Well, as Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin said at Tuesday’s press conference, “It feels good to be in the field of twelve.” The “field of twelve” that Coach Tomlin is referring to, is obviously the twelve teams in both the AFC and the NFC who qualified for the post season. As the avid horse racing fan that I am, I call it the race to Super Bowl XLVI.
Being the horse racing fan that I am, I am going to model this blog somewhat like a racing program, and give my readers analysis, and the highlights and the low lights of the teams’ seasons, and give the final odds of the team winding up in the winner’s circle with the proverbial garland of roses on their proverbial backs, and holding up the Lombardi Trophy in Indianapolis on February 5,2012.
There will also be a bonus. I criticize ESPN quite a bit in my blogs. However, there is one guy I really like, and it is Colin Cowherd. He has a segment called “Colin was right. Colin was wrong.” Every Friday, he makes his Blazing Five football picks, and on Monday, he has the segment where he goes over them and tells listeners where he was right , and wrong. My very first blog was a blog about my NFL picks for the season. Here is the link: http://camelclutchblog.com/my-nfl-2011-season-predictions/ Well, I am not going to rehash the entire blog, but I am going to just go through a bunch of the ones that I got “right,” and the ones I got “wrong.”
Let me start with the examination and the odds of the entire Super Bowl XLVI Field:
AFC Entrants of the Field:
AFC North’s Pittsburgh Steelers, Head Coach: Mike Tomlin, Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger
Odds to Win SB XLVI: Should be able to get past Denver Broncos. After that game, it depends if they get the Patriots or Baltimore in the next round, and maybe even both.. However, they got Ben Roethlisberger, and if anyone can lead that team, hurt or not, it is Big Ben. A healthy Troy Polamalu also helps as well. Odds: 7-2
AFC Norths’s Baltimore Ravens. Head Coach: John Harbaugh. Quarterback: Joe Flacco
The Ravens are the 2nd seed, and have a 1st round bye, and at least one home playoff game. They will wait for the highest remaining seed in the second weekend of the playoffs. Ended year with 12-4 record by virtue of defeating Steelers twice, and having tie breaker. Highlights of season: Swept Steelers. Got a home playoff game. Low lights: Not all that great a road team (4-4). Ravens don’t stick to Ray Rice (RB) all the time.
Odds to Win SB XLVI: As much hype the Ravens get, thanks to the aging Ray Lewis, and their safety, Ed Reed, it is hard to completely buy into this team. Reason is due to their QB, Joe Flacco. The team , at times, has very odd play calling, and tries to turn Joe Flacco into Joe Montana, which he is NOT, and totally ignores Ray Rice, their star RB out of Rutgers. Odds: 9-1
AFC North’s Cincinnati Bengals Head Coach: Marvin Lewis Quarterback: Andy Dalton
The Bengals qualified thanks to losses by Oakland, and the Jets, and finished 9-7. They are the 6th seed, and take on the Houston Texans in Houston. Marvin Lewis got this team playing a lot better with rookie QB Andy Dalton, and fellow rookie WR A.J Green leading the way on offense. Defense is good also. Highlights: Chemistry between the rookies Dalton and Green. Team no longer has to deal with drama. Low lights: Youth and inexperience may hurt in playoffs.
Odds to Win SB XLVI: While it is a positive thing to see a team that has been seen as a joke by many (myself included) get turned around, and make the playoffs, it is highly unlikely they will be the ones crossing the proverbial finish line first, and being lead to the winner’s circle, and having the garland of roses one their backs, so to speak. Would be a nice story, but I do not see it happening. I’ve been wrong before, but not on this one. Odds: 35-1
AFC West’s Denver Broncos. Head Coach John Fox Quarterback: Tim Tebow
The Broncos are the 4th seed by virtue of winning the AFC West. Honestly, I wish NO ONE from that division should be in the playoffs as it is so lousy , but rules are rules. Broncos are 8-8, and won the division because Oakland lost, even though they lost 7-3 to the Chiefs. Highlights of season: Tim Tebow was put in to start and the Broncos won 7 of the 8 games in that magical streak, with the help of the running game, and the defense. Low lights: ESPN went nuts over Tebowmania. Tim Tebow ran into a real team from Foxborough, MA, also known as the Patriots, and Coach Belichick figured out how to beat Tebow, and everyone else has followed suit since.
Odds to Win SB XLVI: It would really take a miracle if the Broncos got by the Steelers and their defense. The Steelers won’t have Ryan Clark due to his sickle cell illness, but Tebow can’t throw the ball anyway. Odds: 75-1.
AFC South’s Houston Texans Head Coach Gary Kubiak Quarterback T.J Yates
Texans are the AFC South Champions. They are the 3rd seed, and finished with a 10-6 record. Great coaching job by Kubiak, and the defense is well coached by Defense Coordinator Wade Philips. The team made it to the playoffs despite injuries to top players such as Mario Williams (IR), Matt Schaub (IR), Andre Johnson (hamstrings) , and Arian Foster (hamstrings). Well done. Highlights of season: Texans won division, and go to playoffs for first time. Low lights: Hit with injuries. Down to 4th QB who is also injured.
Odds to Win SB XLVI: This team at one point was flirting with the #1 seed. However, it seems that the injuries plus Philips’ surgery may have hurt their psyche, and they had a slight drop off. This is also their first playoff appearance, so I am not sure how they will handle it. Odds: 35-1
AFC East’s New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick Quarterback Tom Brady
Well, the New England Patriots are once again in the playoffs. The next thing you will tell me is that water is wet. They finished the season with 13-3, and the #1 seed, meaning they have home field advantage throughout the playoffs. It was another brilliant season for QB Tom Brady, who finished second to Saints QB Drew Brees in passing yards in one season. Both men passed Dan Marino’s 27 year old record of 5084 passing yards in a season. Of course, a lot of people are focusing on the Patriots’ lousy defense.
Highlights of the season: Swept the Jets. Records for Brady, Welker, and Gronkowski. Low lights: Team dealt with injuries to defense. Andre Carter, the best sack master, and best pass rusher lost for season.
Odds to Win SB XLVI: ESPN, and even some media in Boston are very sure that once again, the Patriots won’t win a playoff game , as they haven’t since 2007/08 season, thanks to the team’s defense. The weird thing is that this field is very wide open honestly. Every team in this field for the run for the Lombardi has huge flaws. Honestly, the Patriots have just as much chance as any. Odds: 5-2
NFC Entrants of the Field
NFC North’s Green Bay Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy Quarterback Aaron Rodgers
The Packers finished the season 15-1. They have the #1 seed, and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. They are, of course, the defending champions, and Aaron Rodgers is the leading MVP candidate. Highlights of season: Nearly went undefeated. Low lights: Injuries to offensive lines , and Greg Jennings
Odds to Win SB XLVI: From my understanding, the team is getting healthy, and backup QB Matt Flynn put on a show in Week 17, so heaven forbid something happened to Rodgers in the playoffs, Flynn can step right in. The team is not without it’s flaw as they wound up with the 32nd ranked defense in the league. Odds: 3-5
NFC East’s New York Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin Quarterback Eli Manning
The Giants, after breaking out of the gate well, and then stumbling down the back stretch, but in the stretch, they catch themselves, and win the NFC East with a 9-7 record and are the 4th seed. Of course, they had to endure the calls for Coach Coughlin’s head, and early season injuries, but they made it to the starting gate. Highlights of season: Gave Packers all they could handle before losing 38-35. Gave the Jets a beat down in Week 16. Low lights: Mid season swoon. Injuries.
Odds to Win SB XLVI: The way this team plays, it would not surprise me if they are one and done, or if they win the whole thing. However, from watching them, they are looking very similar to that 2007 team that got on a streak and went to Arizona for Super Bowl 42, and the rest is history. Odds: 10-1
NFC South’s Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith Quarterback Matt Ryan
Finishing with a 10-6 record, the Falcons wound up with a 5th seed. They come into Giants Stadium this weekend, and Giants DE Justin Tuck already has fired the first salvo, calling them “Dirt***s” Highlights of season: Seemed to have found their run game. Low lights: Engulfed in controversy over decision to go for it against the Saints
Odds to Win SB XLVI: While the team is very talented, Matt Ryan has yet to win a playoff game. I am not all in on this team. Odds: 45-1
NFC South’s Saints Head Coach Sean Payton Quarterback Drew Brees
Winner of the NFC South with a 13-3 record, the Saints are the #3 Seed. This team is one team to watch. They are operating on all cylinders, especially QB Drew Brees. Highlights of season: Brees’ breaking Dan Marino’s record. Saints destroying the Colts 62-7 Low lights: None.
Odds to Win SB XLVI: The only concern I would have is what is going to happen if the NFC Championship is Green Bay vs the Saints at Lambeau. As great as the Saints’ offense is, it is not exactly portable, and Rodgers beat Brees head to head. Odds: 9-2
NFC West’s San Fransisco 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh Quarterback Alex Smith
The 49ers finished with the #2 seed and a bye. They had a great season and wound up with a 13-3 seasonal record. Thanks to new coach Jim Harbaugh’s coaching, and his rebuilding of 2005 first round pick, QB Alex Smith, the 49ers are back in the playoffs, a place they haven’t been since 2002. Highlights of the season: Eight 49ers were selected to go to the Pro Bowl, the most of any team, along with the Patriots. The 49ers becoming a good team again. Low Lights: None
Odds to Win SB XLVI: While Coach Harbaugh has done a great job with this team, I am not ready to crown him the next Bill Walsh (legendary 49ers coach). The team has an outstanding defense, and a very good running game, and some good offensive weapons. However, I am not sure about Alex Smith and the team’s possibly needing him to win the game with his arm. He is no Joe Montana. Odds: 7-1
NFC North’s Detroit Lions Head Coach Jim Schwartz Quarterback Matthew Stafford
Well, as the 6th seed with a 10-6 record, the Detroit Lions made the playoffs for the first time since 1999. I am sure fans are “losing their minds in Detroit, Rock City.” Anyway, QB Matthew Stafford had a terrific year as did his receiver , “Megatron” Calvin Johnson. That dreadful 2008 season where the team went 0-16 is definitely in the rear view mirror.
Highlights of the season: Stafford throws for over 5,000 yards. Lions start out season with 5-0 record. Low lights: Coach Schwartz and 49ers Coach Harbaugh get into a minor fracas over a handshake that went wrong. Team has reputation for being “dirty” thanks to DT Ndamukong Suh and his illegal , and dirty hits on players such as Andy Dalton. He was suspended two games for stomping an offensive linesman of the Packers on a nationally broadcasted game on Thanksgiving.
Odds to Win SB XLVI: The Lions are facing the red hot Saints on the Saints’ home turf right out of the gate. It is a tall order since the Saints beat them this season in a high scoring game. I am not sure the Lions have the maturity to handle the spotlight either. Odds: 55-1
Well, that is my general overview. Before every playoff weekend, I will write a brief blog about who I predict will win and why..
Bonus Section: Here is the aforementioned bonus. I am not going to go through every team, but I am going to go through just a handful of picks, and say ala Colin Cowherd, “Where Terri was right.” and “Where Terri was wrong.” Enjoy
To refresh your memory, here is the blog with my original picks before the 2011 Season:
Where Terri was RIGHT:
Prediction: New Orleans Saints not only winning the NFC South Division, but finishing with a record of 13-3.
Bragging Rights: I thought a 13-3 record was possible, and I figured they would be the NFC South winners. They looked the best in preseason.
Where Terri was WRONG.
Prediction: The San Francisco 49ers were going to be 5-11.
Eating Humble Pie: I totally did NOT see the 49ers’ resurgence coming. I totally swung and missed on this pick. I had no clue that this team could be transformed from a disappointment last season, to a #2 seed overnight.
Where Terri was RIGHT.
Prediction: The New England Patriots would go 13-3, and win the AFC East.
Bragging Rights: I had this puppy nailed. They had the same team from last year. I thought there would be a little drop off, so I figured they were 14-2 last year, so I just thought they would be 13-3 this year.
Where Terri was WRONG.
Prediction: The Cincinnati Bengals would go 4-12
Bragging Rights: Boy, while they did manage a 9-7 record and just about qualified for the playoffs, they were a lot better than I thought. I really whiffed on this one. To make the Bengal fans reading this happy: “Who Dey!”
Where Terri was RIGHT.
Bragging Rights: Well, I got their record correct. Despite the haters like NFL Network’s Warren Sapp’s calling the Steelers’ defense “old and slow,” the Steelers defense wound up being the #1 defense. The offense has been pretty good as well. Injuries to offensive line, and Big Ben, and now Raschard Mendenhall are troubling, but the team did get to 12-4.
Where Terri was WRONG.
Prediction: The Pittsburgh Steelers would win the AFC North, and the Baltimore Ravens would go 11-5.
Eating Humble Pie: Well, hats off to the Ravens, despite their problems on the road. They swept the Steelers (who made the mistake that the Buffalo Bills did earlier in the season, and play the New England Patriots as if it were the Super Bowl only to let down the following game, and hand the division to Baltimore), and earned a first round bye with a 12-4 record.
Well, that was my blog. I hope my readers enjoyed it.
Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/missedgehead