Predictification - NFL Wildcard Weekend, Including Colts vs. Ravens

Al Bello

Predicting the NFL action before it happens isn't easy... unless you're a Predictificationist like me. Sit back, relax and know that you've come to the right place.

THIS SEASON: 164-91*-1 (.643)

LAST WEEK: 10-6

COLTS PREDICTIONS: 13-3

Another regular season in the books... an oh, what a season it was for Colts fans! As we move into 2013 it is important to reflect and look back at the year that has passed (at least that's what my mom tells me... I'm more of a looking forward kind of guy).

So, here it is... a recap of regular season predictions I made this preseason and how those turned out. (Enjoy Mom)

I nailed these....

I predicted the final records of every team in the NFL. To prove I'm a genius (which you already knew) I've decided to brag about the teams that I hit right on the head.

Dallas Cowboys (8-8)

Carolina Panthers (7-9)

Buffalo Bills (6-10)

Tennessee Titans (6-10)

New England Patriots (12-4)

I was within one game of nailing these....

These I pretty much nailed, too... I was one game off. Sue me.

New York Giants (9-7) - I had them at 10-6 and missing the playoffs. I can pat my own back for that one.

Chicago Bears (10-6) - I had them at 11-5.

New York Jets (6-10) - I had them at 7-9 and said the Tebow experiment was a joke.

San Diego Chargers (7-9) - I had them 8-8 and extremely average... which they were.

I was WAY off on these....

Every year there are some surprises in the NFL... and this year was no exception. All of these teams I missed by four games or more - and I bet almost everyone else did, too (on most of them).

Indianapolis Colts (11-5) - I thought they would be much improved and several people called me over-optimistic with my 6-10 prediction.

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) - I thought they would be a tough team this season and predicted 12-4. Oops.

Kansas City Chiefs (2-14) - I actually had the Chiefs at 9-7 and getting a Wild Card berth... wow.

Minnesota Vikings (10-6) - When I looked at Christian Ponder and thought about Adrian Peterson coming back from a bum knee I thought 3-13 sounded about right.

Washington Redskins (10-6) - When the Redskins were 3-6 my 5-11 prediction looked like it was right on the money... then they won 7 straight.

Philadelphia Eagles (4-12) - All that talent and so little to show for it. I was one of the few that predicted only 10 wins, most had more.

Detroit Lions (4-12) - This team seemed to be stacked with promise - but that came crashing down this season. Is it back to the drawing board? Maybe... I predicted 10 wins.

My Division winners were on the money (with one exception)!

AFC - Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots, Houston Texans and Denver Broncos

NFC - Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles

My Wildcard picks left a bit to be desired...

AFC - Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers

NFC - Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints

My Super Bowl pick still has a chance...

Baltimore Ravens over Green Bay Packers

The End of Movie Quote Trivia!

Congratulations to Andy Mayo of Topeka, KS for correctly spotting all three movie quotes (The Natural, The Muppets and Rookie of the Year) and answering all three Colts Trivia questions correctly (16, Pat McAfee and Clarence Verdin) last week. Andy was the ONLY correct answer last week... he mentioned that he thought the movie quotes were the hardest they've been in awhile - he must have been right!

Thanks for everyone who played the game this season - it was fun to do. Unless something unforeseen happens (I die of a heart attack when the Colts win the Super Bowl or Sports Illustrated offers me a job) we will be back to do it all again next year. For the rest of the playoffs and Super Bowl all you will get here are the picks... (and there goes half on my readers).

As you all already know, I'm a genius. Let's take a look back at last week and I'll tell you why.

Here's why I'm a genius:

1) Texans @ Colts

What I said: I'm looking forward to the emotion in Lucas Oil Stadium this weekend when Chuck Pagano makes his return to the sidelines. It'll be emotional - the question is if the Colts can turn that emotion into a win. I think the Colts come out with a lot of emotion and get an early lead. The real trouble will be coming out of halftime - the Colts have come out flat in the third quarter several times this season. If the Colts can weather a third quarter storm they will win this game. Look for Luck to throw a couple of touchdowns and probably an interception. Vick Ballard will be important as the Colts try to seal the game late - and I think he goes over 100 yards. This is the week the defense makes a statement and puts some serious pressure on Matt Schaub - I say he gets sacked three or more times. Take the home team - they have Luck on their side. COLTS WIN 30-24

What happened: As you re-read what I wrote last week you should be coming to the same conclusion that I am... I'm the smartest man on the planet. The Colts did start fast and held a 14-6 halftime lead. The third quarter was a little rough and the Colts fell behind 16-14 - they were able to weather the storm and pull out the victory (as predicted). Luck did throw two touchdowns and Schaub was sacked 4 times. You can't fake this stuff.

2) Cardinals @ 49ers

What I said: The 49ers will look to put the NFC North away with a win over the lifeless Cardinals. This game has the biggest spread of the week - and I wouldn't touch it if I were you. Make no mistake about it - the 49ers will win easily but I don't know if it'll be by 17 points. Take the 49ers to win but the Cardinals to beat the spread. 49ERS WIN 24-14

What happened: What happened? Exactly what I said! The 49ers won the game but didn't cover the HUGE spread. What else is there to say? I told you.

3) Rams @ Seahawks

What I said: Seattle is one of the hottest (if not the hottest) team in the league right now - and they get to finish the season at home. The Rams aren't going to lay down without a fight, they've played well all season long. Look for Seattle to outscore the Rams in the second half to put this one away. SEAHAWKS WIN 34-17

What happened: Once again - exactly as I predicted. The Rams didn't lay down without a fight - actually leading 7-3 at halftime. What did the Seahawks do? Outscored the Rams in the second half to put the game away, 17-6. Genius, I tell you... genius.

4) Chiefs @ Broncos

What I said: The Broncos are hoping the Colts can upset the Texans earlier in the day so they can be playing for the #1 seed - but even if Houston wins the Broncos still need a win to lock up a playoff bye. The Chiefs haven't had much fight in them all season long... and don't expect much here. Peyton Manning and the Broncos roll easy. It's the lock of the week. BRONCOS WIN 34-13

What happened: I know, I know... who didn't pick the Broncos to beat the Chiefs? It was my lock of the week - and you could rest easy with the Broncos cruising to a 38-3 victory.

For the record, I was also right about : Jets/Bills, Bears/Lions, Jaguars/Titans, Eagles/Giants, Dolphins/Patriots and Raiders/Chargers

Here's why I'm dumb:

1) Panthers @ Saints

What I said: The spread on this game is a joke - this game won't be close. The Saints should end a disappointing 2012 with a win - and some momentum for next season. Drew Brees has a huge day and this one is over by halftime. It's the bettors lock of the week. SAINTS WIN 34-17

What happened: Well, in a way I was right. I knew this pick was in major trouble at halftime. Drew Brees did have a huge day with nearly 400 yards passing and 4 touchdowns. The difference? DeAngelo Williams. In a performance that frustrated fantasy owners everywhere, Williams rushed for 210 yards and 2 touchdowns.... Jerk.

2) Buccaneers @ Falcons

What I said: I know that the Falcons have little to play for - they've already wrapped up the #1 seed and will probably rest several players. The thing is, Josh Freeman has turned into a walking turnover and can't seem to get out of his own way. I don't think the Buccaneers can win this game in Atlanta - regardless who sits. FALCONS WIN 24-17

What happened: What makes this game the most strange is that the Falcons played their starters, didn't turn the ball over - and still lost. Sometimes football is a crazy game.

3) Browns @ Steelers

What I said: The Steelers had a major letdown last week against the Bengals - my guess is it took all the air out of them. The Browns are a team that has played tough all season long and may be able to take advantage of a Pittsburgh team without anything to play for. Take the Browns in the upset. BROWNS WIN 20-17

What happened: Turns out my 'upset pick of the week' turned out to be just that - upsetting. In a head-scratching move the Browns rested their starters.... I guess they didn't think rookies Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson needed any more work this season? This one was still tied at 10 in the second half... wow. The Browns cost me this one.

4) Cowboys @ Redskins

What I said: This is the game of the week. The winner gets the NFC East title and the loser may get eliminated all together (even though the Redskins could still find a way in if other things fall their way). Something tells me the Cowboys will win this game - and I understand that's not the norm. Maybe it's my desire to see Robert Griffin III lose so Andrew Luck will be the ROY - I don't know... But I think the Cowboys win on a late field goal. COWBOYS WIN 27-24

What happened: What happened? Tony Romo happened... need I say more? As a side note: Anyone that watched RG3's performance on Sunday night and still swears he should get the ROY over Andrew Luck needs to have their head examined... seriously.

For the record, I was also missed: Packers/Vikings and Ravens/Bengals

    Before we get to the games, here are some other fearless predictions, news and notes for Week 16:

  • Ray Lewis announced that he would retire at the end of this season (which could be after this Sunday). Lewis will be remembered as not only a great linebacker but as one of the most motivational teammates in NFL history. His final act of motivation? Turning on the 'win one for Ray' sign before going up against a team that is ChuckStrong. Should be entertaining - according to the media neither team will win based on talent but only because of their love of Ray or Chuck.
  • The Packers and Vikings will square off for the second week in a row this weekend. Either that or I'm having a wicked case of deja vu.
  • The Ravens were my Super Bowl pick and I named my fantasy team 'Joe Flacco Seagulls' referencing my pick and the fact that I'm a child of the eighties. It now makes me feel so dirty... I'm ashamed.
  • Reggie Wayne joked that last Sunday's victory over the Texans was a 'gift' for all of his years of service. Let's hope that's the only gift he gets from the Colts - Indianapolis is likely to meet Denver in the second round with a win in Baltimore on Sunday.


    On to the picks!



      Indianapolis Colts (11-5) at Baltimore Ravens (10-6)

      Line - Ravens by 6.5

      The Colts are 2-0 against the Ravens in playoff games and Joe Flacco and Ray Rice haven't exactly been stellar in past performances against Indianapolis. In four games Flacco has completed nearly 68% of his passes but for only 2 touchdowns and 7 interceptions and has been sacked 7 times. In those same four games Rice has rushed for an average of 66 yards per game, a 4.1 average and just one touchdown (but he has caught a TON of balls).

      I honestly believe the Colts will win this game. They seem to know exactly who they are and what their strenghts are - same thing can't be said for the Ravens. The Ravens defense has not played like the Baltimore defenses we remember and are prone to the run.

      The only way the Colts stumble in this one is if Andrew Luck turns the ball over more than once... he will turn it over once (it is his first playoff game) but, as long as he limits it to the one, the Colts should be OK. The team needs to limit Ray Rice (keep him under 100 rushing) and put some pressure on Flacco (2-3 sacks and some hits should do it). The star of the game will be T.Y. Hilton - I expect another long TD catch. Late touchdown will seal it for Indy - take the Colts!

      COLTS WIN 24-17

      Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) at Houston Texans (12-4)

      Line - Texans by 4.5

      Everyone thinks the Texans are done - they're not. Cincinnati has been mostly unimpressive in their 10 wins and I don't see anything that would make me pick the upset. I'd say quarterbacks and receivers on each team would play to a draw and defense and rushing attack go to the Texans - there isn't anything the Bengals have that would make me give them the edge.

      I think Arian Foster puts the team on his back this week and carries the Texans to the divisional round. I'd estimate he gets about 125-150 yards and a couple of touchdowns. Matt Schaub won't be spectacular but won't kill Houston this week. J.J. Watt will get a couple of sacks and the Texans defense should get a couple of turnovers.

      Andy Dalton will have a day to forget after getting hit all day long. The Bengals won't be able to run the ball, adding to the pressure on Dalton. This one may be close at halftime but the Texans will blow them out in the second half.

      TEXANS WIN 34-20

      Minnesota Vikings (10-6) at Green Bay Packers (11-5)

      Line - Packers by 7.5

      I don't think the Cinderella story for the Minnesota Vikings will have a happy ending. Going into Lambeau Field during the playoffs is one of the hardest thing for a quarterback to do - and Christian Ponder IS NOT up to the task. The Packers defense will come up with some type of game plan to stop slow down Adrian Peterson and force the ball into Ponder's hands.

      Aaron Rodgers has been one of the best playoff quarterbacks in recent years and should be able to handle the Vikings defense without much trouble.

      It'll be cold and that will keep scoring down, making the game seem closer on the scoreboard than it is on the field. Have no doubt, the Packers will win this one convincingly.

      It's the lock of the week.

      PACKERS WIN 27-17

      Seattle Seahawks (11-5) at Washington Redskins (10-6)

      Line - Seahawks by 3

      The battle of rookie quarterbacks should be a fun way to end Wildcard Weekend. The Redskins have won 7 straight and Seattle has won 7 of their last 8 - so these are the two hottest teams in football.

      RGIII hasn't looked the same since his knee injury - still very good but more tentative to run. I think the Redskins would need RGIII at full strength to have a chance at this one. Alfred Morris will get his yards, too - but it is going to take big plays in the passing game to get past Seattle (and the Seahawks defense is built to contain the pass).

      Russell Wilson is playing with an incredible amount of confidence right now and seems to be a little more capable than Griffin at this point in their young careers. That's enough for me to give the edge to Seattle - and by more than a touchdown.

      SEAHAWKS WIN 28-17

        ***

        Questions, comments and complaints can be sent to my email, Predictification@gmail.com.

        Agree? Disagree? As always, comments are welcome! I will track my picks during the season and brag when I'm right (and pretend I was right when I'm wrong). Pick against me if you dare - remember, I'm a Predictificationist.

        Follow me on Twitter at @ColtsInsiders

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