So the title just deceived you to get you to read this blog. Get over it, folks.
Naughty or nice? Who cares, Christmas has been over, it’s December 29, and the NFL playoffs are on lock.
If there’s a heaven, my father has smiled multiple times this season dating back to February 3, 2008 when the 1972 Miami Dolphins held onto their lone perfect season. He also smiled on December 28, as the Miami Dolphins picked off Brett Favre and the New York Jets three times AND held our most hated team in the NFL, the bastardly New England Patriots, out of the playoffs. The Miami Dolphins are the AFC East champions for the first time since 2000, and making the playoffs for the first time since 2001. Ah, at least my second favorite NFL team is making some noise. Hear ye.
No Jason Taylor, no Zach Thomas, no Chris Chambers, NO PROBLEM. Behind the smart passing of Chad Pennington and the thrilling rushing trio of Ronnie Brown, Patrick Cobbs and Ricky Williams, the Phins took back what was theirs nine seasons ago: the AFC East crown.
The Denver Broncos were once upon a time 8-5. The San Diego Chargers, 5-8. But because choking in the NFL is avid, fans are attracted to watching underdogs and other teams just make unprecedented comebacks. The improbable happened. Jay Cutler threw more passes into double coverage than home interior gifts my Uncle Steve’s wife throws at the wall, and that’s a lot, my friends. San Diego ripped off three consecutive victories, including a thrilling F-U win to knock out Denver last night to clinch the AFC West. There’s nothing more to say about this. If there were, it would be like talking about the Patriots’ 56-3 snapping of the Buffalo Bills from last year, and blowouts are snoozefests unless they’re completely unexpected — and then they’re awesome.
Mike Tomlin looked like the biggest bonehead in America yesterday afternoon. I was talking to my homie g Winston from the north (reppin’ Cleveland twenty-fo’-seven), a relative Browns fan, at the time, and he was pulling out some point blank Jim Ross aphorisms when Willie McGinest and D’Qwell Jackson almost ripped off Ben Roethlisberger’s head. It was a ‘slobberknocker!’ What I don’t understand is why Tomlin was playing his starters in a meaningless game against a crummy Browns team in the final week of the season? You already have seed number two, have fun with it. With the way Tomlin was coaching, you would have thought he wanted them to NOT have a first round bye. He talked about how he didn’t want his players to have that big of a rest, but think about it: you are playing your starters right before the playoffs, against possibly your biggest rivals in the NFL. It was a big game for the Browns — they were missing the playoffs and wanting to get a few hits on the Steelers. Of course they were going to injure one of the Steelers’ players. It’s virtually a part of NFL rules for players on opposing teams to get a little bit of revenge for what they should be getting. Thumbs down, Pittsburgh. Don’t be freakin’ morons like that.
The Dolphins. AFC East champions. I love it; it has a nice ring to it. They’re the only team in the playoffs — besides Atlanta — where I’m even sitting back and rooting for.
The Baltimore Ravens, who pose the scariest defense that will be manned up with in the playoffs, are walking in with a win over Jacksonville (also a horde of props to Baltimore for holding New England AND New York [Jets] out). Joe Flacco’s rookie success and the undaunted play by injured receiver Derick Mason have made the Ravens a frightening group to play.
I’m not going to tell you about the Giants and Titans that are the number one seeds of their respective conferences. I’m not going to tell you about Philadelphia somehow becoming the sixth seed of the NFC or Atlanta grabbing the fifth seeds or how Carolina, in their win more games than usual every couple of years mode, snatched the second seed.
It’s time for some first round playoff picks.
Dolphins over Ravens
I know what you’re thinking: you’re thinking that I’m a homer for saying the Phins can beat the Ravens. Maybe I am. Who cares? I really think this is going to happen. Yes, Chad Pennington is going to get smoked by that vaunted Ravens defense, and yes, the Wildcat is in jeopardy. However, the Phins are bringing something to the table that will make this a completely low scoring game: their own defense. The Phins’ defense, as evident from what they did to Favre and the Jets yesterday, are going to pressure you and try the best they can to force you to give up the ball. Favre did it. And Joe Flacco, the rookie from the University of Delaware, is likely to incur the same.
Colts over Chargers
Good job, Chargers. Nice way to enter the playoffs by winning an AFC East cramper against the Broncos. Now you have the Colts, who you barely beat last year, which last year you also had a tough defense that featured Shawn Merriman and a group of other guys who stepped up. This year, that’s not the case. Sure, the Colts’ run d is handled by some minuscule guys and their pass d is suspect (Chargers’ quarterback Phillip Rivers has been off the chain lately, too), and if it comes down to their kicking game Adam Vinatieri will have a time considering he’s been the most shaky out of any AFC kicker this season, but the Colts have their offense to test San Diego with, not to mention a load of confidence and reason to exact revenge on San Diego for last year’s playoff game in the Divisional Round.
Falcons over Cardinals
This will be a doozie. The Cardinals’ passing attack that’s being anchored by the former two time MVP from his Greatest Show on Turf days in St. Louis, Kurt Warner, is vaunted — almost as vaunted as the Baltimore Ravens’ defense — and for a good reason. The numbers being poured in by that offense are ridiculous. Tim Hightower, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin. A core group of guys (I’m not mentioning Edgerrin James because he fell off his high horse) that are always capable of having big days. But Arizona, you have a problem: Atlanta is one of the toughest teams to play in the NFL because they never quit. They’re a group of guys (I’m sadly beginning to write like the way John Madden sounds) who are young and energetic. The running attack of Jerious Norwood and Michael Turner have transcended the Falcons. Also, the passing that’s been handled by rookie Matt Ryan has proved successful, as he has hinted at being a franchise quarterback. In the end, Atlanta looks more powerful and more balanced than Arizona, who shouldn’t be in the playoffs anyway. . . but they play in an NFC West that features the Rams, Seahawks and 49ers.
Eagles over Vikings
Being in any other division, the Vikes missed the playoffs. A lot of short-sighted analysts had these buffoons as the number one seed in the NFC before the season. Way to go. A couple of games with Tarvaris Jackson and Gus Frerotte landed these guys a slim division win that didn’t come until yesterday, the culmination of week 17. The Eagles barely got into the playoffs, but did so with thunder, by hammering Dallas like the way O.J. Simpson hammered Nicole Brown (HOLY SHIT, THAT WAS UNNECESSARY). The Eagles have more experience, more weapons, and more game than the Vikings. Unless Adrian Peterson brings a double dosage to the table and Vikings’ D (Jared Allen in particular) steps up like never before, the Eagles have this one in the bag.