New Orleans Saints vs Seattle Seahawks
I don’t want to toot my own horn about calling Mark Ingram’s big day… but, beep beep. The Saints are as complete a team as there is in the playoffs. With Drew Brees struggling to pass the ball, the saints turned to Ingram and Sproles and a more conservative passing game. What’s more, the team held the Chip Kelly express to 24 points in Philadelphia. In every facet of the game the Saints are competent and effective; and while Brees is no stranger to turnovers, I doubt the future HOFer will be as bad as early last week. When a team can win when its biggest weapon isn’t clicking, it’s a sign of a quality team.
The Seahawks in Seattle are an obvious problem. They were 7-1 in that building this season, and the bye gave Percy Harvin another week to prepare for his second game of the season. While young, this is Russell Wilson’s third playoff game and I think he’ll be sharp early. The Seahawks will need him to be, Seattle averaged just 19.25 points the last four games of the regular season. The defense is phenomenal, but in the playoffs having only one side of the ball play well won’t win you much.
The Seattle secondary is the best in football. Ballhawks abound in the back of the defense, and at the front are several lineman that interchangeably pressure the QB. With such a talented defense, and the hyped 12th man, any signal-caller setting foot in Seattle will have their work cut out for them.
|With the weather, this may be the most important battle of the game|
The Saints got dismantled when they flew up to Seattle earlier this year. I don’t think it’ll be a blowout again, but it’s impossible for me to shake the mental image of the Saints getting curb-stomped. Seattle is such a dominant team in Seattle that I can’t pick against them. There is one thing that is bothering me, there’s going to be a torrential rain/wind storm in Washington’s capital city (big surprise). I’m not so sure that the Saints won’t be better suited to run the ball than the Seahawks. I know Seattle is more known for their running attack, but Marshawn Lynch only averaged roughly 64 yards over the past six games of the season (maybe the beast began to wear down?). Plus, the Saints looked pretty damn good handing the ball off last week; could Sean Payton have more of the same in store this week? I’m tempted to pick the upset, but I got too much faith in Wilson to pick against him this week. Seattle 27 Saints 20.
Indianapolis Colts vs New England Patriots
I like Andrew Luck. Really, I think he is going to be very good; still don’t see how the storyline coming out of that Cincinnati game was how well he played, though. While he led the comeback in the improbable victory, he was also largely responsible for the steepness of the deficit that they had to climb. If a team wins with a QB throwing three interceptions, that probably says more about the competition than the team coming from behind. Still, you have to give the Colts credit for rallying late in that ball game; they showed a ton of heart .
|I'm finding it more and more difficult to hate this guy|
Seriously, they’re here every year but this may be the most spectacular coaching job I’ve seen from Bill Belichick. This team has lost so many of its key players: Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski, Tommy Kelly, Vince Wilfork, Danny Amendola and Jerod Mayo all missed parts or all of the season. Add Brandon Spikes to the list, as he re-injured a knee injury in the final game of the season and will have to watch the Pats from the sidelines for the remainder of the their postseason run.
Tom Brady had 50 passing TDs, and this may be his best season as a QB. Somehow he piloted this offense to another 12-4 season. He hasn’t always been sharp (some of the early criticism of his wide receivers probably should’ve been partitioned to include a Brady section) but he has battled, and that kind of heart is endearing. One of his best moves this year has been the spin…and handoff. The Patriots are running the hell out of the ball, Lagerrette Blount (one of a platoon of talented running backs at Belichick’s disposal) went for 189 yards in the final game of the regular season. That running back corps racked up enough yards to be top 10 in rushing yards per game, not something many predicted at the start of the season. Again, kudos to Belichick for changing his system to fit the personnel he had—phenomenal.
It’s simple for me, I don’t think a young QB goes into Foxboro and comes out on top matching wits with a Belichick team. T.Y. Hilton went bananas against the Chiefs, and has been the primary receiving option for Luck since Reggie Wayne went down in week 7; the Patriots take away what you like to do the most on offense and make you beat them with your secondary options. Add that to the Patriots lack of offensive weapons, and I think this is going to be a low scoring, tight affair. Tight playoff game? Give me Brady. Pats 17 Colts 14.