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Armchair Quarterback: Good times ahead for Lions, Packers

August 30, 2012
By STEVE BROWNLEE - Journal Sports Staff (sbrownlee@miningjournal.net) , The Mining Journal

Have I got some good news for Packers and Lions fans!

The only bad thing is that I'm the one delivering it. Despite my public Armchair Quarterback predictions, I'm sure you've noticed my picks aren't a whole lot better than any average Tom, Dick or Harry - or Jennifer, for that matter.

Still, I want fans of Green Bay and Detroit to know that two recent negative items don't matter: the preseason and the Madden curse.

Article Photos

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in action against the Cincinnati Bengals in an NFL football game, Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo)

Both the Packers and Lions are 1-2 entering tonight's final exhibition game. If you've watched their games, you may be concerned.

But six of last year's 12 playoff teams are now 1-2. And don't forget what happened the last time the Lions went undefeated in the preseason - they trail blazed that to the infamous 0-16 mark of 2008.

As far as the Madden curse, it caught on after several top-flight players tanked or were seriously injured following their appearance on the cover of this famous video game. But a few since then, like Drew Brees and Vince Young, had banner years.

But that doesn't fit the curse, so those performances are forgotten. And that's why I don't worry about this year's cover boy, the Lions' Calvin "Megatron" Johnson.

My philosophy is that if you look hard enough, you can always find coincidences to make any two unrelated things connect.

On to the picks:

NFC

North - An outstanding offense in 2011 allowed the Pack to concentrate on shoring up its leaky defense. And considering that the Dom Capers-led "D" was good two years ago, I think last season was an aberration.

The Lions' full police blotter worried me in July, and could still come back to bite them if coach Jim Schwartz doesn't lay down the law.

Chicago seems like a leaky dike. They've added some offensive firepower, but the new worry is a defense growing old and decrepit.

And Minnesota - well, let's just say Rome wasn't (re)built in a day.

Take Green Bay to win and Detroit to be the No. 1 wild card, maybe with the second-best record in the NFC.

East - Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick's already been knocked out of two preseason games, and Washington rookie QB Robert Griffin III is also vulnerable as a more accomplished runner than passer.

Meanwhile, Dallas has played in one playoff game in the Tony Romo era.

Everyone thinks the Giants underachieved at 10-6 in the regular season. But they forget about this six-game, late-season stretch - at New England, at San Francisco, home vs. Philly, at New Orleans, home vs. Green Bay and at Dallas.

They won two of them, enough to survive before reeling off six straight wins, culminating in Super Bowl XLVI.

Take New York as the lone playoff rep.

South

What to do with the Saints?

Without Sean Payton's strong personality at the top, I see major ups and downs, so I relegate them to wild-card status behind Atlanta, with Carolina nipping at their heels in a tight race.

West

After no team in this division had a winning record two years ago, the 49ers took over last season and aren't about to abdicate, though they might not clinch the division with four or five weeks to go like last year because Seattle's Pete Carroll has finally figured out how to coach in the pros.

AFC

North - Pittsburgh moving away from its grind-out style makes me think of the University of Michigan under Rich Rodriguez. It didn't fit the Wolverines, and I don't see it fitting the Steelers either.

Cincinnati rose so far so fast that at least a little bit of a dip is in order, so I'll take Baltimore, with an offense ready to finally carry its share of the load, adding the Steelers as a wild card.

East - Like the Packers, New England was wildly unbalanced toward offense last season, but also like Green Bay, it got them a No. 1 playoff seed.

I think coach Bill Belichick can shore up his defense and win an otherwise weak division.

South - Without the Texans losing QB Matt Schaub and all-everything receiver Andre Johnson, they might've been the Giants' victims in the Super Bowl.

But some teams seem to be cursed with injuries, and Houston looks like one, so give me upstart Tennessee with major running talent Chris Johnson here.

West - Everyone has it backwards - Tim Tebow didn't make Denver, the Broncos made Tebow.

Now with Peyton Manning - a polar opposite if there ever was one - Denver not only wins the division, but ... well, I'll tell you a minute.

There's room for San Diego to sneak in as a wild card.

PLAYOFFS

NFC - The NFC title matchup that should've happened last year, San Fran at Green Bay, will happen with the Pack 17-13 winners.

The game's pivotal play will come in the final minute when the replay official is unable to overturn the 49ers being called just short of a touchdown because he can't tell where the goal line is due to a game-time blizzard.

AFC - Much less interesting as Manning gets the best of Belichick and Tom Brady in a Broncos romp, 37-16.

Super Bowl - Sorry Packer fans, but can you say 1998 all over again? Instead of John Elway, it's Manning leading Denver past Green Bay, 30-20.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.

 
 

 

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