I do not really want to talk about this weekend’s NFL games. It’s become too important suddenly. The Packers are a game away from a return to the Super Bowl, which would be just their fourth since I have been a fan (I started following them and the sport in the early 1990s) and second since I’ve been living in the United States. Potential success is so close, yet there is such a big obstacle in the way: I do not want to listen to previews, I do not really want to write about it – I just want time to pass as quickly as possible so that the kick off can happen and I can sit there for three and a half hours, watching from behind my hands. I really do not want to talk about it, because I think that Green Bay are going to win and I do not want to dare type that out loud. Not because I believe in jinxes (I do not) or that I could have any affect on the game, but just I really want to be right about this. Still, let’s look at what happened last weekend, starting with the Packers.
Green Bay 26-21 Dallas Cowboys
The game was basically clinched when Dez Bryant dropped a throw from Tony Romo on the one yard line with four minutes to play…what? Okay so it was probably a catch, despite what the letter of the law said, but a couple of points that were not forthcoming in the furore over the reversed call:
- With more than 3.5 minutes remaining, Aaron Rodgers would definitely have gotten the Packers into at least field goal range and the way he was playing that second half, would have gotten a touchdown to win it in all likelihood.
- Because of that first point, it was a ridiculous play call from the Cowboys, who should have run on 4th and 2 not least to limit the amount of time Rodgers would have had to respond. They did not need that big play at that time, regardless of it looked like a catch to anyone not in a zebra suit.
- Dan Bailey’s missed field goal towards the end of the first half was just as important to the Cowboys loss. If he makes it, Dallas goes in 17-7 up at the half (they would have kicked off and the Packers would not have had such good field position to start), instead it was 14-10.
- People did not mention enough about how well Green Bay played because of that call: Rodgers was superb in the second half – ON ONE LEG!; Julius Peppers – who many dismissed as overrated when he signed as a free agent from Chicago – made a great play to force a fumble from DeMarco Murray; and Davante Adams made a superb catch and run for a touchdown, completely bamboozling the Cowboys defensive back.
- In 2012, the Packers lost in Seattle thanks to a ridiculous catch call that was made by the replacement refs, which was the start of the Seahawks incredible home-field performance. This time, the Bryant non-catch was correctly ruled incomplete (per the rules of the game) and now Green Bay gets to go into Seattle and end their NFC dominance in front of the 12th man. Boy, I’m pumped up for this game, let’s move on to the other contests from last week.
New England Patriots 35-31 Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens led this game by 14-0 and 28-14, yet somehow the Patriots found a way to win. I say “Found a way to win” as a euphemism for “Bill Belichick brought out all his sly dirty tricks by messing around with eligible receivers at the line of scrimmage”. Still, the Patriots recovered well and it was an impressive performance from Tom Brady, especially the 51 yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola…oh wait, no that was actually thrown by wide receiver, Julian Edelman. Ah well, see you in the Super Bowl, Patriots!
Indianapolis Colts 24-13 Denver Broncos
I could not believe what I was seeing from Peyton Manning in this game. Not his performance on the field – he’s old and has been through four neck surgeries, of course he was going to lose it sometime soon – I’m talking about one of the many commercials he does. In this particular one – for a shitty pizza chain with terrible food that should not bear the name of “pizza” as it is an insult to establishments such as Grimaldi’s, L&B Spumoni Gardens and Di Fara – Peyton is shown with his Broncos jersey tucked into his jeans. He looks completely ridiculous, in fact, he looks so white, he even received a nomination for this year’s Oscars.* On the field, Andrew Luck did stuff, Manning didn’t and the Broncos got rid of head coach John Fox the following day.
*Yes, that was a long way to go for that joke. Still, made me want a slice of pizza.
Seattle Seahawks 31-17 Carolina Panthers
I didn’t even watch this game. It was a foregone conclusion who was going to win and the Panthers end the season under .500 (8-9-1), so congratulations to Seattle for such a tough win.
Conference Games Predictions
Last week, 2-2; Playoffs, 6-2
Packers +7.5 over Seahawks
Given that Aaron Rodgers has severely hampered mobility, I really should not be so confident about this game. However, I just think that the Packers defense will be able to get some important stops, especially if they can prevent Marshawn Lynch from having a big rushing day. I can see a couple of early turnovers and Rodgers being able to do enough to get some points on the board, even against the tough Seahawks’ defense. Much as they are a formidable unit, since their loss to the Chiefs (and Alex Smith) in Week 11, Seattle have faced the following quarterbacks: Drew Stanton; shaky Colin Kaepernick (twice); Ryan Lindley; Mark Sanchez; and Shaun Hill – even on one leg, Rodgers is better than any of them. I’m done talking about this now – Green Bay will win…28-17. GO PACK GO!
Patriots -6.5 over Colts
Much as I would love Indianapolis to cause an upset in this game, they have lost all three of their previous contests with New England by 21 points or more since Andrew Luck became their starting quarterback. When the Patriots played the Packers at the end of November, everyone was touting it as a Super Bowl preview – I think that will end up being correct.