Yes, it used to be that all that glitters turns to gold. How archaic that is; it’s platinum now baybee! Our football weekend is now down to eight teams and four games. All pro, because the student athletes have all returned to the classroom (okay, yes, most of them are probably rolling in South Beach and setting up their off season PED schedules, but a boy can dream, no?). There has been some movement of the coaching and GM fronts, but none of it all that earth shattering, so lets get down to business.
The best games are the two Saturday matchups. First up is the Ravens at Denver. No reason to name check the players here, you know who will be on the field and how great they are. The key factor really may be the weather. “Mostly cloudy with isolated snow showers. Highs around 17.” Brrrrrrrrr! Trust me, it is COLD in Denver when conditions are like that, and there is no dome like Peyton had in Indy. Partially due to the cold, partially to not fully restored grip from his nerve injury, Manning has taken to wearing a glove in the cold for the Broncos. It may not be optimal, but I expect he will deal, and it will be no hayride for Flacco either. Both defenses are strong and relatively healthy, so the game may well come down to who gets untracked, Ray Rice or Knowshon Moreno. this could be a great game, but it is, after all, in Mile High. Oh, and Peyton has won nine straight against the Ravens. I think this is the end of the line for Ray Lewis. Donkos get er done.
The nightcap Saturday is maybe the topper of the weekend. Pack at Candlestick Park to visit the Niners. This is like old times, back in the day of Favre and Montana/Young, the road to the the NFC Championship always seemed to involve these two teams against each other. And it was always a killer matchup. Still is. This year, the Niners rolled The Cheese in GB early in the year. But that was before the Pack got untracked; they seem to have some of the momentum back now, and have even found a decent, though not spectacular, running game. Dujuan Harris is no Frank Gore, but he has given the GB offense some help with tough yards. Both defenses have all their key folks back and ready to go. Both teams have had problems with their place kicking, but Mason Crosby has been good the last two games. But in the Aaron Rodgers versus Colin Kaepernick battle, you have to take Discount Doublecheck (and he STILL has a chip on his shoulder over the Niners not drafting him as a hometown hero). Cheese Baby!
The Sunday slate opens with Seattle at Atlanta. This should be a great game, pairing maybe the hottest NFC team, the Squawks, versus the number one seed, Atlanta. Try as I might though, it still doesn’t seem to have the luster of the Saturday games. Seattle looks like a steamroller right now and Atlanta seems kind of underwhelming for a number one seed. Make no mistake however, the Dirty Birds and Matt Ryan are traditionally extremely hard to beat in their home dome, and they are very solid. The Falcons are desperate to avoid a fifth straight playoff loss, the Squawks are on a serious roll; something has to give. My head says take Atlanta at home; my gut says Seattle gets the upset.
Last, and emotionally kind of least, is Houston at New England. Lately it has been Houston playing like patsies, not the Bill Bels. As good as the Texans have been over the entirety of the season, it is just darn near impossible to generate any sense of belief in them right now. Last week Houston looked like crap in barely holding off the Bengals, who played pathetically. Four weeks ago, the Texans were blown out at Foxborough, and the Pats didn’t even have The Gronk that game. Gronk is back, and Tom Brady is not going to let up off the gas. Adam Shefter thinks the Texans might be an upset special. Not me, I think the Texans have a problem. Ring the Bill Bel!
There is the ultra shiny Platinum Coin Playoff lineup folks. In some regards, this is the best weekend of the NFL year, what with two must watch games on both days. Great stuff. Music by Simon and Garfunkel with a Hazy Shade of Winter, cause it will be just that in Denver at Mile High.