Tuesday, January 11, 2011

In the Ring with the Heckler: NFL Divisional Semifinals, San Francisco 49ers, B.C.S. Championship Game, and Men's College Basketball

Hello there folks, how was your Christmas Holiday? Mine? Well it was nice and relaxing. Lot's of home cooking and a lot of sleep. Back to business, my record after the B.C.S. Championship Game was 4-3 in my Bowl Game predictions. I went 0-4 in the Wild Card round of the NFL playoffs.

Anyway, in this article I will be rambling about a few things; from the NFL to the NCAA.

NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS

I am going to rank these games from 1 to 4 (in order of how interesting I think the games will be).

1. Green Bay Packers v. Atlanta Falcons

The Packers went into Philadelphia last weekend and beat the Eagles at their own game. The Packers ran the ball all around, and through, the Eagles defense. Then at the end of the game the Packers let Micheal Vick make the mistake, as he threw the game ending interception into the endzone. The Packers are wounded warriors all throughout this season. The only team that can even make a claim to be more injured than the 2010-2011 Packers are the Indianapolis Colts. Yet through all of their injuries here they are, at 11-6 and playing a team that is the number 1 seed in the NFC. The Falcons already have 12 wins, they have a stone cold killer at quarterback in Matt Ryan, they have the number 1 receiving wideout in the NFL in Roddy White. They are virtually unbeatable at home, but the Falcons can tell you all of that doesn't matter when you enter the playoffs. In 1999 these Falcons went into then 15-1 Minnesota and pulled out a victory that sent them to their only Super Bowl. The Falcons will try and batter the Packers, who only got a short week to rest their bodies and minds. Micheal Turner will try and break the wills of the Packers defense so that Matt Ryan can take away their souls. The Packers are hoping that their running game made it to Atlanta, otherwise the Falcons defense is going to tee off on Aaron Rodgers. This may be the most entertaining game of the weekend.

Heckler's Pick: Green Bay Packers 17 Atlanta Falcons 31

2. Seattle Seahawks v. Chicago Bears

The Seahawks showed the Nation last week that a 7-9 record can be deceiving and sent the Saints back to New Orleans after beating the defending champions 41-36. They now head into the Windy City to take on the number 2 seed in the NFC, the Chicago Bears. The Bears have rode the arm of Jay Cutler and ride into the playoffs with more confidence then they have had in years. I think that the Bears come into this game overconfident and with the bad Jay Cutler. The Seahawks come in and establish their running game while the Bears try and defend the passing attack. Marshawn Lynch has a field day and the Seahawks unimaginably move on

Heckler's Pick: Seattle Seahawks 19 Chicago Bears 17

3. Baltimore Ravens v. Pittsburgh Steelers

The Ravens went into Kansas City last week and put in on the Chiefs 30-7. The game was a lot closer than the score would indicate. The Chiefs played with the Ravens for a half but couldn't sustain the mental fortitude that it takes to stay with a team from the AFC North. This week the Ravens get a team that they are very familiar with: the Pittsburgh Steelers. This will be the third time this year that these teams will face off. As each team has won a game in the series this will be the rubber match. The Ravens came a bad call away from sweeping the Steelers. I think that it will be another AFC North grind it out battle but in the end the Ravens will be too much for the Steelers to handle.

Heckler's Pick: Baltimore Ravens 23 Pittsburgh Steelers 9

4. New York Jets v. New England Patriots

The Jets come off a 17-16 win over the always difficult Colts. Now they come into New England trying to beat their divisional rival. The Jets and Patriots have also faced each other two other times. They have each won their games that they played at home. The Jets backed into the playoffs and are hoping to make the most of their opportunity. The Patriots are just chugging along and doing what they do best, win. Tom Brady is looking to surgically dissect the Jets on his way to a fourth Super Bowl ring. The Jets will be all bark and no bite in this game.

New York Jets 17 New England Patriots 45

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

The 49ers almost came within a week 16 win of being, the first team with a 7-9 record to make and host a playoff game. Then they fired Mike Singletary, and hired Jim Harbaugh. They hired a new General Manager (Jim Baalke) to lead the 49ers back into the realm of the playoffs.

The 49ers have the number 7 pick in this years up coming draft. They can go a lot of ways with that pick. They could draft a Wide Receiver with speed and size to compliment both Micheal Crabtree and Vernon Davis. They could draft a franchise Quarterback to solidify a position that has been in flux since Jeff Garcia left the team. They could draft a game changing Defensive Lineman or a Lock down Cornerback to solidify the defense. Or they could trade the pick to get more picks later in the draft to get more talent onto the roster.

Whatever they do though the 49ers are going to have to improve soon, because the fans in the Bay Area will only wait for so long before they turn on their beloved 49ers.

The B.C.S. National Championship Game

Auburn 22 Oregon 19

Auburn blew the lead late in the game when Cam Newton fumbled to give Oregon life. Oregon took that chance and drove down the field and tied the game. Then in the most important moment in the 2010-2011 season the Ducks gave up a big return on the kickoff. Then they didn't play until the whistle and a 8 yard run became a 37 yard run (Micheal Dyer 4th Quarter 1:56). Auburn won their 2nd National Title in school history, and Oregon established themselves as a school that would be around for the future.

The last thing that this game did was raise the clamor for a playoff. The Nation saw that either Stanford or T.C.U. (or even a Ohio State or Wisconsin) could have beaten either one of these teams.

Men's College Basketball

Now that College Football has closed the books the Nation turns their collective attention to Men's College Basketball. What they will find is five undefeated teams: #1 Duke (15-0), #2 Ohio State (16-0), #3 Kansas (15-0), #4 Syracuse (16-0), and #7 Sand Diego State (17-0).

The dominant team in College Basketball right now is #1 Duke. The surprise school of the year is #7 San Diego State. As the season gets in the meat of February the questions are going to be:

1. Can #1 Duke sustain their intensity for a whole season and repeat as National Champions?
2. Can #2 Ohio State use the moxie of a Senior and the naivete of a Freshman to make it to the Final Four and hopefully win a National Championship?
3. Will #3 Kansas be a great regular season team that falls short in the Tournament again?
4. Can #4 Syracuse take all that promise and catch lightening in a bottle for another magical Tournament run?
5. Is #7 San Diego State this years Butler?
6. Will the Big East and the Big Ten get more than 7 teams each into the Tournament?
7. How bad is the Pac-10?
8. Will Butler and Gonzaga regain their swagger and make some noise in the Tournament?
9. Can the #25 Cincinnati Bearcats (15-1) show the Nation that they are for real? Or will they just be another squad that got fat off of a weak non-conference schedule?
10. How will the new play-in weekend before the first round of the NCAA Tournament effect the way the end of the College Basketball season is viewed?

Enjoy the week guys, there are a lot of good games on TV all week leading up to the NFL Divisional Round games. Here are some games that you guys should look out for:

Wednesday January 12, 2011
4pm: #5 Pittsburgh v. #19 Georgetown (ESPN); #4 Syracuse v. St. John's (ESPNU); #17 Louisville v. #7 Villanova (ESPN2)
6pm: #1 Duke v. Florida St. (ESPN); #3 Kansas v. Iowa St. (ESPN2)

Thursday January 13, 2011;
4pm: #8 Purdue v. #25 Minnesota (ESPN)
5pm: Orlando v. Oklahoma City Thunder (TNT)
7:30pm: Miami Heat v. Denver Nuggets (TNT)

Friday, Saturday and Sunday are Beasts of their own. Let's just say it is going to be a great weekend of sports: both collegiate as well as professional. Enjoy the Weekend and hope you have a Great New Year!

The Heckler

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