Seattle Seahawks (12-4) - Previously: #1 - Congratulations to the Seahawks: Not only did they score a second-round matchup against a losing team, but they also get to play their East Coast opponent in a night game on the West Coast. This is an extremely unfair advantage because of Circadian rhythms, but I guess the Seahawks deserve a break after all of the early games they've been forced to play over the years.
New England Patriots (12-4) - Previously: #2 - Bill Simmons proclaimed that he's not terrified at all of the Ravens. Then again, he thought Pittsburgh would slaughter Baltimore, so we'll see what happens.
The one thing we do know is that the Ravens have the more-clutch quarterback. That used to be Tom Brady, but now, we have the Adventures of Tom Brady's Haircuts, which just enjoyed a successful third season.
Seriously, did anyone else think the Bloods and Crips would... wait, never mind, that's a major spoiler for those who haven't read.
Green Bay Packers (12-4) - Previously: #3 - It's a good thing the Packers had a week off. That allowed them to practice a technique that one of the defenders picked up from Michael Sam (thanks Nathan A.):
Safe to say that no heterosexual player wants to battle Green Bay in the postseason.
Denver Broncos (12-4) - Previously: #6 - Great job by Peyton Manning to recruit Joe Montana to his Papa John's commercials. Perhaps some of Montana's winning mentality can rub off on Manning, whose arm looked dead down the stretch. Let's not forget that he lost to that pathetic Cincinnati team that couldn't do anything at Indianapolis.
And I'm just posting this again as a reminder to myself to not bet heavily on Manning in a playoff game:
Baltimore Ravens (11-6) - Previously: #10 - Joe Flacco is money in the playoffs. It's not a fluke anymore. What's crazy is that he went on the road and defeated the Steelers without his left tackle. Getting Eugene Monroe back for the New England game will be crucial though, despite Baltimore's success in Foxboro during recent playoff history.
Pittsburgh Steelers (11-6) - Previously: #4 - You have to wonder if the Steelers should've sat their starters in Week 17. They had already clinched playoff berth, and they were only battling for a home game in Week 18; it's not like they would've gotten a bye, or anything. They beat Cincinnati, but they lost Le'Veon Bell as a result. Bell's absence was huge in the loss to the Ravens.
Ultimately, it came down to this:
- Home vs. Ravens without Le'Veon Bell
- At Colts with Le'Veon Bell
I'd rather go with the latter option, though, as Cam Newton once said, hindsight is 50-50.
Dallas Cowboys (13-4) - Previously: #5 - I'm not sure we can say that Tony Romo no longer chokes in the playoffs if the officials handed him the win. Speaking of the shady officiating, my LVH SuperContest partner Matvei, who actually called that there would be shady officiating because of the anticipated Packers-Cowboys matchup, remarked that the Bill Simmons' podcast with Cousin Sal would be an all-timer tomorrow. I replied, "Will Bill Simmons be suspended for tomorrow's podcast: Yes -170 No +140."
Matvei responded, "He's warming up" and sent me this tweet:
The odds just shot up to -200.
The responses to this were amusing though. For instance...
"u old b***h?" What does that even mean? Simmons is in his 40s. And at least he's not illiterate. Yes, @svvave is an "illiterate b***h." Learn what parallelism is, idiot.
Agreed. I don't know what was worse: Seeing some of the most blatantly crooked officiating in the history of professional sports, or watching Chris Christie's belly flab bounce all around as he hugged his master, Jerry Jones, in utter, inexplicable elation.
Indianapolis Colts (12-5) - Previously: #7 - I'm not sure how much can be made of a win over a Cincinnati team missing A.J. Green. Jermaine Gresham, Rey Maualuga and Dre Kirkpatrick. Plus, this was the quarterbacking matchup...
At any rate, Jim Irsay has been able to tweet again, but not all of his tweets made it on to Twitter, as he was forced to delete some of them. I managed to capture these before he erased them:
time for the play offs college football just got it's play offs but the nfl had it for a long time glad i dont own a college team lolololol
srsly tho im glad we had a 1st round by thanks cuz andy daulton sucks balls
7-0 colts!!! hahahahahaha bengals are so gay they like to fusk each other up the ashole!!!
wtf is this rex burhead running the ball that faget walte football didnt tell me to start him in fan dual!!!!!
colts lead 13-10 at half time would be 34-0 but daulton is threntening ppl with gay sex!!!
td colts suck it bengals you quears!!!
"@nflcommish Please be respectful of your opponrnt" hahah gooell mis spelt opponant hahahaha
stop kickeng fgs colts we need to embarast the bengals as much as possable!!!!
andy dauton fumble hhahaha what a shocker hahahahahaah gingers have no soles
colts win colts colts win 26-010 shouldve been like 59-0 if dautlon had a sole and wasnt gay
Hey @AndyDalton you have no sole and you like but sex lolololloolololol
Detroit Lions (11-6) - Previously: #9 - The poor Lions did not deserve to lose. If I were Jim Caldwell, I would've called for Pete Morelli's head on a spike during the post-game press conference. I guess he must not have seen this take place on the field after the contest:
I still can't believe how blatantly fixed that was. Pete Morelli, who will be synonymous with Tim Donaghy going forward, tried to explain it by saying "another official" gave him "more information." By "another official," he means the league office, and by "more information," he means that the NFL wanted high ratings for Packers-Cowboys.
I just had to find the whole truth, so I sat down with Donaghy Morelli for an interview. Here's the transcript:
Me: Hey Tim, I mean, Pete! Thanks for agreeing to the interview.
Morelli: No problem, Max. Two... three... four...
Me: Max? I'm Walt. And what are you counting?
Morelli: Stacks of $100 bills. What does it look like?
Me: From the NFL, I assume? For the shady call?
Morelli: What the hell else would it be for?
Me: You're just admitting to me that you made money off the game?
Morelli: Yeah. Why the hell not? That was so blatant, and yet I'm not going to get into trouble for it, so I might as well flaunt my money. Thank God for it too, because I really needed it.
Me: Really? What for?
Morelli: Uhh... have you not seen that Hess trucks are back? And that they're better than ever?
Me: OK, fair enough.
Cincinnati Bengals (10-6-1) - Previously: #8 - I lost $330 on the Bengals, but it was well worth it just so the commenters on the boards could be miserable. I only wish I could be there to lick the tears off their faces.
Oh, by the way, cool stat from ESPN:
Carolina Panthers (8-8-1) - Previously: #12 - The Panthers won, but they benefited greatly from some strange calls by Ed Hochuli, who at one point, ruled that Cam Newton had a receiver in the area on an incompletion despite there not being a wideout within 20 yards of where the pass landed. There were also so many questionable pass-interference flags. At one point, Matvei texted me, "If Ed Hochuli were a private detective, his nickname would be Phantom P.I."
What happened? Why were Hochuli's calls so off? I think there might be an explanation...
The Adventures of Derek Anderson's Magic Flask!
Derek Anderson: I ififinnanallyly hhvaavvee mmyy maaggiicc fllaasskk anndn I dunnn havvevee toooo pllaalayy annyymooroe hic! Heyeyy theherees a quaarrbbaacckk whooo loookss liiikee hhe hhee wwannntss drrink.
Ryan Lindley: I'mmm druuunkkk toooooo I hhaavvee myyy oowwwnnn mamaaggiicc fllaassskk sooo goo fuuusskkk yyoeewwrrssellff!
Arizona Cardinals (11-6) - Previously: #14 - I tried to warn Cardinal fans that their team didn't belong in the top 10 without Carson Palmer and Andre Ellington. Of course, I'm the idiot who bet on Ryan Lindley, so maybe I was the one drinking out of Derek Anderson's magic flask.
Something new this year - I'm keeping track of precise run defense, pass defense and pass protection rankings in Excel. The benefit to this is that it'll be broken down by week. Here are the download links: