January 16, 2009

Football purist horror

by Dan Bilicki In: Football, Picks

Like it or not, we’re going to be seeing a nine-win team in the Super Bowl. Many pundits will argue over the course of the summer how the playoff system needs to be changed because the nine-win Cardinals and eight-win Chargers should not have been in the post-season because of their sub-par records, but the fact is that there needs to be some reward for being the best team in your division. Now, I don’t agree with them hosting teams with better records, but can we at least agree to a seeded system that still includes the division champs. That way, if they have an inferior record, the superior wild card team will be rewarded with a home game.

That and the overtime rule need to be seriously looked over this off-season by the competition committee. The stupid coin toss rule has no affected me personally. Playing a game of Madden last night, the Titans scored with three seconds to go in regulation, went on to win the OT coin toss and proceeded to kick a field goal to defeat my Cowboys. At the very least, can we have the option to change how OT works in a video game? Is that too far-fetched?

As for the Conference Championship picks, it’s hard to stay away from the road teams and now I’ll explain why. The lines are from Vegas and the home teams are in CAPS.

Philadelphia (-4) over ARIZONA

The Cardinals are playing like they care but the Eagles are playing even harder. Both have the “Nobody believed in us,” angle so you can’t figure that into the equation at all. What this game is going to come down to is the classic defence-beats-offence law of pro sports. There is no discounting how great the vertical attack of Arizona is, but when you look at Philadelphia’s defence, there’s a murderer’s row of great defensive backs. Their top three corners could be No. 1 guys on most teams in the league, Brian Dawkins looks as good as ever and Quintin Mikell has been solid. Throwing against that group is going to be tough and when you figure in the pressure the Eagles get from their front-seven, it’s going to be a nightmare for Kurt Warner and Co. Donovan McNabb won’t have to be great to win this game and that plays in his favour; the same goes for Brian Westbrook who’ll get a nice two weeks of rest before facing a vaunted, bruising defence in the Super Bowl, whoever wins the AFC.

Baltimore (+6) over PITTSBURGH

Injuries to key players will play big roles for these great defences on Sunday. With Terrell Suggs hobbled for Baltimore and Troy Polamalu hurting for Pittsburgh, these defences will have to look towards their other playmakers. Polamalu’s injury will hurt his team more than Suggs though. While Suggs is a great pass-rusher and a versatile piece to the Ravens’ defence, Polamalu is arguably the second best safety in the entire league (behind the Ravens’ Ed Reed). Without the Samoan running amok in the secondary and coming up to the line, the Joe Flacco has one less thing to worry about.

Secondly, the weather could play a huge factor in this game with snow and cold temperatures in the forecast. If you think a snow-bowl type of game between two incredible defences is going to give us anything other than a close score, you’re crazy. Six points is just too much to pass up. Then, as the Giants showed us last playoffs against the Cowboys, it’s nearly impossible to pull off a three-game season sweep, regardless of where you’re playing. It just simply doesn’t happen.

All in all, whatever the Super Bowl turns out to be, it should be a great one with storylines as far as the eyes can see.

Last week: 2-2
This post-season: 5-3

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