Previewing The 2012 NFL Divisional Playoffs (The Ballad Of Ricky-Bobby & Z.W.)

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 18: Quarterback Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos and quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots shake hands after an NFL game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on December 18, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The New England Patriots won, 41-23 (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

SBN Chicago's Z.W. Martin, Ricky O'Donnell and Bobby Loesch discuss one of the most exciting weekends in sports: The NFL Divisional Playoffs.

Back when us three bloggers were at T.U.P., Ricky and Bobby would do something called "The Ballad of Ricky-Bobby." It was basically a souped-up email exchange between bros talking sports. Bobby would throw up some pics, mess around in MS Paint, and the next thing you knew, The Ballad turned into one of T.U.P.'s best features. Plus, the title was so obviously ripped off from Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, it immediately was hysterical without further review. It also made me super jealous that I wasn't allowed in on it.

Thus, I decided to start it up again with a twist -- ME! It's a bit abridged compared to the original, but still rocking very hard. Each week, one of us three will ask the other two some questions about the sports world around us. The other two will answer the best they can. It will be super grand. Anywho, without further ado.... Today we discuss one of the most exciting weekend in sports: The NFL Divisional Playoffs.

Rbpinglogo_medium AND Z.W.!

Rickymug_medium

Ricky O'Donnell (@TUP_Ricky):

No less of any authority than the Internet's own Will Leitch has deemed the divisional round of the NFL playoffs one of the best sports weekends of the year. It's hard to argue. The fat has been trimmed, and the strong are all that survive. We're left with eight teams, each with varying degrees of flaw, who are loaded to the brim with talent, sound coaching, and contextual intrigue. There's the Packers' picture-perfect passing attack, San Francisco's impenetrable run defense, and New England's legacy of tacticool brilliance under Bill Belichick. There is also Timothy Tebow, he got name-checked on a new Rick Ross mixtape last week.

My question: what do we expect from the second round this weekend? Has Tebow's magic finally met it's logical conclusion? Is a Packers-Saints All Pass Everything collision course inevitable? Talk about it.

Zachmug_medium

Z.W. Martin (@ZWMartin):

So the best way to do this is to break it down by game, right? Right? Right. So lets do that.

Denver at New England

Since this game already happened nearly a month ago, I will just look to that for guidance. 41-23 Patriots... Tom Brady 23/34 320 yards, 2 touchdowns and no picks for a pretty 117.3 passer rating... Timmy Tebow 11/22 194 yards, zero and zero for a (HUGE for Tebow) 80.5 rating... 252 yards on the ground for Broncos... etc. (and by etc. I mean it went exactly as it was supposed to).

The one good thing that Tebow (typically) does is not turn the ball over. However, the worst thing about Football Jesus is that he limits the amount of points the Broncos are going to score from week-to-week. In eight of the 14 regular season games Tebow started, the Broncos could not break the 20 point plateau (18, 10, 17, 17, 16, 13, 14, 3). This will not cut it against any team that has Tom Brady as their QB (Patriots scored 30 or more 12 times). I don't care how bad the Patriots defense is, the Broncos cannot keep up with New England. It's pretty much that simple. Saying that, it still will be a joy to watch and hopefully we will get to see something like this again:

He's like Moses running away from the Egyptians* out there!

*Except Moses got away

Houston at Baltimore

I think these teams are, like, the same team. It will be fun to watch because, well, how can't this be a close game? It's going to be a battle of who can suck less -- or at least be the most mediocre -- between T.J. Yates and Joe Flacco. Everything else seems fairly even. Then again, one of them could have an A.J. McCarron-like showing and go off the hizzy (it's "hizzy", right? Ricky?) and really throw a wrench into my plans. But probably not because it's Joe Flacco and T.J. Yates.

Giants at Green Bay

I'm just going to say it because there will be a Giants fan out there who will take it seriously and I will get an email for it (it's called trolling, I think): Kid Manning will be the third best quarterback on either sideline come Sunday. Kidding(ish). Anywho, assuming everything is hunky-dory with Aaron Rodgers, the Packers will do their Packers thing and score at will, while Eli will do his Eli thing and throw a pick at the ABSOLUTE WORST TIME. Probably wont be that fun to watch after the half.

New Orleans at San Francisco

Man. Man? MAN?

I need some help with this game. It's like SUPER FUN TIME vs. it's 3rd and three, again? Bobby, what are your thoughts on this game? I can see it going in, like, 500 Days of Summer directions.

Bobbymug_medium

Bobby Loesch (@bobbystompy):

It's funny, my initial response when Ricky suggested this as one of the best sports weekends of the year was a scoff, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized he might be right. I mean, next week, we'll only have two professional football games to watch. Two. That prospect is terrifying. In many ways, this is our last hurrah. RIP, football. RIP, life.

Denver at New England

People can say or think what they want about Tim Tebow, but here's a broad statement: the Broncos won a close playoff game at home against a banged up team. The Pats already beat them in Denver by double digits. The Steelers also gave them a pretty solid blueprint of what not to do (cover zero = bad idea). As a Pats fan, I'm barely even nervous about this game. They should roll.

(And yes, I just found out this week the Pats haven't won a playoff game since their last appearance in the AFC title game, like, four years ago. Horrible.)

Houston at Baltimore

Least excited for this one, but I'm holding out hope it can be good. And can it really be 'good' without a Houston upset? That's a little unfair to Baltimore, but it sort of feels that way, no? The fear is Baltimore goes up something easy like 10-0 and the game feels all but over. No guarantees, but there's definitely potential for that. And as fun as all this passing is, it's kind of cool to see an old-school team like Houston having to rely on a strong ground game (even though they used to be able to do a little bit of both). Smash mouth ain't dead!

Giants at Green Bay

The game to end all games! Eli! A-Rod! Lambeau! Other stuff!

This is 5,000% my favorite game of the weekend. I love everything about it. The Giants really have nothing to lose, and, in the regular season, they basically went punch-for-punch with Green Bay. Lambast New York for being inconsistent all you want, but you've got to admire a team that is literally capable of anything. They're such a joy to watch.

New Orleans at San Francisco

Well, San Fran, are you frauds or not? I actually had a dream about this game last night. I can't forecast a final, but I can tell you Brees got intercepted on New Orelans' first drive. Take that to the bank!

This game hangs in that scary balance where if it's close it's good, but if New Orleans rolls, everyone will be like "well, yeah." It's a Diet version of Baltimore-Houston.

In conclusion, every game has bad potential, but I'd be blown away if we don't get at least two great ones.

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