Friday, January 6, 2012

These picks are more intended for fun rather than recommended plays because futures bets are usually restricted for the squares.  With that said, here are my updates picks for the final dance.


New Orleans Saints defeat Pittsburgh Steelers
Much of this prediction rests on Big Ben's ankle, but assuming he can play through it and get healthy enough to do his thing in the AFC Championship game then I see them advancing to the end.  This might seem a little contradictory given that they are in the 'pretender' category of my final power rankings, but this is an example of matchups trumping rankings.  In order to make it to the final show, PIT will likely need to go through NE and BAL.  I really like how Dick Lebeau played Tom Brady this season and the man-to-man coverage worked much better than their traditional zone blitz scheme.  NE's defense is just too terrible to trust in such a big game.  I also think it's incredibly hard to beat a team three times in one year--especially when it's a divisional foe, so I like PIT to come out on top against a suspect Joe Flacco.  If Ben can't regain his mobility in time for these latter games then I don't see anyone upsetting NE in their backyard. 

The Saints also have a long way to go before they get to the big stage, but after a win in DET they will get SF and then GB. Despite SF's record this year I don't like them in a showdown with Brees, Payton, and Williams. There won't be a coaching advantage there.  I've run the game through my system and NO should actually be the team favored in that one--even after accounting for home field advantage.  Beyond that we'll have a showdown of the two titans in the NFL.  I think the game between GB and NO is the real Super Bowl thanks to a weak AFC this season.  NO will have the advantage in the running game and GB's pass rush has not been good this year.  Brees should have no problems keeping up with Rodgers much like he did in the opening game of the season.  If you recall, NO could have won that game in the final minute and that was after they turned the ball over a couple of times giving GB some free points.  Cobb also ran one back for a score in that matchup.  It's never smart picking against Aaron Rodgers, but if that is the showdown in a few weeks I'll likely have my money on NO.