With the standings beginning to shake out and divisions beginning to separate, I thought it would be fun to throw conjecture on what the playoffs or Super Bowl are going to look like.
I usually base my SB picks on teams peaking at the right time. Year in and out I see the team that hits their stride about 60-70% of the way through the season winning the big game. Right now, those two teams appear to be, sadly, the Chicago Bears and the San Diego Chargers.
Now, I would personally give ANYTHING to see the Bears flame out or something. I hate that team with a passion. However, Jay Cutler is beginning to have more solid than streaky games, and the offensive line settled down. The defense is playing like the team they are always said to, however they do have a difficult run down the stretch (DET, NE, NYJ, GB) and could easily end up 8-8, which may not even make playoff contention.
San Diego is really clicking (they're kind of my AFC actually) and like the Packers, have fought through some injuries to key players and personnel issues, in turn giving them a big opportunity to take a firm hold not only in their division, but the AFC. With the #1 offense AND defense in the league, believe it or not, they are really hitting that stride right now. The game last night against the Colts turned out an uncharacteristic defensive domination, but the Chargers have enough offense to carry the team to yet another disappointing loss in the AFC Championship (or earlier).
Realistically though, I am envisioning (yet another) New England appearance, against the Atlanta Falcons.
New England is back to their old ways, winning in any way possible with no-name types who buy into the system. Bill Belicheck plays overachievers and in his system, they achieve. Most of 'his guys' haven't gone on to do a whole lot, but with him, well, they win Super Bowls. Upstart RB Benjarvus Green-Ellis (who's name we probably all know now) has been this year's Pierre Thomas, coming out of almost no where to a season in which he has 9 rushing TD's and 627 yards with a 4.4 yard average. The solid running game will give Brady the ability to do what he does best - spread the field. As long as New England's young defense doesn't give games away, they should be more than capable of handling some of the tougher teams in the NFL - the Jets, Chicago, Green Bay, and Miami, who are all capable of throwing a game down any given week.
What will really be exciting is the AFC Championship between themselves and the Jets where fatass Rex Ryan has to eat his shoes after talking all types of jive. Probably the only time I'll enjoy seeing the Pats win.
On the flipside, I predict a ATL/PHI matchup in the NFC Championship game, where Michael Vick will fall short of glory in his first year back. I love Vick, and would love to see him go back to Atlanta and show him how much he's changed, and I'm sure he will. Ultimately though, it will be a shootout, and I do believe the more disciplined and balanced Falcon team will prevail.
Atlanta has been quietly making noise all season. Much like us, they have performed well but fallen short in the W-L column a few times, which belies the strengths of this team. The lowest offensive ranking they possess is a 13th ranked passing yards per game average, with 236. They are looking to be developing an NFC version of the Patriots, really getting it done with low-key guys who do the job and do it well.
Either way, I really think that there's alot going on this season to make it interesting, which is nice to ease the sting of the recent disappointments we've faced. So what do you guys think? Who are your picks for the rest of the season?