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NFL 2011-12 Divisional Round Playoff Preview & Picks

tebow vs bradyWell, in my NFL Playoff blog last week, I picked the winners of the Wild Card playoff games. I have to say that the games overall as far as quality ranked from just passable (Texans vs Bengals) to shocking (Broncos vs Steelers). Overall, I thought the referees screwed up in a lot of spots.

I mean, where were the facemasks calls when Tim Tebow was a clear victim of a facemask hold by one of the Steelers? The call on Steelers infamous LB James Harrison was called for roughing the passer on Tebow was a joke. In the Lions and Saints game, there was some very weird calls as well. The NFL got to get full time refs. However, overall, I enjoyed the games, and I went 3-1 on my picks, getting only the outcome of the Steelers/Broncos game wrong.

I do want to mention something here, before I continue. In my Wild Card Picks blog, I did want to disclose who my picks for the Super Bowl were, but I had forgotten to include that so I apologize for that, so for the purpose of full disclosure, I will do that now:

In my blog where I made my Pre- Season Picks for the 2011-12 Season, I made my XLVI Super Bowl Predictions. Well, my Super Bowl predictions were:

NFC Representative: The New Orleans Saints
AFC Representative: The New England Patriots

Super Bowl XLVI Winner: The New England Patriots over the New Orleans Saints

Now, I do want to give a quick comment on each of the Wild Card Games before I continue with the blog.

Texans vs Cincinnati: Texans D was able to confuse Bengals QB Andy Dalton, and make critical stops. Texans offense was able to score on Bengals D. Bengals Coach Marvin Lewis made critical game management errors with challenges. Bengals were young team who were not ready for prime time.

Saints vs Lions: Lions were able to score against Saints in Saints’ house, but Saints were way too much, and eventually took over.

Giants vs Falcons: Is this Giants 2007 Version 2? Giants were a little slow offensively, but defensively, they were coming on like gang busters. Eli and the gang on the offensive side eventually joined the party, and the Falcons’ Matt Ryan and all his high powered weapons were doomed. Falcons could not score, nor could they stop the Giants from scoring. Falcons Coach Mike Smith needs to learn that a QB sneak 4th and inches may not be a good idea.

Broncos vs Steelers: Every team has injuries at this time of year, however, injuries should not be the only reason that the Steelers are sitting home, instead of getting ready to face the Patriots on Saturday night. The injuries are a huge reason. That can not be denied. No Pouncey, or Ryan Clark. Ben was banged up. However, one huge reason the Broncos are heading to Foxborough is because as I mentioned in my picks, the Steelers have a terrible habit of letting bad teams hang around (Colts, Browns, Rams). It comes partly from arrogance, and not respecting your opponent. The Steelers, I believe, went into Denver , arrogant enough, to think that Tim Tebow could not pass on them. They dared him to pass on them. Why do fans think they put all those people in a box like they did. Why did they leave their corners on an island with no help? Play with fire, and ya get burned.

Well, now to my picks for this weekend’s divisional round. Fans see action from the teams with the #1 and #2 seeds. These teams earned via their records home field advantage. The #1 seeds get home field advantage throughout the playoffs, depending on how they do , of course. The #1 and #2 seeds for the AFC are the New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens, and the #1 and #2 seeds for the NFC are the defending Super Bowl Champions Green Bay Packers, and the San Fransisco 49ers. It will be interesting to see if the bye week that they earned will help or hurt them.

This weekend sounds like some exciting football could be played so without further ado, here are my picks for this weekend.

Saturday, January 14, 2012: New Orleans (3) at San Fransisco (2) 4:30pm FOX

This is a very interesting match up. The 49ers have not been in the playoffs since January 5, 2003 when they came back from a 24 point deficit to win in a controversial fashion to beat the New York Giants (refs missed a call that would have been offsetting penalties and the down would have been repeated). Since then, the franchise has gone south, and many have thought their 2005 overall first round draft pick, QB Alex Smith was a total bust. Hindsight being 20/20, obviously Cal graduate Aaron Rodgers who went 24 or 25 to the Packers that year should have been the pick, but oh well.

Anyway, after several coaching changes, the new coach, Jim Harbaugh from Stanford has become a miracle worker. He has turned this team into a winner. They are playing great defense with their star LB Patrick Willis leading the way, and on offense, Coach Harbaugh turned QB Smith into a solid QB, and has him leading his offense consisting of TE Vernon Davis, RB Frank Gore, and WR Michael Crab Tree

Their opponent is the winner of Super Bowl 44, New Orleans Saints. Star QB Drew Brees, who broke Dan Marino’s record for passing yards leads a high powered offense, and a pretty decent defense that is lead very well by defense coordinator Gregg Williams.

There has been a lot of discussion as to whether the Saints can win outside their “safe” dome. The “experts” talk about the San Fransisco defense stopping the run and their having a great running game. Well, I have the philosophy that a great team can win anywhere. The Saints had the clunkers against the Rams, and Tampa Bay on the road, that is true. However, I just do not see Alex Smith being able to throw the ball to his receivers like Drew does to his, and match Drew score for score. Prediction: Saints over the 49ers 35-21

Saturday, January 14, 2012: Denver (5) at New England (1) 8:00PM CBS

Well, here is the marquee game of the weekend. Many of the so called “experts” on ESPN keep banging on New England’s and specifically Tom Brady’s failure to win in the playoffs in the last few years. To put this yammering in perspective, many great teams, and athletes go through playoff droughts, and losing streaks, etc. . Rock bands go through long periods between hit records. Anyway, the Patriots also are getting banged by the so called World Wide Leader from Bristol, CT and from some people on NFLN because of their defense. Admittedly, their defense is not all that great, but the Packers’ defense were just as bad, but the Packers got a pass. The Packers’ defense was ranked lower at the end of the season. Of course, with ESPN, they can’t let facts get in the way of a good story. However, despite their problems with slow starts and all, the team ended up with a 13-3 record, and Brady had yet another great season, throwing for over 5200 yards. Of course, the media only paid attention to Rodgers and Brees, and even Matt Stafford. Brady’s great season was pretty much ignored by ESPN.

The QB of the opponent, the Denver Broncos, a one Tim Tebow, sure as hell has not been ignored. No one can turn on ESPN without hearing about him. For about half the NFL season, all you heard was Tebow this, and Tebow that. “Tebow walked the neighbor’s dog.” ” Tebow prayed 10 times today.” Of course, ESPN has been going overkill. I mean, from all the coverage for this week’s game, one has to be reminded that the Patriots are in this game. I honestly have never heard so much talk over a QB who completes barely 50% of his passes.

I mean, sure he “wins.” But the reality is that the overall team is winning, but let’s not confuse the Tebow fanatics with the facts. Tim Tebow is the John Cena of the NFL. I don’t know how else to describe him. Overpushed. Overhyped. Money maker (moves merchandise.). Not all that as a performer, and is usually made to look good by their opponent. The fan bases for both guys are very similar as well: Very passionate. Hypersensitive to criticism, and always have a need to try to get you to change your mind about him.

Ok, and now to the game. I am going to go out on a limb, and say that the Patriots will throw some new wrinkles and, unlike the Steelers, who didn’t even HIT Tebow, will knock him around, and knock him down, like they did in the last game. The Patriots offense has to get started quickly, and neutralize both Deumervil, and Von Miller. The defensive coordinator of the Broncos will , of course, try to do everything he can to slow down that Brady offense, but as long as that offensive line protects Brady, I think the Patriots can handle , and round up the Broncos and send them back to Denver. Prediction: The New England Patriots 45-21 over the Broncos

Sunday, January 15, 2012 Houston (3) at Baltimore (2) 1:00PM CBS

Well, as most NFL fans have heard by now, Baltimore QB Joe Flacco has pulled the disrespect card, and has cried to the media saying if the team won, he knew the media was going to say that he had nothing to do with it, or something to that effect. Well, earth to Flacco, there is no crying in football (sorry Tom Hanks). I mean, really , Joe? Let’s see. You are on a team that for YEARS is predicated on running the ball, and playing good defense. I mean, why is Rutgers alumnus Ray Rice on the team again? OH, that’s right, he is a running back. He is your main offensive guy. Yeah, you all have Lee Evans, and Anquan Boldin, etc.

However, Ray Rice is your spark plug. Why do you have guys like Ngata, Suggs, and an aging Ray Lewis on the team? Just to collect a paycheck? They are there to play defense, Joe! That’s how the Ravens roll. Your job, Joe, is to hand the ball to Ray Rice, and let him do his thing, man! When it is time to throw the ball, throw it to the guys in purple!! Don’t whine about your role. Who wants a QB who whines? You complained that Brady and Rodgers don’t “run the ball.” Those guys are elite QBs. You’re aren’t yet. Why do you think the Steelers usually kick you all’s butts out of the playoffs man?? You don’t play like an elite QB. They got one.

As for the Houston Texans, this team has its work cut out. as this is a rematch from earlier in the season. Baltimore defeated Houston 29-14, and sacked Matt Schaub 4 times. Tyler Yates may be in for a long day. Hopefully for the Texans, coming in for a second time, the defense can come up with a way to stop Ray Rice. I think this game will be a close one, but the Ravens somehow pull it out, even though the one thing to watch about the Ravens is that all season, even though this game is at home (MT Bank Stadium), you never know which Raven team you are going to get. Prediction: Ravens 28-24 over the Texans

Sunday January 15, 2012 New York (4) at Green Bay (1) 4:30PM FOX

First, I would like to express my condolences to the Philben family and the entire Packer Organization on their loss. Such a sad time at a time like this. That being said, this game should be a barn burner. The Green Bay Packers have had a terrific season. No undefeated season, but a great one nonetheless. Aaron Rodgers has had an MVP like season, and likely will be the MVP winner. He has a high powered offense, along with a so so defense. The defense can be opportunistic though. They are at home, the legendary Lambeau field, a place on my personal bucket list to go to a game.

Their opponent is the New York Giants. Lead on offense by QB Eli Manning who is playing the best football of his career. The Giants defense is being lead by Justin Tuck , and Osi Umenioriyia, and they are on fire. They met Green Bay earlier and lost 38-35. Now where have we NFL fans seen that before? Flash back: Week 17 at Met Life Stadium against the Patriots who were going for a perfect regular season. Yup. They lost the Patriots, but it was the same score, and everyone knows what happened when the two teams locked up again at Super Bow XLII. I must add that this Giants team is currently playing BETTER than that 2007 Giants team.

Well, the Giants are rounding into form at just about the right time. The Packers are at home, and Rodgers is probably going to keep that team in the ball game no doubt. The questions arise whether Eli Manning can protect the ball, as the Packers defense is very opportunistic, and whether that Giants Defense can contain Rodgers by just bringing four. I have gone back and forth on this game. I am going to go out on a limb, and pick the Giants for the upset. Prediction: Giants 35-31 over the Packers.

Well those are my picks.

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

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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