By: Brian Laubscher
Sports Information Director
The 2012 NFL season was significant for me even if it was rather insignificant as it pertains to the Philadelphia Eagles. Aside from their smoke and mirrors 3-1 start to the season, it was a miserable year for the Birds, who won one of their final 12 games to finish 4-12 overall. As you could read in my November 9 post, I gave up on this season long ago.
What this did was teach me that I could find joy simply in watching the games. The whole thing looks so much different when you’re not absolutely miserable about your own team. Even fantasy football was that much better. Usually when the Eagles would lose, I would be pissed for any other people that experienced the joy of seeing their team win. I would rather they feel the same miserable feeling that I was experiencing due to a loss. Screw em’ I would think. Let them feel awful too.
Parker sporting his Eagles jersey after he learned Andy Reid had been fired on December 31!
That miserable wretched person was replaced by a kinder and gentler soul this midseason, someone who actually is looking forward to the playoffs this year. Usually I’m pissed off the other teams are in it or I’m scared to death that the Eagles will disappoint me yet again. Nope, not this year. Andy is gone and the future looks bright. Even Parker was allowed to wear his Eagles jersey as of December 31!
So, in honor of my new outlook on the NFL, I’m going to offer my unbiased opinion on the 2013 NFL Playoffs. Here we go.
WILDCARD WEEKEND (January 5-6)
Cincinnati (10-6) at Houston (12-4)
– I’m taking Houston in this matchup simply because I had Andy Dalton and A.J. Green on my fantasy team and I noticed that the duo hooked up with less frequency as the season went along. Dalton was particularly bad, especially against the Eagles a few Thursdays ago – and no one struggled against the Eagles this season. Of course Houston stumbled a bit down the stretch, but I just don’t think the Bengals have enough offense to keep up with Arian Foster, Andre Johnson and company. Houston wins 27-21.
Minnesota (10-6) at Green Bay (11-5)
Sure, the Vikings defeated the Pack, 37-34, just last weekend to make the playoffs and end Lovie Smith’s reign in Chicago. It was an inspired effort by Adrian Peterson, who had one of the finest seasons ever by a running back, even if it was enough to help my wife’s fantasy team win this season. At the end of the day, this game is in Green Bay and the Pack have Aaron Rodgers. Minnesota has Christian Ponder. Aside from marrying Samantha Steele back on December 17, his season has been mediocre and average quarterbacks simply do not win in the playoffs. Chalk this one up for the fighting Lombardi’s by a score of 26-14.
Indianapolis (11-5) at Baltimore (10-6)
As much as I really do want to pick Andrew Luck in this spot, he’s still a rookie quarterback playing on the road without the benefit of a running game or a stout defense. The Ravens will win one for Ray Lewis to extend his Hall of Fame career. Final score is 31-23 Baltimore.
Seattle (11-5) at Washington (10-6)
I’ve hated the Redskins pretty much since 1981, but this is the first season I’ve actually wanted them to win. Not for the Skins, but for my many friends who feel like they’ve been suffering for far too long. Hard to say you’re suffering when you’ve won numerous Super Bowls in my lifetime, but I did like seeing a lot of folks happy about them making the playoffs. I also sort of like RGIII and Pierre Garcon. Doesn’t matter though. They’re still the Skins and they’re still playing with a rookie QB who is looking like he’s still not 100 percent. Wilson is a rookie too, but his defense is much better in my opinion. The Seahawks are the only team to get it done on the road, winning 17-13.
DIVISIONAL WEEKEND (January 12-13)
Baltimore at Denver (13-3)
No way Peyton Manning loses this game, especially with a re-energized running game led by Knowshon Moreno and a quality defense. Aside from that, I also had Flacco in my fantasy league and he was terrible with the exception of a few huge games. The Ravens also underutilized Ray Rice all season and they’ll pay for that mentality in this one. Broncos win 33-20.
Houston at New England (12-4)
Tom Brady, Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Lloyd. Too many weapons. Enough said. Patriots win 42-24.
Seattle at Atlanta (13-3)
As much as I want to take Atlanta here, their playoff record comes into question. They’ve been awful in the playoffs, especially Matt Ryan. The pressure will be on Ryan too, since the Falcons couldn’t run against the Generals defense. Seattle squeeks by 24-23.
Green Bay at San Francisco (11-4-1)
The 49ers are built to win in the playoffs. They run the ball, use play action passing and commit very few turnovers. They also have a rocked up defense led by stud LB’s Patrick Willis, Navorro Bowman and Aldon Smith. Green Bay’s offensive line has been a sieve all season their running backs have been the worst in the league (trust me, I had all of them in fantasy at some point this season). It’s not going to be any better against this defense. San Francisco wins 27-14.
CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND (January 20)
New England at Denver
A classic battle between two the best quarterbacks of my generation. I just think that the Patriots have too many weapons and I hold Belichick in more regard than John Fox. New England wins a shootout, 38-34.
Seattle at San Francisco
This is where the run ends for the Seahawks and rookie QB Russell Wilson. The teams split the season series, with the Seahawks winning in Seattle by a score of 42-13. This one’s going to be in San Francisco and Harbaugh will get the best of Carroll, just as he did at Stanford. The 49ers win this one, 21-14.
SUPER BOWL XLVII (February 3)
New England vs. San Francisco
At the end of the day, Colin Kaepernick is the San Fran QB and Tom Brady is still the best big-game QB going. It’s not going to come easy against the Niners’ defense, but I can see Brady hooking up with Gronk for at least 2 TD’s as the Pats pull out a 23-17 win. It pains me to say it, but the Patriots are a dynasty and the 49ers just can’t wake up the echos of Bill Walsh to get enough O to win this one.
So there you have it. My picks for the NFL playoffs in 2013. Enjoy everybody!