*Every week, we will run an interview from Danny Picard’s daily sports-talk show “I’m Just Sayin”, which can be heard LIVE every weekday at 9 a.m. on BlogTalkRadio, with every show available on iTunes.
With his show on a holiday break, this week’s Q-and-A will be replaced by Danny’s NFL Playoff Predictions:
Before the NFL season began, I predicted the New England Patriots to win Super Bowl 47 over the Green Bay Packers. Both teams have made it to the playoffs, but one team has a much tougher road than the other. That team would be the Green Bay Packers, mainly because, unlike the Patriots, they will not have a first-round bye. Instead, the No. 3-seeded Packers will host the No. 6-seeded Minnesota Vikings in the Wild Card round.
Will not having a bye hurt Green Bay’s chances of getting to New Orleans on Feb. 3? And will New England’s first-round bye give them an advantage in an AFC playoff picture that sees four teams the Patriots have already played this season?
Here are my NFL Postseason Predictions:
AFC Wild Card Round:
(6) Cincinnati Bengals over the (3) Houston Texans, 26-20
–Don’t look now, but the Bengals enter the playoffs having won seven of their last eight games. They had to beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh in Week 16 just to get into the tournament. Then to top it all off, they beat the Baltimore Ravens in Week 17. Like I say all the time: just get into the tournament. The Bengals didn’t just get in, they got in with a defense that has all the ability in the world to make Matt Schaub’s first playoff game one he’d like to forget. The Texans’ defense is overrated, and Schaub is soft in a big spot. He proved that down the stretch. He’ll prove it again against the Bengals.
(5) Indianapolis Colts over the (4) Baltimore Ravens, 31-23
–The Ravens won their division, so they automatically take a top-4 seed. But they have a worse record than the Colts, who earned the top Wild Card spot. Andrew Luck has proven to be a legitimate leader in his rookie season, and the passion that Indianapolis brings in honor of Chuck Pagano can’t be overlooked. What also can’t be overlooked is the way Baltimore lost most of its swagger in the last five weeks of the season, stumbling into the playoffs losing four of those last five. The Ravens could be inspired by a return of Ray Lewis, but they are no longer a team that scares the AFC. And they won’t scare the Colts either.
NFC Wild Card Round:
(3) Green Bay Packers over the (6) Minnesota Vikings, 34-13
–Adrian Peterson is running on another planet, and he once again proved that in a Week 17 win over the Packers. But this is the playoffs, in Green Bay. The Packers will make Christian Ponder beat them with his arm. But if you’re asking me to put my money on Ponder leading the Vikings to a postseason win in Green Bay, you might want to check yourself into a mental institution. Because, that’s not going to happen. Peterson will have a solid day, but this one will come down to the mistakes and bad decisions that Ponder makes. He throws three interceptions and Aaron Rodgers throws three touchdowns. Ballgame over.
(5) Seattle Seahawks over the (4) Washington Redskins, 17-14
–Remember when Mike Shanahan told the football world he was pretty much giving up on the Redskins’ season? Well, he didn’t really mean that. He was trying to motivate. And motivate he did. Both the Redskins and Seahawks enter this game with serious winning streaks. Both are playing their best football at the right time. But it’s hard to overlook Seattle’s wins over New England, Green Bay (I know how it ended), and San Francisco. Both of these teams are a surprise to me. And RGIII is banged up. Seahawks survive.
AFC Divisional Round:
(1) Denver Broncos over the (6) Cincinnati Bengals, 35-14
–The Bengals already lost to the Broncos once this season, and they’ll lose again. Peyton Manning isn’t Matt Schaub. He’ll find a way to cut up an over-confident Cincinnati club. The Broncos have way too many weapons offensively to be stopped in their own building by the six seed. They’ll have no problem advancing to the AFC Championship.
(2) New England Patriots over the (5) Indianapolis Colts, 31-20
–The Colts already got blown out by the Patriots at Gillette Stadium earlier in the season. This one won’t be a blowout because Indianapolis is a much-improved team since then. Still, these aren’t Peyton Manning’s Colts. There’s no way Tom Brady loses to Andrew Luck in his own building after having a week of rest. Patriots find a way. They always do.
NFC Divisional Round:
(1) Atlanta Falcons over the (5) Seattle Seahawks, 27-20
–This will be a popular “upset alert” to most of the NFL analysts, given the fact that the Falcons have a few key injuries, and they haven’t necessarily been a winning team in the playoffs. The analysts will say that Seattle’s defense poses a serious threat. And they will. But at 13-3, the Falcons aren’t a cupcake team. And they’ll have something to prove. They’ll prove it by advancing to the NFC Championship.
(3) Green Bay Packers over the (2) San Francisco 49ers, 21-19
–The Packers lost to the 49ers in the season opener. But those were Alex Smith’s 49ers. Colin Kaepernick is now the leader of San Fran’s offense. And like Smith had to out-perform Drew Brees in last year’s NFC Divisional round, Kaepernick will have to do the same to Aaron Rodgers. But that won’t happen. Kaepernick will be a very good quarterback, if not a great quarterback in this league. But Rodgers is already a champ. He’ll send a dangerous 49ers team home early. And Alex Smith might leave the building with a smile.
(1) Denver Broncos over the (2) New England Patriots, 24-20
–Here it is. The NFL couldn’t have scripted it any better. Peyton Manning versus Tom Brady. Both teams have plenty of offensive firepower. But whose defense would you take? New England’s defense, as usual, has improved as the season has gone on. Denver’s defense is legit. The Broncos have home-field advantage, and this one is going to be about who can get to the quarterback more. The Patriots have their injuries on the defensive line, and unless Chandler Jones can be consistently great, I fear that Manning will have more time in the pocket, than Brady, to make big plays. Expect Von Miller and his 18.5 sacks to get through a banged-up New England offensive line. Heart-breaking stuff back home in New England.
(3) Green Bay Packers over the (1) Atlanta Falcons, 41-28
–As much as the Falcons were “disrespected” throughout the season, the Packers weren’t necessarily a team that everyone was talking about entering the playoffs. Aaron Rodgers will remind everyone that it wasn’t too long ago he hoisted the Lombardi Trophy, and will go into Atlanta and expose the Falcons indoors. Expect the Packers to blitz Matt Ryan all afternoon. Green Bay will be NFC Champs. More disappointment in Atlanta.
Super Bowl 47:
Green Bay Packers over the Denver Broncos, 27-17
–Clay Matthews seems healthy and the Packers will get to Peyton Manning more than the Patriots were able to. The Packers and the Broncos are the best two teams in football, in my opinion. But we’ll start taking Aaron Rodgers’ legacy much more seriously after he wins his second Super Bowl, and after he does it by defeating Peyton Manning. MVP goes to Matthews though.