This is it! Two more games, and then the Super Bowl, then a gigantic void in our sporting lives until the Masters.
Before, I make this week’s picks, I’d like to tackle some things people have been talking about this week in football.
Peyton Manning was thoroughly demolished last weekend, making anyone who declared him the best quarterback of his generation look like an idiot. His throws were off, and his team had no fight.
As a result, a lot of people are suggesting that it’s time for him to hang it up. That suggestion is insane.
Manning is still a fantastic player. He was still one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He got worse at the end of the season because he was playing through a serious injury.
If Manning no longer has the desire to play football, then sure, hang it up, go play golf, or do TV, or become a VC, or whatever ex-athletes do nowadays. But if he wants to play, he should. He still has more talent than 95% of the quarterbacks in the league.
The other thing people have been talking about is Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones. He was the third string QB, then became the starter due to injury, and won three big games in a row, including the national championship.
On Thursday, he held a press conference to share his decision on going to the NFL. Jones announced that he would be staying at OSU one more year because his education was important to him.
There was some debate as to whether he should turn pro. If he were to go pro now, he might be a later round draft pick. If came back, he could play better, and move up in the draft, earning himself more money. But, there’s a risk he’s injured, or he might not even play — he was the third string QB, after all.
If I was Cardale Jones, I would turn pro. When you’re a rookie you get a 4-year contract that will still pay over $US2 million. Going back to school next year, he’s gets $US0, and he has to take classes instead of focusing 100% on football. As a pro he’ll get paid and he can really zero in on his game. He won’t get worse. The NFL is starved for good quarterbacks, so he’s likely to get a chance to play in his first two years. If he’s good, he will make plenty of money. If he’s bad, then it doesn’t matter one way or the other.
Let’s do picks!
Last week I went 2-2 picking games, making me 3-5 picking playoff games. If I get both of these games right, then I could be .500 heading into the big game.
Let’s look at this week’s games. The lines come from Vegas Insider:
The Seattle Seahawks are 7.5-point favourites at home against the Green Bay Packers. (Game time 3:05 eastern, on Fox.)
The Seattle Seahawks are the best team I’ve ever seen. I don’t ever remember watching a team and having such confidence in their ability to demolish their opponents.
The Seahawk defence is crazy good thanks to its secondary. Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Byron Maxwell, etc, are darn near impossible to throw on. This is especially impressive since the entire league is rigged to help passing offenses.
On the offensive side of the ball, Marshawn Lynch is a crazy man who plows through defenses. And Russell Wilson is wickedly smart. He rarely turns the ball over, he rarely makes a bad decision. He knows when to throw it, he knows when to run it. His ability to run the ball freezes defenses.
The Packers, meanwhile, are built around Aaron Rodgers and his impressive set of receivers. But Rodgers is playing on one leg. So, he’s hobbled. The Packers didn’t exactly trounce the Cowboys, who are a weaker team than the Seahawks.
I like the Seahawks a lot here. How could the Seahawks lose? If they turn the ball over. I could see Lynch fumbling a few times in key situations. If Rodgers gets a short field, I could see him scoring.
But, I don’t see that happening. I see the Seahawks rolling into the Super Bowl.
The pick: Seahawks -7.5
The New England Patriots are 6.5-point favourites at home against the Indianapolis Colts. (Game time: 6:40 PM eastern on CBS)
Here, via Wikipedia, is how Andrew Luck’s Colts have done versus the The Patriots:
- In his rookie year, Luck’s Colts lost 59-24 in New England.
- In his second year, they lost 43-22 in New England.
- This year, they lost 42-20 in Indianapolis.
That would seem to suggest the Colts struggle against the Patriots.
But, here’s a weird stat about Bill Belichick I keep hearing this week: all 8 of his losses have come against teams he’s already played in the regular season.
That would suggest the Colts have a chance to do better in this game than they have in the past.
This game essentially comes down to Andrew Luck versus Bill Belichick. Yes, there are lots of other people in involved, but it’s those two people that will decide the game. I like Belichick, of course. He’s the best in the business.
But, do I like him -6.5?
I think Luck will scramble around, and do enough Luck things to keep the game close. He’s an amazing talent and the Colts are playing well right now.
The pick: Colts +6.5
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