NFL Divisional Round Picks – The Panthers Are Really Really Going To The Super Bowl

How exciting is it that the Panthers are going to win eight games in a row in consecutive seasons for the first time ever?

Almost as exciting as the Panthers getting revenge on every team to wrong them along the way to their first Super Bowl title. Let me explain.

On January 10, 2009, the Arizona Cardinals beat the Panthers 33-13 in the Divisional Round in Charlotte after the Panthers went 8-0 at home and earned a first-round bye. On January 3, 2015, the Panthers avenged their loss with a dominating 27-16 victory in Charlotte.

Sometimes I yearn for the days of Nick Goings...

Sometimes I yearn for the days of Nick Goings…

On January 22, 2005, the Seattle Seahawks beat the Panthers 34-14 in the NFC Championship Game in Seattle when the Panthers were just down to Nick Goings at running back. On January 10, 2015, the Panthers will avenge that loss in Seattle to move on to the NFC Championship game.

On January 12, 1996, the Green Bay Packers beat the Panthers 30-13 at Lambeau Field in the NFC Championship Game in just the Panthers’ second year of existence. One week from now, the Panthers will avenge that loss in Green Bay to go back to the Super Bowl.

On February 1, 2004, the New England Patriots beat the Panthers 32-29 in Super Bowl XXXVIII on an Adam Vinateiri 41-yard field goal with four seconds left. On February 1, 2015, the Panthers will avenge that loss 11 years later with their first Super Bowl title.

The stars are aligning. It’s meant to be. I mean I’ve been saying it for the past two weeks.

Furthermore, Madden 15 predicted the Panthers would win back in August. Their intro to the video game shows the Panthers making an improbably fourth quarter comeback in the playoffs with the Super Bowl on the line. The gods have already decided the outcome!

Somehow, though, people don’t tend to see the light as I do. Vegas opened the line on this game at 11.5 points. Eleven and a half points! Mischievous and deceitful. Chicanerous and deplorable.

The Seahawks and Panthers have played each of the last three years and the final scores have been 13-9, 12-7, and 16-12 in favor of Seattle. For those non-math majors out there, that’s a combined 13 points or just a tad over the line for this game alone.

It’s just too hard to see the Panthers giving up enough points for the Seahawks to cover a nearly two-touchdown spread. If it were not for a muffed punt and interception on a miscommunication, the Cardinals wouldn’t have even scored last week.

This line is insulting. It’s ridiculous. The Seahawks beating the Panthers by 12 points and stopping their Super Bowl run is so improbable and ridiculous that I’m going so far as to call this game the Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork Lock o’ the Week o’ the Year o’ the Eon.

As always, home teams are in CAPS, and here’s a run through of each section:

Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked Games are worth 5 apples.

Dunkin’ Donuts Plain Cake Games are worth 10 apples.

KFC Double Down Games are worth 20 apples.

Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork Lock o’ the Week is worth 50 apples.

Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked Game:

BRONCOS (-7) over Colts

Peyton Manning versus Peyton Manning’s old team. I don’t know if I can muster up enough hate for this game.

All biases aside, the Colts haven’t been particularly good for a 12-5 team in any facet of the team aside from the passing game, which is admittedly first in the league. The running game is a disaster (their leading rusher last week was somebody named Daniel Herron), and they’ve played just two winning teams in the past seven weeks.

While I do worry about Peyton Manning at this point in the season, I don’t see the Colts as a huge obstacle, especially on the road, where the Broncos are 8-0 with an average margin of victory of 14.6 points.

I’ll save the Peyton Manning bashing for later in the playoffs when he’s in a more competitive game.

Prediction: Broncos 30 Colts 17

Dunkin’ Donuts Plain Cake Game:

Cowboys (+6) over PACKERS

Let’s try and think of all the things Tony Romo could do and still be called a choker:

– Save a dozen paraplegic kittens from a burning building

– Lead the NFL in completion percentage and yards per attempt

– Bring the Double Down back to KFC

– Beat the Packers on a game-winning 90 yard scramble

– Heal Jose Fernandez’s torn UCL with voodoo

– Wear his hat forwards at a press conference so Colin Cowherd will shut up

I think the Cowboys will still lose this game, but a 6-point line is just a bit too high for me.

Prediction: Packers 30 Cowboys 27

KFC Double Down Game:

PATRIOTS (-7) over Ravens

Yes, I’m aware the Patriots are 1-2 against the Ravens in the playoffs since 2009. Yes, I’m aware that Joe Flacco has 20 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in the playoffs since 2010. I really don’t care.

There’s all this hubbub about Joe Flacco flipping on a switch in the playoffs, but I don’t really buy it. For starters, his career completion percentage is worse in the playoffs (56.0% versus 65.0%). Also, I’ve got 112 games of evidence to show that Flacco is an incredibly average quarterback, and 14 playoff games isn’t enough of a sample size to make me think otherwise.

The Ravens beat the Steelers last week by forcing three turnovers, but that’s not very likely for a team run by Tom Brady that will also feature a heavy dose of LeGarrette Blount.

Give me Touchdown Tom and another Super Bowl run.

Prediction: Patriots 24 Ravens 13

Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork Lock o’ the Week o’ the Year o’ the Eon:

Panthers (+11.5) over SEAHAWKS

Go read the intro.

Panthers 13 Union Seahawks 12

Overall Record: 123-131-5

Last Week: 2-2

Apple Total: 0

Apple Total Last Week: 55

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