Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Despite a rather embarassing performance predicting the final weekend of the NFL regular season, Sports Amnesia is back again with wild and wacky predictions for the first round of the playoffs involving the wild card submissions and the lesser-rans of the division winners.

At least the prediction of a Giants-Steelers Super Bowl is still intact and will remain so for at least another week since neither are playing this weekend.

For once, we can be thankful for a Patriot-less post-season.

EVERYONE is going against the home teams in these matchups, primarily because the wild cards would appear hotter or stronger than the likes of the Fins, Cardinals, Vikings or Chargers. Danger in unanimity, is what this crystal ball says. All the home teams are underdogs.

Since the advent of the 12-team format in 1990, home squads are 50-22 on wild-card weekend. Never have all four lost.


ATLANTA AT ARIZONA: The Falcons, along with the Fins are two of the biggest turn-around teams in NFL history, rising from the dregs of the league to playoff spots. The Falcons have done this with a great running game and a rookie QB, namely Charger-reject Michael Turner and Matt Ryan.

Arizona has done it with an ageing Jesus Freak QB in Kurt Warner, some great wideouts and an unimpressive defence. In fact, the defence yielded 79 more points during the regular season than any of the other playoff teams. This points to the Cards being simply incapable of stopping the Falcons.

The Cardinals are 12-4 at home under coach Ken Whisenhunt.

Cardinals defence has been aggressive, despite not being all that impressive overall, claiming 30 turnovers this season but the Fantasy-stat offence gave up 30 turnovers as well. They have virtually no answer for the Falcons running game and frankly, if the Falcons stick to running the ball which is what they do best, they should beat the Cards into gradual submission.

Prediction: Falcons 31 Cardinals 26



In week 12,the host Chargers tied the game in the fourth quarter, but left 1:35 on the clock for Peyton Manning, who drove the Colts 35 yards downfield to set up Adam Vinatieri's 51-yard field goal as time expired.

Count on this game being equally tight. Despite the mysterious underperformance of the Chargers for most of the season, the Chargers are still a dangerous team offensively and they proved this in part, by storming back to overtake the Broncos' three game lead and win the division.

The Chargers have scored 52, 41, 22 and 34 points over their last four games. It isn't likely the Colts have an answer defensively even though their defence has performed admirably since their bye week so it would appear this game will simply be a matter of who has the ball last.

Over his last four games, Chargers QB Phillip Rivers has completed 64.7 of his passes for 1,054 yards and a 123.5 passer rating with 11 touchdowns and just one interception. Incredibly, Manning has been even better in that time, with 1,054 passing yards, an 85.6 completion percentage and a 135.7 passer rating to go with eight touchdowns and zero interceptions.

The issue of course is that Manning is Manning and will not be stopped, not even on the road and it is Manning who shifts the balance in what might be an epic playoff game.

Prediction: Colts 28 Chargers 26




Naturally, the first order of business is the Ravens Defence. Only one team in the NFL was statistically better and the Ravens are the kind of defence that can bust anyone up but good. They force alot of turnovers but so does the Dolphins' rather underrated defence. Difference is, the Dolphins turn it over offensively far less than does this Colts offence led by rookie QB Joe Flacco.

Nonetheless, in Week 7 this season, the Ravens beat the Dolphins, 27-13, to snap a three-game losing streak. Baltimore stopped Miami's "Wildcat" offense, holding the Dolphins to 71 yards on the ground.

Does the combination of a weak-armed Miami QB and a terrific tag-team running game offset the Ravens' Defence? They say D wins games this time of year along with a running game - they don't say much about a rookie QB. Since 1970, rookie quarterbacks are 2-6 in playoff games

Prediction: Dolphins 26 Ravens 20



This games angle is that Eagles coach Andy Reid meets his former offensive coordinator Brad Childress.

The Iggles rose from the dead several times this season, notably after Donovan McNabb's miserable performance against the Ravens in Week 12, then a crappy showing in a loss against the Redskins in Week 16.

The most dangerous weapon (and perhaps only serious weapon) the Vikings have is Adrian Peterson who was held to just 70 yards in his only game vs. the Eagles last year.

The Iggles defence can be deadly and if Peterson is cut off the Vikes are stuck relying upon two lackluster QBs to save them. Doesn't sound good. Potentially, the biggest rout of the wildcard weekend:

Prediction: Iggles 48 Vikings 17

So my strongest prediction is that not ALL road teams will win this weekend. It just doesn't make sense, historically.

Friday, December 26, 2008


After months of stretching the debacle of Sports Amnesia's previous NFL winners choices (New Orleans-SanDiego Super Bowl, pshaw!) it's time, not to ridicule my previous choices rather to embellish further on the season's outcome.

With that in mind, here are my selections in the key games with Playoff Implications and the resultant NFL Playoffs the majority of which, I wager in advance, without the benefit if Sky Sports, a monopoly of galactic influence which would charge a minimum of 40 quid a month to watch NFL games. (this in a country whose primary sport, football, cannot be seen EVER on a professional level without first ponying up the monthly charge of cable...), I will see about five minutes of which, as you can guess, takes some of the fun out of watching the season to begin with.

In any event:

1. Will the JETS beat the DOLPHINS and will the BILLS beat the PATS or JAGS beat the RAVENS to allow the Jets to creep into the playoffs?

Firstly, yes, Jets will beat Dolphins. I know everyone sees these as the trajectory of two opposite motion QBs; Favre, beaten and old, verge of retirement versus Pennington, defeating the team that rejected him, hot on the comeback trail and leading the Fins to completing a dramatic turnaround season. The rationale is that with everyone in the world seeing this as a Dolphins win and ultimately, the AFC East title. Jets in a thrillah, 23-21.

Secondly, no. The Pats are 23-2 in December since 2003 which means they don't lose this time of year unless its absolutely meaningless. Victory gives the Pats a chance at the AFC East and the Bills are well, Patsies this season. Patriots in a snoozer, 31-10.

Lastly, no. The late kickoff means by 4:15 the Ravens will know they HAVE to win to make the playoffs. Now the Jags have likely already packed for the winter holidays seeing as how they sport a crappy 5-10 record and playing the Ravens in Baltimore where the Ravens haven't given up more than 13 points all season, Ravens clinch their playoff spot with a 23-16 victory.

What it all means is that the Jets, for losing to rubbish Western teams all season on the road, will NOT make the playoffs, Favre may rightly retire and the Jets will be left in the same position they were at the end of last season: Huge Question Mark at QB and out of the playoffs. Bravo, but that's pretty much what you get when you spend millions on veterans either just past or beyond their prime. Late season gasping.

What it means for the Fins, similarly, is all or nothing results in nothing. Pats win the AFC East and the Ravens make it in as a wildcard.

2. Will the COWBOYS be able to overcome the IGGLES in Philly and can the RAIDERS upset the BUCS?

First of all, even though this is a vicious rivalry, for the game to mean anything for the Iggles with respect to playoff implications, the Raiders will have to beat the Bucs in the 1:00 kickoff match. Otherwise, its simply a golden opportunity to overturn the Cowboys' apple cart. There's alot of scenarios for a Cowboys playoff but if they win, they're in.

The Bucs have lost three in a row, including a beating at home at the hands of the Chargers. Not an impressive way to limp into the playoffs. Simply put, if they lose again, they're out and even if they win, they still need Dallas to lose to go forward. That's the kind of position losing three in a row just before season's end puts you in. Bucs nip this one, barely, 21-20.

All of which means the Iggles will kickoff their match with only the hopes of spoiling the Cowboys season keeping them from their own season being spoilt.

A simple glance in the direction of Tony Romo's post-season record, or perhaps one might suggest, Romo's record when the games matter most, for an insight on how this will play out.

Iggles 28-20 over choking-dog Romo and the Boys.

Result: Boys and Iggles out, Bucs in.

3. Does Minnesota or Chicago get in the playoffs to become the proverbial Midwestern sacrificial post-season goat?

The sad certainty is that one of these two teams are going to make it in.

If all things stay equal, i.e. both teams win, or perhaps more likely, both teams lose, the Vikings will back in on the basis of tiebreakers. That means the Bears need to the Vikes to lose to the Giants and they need to beat the Texans on the road. That's the ONLY way they get in (if my scenario above, that the Bucs actually win, works out). And whilst I was surprised they didn't blow it all against the Pack last week on MNF, all it probably means is that Bears fans can torture themselves an extra week.

The Bears are 5-0 in their last 5 games after a MNF appearance. By contrast, the Texans are 4-1 at home this season. To my thinking, the most important item of note is that the Texans seem to follow most any impressive victory with a loss. They beat the Titans at home a few weeks ago (then were crushed like grapes against the Raiders.)

There's a nagging feeling that the Bears simply can't advance to the playoffs because they don't deserve it but it says here the Bears 24 Texans 20.

Simultaneously, the Vikings will hosting a Giants team that might play its first team for the first half only, if that. Now, either the Vikes are so pathetic they can't even beat the Giants' 2nd team in the 2nd half, OR they will fall so far behind early that it won't matter - especially when you consider that the Giants have won the last 3 in Minnesota.

Derrick Ward will get his 1,000 yards rushing and the Giants will be only 5th team in history to have a pair of 1,000 yard rushers in the same season.

Giants win 30-13 and the Vikes spoil their season with turnovers.

Meaning of course, Bears fans get another week to suffer and host a wildcard game.

4. Can the Chargers complete their dramatic come-from-behind finish by beating the Broncos at home and make the Broncos the Official Jets of the West?

The short and sweet of this is that the Chargers have won four of the last five head to head matches whilst scoring twice as much as the Broncos. Granted, the Broncos haven't been as strong as the Chargers the last few seasons but the Broncs have spent the last five weeks losing to the Raiders, Carolina and Buffalo whilst barely beating KC and whipping the mediocre Jets.

Verdict: Chargers 38 Broncos 31

5. How will the other seedings shake out?

Based on the above results and a few others, here's how Sports Amnesia sees it:


1 NY Giants
2 Atlanta
3 Chicago
4 Arizona
WC Carolina
WC Tampa Bay


First Round NFC matchups:

Tampa Bay at Chicago
Carolina at Arizona


1 Tennessee
2 Pittsburgh
3 New England
4 San Diego
WC Indianapolis
WC Baltimore

First Round AFC Matchups:

Baltimore at New England
Indianapolis at San Diego

Based on all of the above, here are some far-reaching predictions:

Chicago 20 Tampa Bay 3
Carolina 33 Arizona 16


Chicago at Atlanta
Carolina at New York Giants

Atlanta 23 Chicago 13
Giants 27 Carolina 23


Atlanta at NY Giants

Giants 36 Atlanta 17


New England 17 Baltimore 16
Indianapolis 37 San Diego 28


Indianapolis at Pittsburgh
New England at Tennessee

Pittsburgh 28 Indianapolis 24
New England 31 Tennessee 14


New England at Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh 27 New England 17



NY Giants v Pittsburgh.

And if it gets this far, madames et messieurs, we'll let you know the Super Secret result.