Stapleton Stipulates: Ten Thoughts On The Road To Super Bowl XLV
As Super Bowl XLV approaches in just three weeks, there are many thoughts running through my head about the upcoming weeks of NFL games (and of course last weekend's action-packed Wild Card Round). There are 45 thoughts to be exact.
Although I know that you guys would love to read all 45 of them, I'll provide you with my best 10. You might be wondering why I have exactly 45 thoughts. Brush up on your roman numerals and I guarantee you'll get it.
If last weekend was any indication about the future of these playoffs, then the NFL is in store for some amazing ratings over the next three weeks (well, except the Pro Bowl, because we all know that is the worst All-Star Game in sports today…And yes, I'm including squash in that equation).
Without further ado, here are my 10 thoughts on the 2011 NFL Playoffs:
X) Marshawn Lynch With A Dazzling 67-Yard Run To Propel The Seahawks to Victory
I was watching the Saints-Seahawks game with some buddies at Hooters (call me out, but I go to school in DC and with ESPN ZONE now gone, Hooters is now the go-to sports bar) last weekend and I told them that the Seahawks could seal up their victory with just one more big play.
Just barely after the words came out of my mouth, Marshawn Lynch avoided eight tackles and stiff-armed his way to a Madden-like 67-yard run to give the Seahawks a commanding 41-30 lead with 3:22 left.
The run ended the Saints' chances at a comeback (and defending their Super Bowl title) while propelling the Seahawks to the biggest upset in the history of the Wild Card Round.
IX) Rex Ryan Has a New Favorite Foot In Town As Folk Kicks The Jets On
Nick Folk has made a lot of big kicks throughout his four-year career, but there was still an immense amount of pressure riding on his foot as he lined up to kick the Jets to the AFC Divisional Round in last weekend's game against the Colts.
The kick wasn't a far one by any stretch (only a 32 yarder), but according to FootballReference.com, he had missed two field goals between 30-39 yards throughout his career and the game was now on the line. So, there was a chance that he would have never been welcomed back to New York if he messed up the kick.
Not even Rex Ryan would have forgiven him. Sure enough, with New York City practically weighing on his shoulders, he nailed it right through and sent the Jets to a date on Sunday with the 14-2 Patriots.
If he misses a kick like that against the Patriots, he'll go from hero to zero quicker than LeBron in Cleveland after The Decision.
VIII) Ravens Defense Chops Up The Chiefs As They Advance To Face The Steelers
The Chiefs-Ravens game was a joke (sorry to all those people in Vegas who picked the Chiefs; the Seahawks were the ones to pick in the upset column).
The Chiefs did improve, though, and should be a tough out in the AFC-West for years to come. The Ravens-Steelers matchup is bound to be an amazing game in a great weekend of football.
VII) No. 6 Seed Packers Beat The Eagles and Move On To Face Underrated Falcons
God bless the football gods for not letting Michael Vick lead the Eagles any further than the first round. I have two dogs at home and his crime, no matter how repentant he is, was atrocious.
I hope that Vick never lands in the playoffs again and that Kevin Kolb leads his future team (whichever it may be) to success in the future.
I think that most dog lovers and non-Eagles fans would be quick to agree.
VI) Brett Favre Ends His Career As Aaron Rodgers Continues to Impress
As Brett Favre ends his career (oh wait…what was that? He's coming back apparently..but I'm not sure) in shame this season, Aaron Rodgers is continuing to excel ever since he took over for the aforementioned grandfather in 2008.
Rodgers led the Packers to the playoffs this season even as more and more of his teammates fell to injuries around him. So much for it being tough for Packers fans to move on from Favre's initial retirement after the 2007 season.
A combination of Rodgers playing like a Pro Bowler (which he actually was in '09) and Favre making a fool of himself in New York and this past year in Minnesota made it easier for the Pack fans to recover.
V) Predictions For This Great Weekend of NFL Action
This weekend's matchups with the scores:
Baltimore (21) @ Pittsburgh (24)
Green Bay (30) @ Atlanta (21)
Seattle (17) @ Chicago (14)
New York (13) @ New England (38).
A quick sidenote to the Jets and their fans: Rex Ryan will be putting his foot in his mouth after talking so much trash this week (and throughout the season).
When you haven't won something since LBJ was in office and you're starting cornerback is calling Brady a word that won't be mentioned here…well, you all know that saying about karma and the word that rhymes with hitch.
IV) Roethlisberger and Brady Battle For Legacy-Changing Trip To Super Bowl XLV
The AFC Championship Game will feature the Patriots against the Steelers in a game of monumental proportions.
With a victory, Brady would put himself one step closer to yet another ring (and a possible third Super Bowl MVP Award), while Roethlisberger could push his Steelers to a third Super Bowl appearance in the last seven years.
It would be a career-altering game for either quarterback because whoever wins would have a shot at another ring and the title as one of the best quarterbacks to have played the game.
Say what you'd like about Brady and Roethlisberger, but there is no denying that they are two of the most exceptional quarterbacks not only in the game today, but of all time. Another ring for either of them would further cement their legacy.
III) Packers Travel To Seattle To Battle The Seahawks and Their 12th Man
The NFC Championship game will feature two unlikely foes: The Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks will battle to represent the NFC in Super Bowl XLV.
It is obvious that the Packers are a better team than the Seahawks, but due to the NFL seeding system, the #6 seed Packers will have to travel to the #4 seed Seattle.
The Seahawks' 12th man will be loud (with more than ¾ of them wondering how the heck their team even made it to the NFC Championship Game), which will make it a closer game than it should be.
However, the Packers will prevail 30-27.
II) Brady Vs Rodgers: The Legend Vs. The Replacement
I know you're all dying to know who I think is going to win the 2011 Super Bowl. As much as I hate to admit it (seeing as I am a die-hard Yankees and Giants fan), Tom Brady will be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy on the night of Feb. 6 after defeating the Green Bay Packers 34-24.
The Super Bowl MVP will be Randy Mo…Oh wait, that's right, Randy lost that opportunity. Nice work, Randy! Glad that stuff worked out for you in Minnesota (and then wherever it was you went next…I can't really remember since you didn't do much of anything productive this season).
Shortly after they win it, I will get a text from my New England sports loving brother-in-law rubbing it in, and I'll congratulate him (because after all, I am a nice guy), but then I will remind him that baseball is right around the corner.
With the victory, Tom Brady will join the debate as the greatest quarterback of all-time because Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw will have a new neighbor on Four-Ring Drive.
I) Lockout: The NFL Is at a Crossroads
Hopefully at this time next year, the NFL will have ended their lockout (or avoided it altogether), and I can write another slideshow where I will be discussing my 10 thoughts in the weeks leading up to Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
My words of advice to anybody else that makes predictions: Don't state what a majority of people will feel might happen.
Be willing to go out on a limb and make a risky prediction here and there. It'll make it more fun and who knows, you just might be right!