To further unenlighten you, I employ the NES classic “Tecmo Super Bowl” to predict the stats, trends and memorable moments of the opening playoff weekend of the 2013 NFL season.
After realizing that I had just witnessed the final weekend of one of the most bizarre NFL seasons in recent memory, I decided that I absolutely had to give lock-’em-down, signed-in-Sharpie picks for the entire second season. I’m starting with the Wild Card games.
In a season riddled (or blessed) with such excessive unpredictability, I wanted to provide something sure, safe and sound for the weary watcher. And because I feel that legitimate, thoroughly reasoned playoff predictions are far less disquieting than taking taking bets on which Pro Bowlers will pop their ACLs as they vie for the Lombardi Trophy, I turned to my old pal the NES.
On Friday, January 3rd, 1014, I let this classic machine do all the thinking so you don’t have to. (Well, not all the thinking, I represented one of the squads in each contest.) You are sincerely welcome in advance.
(5) Kansas City Chiefs at (4) Indianapolis Colts, AFC Wild Card, Saturday, 4:35 EST
Expect a scoreless first quarter to foreshadow the downfall of the once 9-0 Chiefs.
After Indy defers the ball until the second half, Kansas City will waste no time filling two plates at the A-Y-C-E Jamaal Charles buffet. The boys in red will promptly march down the field on their first two drives, but will sadly flail consecutive field goal attempts. The second miss will reinvigorate a Colts crowd that had been muzzled by a stingy KC run defense and few errant throws from Andrew Luck.
The Colts QB will bounce back like Jimmy Braddock and follow the second missed KC field goal with a TD bomb to T.Y. Hilton, his first of two on the day. Then, in an unexpected turn, one of the Chiefs’ upbacks—Knile Davis, most likely—will take the ensuing kickoff to the house (for the record, in the game this unlikely feat was accomplished by none other than the Nigerian Nightmare, Christian Okoye).
(At halftime, the game will be tied at 14 and you’ll be ready to stretch your legs and fill your tums. If you’re near College Park in Orlando, grab some Hubbly Bubbly grub. If anywhere else, pre-order a Jersey Mike’s Club Supreme with five minutes left in the second quarter. Either option will effectively absorb the six-pack of Anchor Steam you should’ve halved by this point.)
The third quarter (please note that I resisted the urge to use the word ‘stanza’ here, for reasons I cannot yet verbalize) belongs to the Baby Horses. Luck looks like a guy who could show the world a thing or two, while Chiefs QB Alex Smith looks like a guy who has fooled the watching world a few too many times already. Luck will find TE Coby Fleener for an easy touchdown grab and the game will be all but locked up at 28-14.
However, MVP candidate Charles will bust open a huge TD run to give long-deflated Chiefs fans a false glimmer of real hope. Charles is often called a ‘workhorse,’ but does that term really mean anything to anyone outside of New Mexico anymore? Let’s instead call him the ‘Weekend Kitchen Staff at Bonefish,’ because without this guy, what the hell do you really have? Overpriced, underwhelming drinks (Smith)? Boring yet functional brown paper table cloths (a tough, meat-and-potatoes defense that ultimately gets overpowered by determined opponents)? Oddly named menu options like The Angler’s Steak (DT Dontari Poe)?
In the end, the Colts win 28-21. and Charles begins to wonder if he’s the latest incarnation of an all-world RB forced to suffer the fate of a terminally mediocre team (think Barry Sanders/Steven Jackson/Curtis Martin on the Jets).
Bet these Numbers:
- 0 turnovers, combined
- Charles accounts for 200-plus yards from scrimmage
- Colts RB committee nets about 81 yards, but comes through at the right times
- Luck throws for 220 yards and 3 TDs
- Hilton scores 2 TDs on 131 yards receiving
(6) New Orleans Saints at (3) Philadelphia Eagles, NFC Wild Card, Saturday, 8:10 EST
What’s that you say? The Eagles are red-hot? QB Nick Foles is interception-proof? The Saints always fall from grace on the road and in the cold? Psssshhhawww.
Rob Ryan’s Kenny Vaccaro-less defense will pick off Napoleon Dynamite twice in the first quarter alone, doubling his season total and dooming the Eagles in a game where yardage will be tough to come by.
Foles’s targets will struggle to get open in the snow and the Saints defense will be fixated on shutting down superhero Eagles RB LeSean McCoy. ‘Shady’ will scrap for yards but will never scrape the goal line.
Saints QB Drew Brees won’t fare much better in the far-below-fair weather. His yardage total will pale in comparison to his season averages, but his favorite target—part-human-part skyscraper TE Jimmy Graham—will give him easy conversions in the red zone. The Saints, who will be without leading rusher Pierre Thomas, will lean heavily on former Heisman winner Mark Ingram and it’ll work out just fine because the Eagles defense is as toothless as a newborn or an NHL veteran—you decide.
In Chip Kelly’s playoff debut, his team in green falls short and Mark Ingram is nearly impossible to tackle (Ingram and his family can thank Craig “Ironhead” Heyward’s Tecmo likeness for this prediction), and the Saints D will seal the win with a safety in Foles’s last dropback of the day.
To the dismay of commentators and analysts who base all predictions on too-good-to-be-true trends, Brees and company win comfortable in the cold, 30-3.
bet these numbers:
- Foles throws 2 INTs
- Brees throws for less than 200 yards and 3 TDs
- Graham grabs two just-let-me-go-up-and-get-’em TDs
- Saints Coach Sean Payton gambles on an onside kick and loses
- Chip smiles exactly zero times
(6) San Diego Chargers at (3) Cincinnati Bengals, AFC Wild Card, Sunday, 1:05 EST
If you’ve wasted your time listening to the analysts instead of busting out the old NES, then you likely believe that both of these teams will implode through some mystical combination of futility, poor management and historically meaningless data. Do teams from beautiful locales usually do well in hideously frozen towns like MightaswellbeKentucky, Ohio? No. But is the lifetime record 0-863?
Absolutely not. Which is why we play the (NES) game.
Quick side note: In Tecmo Super Bowl, the Bengals are QBed by Boomer Esiason, who is (literally?) virtually unstoppable. He’s right up there with Joe Montana, Dan Marino and Jim Kelly in this game. They’re QB versions of Bo Jackson, though I wouldn’t dare call them his equivalent. Meanwhile, the Chargers have B.J. Tolliver under center, who might was well be the oldest McCown brother.
Moving on, the Bengals will show up to this game with bad intentions. They’ll pick off Rivers early, and the Cincy offense will cash in immediately with a 50-plus yard touchdown pass.
Marvin Lewis—who has tired of hearing about his teams being “soft”—will go commando and let ’em dangle in the far-below-freezing windchill by calling an onside kick on the following play. The Bengals will recover and the crowd will burst into a frosty frenzy.
In true Bengals fashion, they will fail to score on the ensuing drive.
Throughout the game, both Andy Dalton and Rivers will be able to move their teams. The difference will be the ability of the fellas in orange and black to step up as the field shrinks. The offense will strike when in range, and the defense will bend without breaking.
San Diego WR (and Offensive Rookie of the Year) Keenan Allen racks up the receiving yards, but will fail to make a crucial grab in the endzone. Chargers RB Ryan Mathews will break stuff and bust big runs throughout the game, but won’t stumble upon that fancy painted section until it’s far too late. To seal the deal, the ‘Red Rifle’ will score on a bootleg just to show BenJarvus Green-Ellis how unimpressive it is to be known for holding onto the ball while scoring TDs from an inch away.
Dalton flips his switch from hot to cold (at least temporarily) while Rivers’ escalating temper melts everything around him during the second half. The Bengals get that win they’ve wanted, and in impressive fashion with a final score of 42-10.
bet these numbers:
- Dalton throws for a neat 299 yards and 3 TDs.
- Dalton adds that running TD (I’m banking on that one!)
- Manti Te’o get absolutely smashed on a blindside block, and takes a moment to wonder (from his back) why he so regularly fails to recognize the crushing blows headed his way
- A.J. Green does what he feels like, to the tune of 175 yards receiving
- Mathews runs for 128 yards and a late TD.
- Bonus: After the game, Chargers S Eric Weddle immediately calls Jamaal Charles and asks if he’d interested in teaming up in search of a Super Bowl. In the offseason, they both decide to take their talents to the Dolphins.
(5) San Francisco 49ers at (4) Green Bay Packers, NFC Wild Card, Sunday, 4:40 EST
If the TSB gods have decided anything, then they have decided this: The Niners will obliterate the holy hell out of the Packers. You know how I know? This is the only game that I lost, and I didn’t just lose, I was dismantled in every facet except defending PATs.
That’s right. The only thing I did successfully as the TSB Green Bay Packers was block three San Francisco extra point attempts. I could say that I also blocked a field goal, but they promptly recovered it and ran it in for their first TD of the game. I don’t even know if that’s legal in the NFL, but it happened, so it will happen Sunday afternoon. With the undoubted help of RB Eddie Lacy’s bum ankle, the 49ers will quash the Green Bay running game into some sort of hyper-regionalized myth (“I swear I saw it, officer…I saw it last Sunday with my own two eyes!”)
This game will not—I repeat, will not— be a close affair. I like Packers QB Aaron Rodgers as much as the next football fan, but I also fail to ignore TSB decivsieness. The Niners utilize the legs of RB Frank Gore and QB Colin “Chicken Run” Kaepernick and a plethora of Green Bay turnovers to dominate in a 46-0 win.
Quick side note: I recognize how terrible this makes me in terms of video game ability. To clarify how bad things were, I was playing on preseason mode. I’ll leave my pride right here, so I know where to find it in case I ever need it again.
bet these numbers:
- Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter run for 1 billion yards
- 49ers score 2 special teams TDs (one on their own aforementioned blocked field goal, and the second when they kickoff to the Packers, jar the ball loose and then saunter into the endzone)
- Kaepernick completes 55 percent of his pass attempts
- A Niners DT scores a TD on a strip-sack fumble recovery
- 49ers WR Michael Crabtree cataches a 35-plus yard TD
Resulting Divisional Matchups
- (6) New Orleans Saints at (1) Seattle Seahawks
- (5) San Francisco 49ers at (2) Carolina Panthers
- (4) Indianapolis Colts at (1) Denver Broncos
- (3) Cincinnati Bengals at (2) New England Patriots
Oh the story lines! San Francisco and New England looking to avenge regular season losses! Peyton gets another crack at his old team! Brees and company look to continue defying the odds–and their own history–by taking down the 12th man in Seattle!
Tecmo Super Bowl has spoken, now let your voices be heard in the comments. ‘Til next time.