The editors at HefferBrew are back in time to make their picks for the 2nd Round of the NFL Playoffs.
The NFL Playoffs started last weekend and needless to say, they’ve already been everything fans could hope for and more, this weekend we’re treated to two days of fantastic matchups that should go down to the wire.
Baltimore Ravens @ Denver Broncos-
Dustin: Broncos- This season has been a resurrection of Peyton Manning. Once thought to be done, Manning has shown time and time again that he’s about back to the level he was playing at before serious neck injuries stole a season from him. The only knock is that this Broncos team hasn’t really faced any contenders during their impressive run over the last 3/4 of a season. That should tell you everything you need to know however because that run includes a demolishing of these Ravens…in Baltimore. The nagging doubt about Manning as far as status as “Best Ever” is concerned is in his playoff success, or lack thereof. However, at home and facing a team he just recently carved up should help continue the team’s momentum and caring Manning deeper into the playoffs and further into history. Broncos- 34, Ravens – 24.
Cameron: Ravens – The pending retirement of Ray Lewis and the Resurrection of Peyton Manning. These are the things that are at stake in this game, not who wants to move ever closer to the possiblity of a Super Bowl. This is the ultimate battle of the old guard; Manning, obviously has the advantage with the most balanced team in the NFL – aside from the Seahawks – finishing in the top-five in all facets of the game during the season. Now, with the Ravens, you’re getting a semi-decent defense, operating completely on emotion, a shaky offense at times, but also, operating on emotion. The one advantage that the Ravens conceivably have is special teams, and they too are operating on high emotion. That high emotion that I keep talking about? Yeah, that’s the sound of Ray Lewis’s thunderous retirement announcement prior to the playoffs and that, my friends, is why I believe the Ravens will win this game. The Ravens were embarrassed the last time they played this Bronco team, and what better way to get revenge than to knock them out of the playoffs during Manning’s fantastic comeback season. Another thing, in weather 40 degrees or lower Manning has a touchdown-to-interception ration of 1 to 7. One touchdown, seven interceptions. Ravens – 31, Broncos – 29.
Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49ers-
Dustin: Packers- This literally came down to a coin flip. Both teams are two of the best at what they do; the Packers have possibly the most explosive offense in the NFL and the 49ers have a defense that refuses to bow to anyone. The two keys to this game fall to basic fundamentals; the Packers offensive line must continue to play at the level they did last week against Minnesota and 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick has to do his best Alex Smith impression and manage the game smartly and soundly. Yes, he has provided a spark on offense that Smith couldn’t but the Packers D will likely pressure Kaepernick all day, trying to force him out of the pocket and into bad situations. I think the Packers are able to get one or two costly mistakes out of him and Aaron Rodgers finds enough time to hit 2-3 more big plays than the 49ers. Packers – 31, 49ers – 28 (F/OT)
Cameron: Niners – I want to believe – Like that damn poster in the X-files – that the Packers, who seem to be firing on all cylinders, will pull out a dominant victory against an injured team and their first-year quarterback. The Niners are not just any injured team with a first-year quarterback. I actually whole-heartidly believe that the Niners will possibly dominate every facet of this game. The Packers looked over-the-top great because they played the Vikings who had Joe Webb as quarterback. Colin Kapernick is not Joe Webb, and the Niners are a multi-facet team, not one who just depends on it’s MVP running back (yeah, you heard me. AP should and will be the MVP, if not the NFL is a lie.). Niners – 34, Packers – 17.
Seattle Seahawks @ Atlanta Falcons-
Dustin: Falcons- How do the Falcons respond to the doubt that has plagued them all year long? Does Matt Ryan finally break through and win his first playoff game after years of disappointing early exits? Or does the trend continue against a Seahawks team peaking at the right time and led by the likely Rookie of the Year? I say it’s the former, simply because Ryan can’t disappoint forever can he? Atlanta has fought all season long to be discussed as one of the best teams in the league and I don’t see them giving that up without a fight. It’s odd to think that a team that posted the best record in the league could be considered an underdog in their own stadium but the stout defense of the Seahawks and their pounding style of offense make it possible. Prove ’em wrong Matty Ice, take that next step. Falcons – 23, Seahawks – 21.
Cameron: Seahawks – The battle of the Birds! I just wish that the other NFC game was the Eagles and the Cardinals, for an all bird-team showdown. Beast mode in the backfield, Football Jesus under center, another one of those multi-facet top-five in every category teams. That’s the Seahawks I’m talking about. With the Falcons, you have no running game, and as someone who had Michael Turner on his football team, I can back this up. You have an unproven quarterback, who can win in the regular season, but can’t win in the playoffs, going 0-3 so far in his career with Mike Smith. Defense is shaky and, really, the Falcons just have the hope of home-field advantage going in their favor. The Redskins had those same hopes last week too. Seahawks – 42, Falcons – 27.
Houston Texans @ New England Patriots-
Dustin: Patriots- I’ve found myself in an odd spot, the two bandwagons I wanted to hop on for the playoffs were eliminated last weekend (Cincinnati and Washington) and I’d rather not go with the Ravens (too iffy) or the Seahawks (love Russell Wilson, hate Pete Carrol). I find it hard not to be excited as a football fan at the possibility of Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and the gang facing the Broncos and Peyton Manning with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. Just like old times. Patriots – 42, Texans – 24
Cameron: Patriots – Jim Morrison once sang, “this is the end, my only friend, the end.” Now, Jim Morrison didn’t really know shit and was kind of an asshole. Anyways, the point is, that this could be it for Brady and Belichick, and this also could be it for Gary Kubiak. If the Texans lose, that would most definitely spell the end for Kubiak – most likely after they’re bounced yet again from the playoffs next year. For the likes of Brady and Belichick, it’s more about age than anything else. Brady is 35 – and surprisingly enough still seems to be in his prime. Meanwhile, Belichick is 60-years-old and most likely has about five good years of coaching left in him. Belichick is also two Super Bowls away from not only being the leader in most Super Bowls won as a head coach, but the greatest coach of all-time. Something I’m sure he has on his mind. Patriots – 35, Texans – 16.