Welcome to the greatest weekend in sports.
Yea I said it.
The NFL Divisional Playoff weekend typically features the most back and forth games with relentless fight that we get to see all season long.
No other professional sport offers the drama that can be found in the National Football League Playoffs. There is no series, no best of situation, no tomorrow… it is truly win or go home. The Divisional Weekend historically personifies that mantra more than any other.
As I'm expecting this weekend to be particularly epic, my Bold Predictions have to match that level of intensity.
So if you think you've seen me get bold before… you're in for a surprise. Vamonos!
Malcolm Butler Finishes The Chiefs Exactly Like He Did The Seahawks In Super Bowl XLIX
The Chiefs and Patriots will get the weekend started in just a few hours, and last year's Super Bowl hero is getting us started here.
Kansas City has won an astonishing 11 games in a row, and part of the reason for that is how well Alex Smith has taken care of the football. This game is going to be a slugfest what with the Chiefs being so limited offensively and Bill Belichick undoubtedly eliminating Travis Kelce from the game.
Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski are two huge question marks in this game. It seems doubtful that they'll just jump in and push the Patriots to the 40-burgers that we saw in the days of September and October, so this is going to be a close one down to the end.
Close your eyes and see it now. (You can open them to read this, though!).
The Chiefs are trailing 27-21. Alex Smith is driving. He picks up a nice gain on a screen pass to Knile Davis. He rushes for 23 yards to put them on the New England 8-yard line. There's 39 seconds left.
Alex drops back, eyes Kelce, takes aim, and fires!
…right into the waiting arms of Malcolm Butler.
Carson Palmer Throws Less Incompletions Than Aaron Rodgers Does Touchdowns
There are two indisputable truths regarding the 2015 NFL season:
- Carson Palmer has played at an elite level.
- Aaron Rodgers has not.
I've been very critical of Aaron Rodgers over the course of this season, and he hasn't done anything lately to show me why I shouldn't have been.
Oh he beat the Redskins? Let me call Matt Cassel so they can take a group photo of all the guys that did that this season!
Aaron Rodgers is going to struggle against these Cardinals – just like he did on December 27th, 2015. And Carson Palmer is going to ball out – just like he did on December 27th, 2015.
Now that day Carson had nine incompletions and Aaron Rodgers only had one touchdown, so this is a pretty big stretch of a prediction. But that's why we don't call them “5 Totally Reasonable And Plausible Predictions“, am I right?!
Palmer is going to go something like 34/36 for 428 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Rodgers is going to stumble his way to a 29/43 for 313 yards and 3 touchdowns performance.
And it's going to be glorious considering it was this very weekend of the 2014 season that Aaron and Co. caught a ginormous break concerning the Dez Catch.
Julius Peppers Will Retire Following A Green Bay Packers Embarrassing Loss
If you read my Division Game Picks yesterday then you know that I took the Cardinals to win this game by a score of 42-17… although if you read directly above this then you know how strongly I am vibing against the Pack.
When the Packers lose this game a lot is going to be called into question:
- Is this the beginning of Aaron Rodgers' decline?
- Is Mike McCarthy the problem?
- Can I erase my memory and re-watch “Making A Murderer”?
- How are the Packers going to replace Julius Peppers?
Peppers, Julius not green or jalapeno, was drafted Second Overall out of North Carolina by the hometown Carolina Panthers all the way back in 2002.
He's had quite the career. His 136 career sacks tie him for 9th on the All-Time Sacks Leader list with a current Carolina Panther… Jared Allen.
Peppers sniffed another Super Bowl appearance last year up in Seattle, but then the Packers made a series of mistakes more implausible than the hope that the Eagles placed in Doug Pederson.
When the Packers are emphatically eliminated from the Playoffs, he'll hang 'em up and call it quits. You heard it here first.
Russell Wilson And Cam Newton Will Combine For The Most Rushing Yards In A Single Game By A Quarterback Duo
Man… this game is going to be awesome.
Superman versus The All-American Hero.
The Legion Of Boom versus Josh Norman.
Pete Carroll versus Ron Rivera.
And can you imagine an actual fight between a Seahawk and a Panther? How incredibly epic/awesome would that be?
These two teams are practically carbon copies of one another. There's a supremely talented, and mobile, quarterback coupled with a strong run game and a cast of suspect wide receivers on both offenses. There's a crazy pass rush, elite linebacking corps, and stout secondary on both defenses. Holy moly!
This game is going to come down to who wants it more. And they both want it really bad.
Russell Wilson and Cam Newton are going to have to take this game over if their respective team has a chance at winning. You know it. I know it. They know it. Doug Pederson knows it.
They're going to run all over the field all day long.
Peyton Manning Will Be Benched For Performance Reasons
Gary Kubiak panicked when he went back to Peyton Manning in the regular season finale two weeks ago.
The narrative of Peyton Manning had finally died down what with Brock Osweiler quarterbacking the Broncos to legitimate success. So what did ‘ol Kubes figure the smartest thing to do was? Reignite the flames and shoot them with a water gun filled with kerosene.
Do you realize that Peyton Manning was second in the NFL during the 2015 regular season in interceptions with 17? Despite only playing in nine games? THAT is the source of hope that Gary Kubiak turned to.
As a result of the Broncos smashing the glass and pulling the fire alarm they have, largely out of political reasons, had to roll with Peyton as the named starter for this game. It's just the first outpour of the can of worms that they opened on that fateful day against the Chargers.
The last time that we saw Peyton Manning start a game was against the Kansas City Chiefs on November 15th, 2015. He was 5/20 with 0 touchdowns and 4 interceptions before leaving the game with an “injury” (probably to his pride more than anything).
This is all really weird for me to feel and think because I love Peyton Manning. He's been so great for the game for such a long time, but as much as I love and respect Pro Football… the decision to go with him is going to blow up in everyone's face.
He'll come out, play bad, and Brock (or something called Trevor Siemian) will be called upon to save the day. You can see this coming from a mile away at Mile High.
Here's A Fun Fact For You…
Peyton Manning is currently tied with Brett Favre for the most wins all-time by an NFL quarterback. And the way that wins are calculated, the wins are credited to the quarterback who starts the game.
So two weeks ago when Peyton came in and relieved Brock against the Chargers? The Broncos won that game, but because Brock got the start he was credited with the win.
Should the Denver Broncos lose then Peyton Manning would end the 2015 season, and perhaps his Hall of Fame career, one win shy of standing atop the all-time wins mountain all by himself. Draaaaaama!
[signoff author=”rjochoa” source=”fancred”]
What are your BOLD Predictions for the Divisional Playoff Weekend? Let me know! Comment below, Email me at Roel.Ochoa.Jr@Gmail.com, or Tweet to me at @rjochoa!