Tuesday, January 10, 2012 by Winks ·
It was a somewhat underwhelming NFL Wild Card weekend as many of the games were all but decided by the fourth quarter. But then, whether you like it or not, Tim Tebow and his 3:16 yards happened. He's as polarizing of a figure as they come, and on this weekend he took Tebowmania to new heights. Nevermind the fact that Tim Tebow has been so bad lately that the Steelers defended him as if he wasn't able to even through a short crossing route (which he's not, he can only throw deep apparently), Tim Tebow somehow turned in one of the better playoff performances by a quarterback of all-time. I know a lot of people are boycotting outlets like the NFL Network this week because they don't want to see the Tebow coverage, but as someone who has watched the sports channels the last couple of days, it's almost as if there are no other games this weekend because Denver and New England.
But there are, and we preview them here:
New Orleans (-3.5) at San Francisco - Saturday, 3:30pm, FOX
Usually I like Mike Mayock on the NFL Network's Thursday Night broadcasts, but he was especially bad on Saturday afternoon during the Texans/Bengals game. Let me tell you, there are many techniques in writing that when lazily are ignored can turn a piece of work from well-written to a complete waste of time (and my violations of these offenses shall be ignored for the purpose of this particular article), and one of those techniques is how you cite your sources. For example, if I am going to reference where I heard a particular fact or rumor, I will name the actual source, such as This fact comes from the message boards of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel... rather than use the phrase I read the other day... . Mike Mayock went the lazy route several times, including at one time saying "I spoke with some guys after that Thursday Night Opener and we agreed that the NFC Championship could come down to New Orleans and Green Bay". Some guys? Who? Esteemed colleagues? Fans at a certain stadium? Guys you met in a hotel lobby bar? Some clarification there would be nice.
I know that I'm nitpicking, but let me do it some more. I wish I counted how many times Mayock said something to the extent of "I talked with (certain player) down on the field and I asked him how he was feeling, he said, 'Mike, I feel great, and here's why." That's a technique broadcasters use to show you that they have inside access to players and coaches that we as fans just don't have. While that is true, I know for a fact that Mayock is exaggerating. Announcers do this all the time. The next time you hear a broadcaster say, "I talked with .... before the game..." it is most likely of an exaggeration of when that announcer walked by the player and either said something in passing or overheard them saying something to someone else. It was a lazy, uninspired performance by Mayock and the Notre Dame guy, who's name I'm not going to look up because I too am lazy. Tom Hammond I think? Either way, a terrible broadcast.
Mayock did have a point though when he lied about talking to people about the Saints and Packers meeting back up in the NFC Championship Game, because I had that same thought that September evening as well. But now that we're a week away from that happening, I'm not 100 percent behind that initial thought. One of those teams, either the Packers or the Saints, are going to lose this weekend. And even though I'm nervous as hell that when I'm going to Lambeau to watch the game on Sunday I'm going to drive home disappointed, I'm going to try not to give in to those negative thoughts and say it will be the Saints that fall. And since they are nowhere nearly as good on the road as they are at home (a fact that everyone forgets because it seems that the Saints are only on national television when they play in the Superdome), I'm going to with the Niners in this one.
San Francisco 27, New Orleans 22
Denver (+13.5) at New England
Brace yourself America, we're in for another round of Tebow Time. I can't say that I've ever really liked Tebow before this year. Even though I always have been fond of the Florida Gators, I was more into the Danny Wuerffel, Rex Grossman, and Chris Leak led teams. When Tebow got there, I'm not sure if I was put off by the fact that the Gators were "too good" or if I just stopped caring about anything SEC football related, but I didn't seem to care about the Gators as much as I used to. Even though a big deal was made about his religion at that time as well, that isn't what turned me off from him. I guess it's hard to say why Tebow is so polarizing a figure in sports. Ask a diehard football fan and the answer might be because it's incredible to watch someone who has such a terrible skill set play so well (or at least win). Ask the casual fan and they may have an issue with his overly religious actions one way or another. I just really only like him because he helped me out in fantasy this year, quite honestly. But I have to admit, I do enjoy the hell out of watching a guy who really, as a whole, is a terrible NFL quarterback go out and continue to win football games.
The thing with Tebow winning these games though isn't how well he plays in them, as it more often has to do with how bad his opponents play in those games. Each of his fourth quarter comebacks can easily be classified more as fourth quarter collapses by his opponents, especially when Marion Barber seemed to run into Tebow laced Kryptonite when the Bears matched up against Denver. With the Steelers game, part of the reason Pittsburgh lost was because they suffered injury after injury to their defenders in that game. For some reason, it always seems like the breaks seem to go the way of Tebow, and I do not for one second think that it's some "divine intervention".
But if any team can break that streak of miraculous wins it's the Evil Empire known as the New England Patriots. Even though they are nowhere the same team that won those Super Bowls at the beginning of the last decade, they still are held in the same regard and this year's team is probably the closest chance they have to going to a Super Bowl since 2004. Their defense will let Tebow score a time or two, but don't expect any deep bombs after last week, and don't expect the Patriots offense to stay quiet either. Similar to their last meeting, Denver will get their points, but New England will get many, many more.
New England 44, Denver 27
Houston (+7.5) at Baltimore
I'm heading down the path where I end up taking all the home teams which I didn't set out to do at the beginning of this column, so I'm inclined to take Houston here to offset that trend. And while I think this is a game that the Texans can win, I think that Baltimore has the belief that they are on a mission to get back to the Super Bowl. I'm still not sure if that's going to be the case if they have to head into to New England, but in a similar situation this is probably their best chance to make it to the Super Bowl since their previous appearance. I'm not sure if they'll cover, but they will beat Houston on Sunday.
Here's an interesting question for Texans fans - what do you do with T.J. Yates next season? Really, it's not who is lining up at center for Houston that is making my decision, I just think Baltimore is too good to be beaten at home right now. But even if they had Matt Schuab (or Schub as Mayock would say) I wouldn't think their chances would be any better. Yates really isn't a bad quarterback, and he played brilliantly in their playoff win over Cincinnati. Sure, he relies on the playaction roll out a little too much but I wouldn't say that Schaub has a clear advantage over Yates. I always find it odd when a particular player will shine with one team because of injuries in front of him and then go back to being buried on the bench the next season. Remember how good Jacob Tamme was for the Colts last season? Where was he this year? Even when Dallas Clark was out you barely heard from him. Sure, Manning was hurt and all but you still think a player that had such a good season one year would still show up as at least a blip on the radar the next season.
(Sidenote: Sorry for my delayed absence from the site. I know everyone has been waiting a full month for my thoughts on Jacob Tamme.)
Baltimore 20, Houston 2
Just kidding. No team is that terrible that they would only score two points in a playoff game. Oh... wait. In all seriousness, has Mike Smith been fired yet? Most stubborn coach I've ever seen. Kick the damn field goal!
Baltimore 20, Houston 13
New York Giants (+8) at Green Bay
Every Packers fan I know is nervous about this game, and it's mainly for one reason. We've seen it happen before. Eli Manning and the New York Giants got a ton of momentum for a regular season LOSS and turned into a Super Bowl Championship. Those weren't the same Packers back in 2007 that we have now, mainly because of our new weapon at Quarterback. One that hopefully won't throw the game away with a terrible pass in overtime should this game come to that. But if there's any game where I would bet on an away team (after subtracting my love for the Packers, as I am a co-owner after all) it would probably be this one. It's not the parallels to 2007 that I'm worried about, it's more the whole momentum after the Wild Card Weekend thing that fears me. Remember how flat the Falcons looked last year when the Packers went into the Georgia Dome during the divisional playoffs? Could that same thing happen to the Packers? You wouldn't think so, but again you never know.
I really do believe, that albeit quietly, Mike McCarthy is on a mission to be known as the greatest Packers coach of all time. I know that's a tall order, considering he's trying to play for a trophy that has Lombardi's name on it, but McCarthy has always been a man of large goals. You try to not laugh when a tollbooth worker tells you he's going to coach in the NFL someday. McCarthy has always made the most of his opportunities, and he's lead this team to 21 wins in their last 22 tries. You don't do that by accident. If there's any coach that's going to have his guys ready for a big game, it's Mike McCarthy. Not bad for tollbooth willy.
I almost liked it better last year though, when the Packers were the underdog with nothing to lose. This year, there are a ton of expectations on us, and at 15-1, you almost have to win the Super Bowl right? Wouldn't anything less be considered a failure, especially since we (which I can say now, remember - I'm an owner) won the title last year? I know there's supposed to be a five year grace period after your team wins a championship (Bill Simmons came up with that, this is me giving credit to my sources), but I want another title so bad. I want Rodgers to already double up Favre. I want McCarthy and Thompson to be forever remembered in Packers lore. I want the injured guys from last year to get a taste of the Lombardi for themselves. I want Charles Woodson and Barack Obama to see each other again. Please don't take that away from me again, New York. Move aside so that we can all watch the prediction that Mike Mayock and some dudes had back in September come to fruition. At least for the Packers.
Green Bay 38, New York 27
Green Bay 41, New York 40
New York 28, Green Bay 27
I still haven't decided which of those is my real prediction.
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