NFL Picks: Vikings look like ‘that’ teamPublished 10:25am Wednesday, January 2, 2013
It’s time for the best part of the NFL season – the playoffs.
This year the playoffs bring a special gift as we get a rare Packer-Viking game in the postseason. I’m still trying to shake off memories of the last time these teams met in the postseason in Lambeau Field when
Randy Moss ‘faked mooned’ the crowd in what Joe Buck called a “disgusting act.”
But Moss is no longer on the Vikings and the Packers no longer rely on Brett Favre, as they did in that humiliating home playoff loss by a score of 31-17 back in 2005.
Things have changed since that game and for the past three years the Packers have basically dominated the Vikings, that is until last Sunday. For the first time since Favre had his debut year for Minnesota, the Vikings showed toughness and heart against the Packers last week in a do or die game.
They also got all the breaks and made them count. M.D. Jennings should’ve intercepted the TD pass to Michael Jenkins in the fourth quarter, Minnesota should not have had a 30-yard catch when Christian Ponder threw a Hail Mary while being hit in the chest by a blitzing safety, but those things happened.
The NFL has become a strange league where momentum has become some sort of magic fairy dust that carries teams to championships.
Three years ago the Saints were riding momentum and Peyton Manning threw a mind-numbing, game ending interception for a TD to Tracy Porter.
Two years ago the Packers had to win two elimination regular season games and they only got past the first round because Mike Vick tried to throw a deep ball to Riley Cooper on a possible game winning drive. Yes, I said Riley Cooper and that pass was picked off by Tramon Williams, which kick-started Green Bay’s Super Bowl run.
Last year the Giants had no chance to win in Lambeau after being humiliated there in a regular season elimination game the year before, but they came in and took over from the start while dominating the Packers. They also had a couple of ‘break’ plays in their win over the Super Bowl against the Pats, most notably, Tom Brady’s severe underthrow to Rob Gronkowski that resulted in a big interception by Chase Blackburn on a deep ball.
My logic tells me that the Packers should win this Saturday. Charles Woodson is coming back, Aaron Rodgers has put up huge numbers against the Vikings his whole career (including last Sunday), and the cold has got to get to Christian Ponder, who went to Florida State and is only in his second year as a starter.
The thing that scares me is the Vikings have the look of ‘that’ team. They weren’t supposed to win at Houston and they handled the Texans with relative ease and I didn’t think they’d beat the Packers, and they had a 20-3 lead at one point. Heck, I thought the Vikings wouldn’t win five games going into this season.
I don’t know if it’s Adrian Peterson’s ridiculous resurgence from an ACL and MCL tear, a rookie kicker who doesn’t miss anything, or a defense that suddenly seems to have some teeth, but I actually fear the Vikings a little.
So I’m picking Minnesota, but by all means I’m not giving up on the Packers. Maybe I’m just having flashbacks to the Giants’ loss last season.
I hope so.
VIKINGS 27, PACKERS 24
Here are the other picks:
Cincinnati at Houston
Every time I think of how the Texans free fell to the No. 3 seed, I keep going back to last year when they won a playoff game with TJ Yates at quarterback. I think it’s becoming more and more apparent that Matt Schaub just isn’t that good.
As for the Bengals, I really haven’t watched them this year, but I do know Andy Dalton is capable of hooking up with AJ Green on a couple of deep balls and making things interesting.
However, I can’t bet against the Texans at home, especially with their power rushing attack.
TEXANS 20, BENGALS 16
Indianapolis at Baltimore
What a difference a year makes. Last year, the Colts were quite literally ‘sucking for Luck.’ Now he’s their quarterback and has them in the playoffs.
Like the Vikings, the Colts also have the look of ‘that team.’ Colts head coach Chuck Pagano battled with cancer all season and the team rallied around it and now he’s back on the sidelines with them.
You can’t tell me they won’t be playing for more than themselves, which is a great motivator in their favor.
The Ravens are banged up on defense and ripe to be upset. I see it happening this week.
COLTS 31, RAVENS 27
Seattle at Washington
After they destroyed the 49ers on national television, I was convinced that Seattle is the most dangerous team in the playoffs, but their 3-5 road record is more than concerning to me.
Their defense should be good enough to hold off Washington’s rushing attack and Russell Wilson will make big plays in and out of the pocket.
I think Seattle’s dream stays alive for another week, but I have my doubts about them going into Atlanta or San Francisco and playing like have at home all year.
SEAHAWKS 17, REDSKINS 13
Last week: 9-7; Overall: 147-97