Does anyone else find it extremely annoying when Bradley Cooper says "Baybee" over and over again in the American Sniper preview? We Caro Lot (Saturday, 4:35 p.m. EST)
It feels like Carolina started their season this past Sunday against the Falcons. Arizona goes into this game like it's another day in quicksand. The problem Arizona is going to have is that Carolina will probably put the game in their defense's tar-hands. No offense to the Cards, but the Panthers made a way better offense look miserable last week. We actually even know who's showing up to play QB for Arizona this week: the good guy, the bad guy or the ugly guy. I'll let you decide which is which. Carolina knows whoever it is will be rusty, forced to play way out of his shoes and has no business beating them in their house. On offense, Carolina will run the ball, eat clock and put together methodical drives. When Cam Newton plays "his" game, he is very hard to beat. I've noticed that Cam's game works best when Carolina knows they're playing a team that they can control defensively. If they run the ball with Jon Stewart, they'll probably lose, because Jon Stewart hosts The Daily Show and doesn't play football. If they run the ball with Jonathan Stewart, only good things can happen. For example, a strong run game will consistently open up short completions to the most underrated tight end in football, Greg Olsen. Add a few scrambles by Cam, turnover-free football, and probably several field goals by money kicker Graham Gano, you have a team poised to roll through Arizona. Shout-out to Arizona, though, on a great season and a bright future.
Pick: Carolina - 4 1/2
Into the Pitt (Saturday, 8:15 p.m. EST)
Well, for the millionth time this Saturday night, we get to see Stillers and Ravens in a meaningful game. This has become the NFL's answer to the Flair/Steamboat feud of the late '80s. Would we really want it any other way? Also, whatever you do, don't watch SNL after this game ends. Just leave the house.
These two teams are both shells of themselves from their Super Bowl heydays. Don't be fooled, though, because they both think they're the same teams: Terrell Suggs yelled during a press conference last week. Mike Tomlin stepped to a Bengal after last weeks AFC North-clinching win. Dick LeBeau is still parking in handicap spots without properly displaying the proper permit on his review mirror. I really want to pick the Ravens in this one. I don't like the fact that the Stillers may be without safety Troy Polamalu and cornerback Ike Taylor yet again. I don't like that they more than likely will be without Le'Veon Bell, who is essentially the most productive running back in football this year. It's a testament to the Steelers that they produced practically the best RB and WR (Antonio Brown) this year. As for the Ravens, they have nothing to write home about other than rallying behind the Ray Rice issue and somehow miraculous sneaking their way into the playoffs. Joe Flacco's play has been spotty as well. The Ravens loving peaking late, though. Baltimore will keep it close, and probably escape Pittsburgh with a win.
Pick: Baltimore +3 1/2
Indy Like Jenny Lewis (Sunday, an hour after you wake up)
Of course the NFL gives the lame game the early slot on Sunday.
Math question: Indianapolis and Cincinnati are an hour and a half away from each other. How many Bengals fans are headed down to Indy this weekend to catch this big playoff game? I don't know the answer, but it'll probably be enough to fit in a Megabus. As far as this Bengals team goes, they're good. They've shown they can roll with big dawgs, especially in that statement game against Denver a couple weeks ago. But seemingly every time a game reaches another level of seriousness -- much like that game against the Browns in Cincy midseason, or this past week against Pittsburgh -- they can't pull it out.
As for the Colts, I've been saying since the beginning of the season that my AFC Championship game pick is Denver vs. Indy. This team is playing so low to the ground right now, it's like their Edgar Allan Poe listening to the floor, or whatever happened in that story. They're escaping from prison by sidling against a wall so no one notices them until they're at the front door. I know Cincy is burning for a playoff win, but it won't come this year. And that's not a bad thing, really. Pittsburgh and Baltimore are making it work with dinosaurs. Cincy is a team with some semblance of youth. Next year they could make some noise. T.Y. Hilton has a big game. Reggie Wayne, who lives for the playoffs, has a big game, and Indy's D shows up against that questionable O-line of Cincy, all with a trip to lovely Foxborough dancing in their heads.
Pick: Indy -6
Buying Dallas Club (Sunday, when you start dreading work tomorrow)
Of course they put the Dallas game on last, so Jerry Jones can bite his nails all weekend.
First off, yes, Suh more than likely stepped on Aaron Rodgers' ankle on purpose. So Suh Him! Suh is a total asshole, but please take in to consideration that Rodgers is also the biggest pussy in the NFL. He's also the player who gets jerked off the most by the NFL. Have you ever tried to jerk off a pussy before? It's very difficult. Suh and his Detroit D will show up for this game. They will also neutralize DeMarco Murray like no other team this year has been able to do. Tony Romo will, however, rely heavily on Dez Bryant and Dallas' emerging answer to Wes Welker, Cole Beasley. Look for Detroit to come out hot and get an early lead in this game. Ultimately, though, the shit goes south. Matthew Stafford's play can be neutralized without Dallas giving a full-fledged effort. This game is a really good warmup game for Dallas, who are going to need to play their best game of the year to win in Green Bay the following week. That said, something tells me Dallas is going to the Super Bowl this year.
Pick: Dallas -8