The Dr of the NFL’s Fearless Forecast

AFC Championship Game-New England @ Denver
Is there some sort of immutable law that states that if, in the pre-season, you pick a team to go to the Super Bowl, that you are not allowed to pick against them in the championship game? If so, I’m in a difficult spot. Before the year began, my prognostication was a Patriots-Seahawks Super Bowl, more on Seattle shortly, but I’m leaning against Brady and company today. Here’s why. Too much is being made about last week when New England ran over Indianapolis. As we pointed out, Indy couldn’t stop the run all year, so let’s make LeGarrett Blount out to be Jim Brown just yet. The Broncos run defense has been stout all year [ranked 7th in NFL] and they will provide much more resistance than the Colts did. Look for Brady to come out throwing in this game vs. a porous Broncos secondary that just lost its’ best corner in Chris Harris and is without their best pass rusher in Von Miller. I fully expect the Pats to consistently move the ball and Brady to amass at least 350 yards passing.
Bill Bellichick has a conundrum in this match up vs. Peyton, if he stacks his chips to stop Denver’s running game, Manning will devour his secondary, and if he stays in a cover 2 to prevent the big play, Peyton will audible into a run and Knowshon Moreno and company will run up and down the field on a terrible Patriot run defense [ranked 30th in NFL]. People forget that because the Colts couldn’t take advantage of it because they were a poor running team, Denver will.
In what promises to be a high scoring shootout, TD’s over FG’s will be the difference. Which team will convert in the Red Zone? Peyton completed 72% of his Red Zone passes and threw 37 red zone TD’s with zero INT’s during the regular season, look for that trend to continue. In addition, New England will be playing a road playoff game for the first time in 7 years. The Patriots are 1-5 vs. the spread in their last 6 road contests, and are 0-5 vs the number in their last 5 games played on glass. Broncos advance to the Super Bowl.
Denver 37 New England 30.

NFC Championship Game-San Francisco @ Seattle
I’ve been going back and forth on this one all week. Seattle’s been the best team all year but the 49ers are red hot and playing better right now. Home field is huge in this one but the 49ers front 7 vs. Seattle’s erratic O-line can quiet things down. Russell Wilson concerns me, he’s not played well the last 4 or 5 games and he’ll be without Percy Harvin. But Colin Kaepernick has been awful in both games he’s played in this building.
As good as Seattle’s defense is, you can run it occasionally on them. The 49ers ran for 163 yards in week 14 win against Seattle, can Gore and company repeat this on the road? This is the key to the game, if Gore is producing, the 49ers can sneak out with a win, if not, Seattle will pressure Kaepernick, contain his rushing lanes, and force him into mistakes. Much has been made of the 49ers resurgence on offense since the return of Michael Crabtree, but Richard Sherman will effectively eliminate him and Vernon Davis will have his hands full with Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas who are the best Safety tandem in the league.
I think San Francisco must get off to a healthy start to take the crowd out of it, otherwise things could snowball. Kaepernick completes just 54% of his passes when he’s trailing. Their offense is built for long drives, not short ones. This is why Gore is the key to the game, by establishing the run and sending a physical message, it could set the 49ers up for the upset. We all know that Seattle is near invincible at home but San Francisco is better equipped than any other team to pull this off.
So who wins? In a game that promises to be a tight, low scoring affair, I think it’s Seattle’s year. I trust Russell Wilson more in this spot not to make a critical error than I do Kaepernick. If both teams struggle to run it, which I expect, it gets to which QB will avoid the big mistake. No defense is better than Seattle’s at stopping the opposing QB, with the combination of pass rush and coverage ability. Look for Seattle’s secondary to get the best of Kaepernick and with the homefield to back them, Seattle returns to the Super Bowl.
Seattle 19 San Francisco 13


Sep 04, 2013 -- 4:00pm

 It’s not often you can stand in a bathroom in downtown Atlanta, at some of the finest hotels, and share the bathroom with a Storm Trooper, a goblin, and what appears to be a zombie with a severed head prop resting by the sink. But what can you say? Labor Day weekend in Atlanta is unlike anything you’ll experience anywhere else.

 Between the AT&T Kickoff Concert, the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game, the Braves in action at Turner Field, the big NASCAR race at AMS… it’s a lot to navigate. But the biggest attraction of the weekend for many is, of course, Dragon Con! And again this year, Greg Euston, Dan Carroll and the unbelievable Dragon Con staff managed to put on the biggest event to date with flawless execution.

 Friday night at Dragon Con has become a destination. Looking down from the eighth floor of the Marriot Marquis, you cannot even see the carpet beneath the sea of costumes, fan boys and pop culture enthusiasts – it’s just that crazy. They flood the hotels, spill off into the streets, and the party of the weekend is officially underway. And the vibe is especially awesome. Everyone is upbeat, extremely engaged in the scene and complimentary of the time and effort that were put in to the various costumes. I swear at one point I saw Han Solo and Spock sharing a drink at Twenty-Two Storys in the Hyatt. Last call comes quickly (or so it seems) and the bartender tells Harry Potter and the gaggle of zombies to put in for their final drinks.

Saturday morning is the real event. We wake early, clean ourselves up and get downstairs to pick out a prime spot along the parade route. The Dragon Con parade is now the largest this city hosts on an annual basis, and a chance for the weekend’s most ardent visitors to showcase their costumes as they march through the normally crowded streets in the city. There are people along every sidewalk, 5-10 people deep, snapping as many pictures as their phones and cameras will allow. It’s almost as if this army of costumed party-goers had won some sort of pop culture World Series, the way the crowd hollers and cheers for them as they pass.

 Then it’s on to the vendors, which this year were moved into the AT&T America Mart – which was a perfect spot for them. I personally spend WAY outside of my budgeted amount on shirts, collectibles and a SHIELD messenger bag that will now take over as my work bag at 680. We move on to the Walk of Fame, which now consumes most of the Marriot downstairs, and I get the chance to shake the hands of some real legends, like Billy Dee Williams and Ed Asner to name two. The Hilton is buzzing with gamers, card games and role play going on everywhere. You could easily burn an entire day sitting across from people you’d just met and battling them to the proverbial death through cards and guide books.

 Not to mention the panels, the autographs, the pictures… it’s almost unfair to put it into just one weekend, because there’s just too much to see and do.

 The 2013 scene at Dragon Con was electric, and not enough can be said about their staff, organizers and security personnel. They are top notch, and make the chaos of 50,000 people spread out across three hotels seem as organized as a school fire drill. It’s a blast – and if you can pry yourself away from sports for a weekend to do some serious people watching, this is the weekend to do it!

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