Saints vs. Seahawks image search is surprisingly chock full of awesomey goodness. Like the two images above. And this one. And this one. And this one. And this one. Well maybe not those last two, because one of those looks like its something we can do at home and the other shows people drinking. The moral of the story is to not let yourself get distracted. Don't simply look at the Seahawk's 7-9 record and the fact that they are the first ever division champ to have a losing record. Don't get distracted by the fact that the Saints are the defending champs and they already defeated the Seahawks 34-19, with Drew Brees throwing for 382 yards and 4 touchdowns. The spread for this game is 10.5 points, so while it is very easy to pick the Saints to win and move on, we need to make sure that we analyze this game just as well as the other three.

New Orleans (-10.5) @ Seattle: So, among the twelve playoff teams, do you know who threw the most interceptions per pass attempt? Well, it was Jay Cutler and the Bears of course. I've been talking about Cutler's interceptions since the beginning of the season. Back when I had no format and my thoughts were more run-on than my sentences and Scott complained. You know who are second and third? The Saints and the Seahawks. While a 7-9 team throwing a lot of interceptions isn't surprising, seeing Drew Brees, the Super Bowl MVP who completed 70% of his passes last year and 68% this year, among the league leaders in interceptions is a little surprising. And the Saints defense, which finished third in the league in interceptions last year, is dead last in interceptions this year. Not just among the twelve playoff teams, among the entire NFL. So will it be the quarterbacks who like to throw interceptions, or the defenses that don't like to catch them? I would take any other playoff team over the Saints, but the Seahawks are just so much worse in every facet of the game. Football Outsiders says they are bottom three in both offense and defense, while the Saints defense is actually better than their offense. If the Seahawks were even average in efficiency or interceptions on either side of the ball, I would be willing to take them (and the ten points), but since they seem pretty bad across the board, I'll take the Saints to cover.
Not so bold prediction: Someone throws an interception.
Bold prediction: Drew Brees throws more interceptions than the Seahawk's quarterback and the Saints still cover 10.5 points. Yes, I am aware this violates and I am going to be really pissed if I Brees does in fact throw more interceptions and the Saints win by 7. You know what...I need to look into this a little more.
After some postliminary (Judges? Nope, not a word.) analysis, I looked at the box score for the Saints 34-19 victory over the Seahawks and my observations include: They were in New Orleans, not Seattle. Matt Hasselbeck was the quarterback for Seattle and threw 44 times (completing 32) for 366 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. Drew Brees threw 43 times (completing 29) for 382 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. So how did Brees throw two more interceptions than Hasselbeck and the Saints still won by 15? Marshawn Lynch fumbled twice and the Saints recovered both fumbles. And remember, recovering a fumble tends to be random...can't rely on that. After looking at records against the spread, yards per play and results of their past games, I've come to a conclusion. When the Seahawks play a good team, they lose and they lose big. Of their last 10 games, their losses have been by an average of 37-15. Their wins came against Arizona, Carolina and St. Louis. So I am not going to change my pick, but I am going to change my Bold Prediction.
Bold Prediction: The Saints score 40 or more.

New York @ Indianapolis (-2.5): Since one New York team missed the playoffs, I am not going to use the team name. And that makes me happier than it really should. At 2.5 points you're really just trying to pick who will win. In last year's AFC Championship game* the Colts trailed 17-6 at halftime, then came back to win 30-17. Remember my policy that when a great offense meets a great defense, you look the other way. In their previous matchup, the Colts defense held the Jets offense scoreless in the second half. That was just as, if not more, important to the Colts victory than Peyton Manning's performance. This year the Jets defense is not quite as good, but still the strength of the team. And as long as Peyton Manning is playing, the Colts offense will be better than their defense. But after taking a look at interceptions (both teams are pretty close to each other; among playoff teams the Jets and Colts throw the 4th and 5th most interceptions per attempt and their defenses are the 4th and 2nd worst at catching interceptions) we are going to try and predict how the Jets offense will do against the Colts defense. The Jets have cut down their interceptions pretty well and the Colts defense is worse at intercepting the ball than last year. Football Outsiders says the Colts defense is worse than last year and the Jets offense is better than last year. So I guess I'm taking the Jets +2.5...or +3. I always take the final line that Yahoo's Pick 'em puts up and I'm really hoping it gets to +3. But either way, I will take the Jets.
Not so bold prediction: Peyton Manning throws a touchdown.
Bold prediction: Peyton Manning throws for over 300 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. And LaDainian Tomlinson scores a touchdown.

Baltimore (-3) @ Kansas City: Ray Rice! Jamaal Charles! Joe Flacco! Matt Cassel! Dwayne Bowe! Anquan Boldin! Derrick Mason! Todd Heap! Willis McGahee! Thomas Jones! It's the Big-Fantasy-Football-Names-But-Unkown-To-The-Regular-Public Bowl! It's the NFL playoffs on CBS!! ...or NBC!! ...checking...CBS!! Anybody who plays fantasy football can give you a thought on every one of those names. But anyone who doesn't play fantasy football would fail a test if forced them to determine if it was a real NFL player or someone from the Madden name generator. Ray Rice (great total rushing and receiving yards), Jamaal Charles (super high yards per carry, but still not getting enough carries), Travis Bonner (Madden rookie), Joe Flacco (can he make the leap and take advantage of the tools around him?), Matt Cassel (one good year in the Patriots system gets him a huge contract...but he might be living up to it), Dwayne Bowe (sucked for five weeks, then led the league in receiving touchdowns), Rocky Thompson (Madden rookie), Anquan Boldin (possibly the biggest name, got out from under Larry Fitzgerald's shadow in Arizona, but isn't good enough to be a #1 WR...but it probably worked out better to get away from the Cardinals quarterbacks), Derrick Mason (old, but just as effective as Boldin), Todd Heap (talented, great fantasy tight end a few [several] years ago, but an injury risk at best now), Willis McGahee (vulture), Thomas Jones (stop getting in the way of younger, more talented running backs). Ok I'm done. Both offenses do a pretty decent job not throwing interceptions. Mostly because they are in the bottom quarter of the league in pass attempts, but even on a per attempt basis their quarterbacks do not give the ball away. Their defenses are also middle of the pack in interceptions, finishing 7th and 8th among playoff teams in intercepting the ball. Kansas City has the slightest edge in yards per play. Football Outsiders says Baltimore's the better team on both offense and defense. When you look at the Chiefs schedule, it looks very easy. WAY too easy. Of the twelve other teams to get double digit wins, the Chiefs played one. And lost to the Colts 19-9. The Chiefs only played two playoff teams. They lost to the Colts and beat the 7-9 Seahawks...and no one really wants to count them as a playoff team. The next best team they played was the Chargers, who they beat 21-14 in week 1 behind a punt return touchdown and 68 passing yards my Matt Cassel. Then the Chiefs lost to the Chargers 31-0...but how much of that was Brodie Croyle at quarterback? As for the Ravens, they have played a pretty tough schedule. They went 3-3 against playoff teams and beat the 10-6 Bucs by a touchdown. I really wanted to take the Chiefs and the points. I liked the idea of taking a decent team at home plus points, but everything I look at is either indecisive or indicates the Ravens are the distinctly superior team. So even though they are on the road, and I am now taking three roads teams, I'm taking the Ravens to cover.
Not so bold prediction: Ray Rice or Jamaal Charles gets at least ten carries.
Bold prediction: I wanted to say something about Ray Rice or Jamaal Charles scoring a touchdown or having a high average something. Or Dwayne Bowe catching something. But I am predicting this game to finish 17-14 and with four touchdowns its too hard to predict who will actually score. Thomas Jones or Willis McGahee could be the ones to punch it in from close. Anquan Boldin is just as likely to catch a touchdown as Dwayne Bowe or Derrick Mason or Todd Heap or Tony Moeaki. Or the quarterbacks can run it in instead of throwing it. And both teams do a good job not turning it over, so I don't think there is a defensive or special teams touchdown. You know what? I'm going to say that no one has a good offensive day. No one gets 100 yards rushing or receiving. No non-QB scores 15 fantasy points. No one scores 20 fantasy points.

Green Bay @ Philadelphia (-2.5): So it's the best balance of offense and defense (have I said that before? I feel like I have...) vs. the Philadelphia Michael Vick's. Did you know Michael Vick used to play for the Falcons then he wasn't in the NFL for a couple years, and now he's on the Eagles? Did you know Michael Vick is the greatest player ever except for his off field issues, which make him the worst player ever? He used to be very inaccurate, but now he's average. Both offenses in this game are average in not throwing interceptions and both defenses are among the league leaders. In fact, these two teams are closer than any other combination of teams in terms of throwing and catching interceptions, so that measurement is useless. (Do I use "in fact" and "so" too often? Judges?) Next, I'll take a look at Football Outsiders and see that the Packers are 3rd and the Eagles are 5th. Still pretty close. Yards per play? Also pretty close. The more I think about it, the only thing that would actually surprise me would be one team winning by ten or more points. But that happens often enough in the NFL that I don't want to say that either. When I can't decide which team is actually better, I take the points. And the points come with...the Green Bay Packers!! An interesting note about the Packers, they are the only publicly owned NFL team. You can technically buy shares in the Packers and the shareholders vote on an executive committee that hires people to work in the front office and make all the decisions. Except that, as far as I know, no current shareholder is actually willing to sell any shares. They like being part owners of the Packers.
Not so bold prediction: Michael Vick runs for more yards than Aaron Rodgers.
Bold prediction: Aaron Rodgers scores more fantasy points than Michael Vick.

I don't know if you've noticed, but I picked every road team. You know what makes me feel good about that? In every instance, I ended up picking the team with the better record. Or the team with the same record plus the points. Also, my goal isn't to go 4-0, but to go 3-1 and I'll settle for 2-2. (That's kind of bullshit...of course I want to go 4-0.)

Random note: Something kind of scary I noticed about the Patriots. Not only does Football Outsiders have them as one of their best teams ever (especially in their Weighted DVOA, which places more value on recent games), but the Patriots were the best team in the NFL in not throwing interceptions AND their defense led the league in catching interceptions. Simmons is going to be unbearable.


  1. Ah F*ck! I'm screwed. Simmons made the same four picks as me.

  2. Hey, is there any way to know if Simmons is reading my picks for ideas? I mentioned that the Seahawks lose big and he says 10.5 points isn't that big of a spread. I talk about Kansas City's incredibly easy schedule and he jokes they played the Panthers 7 times. I say the Packers and Eagles are really, really close and he says the game goes into overtime...although he is much funnier about it than I am.

    I always assumed the visits from LA or Glendale was Royce checking in...but what if it is the Sports Guy?

    Or are we (I) just that pretentious that we think more famous/popular writers actually pay attention to us?

  3. You are just that pretentious.

    And by the way, I think if he steals your concept but makes it one billion times funnier, you don't get to claim plagiarism. His line about Reid vs. McCarthy in the new overtime being like a dog with peanut butter stuck in its mouth - that is comedy gold. I'm still laughing.

    Also as Einstein is quoted as saying, "Creativity is knowing how to hide your sources." Our obscurity keeps us pretty well hidden, should anyone be stealing from us.

  4. Thanks for changing your format! I think you'll agree the new format is awesome (and, it's allowed you to do predictions!). Although this post is much more inline with your first few posts...and that makes me sad.

    Postliminary - YES!

    "It's the NFL playoffs on CBS!! ...or NBC!! ...checking...CBS!!" (heh heh - good one)

    There are never enough facts in the world...keep on "in facting..."

  5. Crap - my linking to the Ellipsis comment (found in my ellipses) is too hard to see.

  6. HEY! I broke each game down separately. I added Not so bold and Bold predictions. I just gave a lot more thoughts because it's the playoffs and there are only four games.

    More Simmons borrowing... I specifically talk about how teams win by ten or more fairly often. But I mention it in the Packers-Eagles analysis, and he uses it for the Saints-Seahawks. You'd think that if he liked my ideas, he would at least reply to my emails.

  7. Sorry, Aaron, but only one of us FIWK can be Bill's favorite mailbag questioner. (Hint: it's me.)

  8. As for the games: I feel like we should each make a pick for every playoff game. With at least a little commentary (but please not stream-of-Aaron's-consciousness commentary).

    New Orleans -10.5
    I am picking the far better team to destroy the far worse team, and I am not apologizing for it. I don't care if Seattle is at home, they suck. They got lucky to win that last game. St Louis made more bad plays than Seattle (especially a few terrible WR drops and the awful INT), and I think it's a fluke that Seattle made no terrible plays. Hasselbeck = meh.

    Side question: why is Brees throwing so many more picks this year? A-ron, do you have a theory?

    Prediction: Brees throws no interceptions in this game, and everyone who picked the Seahawks to cover looks foolish.

    Indy -2.5
    I am just going with the Colts because I really don't trust the Jets' offense. Like, at all. But it wouldn't stun me if they won. Let's just say I wouldn't gamble on this game. I am also rooting hardcore for the Colts, because I despise the Jets (I'm insanely bitter about the Chargers' two playoff losses to them in the last few years). Therefore, I want my pick to align with my rooting interest on this game.

    Side note: after two picks I have gone exactly against Aaron. It is going to be fun to head-to-head with your picks, AA.

    Prediction: the Colts defense essentially wins this game for them, by basically stuffing the Jets' run game and potentially by forcing one huge turnover.

    Baltimore -3
    Truth be told, I haven't seen the Bodymore, Murderland (I think I got that from a graffiti from the opening sequence of the Wire... anyone seen that show?) Ravens play since the first half of the season. But I have seen the Chiefs play, and I really don't trust them. Like, at all. Apparently I have trust issues with NFL teams. Anyway I am going Ravens because unless Jamaal Charles goes crazy or D-Bowe has another "Triple Dwayne Bowe" (my favorite SportsCenter phrase in a loooooong time), the Chiefs can't hang.

    Side note: I am so insanely bitter that the Chargers pissed away the AFC West this year that I can't even tell you. And then our coach gave us a "we can build on this!" after the season and we retained him. ugh.

    Prediction: Ray Rice has the best rushing performance of the weekend by any RB (defined as most fantasy points).

    Packers +2.5
    By far the most difficult game for me to pick. I like the Packers more because the Eagles seemed to fade down the stretch, and they seem too one-dimensional using Vick as their only weapon. My gut feel is that the Packers' defense is better, but Aaron's stats above don't really back that up. Either way I think this will be the most fun game to watch of the weekend.

    Side note: I love the idea of issuing public shares of sports teams. Do you think this idea has merit? Could it help get some financially strapped teams out of trouble? If, for instance, the Clippers were sold by Donald Sterling and issued public shares, I would definitely buy some.

    Prediction: the better team in the running game wins this game, and the Packers will outrun the Eagles by just enough to win the game.

    I picked against Aaron on 2 games, and I will probably go 0-4 while he goes 2-2. Oh well.

  9. Wow it gave me an error message after I submitted this essay of a comment, and I almost flipped out. But it's here. Phew.

  10. Oops - turns out I only picked one game different from you Aaron. We both picked Saints, Baltimore, and GB. You picked Jets and I picked Colts.

    Your phrasing of "I pick the Saints to cover" then the subsequent waffling confused me on that pick.

  11. It wasn't waffling. It was postliminary analysis.

  12. To help you clarify your thoughts regarding the the Packers-Eagles. The Packers do have the better defense and the Eagles have the better offense. In fact, the difference between the Packers defense and the Eagles defense is greater than the difference between the Eagles offense and the Packers defense. Not that much, but noticeable. I specifically said that in terms in interceptions they are really close on both sides of the ball. Also, the Eagles offense is much more than Michael Vick. Greg Jennings may be the best receiver in this game, but it's close. DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are definitely the better combination of two receivers. As for Jennings, Driver, Jones vs. Jackson, Maclin, Celek...I don't know. Then looking at the running games, LeSean McCoy and the Eagles run game is far superior to the Packers run game...if only Ryan Grant hadn't been injured in the first game of the season...I wouldn't have blown my Free Agent Acquisition Budget on Brandon Jackson, only to drop him five weeks later.

  13. Here our my predictions/thoughts on the actual games:

    Seattle +10.5: I know I'm going to hate myself when the Saints are up 21-3 at halftime, and that thought alone is make me second, triple, & quadruple think this pick, but I have to think that the Hawks home-field advantage will give them the necessary boost to keep this close through the first 3 quarters. Screw that, even if it IS close through 3, I think the Saints can still easily win by 2 scores. Switching to Saints -10.5.

    Indy -2.5: Go Pey-Pey!

    Baltimore -3: I think the Ravens are the dark-horse Super Bowl champs at this point of the season (along with eleventy-bajillion others, probably)

    Eagles -2.5: It's going to be sad to see my boy Rodgers struggle in this game, but I can't see how the no-run Packers can hang with the Eagles in this high-scoring game. I think the result will be close, but I always find it hard to pick the dog to cover, but not win.

  14. Aaron - why'd you settle on posting Saints/Seahawks photos?

  15. That was the game that prompted my thoughts before the jump. About not getting distracted. And did no one like the lobster knife fight? I felt that was particularly awesome.

  16. Aaron your Packers-Eagles follow up comments didn't help clarify my thoughts at all. If anything I am more uncertain. But I'm sure next week we can do a postliminary analysis of the game and we will all decide how dumb we were to make whatever pick it was we made that was wrong.

    The lobster knife fight was indeed awesome, but then you followed it with your link about getting distracted, and I got distracted from the awesome.

  17. HAHA! Good one Royce...

    Here's my bold prediction for the week: Reggie Bush goes for 20+ fantasy points.

  18. So Drew Brees throw for 404 yards, 2 TDs and no interceptions. Matt Hasselbeck does throw an interception. Someone scores over 40 points. My postliminary analysis has yet to figure out how this game shattered every predictive theory I have used.

    But, I loved this game. This is why I love watching sports and the NFL and especially the playoffs.


    That's the only postliminary analysis I have

  20. That was the slowest, awesomest run of the year. Linemen and the quarterback were catching up to him.

    Side note: How do you like NFL Videos vs. Youtube? NFL Videos are significantly easier to search through and a far superior quality...but you usually have to wait through a 15 second commercial. Is the commercial worth the wait to get exactly what you want?

  21. After watching it a dozen times, I count 8 Saints who touch him and 5 legitimate broken tackles.

  22. I think he threw a man 20 yards on that play. How embarrassing for Tracy Porter.

  23. HAHAHAHAHA amaaaazing Google link Scooter... hahaha well played my friend.

    Poor Tracy Porter is going to have PTSD after that emasculation. He might never tackle a man again.

    I started screaming incoherently at the point where Marshawn just chucked him one-handed across the field. That was so awesome. I completely forgot about the fact that I dislike Pete Carroll and was rooting for the Saints, and became 100% okay with their victory when Marshawn broke off that play.

    Aaron, I think the NFL Videos are worth it. I still think there are benefits to the ease of use and quickness of YouTube though.