Dojo Sparring – NFL Playoffs are taking shape

Joe to Greg

Detroit Lions reaction after Justin Tucker’s 61 yard field goal.

It’s been a little bit since we’ve done one of these and a lot has happened across the sports world. Lets get the NFL out of the way first. What are your thoughts on this past week of NFL action? The Ravens looked good and bad from what I saw. Good in the sense that I’m pretty sure everyone knows Justin Tucker now. Bad in the sense that Justin Tucker was their sole source of points against the Lions. The Patriots ended up on the wrong side of another close game, which is expected when you hinge your team’s success on fourth quarter one minute drills. The Bengals lost an opportunity to get the #2 seed. December is a great month for football because of all playoff implications, which conference are you more intrigued by based on the playoff races?

Greg to Joe

Tom Brady's face when he realized he wasn't going to the Super Bowl last year. (Photo Cred: Screenshot of CBS Broadcast)

Tom Brady’s face when he realized he wasn’t going to the Super Bowl last year. (Photo Cred: Screenshot of CBS Broadcast)

Actually, your Pats have a shot to blow the two seed as well and the Ravens and Bengals can get it. There is a scenario that is fascinating in my mind. It starts like this the Pats lose out, the Dolphins win out, the Colts lose to the Jaguars in Week 17 (may not be for anything, they are basically locked into the 4th seed no matter what so it is entirely possible they rest and lose) and the Bengals win next week against the Vikings. Now this leaves the Pats at 10-6, Dolphins at 10-6, the Bengals at 10-5, and the Ravens at 9-6. The Ravens-Bengals game decides everything. The Bengals win, and they get the two seed. The Ravens are out, and the Patriots get the 6th seed because they lose the tie breaker with the Dolphins. The Ravens win, the Bengals get the 6th seed, Ravens get a bye AND the Patriots are not a playoff team. I think all of these crazy scenarios set up for a great end of season run. It should be one of the best and it all starts with the Ravens huge game against the Patriots next week. I am of the belief that the Ravens are trending upward and playing better than they did at the beginning of the season. The Patriots are starting to revert to beginning of season form without Gronk. He is so important to that offense and I think that it is very different without him. Next week will be an awesome game and it has so much on the line. I think that answers your question about the conference that intrigues me the most.

The NFC isn’t that interesting to me. Basically if the Panthers win next week against the Saints, it comes down to whether or not the 49ers can beat the Seahawks in Seattle in the NFC Championship.

Your thoughts on the races? And the scenario that the Patriots do not get into the playoffs?

Joe to Greg

I think it goes without saying that the AFC is the most wide open and most interesting conference. I don’t see the Patriots losing out even though that could make for an intriguing end to the playoff races. Having both teams, the Pats and Ravens, with playoff implications  makes for a more exciting game so good luck to you this weekend sir.

On the NFC side the Philadelphia-Chicago matchup is interesting to watch considering that both teams are atop their divisions and trying to give themselves an extra cushion going into the last week of the season. Both teams currently sit at 8-6 while another matchup featuring teams looking to finish strong is New Orleans at Carolina. This game features two 10-4 teams competing for the 2nd and 6th seed in the NFC playoffs. As of today, the Saints hold the 2nd seed while the Panthers own the 6th. Another great example of why December games are so great.

In the NBA, the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat faced off twice in a span of eight days. Each team  claimed victories on their home court and each game going down to the final two or three minutes of the game. Two noticeable injuries occurred this week. Kobe Bryant came back from his Achilles injury only to injure his left knee and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. The second was a minor ankle injury to LeBron James, which seems like a thing of the past considering he posted 23 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists. What are your thoughts on the Indiana-Miami series and also the stellar play of Damian Lillard? Also any closing thoughts for the NFL week.

Greg to Joe

NBC made a big mistake flexing the Philadelphia-Chicago matchup to the night. There is a big chance that both of those teams have NOTHING to play for. If the Cowboys lose, the Eagles can clinch the East with a win. However, if the Cowboys win, it doesn’t matte what happens at night, the Eagles have to beat the Cowboys in Week 17 to win the division. I think it was a dumb mistake, and it could be a poor matchup. However, it has so many huge fantasy implications for almost everyone’s fantasy championship. Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and the list goes on. I am gonna have to watch to make sure my team brings home the two titles that they deserve!

 

However, I think that NBC has to repay the Ravens and will give them the night game next week. You’ll see why with my prediction at the bottom.

I think that Indiana is going to have big problems in the playoffs. They have a very short rotation and I think their starters are going to worn out come playoff time. I see Miami winning the East purely for that reason. Indiana’s dependence on their starters, much like Portland in the West. Lilliard is bonkers. His late game shots are unreal, and I think he is only going to get better and that Portland team is for real and will be for awhile. Can’t wait to see your NBA stuff this upcoming week up until Christmas.

Patriots @ Ravens Predictions

Joe

Patriots 24 – Ravens 21

Shane Vereen has a nice bounce back game after the poor showing last week and gets a TD. Stephen Gostkowski hits a late field goal to win it.

Greg

Patriots 17 – Ravens 23

Wikipedia screenshot after Justin Tucker's 61 yard field goal. (Photo Cred: Wikipedia Screenshot)

Wikipedia screenshot after Justin Tucker’s 61 yard field goal. (Photo Cred: Wikipedia Screenshot)

The Patriots defense isn’t as good as the Lions so I think the Ravens will be able to put up two touchdowns. I also think that the Patriots offense is not nearly the same as it was with Gronk. I think Tom Brady and Joe Flacco each have something around 250 yards and 2 touchdowns, but the kickers change the game. Tucker is 3 for 3 and Gostkowski goes 1 for 2.

 Greg Danchik and Joe Meola

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