NFL Championship Sunday Picks & Analysis – FootballSunday, January 19, 2014 11:11
Picks and analysis for the 2013-2014 NFL season Championship Weekend Sunday games.
NFL CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND
BILL BELICHICK: THE AGONY AND THE ECTASY
Hearing Bill Cowher bow at the feet of Bill Belichick in a recent CBS interview made me physically ill. Listen to the entire thing here:
Notice anything important missing?
No one mention of Spy-Gate—the scandal where Belichick enlisted members of the Patriot’s organization to illegally tape opponents’ signals.
Cowher knows better. His own players—Hines Ward, most notably—have maintained something was going on beginning with the 2001 AFC Championship:
“Oh, they knew,” the Steelers’ Hines Ward said, referring to the New England defense in the two AFC title games it won in Pittsburgh. “They were calling our stuff out. They knew, especially that first championship game here at Heinz Field. They knew a lot of our calls. There’s no question some of their players were calling out some of our stuff.”
I am sick and tired of Patriots fanatics, apologists, and whack-jobs trying to dismiss a pattern of cheating that Belichick engaged even after repeated warnings over several years.
Since then, the NFL and it’s vast media empire have produced “A Football Life” about Belichick, had NFL Films mike Belichick for an entire year, and have had numerous NFL pundits, players and coaches interview the Pats coach—a contrived, concerted effort designed to transform a cheater into some god-like genius.
Enough Belichick Bullshit!
Cowher calls a sanctioned cheater who disrespected the game—and very well may have cost “The Jaw’s” team a shot at another Ring—the Greatest Of All Time and betrays his former players and what many of them still believe today.
Make no mistake, Cowher’s motivation—along with Jimmy Johnson’s—is to not rock the NFL boat. Don’t let anyone accuse you of spitting up sour grapes. Do nothing to remotely compromise the integrity of the game…(And never remind people Bill Belichick did exactly that)—or the opportunities you have to continue making millions on NFL pre-game shows or for Hall of Fame Induction might disappear.
This is why the NFL Network, NFL pre-game shows, and NFL social media has flexed their huge muscles to recast Belichick as some kind of iconic coach, worthy of coronation as Greatest Of All Time.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, Belichick has done in New England makes him worthy of such media worship.
And Bill Cowher has no integrity as an analyst, commentator, or “journalist.” His interview was lame, his deference unwarranted, and he turned his back on his players.
In any long form interview with Bill Belichick, not asking him about his cheating is like interviewing Barry Bonds and not asking him why his head grew after his 35th birthday
If Bill Belichick belongs in the GOAT (Greatest of All Time) conversation—and we emphatically believe he does not—then the whole picture must be painted, warts and all.
FACTS ARE FACTS
Belichick cheated the game–that is a fact.
So are the following:
In the history of the NFL, no coach or team has been sanctioned more, for any offense, than Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.
If, as all BB’s apologists insist, “Everybody was doing it”—(cheating)—why have no other coaches been punished for doing what Belichick and everyone else was doing?
All the butt-kissing pundits who insist Belichick’s cheating was “no big deal” forget Goodell destroyed all the evidence–almost immediately after seeing it.
Ol’ Roger must have thought it was a very huge deal to get rid of the gun while it was still smoking.
Look at the way all pro sports have treated cheaters …Pete Rose…The ’19 ChiSox…Lance Armstrong…Clemens, McGwire, Sosa, and Bonds.
Alex Karras and Paul Hornung were NFL players suspended for suspicion of gambling and hanging out with undesirable people. Many Karras supporters insist he should be enshrined in Canton.
For as great as these players were, their stories cannot be told, nor their legacies understood without acknowledging they cheated their respective games.
Why does the NFL punditry believe Belichick should be immune to such scrutiny?
Protect The Shield…
This is an inescapable fact Belichick haters might not want to hear.
Yes, BB deserves negative marks for being a cheater. He also gets positive marks for his ability to pick people for his system, his preparation and his approach to the game. In fact, using that very narrow criteria, Belichick is as good as there has ever been.
But, GOAT? That’s a joke.
Unlike Halas, Landry, Brown and Noll, BB has never been an innovator.
He’s a defensively rooted guy, but his defenses have never dominated.
Every coach listed as “in the GOAT conversation” has one thing in common–PLAYERS, especially QBs.
- Noll = Bradshaw
- Walsh = Montana/Young
- Lombardi = Star
- Landry = Staubach
- Shula = Griese/Marino
- Brown = Otto Graham
Did Lombardi excel as Washington’s Coach/GM?
Did Noll win a Super Bowl after Bradshaw retired?
How much of a genius was Belichick in Cleveland? He sure got a lot smarter when Tom Brady filled in for Drew Bledsoe and quickly evolved into the greatest quarterback who ever lived.
Another common denominator in all these teams, for all these coaches, was solid to great defenses.
People talk about the 49ers and the West Coast Offense; people forget their defense was in the top five during their glory days.
In all but their second Super Bowl loss to the Giants, New England fielded a top ten defense…
To each coach/QB combo listed above, you can also add a very solid /HOF running backs, and don’t think a solid ground game isn’t a key to success. Lack of solid defense and effective rushing game is why Dan Marino has no ring.
BELICHICK AND THE HOF
Belichick has an uncanny ability to draft—his consistency is amazing—the right athletes to fit the system he runs. Perhaps, more importantly, he flexes the system to fit the skill sets of his best players. Look at how New England’s passing attack has morphed from the vertical game with Moss and Branch to the crossing game with the Welkers and Amendolas of the world. The running game has transmogrified from the relative finesse of Corey Dillon, Ben Jarvis-Greene-Ellis, and Stevan Ridley to the power game of Legarrete Blount—seemingly over the course of a few weeks.
All good coaches share this trait, but BB has turned it into an art form.
His most intense detractors cannot take that away—or this:
In the last fifteen years, Belichick has consistently devised game plans that neutralize an opponent’s best weapon—and exploits an opponent’s weakest link.
Blount’s 180-yard rushing performance against a game San Diego defense is the most recent proof.
Any intelligent coach would admit that without good players, he can’t be great, but that’s only part of the luck factor.
The Pats have been fortunate to be in the NFL’s weakest division for the last 15 years.
But, hey, Belichick can’t help his division rivals if they can’t “get” the whole football thing right, and, I guarantee he knows how fortunate he is to have Brady.
The fact is, since the black-mark of cheating, Belichick has the best W/L record in the game.
The Hooded One has to be respected for resiliency, resourcefulness, and consistent excellence. He’s overcome a bad situation and has earned the right to be in the HOF conversation.
But compared to how other cheaters have fared in those conversations, Belichick should feel lucky if he gets in.
As for Greatest of All Time…
Bill Belichick will never be a serious candidate for that honor.
New England Patriots @ Denver Bronco – 4 
You can take your pick, Brady or Manning. Brady gets the nod until Peyton proves otherwise—and I’m looking for Manning to do just that.
We’re at Mile High and New England swaggers in with a newfound smash-face running game driven by the resurrected Legarrete Blount—hereafter known as “The Blount Object.” I think I called Belichick desperate when he took Aquib Talib and Blount off Tampa Bay’s hands, but the Pats’ coach took a risk and got two rewards.
The following will sound like blasphemy…
If I’m John Fox, I take Blount away and make Brady beat me. He’s missing Gronkowski, but if the Broncos keep New England under 33 points they will win and cover the spread.
Denver will let Brady get all the underneath yardage he wants, thwart the running game and watch Peyton shred a New England defense he took to school for the first half late November…
Well, Knowshon Moreno took the Pats to school to the tune of 6.1 yards a carry and 224 total rushing yards—the Broncos will win this one with a superior running game and defense.
Trindon Holliday seals the victory with a 4th quarter punt return.
In the regular season contest that went to overtime there were four turnovers per team.
That ain’t happening in a Championship contest.
Both offenses are peaking; Brady is a machine and Manning will throw four touchdowns to four different receivers.
I’m giving the edge to Denver because their defense is better…
Just so you know, this isn’t all guess work here are a few trends you might want to know before you wager any money:
- The total has gone OVER in 7 of New England’s last 9 games
- NE is 3-12 when playing Denver on the road
- The total has gone OVER in 7 of New England’s last 9 games when playing on the road against Denver
- New England is 3-12 SU in its last 15 games when playing on the road against Denver
- New England is 4-11 ATS in its last 15 games when playing on the road against Denver
Of course, there are some trends supporting the Under and a New England cover, but we will stick with the home team to win a berth in the Super Bowl—well over the number.
BRONCOS 37, PATRIOTS 31
San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks – 3 [40.5]
The field goal the bookies are giving the Niners is because of the home field advantage the 12th Man—or amplified crowd noise—gives the Gulls.
This is a pick-em game.
It will remind purists and pass-happy pussies what the real NFL is about: violence, pain, and brutality.
Not to sound barbaric…
I don’t know when it happened, but I believe NFL football lost something wonderful when opponents hated each other. The whole business of the post-game love fest kind of ruins the fans cathartic experience of being violent without hitting someone and ending up in jail.
I distinctly remember how much more manly and strong I felt when Jack Lambert threw Cliff Harris to the ground after Harris taunted Roy Gerela.
(Note the absolute hate oozing from Steers DL Dwight White as he remembers the incident—that was football!)
I bet we don’t see many handshakes are shared after this NFC Championship is decided.
Not much analysis needed in this one. These teams are mirror images, young, strong, but still mistake prone quarterbacks, great running backs and stout defenses.
San Fran enjoys the edge in game-changing linebackers, while the ‘Hawks boast the most aggressive secondary in recent NFL history.
The edge in playoff experience belongs to the Niners—but in a championship game, that edge dulls to almost nothing when you know your opponent is your most hated division rival.
Think back to he memorable playoff match-ups between the Ravens and Steelers. It’ll be close to the end—maybe a Seattle pick six decides it.
We’re taking the Seahawks and the under.
SEAHAWKS 20, 49ERS 17
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