsure whether or not the Eagles should pursue him for another season. Granted, I know the Eagles will, they are already talking about a long-term deal with the Quarterback. In any event, it will be interesting to see if the Eagles try to deal Kevin Kolb in the offseason and if so, to whom.
  11. The Chiefs had just 53 net passing yards against the Ravens.
  12. Mike McCarthy really could make a strong candidate against Bell Bellichick for coach of the year. Granted, Bellichick is leading the league's likely #1 team at the moment, but what McCarthy was able to do with all the injuries at virtually every position is amazing. Easily the best coaching performance I've seen in a long time and it will be scary to see what the Packers can do next year if they can stay healthy.
Predictions for Next Week

Prediction accuracy for Last Week: 2-2 (50.00%)

Overall prediction accuracy: 124-74 (62.62%)

Baltimore (13-4) @ Pittsburgh (12-4): Baltimore by 3. Well, the Ravens were my pre-season prediction as AFC champions, so I'm going to stick with them. Still, we all know how Ravens-Steelers games are. This will be a close, low-scoring slugfest. The Steelers won the last matchup and are at home, so that gives them plenty of confidence going into this game. Despite this, the Ravens defense looked great against Kansas City yesterday and are playing their best football right now than they have all season. If Joe Flacco can find some time in the pocket and deliver high-percentage balls while moving the team down the field methodically like I know he can, the Ravens should find themselves in the AFC Conference game.

New York J (12-5) @ New England (14-2): New England by 10. While I doubt this will be the demolition like their last game in Foxborough, this is a game that the Patriots should, by all means, win. The Patriots are very good at home and have played non-stop great football all season. The defense really came together late in the season and will give Mark Sanchez a lot of trouble. The Jets will need to focus on the run to move the ball against the Patriots, but that is not easy when Vince Wilfork is in your way. And like I said last time these two teams met, Tom Brady is the perfect Quarterback to have against the Jets. No matter how good your secondary is, there is no defense for a perfectly accurate ball.

Green Bay (11-6) @ Atlanta (13-3): Atlanta by 7. This will be no easy game for either team, but I have to go with my pre-season NFC pick, the Falcons, at home against the Pack. Atlanta easily has the most complete team with their much-improved defense combined with a passing attack starting to get really great under Matt Ryan and one of the better power running games in the league behind Michael Turner. Still, the Packers defense is well coached and will cause problems for the Falcons. And its never wise to completely count out Aaron Rodgers. Will be a good game, but one that the Falcons should win with the advantage of their Dome.

Seattle (8-9) @ Chicago (11-5): Chicago by 14. Seattle may have beaten the Saints, but a major part of that was a soft beaten-up Saints defense as well as homefield advantage. The Seahawks will have neither advantage against the Bears, who have a strong physical defense and are playing at home where it is difficult to pass the football due to outrageous winds. I think the Bears will take this game pretty easily... but who knows, maybe the Seahawks will shock the world again with another upset.

Results of Last Week's Poll

Last week, I asked my readers "Which non-Pro Bowler should be in the Pro Bowl?" between Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Browns Runningback Peyton Hillis, Titans Runningback Chris Johnson, Dolphins Fullback Lousaka Polite, Chiefs Quarterback Matt Cassel, or Cardinals Wide-receiver Larry Fitzgerald?

Maybe I had a little too many options, but this poll ended in a three-way tie between Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Hillis, and Lousaka Polite. All three were very good choices for various reasons and I was shocked when they did not reach the Pro-Bowl after their dominating years. Actually, pretty much all the options I listed were pretty good options.

This week's poll is "Which home team is most likely to get upset in the Divisional Playoffs?" between the Chicago Bears by the Seahawks, Pittsburgh Steelers by the Ravens, New England Patriots by the Jets, or the Atlanta Falcons by the Packers?
Vote on the right-sidebar of my blog!

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