Ravens (13-4) at Patriots (14-3): 3:00 ET on CBS
The last time these two teams met in the playoffs (2009-10) the Patriots lost the game before it really even started. The Ravens came out hungry and utterly dominated the Pats in the first quarter scoring on their first play from scrimmage a 83-yard touchdown from Ray Rice. It was an absurdly lopsided game in which Joe Flacco threw only 10 passes and the Ravens rushed 42 times for 221 yards. Bill Belichick and the Patriots that remain from that season assuredly have that game burned into their memory and likely have seen all too much of that game tape in the study rooms this week. The keys to success for both teams are still very relevant from then to now.
The Ravens need to start strong and use their defense to throw Tom Brady and the Patriots off their game hopefully creating turnovers. They will also need to establish a strong running game in order to bring more balance to their pass attack. Joe Flacco has a much improved receiving core between Anquan Boldin, Lee Evans and speedster Torrey Smith. Conversely the Patriots need to control the Ravens run game, limit their turnovers and make Joe Flacco and his mustache beat them.
The Patriots are really a puzzling team. They finally got the playoff monkey off their back by dominating the Broncos for their first playoff win since losing Superbowl XLII. Let’s be honest though, the Broncos are not a good team and if you look at the Patriots schedule it’s been a long time since they played any really good teams.Since their bye week they lost to the Steelers and Giants (2 good teams) and then beat the Jets, Chiefs, Vickless Eagles, Colts, Skins, Bronocs, Dolphins and Bills. Not a lot of good competition in there.
Continue reading NFL Playoff Preview: Conference Championships
Houston Texans (11-6) at Baltimore (12-4): 1:00 ET on CBS
If this game had a soundtrack it would definitely be supplied by Rush because we will be seeing a heavy dose of the ground game from both teams this weekend.
It’s not that Houston and Baltimore are lacking in talented wideouts it’s just that Ray Rice and Arian Foster are that good and Joe Flacco and T.J. Yates are that “just ok”. Rice ran for a leagues second best 1364 yards during the regular season and Foster finished with 1224 yards despite starting the season injured and 153 yards in his first playoff game.
These two teams are actually very similar to each other. They run the ball well, have good defenses, they both have “game manager” quarterbacks who aren’t going to steal the game but also aren’t generally going to kill you either. Houston finished the season in an unimpressive fashion losing to Carolina, Indianapolis and Tennessee respectively but looked much better against Cincinnati in the Wild Card Playoff game. Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels have had health issues all season long and their performance will be key in this weeks game in order to balance the Texans running game. Overall Houston seems to be more banged up on both sides of the ball which may wind up being the deciding factor in Sundays big game.
The Ravens have put together another impressive regular season with the only head-scratching loss being to Jacksonville in week 7. The Ravens and Texans met once in the regular season this year, a battle that Baltimore won after 3 close quarters of competition.
The Ravens are no longer the Defensive beast they once were as many of their key defensive players have packed on the years but they were still top four in rush defense, pass defense, yards against and points against so they are certainly still formidable. The greatest difference probably comes in their turnover ratio (+2) which has sunk to its lowest point in Joe Flacco’s career with the team. If the Ravens can limit the Texans running game this team should be good enough to carry them on to a probable Conference Championship versus the Patriots.
Prediction: Baltimore 27, Houston 17
Football is back bitches!!!!! Feel free to immediately cease your “interest” in baseball now that you have a REAL sport to watch!
In my never-ending quest to prove I know more about football than YOU PEOPLE, (yes, I do mean you people in the derogatory sense so suck it) I figured it would be fun to prove it on a week to week basis.
And before you start; Yes, I know this is an exact rip-off of the Fox Sunday Pre-game show segment, BUT unlike Frank Caliendo and Jimmy Johnson I’m actually funny AND I don’t take boner pills. HEEEEYOOOOOOO!
Continue reading NFL Grizzly Picks of the Week: Week 1
The focus so far has been the 4 QBs taken in the Top 12 picks, but what jumps out at me is the amount of Linemen selected in the first round of the Draft Friday. 20 of the 32 players taken are will be either attacking or protecting the QB. A lot of teams reached for needs, which allowed a lot of other teams to get great value in their position.
The Cleveland Browns – The Browns have potential to be the biggest winner in the draft here, as they traded their #6 overall pick to Atlanta for the #27 along with this years 2nd and 4th rounds picks, and next year’s 1st and 4th round picks. Now I wasn’t crazy about them jumping back up later in the first from 27 to 21. They selected Phil Taylor, a DT from Baylor which isn’t a bad pick, but I’m not convinced they couldn’t have stayed put and still gotten him with the 27. We’ll have to see what else Holmgren does in the next few rounds, but so far you gotta be happy in Cleveland.
The Jacksonville Jaguars – The Jags had to trade up to get him, but with the 10th pick they got a Top 5 Projected QB in Blaine Gabbert. I’ve never been a Garrard fan, so to me this is a great value for them, even if they did lose a pick to jump up from 16 to 10, they got their guy. And while Gabbert can’t be happy falling to 10, this seems like a good fit to me.
The Detroit Lions – My beloved Lions. After years of ineptitude by the Millen Regime they seem to finally know what they are doing. DT Nick Fairley out of Auburn was projected as a Top 3 pick a month ago, but fell out of favor because of work ethic questions, much like Ex-Lion Shaun Rodgers. The difference here is, this Lion’s team has guys like Vanden Bosch and Suh, leaders on the D who will push those around them. The first organized player workouts in the NFL, after the lockout started, were those put together by Vanden Bosch. This is a great value at #13 and I think we have the guys to motivate Fairley into becoming a star. The Lions should now have the best D-Line in football.
Continue reading 2011 NFL Draft: 1st Round Winners and Losers…