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Game Over

6th Episode of the debate, AFC and NFC Championship games breakdown. Check it out already:

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Stiltz & Ush

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Below is the 4th episode of the PT Sports Debate podcast. My apologies on the fact that it is only on the Wild Card recap, we had some computer issues and the second half of the podcast(Divisional round predictions) was never recorded. Hope you guys enjoy the first half at least, and we’ll throw in our divisional round predictions as well.


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PT Sports Debate

Divisional Round

Stiltz (3-1 in the playoffs)

Saturday Games:

Saints over Seahawks

I like the upset this week in Seattle. New Orleans is going to be playing with a lot of confidence after going up to Philly and shutting down that high powered offense. I think the Saints D is going to have another great game, partly because Seattle has had offensive line issues this season. Also, because Seattle really doesn’t have a ton of playmakers on offense. The X factor in this game has to be Percy Harvin, if he can play and do anything Harvinlike in this game the Saints would be in a lot of trouble. Drew Brees didn’t have a great game last week, he needs to play a clean game this week in order for the Saints to win. That means that they need to get that running game GOINGGGG!! Mark Ingram, Robinson, Sproles, and Pierre Thomas(If he plays) need to have another strong day on the ground. For as good as Seattle’s D has been this season, teams have been able to run up the middle on them.  Seattle hasn’t been playing their best ball as of late and they have looked vulnerable up there in Seattle, for once in a loooong time. New Orleans is going to get their revenge from that 31-7 drubbing and playoff loss from a 7-9 Seahawks team led by one Matthew Hasselback!

Colts over Pats

What? He is picking another underdog. The quick response is WHY THE HELL NOT?! It is now basketball season in my house due to the Pack being eliminated and I’m riding the Colts train to the Super Bowl. After that improbable comeback last week in Indy, I don’t know how you can bet against the Colts. They are playing their best football at the end of the year, Andrew the Giant is never phased and the Pats are beatable at home. Let’s face it, this is Tom Brady’s worst season statistically in a loong time. Before you say it’s because he doesn’t have insert WR/TE name here, Brady has put up big numbers without the marquee names at wideout for most of his career. Their offense just doesn’t look that great this year, and if Mathis can be a factor in this game the Pats will fall. Colts are a big underdog and I haven’t heard of many people picking the Colts, I just like this team’s resolve. I think Donald Brown and dare I say it, TRICH!, will have a nice game running the ball on a Pats defense that really can’t stop the run. Pep Hamilton sure as hell would love to run the ball the entire game, and dominate that Time of Possession. I think the Colts will go up to Foxboro this weekend, and make a lot of people believers in this team. One last note, be ready to hear a ridiculous amount of coverage on Luck if this does happen.

Sunday Games:

Niners over Panthers

Another road team? The insanity I tell you. I just watched this Niners team, live, go up to Lambeau and play in the coldest conditions I have ever experienced. They are a tough football team who wants to get back to the Super Bowl. I think they are hungrier than this Carolina team, who have little to no playoff experience. Jim Harbaugh is one of the top three coaches in all of football in my opinion, and I really don’t trust Ron Rivera. Cam Newton has not looked good towards the end of the season, almost like his play in the beginning of the year. Their offense is also lacking a lot of playmakers, the 49ers aren’t going to be worried about too many other guys besides #1. This is going to be a defensive struggle, but I think the Niners will have the better game plan. The X factor will be Michael Crabtree, who wasn’t in this last meeting when the Panthers won in a barn burner 10-9. Crabtree and Kap just have a nice chemistry and makes their offense watchable. Just having Crab out there will open up other wideouts and Vernon Davis. In this scenario, the Niners would then go on to host the NFC Championship against the Saints in what would be the last ever game played at Candlestick park. It would also be a rematch of a 2012 playoff classic!

Before I type it, would you be surprised at this point if I picked another ROOOAAADD DAWWWWGGGG. Warriors come out to play!!!

Chargers over Broncos

I don’t even know why the Broncos play for home field advantage when their style is clearly better suited in warm/dome weather. If you look at all of the games from last weekend, the only high scoring affair was the Colts/Chiefs which occurred indoors. People were saying the Saints/Eagles game was going to produce over 1,000 yards of offense and a ton of points….well it didn’t. This is playoff football, and it is freaking cold outside last time I checked. If it’s cold for a 29 year old who has zero surgeries, I wonder how cold and bothered #18 will be out there after being in the league for over 15 years and having multiple surgeries. I don’t like Peyton in this game, last year his numbers were pedestrian at best. He threw a couple of picks, the Broncos had two Special Teams touchdowns, and he couldn’t seal the game for the team. Granted, they still should have won against the Ravens this Broncos defense is a lot worse than last year’s team. The Chargers have a good offense, and that running game just owned the number 3 Defense in the league in Cincy. You think they are worried about one of the worst run defenses in the league stopping their three headed backfield of Matthews, Brown and Woodhead. I think Mccoy will rely heavily on the run game, and Philip Rivers will put up better number than Peyton. The Chargers winning would wrap up another wild weekend in the NFL, with all four road teams winning. Hey people, the only home team that one last week was the Colts and we all know how that game played out.

Super Bowl prediction right now:

NINERS over Colts

In my scenario, I think the Niners and Colts would advance on to the Super Bowl to battle in out in Jersey. I love the Niners in this matchup in a duel between Andrewson and his Mr. Miyagi(Harbaugh). I really think the Niners are the hottest team in football, one of the best coached teams and most importantly one of the deepest teams in the league. Aldon Smith is back playing like himself, they have all those studs at LB, healthy at the right time and ready to get that 6th Lombardi.

USH (3-1 in the playoffs)

Seahawks over Saints

With the potential of HEAVY rains in Seattle Saturday, I’m taking the home team. The weather will affect Drew Brees, and although the running game for the Saints has been much improved the last few weeks, I think that the Seattle defense will be able to contain it without the threat that the NO passing game brings in a good weather game. I also think that the Eagles laid the blueprint for containing Jimmy Graham which is to be physical with him early and often. They hit him every chance they could, and it affected him to the tune of only 3 catches for 44 yards. I think that the Seahawks follow the same mold, and lean on beast mode and Russell Wilson’s legs to bring BIG BALLS PETE a chance to host the NFC Championship game.

Pats over Colts

I know we have been pumping up Lord Andrew over and over, and there is no doubt that he can go to Foxboro and get the W. At the end of the day however, I think Aqib Talib matches up on TY Hilton, and Belicheck decides to make the Indy running game beat them. Will I be shocked if Luck gets it done? Not at all, I just don’t think his team is quite good enough to go into New England and beat the Pats. This Pats team is not the Chiefs, and if the Colts start slow like they did last week, the home crowd and multitude of Chiefs errors will not be there to bail them out this week.

Niners over Panthers

Hopefully this game isn’t the snooze fest that the game a couple of weeks ago was. Both defenses are sick, and specifically the linebacking play in this game will be something to see. I see Cam and Kaep as similar QBs in their ability to take over games, I think that Kaep’s weapons are worlds better than Cam’s though. Now that Crabtree is back and Boldin can go back to being the complimentary zone killer that he has made his career on, the 49ers offense is picking up steam. I don’t see Cam’s supporting cast providing enough help to make that the case.

Broncos over Chargers

This one hurts me to say, and I have never hoped to be more wrong on a pick, but I don’t think my Bolts get it done in Denver for the second time in a month. The Bolts won their previous trip here by controlling the ball with a punishing ground game, and keeping the ball out of Peyton’s hands. This is clearly the ticket if they are going to try and pull off the upset again, but I think that Denver will make adjustments based on that previous matchup. For that reason, I think that if the Charger’s are able to pass to set up the run, and get pressure on Peyton early to get his footwork off, they can get it done. I just don’t think it happens. If the Bolts win, I will pick them the rest of the way, hopefully to the tune of my 40-1 Vegas odds I played when the playoffs started.

ATS Picks 15-4-2 last 4 weeks

Colts +8

Chargers +10

Flacco after signing his 100 million dollar contract

Flacco after signing his 100 million dollar contract

We all know the value placed on the Quarterback in today’s league, however are they actually worth shelling over 100 million dollar contracts. You don’t win the Super Bowl by being good on one side of the ball. Only complete teams can take home the ultimate prize and with a salary cap of $120 million some teams are giving about 17% to their QB position alone. Now franchise quarterbacks will get you in the playoffs consistently, but that also keeps your draft stock towards the bottom of the first round as well. That means you have to be really lucky drafting the right personnel in order to eliminate possible deficiencies. Also if your franchise Quarterback happens to get hurt(this is football people), your team is suddenly the worst in the division **wink wink Green Bay**.

Packers fans watching their season coming crashing down

If you take a look at Super Bowl champions the past few years, there is usually a Quarterback who is playing above his contract. Here are the list of Super Bowl winning QBs the past 10 seasons, only 7 names! All of these Quarterbacks listed weren’t getting SUPERSTAR money, but they were playing at a superstar level.

*Tom Brady X 2 (=’03,=’04)* WAS PLAYING ON A CONTRACT JUST OVER $30 MILLION, IT WAS HIS FIRST CONTRACT FOLLOWING HIS ROOKIE DEAL. HE SIGNED AN EXTENSION AFTER THESE TWO SUPER BOWL WINS, IN 2005, FOR AROUND 48.5 MILLION GIVING HIM ABOUT $12.5 MILLION/YEAR, EXTREMELY MODEST FOR A THREE-TIME SUPER BOWL CHAMPION.

*Eli Manning X 2 (’07,’11)* SIGNED AN EXTENSION IN 2009

*Big Ben X 2 (’05,’08)* SIGNED AN EXTENSION IN 2008

*Peyton Manning (’06)* WAS PLAYING ON A 7 YEAR/98 MILLION EXTENSION FOLLOWING HIS ROOKIE DEAL IN 2003. MAKING AROUND 14.5 MILLION/YEAR, NOT DETRIMENTAL TO A TEAM’S CAP.

*Drew Brees (’09)* SIGNED NEW MEGA CONTRACT IN 2012

*Aaron Rodgers (’10)* WAS PLAYING WELL ABOVE AN EXTENSION HE SIGNED IN HIS FIRST YEAR AS A STARTER FOLLOWING HIS ROOKIE DEAL. SIGNED NEW MEGA CONTRACT IN 2013

*Joe Flacco (=9112)* SIGNED NEW MEGA CONTRACT IN 2013

Now let’s take a look at the highest paid QBs in the league.  You’ll be surprised by the names on this list and how all of these guys are getting paid more than Tom Brady.

*Aaron Rodgers $22 million/year (5 years/110 mil signed 2013)

*Joe Flacco $20.1 million/year (6 years/ 120 mil signed 2013)

*Drew Brees  $20 million/year (5 years/100 mil signed 2012)

*Peyton Manning $19.2 million/year (5 year/96 mil signed 2012)

Tony Romo $18 million/year (6 years/108 mil signed in 2013)

*Eli Manning $16.25 million/year (extension in 2009 6 years $97.5 million)

Philip Rivers $15.5 million/year (extension in 2012 4 years $93 million)

Matt Schaub $15.4 million/year (extension in 2012 4 years $62 million)

Mark Sanchez $13.5 million/year (extension in 2012 3 years $40.5 million)

Sam Bradford $13 million/year (6 years $78 million signed in 2010)

*Big Ben $12.75 million/year (extension in 2008 8 years $102 million)

Matthew Stafford $12.25 million/year (6 years $73.5 million signed in 2009)

*Tom Brady $11.4 million/year (5 years $57 million extension in 2013)

*Denotes Super Bowl winning QB

Pretty remarkable, right? Tom Brady is one of the only QBs deserving of $20 million/year, but instead restructures his contract to keep his team competitive. How is he rewarded? Welker doesn’t get resigned and he’s left with a group of misfits on Offense. However the point is Brady gets it, unlike most of these other Quaterbacks who are just out for a payday regardless of the negative effects on the team in the long run. Specifically, Peyton Manning signed the biggest deal of his career following major neck surgeries. I get that he was the most coveted free agent of all time, but it really limits your team’s ability to improve anywhere else.

Manning is aware of all the critics and haters, so why wouldn’t his main goal be to win more Super Bowls. By taking on a boatload of a contract, Manning showed that he is just out there for himself. He is already making a ton of money off of sponsors: Papa Johns, Direct TV, Buick?? Peyton Manning, one of the best commercial athletes, doesn’t need the money. As a result, this Denver team isn’t making the Super Bowl. They have a nice offense but aren’t going to be stopping anybody on defense. I think they’ll get eliminated in the divisional round…..again. “At least he got all those records”-Peyton supporters

The NOODLE! Look away Broncos Fans

The biggest contract up there without a Super Bowl ring on his resume is Tony Romo. He just signed a 6 year extension for over 100 million, which would mean he is going to be 39 at the end of the deal. He is about to have back surgery and is notorious for late season/game collapses. The Cowboys defense was abysmal this season and they could use all the help they can get. They do have the benefit of being the richest franchise in the NFL but are limited thanks to Jerry Jones, GM/Owner/Wannabe Head Coach/Motivational Speaker/Narcissist/Living in the Past/Visionary/Puppet Master/Forever in debt to the Vikings and Herschel Walker/More importantly indebted for life to Jimmy Johnson/Jimmy Johnson Fan/Still Misses Jimmy Johnson/The guy who fired Tom Landry/Mr. Ego/71 Year old Man but I used to play football at the college level/Did you hear I played football once, I was a RB & Offensive lineman in my day…….Jerry Jones everybody!

JERRY JONES!!!!!

If we follow this trend, then we have a lot of intriguing Super Bowl picks based off of this theory. In the AFC: Cincy- Even though we have talked about how much we are against Dalton leading this team to the Super Bowl, they are stacked on both sides of the ball and special teams. If Dalton were to somehow get hot ala Flacco last year, this team could cruise to the Super Bowl. Indy- Andrew Luck is on the 2nd year of his rookie deal and big paydays are in his future, but this team fits the mold of recent champs.  NE-Brady’s modest salary allows the team a lot of flexibility, and they find ways to get it done. They went to the Super Bowl with the worst ranked defense! KC- Alex Smith’s new deal is nothing special, but I don’t think he is a Quarterback who will ever got hot unless he gets in a time machine and trades spots with Aaron Rodgers the night of the draft and sweated out that first round on National Television.

Birth of Aaron Rodgers, Photobomber extraordinaire

In the NFC there are four teams as well: Seattle/San Fran- For the same reasons as Indy, but both teams have way better defenses and running games. Russell Wilson is in his rookie deal and I’m sure he’ll have a nice payday eventually.  This theory really suits Seattle and San Francisco the most, if either of them win the Super Bowl it has a lot to do with their ability to build a complete roster without being constrained by a major QB contract. Philly-Nick Foles, rookie deal. Carolina- Cam is another player on his way to getting a big deal, especially if he makes a run during the Playoffs(SO WIN NOW).

Let’s look at the franchise QBs in the playoffs- Manning, Brady, Brees, Rivers, Rodgers

Manning- Discussed above- see defense

Brady- Discussed above, like their chances of getting to another Super Bowl in a wide open AFC.

Brees- A team that is good on both sides of the ball, the only problem is they let home-field advantage slip away. Terrible road team and Brees has never won a playoff game on the road.

Rivers- Questionable defense and its pretty unrealistic they make it to the Super Bowl and win. I guess crazier things have happened.

Rodgers- A team that relies on drafting and developing players. They have a lot of holes in their defense, the addition of a running game makes this Packers team different than the past few years. They could get hot like 2010, and if they continue causing turnovers could end up in the Super Bowl totally defunking all of this time I spent writing this. **OF COURSE I’M ALL FOR THIS ONE ACTUALLY HAPPENING, HELLLLLOOOO***

How can you blame these players for wanting to get paid as much as possible anyway? The Owners are the ones making all the money, but refuse to hash it out accordingly(like smart businessmen). These huge Quarterback contracts aren’t good for the league and I’m sure they cause some tension in the locker room amongst players. Maybe these issues will be worked out during the next strike/CBA. In the meantime, we’ll continue to enjoy high scoring games and coming up with theories on Super Bowl contenders.

Randall “Stiltz”

 

Listen to the third episode of the PT Sports Debate with Stiltz and Ush

On the 3rd episode of the PT Sports Debate we are talking about the Wildcard round of the NFL Playoffs. We make our predictions, Ush has some ATS bets and we’ll briefly talk about Black Monday. As always, follow us on Twitter @PTSportsDebate, keep reading the blog and  tell your friends! Spread the love people!

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Illegal Formation

San Diego Vs Kansas City

Kansas City knows what Bolts fans have been saying all year and that is they win all the games against good opponents and lose the games they should win. By that logic, Kansas City benches their starters and the Chargers almost blow their chance to get in the playoffs! But seriously, the Chiefs had this game and it all slipped away. A lot of talk today about the illegal formation by the Chargers that was never called. Refs miss calls, but I’m sure there are a lot of angry Steelers fans out there because of this.

San Francisco Vs Arizona

Great game capped off by this sick catch by Quinton Patton with 22 seconds left to set up the game winning field goal for San Fran.

Amazing catch by Patton

Dallas Vs Philly

A game that Dallas controlled for the most point, only to succumb to turnovers…….again. Costly turnovers in the first half by players not named Romo(Murray and Witten)allowed Philly to have a nice lead going into halftime. Both of those turnovers went straight into Philly’s defenders hands, is there a team with worse luck than the Cowboys (Don’t answer that Cleveland). I loved the way DeMarco has run the ball the entire year, he did not want to go home last night. DeMarchoo choo Murray everybody:

DeMarchoo Choo Murray

You knew this game was going to come down to the wire no matter what because the football gods love messing with Cowboys fans, Orton pulls a Romo with a game ending interception. Hats off to Dallas who played a hell of a game. Great offense all year, terrible defense. Expect Kiffin to be fired and for Dallas to return to it’s 3-4 ways next year.

Do the Romo **da da da da da da da da da da**

Green Bay Vs Chicago

Longest rivalry in the NFL lived up to its billing. Everything just seems to be going the Packers way as of late, including the craziest touchdown of the year.

One of the oddest TDs you’ll ever see

Rodgers was able to shake off some early miscues and make one of the biggest passes of his career. All out blitz by the Bears on 4th and 8, Rodgers is able to elude Peppers thanks to a solid chip block by Kuhn and hit a wide open Cobb for the game winning TD. I don’t know if Rodgers will get enough credit for this throw, he is scrambling to his left and throws an off balance 50 yarder to Cobb. Questionable call of the day goes to Mike McCarthy for electing not to go for two early in the 4th, a call that almost came back to haunt the Packers.

THAAAAA COBBBBBBBLEEEERR IS BACK

Welcome back Randall

Randall Cobb said after the game he saw the safety was flat footed and knew he had him beat deep so he threw his hand in the air right away. Even though Cobb has been out 10 weeks and Rodgers 7, the chemistry is still strong with this duo. Packers fans will remember this play for a loooooooong time, I couldn’t believe my eyes when there was a wide open Randall Cobb streaking down the field. Glad to see my son Randall isn’t cursed either.

Last but not least, it was Tony Gonzalez’s final game in the NFL.

Thank you Tony!

Not the season he came back for, but he still gave it his all like a true professional. There is no doubt that he could have played another three years with this kind of productivity, the guy is a machine. Tony finished his 17th year with 83 rec 859 yds 8 TDs

Career Stats:

1325 Rec 15,127 yds 111 TDs

For a Tight End to finish in the TOP 6 for all of these categories is just insane. Tony will be missed, one of the greatest of all time.

2nd ALL TIME IN RECEPTIONS BEHIND JERRY RICE

5th ALL TIME IN RECEPTION YARDS

6th ALL TIME IN RECEIVING TDs

E-mail exchange the past couple of days

STILTZ:

Hey Ush,

What was your biggest surprise from yesterday’s games? We tied this week in picks regardless of what happens tonight since we both have the Niners.

USH:

I had three big surprises yesterday. First, was the Seahawks/Arizona game. Being able to go on the road to Seattle, and grind out a victory in spite of my man Heisman Palmer was very impressive. It’s no secret that the Arizona defense is one of the best and most physical in the league, but to see them absolutely bully the Seahawks at home was unexpected. The Cardinals exposed the Seahawks weakness, which is their WR corps. By being physical and being disciplined in their pursuit of Russel Wilson, they were able to prevent the Seahawks from getting into a flow completely.

Secondly, I was surprised with the Saints/Panthers game. Not with the outcome, it was sure to be a close game between two of the top teams in the NFC, but first, the damn near hurricane that it was played in for much of the game, and then the fact that Cam Newton was able to engineer a closing seconds game winning drive to end it. It seemed like a reversal of roles to me. Cam looked uncomfortable and out of sync all game, but like the gamer that he is started slinging it with the game on the line to propel his team to victory. Two additional things: jesus did Carolina’s stadium look like an absolute sh*thole. There were clips of the water just pouring through holes in the upper decks onto the seats below which would have had me PISSED if I was anywhere near those seats. Also, no way anything that allows that much water to pour through can be safe. Second, Carolina’s Defense, and specifically Luke Keuchly is a damn beast.

**EDITOR’S NOTE: USH’S DREAM SEAT FOR THE PANTHERS GAME**

Third, was the absolute no shows by Chicago and Ravens. Both teams with a lot to play for, and they got their asses kicked. Inexcusable.

What about you man? Remember to pour some out for Tony Romo today, bummed to hear about his injury, but as a non Cowboys fan I hope that the fans realize what an awesome QB they have in him and appreciate him a little more when he comes back

STILTZ:

Yeah, the Romo injury sucks for all football fans. Whether you like him or not, the guy is a gamer. As much as the Eagles want to win the division, you know they wanted to beat the Cowboys with Romo at the helm. For as much crap as everybody gives the guy, he keeps the Cowboys in every game and that’s saying something with that horrendous defense they have this year. He throws the game winning touchdown yesterday, but the only story out of that game is his injury.

The Cardinals are easily one of the hottest teams in football and they may end up watching the playoffs from home. Top three defenses in the league right now: Seattle, Carolina and Arizona? I just love the way they are playing football, even with an over the hill Palmer. One of my biggest surprises is how vulnerable all of the potential playoff teams are looking. Seattle has some serious o-line issues and Percy Harvin missing the year has hurt them tremendously. They are desperate for a playmaker on the outside. Do you trust any of these teams?
We all know Denver’s defense has had the benefit of one of the top scoring offenses in the history of the NFL, and with Von Miller sidelined with a torn ACL I don’t know how far they can make it in the playoffs anymore. I’m wondering which team is going to step up here and make a run. With all of the injuries, it’s going to come down to good QB play, defense, and coaching. Of course it sounds simple, but there just aren’t many good coaches in the league or QBs for that matter.
So let’s get a list of pretenders or contenders. Here are mine, so I’m going to just predict who will be in the playoffs or not.
Pretenders:
Chiefs- Alex Smith can only get you so far. This week proved once again if the Chiefs are down, they are not coming back. They just can’t get the ball down the field fast enough. I don’t trust that defense, and their pass rush has done nothing as of late.
Bengals- Andy Dalton isn’t going to get it done. With an average QB like Dalton you really need an elite defense to mask his faults. Look at the 2003 Bucs, Brad Johnson at QB but they had the best defense in the league. 2000 Ravens, one of the best defenses of all time but Dilfer at QB. The Bengals defense is good but they aren’t great.
Carolina- I like their defense but question marks at Coach and QB for me. It was nice to see Cam make a game winning drive after playing poorly the entire game but I don’t think he’s ready to make any sort of run in the playoffs.
New Orleans- They’ve done it in the past but they had home field advantage that year. Saints having to potentially win 4 road games is too much to ask.
Dolphins- I don’t trust Tannehill in a big game, the Dolphins secondary, or the coach.
Contenders:
Seattle, San Fran, Pats- No reason needed
Eagles- Chip’s done a great job this year, the players have bought in and they love playing for him. Once that offense gets going we saw what could happen. The only thing that concerns me is the same thing that worried me when he was in the NCAA. We all saw what happened when the Ducks played Alabama/Stanford. Philly vs Seattle/San Fran, might be tough to watch for Eagles fans.
Colts- Last year they won all the close ones, this year they find ways to come back. They can be dominant on both sides of the ball and I love me some Andrew the giant. Sneaky AFC champ pick here
Broncos- Close to being a pretender with me just based off Peyton’s play in the winter and playoffs. You compound that with their defense and they aren’t that great. Only reason I have him here is the fact I think the AFC is soft so they can at least make it to the AFC Championship game.
Packers- Of course they turn into a pretender if Aaron doesn’t return. However, if he comes back that whole team will be playing with new life. Cobb even has a shot at returning in the playoffs which would make their offense that much better. Their defense is their weak spot, but with ARod and Lacy controlling TOP I think they can make a run.
7 contenders, 5 pretenders… Not bad. Thoughts on your contenders and pretenders?
USH:
To me, there are far less contenders, and way more pretenders. However, as we’ve seen in the past few years, one of these pretenders can get hot and win it all.

Contenders:
Seattle, Broncos, Colts, Pats
I was tempted to add both Carolina and New Orleans to this list, Carolina has a championship defense that will keep them in any game, and New Orleans has Drew Breeeeeeees. Cam and the defense are capable of leading them to the championship, but they lack the playmakers necessary, so they just miss. The Saints just have not been playing their best football late in the year, and that, combined with the fact that they will have to win games on the road, keeps them off the list for me.
Seattle is a contender for me for the obvious reasons: Sick defense, great running game, great young QB, best home field advantage in the NFL. All of these are legitimate reasons, but one reason I think they are MORE of a contender this week than they were a week ago is their loss to the Cardinals. I think it was a big wakeup call for them, and will be sobering enough to drive them to a championship. Their aura at home, along with Russel Wilson’s undefeated record, was broken. I think that this makes them step back as a team and realize that their ticket to the super bowl does not get punched when they clinch home field, and that will refocus this team when they may not have been before the loss.
The Broncos losing Von Miller obviously hurts them. Their defense has just been “good enough” all year as it is, and losing his ability to play in space and pressure the QB won’t help things. With the offense Peyton has, they will be in every game however. Welker will be healthy, and I think their loss to the Pats will teach them something about winning games in bad weather. During that game, the Broncos didn’t flex their normal game plan of passes to the perimeter and shots downfield. Those throws are most easily affected by the elements, and need to be pin point passes most often. What the Pats do when the weather gets bad is run a lot of dig routes to the inside, and quick hitches that allow Touchdown Tommy to drive the ball short distances and put it on his receivers. When the weather gets poor, I look for the Broncos to start doing this as well.
The Colts might be a surprising pick here, but this is how much I love Andrew Luck. Their defense is underrated, and with the emergence of Donald Brown they have been able to maintain a level of balance that helps Luck dominate. This is my pick for that lower seed to make a super bowl run.
New England will be a contender as long as they have Brady and Belichek. It is amazing how they have been able to adapt and cope with their injuries this year. Their three headed running game has been very effective recently, and Edelman and Amendola have provided the shiftiness and break off the line necessary to get the quick 5-8 yards hits that move the chains. Combine this with one of the best shut down defenders in the league, their ability to go into any environment and play well, and the coldest mo fo in the league under center and you have a super bowl combination. New England is likely the only team in the playoffs (ok maybe the Packers if they get there) that will be COMFORTABLE if its snowing or below zero out. That is a HUGE advantage.
Well Stiltz, Merry Christmas brother. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of our friends and troops downrange, as well as their families and friends at home.