Bro-Picks: The NCAA Tournament Final Four Predictions

March Madness has officially arrived.

In what could be described as one of the most unpredictable seasons in NCAA Men’s basketball in years, this year’s tournament is shaping up to be one of the craziest ones March Madness has ever had to offer. While some of the typical powerhouse schools are obviously favored, there is no clear-cut favorite, and it is anyone’s tournament to win.

Here is the bracket to end all brackets, read it and weep.-1

Final Four Picks:

West Region: Michigan

The Wolverines may be the hottest team heading into the tournament. Their back-to-back victories against top ranked Michigan State and Purdue in the Big 10 Tournament solidified them as the team nobody wants to face, as their 9th ranked defense has the ability to shut any team down. If that wasn’t scary enough, they also have a tournament star in the making in 6’11 junior forward Moritz Wagner, who shoots nearly 40% from three point range.

Moritz Wagner is the leader of perhaps the scariest team heading into the NCAA Tournament.

Midwest Region: Kansas

Despite an up and down season that saw them drop games to lower-tier schools in the Big 12 such as Baylor and Oklahoma State(*twice*), Kansas boasts a talented roster wherein all five starters average at least 12 points per game. While the status of sophomore Udoka Azubike remains unclear, any team coached by Bill Self stands a chance to make it far into the tournament, even in the hardest region in the tournament.

As one of the top coaches in the game, Bill Self can guide the Jayhawks to San Antonio.

South Region and NCAA Runner-Up: Arizona

Even with all the controversy surrounding the school in regards to its supposed misdeeds in the FBI’s investigation of corruption in the NCAA, head coach Sean Miller will use it as fuel to help guide his program to the Final Four and make the tournament more awkward for everyone. It helps they have generational talent Dendre Ayton, as the 7’1 forward averages 20.3 points and 11.5 rebounds per game and can carry the Wildcats to San Antonio.

Deandre Ayton could carry the Wildcats past the controversy all the way to a National Title.

East Region and National Champion: Villanova

Only two years removed from winning one of the most thrilling National Championships ever, Jay Wright’s squad seems even more unstoppable this year. With 6 players averaging double figures in points and a team 3-point shooting percentage of nearly 40 %, Villanova’s top ranked scoring offense will carry them to another National Title and a dynasty in the making.

Junior guard Jalen Brunson leads the top scoring offense in college basketball, which should result in another National Championship for Villanova.




Bro-Picks Presents: The Top 10 Super Bowls of All Time

Super Bowl 52 came and went, but does it crack the top 10 of the greatest Super Bowls of all time?

Despite its grandiose nature, the Super Bowl is often a one-sided affair and relatively uncompelling. Every so often, however, we get a Super Bowl that is actually competitive and exciting, and it’s important to cherish these games since they don’t come around often. The top 10 Super Bowls of all time are:

10. Super Bowl V: Baltimore Colts V. Dallas Cowboys

Also known as “The Stupor Bowl”, this game is often ranked as one of the worst games of all-time due to its sloppy play, but it’s undeserved. Sure the game featured 11 turnovers combined, a missed PAT, and even some officiating miscues, but Super Bowl V was a back and forth contest that came down to the final play of the game: a 32 yard field goal by Colts kicker Jim O’Brien. If that doesn’t qualify as a great Super Bowl, then what does?

9. Super Bowl XXXII: Denver Broncos V. Green Bay Packers

After agonizing defeat after defeat, Super Bowl XXXII was shaping up as another disappointment for Denver’s QB John Elway, as the Broncos were 14 point underdogs against the reigning Super Bowl champion Packers, who were led by QB Brett Farve. Super Bowl XXXII went down to the wire, and featured one of the most iconic plays in Super Bowl history, when Elway launched himself in the air in the hopes of gaining a first down, and was hit and spun around like a helicopter. Talk about a heart of a champion.

8. Super Bowl XXXVI: New England Patriots V. St. Louis Rams

In the wake of 9/11, how fitting was it that a team called the Patriots pulled off an incredible upset against the then St. Louis Rams “Greatest Show on Turf”? Sure, allegations of cheating have marred the Patriots dynasty, but it was the first Super Bowl appearance and victory in their remarkable 18 year run that featured an enthralling game winning field goal from New England kicker Adam Vinatieri.

7. Super Bowl LII: Philadelphia Eagles V. New England Patriots

This year’s Super Bowl featured one of the more exciting games in the big game’s history. A back and forth contest that saw the Eagles and Patriots combine for 1,151 yards offensively and featured only one key defensive play late in the fourth quarter, it also featured a blown lead and two comebacks. Somehow, the Eagles managed to shake-off their choker label and win their first Super Bowl in franchise history, and Super Bowl LII should be remembered as an all time great Super Bowl.


6. Super Bowl XIII: Pittsburgh Steelers V. Dallas Cowboys

Two of the NFL’s most iconic franchises did battle for the second time in four years, and this one was one for the ages. An offensive explosion that featured seven touchdown passes from future hall of fame QBs, Pittsburgh Steelers QB Terry Bradshaw and Dallas Cowboys QB Roger Staubach, the game gave us another iconic Super Bowl moment when Cowboys TE Jackie Smith dropped a pass in the end zone that would’ve tied the game at 21. The Cowboys would never recover, and the Steelers walked away with their 3rd Lombardi Trophy in a thrilling contest.

5. Super Bowl XXIII: San Francisco 49ers V. Cincinnati Bengals

Another re-match bowl, Joe Montana and the 49ers capped off their 3rd Super Bowl victory with a 92-yard touchdown drive that all started with a spotting of comedy legend John Candy in the stands. To win the game, Montana threw a 10-yard touchdown to WR John Taylor, his only catch of the game. It added to Montana’s legend as “Joe Cool”, and was the last game Niners coach Bill Walsh roamed the sidelines on as a member of the organization.


4. Super Bowl XXV: New York Giants V. Buffalo Bills

After New York executed a game plan that kept the ball out of the explosive Bills no-huddle offense, Buffalo still had a chance to win the game with a 47-yard field goal with eight seconds left. Bills K Scott Norwood missed the kick wide right, a thrilling finish to a game that would mark the end of coach Bill Parcel’s tenure with the Giants and the beginning of the Bills four straight Super Bowl appearances in the 90s. Broadcasting legend Al Michaels’ two words, “wide right”, continues to haunt the city of Buffalo to this day.


3. Super Bowl XXXIV: St. Louis Rams V. Tennessee Titans

Sure, the Rams at one point led the game 16-0, but Steve McNair and the Titans led a furious comeback to tie the game at 16. After Rams QB and league MVP Kurt Warner threw a 73 yard TD pass to WR Isaac Bruce, the Titans had a chance to win the game with 1:54 left. On the final play of the game, McNair completed a pass to WR Kevin Dyson, who was tackled by Rams LB Mike Jones 1-yard short of the goal line. One. Yard. Short. Perhaps the greatest finish in Super Bowl and NFL history.

2. Super Bowl XLIII: Pittsburgh Steelers V. Arizona Cardinals

For the Steelers, appearing in Super Bowls is second nature. For the Cardinals, it seemed like a pipe dream. A close contest throughout, Super Bowl XLIII gave fans one of the greatest plays in football history when Steelers LB James Harrison intercepted a pass from Cardinals future hall of fame QB Kurt Warner and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown before halftime. The Cardinals would battle back valiantly, scoring the game’s next two touchdowns, including a 64-yard touchdown reception by WR Larry Fitzgerald, which gave Arizona a three point lead with 2:37 remaining. Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger then led the Steelers on an 8 play, 78-yard drive that was capped off by WR Santonio Holmes’ terrific tip-toe catch in the back of the end zone to secure Pittburgh’s 6th Lombardi trophy, the most in NFL history.


1. Super Bowl XLII New York Giants V. New England Patriots

With the prospect of a perfect season on the line, the New England Patriots had only one game to win in order to immortalized as the greatest team ever. The New York Giants had other plans. The game was a 7-3 score stalemate throughout until an amazing fourth quarter took place. First, the Giants took the lead after QB Eli Manning threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to unknown WR David Tyree (*more on him later) to give the Giants a 10-7 lead. Just a few possessions later, Patriots QB Tom Brady did what he does best by leading a 12 play, 80-yard drive that resulted in a 6-yard touchdown pass to WR Randy Moss to give the Patriots a 14-10 lead. On the Giants final possession, Eli Manning escaped the clutches of Patriots DE Richard Seymour and DE Jarvis Green and delivered a 32-yard completion to WR David Tyree, who out-jumped Patriots All-Pro S Rodney Harrison and caught the ball by pinning it to his helmet in what is now referred to as “The Helmet Catch.” Four plays later, Manning tossed a 13-yard touchdown pass to WR Plaxico Burress to cap the upset of the century, and the greatest Super Bowl of all-time.

Philadelphia Eagles End Title Drought, Win Super Bowl LII

The Eagles are the top dogs of the NFL.

Fly Eagles, fly.

After postseason disappointment after postseason disappointment, the Philadelphia Eagles ended their title drought and won Super Bowl LII 41-33 against the favored New England Patriots.

Sure, the Eagles looked dominant during the season, but their star 2nd year QB, Carson Wentz, suffered a torn ACL, MCL, and LCL in week 14. The Eagles limped into the playoffs with back-up QB Nick Foles. Everyone counted them out.

Many counted the Eagles out after 2nd year QB Carson Wentz was lost for the season due to injury.

But not the Eagles themselves. They embraced the role of the underdog literally throughout the postseason, donning dog masks whilst holding the favored Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings to 17 points total between the two, steam-rolling their way to Minneapolis for Super Bowl LII.

But people didn’t believe the Eagles could defeat the mighty New England Patriots, the NFL’s crown jewel franchise. One could hardly blame someone for believing New England would win the game. Patriots QB Tom Brady, head coach Bill Belichick, and owner Robert Kraft were making their eight Super Bowl appearance together. Who would bet against the golden boy and the hoodie? Their dynasty had seemingly no end in sight.

The trio of Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and Robert Kraft were making their 8th Super Bowl appearance together in Super Bowl LII.

But the Eagles put an end to the Patriots machine. Philadelphia’s offense moved the ball at will against the Patriots defense, as they gained 538 total yards of offense and scored 5 touchdowns. The most dazzling and gutsy of those touchdowns was a 4th down touchdown when Eagles TE Trey Burton tossed a touchdown pass to QB Nick Foles to put Philadelphia up 22-12 in the waning moments of the first half.

QB Nick Foles catches a touchdown pass from TE Trey Burton before the end of the first half to put the Eagles up 22-12.

But the Patriots didn’t stay down for long, as Tom Brady led three straight touchdown drives in the 2nd half, including a 4 yard TD pass to TE Rob Gronkowski to put New England up 33-32 with 9:22 left in the fourth quarter. Tom Brady did what he does best: lead a comeback.

But the Eagles had one last hurrah in them. Back-up QB Nick Foles then led the Eagles on 14 play, 75 yard touchdown drive that was capped off by a controversial 11-yard touchdown catch to TE Zach Ertz that took nearly 7 minutes off the clock. They inexplicably left Tom Brady too much time on the clock, however, as 2 minutes and 21 seconds remained in the game. If you remember the endings to Super Bowl XXXVI, XXXVIII, XLVIX, and LII, you know how this movie ends.

Zach Ertz’s go-ahead 11-yard touchdown catch was met with controversy due to the NFL’s catch/ no-catch rule.

But in a twist most movie executives would reject, the Eagles defense, which had been torched for most of the game and allowed New England to gain 638 yards on offense, made the big play to save the game. Eagles DE Brandon Graham sacked Brady and forced a fumble, which was recovered by Philadelphia DE Derek Barnett. Eagles rookie kicker Jake Elliott then made a 46-yard field goal to put the game out of reach.

Eagles DE Brandon Graham made the play to save the game by sacking Patriots QB Tom Brady and forcing a fumble that was recover by Philadelphia DE Derek Barnett.

After countless choke-jobs throughout the franchise’s history, particularly under the guidance of Andy Reid, it’s ironic a descendant of Reid’s coaching tree, Dough Peterson, was able to coach the Eagles to victory. He put together the perfect game plan: play ball control offense to keep the ball out of Brady’s hands, take shots down the field, and call every single “special” play every team has in their playbook, en route to the Eagles first Super Bowl in franchise history.

Back-up QB Nick Foles, who had considered retirement just years earlier after bouncing around the league as a journeyman and having lost his love for the game, played the game of his life. Foles threw for 373 yards and 3 touchdowns and caught another one to earn Super Bowl MVP honors. Make no mistake, this is still Carson Wentz’s team, but Foles rose to the occasion and played a huge role in Philadelphia’s victory.

Eagles QB Nick Foles won Super Bowl MVP honors for his performance in Super Bowl LII.

As improbable as their victory was, maybe we shouldn’t have reduced the Eagles success down to one player, QB Carson Wentz. Wentz was having an MVP season before going down with a season ending injury, but the Eagles proved why they were one of the best teams in the NFL this season with their magical postseason. This team is built to make another run at the Lombardi trophy, but the city of Philadelphia, whether it is still standing or not after the partying and rioting takes place, will enjoy this victory and remember it for generations.

The city of “Brotherly Love” loves playing the role of the underdog, having built a statue of the fictitious Rocky Balboa from the Rocky franchise, and the Eagles embraced this role during the postseason. If their victory in Super Bowl LII proves anything, it proves every dog has its day, even the Eagles and the city of Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie hoists the Lombardi Trophy during the Eagles post-game celebration after defeating the New England Patriots 41-33 in Super Bowl LII.

Bro-Picks Presents “The Predicta-Bowl”: Super Bowl 52 Preview

The least hyped Super Bowl in recent memory awaits.

This postseason in the NFL has more than made up for an otherwise lackluster regular season. It took us a while to get here, and some of it was agonizing to sit through, but we have arrived to the NFL season’s final destination: Super Bowl LII in the freezer known as Minneapolis, Minnesota.

For the 4th time in five seasons, the NFL’s big game features the number one seeds from each conference: the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles.

Many predicted the Patriots would be here at the start of the season. Despite a lackluster defense and even minimal signs of sure to be MVP 40 year old QB Tom Brady slowing down, New England once again ran through most of the AFC. Sure, they were in a dog fight in the AFC Championship game where they were without star TE Rob Gronkowski for an entire half due to a concussion, but even a game Jacksonville Jaguars couldn’t kill off the Patriots machine. Heck, not even alleged in house fighting between head coach Bill Belichick, QB Tom Brady, and owner Robert Kraft over who was supposed to be Brady’s successor, QB Jimmy Garoppolo, and Brady’s cult-ish training guru, Alex Guerrero could stop New England from making it to an NFL record 10th Super Bowl, the 8th among this regime.

Despite rumors of a rift between them, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, QB Tom Brady, and head coach Bill Belichick dominated the AFC once again and are set to partake in their 8th Super Bowl together.

The Eagles were a dominant force this season under the guidance of 2nd year QB Carson Wentz. Wentz and the Eagles looked unstoppable at times, as he threw 33 TDs and finished 2nd in the league in that category. He was first in the league at the time he suffered a torn ACL, MCL, and LCL, a devastating blow that led many, including myself, to believe the Eagles were done. But the Eagles embraced something they hadn’t considered the entire year until the NFL Playoffs: the role of the “underdog.”

Enter back-up QB Nick Foles, who was on his way to being a superstar QB with a 27 TD to 2 INT season with the Eagles in 2013 before bouncing around the league and pronounced done after failing to secure a starting job. Foles has filled in nicely this postseason, throwing for 598 yards and 3 TDs, and could be on his way to earning another starting job this offseason. The Eagles defense has also proven itself to be a main factor in their success this season, as their fourth ranked defense during the regular season has allowed only 17 points in two postseason games. The Eagles have proven they are more than their superstar QB by embracing their “underdog” status, and are a great team firing on all cylinders heading into Super Bowl 52 despite crushing injuries.

When many counted them out due to crippling injuries, the Eagles embraced the role of the underdog. If the playoffs are any indication, they are anything but underdogs in Super Bowl 52.


The Prediction:

2 Weeks ago: 1-1

Overall: 170-96

While there has been a lack of buildup to “The Big Game” due to being played in an icebox known as Minneapolis, Minnesota, Philadelphia QB Carson Wentz’s injury, and the prevailing notion the Eagles don’t stand a chance against the mighty Patriots, this will be a close game. The aforementioned Eagles defense is good enough to keep them in the game, and with offensive talent like WR Alston Jeffrey, RB Jay Ajayi, and TE Zach Ertz, the Eagles definitely boast better talent and position players. Had Carson Wentz been under center for Philadelphia, the Eagles would prevail and win their first Super Bowl in franchise history after a legacy of agony, defeat, and underachievement. But the most important position, QB, is dominated by this year’s MVP and perhaps the greatest QB of all time: Patriots QB Tom Brady. Throw in head coach Bill Belichick getting an extra week to game plan and prepare for an opponent, and you have to like the Patriots chances to hoist a 6th Lombardi trophy, a “Predicta-Bowl” result if there ever were one.

Winner and Final Score: Patriots 27 Eagles 23


The Hypocrisy of the Baseball Hall of Fame

It’s time for baseball to sleep in the bed they’ve made.

The Baseball Writers Association of America announced the players inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame Wednesday afternoon. The 4 players elected were Atlanta Braves lifer Chipper Jones, power hitter Vladimir Guerrero, home-run hitter Jim Thome, and pitching closer stalwart Trevor Hoffman. All players were legends, and very deserving of this recognition.

Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, and Vladimir Guerrero were those elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame’s class of 2018.

Two of the most egregious snubs from the list are 7 time Cy Young winner, Roger Clemens, and baseball’s all-time home-run champion, Barry Bonds. Neither received the 75% of “yes” votes necessary to qualify for induction, with Clemens and Bonds receiving 57% and 56% of the vote respectively.

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

It’s time for baseball to end the hypocrisy and let in all players who are worthy of the distinction whether or not they were linked to steroids. It’s pure hypocrisy for them to exclude such players, especially when the sport owes them for saving it.

Let’s flashback to 1994, when the owners of the MLB locked out the players, and a work stoppage ensued. The 1994 postseason was cancelled, and the strike leaked into the 1995 season with only 144 games being played. The MLB saw its attendance drop steeply by 20% during the 1995 season, and was the lowest attended season in decades. People were done with baseball. It was heading towards irrelevancy, much like the NHL and the MLS now suffer from today.

A view of the dwindling attendance in baseball during an Oakland A’s game during the 1995 season.

Then, something magical happened. The return of the home run, courtesy of Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, Jose Canseco, the list goes on and on. Who could forget the home run race between McGwire and Sosa in 1998, where both players broke the long standing home runs in a season record set by Yankees great Roger Maris, with both hitting over 61 home-runs that season. McGwire ended up with 70 home runs, the all-time mark at the time, and Sosa finished with 66. Three years later, Barry Bonds broke McGwire’s record of home-runs in a single season by hitting 73 dingers. Baseball attendance skyrocketed to over 70 million in 1998 and to over 72 million in 2001, compared to the abysmal 50 million in 1995. As a popular Nike commercial once noted, chicks dig the long ball.

Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire share a playful moment at a press conference during the 1998 season.

Years later, however, the now infamous 2005 book “Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big”, written by baseball slugger Jose Canseco, exposed many of the famous aforementioned players as steroid users. Later in 2005, Canseco and McGwire were among 11 baseball players and executives subpoenaed to testify at a congressional hearing on steroids. McGwire said he didn’t want to talk about the past that day. Rangers and Oriels power hitter Rafael Palmeiro pointed his finger at the judges overhearing the hearing and claimed he had never used steroids. Years later, more damaging books and reports, including “Game of Shadows” and the “Mitchell Report”, implicated many more baseball players of using performance enhancing drugs during what is now referred to as “The Steroid Era.” The Baseball Writers Association of America then decided to make an oath in their boys club to never allow in suspected or admitted steroid users into the Baseball Hall of Fame despite these player’s historic accomplishments, labeling them as “cheaters.”

Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, and Curt Schiling during the 2005 Congressional hearing on steroids.

For the record, a penalty system for using performance enhancing drugs did not exist in the MLB until 2003, after the McGwire-Sosa home-run race and Bond’s history making year. During the 1998 home-run race, a jar of androstenedione was found in McGwire’s locker, who then admitted he used steroid as a precursor and went on to hit a then record 70 home-runs that season. McGwire was not punished until now, where he isn’t even listed on the hall of fame ballot.

Is it really cheating if there’s not a policy? The man admitted he juiced, and baseball did nothing. They gladly allowed him to go on to have his historic season, while selling tickets and merchandise at historic rates because he and others revived a dying game. They allowed Bonds, a suspected steroid user involved in the BALCO scandal, to break that record with 73 home-runs. The drug testing policy he is now found “guilty” of by the MLB and the BBWAA had only been in place for four years by the time he retired with the all-time home-run mark of 762. The same goes for other admitted or suspected steroid users such as Sosa, Canseco, Palmeiro, Clemens, Curt Schilling, Larry Walker, ect. Baseball looked the other way and now doesn’t acknowledge their existence, let alone their accomplishments.

Yet, some suspected steroid users, such as Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, Jeff Bagwell, and Mike Piazza, were all elected into the Hall of Fame within a year of each other. The commissioner of the league during “The Steroid Era”, Bud Selig, was also elected to the Hall of Fame in 2017. And let’s not get into amphetamine users, also known as “greenies”, who are in the hall. From Willie Mays all the way down to the original home run king, Hank Aaron, they were all linked as users of this performance enhancing drug. The BBWAA welcomed those players into the hall with open arms, dishonesty at its finest.

The Baseball Hall of Fame’s 2017 induction ceremony featured inductees linked to steroids and the commissioner who presided over the league during “The Steroid Era.”

The BBWAA is essentially picking and choosing who they want to be in their boys club of silly plaques located in an area of Ohio people barely like passing through. At the same time, they are shunning those who participated in what they now consider baseball’s darkest age (*shouldn’t that be when African-Americans weren’t allowed to play?) from their super secret society. It’s absolute hogwash. Either acknowledge all of the greatest players who played at the highest level, or don’t have a hall of fame. It’s not called the “Hall of Favorites” or the “Hall of Preferences”, it’s called the “Hall of Fame”.

The sport reaped the benefits of Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, Sosa, Palmeiro, ect. for years and turned a blind eye when suspected performance enhancing drug use was involved, just like they did during the amphetamine era. Baseball raked in the money by selling jerseys, tickets, programs, and posters during “The Steroid Era”. They saw their once dismal attendance soar through the roof and breathe new life into a dying sport. The exclusion of accomplished players, particularly admitted or suspected steroid users, was made retroactively to appease baseball “purists” in name only like Joe Morgan, whose letter to Hall of Fame voters urging them not to vote for steroid users came across as a disingenuous middle-school girl passing a note to her friend to not like Becky anymore for the clothes she was wearing. The sport hasn’t given a dime back to all of those fans who bought jerseys, tickets, or cable T.V. packages for what they now conveniently label a “fraudulent” product. Their game would not be as popular today if it weren’t for these players and their “cheating.”

The time has come to abolish the antiquated voting system of the Baseball Hall of Fame and acknowledge all the game’s greatest players and record holders, not picking and choosing favorites like the cliques in Mean Girls. Barry Bonds is acknowledged by one of this year’s inductees, Chipper Jones, as “the best baseball player I’ve ever seen put on a uniform.” Roger Clemens won 7 Cy Youngs (*the most of all-time), won 354 games, and had 4,672 strikeouts. They’re arguably two of the best to ever take the field, and for a while baseball took advantage of their talent and supposed or even admitted drug use and parlayed it into dump-trucks of money and record attendance. You reap what you sow. It’s time for the plaques and the monuments to be made for these men, and for the hypocrisy of baseball to end.



Bro-Picks: AFC and NFC Championship Predictions

Football’s Fantastic Four.

The NFL’s conference championship weekend has arrived, and all four QBs playing this weekend have combined to make it to this round 12 times. (*Okay, all of those appearances are courtesy of New England Patriots QB Tom Brady, so what?*) Other than the Patriots, we’d be kidding ourselves if we thought these teams were going to make this far as late as last week, as no one expected the Jaguars make the Steelers look like dogs in Pittsburgh, the Eagles looked like they couldn’t complete a pass to save their lives with QB Nick Foles filling in for MVP candidate Carson Wentz, and the Vikings needed the  “Minneapolis Miracle”to upend the New Orleans Saints. The NFL’s regular season might have been outright terrible, but the NFL Playoffs have been nothing short of surprising and thrilling, and the AFC and NFC Championship match-ups could provide even more of those same qualities come Sunday.

Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots (3:05 P.M. E.S.T.)

Let start by apologizing to the Jacksonville Jaguars. I predicted you would go 3-13 this season and remain in the basement of the AFC. I highly doubted the Jaguars would be able to go into Heinz Field and knock off a superior Steelers team despite the fact they had done it earlier this season in week 5. The “Sacksonville” defense has been nothing short of stellar this postseason, as they have sacked the opposing team’s QB 4 times, have forced 4 turnovers, and have scored a defensive touchdown. Their defense is good enough to keep them in this game. Their rushing attack, led by rookie RB Leonard Fournette, has been a steady presence for the offense, scoring 3 touchdowns thus far. Even QB Blake Bortles has silenced some of the haters, making key throw after key throw and has even made plays with his legs en route to the Jaguars improbable postseason run.

However, despite all of the ruckus surrounding New England QB Tom Brady’s hand being injured, the Patriots are going to make it to their record 10th Super Bowl. Head coach Bill Belicheck takes the Jaguars seriously, (*unlike the Pittsburgh Steelers*), and is treating this game as if the Jags are going to pulverize the Pats. He does not want to be on the losing end a third time against Tom Coughlin, Jacksonville’s Executive VP of Football Operations, in big game spots such as these. As fitting as it would be to see the Jacksonville Jaguars, the NFL’s forgotten franchise, make it to the Super Bowl, it’s just not going to happen. Even with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s long running feud with the Patriots in mind, the NFL cannot afford Blake Bortles making a Super Bowl over the golden boy.

Winner: Patriots

Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles (6:40 P.M. E.S.T.)

Had QB Carson Wentz been playing this postseason, not only would the Eagles win this game, they’d win the Super Bowl. Sure, QB Nick Foles had one of the greatest NFL seasons ever with 27 TDs compared to just 2 interceptions back in 2013, but everyone had serious doubts he could fill in for Wentz and make it this far this postseason. Foles played mistake free football last week against the Falcons, and let his top ranked defense win the game for him. It’s true defense wins championships, and the Eagles have enough of it and the “underdog” motivation to surprise everyone by making the Super Bowl despite their crushing injuries.

It should be said, however, one of the only defenses to be better than the Eagles this season belonged to the Vikings, who were number one in total defense in 2017. The Vikings shutout Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints offense for a whole half last Sunday, and looked like an impenetrable wall. Sure, it took the “Minneapolis Miracle”, a 61-yard touchdown pass from QB Case Keenum to WR Stefon Diggs, to pull-out a victory, but that play precisely sums up the Vikings this season. People have doubted this team due to it’s lack of star-power, as its top-ranked defense is mostly nameless and their starting QB has been a journeyman in the NFL. The Vikings have been underdogs his entire season, and the opportunity to be the first team to ever play in their home stadium in a Super Bowl is too good of an opportunity to go to waste. Every dog has its day.

Winner: Vikings


Bro-Picks: NFL Divisional Round Predictions

One step closer to Minnesota.

Wild Card Weekend was predictably wild, but gave us some unexpected results. The great choke artist known as Andy Reid gave away yet another home playoff game as the Chiefs blew a 21-3 halftime lead and lost to the Titans 22-21, the Falcons beat the Rams by holding Los Angeles’ explosive offense to 13 points, the Jaguars barely squeaked by the Bills 10-3 in a battle of ineptitude, and the Saints pulled the hat trick by defeating the Panthers for the third time this season.

We have now arrived at the Divisional Round in the NFL Playoffs, where the top seeds in each conference finally get in on the action. The Patriots, Steelers, Eagles, and Vikings may have earned their high seeding during the regular season, but none of that means anything now that every teams’ season can be summed up by one simple phrase: Win, or go home.

Last Week: 3-1

Overall: 167-93

Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles (Saturday 4:35 P.M.)

Suddenly, the Atlanta Falcons have become the team no-one wants to see in the playoffs. Their defense is clicking, holding the league’s top offense in the Los Angeles Rams to a measly 13 points. The Falcons scored 26 points, and are undefeated when scoring 20 or more points this season. While the Eagles were experiencing a magical season behind MVP candidate QB Carson Wentz, Philly’s offense hasn’t clicked since Wentz tore his ACL in week 14. The Eagles cannot rely on the arm of backup QB Nick Foles to get them to Minnesota February 4th, and asking their 4th ranked defense to carry them to the Super Bowl is too tall of a task.

Winner: Falcons

Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots (Saturday 8:15 P.M.)

The Titans rode on the back of RB Derrick Henry, who rushed for 156 yards and a TD, and had the ball bounce their way, particularly on QB Marcus Mariota’s 1 yard TD pass to himself off a deflection, en route to an epic comeback win on the road last week at Kansas City. Hope they enjoyed it while it lasted. The Patriots will want to smack anyone in their way of another title, especially after reports of a power struggle between QB Tom Brady, head coach Bill Belichick, and owner Robert Kraft.

Winner: Patriots

Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers (Sunday 1:05 P.M.)

The Jaguars made the Steelers look convincingly ordinary back in their week 5 meeting. After Jaguars QB Blake Bortles rushed for more yards (*88*) than he passed for (*87*) in his playoff debut last week against the Bills, it’s safe to assume Jacksonville will have a much more difficult time beating the Steelers this time around. QB Ben Roethlisberger may have thrown 5 interceptions in their last match-up, but he knows how to win in spots such as these. Throw in the return of unanimous All-Pro WR Antonio Brown, and that spells doom for the vaunted “Sacksonville” defense.

Winner: Steelers

New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings (4:40 P.M.)

In a game where their one-two RB tandem of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kumara only rushed for 45 yards on 19 carries, Saints future Hall-of-Fame QB Drew Brees turned back the clock by passing for 376 yards and 2 TDs. If need be, Brees can still fling it. However, against a top-ranked but largely nameless defense in the Vikings, Brees will find it much more difficult to have another throwback performance. And with the prospect of being the first team to play in their home stadium in the Super Bowl for the first time in NFL history, the Vikings will be even more motivated to show their regular season dominance wasn’t a fluke, particularly their week 1 drubbing of the Saints.

Winner: Vikings