Well, unfortunately the 2011 NFL regular season is now over with. I went 9-7 this past weekend, which was, as I found, the most difficult week to predict anything, with all the starters sitting and the unpredictable benching of top tier talent, i.e, Stevie Johnson, Santonio Holmes, and I know there was another one I'm forgetting about, it made getting these picks right rather tough. So 9-7, while it isn't great, and while it did move my record to a pretty impressive 168-88 season mark, I missed my season goal of a .750 winning percentage, as my record was only .656.
Anyway, for a first time actually writing my picks down on a weekly basis, I'm happy with the results. I'd always felt I was pretty good at grasping the landscape of the NFL and making pretty good picks on a weekly basis, so this was nice to know it all wasn't in my mind. What I like the most about this is how I know my record and I checked briefly around with how the experts finished and I haven't seen one that had a better record than my own, so who knows, maybe someone out there has been reading along and wants to hire me for next season- Hint, hint..But seriously, it's been fun and I look forward to the playoffs.
For most fans, well, for those like myself, who has just finished watching their team play their last team of the season, well, there's always next year. As a die hard Buffalo Bills fan, those words are etched as some oh, so familiar words. But the NFL still goes on, and the teams that deserved the playoffs, with a few exceptions as there always is, made the playoffs.
Green Bay, San Francisco, New England and Baltimore finished as the top two seeds in their respective conferences and will get a much needed bye this weekend. As long as Green Bay and New England are alive in the playoffs they'll play at home, the reward for having the #1 seed.
The Wild Card Games
Cincinnati Bengals @ Houston Texans
While I don't feel the Texans will make it past the second round, which is a disappointment, as they are the team I'll be pulling for. But for a first time ever playoff berth, riding a 3rd string rookie QB and the Andre Johnson injury can spring up again at anytime, it's tough to see them getting by the NE'S or Baltimore's of this world. But who knows, really, once you get here anything can happen. Just look at the Seahawks last year. For this game I think Arian Foster and Ben Tate can hold their own against the respectable Bengals defense and the Texans have been solid themselves defensively, so I would imagine they will double AJ Green all day long and make the Bengals try to win using Simpson and Benson, as I think Gresham will be neutralized by the Houston Linebackers. Houston 24 Cincinnati 14
Detroit Lions @ New Orleans Saints
Two of the fun teams to watch got stuck playing each other in the first round. I would have much rather have seen Detroit Vs. NYG and Atlanta take on NO, but that's not the way things fell. This game should be high scoring and let's see if Detroit can hold back on taking the number of penalties they took earlier this year. In week 13 these QB's, (Stafford and Brees) put up almost 800 yards of passing and while I can't expect that again, I do expect an explosive game, mostly through the air. I do like the Lions and will pull for them, as they are in a lot of ways similar to my Bills, being perennial cellar dwellers, I do wish them well. But, when it comes down to having to pick a winner here, for me, it seems rather easy. New Orleans is pretty darn tough at home and Brees has been crazy lately, add in Colston and Graham playing out of their minds, I have to pick the Saints. NO 45 Detroit 31
Atlanta Falcons @ New York Giants
I can see Atlanta winning here, but I won't pick them. Atlanta has been playing great football with Matt Ryan just finishing off a pretty nice year and his top receivers, Jones and White, alongside Gonzalez and Turner make for a formidable test for Big Blue. And while you can't really say for sure what Giants team will show up, I do think Eli knows how to win when it counts and Coughlin should have them ready for a win here at home. NYG 30 Atlanta 24
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Denver Broncos
I love everything that Tim Tebow represents in the NFL, but coming off 3 straight losses and only making it to the playoffs due to a Raiders loss doesn't really exude much conference as they go against a team, that if things would've fell in place for them yesterday could have had home-field advantage for the playoffs and the #1 seed. That said Tebow has done the unthinkable before, I just can't see a scenario where that happens against the mighty Steelers. Pittsburgh should handle the Broncos rather easily here. Pittsburgh 35 Denver 14
So I guess that I'm predicting the second round match-ups will be Houston @ Baltimore and Pittsburgh @ New England in the AFC and NYG @ Green Bay with NO heading to SF in the NFC. But we'll see how things shake out. After all, it is the NFL, where stranger things have happened.
Enjoy the playoffs, and if your team is still alive, good luck.