Tag Archives: playoffs

Revisiting My NFL Predictions and Revised Playoff Picks: Part Two, NFC

Preseason Playoff Picks:

WILD CARD ROUND:

Falcons over Rams

Eagles over Bucs

DIVISIONAL ROUND:

Packers over Falcons

Saints over Eagles

CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP:

Packers over Saints

I didn’t do as well with my NFC picks, I picked five of the eight playoff teams correctly. Picking the Bucs to earn a wild card slot really damages my limited credibility. I knew a big reason they won 10 games in 2010 was their incredibly easy schedule. But still, I saw a very talented roster led by quarterback Josh Freeman that I assumed would only get better with another year of experience. However, when the Buccaneer ship started to sink, that team flat out quit. I’m pretty sure the Colts would have beat them by four or five touchdowns if they had played in week 17. Raheem Morris deserved to lose his job, a coach just can’t let things get that ugly, that quick. A quick aside, there are rumors that the Bucs are looking at former Packers and Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman to replace Morris. Meh, that would be an uninspiring hire.

Actually, I’m not sure, picking the Rams to win the NFC West might be more embarrassing. Again, I saw a young team that barely missed out on the playoffs (albeit with a losing record), led by a young, talented quarterback, that should have only gotten better with a year’s experience. Alas, Sam Bradford couldn’t stay healthy and the Rams never got on track. I also didn’t expect the NFC West to feature one of the best teams in the NFL in 2011. The Jim Harbaugh-led 49ers were great from start to finish, and the Rams, Cardinals and Seahawks never had a chance.

I don’t regret my Eagles pick. The Eagles brought in a ton of new talent this season that didn’t really mesh until it was too late. That’s not all too surprising, considering the lockout washed out the offseason. Philly is expected to fire offensive line coach turned defensive coordinator (great idea, right?) Juan Castillo and replace him with Steve Spagnoulo, former Rams head coach and defensive coordinator of the 2007 Super Bowl champion Giants. If they draft or sign a legit linebacker or two, watch out for the Eagles in 2012.

Revised Playoff Picks:

WILD CARD ROUND:

Falcons over Giants

Saints over Lions

DIVISIONAL ROUND:

Packers over Giants

Saints over 49ers

CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP:

Packers over Saints

As with my AFC picks, I’m sticking with my preseason conference championship pick, Packers over Saints. The Saints have looked sensational lately, they’ve been playing as well as any team in the NFL since their baffling loss to the Rams in week eight. While the Packers have cruised to a outstanding 15-1 record, one can argue that they have never looked as dominant as the Saints have since the team’s bye in week 11. The Saints have not just been beating fellow NFC playoff teams, they’ve been embarrassing them. They’ve beaten the Giants by 25, the Lions by 14 and the Falcons by 29.

However, all three of those games came at the Super Dome. If the Saints are to make it to Indianapolis, they’ll most likely have to win two road games, in San Francisco and Green Bay (Well, not if the Giants or Falcons knock off the Packers, but we’ll get to that later…).

I think a Saints/49ers match-up would be close and entertaining, but I like the Saints to win. The Niners defense, led by All-Pro lineman Justin Smith and linebackers Patrick Willis and Navorro Bowman, has been superb this season, but San Fran just won’t have the offense to keep pace with Drew Brees and company.

If the Saints end up playing the Packers in the conference championship game, I like the Packers to ride their home field advantage to a victory. I tend not to believe that home field advantage plays a huge role in determining a winner, but I believe it does in this circumstance. The Saints are so dominant in the Super Dome, and their offense is best in an indoor, controlled atmosphere. While the Packers’ offense is best in dome conditions, I think the Saints would be two or three point favorites in a home game against the Packers. But, Lambeau is Lambeau. The frozen tundra, where the Packers have just lost two playoff games in its history (2003 to the Falcons and 2008 to the Giants).

The Packers/Saints game in week one was sensational, and I believe a re-match will be as well. I like the Packers in a tight game, just like week one. I just can’t see the Saints defeating the Packers at Lambeau in January. I would love to be proved wrong.

On the other hand, I would not be shocked to see the Packers lose in the divisional round against the Giants, or even the Falcons. I think the Giants especially pose dangerous match-up problems for the Packers.

To beat Green Bay, you must be able to generate an effective pass rush with your front four. You can’t afford to sacrifice coverage by constantly blitzing linebackers and safeties against Aaron Rodgers. With Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwanuka, the Giants definitely have the ability to do that. Throw in the fact that the Packers enter the playoffs with an injury-riddled offensive line, Rodgers could face a lot of pressure in a potential match-up with the Giants.

The Giants offense should also put some fear into the Packers’ faithful. The Packers’ defense gave up the most passing yards in the history of the NFL this season. Eli Manning has entered the elite level of quarterbacks and, if they’re all healthy, Manning will be working with one of the best recruiting corps in the NFL (Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham).

The Packers have also had trouble stopping the run, and just stopping offenses in general, as they forced the least amount of punts of any team this season. The Giants haven’t run a ton this season, but with a solid O-line, Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw, the Giants should have the ability to hold the ball and control the pace of the game.

All that said, I still believe the Packers will get to Super Bowl XLVI. Do I think they’ll defend their championship belt in Indy? I’ll post my Super Bowl and award picks soon.

Leave a comment

Filed under Sports, Sports Predictions

Revisiting My NFL Predictions and Revised Playoff Picks: Part One, AFC

Now that the NFL regular season is over, I thought I’d revisit the playoff and award predictions I made before week one, and see how silly they look now. This ended up being longer than I thought, so I’m going to break it up into three parts, 1. AFC 2. NFC 3. Super Bowl and Awards. (Previous picks are in italics.)

Preseason Picks:

WILD CARD ROUND:

Jets over Chargers

Ravens over Texans

DIVISIONAL ROUND:

Patriots over Jets

Ravens over Steelers

CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP:

Ravens over Patriots

I’m pretty happy with these picks. I got six of the eight AFC playoff teams right, missing on the two biggest surprises, the Bengals and the Broncos.

I actually had the Bengals going 2-14 to secure the coveted first pick in the NFL Draft. In my alternate prediction world, the Bengals would have picked Andrew Luck to be their franchise QB. As it turns out, they drafted their franchise quarterback in 2011. I had no idea Andy Dalton would be this good this quickly, even though I saw him carve up my Badgers in person during the 2011 Rose Bowl. The Bengals were paper tigers this season though, going 0-7 against playoff teams. They beat one team over .500, the 9-7 Titans.

I had the Broncos 5-11, and they were a few Tebow miracles and Marion Barber acts of stupidity from actually finishing with that record. Tebow gets all the pub, but linebacker Von Miller was the true revelation this season in Denver. He’ll be stud for years to come.

Revised Playoff Picks:

WILD CARD ROUND:

Steelers over Broncos

Texans over Bengals

DIVISIONAL ROUND:

Patriots over Steelers

Ravens over Texans

CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP:

Ravens over Patriots

Even after 17 weeks of action, I still don’t really know what to make of the AFC, so I didn’t make many changes to my preseason picks. Thanks to some huge flaws (i.e. the Patriots’ defense) or major injuries (i.e. Matt Schaub and Mario Williams), every team is vulnerable.

The Steelers probably have too many injuries to too many important players. I’m not really including Rashard Mendenhall, I don’t think Isaac Redman is a significant downgrade, Mendenhall is overrated. Big Ben and LaMarr Woodley are nursing injuries, and Ryan Clark will miss the game in Denver due to a blood disorder.

The Texans have just been decimated by injuries. Schaub and Mario Williams are out for the season, and Andre Johnson’s health status is still uncertain. I just can’t see a team quarterbacked by T.J. Yates or Jake Delhomme going very far in the playoffs, even if they do have my man J.J. Watt anchoring the defensive line. If the Texans had the services of Schaub, Williams and Johnson, I would have loved their chances to make the Super Bowl this season. It’s really a shame, but kudos to the franchise for making the playoffs for the first time in its history.

The Patriots’ defense is just awful, there’s just no way around it. As great as Tom Brady and the Pats offense is, I just have a hard time seeing New England making it through the AFC without being betrayed by its porous defense.

I’ll stick with my pick as the Baltimore Ravens as AFC Champions, even if I still have many doubts about Joe Flacco and the rest of the Baltimore offense. Flacco showed me a lot in the Ravens’ comeback win at Heinz Field this year, but its still really hard for me to trust Flacco. My pick of the Ravens has a hell of lot more to do with Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Jarrett Johnson, Lardarius Webb and the rest of the Ravens defense.

Leave a comment

Filed under Sports, Sports Predictions

Fun With MLB Awards and Playoff Predictions

AL MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

Ellsbury had a tremendous season all around. He got on base at a .376 clip, hit over 30 homers, stole almost 40 bases and played great defense in center. I gave Ellsbury the slight nod over Jose Bautista (MLB’s best hitter in 2011) because of Ellsbury’s superior defense at a premium position. Ellsbury’s speed, he stole 39 bases, also helped put him over the top.

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, BOS

.321 AVG, .376 OBP, .552 SLG, 32 HR, 39, SB, 9.6 WAR

2. Jose Bautista, TOR

.302 AVG, .447 OBP, .608 SLG, 1.056 OPS, 43 HR, 8.4 WAR

3. Justin Verlander, DET

24-5, 2.40 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 9.0 K/9, 170 ERA+, 8.6 WAR

4. Miguel Cabrera, DET

.344 AVG, .448 OBP, .586 SLG, 30 HR, 105 RBI, 7.3 WAR

5. Curtis Granderson, NYY

.262 AVG, .364 OBP, .552 SLG, 41 HR, 119 RBI, 25 SB, 6.9 WAR

6. Dustin Pedroia, BOS

.307 AVG, .387 OBP, .474 SLG, 21 HR, 26 SB, 8.0 WAR

7. Ian Kinsler, TEX

.255 AVG, .355 OBP, .477 SLG, 32 HR, 30 SB, 7.8 WAR

8. Adrian Gonzalez, BOS

.338 AVG, .410 OBP, .548 SLG, 27 HR, 117 RBI, 6.4 WAR

9. Robinson Cano, NYY

.302 AVG, .349 OBP, .533 SLG, 28 HR, 118 RBI, 5.6 WAR

10. CC Sabathia, NYY

19-8, 3.00 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 8.7 K/9, 147 ERA+, 6.9 WAR

AL CY YOUNG

Verlander has been flat out dominant this season, and gets my vote for Cy Young. However, the resumes of Verlander and Sabathia are closer than it is made out to be, as Verlander is seen as the far and away favorite.

1. Justin Verlander, DET

24-5, 2.40 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 9.0 K/9, 170 ERA+, 8.6 WAR

2. CC Sabathia, NYY

19-8, 3.00 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 8.7 K/9, 147 ERA+, 6.9 WAR

3. Jered Weaver, LAA

18-8, 2.41 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 7.6 K/9, 158 ERA+, 6.6 WAR

4. C.J. Wilson, TEX

16-7, 2.94 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 8.3 K/9, 152 ERA+, 5.0 WAR

5. Dan Haren, LAA

16-10, 3.17 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 5.81 K/BB, 120 ERA+, 4.0 WAR

AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Hellickson is clearly the AL’s rookie of the year for his solid performance this entire season. However, is he even the most talented rookie pitcher on the Rays? Phenom Matt Moore, who only made one start for the Rays this season, will be the Game 1 starter for Tampa tomorrow.

1. Jeremy Hellickson, TB

13-10, 2.95 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 5.6 K/9, 126 ERA+, 4.2 WAR

2. Eric Hosmer, KC

.293 AVG, .334 OBP, .465 SLG, 19 HR, 78 RBI, 1.6 WAR

3. Dustin Ackley, SEA

.273 AVG, .348 OBP, .417 SLG, .340 wOBA, 2.7 WAR

4. Mark Trumbo, LAA

.254 AVG, .291 OBP, .477 SLG, 29 HR, 87 RBI, 2.3 WAR

5. Ivan Nova, NYY

16-4, 3.70 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 5.3 K/9, 119 ERA+, 3.6 ERA

This is a really close call. Kemp and Braun both had great seasons, and no matter who wins the winner will be deserving. However, I went with Kemp because his offensive are slightly better than Braun’s, and he plays a more premium position than Braun, and plays it a bit better.

NL MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

1. Matt Kemp, LAD

.324 AVG, .399 OBP, .586 SLG, 39 HR, 126 RBI, 40 SB, 8.7 WAR

2. Ryan Braun, MIL

.332 AVG, .397 OBP, .531 SLG, 33 HR, 111 RBI, 33 SB, 7.8 WAR

3. Justin Upton, ARZ

.289 AVG, .369 OBP, .529 SLG, 31 HR, 88 RBI, 21 SB, 6.5 WAR

4. Joey Votto, CIN

.309 AVG, .416 OBP, .531 SLG, 29 HR, 103 RBI, 6.8 WAR

5. Prince Fielder, MIL

.299 AVG, .415 OBP, .566 SLG, 38 HR, 120 RBI, 5.6 WAR

6. Troy Tulowitzki, COL

.302 AVG, .372 OBP, .544 SLG, 30 HR, 105 RBI, 6.2 WAR

7. Shane Victorino, PHI

.279 AVG, .355 OBP, .491 SLG, 17 HR, 61 RBI, 5.8 WAR

8. Albert Pujols, STL

.299 AVG, .415 OBP, .566 SLG, 37 HR, 99 RBI, 5.2 WAR

9. Lance Berkman, STL

.301 AVG, .412 OBP, .547 SLG, 31 HR, 94 RBI, 5.0 WAR

10. Jose Reyes, NYM

.337 AVG, .384 OBP, .493 SLG, 39 SB, .386 wOBA, 6.3 WAR

Again, another close call. I’m going with Kershaw because his numbers are just a bit better than Halladay, who had another tremendous season. Lee also had a Cy-worthy season for the Phils. Man, is that rotation going to be a beast in the playoffs.

NL CY YOUNG

1. Clayton Kershaw, LAD

21-5, 2.28 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 9.6 K/9, 163 ERA+, 6.9 WAR

2. Roy Halladay, PHI

19-6, 2.35 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 8.5 K/9, 164 ERA+, 7.4 WAR

3. Cliff Lee, PHI

17-8, 2.40 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 5.67 K/BB, 161 ERA+, 6.9 WAR

4. Ian Kennedy, ARZ

21-4, 2.88 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 8.0 K/9, 137 ERA+, 5.5 WAR

5. Matt Cain, SF

12-11, 2.88 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 7.3 K/9, 123 ERA+, 3.9 WAR

NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Kimbrel stumbled down the stretch, perhaps due to overuse by manager Fredi Gonzalez. It’s no wonder Gonzalez wanted Kimbrel on the mound as much as possible because Kimbrel was flat out un-hittable before September.

1. Craig Kimbrel, ATL

46 Saves, 2.10 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 14.8 K/9, 181 ERA+, 3.0 WAR

2. Vance Worley, PHI

11-3, 3.01 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 8.1 K/9, 129 ERA+, 2.8 WAR

3. Freddie Freeman, ATL

.282 AVG, .346 OBP, .448 SLG, 21 HR, 76 RBI, 1.1 WAR

4. Danny Espinosa, WSH

.236 AVG, .323 OBP, .414 SLG, 21 HR, 17 SB, 3.5 WAR

5. Wilson Ramos, WSH

.267 AVG, .334 OBP, .445 SLG, 15 HR, .332 wOBA, 3.1 WAR

PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS

DIVISION SERIES

Brewers over D-Backs in 4

Phillies over Cardinals in 3

Yankees over Tigers in 4

Rangers over Rays in 4

CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES

Brewers over Phillies in 7

Rangers over Yankees in 6

WORLD SERIES

Brewers over Rangers in 6

MVP: Corey Hart

My predictions are usually wrong, and this is one case where I really, really hope I’m wrong. Anybody but the Brewers, please…

Everything is going Wisconsin’s way (sports wise, definitely not with politics)

Leave a comment

Filed under Sports, Sports Predictions