By: Kevin Adshade
Let's try this prognostication stuff again, maybe things will get better.
Washington, Indianapolis, Minnesota and Cincinnati were all sent packing last week in the opening weekend of the NFL playoffs. All games that weren't very interesting to watch, but with the lesser teams who made the playoffs now gone, in theory the football will improve. And none of these games are sure things. None.
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Seattle at Atlanta
I'll say this: Seattle is more than capable of going down to Atlanta and upsetting the Falcons. They beat a hobbled Washington Redskins team last Sunday, granted, but they have very good defence and an offence that's good enough to win. But since I picked Atlanta and Denver for the Super Bowl (fence-sitting on this one, just a little), I'll say Atlanta wins 24-17.
Interesting Facts about Atlanta: Atlanta has more than 65 streets with the word "Peachtree" in its name.
Houston at New England
The Houston defence badgered and hunted Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton last week (the Bengals abandoned the run game, which wasn't very smart) but Andy Dalton is no Tom Brady and for the Texans to take the next step in trying to be a true championship-calibre team, this is the game they must have. Beating Brady in Foxboro is not an easy thing to do, but the Texans can run the ball and play defence, so they have a chance. Conventional NFL wisdom says the home team gets three points just by virtue of home field advantage, and that will be enough.
Interesting Facts about Boston: From 1659 to 1681, it was against the law to celebrate Christmas in Boston because the pilgrims thought it was debauched.
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Non-Sports Thought of the Week: Canada's military wants the option to bill municipalities and/or provinces when the army is called in to help in the aftermath of a natural disaster. A spokesperson for Peter MacKay was interviewed Thursday on CBC radio and by the time he was finished, one may have wondered whether national defence should get a better spin doctor because the more he talked, the more ridiculous the idea sounded. Surely they're smart enough to understand that one of the roles of an army is to bail us out in times of natural disaster. It's not like World War III is going on, you can't tell me the army is that busy and, besides, it's not all about the oil companies and the mining companies, you know.
Baltimore at Denver
I don't know about you, but I hate the Ravens. Nor do I even pretend otherwise. (Not that it matters one way or another. I mean, who really cares?) But even when trying to remain objective about this I can only see one thing playing out in the Mile High City: the Broncos spent the last 10 weeks or so of the NFL season beating everybody – most of the time, quite convincingly, and Peyton Manning knows time is getting short for a second Lombardi. The Broncos’ defence is better than the Ravens’ (which is still a force), and Manning is head-and-shoulders above Joe Flacco, his Baltimore counterpart. So we'll go with Denver wins, 30-22.
Interesting Fact about Denver: The invention of the world's first "cheeseburger" belongs to Louis Ballast, who, in 1935, grilled a slice of cheese onto a hamburger at his Denver Humpty Dumpty drive-in.
Green Bay at San Francisco
Now, this is a matchup everyone is looking forward to (those are the games that often disappoint). The San Francisco 49ers’ defence is arguably the best in football – even though they had a couple of late-season meltdowns against New England and Seattle, they get to quarterbacks, have a fierce back end with their linebackers and safeties and are a nasty, dominating bunch. But they'll lose.
Green Bay was vulnerable at times during the season, and they're certainly beatable, however Aaron Rodgers is a top-level QB and can exploit any defence. The 49ers are starting a rookie QB, and most rookie QBs fail their first time in the playoffs. Packers, 27-17.
Interesting Fact about San Francisco: Denim jeans were invented in San Francisco so that Gold Rush miners could wear durable, comfortable clothing.
Kevin Adshade is a sports columnist for The News.