Adrian Peterson

NFC/AFC Predictions: Don’t bet against the NFL

I have no doubt that the NFL could absolutely flatten me if they wanted to. Squash me like a bug. If they decided that this BayAreaSportsGuy.com was detrimental to their business model, I’d suddenly turn on my computer to find that BASG no longer existed, like Google in China.

What does that little bit of big brotherism have to do with anything? Well, not much, unless you’re a betting man. I’m not much of a bettor unless you count fantasy sports, but I am about to put my rep on the line with some NFC/AFC Championship predictions. Usually when I’ve done NFL picks I’ve gone by the spreads, but they’re pretty inconsequential to me at this point since I barely have enough money to buy beer to last me through both games. No bookie-calling here, just an interested observer who wants a good Super Bowl.

But the NFL has a different idea of what constitutes a good Super Bowl than we do. We want a good game, the NFL wants a competitive enough game that the 4th quarter commercials don’t get ignored in favor of the “Puppy Bowl” or some DVR’d Jersey Shore episodes someone put on to show the one person in the room who hasn’t seen the show just what the hell “The Situation” and “Snookie” are. We want at least one team to root for, the NFL wants at least one team that has national appeal, like the Cowboys, Steelers, Giants or — because Peyton Manning never leaves our televisions for long — the Colts. We want to eat as much queso dip as possible during the Super Bowl; the NFL wants as much hype as possible in the two weeks leading in.

So for all the talk about defenses, home fields, fat coaches and Hurricane Katrina, I think we all know who’s going to the Super Bowl:

The Vikings and the Colts.

I’ll give the NFL one thing: they’re unique in that their wet-dream matchup is between two smaller markets in the middle of the country. Of course, that makes sense in a league that doesn’t field a team in Los Angeles. But as much as I’d like to see the Saints not just defeat Brett Favre, but send him out of the league altogether, I can’t envision a scenario where the NFL doesn’t get two full weeks of Favre vs. Peyton talk.

I can see it now. The Brain vs. the Gunslinger. Sony TVs vs. Wrangler Jeans. Clean shaven vs. gray stubble. Just two quarterbacks who love the game and make Peter King slobber into his Starbucks latte so much he doesn’t even need foam.

The Colts are going to win regardless of the NFL’s wishes. I love how the Jets were universally considered to be fraudulent playoff entrants, and after beating Cincinnati and a Norv Turner team on the road they’re now the best defensive team since the 1985 Chicago Bears. If the Colts could key in on the Ravens’ run game and force Joe Flacco to beat them, what makes you think they can’t do the same to the Jets and Mark Sanchez?

The Vikings are a trickier pick, since they’re no better than the Saints and they’re playing on the road. However, the whole Reggie Bush angle worries me (since I’m still rooting for the Saints harder than any other team that’s been in the playoffs since the last time the 49ers made it there back in 1932). Bush was incredible last week, trucking defenders, spinning like a top in the open field and looking absolutely possessed while doing so. I’d still rather have Adrian Peterson.

The Vikes and the Saints are pretty similar, with opportunistic defenses built on relentless quarterback pressure. The Vikings’ defensive ends are better. The Saints have a ton of receivers for Drew Brees to throw to. With Sidney Rice turning into a bonafide star, the Vikings’ receivers are better. Nobody would ever say that Favre is better than Drew Brees, but an un-pressured Favre is unlikely to make mistakes on Sunday and his presence alone will help the Vikings get more calls from the officials, simply because it will be an NFL mandate.

So put me down for:

Colts over Jets, 28-7 (because the Colts are better)

Vikings over Saints, 33-31 (because the NFL wants it this way)

And if BASG doesn’t load next week, you’ll know why.

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