Since I was a youngster, I have always looked forward to the months of December and January.
Sure, a good portion of my excitement for these two months was due to the Christmas season. I mean what kid isn’t under a toy-induced high during the holidays?
But another reason for my excitement was the NFL playoffs.
The funny thing is, now that I’m older, my fevered anticipation of the holidays has dissipated a little bit, replaced instead with the stress of Christmas shopping. But my excitement for the playoffs has remained as strong as ever.
Since I am a die-hard Bronco fan, this year’s playoffs, and every year that doesn’t include the Broncos, holds a degree of emptiness for me.
Still, even without the Broncos, this postseason carries a certain amount of zeal, especially now that the Raiders have been dismissed.
That being the case, I’ll go ahead and give you my predictions for the two championship games and the Super Bowl, because I know all of you really care what I think is going to happen.
New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers: First of all, I know a lot of people feel like the Raiders were robbed and that they should be in there instead of the Patriots. I will agree that it sure looked like a fumble to me, but the rule book is pretty clear in those situations, and even if it’s a bad rule, the refs made the right call. In short, let it go, Raiders fans.
As for the game, it’s not as clear-cut as it seems. On paper, the Steelers would be the overwhelming favorite. Kordell Stewart has finally taken charge of the Steelers and whether or not Bettis is in the game, the Steelers can run the ball effectively. On top of that, the Steelers’ 3-4 defense is fast, dominant and has the tools to rattle a young quarterback like Tom Brady.
That being said, Brady has taken the Patriot bunch a lot further than anyone thought they could go, and week after week they find a way to beat the teams they are supposed to get killed by. They also have a fast and well-schemed defense that can keep them in the game.
I like the Steelers, but I think it will be a lot closer than people think.
Philadelphia Eagles at St. Louis Rams: Again, this is a game that most people think will be over before it starts. Apparently, the Rams should make their reservations for New Orleans now to get cheaper rates and a hotel closer to Bourbon Street. Take it from me: it won’t be that easy.
Yes, the Rams have, hands down, the best offense in the league, and could very well be the fastest team ever to grace a football field. And yes, their defense, which was lackluster a year ago, is just as a capable of taking over a game as their offense, as evidenced by the whooping they put on Green Bay last week.
However, the Eagles probably have the best secondary in the league, and they match up well with the Rams’ receivers. Plus, the Eagles have the wild card: Donavon McNabb. He can kill you running or passing, and he’s improved 110 percent since the season opener when the Rams edged the Eagles in Philly.
Although it’s going to be a tough game, I have to go with the Rams based on their speed, but if the Eagles pull it off, I won’t be surprised.
Super Bowl XXXVI: If it plays out like I think it will, the Rams will win it all. The Steelers have a good defense, but I doubt they can hang with Warner and Co. for sixty minutes.
Rams 37, Steelers 24 with Marshall Faulk named MVP.
And there you have it. The NFL playoffs predicted by some guy you don’t care about.