What’s up, people? Happy New Year!
This week I’m talking Pro Bowl, the BCS Championship (bowl) and, with my playoff picks for this weekend, who’s getting one step closer to the Super Bowl.
When we started out 3-5, people thought there was no way we’d be a playoff team. We continued to fight all season, and we’re proud of our team and fans.
I’m very proud to make my second Pro Bowl. It was one of my goals, and although we wanted another win last weekend to reach the divisional round, we’ve got a lot to feel good about. Getting to the Pro Bowl is not just an individual thing for a receiver. You’re depending on so many other elements—your quarterback’s faith in you, getting your play called, your fellow receivers working hard and your offensive lineman protecting your quarterback—and as your team wins and achieves, individuals benefit.
We were 10-6 and won seven of our last eight, finishing the season with back-to-back wins over tough division rivals Pittsburgh and Baltimore. I saw our team grow as a family. When we started out 3-5, people thought there was no way we’d be a playoff team. We continued to fight all season, and we’re proud of our team and fans. And that playoff game was, like many NFL matchups, a game of inches. It was a tough defensive battle, but we had an opportunity to win in the last couple of minutes. Unfortunately, Andy and I just couldn’t hook up in the end zone. A game of inches! The next step is simple: get out of the first round!
Now, playing in the Pro Bowl is a lot of fun, but it’s also a great experience being around some of the guys you grew up watching and still admire, laughing with them, learning from them, hanging out in Hawaii. You see the level these legends consistently play at, and it helps raise your own game. It’s an eye-opener to see how hard some of these guys work. They don’t coast.
As for the BCS championship… when Alabama knocked off previously unbeaten Notre Dame, it meant the SEC won its seventh straight title. Says something about the strength of the conference, the great programs and the recruiting they do. And speaking of a game of inches, my Georgia Dawgs almost beat ’Bama in the SEC Championship game. It could’ve been Georgia going for the title. I wish there’d been a rematch of Georgia vs. Alabama, man!
Alright, I know you’ve been waiting for it, here are my divisional round playoff picks.
Ravens (10-6) @ Broncos (13-3)
We played both teams this season. And we’ve got Baltimore’s famed defensive strength against four-time MVP Peyton Manning and his terrific set of receivers. I see the Broncos coming out ahead. It’s challenging playing in Mile High Stadium, and their confidence is sky high. Look for a big game from someone like Demaryius Thomas.
Packers (11-5) @ 49ers (11-4-1)
Oh man, this is going to be a classic, two storied franchises and multi-time champs. It’s going to be tough against one of the NFL’s top defenses, but I’m picking fellow Made Man blogger Randall Cobb’s Packers to get it done. It’s going to come down to the quarterback play on both sides. I feel that Aaron Rodgers has what it takes to win. And Randall’s quite the player in a terrific Green Bay receiving corps.
Seahawks (11-5) @ Falcons (13-3)
Both teams are playing really well right now. I’ve got my man, wideout Julio Jones, on Atlanta’s great offense. And I think this may come down to quarterback play again, with Atlanta’s Matt Ryan on the NFC’s no. 1 seed with the edge.
Texans (12-4) @ Patriots (12-4)
The Texans played us tough, but they’re up against the NFL’s top offense. It’s always hard to go against Tom Brady and his experience and competitiveness. So I’m going with the Patriots.
They say defense wins championships, but sometimes both defenses can be so good that they can cancel each other out. So I say, watch out for quarterback play. That’s why I’m picking New England/ Denver and Green Bay/Atlanta in the two conference championships.
Meanwhile I’ll continue to work out in preparation for the Pro Bowl. I’d like to thank Who Dey Nation for their support. I feel good about the fight that we showed as a team, we’re coming together and we’re not done yet.
—As told to Ashley Jude Collie