Friday, January 13, 2006

NFL Playoffs: Abandon logic, all ye who enter here

"Coach, I know kung fu"

Last week, I sang the praises of Bill Simmons' playoff manifesto, but only to the extent that it injects common sense into an often irrational exercise. This week, I'm saying fuck with the manifesto. They say in soccer, "The ball is round", as in the ball can roll any which way and anything can happen. In football, the ball isn't round, but an oval rather, and while it doesn't roll all that much, it makes funny bounces and it's sometimes hard to catch. So fuck logic. No, wait. Don't fuck logic. Trust logic to an extent. But remember that there are certain things logic all the matchups and past performance can't account for. If there were no freak occurrences, no dumb luck, no rabbit out of the hat, you wouldn't have Don Cheadle narrating those NFL Playoffs promos.

And yeah, heart. Which reminds me. I was walking home from a party a couple of weeks ago and who do I see standing outside a restaurant in Soho but former Washington Sentinels quarterback Shane Falco. I was *that* close to going up to him and telling him "There is no tomorrow for you. And that makes you very dangerous!" Okay, I lie. I just said "Dude, you were so awesome in Little Buddha!" and ran away. To the picks we go:

Washington at Seattle
After all that talk about heart, I'm going to have to pick talent over passion here. The Redskins offense looked awful against Tampa Bay and they need a close-to-healthy Clinton Portis to have a chance here. The defense will keep this game close for the Skins, but the mix of Shaun Alexander and the deep passing game will be too much. Sad to see Clinton Portis exit the playoffs, but it's time. Heart can only outplay talent and fresh limbs so much. Seattle by 10

New England at Denver
Last week, I underrated the Patriots but it wasn't like the Jaguars didn't have a chance to get in the game. This week, they go on the road to face a much tougher, and healthier. I'm thinking this will be their toughest game and if they can get past the Broncos, they're making the Super Bowl, no matter whom they face in the AFC Championship. Logic? Until he loses a postseason game, Tom Brady is God QB. New England by 4

Pittsburgh at Indianapolis
You know how Tiger Woods talks about bringing his A-game or his B-game? Indy doesn't lose as long as it brings its B-game or better. They'll be rusty for sure and their passing game depends on precise timing, but if Edgerrin James gets his carries and Peyton gets going, there's very little Steelers can do. Big Ben will have a decent passing day but it won't matter. Indianapolis by 14

Expect a game as ugly as this Photoshop job
Carolina at Chicago
I like that almost all the experts are picking Chicago. It's not like they don't have good reason - the last time the two teams met, the Bears killed the Panthers and that was without a quarterback who can actually make plays. The Bears can stop the running game and force Delhomme to make plays.

That said, I have to with my heart and my heart belongs to the Panthers. It's not like a case can't be made for a Panthers win - Steve Smith is that rare player who can singlehandedly turn a game around, Peppers can get to the quarterback like *that*, and Delhomme has big game experience that Grossman doesn't.

Plus, picking an upset here is win-win for me. It's not so unrealistic that I look like a total fanboy, and if I lose, I at least don't commit the moral sin of picking against my own team. And if Carolina wins, I will have outsmarted all the pundits. Carolina by 3

Last Week: 3-1 straight up, 2-2 against the spread


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