NFL Conference Finals

falcons_vs_packers

patriots-vs-steelers

The race to the Super Bowl is tightening and although in the Divisional Series we had two run-away victories and a rather tough, fought and not that interesting game (Steelers@Chiefs), what happened in Dallas was an instant classic and worth all playoff games. What a great game with a breathtaking finish! It reminds us all why we love football.

The Patriots disappointed a little but as everybody expected, as soon as they woke up, they didn’t have much trouble. Falcons offense dominated the Earl Thomas-less Seahawks defense and Andy Reid’s team again failed in the playoffs (and before anyone asks: it was heartbreaking, but the referee was right. It was a holding).

Anyway, let’s try predicting the Conference Finals.

NFC

Atlanta Falcons vs. Green Bay Packers: As I said in the divisional round post, Matt Ryan is a serious contender for MVP. He has great receivers and running backs and the Falcons defense showed last Saturday that it’s improving. There’s only one problem though: they are going against Aaron Rodgers. It doesn’t matter that the Packers have a lot of injuries. The same thing I said about the game against Dallas remains true now: I can’t see any team stopping him. He is doing magic and the O-line is protecting him greatly. The last performances are putting him in discussions about being the best EVER. Honestly, I don’t know about that, we’ll have to wait when he retires and we can assess his whole career, but right now, no one can beat him. I’m expecting a shootout. Packers 42-38.

AFC

New England Patriots vs. Pittsburgh Steelers:  I just wrote that the Pats disappointed a little, unnecessarily struggling against a team they were clearly light years better. It was clear to me that they took the field thinking the game would be easy and then had to refocus during the football game. If they take the field against the Steelers like that, they can get in trouble (although I refuse to believe that a Bill Belichick coached team will commit this same mistake) due to the way Pittsburgh defense and the killer B’s (augmented by Chris Boswell now, he scored all their points against the Chiefs) are playing. However, New England’s defense is spectacular this year and when it’s all said and done the Steelers are facing Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in Boston in a postseason game. I don’t think they can handle it. Patriots 30-22.

Had the time finally come for us to witness maybe the greatest quarterback battle in the history of the Super Bowl, Brady vs. Rodgers? Let’s turn on our TVs this Sunday a find out. Good games to you all!

Current playlist:

Listening:

Starship – Greatest Hits (Ten years And Change 1979-1991)

John Mayall Bluesbreakers – Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton

The Cult – Electric

Watching:

The Warriors – The Director’s cut DVD

 

Be sure to check out my book “Straight and Lethal”

You can contact me at: carloantico666@gmail.com

Add me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/carlo.antico

Follow me on twittter: @CarloAntico

 

 

 

 

NFL Divisonal Playoffs

nfl-divisional

Yes, ladies and Gentlemen the greatest weekend of the year for football fans is upon us and of course I couldn’t help but make my predictions. I couldn’t do it for the Wild Card weekend because I was as usual spending my New Year’s holidays in my beloved New Orleans, but I’m not letting the Divisional Series slip away.

Therefore, let’s get down to the brass tacks.

NFC

Atlanta Falcons vs. Seattle Seahawks:  As a Saints fan, I obviously don’t have a lot of sympathy for the Falcons, but I do agree that Matt Ryan is being underrated when we talk about MVP candidates. He had a terrific season and has a brilliant receiver in Julio Jones. Seattle is probably the most driven team in the league and they are in high spirits after beating Detroit with relative ease. The defense still makes the offenses scared, although Earl Thomas is a huge miss. The Seahawks are tough and determined but let’s not forget that if not for a huge zebra mistake, the Falcons would have beaten them at Century Link in the regular season. It will probably be a great game and I will root for Seattle, but my guess is that the Falcons will win. Falcons 32 -28.

Dallas Cowboys vs. Green Bay Packers: Not only this is a classic going back more than fifty years, this one specific has all the ingredients to be the greatest game of the Divisional Playoffs, if not the entire postseason. I mean, Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott against Aaron Rogers and… well any receiver you can think of because this guy is on a roll and he’s hitting them with Hail Marys as if it were 5 yards passes. Yes, that will be the challenge for the Cowboys defense. How can you stop the – in my humble opinion, anyway – league MVP? Of course, in the regular season Dallas smashed Green Bay at Lambeau, but that was a different Packers team, it was before they ran the table. Green Bay had a lot of difficult in the first half against the Giants but was benefited by a harmless Giants offense. Dallas offense is much better than New York’s and if the Packers are slow again to get in the game they might get in trouble. However, I don’t see how any team can stop Aaron Rodgers right now. Packers 35-32.

AFC

New England Patriots vs. Houston Texans: This one will probably be the most boring game in the history of playoffs. I don’t even have much to say. The Texans had trouble to win the Wild Card at home against a Raiders team playing with their THIRD quarterback. Can you imagine what will happen against the Patriots in Foxboro? Against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick? If the Texans win, I will never write a word about football again. Patriots 45-3.

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Pittsburgh Steelers:  Now we’re talking about a real playoff game. Again in my humble opinion, Travis Kelce was the best Tight End of the season and he’s been catching all kinds of passes. Justin Houston is having limited participation in practices and if he comes back that would be huge asset for the Chiefs. I still don’t think Alex Smith is that reliable and there is the question of Andy Reid results in the playoffs (ask any Eagles fan). On the other side, Mike Tomlin has a good retrospect in the playoffs, Big Ben is a clutch player and a fierce competitor, Le’Veon Bell is serious running back and Antonio Brown had to be in the conversation for one of the best wide receivers in the league. This is probably the most leveled of all games and being in Kansas City makes it hard to choose the Steelers without blinking. But I’ll trust BBB and go for it. Steelers 25-22.

What matters most is: a full weekend of great football. Have fun! I know I’ll certainly will.

Current playlist:

Reading:

Song of Susannah: The Dark Tower VI – Stephen King

Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis – Anne Rice

Best Little Stories from the Civil War – C.Brian Kelly and Ingrid Smyer

Listening:

Blackberry Smoke – Like an Arrow

The Rides – Can’t Get Enough

Watching

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years – Double Disc Blu-Ray

Heart: Live At The Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – DVD

Be sure to check out my book “Straight and Lethal”

You can contact me at: carloantico666@gmail.com

Add me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/carlo.antico

Follow me on twittter: @CarloAntico

 

 

NFL WILD CARD

NFLWildCard

Yes I know it is Friday and according to my blog schedule I was supposed to write a Rock Chain post today. However, I just returned home from New Orleans (more about that later in the month) yesterday and I promised a look ahead to the NFL Wild Card games this weekend. And as this is MY blog and I can change my schedule whatever the hell I want. LOL!

So, let’s try to predict what may happen in this first weekend of four decisive NFL games. Oh, and one more thing: this year I’ll try to guess the scores as well.

AFC

Houston Texans vs. Kansas City Chiefs: Okay I get it. The Texans are playing at home, they have J.J. Watt on their defense, Brian Hoyer is playing ok and DeAndre Hopkins had a good regular season. However, let’s not forget that the AFC South was pitiful this year (Colts, Jaguars and the horrible Titans) and Kansas City has an amazing winning streak. Alex Smith can release the ball quickly to avoid JJ getting to him and can also scramble. Besides he has a good target in Jeremy Maclin and is a better passer than Hoyer. Even so, I imagine this one will be close. Kansas City 23-20.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: I’m so sorry for all Bengals fans, but I don’t think they’ll have that elusive first playoff victory in God knows how many years this time, even playing at home. A.J. McCarron might have a future in the league but he won’t be able to handle the pressure of a playoff game. Not yet. Besides, Pittsburgh is an experienced team, with an experienced and tough quarterback and an experienced coach. Even if DeAngelo Williams can’t play, they still have Le’ Veon Bell to run and two outstanding receivers in Antonio Brown and Heath Miller. Pittsburgh 35-17

NFC

Minnesota Vikings vs. Seattle Seahawks: In my humble opinion this is the most interesting of all Wild Card games. Before the season, everybody would say it would be a Seahawks rout, but now I think it will be a tough game. First, playing at 1ºF will be a factor. I mean, Seattle is not Miami, but it’s not that cold either. However, Marshall Lynch will be back and he’s probably ready to get into “Beast Mode” after missing so many games. And they are more experienced and seemed to have found their mojo again. The Vikings are good and if Adrian Peterson is in a good day, he might cause trouble for Seattle defense. Bridgewater is playing fine as is Diggs and they are excited about their NFC North title. But I think Seattle is better and at this moment they are reminding me of their teams from the last two years. It should be interesting and rather close. Seattle 22-19.

Washington Redskins vs. Green Bay Packers: Much like the Texans in the AFC, the Redskins were fortunate to play in a pitiful NFC East this year. Yes, Kirk Cousins is playing well, Jordan Reed is playing outstanding, Alfred Morris is a great running back and they have home field advantage. But would that be enough to beat Aaron Rodgers and the Packers? I know, Green Bay had the most unstable season possible, but they are still a good team and the Redskins defense is something you can’t rely on. When the push comes to shove I think Aaron Rodgers is totally dependable and I have very hard time betting against a team with him, Eddie Lacy, James Jones and Randall Cobb, especially a team that didn’t totally convince playing against rivals outside their division. Green Bay 35-10

That’s it for now. Next Tuesday I’ll be back trying to predict the Conference Semifinals.

Be sure to check out my book “Straight and Lethal”

You can contact me at: carloantico666@gmail.com

Add me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/carlo.antico

Follow me on twittter: @CarloAntico