Neil’s Saturday Playoff Picks January 12, 2013  |  Neil Parker

The pressure is on. I jumped out to a hot start last week locking down all four games, and have no one ahead of me in two playoff picks pools.  It is absolutely the worst possible predicament I can imagine, unless I improve my ability to tread water I’m going to sink, and it could be quickly.


Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos

There wasn’t a tremendous amount of love for the Ravens last week, but they came out and played a nice football game on both sides of the ball.  Ray Rice did cough it up a couple times, but other than that you’d be hard pressed to find much else wrong with Baltimore’s day at the office.  Fast forward a week, and they find themselves big dogs, against a surefire Canton bound signal caller, who has led his team to 3 months of undefeated football.  6 hours ago I was digging the Ravens covering the spread, now I’m certain the Broncos blow this thing open.

This is what we know: Peyton Manning is a cerebral offensive wizard quarterback guy, who may or may not be human.  Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil are rested and ready to pounce, and Champ Bailey is wondering whatever happened to Clinton Portis.  I’d have rolled with Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker over Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin for every single one of the past 18 Sundays and will for the next 36 too.  Ray Rice is losing touches by the fumble as Bernard Pierce emerges, while Manning is so good he has brought Knowshon Moreno into relativity, which is something Einstein himself couldn’t do.  But hold on, Manning still has his faithful weapons Brandon Stokley, Jacob Tamme and new best buddy, the Texans’ castoff Joel Dreessen at his disposal.

The Ravens showed up last week and beat a fringe playoff team, but both Ed Reed and Ray Lewis dropped interceptions they never would have just last season, which was telling to me.  Flacco played a perfect game against the Colts, but he’ll have to be better than Peyton Manning to win this week, and he isn’t capable.  Denver has weapons everywhere, and their defense has been nasty good down the stretch, and did I mention they haven’t lost since October 7th?  Denver will be rested and ready, and the Ravens will be gasping for breath in the thin air.

Rolling with the Broncos by 8 in my playoff picks this weekend.


Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers

Green Bay didn’t even put their foot on the gas last week, and with their weapons back (especially on defense) and healthy, they look good cruising into San Fran.  The Niners are a tough read since they threw their identity aside half way through the season, and as much as I endorse Kid Kaep’s skill set and what he brings to their offense, he is still raw and unproven.  Realistically, has Colin Kaepernick ever faced a defense this good?  I’m not talking about the unit the Packers have sent out throughout this season.  I’m talking about the Dom Capers defense that will show up Sunday.  A defense that is healthy, prepared and opportunistic.  Sorry, maybe Kaepernick has seen a defense of that caliber: Week 16 in Seattle, and we saw how that went.

The Niners obviously bring their own defensive prowess, but can they slow down Rodgers again?  For the Packers, their season starts today.  They will be prepared to move the football, and are more than capable of putting a respectable number up on the scoreboard.  My concern is that San Francisco isn’t.  Michael Crabtree has put his critics to rest with his play in the second half of the season, but who else do they have?  Randy Moss and Vernon Davis better turn things around in a hurry, or Green Bay will be able to focus on Gore and containing Kaepernick.

The Packers are comfortable on the road, and going into San Fran is not going to intimidate them.  They may have some ups and downs, and need to make adjustments, but they’re going to score.  The Niners almost blew a huge lead to the Pats recently and then as mentioned got served lunch, dinner and breakfast in bed in Seattle in Week 16 so their once stingy defense is suddenly not quite so.  I’ll take the veteran and Super Bowl winner and his offensive powerhouse over the rookie in this one.

I’m not sure if either of these kickers can get one through the uprights, but I’m going with the Pack by 4 anyway.


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