It turns out that it’s possible to be right while you’re busy being wrong. We’ll get to that later. I went 2-2 (175-81) straight up and 2-2 (119-108) against the spread. As I’m writing this paragraph, I’m watching Aaron Rodgers get sacked while going for it on 4th and 5 in the fourth quarter. 12:54 to go in the game and I just marked it down as a loss for Green Bay. No good.
What I Know This Week
Here’s that whole wrong and right at the same time thing. I picked the New Orleans Saints to beat the San Francisco 49ers because the Niner defense wouldn’t be ready to face an elite offense. I was wrong, the Niners won. I was also right, because the Niner defense allowed 472 yards and 32 points to the New Orleans offense.
I get the sneaking feeling that the Ravens and 49ers making it to the Conference Championship will spark the chorus of the defense wins championships disciples. Not quite so. San Francisco beat New Orleans because Alex Smith stepped up in a big way. It may have taken Smith six years to arrive in the NFL after being the first overall pick in the 2005 draft, but he arrived in grand style with a 28 yard touchdown run to give the 49ers the lead with 2:09 left in the game and a 14 yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis 122 seconds later that finally proved to be the game winner.
San Francisco’s defense made some big plays and held New Orleans off on some key drives throughout the game. But how much credit can a defense take when it allows 18 points in the fourth quarter?
Defense doesn’t matter? What about the Baltimore Ravens? Well, that’s a good question. I’ve been a Ravens fan all year because they have a strong running game and an elite defense. I quickly saw the light that Baltimore would win the AFC North and get an easy path in the playoffs, and that’s what happened.
I’m not totally discounting the Bengals and Texans, but the difference between the elite teams in the AFC and the elite teams in the NFC is about as stark as it can get. The Broncos and injury addled Texans are the two teams that lost in the AFC last week. It was the Packers and Saints lost in the NFC. If the NFL reseeded the tournament without accounting for conference, the NFC would have had all the top spots locked up except for wherever the Patriots snuck into the mix.
The Giants, Ravens, and 49ers are all averaging 24 points per game and the Patriots are scoring 32 points per game. Considering the surge in offense from New York and San Francisco in the last two weeks, 30 points per game in two contests from New York and 36 last week from San Francisco, the NFC Super Bowl representative is likely to be scoring near 30 points per game going into the big game. If the Patriots out run the Ravens in Foxboro Sunday, that means the over/under for that game will be in the mid-50s.
In today’s NFL offense matters more than it ever has. Sure, teams have to get stops out of their defenses, but elite offensive teams are going to consistently score lots of points. Holding the Patriots to 24 will be an accomplishment for the Ravens. The question isn’t whether Ray Lewis and that nasty D is capable of doing that, it’s whether Joe Flacco and the offense can score 25.
Have NFL questions? Want to argue with me? Are you an old school, defense first NFL fan?
Keep an eye out for the More Than a Fan Podcast Network. Ryan Isley (@isley23) and I will be talking everything from hoops to horse racing. Coming soon to a computer near you.