After a wildly entertaining—and often mind-boggling—18 weeks of football, Peter King is sticking with the Super Bowl pick he made at the start of it all: the Green Bay Packers. Here are the rest of King’s picks from this week’s SPORTS ILLUSTRATED:
Final Eight (Divisional Round)
AFC: No. 1 Denver Bronocs defeat No. 4 Baltimore Ravens
AFC: No. 2 New England Patriots defeat No. 3 Houston Texans
NFC: No. 5 Seattle Seahawks defeat No. 1 Atlanta Falcons
NFC: No. 3 Green Bay Packers defeat No. 2 San Francisco 49ers
Final Four (Championship Round)
AFC: No. 1 Denver Bronocs defeat No. 2 New England Patriots
NFC: No. 3 Green Bay Packers defeat No. 5 Seattle Seahawks
Green Bay Packers defeat Denver Bronocs
Here are Peter King’s picks for the Best of 2012 in the NFL:
MVP: Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota
Offensive player: Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota
Defensive player: J.J. Watt, DE, Houston
Offensive rookie: Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle
Defensive rookie: Bobby Wagner, LB, Seattle
Coach (tie): Bruce Arians, Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis
Comeback player (tie): Peyton Manning, QB, Denver; Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota
Executive: John Schneider, GM, Seattle.
It’s a perfect storm of a pinup: A last-gasp play seemingly interpreted in opposite ways by two replacement refs—patsies, really—working from a complex rule book. But the photo of the last play in the Monday Night Football game on Sept. 24 will force you to rethink the Packers-Seahawks finish, says Ben Reiter. “You never really know the life that a photograph is going to take on,” says Otto Greule, who took the photo. “That particular frame, to me it’s definitely a moment, an important moment. As far as the aesthetics, it’s kind of pedestrian. But I do like the context, showing the end zone, all the fans going ballistic page 62).”
While Greule’s photo is a fine one—clear, well-framed, exquisitely timed—it would not have been a sensation solely on its artistic merits. Context was everything. Analyzing the photo that precipitated the end of the NFL referee lockout, Ben Reiter digs into the story behind the now-iconic image, talking to the referees about why they made their decisions and how their lives have been changed by the controversy. Says Wayne Elliott, the referee who upheld the touchdown call: “It was the absolute biggest thrill of my life. I was making $225 a game in D-II football, without a travel allowance. I loved that. I would have done it forever. But if I had to sacrifice that to work seven weeks in the NFL? Man, it was amazing (page 66).”
The replacement officials, collectively, are the headache that won’t go away. Thanks to a labor standoff, the NFL has been using replacement refs who so far have shown themselves to be alarmingly mistake-prone, star-struck and shaky on the rule book. It’s easy to pick on the scabs and any casual viewer can snicker at the comedy of errors. But are these guys really that bad (page 48)?
The four quarterbacks on the regional covers of Sports Illustrated’s NFL Playoff Preview—Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, New England’s Tom Brady, New Orleans’s Drew Brees and Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger—have combined to win seven of the past 10 Super Bowls, including four Super Bowl MVP awards. Senior NFL writer Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) predicts that Brady and Brees will square off in a duel of record-breaking quarterbacks in Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis, with the Saints beating the Patriots 34–24. King’s complete predictions are listed below:
For the First Time Ever YOU Pick the Cover of Sports Illustrated By Choosing The Best Sports Moment of 2011Posted: December 9, 2011
For nearly 60 years the cover of Sports Illustrated has defined the story of the day in sports. Upon its release, the iconic cover image stirs a spectrum of passionate dialog, debate, celebration, criticism and for those who believe in jinxes, fear. But there has always been one constant in that the cover choice has rested in the hands of the SI editorial team. Today, that all changes. Beginning at 3:00 p.m. EST, sports fans can visit SI’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/sportsillustrated) to rank the top five sports moments from 2011 drawn from a selection of 15 images which correspond to the editorial staff’s selections for the best sports moments of 2011. The moment that receives the most votes will be featured on the cover of SI’s year-end issue. Voting begins today and will end on Friday, December 16th, the magazine cover that YOU picked will hit newsstands on Wednesday, December 21st.
Why is picking the cover a big deal? Listen to what some of the great athletes who have graced the cover had to say:
“To be on the cover of Sports Illustrated it’s kind of a stamp of approval that you’ve made it,” said Sugar Ray Leonard who has appeared on the SI cover 12 times.