Tag Archives: Chuck Pagano

NFL 2016: Week 7 Predictions!

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Tom Brady and friends should crush a shorthanded Steelers team this Sunday.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 12-3

Season: 55-37

Big Five Games of the Week

Indianapolis @ Tennessee – The Colts are trending downward right now. I think offensively, they can still score enough to be in games but their defense will continue to let them down like they did last week when they melted down in Houston. Tennessee is a talented football team who is looking for the chance to climb out of the AFC South basement and I think they’ll have a chance to do just that this season. Step one would be beating a Colts team that has owned them for a while now. I think I read that Andre Luck is 7-0 all time against the Titans. I think Tennessee will flip the script at home this Sunday. We’ll see a strong game from QB Marcus Mariota and he’ll receive great support from DeMarco Murray and the run game. Look for the Titans to finish the game strong in the four quarter while the Colts will fail once again at holding the lead. Prediction: Titans 27 – Colts 20

Minnesota @ Philadelphia – Sam Bradford returns to Philadelphia after being traded to Minnesota right before the season. That trade may have worked out for both teams as Philly was able to hand the keys to the offense to their top draft pick and Minnesota was able to keep their expectations afloat by having a capable QB under center after losing Teddy Bridgewater for the season. The Vikings enter this game undefeated and coming off the bye week. Philadelphia started the season hot and they had the entire league talking. But since then, they have cooled off significantly and if you look at their upcoming schedule, more pain in on the horizon. Carson Wentz was the media darling a couple weeks ago but he is starting to hit that rookie wall as we saw against Detroit and last week vs. Washington. Wentz is going to continue to have a bad time out there as he will be facing a really good Vikings defense on Sunday. Philadelphia’s defense isn’t playing at the level that it was a few weeks ago either. Minnesota isn’t going to overwhelm anyone offensively but with the way their defense is playing, the offense will not have to do very much on the stat sheet but still put away teams late. Bradford will really enjoy this one, as his Vikings will stay undefeated in Philly. Prediction: Vikings 33 – Eagles 21

New England @ Pittsburgh – The Steelers were my pick last week in my Survival Football league. That didn’t go well as they had their annual “play down to a crappy opponent” game last week in Miami. To make matters even worst in Steel town, Pittsburgh lost their starting QB, Ben Roethlisberger to injury. I remember last season when Ben went down due to injury and the Steelers were still able to win ball games with Landry Jones. Fast-forward to today and it sounds like many are not giving Jones a chance this weekend. Maybe it is because they know what they are losing in Roethlisberger. Maybe its because Landry Jones isn’t that good. Or maybe, it is because of who is coming to Heinz Field this weekend. Landry Jones is going to have to be better than good to beat Tom Brady and the Patriots this weekend. Pittsburgh really suffered last weekend defensively as the Dolphins ran all over them. They will receive some help this week as LB Ryan Shaizer will return from injury. But they will still be without DE Cameron Heyward who is a major difference maker on the Steelers’ defensive line. Also missing last week in Miami was the Steelers pass rush, which is currently non-existent. All of those things will equal into some bad news for the Steeler faithful at home this Sunday. With no pass rush, Tom Brady will tear this secondary apart. Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett should be able to have field days on Sunday. New England’s running game is underrated and the current state of the Pittsburgh run defense will give LaGarrette Blount chances to shine this week. All hope isn’t lost for Pittsburgh on offense though. No Roethlisberger will likely mean heavy doses of Le’Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams who are both really good. We will see how well New England defends the run on Sunday. If Pittsburgh is successful in the run game, that will open up some things for Jones and the passing offense. Antonio Brown was almost a no show last week in Miami and the Steelers will have to find a way to get him involved even without the starting QB passing him the ball. I honestly think that the Steelers aren’t in that bad of shape without Roethlisberger but they will not even be close to being able to compete with New England on Sunday. Strange things can happen in Heinz Field, I guess. But I expect the Patriots to roll easily. Prediction: Patriots 42 – Steelers 28

Seattle @ Arizona – Don’t let last week’s home victory over the Jets fool you. Arizona has been disappointing to say the least so far this season. There is a narrative that says that Arizona is really good at home and Seattle is really bad on the road. I think you can throw that narrative out the window this Sunday night. Seattle is currently playing at a high level and Arizona is not. The Cardinals have been really disappointing on the defensive side of the ball. They have talented players in the secondary but as a unit, they are not creating enough stops. Arizona’s fall back has been their high scoring offense but even they have been inconsistent at times this season. RB David Johnson is having a strong season but on Sunday, he’ll face a tough Seattle front four. Arizona’s shortcomings on defense will serve Seattle’s offense well. Russell Wilson will be able to control the game with his legs and his arm. I’m taking the road team. Prediction: Seahawks 27 – Arizona 19

Houston @ Denver – I guess you have to give Houston credit for coming back like they did last week. They were pretty much dead in the water but they ended up finishing strong. They could be a confidence builder going into a big Monday night match up against the defending champion Broncos. Denver lost at home to Atlanta and had a short turn around where they lost at San Diego on a short week. After losing that tough one to Atlanta and then having to turnaround and play on the road on a short week, that is a tough sequence. Did I mention that I think season long Thursday night games are a stupid idea? But anyways, Denver should be pretty ticked off and ready get back to winning at home on national television. Brock Osweiler will be making his return to Denver and the Broncos defense is already chomping at the bit to get after him. Osweiler might have already proved to be a QB who really wasn’t deserving of all that money Houston gave him. I like the Denver defense in this matchup very much. They will get after the QB and Houston will have issues scoring points. Denver’s offense has been struggling a bit recently and Houston’s defense is actually much tougher than anyone gives credit to. I just think Houston will be struggling so much on offense that the defense will get tired late in this game and will be unable to come up with key stops in the 4th quarter. I see Denver getting back on track this week at home. Prediction: Broncos 21 – Texans 12

The Rest of Week 7

Packers over Bears – I know that Green Bay is struggling and that they just lost Eddie Lacy for the season. But Chicago is really bad and they let Jacksonville beat them on a complete accident.

Rams over Giants – The International Series is another thing in the NFL that I would like to see go away. How about the Rams in an upset? Their defense will keep LA in this game.

Bengals over Browns – Cincinnati showed signs of life last week. Cleveland is dead but the Indians are going to the World Series! They really need to get rid of that Chief Wahoo mascot though.

Washington over Lions – Washington is on a winning streak and no one is noticing. Detroit is a team that I can’t trust right now because of all of their injuries.

Chiefs over Saints – Drew Brees is playing at a high level. Kansas City’s defense will face a tall task on Sunday but I like the Chiefs at home.

Bills over Dolphins – Buffalo may be without LeSean McCoy but their defense is playing at a high level right now. A win in Miami would mean five straight for Rex Ryan’s bunch.

Ravens over Jets – This game might set QB play back a few years. It will be a field goal kicking contests. I like Justin Tucker. Hook ‘em.

Raiders over Jaguars – I can’t believe that the Raiders are really leaving California.

Falcons over Chargers – Atlanta fought tough on the road last week in Seattle. They won’t have a let down at home this week.

Buccaneers over 49ers – I don’t know. A complete toss up here.

Week 7 Fantasy Football Picks

QB: Tom Brady (Patriots) – Hard for me not to pick Tom. He is facing the third worst pass defense in the league on Sunday.

RB: Jamaal Charles (Chiefs) – This is a complete shot in the dark. Kansas City just traded one of their running backs. Maybe this will mean a bigger role for the now healthy Charles.

WR: A.J. Green (Bengals) – Green usually goes big against the Browns.

TE: Delanie Walker (Titans) – Tennessee passing offense has a favorable matchup this week against the Colts secondary. Walker has been quiet lately. Maybe he will break out this week.

DEF: Oakland – Jacksonville has been so bad on offense this season. Blake Bortles might make the Raiders secondary look better than it really is.

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NFL 2016: AFC South Preview

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The Jaguars are young, talented, and finally ready for success in 2016.

By: Elias McMillan

 

AFC South

Houston Texans – Houston had so many issues last season especially at the QB position but they were able to back their way into a playoff berth and the division title. They didn’t last long in the post season but the narrative for the offseason was set: for Houston to improve, they will need to upgrade the QB position in the offseason. Houston ponied up the money to grab Brock Osweiler away from Denver but it isn’t a sure thing that Osweiler will end up as a better option that what the Texans had a season ago. I don’t think Osweiler will ever be worth the money Houston decided to pay him but when he was in Denver, he was on a team with a decent supporting cast. Houston will have the tools on offense that could help Osweiler succeed. At WR, Houston has outstanding depth led by DeAndre Hopkins, who is great no matter who is throwing him the ball. But again, the depth behind Hopkins is pretty legit with veteran Cecil Shorts and younger guys like Jaelen Strong and rookies Will Fuller and Braxton Miller. That’s as good of a 5-set of receivers that you will find in the league. The Texans continued to be the big spenders in the offseason on the offensive side again when they brought in a new starting RB, Lamar Miller from Miami. Miller was a decent player for some bad Miami teams and he might be even better here in a new location. Houston spent the money to improve on the offensive side and now, they should be able to count on the defense being as good as it was a season ago. Everyone knows that the catalyst on this defense and the entire franchise is J.J. Watt. Watt might miss the beginning of the season but he’ll return and will continue to be an unstoppable force. Houston will return most of the cast that accounted for a run defense that ranked in the top 10 in the league. In at middle linebacker, Brian Cushing and Benardrick McKinney should be a good mix of veteran leadership and youth. Houston has been waiting forever for Jadeveon Clowney to turn into something after being selected first overall in 2014. Clowney has shown flashes of his college self during the preseason and the Texans defense is going to need him to be that guy once the regular season starts. Starting opposite of Clowney, Whitney Mercilus has been a solid pass rusher in this league. Houston’s pass defense was ranked 3rd in the league last season. A solid group at CB that includes veterans Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson leads the secondary. I don’t think Houston is among the elite teams in the league but I think they’ll be good enough to win this weak division again. Prediction: 9-7 (AFC South Champs)

Jacksonville Jaguars – The AFC South is not strong division but I think this will serve as an advantage for this young Jaguars team that is looking to make the jump in 2016. I like what Jacksonville has done in the offseason. They have a great group of young talent. And I believe that they will challenge hard for the AFC South title this year. On offense, they are led by young QB Blake Bortles who really isnt known as a great QB in this league yet. I don’t know if Bortles will put up monster numbers week after week but I do know that he has a great rapport with the two talented receivers on this team. Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns are no longer the best-kept secret in the league. They are among the tops when you talk about receiving duos in the NFL currently. Bortles also has a great set of TE to throw to in Julius Thomas and Marcedes Lewis. I really like that the Jaguars put in the effort in free agency to improve the offensive line and the running game. I think the RB duo of T.J. Yeldon and newly acquired Chris Ivory will help a Jaguars rushing attack that ranked near the bottom of the NFL a season ago. I’m really excited to see what this young defense does this year too. DE Dante Fowler had a “red shirt” rookie season, as he didn’t play at all due to injury. Fowler is now back at 100% and looks every bit the third overall pick that he was a season ago. In free agency, they brought in DT Malik Jackson who was a great player on the defensive line during Denver’s Super Bowl run. Jackson will bring the veteran experience to lead this young and talented group up front for the Jaguars. I really like the group of linebackers that Jacksonville has assembled. LB Paul Posluszny is now the seasoned veteran in the middle and he’ll be surrounded by two amazingly athletically gifted LB’s in Telvin Smith and rookie Myles Jack. The speed at the LB position between Smith and Jack will be unreal to see on Sunday’s this season. The Jaguars also brought in veterans to help improve the secondary. Safety Tashaun Gipson and CB Prince Amukamara will bring a wealth of experience to this young secondary. First round pick, CB Jalen Ramsey, might be a star in the making with the way he plays physical and attacks the football. There is a lot to be hopeful for when you look at the young talent on this Jacksonville defense. I don’t know if they’ll be able to win the division this year but I think this season the league will be put on notice by these young Jaguars. Prediction: 8-8

Tennessee Titans – Tennessee found their QB for the future last season. Now, they are looking to build around that guy in order to make a return to prominence in the NFL. There was a lot I didn’t like about Marcus Mariota going into his rookie season last year. But he proved his worth in 2015 and he’ll be the starter in Tennessee for a long time. He is a much better passer than I thought and his overall athleticism will carry him to success early in his career. I think Mariota could be even better in 2016. I really like how the Titans have invested into their offensive line in the last couple years. They spent another first round pick in that area in the offseason and now they have a group of 3 first round draft picks on that offensive line. This is much like what the Dallas Cowboys did in building their offensive line. I also have to say, that I like that they acquired a veteran Center to lead the group in Ben Jones. With the big bodies they have up front, this Titans team should be ready to be a force when running the football. They traded for RB DeMarco Murray who will be ready to return to his 2014 form. Murray was a failed experiment in Philadelphia and he really had little to do with his failure. Philadelphia didn’t have him in the right offense and he didn’t have the offensive line needed to succeed as a power runner. In Tennessee, Murray will have the big guys up front to create the lanes that will allow him to be successful. The Titans will also have outstanding depth behind Murray in Bishop Sankey, Dexter McCluster, and rookie Heisman Trophy winner, Derrick Henry. As deep the Titans are at RB, they are equally short of talent at the WR position. The WR group is one with extremely average and inconsistent veterans. Rookie Tajae Sharpe has been a standout in preseason and they brought in vet Andre Johnson to maybe provide some leadership. Mariota does have a pretty reliable option at TE in Delanie Walker. On defense, the Titans are led up front by Jurrell Casey who is well respected in league circles as one of the best in his position. In the outside pass-rushing department, the Titans will return veterans Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan. Also, keep an eye out for touted rookie Kevin Dodd. As guy who can create pressure in the backfield. The secondary will be a weak point for the Titans again in 2016. CB Jason McCourty is the leader of the group but there isn’t really much around him in this unit. Tennessee is short a few playmakers at WR and in the secondary but with that power running game and with what Mariota brings to the table, the blueprint for success is starting to take shape. Prediction: 7-9

Indianapolis Colts – Last season, the Colts were brought up as Super Bowl contenders in the preseason. They built up their roster with veterans and they thought that they could easily win this division. Instead, the Colts took a massive step back and I feel like everything was blamed on the injuries to Andrew Luck. But I think this team’s problems are much deeper than that. I think Andrew Luck, now back at 100%, will be his old self in 2016. Luck is a very good QB in this league but I don’t think he will be in a position to raise the talent of his teammates around him. One thing that the Colts have to improve on in 2016 is the play of the offensive line. This was a focus in the draft but who knows how long of a process this will take. The offensive line struggled at protecting their franchise QB and at run blocking. RB Frank Gore had his worst season in his first season in Indy. Gore has vowed to bounce back in 2016 but you have to consider that Gore is getting up there in age. I think the Colts needed to find a RB for the future this offseason but I don’t think they’ve done that. The Colts also have shaky depth at WR. T.Y. Hilton is the star of the group and Donte Moncrief serves as a decent possession receiver. But behind those two guys, Luck will be throwing to some guys who don’t have a lot of experience. On defense, the Colts will return a defensive line that was among the worst in the league at stopping the run. OLB Robert Mathis returns for another season as one of the best outside rushers in football. Last year, they paired him Trent Cole who went on to have his worst season as a pro. Cole was a great pass rusher in Philadelphia but I think this is one of those cases were age just catches up to aging players. The secondary will be led once again by CB Vontae Davis who is still very good. Behind him, the Colts brought in a couple of the laziest players in the league in Patrick Robinson and Antonio Cromartie. I don’t think Indy’s disappointing season in 2015 was an abnormality. Their roster just isn’t up to snuff and they wont be able to rely on Andrew Luck to be the save all. The Colts did a bad job in the offseason at getting younger at key positions and that will show up again in 2016. Luckily for them, the AFC South isn’t a strong division so I don’t see them completely bottoming out. Head coach Chuck Pagano is one of my favorites in the league and I hope he can survive another disappointing season. Prediction: 7-9

NFL 2015: Week 6 Predictions!

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Arizona comes into Pittsburgh this Sunday playing as well as anyone right now.

By: Elias McMillan

Last Week: 13-1

Season: 52-25

Big Five Games of the Week

Cincinnati @ Buffalo – In last week’s game vs. Seattle, it began to look like the old Bengal team that would falter in big games was back. But despite being down in the second half of that game, the Bengals stormed back and was able to come up with a big home victory against the defending NFC champs. It’s still early in this season but maybe this is a sign that this years Bengals team is ready to shed the label of being habitual folders. But once again, there’s still a lot of season left. Cincinnati will travel to Buffalo this weekend where the Bills will be looking forward to getting some key guys back from injury. QB Tyrod Taylor is coming off a gutsy performance on the road last week where he got pretty banged up. Taylor will be looking to still play this weekend but hopefully, he’ll be able to get help from a couple of RB’s returning from injuries. RB LeSean McCoy is still limited in practice due to his hamstring injury and RB Karlos Williams hasn’t been cleared since suffering a concussion so, both players’ statuses for Sunday are still up in the air. Cincinnati comes into Sunday with the 2nd ranked offense in the league. Buffalo has a great defensive line and they defend the run really well. The Bengals might have a tough time getting Giovanni Bernard or Jeremy Hill going on Sunday. Good news for Cincy is that Andy Dalton is still playing some of his best football right now despite still making mistakes from time to time. The Bengals will definitely have an advantage in the passing game as Buffalo wont have an answer for both A.J. Green and the emerging Tyler Eifert. Buffalo is a tough place to win but I think the Bengals will stay undefeated this weekend. Prediction: Bengals 28 – Bills 20

Arizona @ Pittsburgh – Arizona isn’t undefeated but you could argue that they have been the most impressive team in the NFC so far this season. Keys to their success would be a healthy Carson Palmer, a talented RB core by committee, and an attacking defense. Arizona is playing as well as anyone going into this big road game in Pittsburgh on Sunday. Pittsburgh isn’t getting enough out of their offense since the Ben Roethlisberger injury but they just got enough last Monday night in San Diego for the victory. With Mike Vick starting again this week, the Steelers would be better served by getting Le’Veon Bell as many touches as possible on Sunday. Vick’s inaccurate passing will spell trouble for Pittsburgh on Sunday as Arizona is really good at turning bad passes into turnovers going the other way. Arizona is pretty stingy against the run so, I think Pittsburgh will struggle to score points this week. You will also have to wonder how Pittsburgh will be affected from by playing on the west coast after a short week. Star WR Antonio Brown has been vocal this week about the lack of offensive production coming his way but it looks like that will continue to be the case until Ben returns. Pittsburgh’s defense has overachieved recently and they actually deserve a lot of credit. But I believe Bruce Arians will really test that unit this week and expose their weaknesses. Arizona is built to go into tough environments on the road and win games and I think they’ll prove that this week. Prediction: Cardinals 35 – Steelers 21

Carolina @ Seattle – The undefeated Panthers are coming off the bye week, as they will travel to Seattle for a tough road game. Carolina’s early success this season is amazing considering the lack of depth at receiver and playing without their best defensive player, LB Luke Kuechly. Kuechly will be ready to return this week and he’ll be returning right on time for this Carolina defense that will be facing the best running attack in football. Veterans Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson have been slowed by injuries but the Seattle running game has still been able to take off behind rookie Thomas Rawls. Carolina’s run defense should be even better than it already is with Kuechly returning so this will be a matchup to watch in this game. Russell Wilson is still a consistent playmaker for Seattle but with the protection issues on the offensive line, he has been prone to some mistakes this season. Carolina will be able to pressure him again this week and he’ll also have to look out for CB Josh Norman who may be the league’s next “Richard Sherman” as far as shutdown corners may go. Cam Newton has been carrying the Panthers offense this season but I think Seattle’s defense will put too much on his plate this week. I don’t see Carolina being able to be successful on the ground this week and Seattle’s secondary won’t respect any of Carolina’s receivers. With constantly seeing eight in the box on Sunday and without a reliable deep threat, Newton is line for his toughest start on the season on Sunday. Prediction: Seahawks 26 – Panthers 13

New England @ Indianapolis – Let me first say this: the media’s angle on this game is all wrong. Every journalist or talking head on TV is saying that this is a revenge game for the Patriots because the Colts “snitched” to the NFL about the “Deflate-gate”. But the Patriots destroyed the Colts in that AFC Championship game a season ago. So, shouldn’t the Colts be the ones looking for revenge this Sunday night in their home stadium. But either way you look at it, this game will end badly for the home team. The Colts have been an early disappointment this season. QB Andrew Luck is returning from injury in this game but even he hasn’t been as sharp as expected this season. The Patriots don’t have a great defense but the Colts have struggled to get any consistent play through the air and on the ground. Indy’s defense was also supposed to be improved this season but we have yet to see evidence of that. Tom Brady will be in attack mode in this game and the Colts wont have an answer. Prediction: Patriots 40 – Colts 28

New York Giants @ Philadelphia – The Eagles enter this huge early season NFC East showdown vs. the Giants with as much confidence as they’ve had this season thus far. The Eagles killed the Saints at home last week and it was the best their offense has looked all season. Of course, I must point out that the subplot of that game was that the New Orleans Saints absolutely suck. The Giants also had a triumphant moment last week as they defeated the 49ers with a late touchdown pass in the 4th quarter. I must also point out that the 49ers are not very good. My point is that this game will be an absolute NFC East garbage fest. Philly is favored in this matchup for reasons that actually make a lot of sense. The Giants don’t have the defense to slow down Philly’s many offensive weapons and the Eagles front seven has had a knack for giving Eli Manning a hard time. But I don’t think Sam Bradford will be able to have the success down the field that he had last week. New York doesn’t have a great secondary especially with Prince Amukamara out with an injury but that secondary isnt as bad as New Orleans’. Also, the Giants offensive line is under appreciated and if Manning has time, he’ll attack Philly’s awful secondary. Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz are both banged up but I don’t think it will matter. This game with be an ugly slop fest that will serve one purpose: ratings for ESPN because of the markets involved. Can you tell that a Cowboys fan wrote this? Prediction: Giants 24 – Eagles 21

The Rest of Week 6

Falcons over Saints – Atlanta looks vulnerable but New Orleans has the worst defense in the league.

Broncos over Browns – Great job by me for picking the Cleveland upset last week. By the way Cleveland, your 7 game losing streak begins now. Enjoy.

Bears over Lions – Remember when Chicago was tanking and trading all of their players away? Detroit’s nightmare season will continue at home on Sunday.

Titans over Dolphins – I love new interim head coach Dan Campbell. I feel like after Miami loses this game, he’ll challenge Tennessee head coach Ken Whisenhunt to a fistfight at the 50-yard line.

Vikings over Chiefs – Should have been a matchup between two of the best RB’s in football. Jamaal Charles’ season is over and so is Kansas City’s.

Jets over Washington – The surprising Jets will be well rested going into this game coming off the bye.

Texans over Jaguars – Houston isn’t any good. Gus Bradley’s seat will be pretty hot if the Jags lose this one.

Packers over Chargers – San Diego doesn’t have the defense to slow Aaron Rodgers and this Green Bay offense.

49ers over Ravens – Its hard to explain whats wrong with Baltimore this season. They just loss too many key pieces. Kind of like the team they’ll face on Sunday.

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Tom Brady (Patriots) – Brady will go HAM this weekend in Indy. He’ll embrace the boos. He’ll silence the crowd too.

RB: Devonta Freeman (Falcons) – New Orleans has one of the worst run defenses in football. Freeman runs as hard as anyone in football right now. He’s having a breakout season this year.

WR: Anquan Boldin (49ers) – I know that the Niners don’t have a great passing offense but Boldin will demand the football this week against his former team.

TE: Larry Donnell (Giants) – With the uncertainty surrounding the availability of Beckham and Cruz, look for Eli Manning to target his TE against Philly’s sorry secondary.

DEF: Seattle – The Seahawks will be able to stack the box and eliminate the passing game this week against Cam Newton and his limited offensive teammates.

NFL 2015: Conference Championship Sunday Predictions!

Divisional Playoffs - Indianapolis Colts v Denver Broncos

Chuck Pagano and his Colts are this postseason’s Cinderella.

By: Elias McMillan

Divisional Round: 2-2

Playoffs: 6-2

NFC Championship Game

Green Bay @ Seattle – No matter how they won last week, you have to give Green Bay credit. I didn’t think Aaron Rodgers was that hurt going into the game but you could clearly see that he wasn’t at 100%. Despite that, his offensive line did a great job against a weak Dallas pass rush and in the second half, Rodgers appeared to be much sharper. That was a nice moment for Rodgers next week but unfortunately, that did nothing to prepare him for what he is going to face this Sunday. The Seattle front seven will get after Rodgers in a way that Dallas couldn’t do last week. They will hit him. They will hurt him. Rodgers and the passing game will have a tough time. Not to mention that Seattle’s secondary is also a beast. If Rodgers doesn’t come out sharp, those bad throws will turn into interceptions against L.O.B. I think the Seattle defense will have great chance at stealing the early momentum in this game and not giving it back. Green Bay will have a chance if they feed the RB Eddie Lacy. Green Bay should at least try to ride the running game and try to tire out the Seattle defense. The Seahawks defense is vulnerable against the run so this might not be a bad idea. Green Bay’s defense is underrated but they don’t have enough playmakers. Clay Matthews was invisible last week except for a couple of times where he hit Romo late (no flag, of course). The one guy that did supply the Packers with some big plays last week was the veteran Julius Peppers. Peppers may be older but he might be athletic enough to keep tabs on the elusive QB Russell Wilson. I don’t think the Packers will have an answer inside for RB Marshawn Lynch. As always, Seattle’s passing game will be about Wilson making plays and not about any of the receivers. Wilson will lead the offense and play a masterful game in front of a raucous home crowd. Green Bay is not the team that can match up well with Seattle in Seattle. The team in the NFC that could do that is at the crib. Prediction: Seahawks 31 – Packers 17

AFC Championship Game

Indianapolis @ New England – The award for most unlikely run in January this postseason goes to Chuck Pagano and the Indianapolis Colts. Going into the playoffs, the Colts didn’t have much of a defense or a running game. Two things that usually breed success in the playoffs. But despite that, here they are playing in Foxboro this Sunday against the Patriots for the right to play for a championship. Andrew Luck and passing game has been enough to get the Colts this far. And I think that unit can find success this Sunday. New England has two great CB’s in Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis but they are still not impossible to pass on. The real question in this game is if the Colts defense can play as tough as they did last week. Honestly, I don’t see why they cant. New England has been the most consistent team in the AFC this season but really nothing about them puts them head and shoulders over a lot of teams in the conference. The Colts front seven is playing great right now. New England isn’t able to play ball control football with their running game. When they played Indy earlier in the season, it was a coming out party for RB Jonus Gray but we haven’t seen much of him since that game in November. Pagano is a great defensive mind and he’ll find a way to get after Brady. The key will be limiting New England’s scoring chances. The Colts are playing with great confidence right now especially on the defensive side of the ball. I’m going out on a limb here but I think we’ll see an upset in New England this weekend in a classic, close ball game. For the second straight year, we’ll see the league’s top passing offense in the Super Bowl facing the league’s top defense. Prediction: Colts 35 – Patriots 33