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The Oratory's NFL Picks - Conference Finals
by John Canton (NFL)
Posted on January 22, 2010, 11:43 AM

John: Welcome to the Oratory's NFL Picks. I'm joined as always by James Deaux and Matt Henry as we get down to the final four teams left in the NFL season. The final four. Saints? Yep. Vikings? Yep. Colts? Yep. Charg...err...Jets? Huh? Three of the teams playing this week are ones we thought would be there from the start of the year because they've been consistent all year long (aside from benching starters later in the year). The Jets are the one that don't belong...at least from the outside. If you watched the playoff games, though, they definitely belong. I found it amazing this week when I learned that the last time the two #1 seeds faced off in the Super Bowl was way back in the 1992 season when the Cowboys destroyed the Bills. Eighteen years. Pretty crazy if you think about it. You would think that the two best teams in the regular season would meet in the Super Bowl more often. The Colts and Saints can do it this year. Also, the last time the league MVP won the Super Bowl in the same season? Kurt Warner of my St. Louis Rams in the 1999 season. Is it wrong that I know that the Rams beat the Titans on January 30, 2000? I remember the exact date. God, I miss when my team was relevant. Anyway, this isn't about me reminiscing about the past. It's about the present. Let's get to the picks.

James: Will the real NFL playoffs please stand up? These playoff games, for the vast majority, have been almost unbearable to watch. Blowouts, missed field goals everywhere (which is just an extension of the horrible place kicking that took place in the regular season), teams no-showing, and just all-around sloppy play everywhere you look. And of course, my Super Bowl matchup prediction is already shot down in flames, so I have to eat crow on that one. (Thanks a lot, Nate Kaeding.) Let’s get to the Final Four...

Last week:
James 2-2
John 2-2
Matt 1-3

Playoffs:
James 4-4
John 4-4
Matt 3-5

Regular Season
James 175-81 (.684)
John 168-88 (.656)
Matt 164-92 (.641)

All game times are Eastern.

New York Jets @ Indianapolis Colts (3pm CBS)
James: This is likely not the game anyone outside of Indianapolis and New York wanted to see, but it’s what we’re getting. The key here will be how quickly the Colts can get on top, because if New York has to rely on Mark Sanchez to hurl the ball around and play catch-up, it will play right into Indy’s hands. Peyton Manning has had noted problems playing against 3-4 defenses, though, so this is likely going to be closer than a lot of people expect. I really wouldn’t be surprised to see the Jets pull off the huge upset because if they can stick to their running game and wear down the Indianapolis defense, then they can own the 4th quarter. However, I’m going to stay with the safe bet here and pick Indy. I would also stay far away from the -7 on the Colts here, too. Colts 21-19

Matt: I love the classic wrestling comparison that has been made about this game in the classic face vs heel roles. The flashy, heel Colts who flipped off the football gods a few weeks ago by not going for the win and maintaining perfection pulled the lose the match by DQ, keep the belt tactic. Meanwhile the Jets have had to play with the stigma that their win over the pre ordained champions of the league a few weeks back was meaningless. The Jets then went on to beat the Bengals and the same thing was said, “they laid down to keep their starters healthy”. Did anyone have any expectation of the Jets playing the rematch against the Colts for the AFC title? Just like last week, the Jets are overmatched on every level of the game, but as we’ve seen all across the history of the NFL, sometimes it really comes down to the team who wants it more. A Jets win would be the perfect illustration of this. It is a shame that in the real world, the “good guy” doesn’t always win. Colts 24-16

John: Anybody else find it hilarious when Jim Nantz starts the broadcast with "Hello friends" and that goofy smile of his. It's not exactly the best catchphrase ever, is it? I hear he has to pay $100,000 per month in divorce settlements to his ex. I know I'm off topic, but does he say "hello friends" when he writes that check monthly too? These are the things I wonder. Oh right, a football game.

The Jets remind me of the Giants of two years ago except with a less experienced quarterback, but still a quarterback that I'm shocked has played so well (how did Eli Manning go four games without a pick anyway?). They run the ball with two guys in Jones & Greene, they pass when they need to and defensively they are very sound. Their pass defense is great because of Darrelle Revis, their blitzing is good thanks to the exotic schemes that Rex Ryan comes up with and the run defense is solid simply because they don't miss tackles. The other key is they don't turn it over. That's the biggest stat in playoff football. The team that wins the turnover battle wins the game. I don't know the percentage, but I'd say it's at least 70% of the time. As for Indy, we know what they are: Peyton Manning. It's on him. Their running game sucks. The wide receivers, aside from Wayne and TE Dallas Clark, were unknowns going into the year. Now, they have to step up. If Revis matches up with Wayne as expected it's going to be hard for Wayne to have a big day although I do see him making some key plays because he's hard to totally shut down. The key thing is can Indy's run defense slow down the Jets rushing attack? I'm not sure if they can. I think this will game will be like Indy/Baltimore last week: Low scoring with Manning making the key plays when he has to. The Jets do belong in this game. They have impressed me. I simply like the Colts more. This a QB driven lead and if I have to pick between the guy who I think is the best QB ever and a rookie playing in a tough environment I'm going to roll with the best ever. That's just me. No disrespect to the Jets. Hell, you Jets fans should be happy I pick against them considering my track record of late. You're welcome, in advance. Colts 24-13

Minnesota Vikings @ New Orleans Saints (6:30pm FOX)
James: I really, really hope this game is a good one, because of my aforementioned thoughts on these playoffs as a whole. Realistically, this should be a shootout, given that they are the #1 and #2 offenses in football, but as it often happens, it’s going to come down to who creates more turnovers. If the Vikings can pressure Drew Brees, then this will be a cinch for Minnesota. If he has time, the Vikings are going to be hard-pressed to cover all of the receiving threats New Orleans has. That is pretty much how I see this one going down, even though New Orleans’ defense hasn’t exactly been something to write home about for the last two months. New Orleans 37-34

Matt: I can’t pick both number one teams this week, that would involve too much logic to be healthy in this league. I question the advantage that the Dome gives the Saints given the play of the Vikings in their dome this year. I’m also uncertain of the ability of the Saints to duplicate the performance from last week against the #2 rushing defense in the league. Add in a healthy dose of hope that a Super Bowl gives Farve the closure he needs to actually retire, and I can’t pick against the Vikings here. It is quite difficult for me to have faith in either the old arm of Farve, or the team that lost to Tampa Bay.
Vikings 28-24

John: I don't have any announcer rants here except that I want to punch Joe Buck in the face for generally being a douchebag while Troy Aikman will say "heckuva" way too many times during the three hour broadcast. I love this game. Two best teams in the NFC all year. Yes, the Cowboys impressed me enough last week to pick them over the Vikings (foolishly, I admit), but these are the two that have stood out from the pack all season. My hope is that the game lives up to the hype. I want to see big plays on both sides of the ball, deep passes and big runs. They have the teams to make it happen. It could be a classic. Or one of the teams, like their opponents last week, could lay an egg and not be in the game at all. Who really knows?

For the Vikings, I think they need to look at the tape of when Dallas went into New Orleans and beat the hell out of them by pressuring Brees. That's what the Vikings have to do in order to win the game. If you give him time he will kill you. You have to get up in his face. The Vikings defense looked amazing last week against the Cowboys, so if they can channel at least some of that momentum going into this game they're going to have a lot of success. The thing is Brees doesn't get hit very often because his offensive line protects and he spreads the ball around to so many people. To me, that's the biggest story in this game. Can they get to Brees? I think they can, at least enough to win the game. I also think by the end of the game instead of the Favre/Brees talk we're going to remember that Adrian Peterson guy in the Vikings backfield that is arguably the best RB in the NFL. I can see him breaking loose here. He's almost fallen under the radar, but against a small Saints D that could get overpowered by the Vikings big OL he could have one of those 150 yard, 2 touchdown kind of games. If the Saints pay too much attention to Sidney Rice going deep, which might happen, it could free up a situation where Peterson's running against nickel defenses more often. I think if that happens the Vikings can win by running the ball rather than relying on the old guy at QB. I hope this game lives up to the incredible hype. I really do. The playoffs have disappointed in terms of good games (aside from Cards/Pack and Jets/Chargers in the 4th Q at least), but I hope this one doesn't. I just realize I wrote all that without mentioning that Brett Favre fellow. He's on the Vikings? Who knew? Vikings 31-24

JC's Money Picks
Every week I'll pick four games against the spread or using the over/under. I was 1-3 last week. These odds come from pinnaclesports.com as always. Can't say I have that much confidence in these bets.

Colts -7.5 over Jets
Colts/Jets under 39
Vikings +3.5 over Saints
Vikings/Saints over 52.5

Playoffs: 3-5
Season: 38-28-2 (.576)

Thanks for reading. See you in two weeks for this little thing the NFL does called the Super Bowl.

Enjoy the games.

Contact James at xenomaster_17@yahoo.com
Contact Matt at Kane_matthews@hotmail.com
Contact John at oratoryjohn@gmail.com




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