Hello. I am the great seer, Sportstradamus. The 2012-13 NFL season has been a memorable one, but not always for the right reasons However, despite several sketchy contests this season, the last four weeks or so have been incredible. In fact, things have been so surreal this season, I’ve started having visions about the outcome of the playoffs. Included below are quatrains composed from visions I, Sportstradamus, have had from the upcoming NFL playoffs.
Wild Card Weekend
“From inside themselves the Tiger’s pride
Burns with the force of Vulcan’s hammer
Sending the prodigal son into the darkness
Where the Tiger shall devour him.”
You’ve got it. I’m calling Houston’s season over on Saturday. The last month of the season saw the integrity of this Texans team begin to falter, their foundation crack. Over their last four games, Houston stumbled, going 1-3 with losses against New England, Indianapolis, and Minnesota. Houston was outscored 93-36 in those defeats. The Bengals are riding the winds of victory. After dropping four straight And finishing the first half of their season 3-5, Cincinnati has won seven of their last eight games, three of those wins coming against teams at .500 or higher (New York Giants, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore).
Cincinnati 27, Houston 20
Minnesota vs. Green Bay
“The horse races through the swarms of hunters
Clad in fatigues the color of the forest in which the horse flees
The mare is strong and fleeting, running the wind currents
Away from the men who pursue in vain.”
I’m willing to bet that something to the effect of 66% of the country are thinking a Green Bay win in this one. While I’m not naive to the possibility, I think that given how last week went, Minnesota has the momentum as far as these two teams go. Last week, Adrian Peterson (my vote for NFL MVP) ran circles around the Green Bay defense, who needed the W to pad themselves into second-place in the NFC and secure a first-round bye. Peterson’s 199 yards in front of the home crowd left him just eight shy of tying Eric Dickerson’s rushing record for yards in a single-season and what better way to legitimize this guy as the league MVP we all know he is by winning a big playoff game on the road. Green Bay’s slope has been slippery all year and it looks like this team is far removed from the last two seasons, where they went 25-7 and won a Super Bowl. After an embarrassing 2-3 start this season, which included the Seattle game that ended the referee strike, Green Bay went 9-2, albeit their competition over the course of the streak has been forgettable to say the least. Their last eleven games feature only three against playoff teams, two of those against Minnesota. The teams Green Bay played against in that stretch that didn’t make the playoffs are the Rams, Jaguars, Cardinals, Lions, Giants, Bears, and Titans, who have a combined 43-68 record. Only the Giants and Bears finished the season with winning records.
Minnesota gets my Dark-horse Pick of the Week. Hell, Minnesota beating Green Bay may even be my Dark-horse Pick of the entire 2013 playoffs.
Minnesota 26, Green Bay 20
Indianapolis vs. Baltimore
“The wounded soldiers who begin to slow
And unravel like aged ropes
Will not taste from the golden chalice
For their mortality will keep them encumbered.”
Andrew Luck has turned in his application for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, tossing the football for over 4,000 yards through the air and 23 touchdowns, and the Colts have defied all expectations because of this, going 11-5 and making the playoffs when this team should have maybe only doubled their wins from last season. Despite a top-10 passing offense, Indy has glaring holes in their running game and in their defense, despite going 9-2 after a 2-3 start. Somehow, Indy gets it done, especially in last week when they got a full measure of revenge against division-rival and AFC first-seed Houston. Baltimore is a team in panic mode with a misleading 10-6 record, having dropped four of their last five. They’re missing Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, and Anquan Boldin. It’s hard for me to not look at this team’s 2013 campaign as concluded. There are too many injuries and inconsistent play all around and the Ravens’ pass rush — consistently one of the most feared in the NFL over the last several years — looks like little more than an old Hemi that refuses to start.
Indianapolis 28, Baltimore 14
Seattle vs. Washington
“The Natives land is sacred ground
On which the bones of animals are scattered
And even the majestic Hawk is unable
To evade the similar fate.”
Seattle has put up monster points over their five-game winning streak, outscoring opponents 193-60, including back-to-back 50+ point performances against Arizona and Buffalo, and a 42-13 route of division-rival and NFC second-seed San Francisco. Russell Wilson is definitely making a case why he should be considered for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, completing 65.4% of his passes for nine touchdowns to only two picks over the last five games (64.1% completions, 26 touchdowns, and 10 picks all season). Marshawn Lynch has been on a tear this season as well, running for nearly 1600-yards and eleven touchdowns. In December alone, Lynch has racked up 539 yards and six of his touchdowns. The Redskins (my pick to win the NFC East at the beginning of November) have also been dangerous after a shaky start, winning seven-straight after a 3-6 start. At that point, I figured Mike Shanahan would have joined The Great Coaching Dismissal currently going on, but it seems his comments made after their disappointing loss to Carolina on November 4th have turned the team around. Washington’s defense is sorely underrated, holding opponents to 20 points-per-game over the winning streak, as compared to 27.5 over their first nine games. Robert Griffin III’s rookie campaign, in my opinion, has proven better than Cam Newton’s was last year, and with his gaudy numbers this season — 65.6% completions, 20 touchdowns, and only 5 interceptions — not only is Washington in the post-season for the first time since 2007, which is their 3rd appearance since the 2002 league realignment, but Griffin is among three stellar rookie quarterbacks vying for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Seattle 27, Washington 30