It’s that time of year again, kids. The NFL Playoffs are among us. That means it’s time for TSS’ second annual TSS Crew NFL Playoff Challenge. In case you forgot how it goes, here are the rules.
Six writers are each given an AFC and NFC playoff team that is chosen at random. The writer then has to defend his teams all the way through the playoffs no matter how much he actually thinks his team will win or not. Before each game, the writer has to explain why his team will win and predict a final score. Last year, David D. drew the New York Giants and went home victorious. Tinsley also received numerous death threats from Packers fans convinced he’d cursed their franchise by drawing the Cheeseheads. All in all, fun was had. So let’s get to this year’s assignments:
David – Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans
J. Tinsley – Green Bay (we swear it was a random drawing, people) and Baltimore Ravens
Greg Whitt – Denver Broncos and Minnesota Vikings
Raj – New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks
AJ – Cincinnati Bengals and Washington Redskins
Gotty – Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers
So without further ado, let’s get to today’s match-ups featuring Tins’ Packers vs. Whitt’s Vikings and AJ’s Bengals vs. David’s Texans.
5 Reasons The Green Bay Packers Will Win (J. Tinsley)
1. Green Bay remembers Eli and company coming in last year and kicking over the proverbial buildings ending their season short of a second straight Super Bowl appearance.
2. As if the offense needed any more potency, Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson have been practicing this week and look to be on target for a return this weekend. The return that has Packer-faithful most excited? Charles Woodson broken collarbone appears to finally be healed after missing the last nine games.
3. Quirky stat of the first round: Minnesota is 0-3 at Lambeau Field when Adrian Peterson rushing for 100+ yards.
4. It’s not exactly walking on water with ankle weights, but beating the Packers two straight weeks will be a test of extremely difficult proportions. In Green Bay, in January, on the frozen tundra, at that.
5. Despite my firm belief Adrian Peterson was, one, created in a lab likely on Area 51 and, two, he should at least be the co-MVP, the playoffs are defined by quarterback play. And the Packers have Aaron Rodgers. The same Aaron Rodgers who has only completed 74.7% of his passes for 16 touchdowns (one interception) and a quarterback rating of 132.5 his last five games against Minnesota. Yeah, that Aaron Rodgers
Final Score: 34-20, Packers
5 Reasons The Minnesota Vikings Will Win (Greg Whitt)
1. It looks like Christian Ponder may have finally figured out how to pass the ball for more than five yards a clip. While he didn’t exactly put up Drew Brees numbers in terms of yardage, he did complete some nice deep balls last week that he hasn’t been able to connect on earlier this season.
2. Last year the Packers went down to a seemingly inferior team in the first round of the playoffs. With some up and down play this year, I’m not sure that this Green Bay squad has fully exorcised those ghosts of failures past.
3. Expect Jared Allen and the Minnesota front seven to keep Aaron Rodgers on the run and unable to set his feet to make big throws against the Vikings secondary. The Vikings are fifth in the league with 44 sacks this year, five of which came last week in a victory versus the Packers who have allowed the most sacks this season.
4. Momentum is in the Vikings favor after pulling out a big, emotional, win last week.
5. The Vikings have an angry rhinoceros in football cleats by the name of Adrian Peterson. Expect him to receive close to 30 carries, and rush for 175 yards.
Final Score: 28-24, Vikings
5 Reasons The Houston Texans Will Win (David D.)
1. The Cincinnati Bengals just aren’t big time. Last year they lost to a Texans team without Matt Schaub and – despite a win against the struggling Steelers – they’ve come up short in most big games this season. These are just growing pains.
2. Playoffs are won in the trenches and Arian Foster against the Law Firm isn’t even close.
3. One thing that’s plagued the Bengals all season has been offensive playcalling as the full-throttle offense hasn’t been allowed to totally let loose all season. Against a top-ranked Texans defense, the conservative approach just won’t cut it.
4. Andy Dalton has been sacked almost 50 times this season, putting him at the third worst. Best believe that Texans D-line can’t wait to get the pass rush going to force some turnovers. The Bengals O-line is about to get shredded.
5. You know the last time a team started 11-1 and lost in the first round? Me neither, f*ck I look like? Elias? I bet it doesn’t happen often. Houston is better than their last three weeks have shown.
Final Score: 27-17, Texans
5 Reasons The Cincinatti Bengals Will Win (AJ)
1. Cincinnati is one of the NFL’s hottest teams, having won seven of eight to secure a wild card spot. Their last game – a victory over AFC North big brother Baltimore, who spanked them in Week 1- cemented their status as a tough, playoff-ready team. Meanwhile…
2. Houston has lost three of four, including that embarrassing blowout to New England. The NFL playoffs generally favor teams entering the postseason with momentum, and Houston peaked during the first half of the season.
3. The Bengals has a solid away season, going 6-2 on the road. Home field advantage won’t play much of a factor.
4. Cincinnati’s defense has actually given up fewer yards than the Texans this season. Don’t be fooled by the breakout season that JJ Watt has had; the Bengals have the better front seven of the two teams, bolstered by an elite young pass rushing duo in Geno Atkins and Michael Johnson. Cornerback Leon Hall and middle linebacker Rey Maualuga also represent some of the best at their position.
5. Houston is hurting, especially on defense where Brian Cushing’s injury has forced them to operate a linebacker-by-committee type rotation. Their secondary has also been getting torched as of late; even if they manage to cover AJ Green deep, slept-on tight end Jermaine Gresham will torment Houston up the middle.
Final Score: 24-20, Bengals