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NFL Picks – Wild Card Weekend & SB Pick

To those that hate that I write about the NFL, don’t worry. Only four weeks left. Then I can write even more about the men in their underwear. That sounded oh so wrong.

In my preseason preview I got 8 of the 12 playoff teams correct. I almost got Houston and Pittsburgh, both of whom came oh so close. The biggest AFC surprise to me were the Bengals. I did not see a playoff team in them, so kudos to them for overachieving at least to me. In the NFC I went for a bit of the reach in picking the Seahawks to win the NFC West, which wasn’t even close. On the plus side, at least I was right in predicting that 3 of last year’s 4 top seeds (Giants, Titans, Panthers) would all miss the playoffs. I remember getting criticized for that one. Turns out all four of them missed out, including the Steelers. If somebody would have said that before the year they’d be ripped for it. This league is crazy, people. By the way, my worst preseason pick? Picking my Rams to go 7-9. The team did play hard and they lost their share of close games, but I guess I was too optimistic, huh?

My preseason Super Bowl pick was Patriots over Packers. Both are in the playoffs now, but I’m not going to pick either to make it. Of the two, I really do like the Packers a lot and I think they can absolutely make the Super Bowl just as any of the six NFC teams can make it. The QB play in the NFC is fantastic. I’d say it’s the best group of QBs in one conference in the history of the playoffs. There’s no Grossman this year, that’s for sure. Any one of those six can carry their team to a title with the way they’re playing. In the AFC, I think it’s either the Chargers or Colts. The other four seem a level below them to me. Considering the Chargers have the Colts number especially in the playoffs I’m going with San Diego out of the AFC. I think they’re peaking at the right time, they’ve got an excellent QB in Rivers, two solid RBs in LT & Sproles, elite players at WR/TE with Jackson & Gates, a dominant OL and a defensive unit that is finally playing up to their standards because they’re healthy. With Indy, can you really count on that defense? I don’t think so. In the NFC I’ve thought about it a lot trying to decide between the Saints, Vikings, Cowboys and Packers. Ultimately, since the QB play is pretty similar for all teams, I tried looking more at the running games as well as the defenses. The Vikings stand out to me. My worry with them is that their star MLB EJ Henderson is out and their defense hasn’t been great without him. They still have the best DL in the league, though. I also think come playoff time Adrian Peterson will be the difference maker.

This is my Super Bowl pick: Chargers over Vikings. I doubt I’ll get both right, but if I get one I’m happy. If Dallas gets by Philly in round one like I think, whoever wins Cowboys/Vikings in round two is making it. I don’t like the Saints. Sorry.

Last week: 13-3
Season: 168-88 (.656)

I’m proud of that record. Any time you can hit close to 67% for the season is pretty good. I think I’ve hit over 70% just once in my life and I’ve kept track for at least a dozen years now.

NY Jets at Cincinnati 4:30 PM (SAT NBC)
Make no mistake about it, the Bengals laid down last week. The only people that think otherwise are Jets fans, who should feel lucky that their team got to play two teams that didn’t care the last week of the year. The Bengals would have played the Texans if they won this game. What happened against the Texans earlier in the year? They got smoked by them. The Jets pulled out all the stops to beat the Bengals, they celebrated the win like they won the Super Bowl while the Bengals sat there thinking, “we got you.” And I think they do. The Jets aren’t a good passing team and the Bengals know that, so they’ll put eight in the box to make Mark Sanchez beat them. You think a rookie QB with over 20 picks is going to win a road playoff game in a tough environment? I don’t. Yes, the Jets defense is very good and they can run the ball, but the Bengals too. The difference is when it comes to making plays you need the QB to do that. In Carson Palmer, the Bengals have somebody that did it all year, especially late in games. He won’t even be the story, though. The Bengals unheralded defense (no Pro Bowlers?) will be. But hey, at least you celebrated last week, Jets. Bengals 24-10

Philadelphia at Dallas 8:00 PM (SAT NBC)
I’m writing this one Jon Gruden style: “You see, when THAT GUY Tony Romo has played in past playoffs he had this nervous energy about him. He’s different now. Why? Because of THIS GUY Miles Austin at wide receiver being the target he needed. The entire offense opens up making THAT GUY Jason Witten more of a threat in the middle of the field and the backs are more dangerous because they’re a pass first team. They like to run out of the shotgun a lot, making THAT GUY Felix Jones more explosive than in a regular formation. The Eagles have a tough time matching up with them. That’s why they’ve lost to them twice already and the big question is can the Cowboys beat the Eagles three times in one season? If that Cowboys defense can frustrate Donovan McNabb like I think they can then THAT GUY McNabb is going to have a long day. I think THIS GUY Demarcus Ware and THAT GUY Jay Ratliff are going to wreak havoc in the Eagles backfield all day. One other thing: Is Brett Favre playing in this game? THAT GUY can play. THAT GUY loves football. And I love THAT GUY.” No Gruden, he’s not playing. Thanks for the preview, though. Cowboys 27-20

Baltimore at New England 1:00 PM (SUN CBS)
If Wes Welker was playing in this game I would be taking the Pats. He’s the guy that makes that offense go. Without him their drives will stall, they will have problems finding Moss deep and despite what they say you simply can’t replace a Pro Bowler with a guy like Julian Edelman that barely plays. You can’t. The Ravens have the experience of winning road playoff games last year (two of them) while also having the kind of defensive toughness that intimidates people. I like the makeup of that team. On offense, I think their RB combo of Rice & McGahee are really thriving. They’re going to give the Pats defense some problems. I’m calling the upset here although I wouldn’t that surprised if the Pats beat them by 20 points either. I think it’ll be close, though. Very close. Ravens 24-23

Green Bay at Arizona 4:40 PM (SUN FOX)
I’ve been on the Pack all year and I will be this week too. I’m a little nervous about it, though. Last week’s game didn’t matter that much, but what matters were the injuries to key Cards players like WR Anquan Boldin and CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. They’re two of their best players. If both play they’ll be limited. If that happens then the Packers defense can focus in on Larry Fitzgerald even more while the offense can try to expose the backups playing CB trying to replace DRC. The key for the Packers in the last two months has been their defense, which has been phenomenal aside from the Pittsburgh game. They can stop the run, they can pressure the QB and they can cover in the secondary. They are a complete team. At least they’re more complete than the Cards. Give me the road team here in a shootout. Packers 33-24

JC’s Money Picks
Every week I’ll pick four games against the spread or using the over/under. I was 2-1-1 last week. I’ll keep doing it through the playoffs even though I don’t love betting on playoff games as much. These odds come from pinnaclesports.com as always.

Season: 38-28-2 (.576)

Packers PK over CARDINALS. There’s no favorite. Lots of people picking the Pack all week because the Cards opened up as the favorites.
BENGALS -2½ over Jets. People overrate week 17 too much.
Cowboys/Eagles OVER 45. I have it barely over at 47, but I think it might be even higher.
Ravens +3 over PATRIOTS. Toughest one to pick.

Thanks for reading. See you next week for the conference semis, which is my favorite week because the top eight teams in the league (we think) are left.

Enjoy the games.

John Canton

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  1. Darrell
    January 8, 2010 at 1:12 PM

    Glad to see SOMEONE realizes that the Bengals gave the Jets that win. Even here in Cincinnati, people are thinking the Jets will destroy the Bengals again. Ain’t gonna happen.

  2. January 8, 2010 at 1:41 PM

    Here are my picks for this weeks Wild Card Games. I am not a huge Cowboy fan simply because I am a loyal Redskin fan, but I am going to pick the Cowboys to beat the Eagles 36-28 in a shootout. The Bengals will not lay down again for the Jets, thus they roll over the Jets 28-10. The Baltimore and New England game is a difficult choice, but since the Pats are home and the Ravens are backing into the playoffs I will pick the Pats to win 26-16. Finally, perhaps one of the most intriguing games of the weekend is Green Bay at Arizona; this has the potential of a shootout, but I am going to pick the Cards to win handly 34-16 as the Packers fizz out and give up to many sacks.

  3. Aaron
    January 8, 2010 at 1:50 PM

    As I mentioned before in one of your blogs, my preseason Super Bowl picks are the teams you’re picking to go now: Chargers/Vikings. I felt I didn’t go too far out on a limbb with that one, but still picking two teams that didn’t have Playoff byes last year (Let’s face it the Chargers were 8 and 8!) and have the 1st week off this year, I’m pretty proud of myself on that one.

    Love your analysis on Gruden. Makes me chuckle reading it every time. Speaking of announcers; for Fox, Ron Pitts is the worst play by play announcer ever. Stick him back on the sidelines please. And a pleasent surprise? Brian Billick. Really like listening to him disect a game..

    As for the predictions, I’ve got:

    Jets at Bengals – The Bengals, much like the Colts, rolled over for the Jets. The Jets are the worst playoff team this decade. Cincinnati does not light anyone up however, but maintains control with the running game and Ochocinco with a big TD grab. Jets score a TD late to close it to one score. FINAL: Bengals 20-13

    Eagles at Cowboys – Both teams are playing well going into the tounament (Aside from last week for Philly). I don’t think Philly plays two bad games in a row, in the same place, against the same opponent. Some of those big plays are going to connect. Game of the week, DJAX catches a long bomb, Romo comes back to earth and will be cuddling with a celebrity hottie on the beach in January. FINAL: Eagles 29-27

    Ravens at Patriots – The Ravens are not that good. sorry to clue everyone in. They play most teasm tight, but they don’t have the pieces. Even without Welker, the Pats are still undefeated at home this season (including a game against Baltimore). Baltimore has looked pedestrian this year, no passing attack, and Coach BB will gameplan accordingly, since he’s probably been planning this one for more than a week. I’ll take Brady over Flacco until Brady is dead. Baltimore keeps it close, but can’t score on the final drive. FINAL: Patriots 24-16

    Packers at Cardinals – I really like Arizona, BUT this matchup is just wrong place wrong time. Throw last game out the window, Arizona didn’t care. But big injury to Rodgers-Cromartie… HUGE. Boldin of course too. Against the GB passing attack? Rodgers has a field day. Warner’s INT bug returns thrice fold. GB secondary gets better as the season progress (Charles Woodson, what a season!)FINAL: Packers 38-14

    I enjoy the NFL picks.. and like throwing mine back at you. Keep em going John.

  4. Aaron
    January 8, 2010 at 1:55 PM

    Looking to next season (Not making this official, we havea draft and a whole off season, etc. But if I were to pick a shocker for Super Bowl 45? Texans and Packers. I love where both of these teams are going and can see them both in the big game next year. Texans should be in the playoffs this year, but only a NY Jets team would get the luxery of that schedule down the stretch. Pathetic. The Texans lost their heart breakers, but played well when it matterd and should have gotten in. Those be the breaks I suppose.

  5. mr. W
    January 8, 2010 at 2:47 PM

    i’m a total mark for green bay since my cousin was drafted there last april. Early in the season i really thought they might not even make the playoffs. I’d love to see them play minnesota, but will it actually happen? Probably not. I’m going saints- chargers for the super bowl, with the chargers going over.
    Btw my cousin is the guy who punched jared allen in the face on mnf.

    • Aaron
      January 8, 2010 at 3:32 PM

      I remember that, what his name?

      • Damon
        January 8, 2010 at 4:17 PM

        TJ Lang?

  6. mr. W
    January 8, 2010 at 9:11 PM

    yeah thats him, funny thing is he got fined for flipping him off, not for punching him, 17 million people watching, and he flips him off, i gave him some shit about that

  7. Matt
    January 10, 2010 at 2:39 PM

    So, how about those Jets now?

  8. Darrell
    January 10, 2010 at 2:45 PM

    I was expecting Palmer to tear off his Bengals jersey and reveal that he’d been working with the Jets the whole time. “BAH GAWD, KING – he’s been working for the Jets the whole time!!”

  9. chris
    January 10, 2010 at 7:24 PM

    well looks like bengals didn’t roll over anyone and as a huge Cowboy fan looks like the eagles basically gave that game away. Glad the pats are out of it they sucked watching green bay right now hopefully they can pull it off

  10. Alex
    January 11, 2010 at 12:05 AM

    I’m sorry that you all felt that way about the Jets. Just full of surprises aren’t dey, hehe. Any ways, its off the San Diego then. Lets see what Ryan comes up with this time. Better luck next time Cincy, maybe you’ll break that streak next year?

  11. Aaron
    January 11, 2010 at 10:14 AM

    Wow.. my picks were just terrible… TERRIBLE.

    The top seeds this week get their chance to shine.. I don’t see any upsets this weekend.

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