I actually enjoyed it.
Yes. I just said that.
I didn't think I was going to be that interested this season, but I was sucked in. Of course, I still have my bias since I played soccer (the other football) but I have a newfound respect for what simpletons call "tackle football."
But enough of that! Y'alls want to see the thoughts, the divisional winners, and what else is going on here!
NATIONAL FOOTBALL CONFERENCE
Philadelphia Eagles (10-6) - Well, look at that. I remember analysts saying they weren't going to amount to anything this year. Even Ron Jaworski said they weren't going to do well. I guess nobody was expecting Kevin Kolb to get hurt the first game and then see Michael Vick put up MVP stats and have DeSean Jackson dance around in the endzone in the process. The team has great chemistry, but I still don't trust the defense. Lots of injuries are going to make the difference too.
Chicago Bears (11-5) - Ha ha ha. I said they weren't going to make it. I was obviously wrong. They say defense wins games, and by golly, is it ever so true for these guys. The offense isn't exactly top-notch yet, but rest and some head-cleaning should do the trick. Their first round bye is the cure! If the defense is healthy, they will stop higher-ranked QBs and keep the whole field playing at an even level. I don't necessarily think they're Super Bowl contenders, but look at how I was wrong about them not being possible threats this season?
Atlanta Falcons (13-3) - With a first round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, these guys will be the real deal and a big threat to take the NFC this year. Matt Ryan is doing an excellent job heading the squad, the fans....well, the fans are not going to let any team beat the home team.
Seattle Seahawks (7-9) - As the first team in NFL history to make the playoffs with a sub-.500 record, they look nowhere near as formidable as the rest of the teams fighting for the Lombardi trophy. After beating the Rams in a winner-takes-division showdown, they're riding heavy momentum going into Saturday afternoon's playoff matchup. Are they going to take it all? Most likely not, but just like all lower-seeded teams they will give everybody a massive problem if not prepared. Trust me on that one.
Wild Card Winners:
Green Bay Packers (10-6) - Despite the Series of Aaron Rodgers' Unfortunate Events, the gridiron men from the land of foam cheese heads are keeping contention in the NFC. Just like the Bears, the Packs are running on defense and keeping the games comfortable. Despite the mishap at the end of the game against the Patriots in Week 15, these guys are on fire.
New Orleans Saints (11-5) - This is a team that has an ability that can click on all cylinders when completely necessary. Although there is virtually no rushing game when it comes to this team, Drew Brees is still having a very good year, and the defense looks very stellar.
AMERICAN FOOTBALL CONFERENCE
New England Patriots (14-2) - Okay, now for those who didn't expect this to happen, please stand up and we will be more than happy to beat the living snot out of you. Here's the weird part though--looking at their stats overall, they don't look like that much of a juggernaut. It's like their name just makes people cower and not play as well. No wonder why they lead the NFL in scoring. They let the guys take baby steps and just let them score. It's like the other teams are saying, "Okay, we'll try, but we won't exactly succeed. Here's a win for your troubles."
Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) - Despite suspensions, fines, and hair injuries, the men in black are back. They're so ready for the postseason, they made a coach get fired the day after the game. Well, they weren't the only reason, but let's poke at them a little more. As a good all-around team with a first round bye, will the "stairway to seven" continue successfully?
Indianapolis Colts (10-6) - By the way Bob Costas was talking about these guys this past Sunday, it was made as if they just made the postseason, which they really didn't. They're also favored to be the dark horse to win the Super Bowl. Uhh........... 'kay. Don't get me wrong, the offense is probably the best in the league (as far as all-around stats), but the defense doesn't really come off as being special to me. I feel like I'm watching the Eagles defense when it comes to the run.
[Side Note: I'm from Philly...I often compare to Philadelphia teams because I'm such a nice person.]
Kansas City Chiefs (10-6) - In the battle of epic proportions between the Chiefs and Raiders in the middle of the season, the Chiefs pretty much ran away with the division. Matt Cassel is no longer riding the coattails of Tom Brady as he is holding his own and also boasting an awesome running game as well with the running backs. Given the chance, these guys will break out and give a well-built defense a massive problem.
Wild Card Winners:
New York Jets (11-5) - I love seeing Jets fans panic on Twitter. They kept going, "Oh no! We're slumping! J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS! Aaaaaaaah!" ...and they still get a Wild Card slot. They make me feel like I'm in high school again. LaDanian Tomlinson is still rocking the run, and the defense is near tops and will knock out heavy offensive contenders.
Baltimore Ravens (12-4) - Two words: momentum shift. The Ravens know when to turn things up and win the games by a hair. Don't count them out--they know when to give problems. The defense can hold in the clutch and Joe Flacco can say prayers with his long ball. The matches coming soon should be fun.
Now that we've taken a look at which teams are fighting for the top, let's look at the games coming our way this weekend:
Teams on Bye -- Atlanta & Chicago
New Orleans vs. Seattle - Like I said, the Seahawks will give any team a problem since not much will be expected from them. However, the Saints are determined to win two in a row. Pick -- Saints 31-13
Philadelphia vs. Green Bay - Although they're in Philadelphia, Green Bay is looking to be the major upset since they were the ones who were victorious all the way back in Week 1. However, Michael Vick is playing this whole game. Pick -- Eagles 24-17
Teams on Bye -- New England & Pittsburgh
New York Jets vs. Indianapolis - These two teams are evenly matched and should be a great Saturday night war. However, Tomlinson and co. will be looking to find the holes in the Colts' defensive line and might provide an embarrassment for Indy fans watching the game. Pick -- Jets 27-20
Baltimore vs. Kansas City - Again, another match that should be fun to watch. However, the fans and momentum in the stadium can ultimately make the difference despite the offensive threats coming from KC. Expect this one to be close too. Pick -- Ravens 28-24
Additional predictions will be shown on my Twitter account www.twitter.com/sportsnutblogs after all is said and done.
Ladies and gents, this NFL season was super fun to cover all the way through for the first time, and I'm looking forward to doing much more next season.
'Til next time!