NFL Playoff Preview!


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21 Responses

  1. Burt Likko says:

    Green Bay won six in a row to start the season, not five. After the bye week, they had Denver, who demolished them, and that game convinced me that your predictions are wrong. Defense wins championships.

    So I predict Denver defeating Arizona in Super Bowl L, because Denver has the best defense in the whole league, and Arizona has the best defense in the NFC.

    As for my Packers, I’m rather doubtful they can get past even Washington — Kirk Cousins has been en fuego recently; the Questionable Trademarks have way, way more momentum than the team that cruised into the playoffs on the strength of a series of games it won early on in the season. Sad to say, but the evidence is in: even if The Best Quarterback On The Planet™ put the team on his back, he’s likely still going to be in a position similar to the Detroit game: it should never come down to having to do a Hail Mary pass like that in the first place, especially because that’s a low-odds play.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Burt Likko says:

      That outcome would not surprise me. And it would delight me. But I worry if Denver has enough offense. When they struggle, they REALLY STRUGGLE.

      Everything you said about Green Bay is true. I’m bucking the numbers and what cold analysis would dictate because I just have a sense that they’re better than that. I’mprobably wrong, but I’d rather be wrong betting with Rodgers than against.

      But, as my predictions note, I think they make it a game and go out quietly in the second round.Report

  2. Michael Cain says:

    Denver’s fate rests in the hands of the zebras. The Broncos lose the first game they play where the officials call defensive holding and illegal contact using “playoff” standards instead of “regular season” standards. If the opposing defense can disrupt the routes, the o-line’s not good enough to give either Manning or Osweiler enough time. The best defense in the world isn’t enough to overcome an offense that only goes +10 net points. Pete Carroll in Seattle has shown everyone the way — if you keep bumping for an extra couple of yards downfield and hold a bit early in the route on every play, the zebras will quit calling it.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Michael Cain says:

      Yeah, the recipe is really clear when Manning’s under center: stack the box, play tight man to man. He can’t handle that truth.

      Personally, I think Kubiak is making a mistake by starting Manning since I don’t think he’s healthy/young enough to be successful for 12 good quarters. So not only will Brock quite likely end up the starter at some point, but if (when) he does he won’t have a “healthy” Manning backing him up or coming off the bench if (when) he’s underperforming.Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to Stillwater says:

        I think Osweiler is at this point simply a better quarterback — what Manning has is a clever brain and a fast read, but his physical abilities are no longer sufficient to do the tricks necessary to make real what he imagines in his head. The man is past his use-by date, which is sad because he’s been such a great face for the franchise and the NFL and a ton of fun to watch playing.

        Age catches up with everyone. Even Brett Favre. “Age” in NFL player terms has a cruelly low maximum: Manning is, after all, younger than me and I still feel young.

        Maybe Kubiak plans to use Manning for a series or two to test out the opposition, then put in Osweiler for a series or two to exploit what Manning has revealed, and go back and forth from there as necessary?Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Burt Likko says:

          I’d like to think Kubiak knows what most of us know: that Manning isn’t built right now to play 12 quarters against some of the best defenses (and coaches!) in the league. I’d love to think he’d platoon QBs situationally. That’d be awesome. (I’d like to think Manning is open to that possibility too.)Report

      • greginak in reply to Stillwater says:

        If Manning is in they are going to work hard to hit him a few times to see if he shatters. He will have to take a few and burn the D before anybody believes he is really something like the QB he used to be. I’m not sure anybody really wants to see how poorly he could react to getting really slammed. Heck the D might be fine with a personal foul or two just to test him.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to greginak says:

          Agreed. He’s just a sitting duck. (Think Bledsoe without the arm strength.) And they’ll be stacking the box anyway, so anytime he goes play action a couple few incredibly large men running at full speed will hit the A gap hoping to blow him up. Or they’ll come off the edge. Or just blitz. (I get depressed just thinking about it.)Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Michael Cain says:

      Denver is the hardest team to handicap because of all the uncertainty on offense. Which QB will be out there and how effective will he be? But a historically good defense, a bye, and home field can work wonders.Report

  3. For instance, I’d probably pick Seattle on a neutral field over Denver

    I’m not sure I’d pick Denver to do anything better than implode less embarrassingly than last time.Report

  4. Stillwater says:

    Well, everything is still right in the universe. The Bengals managed to bungle their way to a loss; the steamrolling Chiefs cruise against the QBless Texans. I had both teams winning, but I’ve reversied on which team presents a bigger threat to the top two seeds: being a Broncos fan, I’m glad we don’t have to play Kansas City next week.

    New England will lose that game. The Broncos? The best we can hope for is lingering injuries to Big Ben. Or fresh ones early and often (he sliced us up last a few weeks ago).Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Stillwater says:

      I’m 2 for 2! But for my soul’s sake, I’m glad I got drunk and passed out before the end of the second game.Report

    • Fun times in the league office on Monday morning deciding how many and how big the fines are going to be. I’ll just say that the no-call hit on the receiver would have been targeting and expulsion in a college game, and should be in the NFL too. Ducking your head and leading with the crown of the helmet like that has to stop.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Michael Cain says:

        Are you referring to the hit on Bernard that led to the fumble? If the game-ending hit was a penalty, I don’t know how that one wasn’t. I’m with the players on having no idea what defenders can and can’t do anymore. I’m on board with making the game safer, but they need to A) make sure they actually do that (e.g., many rules about QBs are about protecting money makers, not long term player health) and B) apply them consistently. Neither is the status quo. But what do we expect from an org led by Goodel?Report

  5. Kazzy says:

    Four for four! Wahoo! And all road teams! Though, technically, all favorites (I think GB opened as a dawg but closed as a favorite; regardless, no pick involved going out on a huge limb).

    I am much less confident in my Steelers pick on account of the injuries they’ve suffered. Picking fresh, I’d probably take Denver. And that makes me less confident in the Pats going to the Super Bowl, though I think they are still probably the pick out of the AFC.

    I’m not putting too much stock in Seattle’s near loss. Weird things happen in frigid temperatures. They remain the best team on paper by most statistical measures.

    Green Bay seemed to get some mojo back after a sluggish first half. You do have to wonder about their running game.Report

    • Michael Cain in reply to Kazzy says:

      Phrased differently, the four wildcard teams were better than the four weakest division winners. At some point, the NFL is going to have to stop rewarding teams for being merely adequate in a terrible division.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Michael Cain says:

        Yes and no. The Steelers and Bengals were in the same division; the Bengals were a vastly superior team throughout the season and were done in by an injury to their starting QB and some questionable calls.

        The Vikings had a better record than the Seahawks and nearly played them to a draw.

        The 4/5 matchup in the AFC is the only one that felt glaringly mismatched; the AFC had at least one team (Jets) who were better (both record and in terms of overall team quality) than the Texans. I’m not sure if there was an AFC team who deserved a slot over Washington.

        I do think your broader point is correct and that the NFL will have to address playoff seeding in the near future. But I don’t think this past weekend’s games are particularly strong evidence for the case.Report

        • Kim in reply to Kazzy says:

          I’m not sure the Bengals were vastly superior throughout the season… and the Steelers managed to get down to their third string quarterback (Vick, of all people), so they aren’t exactly without injuries either.Report

  6. Kolohe says:

    Does anyone know who the 2 were in the 30-2 LA relocation vote?Report