Last week’s Record: Jesse 4-0, Tom 3-1
PLAYOFF RECORD: Tom 5-3, Jesse 5-3
THUD NFL PLAYOFF PICKS WEEK THREE: THE FINAL COUNTDOWN
New England at Denver
Tom: And here we are–probably where a lot of people said we would be about midway through the season. We had our flashes of Kansas City undefeatedness and Green Bay Packer feel-good stories and even the Bengals, Dolphins, Cowboys and Bears were thinking they could be a contender. But after the smoke clears, we’re down to the four teams that no one is really surprised at being here.
And it’s the battle of the old guard vs. the new guard. And here’s the two “old men” of the playoffs…stop me if you’ve heard this one before…Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. The Patriots and their newfound run game blasted Indy last week, and Andrew Luck’s turnovers doomed his team this time instead of just being one more thing to overcome towards victory. The Broncos and Chargers final score doesn’t show the domination that was had over Rivers and his lightning bolted brethren. Peyton hasn’t had much success vs. Brady in the past, but Denver’s run defense is as good as their passing defense is bad. So it most likely will go to Brady and his inexperienced receivers (and no Gronk) to win the game. That might be trouble. And since Jesse tied it up last week, we need a few difference makers.
Jesse: Regardless of the outcomes, Sunday will be Football Christmas, with the four best teams in the NFL playing for all the marbles. I’m already planning on smoking some chicken wings, making a ton of mac and cheese and stuffing my face for the occasion. In honor of Peyton, I may grill up some Omaha Steaks as well.
Brady / Manning XV is the main narrative of the game, but recall last week that New England won handily thanks to its running game and Andrew Luck making too many mistakes. Manning can be goaded into making mistakes, but Denver’s rushing defense was ranked 7th this year, as opposed to Indy, who ranked 26th. New England’s defense is ranked 30th, although they managed to lock down the Colts last week.
So why am I picking the Patriots? I think it’s because I simply don’t trust Peyton Manning. He’s had an incredible season, but I think New England’s Belichick-coached defense will be able to stop him. New England is made up of leftovers and cast-offs (save for one crucial position), but I still think they’re the better team.
San Francisco at Seattle
Jesse: The two best teams in the league are playing in Seattle. The Carroll/Harbaugh blood feud has only intensified over the years, and that intensity has spilled over to the teams. This is going to be as intense as football can possibly get. I predict a healthy amount of fights before, during and after the game, both on the field and in the stands.
On a neutral field, I would have no problem picking the Niners, but Seattle’s home field advantage is the best in American sports right now. Seattle’s defense is a beast, and Kaepernick only seems to come alive when he’s facing Green Bay. I think Seattle wins handily in the end, leading to a Super Bowl rematch of a 2012 game that led to this infamous photo:
I CAN’T WAIT.
Tom: The passing of the old guard to the new guard–CK7 and Russell Wilson. Both QBs who have not had nearly the individual success they had last year, but are still winning games, and obviously have both gotten their teams to the proverbial mountaintop, with only 2 more games to win to take it all home. Also two teams that have really relied on their nasty, angry, chippy (you’re welcome, forums) defenses to get them to the top.
As Jesse mentioned, I expect this game to be even more over the top physical than last week’s 49ers/Panthers game. Jim Harbaugh may well blow a blood vessel:
…Or maybe we’ll see Pete Carroll tear an ACL after he runs 10 yards onto the field as Marshawn Lynch goes rumbling by.
Either way, I don’t think this will break any NFL Playoff scoring records. Both teams have had trouble scoring points, and even in beating both their opponents in pretty much dominating fashion, the most either team could muster was 23 points. Almost scored in the same order as well (Seattle had 16 points at the half, San Francisco had 13). So if you can’t tell, this game looks pretty even to me–being division opponents, they’ve already played two times–Seattle won convincingly at home early in the season, but then lost by 2 the second time in San Francisco. This will be the rubber match, as they say. Somewhere they say that. And this is at Seattle (where they might still say that). At least Colin will still have his biceps to kiss after the game is over.