It's time for my PICKSTRAVAGANZA, peoples! I know what that word means because I just made it up. You might think that it is a portmanteau of "pick" and "extravaganza" but what you do not know is that it also incorporates the words "Pete Carroll", "superstar", and "traveshamockery". I would explain exactly how but I'm afraid that's the kind of thing that you have to go to college and get an advanced 4 year degree in English studies to truly "grok".
Here is a picture of an osprey - a sea hawk, if you will - "slappin da bass". In this case, because ospreys are after all just birds and do not understand how to "get down with the funk", "slappin da bass" literally means "taking a fish out of the water and slapping it around until it stops its whining". As you can see, this is not such a great time for the fish.
Okay then. Enough with the ribald tomfoolery and on with the games!
Wild Card Round
Andy Reid may or may not deserve the Coach of the Year this year (personally I think the honors should go to the guy who is running his former team), but the Chiefs have not looked good in the second half of the year at all. One would expect this would be due to Alex Smith looking more like Alex Smith of the first 6 seasons of his career instead of the Alex Smith of the last 3 seasons, but no: if anything, Smith has carried this team (along with Jamaal Charles of course) to where they are. The defense on the other hand has not looked good, and the old bugbear of their easy, easy schedule rises up to haunt things like... a bugbear. Actually, I think in DnD bugbears are like fat goblins and as such don't really "haunt" things because they aren't technically ghosts. You know what? SHUT UP I KNOW HOW TO DO THIS
It's funny because around a month ago I would have picked the Colts to be the team most likely to flame out in the playoffs but since then they've done a couple things:
- Figured out how to get the ball into TY Hilton's hands, or just as importantly out of Andrew Luck's hand after being thrown and into some receiver's hands. That is a very awkward phrasing and I would apologize but I apologize for nothing!
- More importantly, they seem to have figured out that the power running game isn't working and even moreso isn't working with Trent Richardson getting carries. Personally I think Richardson can still be salvaged but it'll have to be in a ZBS system, and as it befits Seattle there is no f'ing way in hell I'd be moving a 1st round pick or a 4th round pick for that matter for him. Anyway, where were we?
They're looking pretty damn formidable now. Not "I think they'll beat the Broncos" formidable but definitely "bye bye Chiefs" formidable. Colts 41, Chiefs 17
If we were just going by quarterbacks, the Chargers would win like 14 times over. Philip Rivers is at this point maybe the most underrated quarterback in the game, and on offense at least there are a lot of young weapons on that team. Don't take this the wrong way but I'm kinda glad that we're in the NFC West instead of the AFC West!
Wait, what, Johnny Slick? What the hell did you just say!? Aside from the greatness that was the Seattle-Denver (SCOREW ELWAY) and the Seattle-Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrraidas rivalry, the NFC West is getting just plain unfairly good. I could easily envision a dark future in which 4 of the top 6 or 7 teams in the NFL are in the Hawks' current division. In this harsh post-apocalyptic world Sam Bradford actually turns out to be a good quarterback, or better yet is replaced by former Chicago White Sox and Oakland Athletics sidearmer Chad Bradford. Carson Palmer is still Carson Palmer because sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. Colin Kaepernick becomes a mutant bicep-kissing monster of a thing.
San Diego, meanwhile (that's right, this is not actually about the NFC West), is a team with a lot of good things going for it but was 9-7 (and lucky to be 9-7 at that) because they are really, really, really awful on defense. Manti Te'o got taken out of plays this year as though he was, if you will, a mere figment of the Chargers' imagination, and the defense as a whole narrowly missed being ranked as one of the worst 10 of ALL TIME since the 90s.
This is a team that narrowly defeated a Kansas City team - who, again, I don't think is all that great themselves - that was resting every single starter save two guys and which deactivated their starting quarterback and Jamaal Charles heading into the game. At that, they only beat them because Kansas City's kicker (not the backup!) shanked a 41 yard kick (a veritable chip shot in today's NFL) and even THEN he should have been allowed to re-kick because the Chargers had committed a bizarre illegal formation penalty. Which, by the way, I don't think should even be on the books in the first place, but the first step to getting a dumb rule eradicated is to see it called correctly and piss Skip Bayless or whoever off.
ANYWAY... I barely mentioned the Bengals here, who are a decent enough team that they managed to wallop a Baltimore Ravens squad despite their own crappy quarterback throwing 4 picks. I'm sure I'll have plenty of opportunity to dump on them next week. Bengals 34, Chargers 21
Okay, so you know that old saying that the Super Bowl is won by the hottest team in the playoffs? It's a complete load of crap. Actually, it's technically true, which if you ask me is the worst kind of true that there is, in that out of all of the 12 playoff teams, the Super Bowl champion is going to be the only one who ends its season on a winning streak.
That's a post hoc rationalization, though, and I think last year was a great example of why the underlying message behind it is garbage: the Baltimore Ravens were really, really bad at the end of last season. As of Monday morning, November 26, they were 9-2 and had a shot at home field advantage throughout the playoffs. They finished the season 1-4, backing into the playoffs after a 23-17 loss to the Bengals that decided the NFC North division title. Yes, they got hot in the playoffs (although I don't think I'd count a win over a Colts team that by point differential should have had a losing record really counts as hotness) but *someone* by definition has to get hot in the playoffs.
All of which is to say: please do not take my pick of the Eagles over the Saints here as any sense of me picking the "hot hand". Sure, Chip Kelly's squad finished the year 7-1. Yeah, the Saints lost back-to-back games before blowing out the lowly, now-coachless Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a Week 17 contest which should not have been a play-in game. But no, that in and of itself is not why I'm picking the Eagles. The Eagles are flat-out a better team right now than the Saints, I think, and even if they're not, the Eagles' home field advantage (which, speaking of records, forget the Eagles' actual W/L there; it's still an advantage) will vault them into a win.
I'd also really love to see how Nick Foles would fare against the Seahawks' secondary but at this point the only way that's possible is if they beat both the Saints and the Panthers, which I don't think will happen. Nevertheless, that offense is fantastic and the defense has been surprisingly adequate after looking terribad over the first month of the year. I'm not saying this game's going to be a blowout but I think Chip Kelly christens his new boys with a playoff victory. Eagles 27, Saints 24
As much as I, as a red-blooded Seahawks fan, hate the 49ers, I have to realize that neither outcome of this game will be really great for the Hawks. If the 49ers pull this out then... well, then they travel to Seattle and everyone will remember how well they handled Wilson in the last duel between the teams. That stupid Beats By Dre Crappy Headphones commercial will probably be played over and over again (which, come on, guys, if you're going to make UNTRUE MYTHS about Seattle fandom, at last have them do some Seattle stereotypical things like throw fish at Kaep or maybe get depressed and shoot themselves in the head with a rifle). Any talk of how Seattle swamped SF in the first game will be dismissed with the whole "COMON MAN HE WAS JUST A LITTLE BOY THEN HE GROWED UP" and "SEATTLE NOISE IS UNFAIR AND SHOULD BE ILLEGALIZED". Even if/when the Hawks do dispatch the 9ers by 45 points, we'll still hear "OH YEAH WELL YOU SHOULD WIN ANOTHER 36425 TITLES AND THEN YOU WILL BE EQUAL TO WHAT THIS EXACT TEAM WITH THE SAME EXACT PLAYERS EXCEPT FOR THE PLAYERS BEING DIFFERENT DID IN THE 1980S".
But lest we forget, a Pack win means that the two teams will face off for the first time since Goldentatedidnotmakethatcatchandeventhoughithadlikezeroimpactongreenbaysseasonistillwanttocrygate. You can bet your "bottom dollar" (which I think means poop, which raises the point: who wants to bet with poop?) that you will see replays of the Uncatchableinterceptionimmaculateddownthefieldboyscatch over and over again on Sportscenter. And then when the Seahawks beat the Pack, they too would point to (insert whatever questionable call "shifted the momentum" in the 41-7 blowout) and say that once again the biased refs reflected their anti-cheese bias.
That being said, I think Green Bay wins this, so hold onto your butts. As it happens, Green Bay is also in-game-wise a much better matchup for the Hawks, who have show that they can neutralize good offenses a lot more easily than they can overcome good defenses. That being said, the Packers with Rodgers are basically a different team than the Packers with Matt Flynn. I still think the 9ers are a slightly better team, but not by much, and the huge advantage of Lambeau Field more than neutralizes this. Packers 33, 49ers 28