OK, I understand that it doesn’t exactly take a bold prediction to pick the team with the best record to win the Super Bowl. I understand that you could show the standings to Bobby I’ve-Never-Watched-Football-In-My-Life, ask him to pick a winner, and Mr. I.N.W.F.I.M.L. would pick the Patriots.
But when you look at the way the NFL’s worked lately, it’s not that simple.
The Patriots went 14-2 in 2004 and rolled to a Super Bowl title, winning their three playoff games by a combined score of 85-51. Since then, though, the top seed’s had some trouble getting the job done.
2005: The Colts (14-2) lost their only playoff game to the Steelers (11-5, wild card).
2006: The Chargers (14-2) lost their only playoff game to the Patriots (12-4).
2007: The Patriots (16-0) won their first two playoff games before the Super Bowl was canceled and they never got a chance to record a perfect 19-0 season. (OK, fine, they lost to the Giants, who were 10-6 and a wild card.)
2008: The Titans (13-3) lost their only playoff game to the Ravens (11-5, wild card).
2009: The Colts (14-2) won two playoff games before losing in the Super Bowl to the Saints (13-3).
For those of you who either don’t read listed items or can’t do quick math in your head, the No. 1 seed has gone 4-5 since 2004, winning a grand total of zero Super Bowls.
So you could say that in picking the Patriots, I’m being bold … or blinded by the past eight weeks in which the Patriots have not lost and have outscored opponents 299-125.
With that, let’s get on to the predictions (there are seven of them, in honor of Andrew Luck, I guess).
1. The Patriots will win the Super Bowl.
You’re aware of this one already, so let’s go round-by-round, picking winners.
Wild Card: Jets over Colts, Chiefs over Ravens, Eagles over Packers, Saints over Seahawks
Division Round: Patriots over Jets, Steelers over Chiefs, Saints over Falcons, Eagles over Bears
Championship Round: Patriots over Steelers, Eagles over Saints
Super Bowl: Patriots 42, Eagles 35
2. Tom Brady will be MVP.
This one’s not bold at all, if only because the Super Bowl MVP process isn’t exactly all that complicated: If a team wins and the quarterback’s name isn’t Trent Dilfer or Brad Johnson, then the award is pretty much going to the QB.
Brady’s been an exception before, when Deion Branch was named MVP of Super Bowl XXXIX simply for variety’s sake. Ben Roethlisberger didn’t win the award in 2008 because Santonio Holmes authored this generation’s version of “The Catch,” and he didn’t win in 2005 because he completed nine passes in the worst Super Bowl ever played. Eli Manning‘s numbers weren’t all that impressive in the Super Bowl That Never Happened (19-for-34, 255 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT), but he took home the honors.
So, yeah, provided the Patriots win (which you already know will happen because I told you so), Brady’s got this one in the bag.
And you can bet that no matter what predictions any wide receiver on any other team makes, Brady will not ask if that player is going to play defense. I repeat: He will not ask if the player is going to play defense.
3. Furor over new overtime rules will prove to be wasted air.
Turn on the radio, and someone’s babbling on about the new playoff overtime rules. The reason is that they kind of stink. While the majority of football fans want to see both teams possess the ball (a premise I disagree with, but let’s not get into that), the concept of giving a team a better chance to score than the other is actually more unfair than the original rules. If I kick to you, and you kick a field goal, I now get four downs to pick up every first down on my offensive drive, a luxury you didn’t have on your possession. Had you had four downs, you might’ve scored a touchdown rather than that lousy field goal.
That debate, however, will prove to be useless, because guess what — no games are going to be decided on the opening drive of overtime. Yes, it happened last year, but before that, it had been a while.
The possibility exists, but all this chatter will prove to be a grand exercise in wasting time.
4. Michael Vick will rush for 100 yards and throw for 100 yards in the same game.
I don’t know in which game this will happen, but it’s happening. Remember when he was given the national spotlight on a Monday night in Washington and he exploded for 333 passing yards, 80 rushing yards and six total touchdowns? That should be enough of an indication for you to believe he’s a rather large fan of seizing the moment when he feels the national audience watching him.
Best bet: Opening round against Green Bay, which allowed 4.7 yards per rushing attempt.
5. The Seahawks will get smoked.
I covered this in my picks column Thursday, but it bears repeating: The Seahawks are going to get absolutely demolished on Saturday afternoon. It’s funny — people are picking the Seahawks to upset the Saints, apparently trying to get overly creative in a game that requires no thinking.
Food for thought: The four teams in the NFC West went a combined 25-39. Not one team had a positive point differential and the Seahawks’ was minus-97. The other 11 playoff teams average a plus-95 mark. The Seahawks played five playoff teams, going 1-4 and getting outscored 171-91 (average score: 34-18).
Yes, anything can happen on any given Sunday, but this game is on a Saturday.
6. Pete Carroll already has his “Song of the Day” planned for Twitter after his Seahawks get smoked.
There’s no way to prove this one, but you know it’s true.
(For anyone who doesn’t follow Pete Carroll on Twitter: First of all, good for you. Second of all, he posts songs of the day, which is exactly where you want your head coach’s focus to be during the playoffs. Go get ‘em, Pete!)
7. Peyton Manning will throw a pick to Antonio Cromartie and then walk off the field with his hands over his head and his “I can’t believe my teammates are this bad” face.
Peyton Manning‘s dreadful reactions to mistakes has returned this year as good as ever. You just know this is coming out on Saturday night.