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Big game for Foles - and I think he will shine

Big game for Foles – and I think he will shine

Having become a dad for the second time the week before Christmas, writing posts for my blog has not exactly been top of my list of priorities. Still I hate watching the NFL playoffs without making a few predictions.

I have enjoyed watching NFL RedZone on my wife’s Ipad, but when it came to the crunch I was not going to miss the opportunity to watch the NFL playoffs live so I got a one-month subscription to Sky Sports to view the games, starting tonight with the Kansas City Chiefs at the Indianapolis Colts.

AFC Predictions

Wild Cards
Chiefs 31-21 Colts – MVP Jamaal Charles with 180 all purpose yards and two tds
Chargers 17-27 Bengals – MVP Andy Dalton with 3 td passes

The Chiefs may be the visiting team but they have too much class overall, and they will expose the Colts offensive line. The Chargers backed into the playoffs thanks to a missed field goal by Ryan Succop. My prediction for the AFC at the start of the season was the Bengals and I am not going to change my mind. Look for Luck to get picked off at least twice.

NFC Predictions 

Wild Cards
Saints 27-38 Eagles – MVP Nick Foles 4 td passes
49ers 26-24 Packers – MVP Colin Kaepernick with 250 yards passing and 50 rushing

The biggest upset in my eyes is the home team Eagles beating the Saints. Yes Philly will be at home but the Saints are high octane all the time. This simply has to be a game where over 60 tital points will be scored. Nick Foles will play with no fear and will take risks that more experienced playoff quarterbacks will not. The Niners know how to navigate the choppy waters of the playoffs and they have the defensive quality to hang with the Packers. Aaron Rodgers will again play hard but this time I just think the 49ers will get a big enough lead that the Packers will not be able to claw it back late.

 

luckk Wild Card weekend is akin to being let loose in a Belgian chocolate factory. You get to taste the quality (8 of the NFL’s top 12 teams)and get to gorge (on four NFL games over two-days) but the bonus ball is that you don’t count the calories.

That’s not strictly true as I can pretty much guarantee that any NFL fan watching all 240 minutes of live playoff football will likely dine out on pizza and crisps and a few litres of suds.

All four games this weekend have great story lines  from what maybe Ray Lewis’s final NFL contest against a coach who has fought Leukemia to two of the most efficient rookie quarterbacks in NFL history facing each other in a venue that has not hosted a playoff game for 13 seasons.

Let me get straight into it and offer my predictions – with a soupson of insight.

Bengals @ Texans

The Texans sure know how to walk backwards dragging their bruised and battered limbs into the playoffs, having suffered a late regular season collapse, and instead of having a week off, have to face a very respectable Bengals team that have quietly returned to the post-season for a second consecutive year. Arian Foster will want to impress in what is Matt Schaub’s first ever playoff game. Talk is that the Bengals defense has done a very good job, but this game will come down to Houston’s defense shining on a national stage. J.J. Watt is an absolute beast and will get a couple of sacks and a forced fumble.

Texans to win 19-13

Vikings @ Packers

Weird one as the teams only met last week in Minny, with Adrian Petersen running so hard the Packers wished they had gone to a three-day New Year party starting on 29 December. I absolutely loved it when Packers WR Greg Jennings was asked this week if he enjoyed playing at Freezing Lambeau Field and he said that he would rather play in a dome – at last someone who is honest. This game will be heavily influenced by the fact it will be played in Green Bay, that and Aaron Rodgers will be hellbent on making a playoff run after last season’s debacle. Keys here will be Packs ability to establish a running game and Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder’s ability to stay upright. I say this gets ugly as AP fails to establish himself and is held under 100 yards rushing.

Packers to win 37-14

Colts @ Ravens

Forget all the emotional crap about Ray Lewis coming back from an injury to inspire the Ravens to a playoff run. This is not the time for a Ravens revival. People have forgotten how devastating the loss of cornerback Lardarius Webb was earlier in the season. The Colts have defied all the odds, going from 2-14 to 11-5. Andrew Luck (see pic) has slotted into the Indy QB position like a seasoned veteran, and done what other great quarterback have done – performed alchemy to turn the rest of the team from base metal into gold. An old Reggie Wayne and a young T.Y Hilton should not be enough to get a team 11 wins, but that is why the guy went #1 in the draft in 2012. Look for the Ravens to hold a lead for the majority of the game only for Luck to get the winning td or final drive that leads to the sealing field goal.

Colts to win 24-20

Seahawks @ Redskins – see my preview here

Stat Attack – my predictions for Wild Card stats leaders

Passing yards – Andrew Luck – Colts

Rushing yards – Alfred Morris – Redskins

Receiving yards – Andre Johnson – Texans

 

 

 

This is a pick from the heart not the head.

Super Bowl Sunday – no feeling like it.

It’s history, it’s drama, it’s the personification of the American dream, and above all it’s only hours away.

I had predicted a Ravens v Eagles Super Bowl, and an Eagles win. I did predict the Colts making the final four, but then again I also predicted the Falcons to be playing in the NFC Championship too.

Now we have the most offensive Super Bowl in history, completely smashing into tiny pieces the old adage that ‘offense wins games and defense wins championships’.

The Indianapolis Colts are back in the Super Bowl just three years after they beat Da Bearz, complete with the NFL MVP at quarterback, and around half of the current team boasting a giant ring with a big blue horseshoe on it.

The New Orleans Saints are at the big dance for the first time in their history, having suffered many years of futility, embarrassment and playoff heartache.

Despite the recent history and the post season experiences of both teams this is not a David v Goliath battle, it is a match-up of the two highest octane offenses in the NFL.

Just about the only thing that may slow down the Colts and the Saints from scoring 50 points on each other is the fact the game is being played outside in grass, and not on the speedy artificial surface that the two finalists are accustomed to.

Both teams are equally capable of falling behind by 14 points and then scoring two touchdowns in under three minutes to tie it back up, without even breaking into a sweat.

Both Drew Brees and Peyton Manning can win this game, and both can be ruthlessly efficient. Both have big arms, big hearts and their internal computers are faster than the ones in that room Matthew Broderick broke into in ‘War Games’.

Peyton has a ring and knows what it takes. I don’t think I can recall a Super Bowl with this many game breaking wideouts on both teams (deep breath) Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, Lance Moore, Robert Meachem (Saints) and Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie, Pierre Garcon (Colts). We then move onto TEs, and this is where Dallas Clark does outdo Jeremy Shockey.

Joseph Addai was a rookie in 2007 and he was part of a two-headed rushing monster (with Dominic Rhodes) that won the Colts the Superbowl. Addai has not stepped up much further, but that is because he is not asked to do any more than be part of the offense, not the focus.

His support act is rookie Donald Brown, who could surprise today. The Saints have a troop of backs that are built for every situation. Reggie Bush has the hands and the speed, Mike Bell has the nose for a first down, Lynell Hamilton could be a fantasy td thief and we cannot forget Pierre Thomas, who when given bigger responsibility is nothing but business like.

Its gonna be a fun game for sure, and it comes down to two key factors – which defense will cause the most turnovers and who can get a running game to step up and keep the clock running on long drives.

My head says the Colts, but my heart says the Saints. I just have a feeling that the Saints defense will play the game of their lives, with Jonathan Vilma all over the field and Darren Sharper showing his true talent.

My Super Bowl prediction is Saints 33-28 Colts – MVP Drew Brees 3 td passes and 311 yards passing.

Pierre Garcon could shock the world with an MVP Super Bowl performance

It’s one of those inevitabilities that if a quarterback has a good game and is on the winning side, the likelihood is that they will get the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award at the Super Bowl.

Out of the 43 Super Bowl MVP awards given, 22 have been awarded to qbs. In many cases they have been deserved (Joe Montana, Tom Brady, Doug Williams).

Sometimes the QBs winning the MVP award have not been deserved, and won instead as the result of being ‘the most popular’ or ‘as a reward for their outstanding season’ (Eli Manning, Mark Rypien, Bart Starr’s 2nd Super Bowl).

The QB MVP monopoly has been broken up over the past six seasons by one other position only – wide receiver.

Deion Branch (Patriots), Hines Ward and Santonio Homes (both Steelers) have shown that another position outside QB can be a game breaker. Unsurprisingly the last defensive player to win the MVP award in the big game was Dexter Jackson the Buccaneers safety (2003).

So this lead me neatly to my MVP prediction. As a betting man I have hedged my bets (literally) and put a small amount of cash on the following four Super Bowl XLIV participants to scoop  MVP award;

  • Reggie Bush – Saints running back/returner (Odds I got at Bet Fred 16-1)

Why Reggie? Well he is without doubt the most exciting player to take the field in Miami on Sunday. He can run, catch and return punts. He has raised his game intensity level in the playoffs to an unprecedented level, and has the speed, hips and vision to score from anywhere. If he gets to touch the ball over 20 times he should score twice and the rest could be history.

  • Darren Sharper – Saints safety (Odds I got from Bet Fred 40-1)

Why Darren? Sharper has had one of those once in a career seasons, kind of like Ed Reed has done in the past, by being in the right place at the right time pretty much every game. Sharper is the defensive leader of the Saints, along with Jonathan Vilma, and remarkably this will be his second Super Bowl, having been to the big dance with the Packers (as a rookie).  Sharper gets two game changing interceptions before the 4th quarter and he could be da man in Florida.

  • Pierre Garcon – Colts wide receiver (Odds I got from Bet Fred 22-1)
  • Austin Collie – Colts wide receiver (odds I got from Bet Fred 28-1)

Why Pierre or Austin? With three out of the last five MVP awards going to wide receivers there seems to be a movement to rewarding the speed demons. The growing trend of teams using a ‘running back by committee’ approach has removed running backs from MVP consideration, with the last RB MVP being Terrell Davis (Broncos) in 1998. Under this philosophy Reggie Wayne looks to be the ideal MVP candidate, as he is the #1 WR. Thing is Wayne has had a relatively quiet post-season, and in his place both Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon have stepped up and Peyton Manning has the pair looking like All-Pro starters. Both or one out of Collie and Garcon could easily go over 100 yards and 2 touchdowns before the Super Bowl is over. 9 or 10 catches by either (depending on the coverage they get) could make them MVP winners. With NFL MVP Peyton Manning tossing the pigskin anything is possible.

If I had to go for just one player I’d pick Pierre Garcon. With his Haitian roots and worldwide support, this could be the biggest and best fairytale ending ever (better than Elway and Jerome Bettis’s fabled stories put together).

Cant wait for the game, likelihood is that I wont win a bean, but hey you have to be in it to win it!

Odds on this will be a high scoring Superbowl

I do have to admit that I love a little flutter during Superbowl week.

Betting on who will win the Superbowl or what the winning margin will be is not much fun as the odds are so short.

Instead I like to spend some of my hard-earned cash on two different bets – ‘First touchdown scorer’ and ‘Most Valuable Player’.

The obvious MVP bet is always the quarterbacks, and Manning and Brees will likely be around 3-1 or even 2-1 once the odds get pushed out by UK bookmakers.

I tend to go for wide receivers for MVP as you can normally get 10-1 up to 30-1 depending if you pick a Pro Bowl wideout or a slot man who might just blow up in Miami. I last won big  a few years ago when I predicted WR Deion Branch to be the MVP for the Patriots. I won over £100 and sensibly spent the winnings on a pair of bedside clothes cabinets.

Regarding the first TD scorer, the last time I got it right and won some money was when L.J. Smith the Eagles TE opened the scoring against the Patriots connecting on the end of a Donovan McNabb pass.

So…what are my predictions for fist touchdown scorer for the 2010 Superbowl? Well I always hedge my bets and pick four different potential paydirt magnets. For Superbowl XLIV (44) I bet at Ladbrokes and went for the following:

  • Drew Brees Saints QB (rushing td) – Odds 50-1 – Big odds but he could always go for a surprise 1 yard plunge
  • Lynell Hamilton Saints RB (rushing or receiving td) – Odds 25-1 – The guy is used as a goal-line back go figure!
  • Jeremy Shockey Saints TE (receiving td) Odds 16-1 – Shockey would like nothing more than setting the tone.
  • Donald Brown Colts RB (rushing or receiving td) – Odds 25-1 – Its a toss-up with the Indy running game, I like this rookie however and see him doing something great in this game, so why not the first 6 point score!

I know only one can possibly payout, and there is no science to it at all, but it sure makes the opening few possessions a whole load of fun.

The MVP odds have not been worked out by some UK bookies so I will have to wait until the weekend to place a small wager.

If any of you do decide to match my betting and you win I want 10%! If you lose then I have no idea what on earth you are talking about – what blog post?