Playoff Time

The 2014 NFL season ended yesterday. It was a very interesting year, including the domestic violence issues that sidelined notable players such as Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice, and Greg Hardy.

Throughout the league, several rookies made a huge impact on both sides of the ball. Offensively, Odell Beckham Jr, Mike Evans, Jeremy Hill, Terrance West, Kelvin Benjamin, Zack Martin, Brandin Cooks, Tre Mason, and Carlos Hyde made a big difference for their teams this year. Defensively, CJ Mosley, Anthony Barr, Khalil Mack, Aaron Donald, and Chris Borland made a big difference for their teams this year.

While the future looks bright with a lot of young talent, the veterans were able to dominate as well this year. Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, and Peyton Manning all finished in the top 4 in passing yards.

It was quite a competitive league this year. Some teams competing for a playoff spot, while others were competing for the #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. Yesterday, the playoff bracket was set, as all the teams completed their 16-game schedule. Unfortunately, my Giants weren’t good enough for the playoffs, but too good for a top five pick in the draft.

The Buccaneers secured the #1 pick in the draft. Anyway, here are my bold predictions for the 2014 NFL Playoffs.

First, the AFC:

Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers. This is a tough division matchup between two good teams. Pittsburgh will have the edge playing at home. If Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell can play, I think the Steelers offense gets them to the divisional round.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Indianapolis Colts. This is the other AFC wild card matchup. The Colts have not been playing well lately. However, I strongly believe that home field advantage is a large factor. The Bengals defense is not that great, and I expect Andrew Luck to have a big game. I think the Colts win a close game, and advance.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Denver Broncos. The last time these two teams met at Mile High Stadium in the playoffs, Tim Tebow led the Broncos to an overtime victory. This is a clash between two high powered offenses. The difference will be the Denver defense. With the crowd on their side, the Broncos will knock the Steelers out once again.

Indianapolis Colts @ New England Patriots. There is no way the Colts go to Foxborough and win. Brady will pick apart the Colts secondary, and Andrew Luck will have trouble against a tough Pats defense. Patriots win.

That leaves the Patriots and the Broncos. A rematch of last year’s AFC Championship game. Last year, it was in Denver. This year, in New England. Two good defenses and two good offenses. A tough game to predict. However, I think the Broncos will find a way to win. CJ Anderson has been on fire lately, with 7 touchdowns in the last four games. The Pats will have a tough time stopping Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, especially with Peyton Manning throwing them the ball. Broncos beat the Pats again, and get to the Super Bowl.

Now, the NFC:

Detroit Lions @ Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys offense has been great. The Lions defense has been great. I am almost positive the Lions will (at least they should) put up points against a Cowboys defense that is 26th in the league in passing yards allowed. Advantage, Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson. The Cowboys rushing attack, led by DeMarco Murray, was incredible this year. However, Detroit has allowed the least rush yards per game in the NFL. Lions win.

Arizona Cardinals @ Carolina Panthers. The Panthers were lucky to make the playoffs, as they didnt even finish with a winning record. Meanwhile, the Cardinals boast a record of 11-5. With one of the best defenses in the league, the Cardinals go to Carolina and win.

Detroit Lions @ Seattle Seahawks. This game is in Seattle. I repeat, this game is in Seattle. Seattle is arguably the toughest place to play in the NFL. With one of the best defenses in the league, and the crowd behind them, the Seahawks are going to make it hard for the Lions to score. Really hard. Meanwhile, I’m confident Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch will find a way to score points, being that it’s so difficult to contain them both. Seahawks win.

Arizona Cardinals @ Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers has been arguably one of the best QBs of the year, with 38 passing touchdowns and just 5 interceptions. The Cardinals come in without their starting QB (Carson Palmer) or their starting RB (Andre Ellington). With the crowd behind them, the Packers defense will make it tough for Arizona. Packers win.

That leaves the Packers and the Seahawks. It’s unfortunate this game is played in Seattle. The great Seahawks defense and the screaming crowd will make it hard for the Packers to score. I think they will score some, though, with Aaron Rodgers at the helm. However, Seattle’s offense will be the issue for Green Bay. Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch will torture the Packers defense. Seahawks win.

Super Bowl XLIX:

Denver Broncos vs. Seattle Seahawks. A rematch of last years Super Bowl. Last year, the Seahawks destroyed the Broncos, 43-8. I think this time it will be much closer than that. Two good defenses, two good offenses. It will come down to the wire. Peyton will have a tough time against the Seahawks defense, but I do think the Broncos will manage to score. Russell Wilson’s mobility will be key, as well as his ability to extend plays. The Broncos will have a tough time containing both Wilson and Marshawn Lynch. In the end, I think the Seahawks win, for the 2nd straight year.

I’m really just hoping the Lions go to the Super Bowl. First of all, I would like to see Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson play in the big game. And, if the Lions go, Odell Beckham Jr will replace Megatron in the Pro Bowl. And I really just want to see Odell play some more football. The playoffs begin on Saturday, January 3rd, 2015, and continue until the Super Bowl, which is February 1st in Arizona!

Time to Bowl

The college football season is winding down, as bowl games are right around the corner. This year’s postseason is quite significant, being the first year with the 4-team playoff system. Before, the top two ranked teams would play in the BCS National Championship game. Not anymore.

Now, the College Football Playoff committee determines the four teams that will play in the new playoff. The other bowl-eligible teams, who don’t qualify for the playoff, will still have an opportunity to play in a bowl game. Like always.

Towards the end of the season, the committee releases their playoff rankings each week. Currently, the top four teams are: Alabama, Oregon, TCU, and Florida State. In that order. A lot could change, as the season isn’t over. Some teams still have a regular season game to play, and there’s also the conference championships, which have yet to be played.

It’s hard to tell what will happen in the next few weeks, as upsets are very common in college football. But, I have made some predictions on who will get into the 4-team playoff. And here they are.

First, I think Alabama gets in. Alabama’s last game of the season is Missouri in the SEC Championship game. I like their chances. Missouri is a solid team, but they have played a pretty easy schedule. I know the SEC is tough. But they really haven’t played any good teams, being in the SEC East.

Their toughest opponent was Georgia, who beat Missouri 34-0. Other than that, Missouri just played mediocre football teams. I don’t think they have what it takes to beat the hot, talented Alabama team.

So, ‘Bama gets in. Next, I think Oregon gets in. Oregon, led by Heisman candidate Marcus Mariota, has looked really good lately. Their final game, in the PAC-12 championship, is against Arizona. Arizona is the only team who has beaten Oregon all year.

And that’s exactly why I think Oregon will beat them. Oregon wants revenge. It may be a close game, but I think Oregon comes out with a victory, and secures a spot in the playoff. If Arizona (who is ranked 7th in the country) wins, I believe they will make the playoff, as the PAC-12 champs.

Next, I think Florida State gets in. Florida State’s last game, in the ACC Championship, is against Georgia Tech. I actually think Georgia Tech could pull off an upset. It’s very possible. But, I think Jameis Winston will lead his team to victory, and Florida State will claim a spot in the playoff, being the only undefeated team in the country.

Most ESPN experts agree, and think Oregon, ‘Bama, and Florida State will get spots in the playoff. The real problem is the 4th spot. Who will it go to? After the loss of Mississippi State, it’s really between Ohio State, Baylor, and TCU.

Ohio State’s final game is Wisconsin, in the Big Ten Conference Championship. The buckeyes star QB, J.T. Barrett, who passed Drew Brees for most touchdowns in a single season in the Big Ten, is out for the year with a broken ankle.

I don’t think Ohio State will be able to keep up with Melvin Gordon and the Badgers offense without Barrett. I think Wisconsin rolls, and knocks Ohio State out of contention.

Baylor plays Kansas State in their last game. Kansas State is a pretty good team, going into Baylor with a 9-2 record. Their only losses are TCU and Auburn, two very good teams. I think Kansas State pulls off the upset, knocking Baylor out of contention.

That leaves TCU. The Horned Frogs play Iowa State in their last game. Iowa State has a 2-9 record, and are pretty bad. It should be an easy win for TCU, which would have them finish with an 11-1 record.

Therefore, I think TCU gets in. However, if Baylor wins, that’s different. If Baylor and Ohio State both win, there’s a conflict. All three of those teams will have one loss. Regardless of Ohio State, if Baylor wins they should get in.

Baylor and TCU will both be 11-1, and Baylor beat TCU. With the same record, in the same conference, Baylor has the head-to-head advantage. There’s no reason Baylor shouldn’t go over TCU.

So, really, in my opinion, Baylor controls their own destiny. Now, say Ohio State and TCU both win, and Baylor loses. Ohio State would be 12-1, while TCU would be 11-1. Each with one loss, I think TCU deserves to go. They have a more difficult schedule than Ohio State, being in the BIG-12.

So, this is how I see it. Based on my predictions, the 4 playoff teams, in the 1st year of the College Football Playoff, will be: Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, and TCU. However, the 4th team could be Baylor (If they win), or Ohio State (If they win AND Baylor loses AND TCU loses).

There’s a lot of football left. I’m excited to see how the rest of the games will unfold, and which teams the College Football Playoff committee will put into the playoff! Tune in to ESPN this Sunday at 12:45 ET to see which 4 teams make the 1st ever College Football Playoff.