Monday Morning Locks

Monday, January 10th, 2011 at 12:10 AM
Monday Morning Locks by Alex Sibley

Billy Crystal was Sleepless in Seattle.

Me, I’m frustrated not at Seattle, it’s a beautiful city, my anger goes towards the Seahawks and their who-saw-it-coming win Saturday night.

The improbable victory over the reigning Super Bowl champs put an emphatic black eye on my week of picks.

Going back to my BCS picks, I correctly picked Stanford over Virginia Tech, which started a bit hairy with a close first half before Andrew Luck and the Cardinals took care of business in the final two quarters.

But from there, it just got out of hand and the losses piled more quickly than the lake effect snow that pummeled the Erie area over the weekend.

The Spurs couldn’t get it done in Boston, Arkansas decided to fall on the blocked punt instead of running the football into the end zone for a sure win. Seattle shocked the world and Michael Vick decided to play normal in the Eagles’ disappointing loss to the Packers last evening.

The only saving graces in my picks were the Jets beating the Colts and Baltimore disposing of Kansas City, bringing my season record to a mediocre 4-5.

So, I have one thing on my mind this week – redemption.

With another bushel of football games this weekend, I’m going to stick with the NFL. At one point in my life, this was my bread and butter. Hopefully last week was just a bump in the road.

Lock No. 1 – The New England Patriots.
If you didn’t notice, Rex Ryan sure was one happy guy after Nick Folk’s field goal went through the uprights, sending his Jets onto the Divisional Round.

Apparently he forgot who he was playing.

Ryan and his gang of misfits now have to travel to Foxborough and face the Tom Brady and the Pats. Yes, the same Pats that smeared the Jets 45-3 in their last meeting.

Brady hasn’t turned the ball over since 1985 and New England has been putting up points at will the majority of the season. Throw in the fact that the Jets’ defense hasn’t been consistent all season, you have to go with New England.

Lock No. 2 – The Pittsburgh Steelers.
These two teams knock the snot out of each other every time they clash on the gridiron. This game will be no different. These two hate each other and these games always appear to be settled by a field goal.

Big Ben and the Steelers’ offense is coming off a 41-9 thrashing of the Browns, while Baltimore breezed through the Wild Card round with a 30-7 win over Kansas City.

Don’t expect those numbers Saturday.

I have to give the edge to Pittsburgh. The defense usually plays well against Baltimore and Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco always seems overwhelmed against Pittsburgh in January football.
It will be close like it always is in this showdown, but I’ll take Pittsburgh in a narrow win on a freezing day at Heinz Field.

Lock No. 3 – The Chicago Bears.
There is one team other than Seattle that benefited more with the Seahawks unlikely victory, and that’s the Bears.

With Lovie Smith and his squad watching on Saturday, they now know that you can’t take the Seahawks lightly, like the Saints did.

New Orleans thought it pretty much had a bye into the next round, just a quick trip to Seattle to take care of a 7-9 team that shouldn’t be in the postseason.

Look how that turned out.

The Bears won’t do that. This week at practice will be filled with how to stop the sudden offensive juggernaut that the Seahawks have become – at least for a week. But more importantly the Bears don’t want to be embarrassed like the Saints were on Saturday.

It was a great game; the Seahawks earned a little respect for beating the champs. But don’t count on the Cinderella Story lasting another week.

The Bears’ defense is nasty and shouldn’t be surprised with anything that Seattle will throw at them.
Take the Bears.

Lock No. 4 – The Green Bay Packers.
A good team just got a heck of a lot better now that they can punish you not only with Aaron Rogers arm, but with James Starks legs.

Starks, a rookie, ran for 123 yards and gave stability to a Packers’ offense that has had to rely heavily on Rogers throughout the season.

Now, Green Bay has a showdown with the 14-2 Atlanta Falcons.

Atlanta appears to be a favorite, playing at home where quarterback Matt Ryan is 18-1 in his career.
But with a swarming defense that made Michael Vick uncomfortable all day and rejuvenated offensive attack that resembles the unit at the beginning of the year where a majority of the experts picked to win the Super Bowl, it seems like Atlanata might be in a bit of trouble.

I’m on the bandwagon and my cheeshead is firmly on the top of my skull. I’m taking the Pack.

Lock No. 5 – The Boston Bruins.
Well, Penguin fans, that time of the season seems to have arrived.

After starting hot and sitting in the top slot of the Eastern Conference the majority of the season, we’re now in our mid-winter slump.

Pittsburgh is without Sidney Crosby, who is nursing a concussion he suffered in the Winter Classic from a dirty hit, and the offense seems to be hurting as well. That was never more apparent in a 4-0 loss Saturday night to the Minnesota Wild.

No Crosby, no points against a good Bruins team.

Take Boston.

Season Record : 4-5

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