Thoughtful Thursday (1.10.13)

By: Kevin Cottrell Jr. @SportsVentz

Just a Thought… B-MORE…At the top of every year we make resolutions to do better, be better and B-More like the true winners in life. The same goes for sports. Athletes and teams alike set goals at the beginning of seasons to improve on the past season both individually and collectively. Carmelo Anthony may already be hitting the reset button on his goals. Carmelo began the season on fire, leading his Knicks to the best record in the East as well as a leading MVP candidate. All an attempt to live up to the tattoo and BMORE ad that Brand Jordan launched some three years ago. As many of you are aware, Anthony recently had an incident with Celtics Forward Kevin Garnett, that caused him to lose his composure, the team lost the game and the Knicks lost Anthony for tonight’s battle with the Pacers. I’m sure you all have New Year’s Resolutions, there will be times that they are challenged but the key will be keeping your composure despite the adversity. Remember, in sports and in life you can’t just practice what you preach but instead preach what you’ve practiced!

NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS: Wild Card weekend was interesting, all teams favorite to win, won their matchup and six of the eight teams appearing in the divisional round competed in the same round last season. I was 2-2 with my picks last weekend, surely I can get to a perfect 4-0 this weekend, right? Let’s take a look!

Saturday Jan. 12
RAVENS @ BRONCOS (4:30 pm CBS) On December 16th the Broncos traveled to Baltimore and defeated the Ravens 34-17, now the Ravens will have to travel to Denver to avenge that loss. This is the classic case of Good “D” versus Better “O”. The Ravens will have to force multiple turnovers to get the game in their favor, I’m not sure if this banged up defense will have enough healthy bodies to produce in the mile high elevation. As for the Broncos they had an extra week to get healthy and prepare for a team they faced just last month, granted Ray Lewis was not in that game but that hasn’t matter much when he’s faced a Manning led team. Temperatures are expected to dip into the low 20s at kickoff, Peyton Manning is 0-3 in playoff games with temperatures below 40, but this is a totally different team. Denver can rush the QB, rush the ball and move the ball through the air at a high rate. The Ravens will need to dominate the ball, control the clock and score at the rate of Peyton Manning. That may be a lot to ask. The NFL world will prepare to say goodbye to Ray Lewis and welcome back to Peyton Manning. Prediction: BRONCOS 27 RAVENS 20

PACKERS @ 49ERS (8:00 pm FOX): One of the toughest feats in football is to beat the same team twice in one season. Schemes change, players adjust and game plans can be very sophisticated. Often times the winning team doesn’t know what to adjust and instead opt to focus on more of the same to get repeat results. After all they won. This time the matchup will take place by the by the bay, but instead of draft classmates (Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers) facing off, it will be the youngster Colin Kaepernick. Can Colin outplay one of the most efficient, quick strike QBs in the L? It will be tough, especially now that the Packers are healthy at the right time. With Coach Harbaugh making the coaching change mid-season, the pressure is officially on Kaepernick to prove him right! Green Bay is hungry to overcome their letdown from last season after a 15-1 start, and they’ll be even hungrier to face a team that embarrassed them at home at the beginning of the year. The Packers own a 4-1 All-Time Playoff record vs the Niners and they’ll look at add a fifth in another epic battle. Prediction: PACKERS 31 49ERS 27

Sunday Jan. 13
SEAHAWKS @ FALCONS (1:00 pm FOX): The most intriguing matchup of the weekend will take place in Atlanta, where arguably the best set of wide outs (ATL) will face the best secondary (SEA). Typically marquee match ups are between QBs but this Sunday, it’s all about the guys who catch and defend the pass. Out of the four games this is the only one where the two didn’t face one another earlier in the season. The Seahawks are hot, and the Falcons are looking to get the proverbial monkey off their back after losing their last four playoff games. The Falcons will have to stick with playing their brand of football, establishing the run with Michael Turner, finding Tony Gonzalez on third down and pushing the ball downfield in big plays with Julio and Roddy outside. As for the Seahawks, it’s up to Russell Wilson to continue making plays outside the pocket to keep the Falcons offense on the sideline while mixing things up with Marshawn Lynch to form a balanced attack. The Georgia Dome will be extremely loud because the entire city feels disrespected. Both teams are looking to earn the respect of the NFL but there’s only one way to do so, by winning. This will be a slugfest, the Falcons receivers will get physical with the Seahawks DBs, but the defense to stop the run first will have the edge in the game. The Seahawks are use to having the 12th man in Seattle, but the Falcons will be the one with the edge this weekend. PREDICTION: FALCONS 24 SEAHAWKS 21
TEXANS @ PATRIOTS (4:30 pm CBS): The division round finale will take place in Foxborough where the Patriots will host the Texans as a 9.5 point favorite. That’s a lot in the sports world and Arian Foster is ready to prove to the world that they are contenders and not pretenders. That’s great, question is will the rest of the Texans be up to the task? Houston got out the gates dominating the AFC this season before stumbling down the stretch to fall from the top seed to the #3 seed in the conference. While the Patriots slowly but surely ascended to the top of the conference in the #2 spot. Earlier this season the two faced off in New England and the Patriots came out on top 42-14. I doubt there’s a repeat of their December 10th match up, but the Texans will have to overcome the mental and physical task at hand. The leader of Houston’s defense, J.J. Watt, was held without a sack, batted pass or tackle for loss in their week 14 meeting, the only game this season he didn’t record one of the three stats. Allowing Coach Belichick and extra week to prepare has to give New England the edge, not to mention they’re at home where the Pats are unbeatable. Brady will have his full compliment of receivers at his disposal I’m not sure if Matt Schaub and company can do enough to match their fast paced attack. PREDICTION: PATRIOTS 30 TEXANS 23

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