Wednesday, January 30, 2013


I have a confession to make. I need to come clean. I'm sure no one will be surprised, but ... I did not watch Obama's "re-inauguration." I've heard plenty about the festivities, though, and I've seen some of the transcripts of his speech. As usual, it all sounded good, but we all know from the last four years that he's good at talking and telling Americans what many of them want to hear. His problem is that generally his follow through is either weak or turns out being something that most of us didn't want. I've also realized you really need to listen to what he's not saying when he's talking - kinda like reading between the lines. What he's not saying is what's really important.

Beyonce (Photo credit: Ana Kelston)
Therefore, nothing related to Obama surprised me in regards to his re-inauguration. My bone to pick is with something that doesn't even involve him. I know, and have heard, all about him that I need to. My problem is with something else this time. That something else's name is Beyonce. With her, The Sheepdog's a little perturbed.

When I first learned that she lip-synched the national anthem, my initial reaction was, "No way. Who would do that ?" It was hard to believe. Then, as usual, I checked into it to verify it for myself. The more I read, the more I learned that yep - she did it. I think it's appalling and un-American. She was given an opportunity that most singers, and many Americans for that matter, would love to have - singing at a presidential inauguration. So, what did she do ? She faked it. That's just sorry and unpatriotic.

I've also seen reports that Beyonce's reason for faking the national anthem was because it was too cold. Really ? Ya gotta be kidding me. Scores of singers have sang the national anthem outside in the cold at sporting events through the years. I've seen it many times during NFL games either during the playoffs or regular season, particularly in the colder northern states. In fact, Aerosmith's Steven Tyler sang the national anthem in Foxboro, MA last year before the AFC Championship. So, what's Beyonce's problem ?

Beyonce's lip syncing the national anthem got me to thinking about all the American men and women who have served our country in the military over the years in harsh climates. I've read the stories and watched the movies of the frigid winters in Europe during World War II. More recently, our servicemen and women have braved the 130 degree heat in the Iraqi desert during the summer months. What would have happened if they had quit because it was too hot or too cold ? Well, consider the following :
  • In the case of World War II, we'd all likely be speaking German right now, and the Jewish race would be no more, if our military had quit due to the severe cold and deep snow.
  • In the case of Iraq, we'd likely have been hit with another 9/11 type attack, if our military had quit due to the 130 degree heat in the Iraqi desert in the middle of the summer. 
Our servicemen and women can brave those conditions and tough it out, but yet Beyonce can't spend four or five minutes in the Washington D.C. freezing winter weather singing the national anthem. She had that opportunity because those brave men and women from Europe in the '40s to Iraq now have fought to protect our freedoms and way of life. Her wimping out dishonored them. It's inexcusable. We're Americans. We don't quit because the climate's too harsh. We find a way to get it done - period.

John Mellencamp (singer, songwriter, and guita...
John Mellencamp (singer, songwriter, and guitarist) at Fort Sam Houston, Texas on January 29, 2007 for the official ribbon cutting ceremony of The Center for the Intrepid, a $50 million state-of-the-art physical rehabilitation facility designed for servicemembers wounded in operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Photo by Peter Rimar. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I'm not a Beyonce fan. Heck, I'm not into any of the current secular singers or bands. I grew up in the '80s. In my opinion, secular music went to pot after about 1993 or '94. Due to that, and Beyonce's national anthem lip syncing debacle, I can't help but wonder - couldn't the NFL have gotten somebody else for the Super Bowl XLVII halftime show ? Surely KISS, .38 Special, Heart, John Mellencamp, or somebody with some real talent is available. I mean ...  "C'mon man," as Chris Bermann and the guys on ESPN's NFL Countdown show would say, surely the NFL can do better than her.

I think I will boycott the Super Bowl XLVII halftime show and do something more constructive - like eating. I'll also be pulling for the Ravens to bring that Lombardi Trophy home to the AFC North and prevent the 49ers from tying my Steelers with six Super Bowl titles.    
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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

2012 Deer Season - Part 4, A Personal Best with AR Deer #2

Deer season in Tennessee ended for me at dark on January 6, 2013. I spent that afternoon afield hunting until the last legal minute. 2012 was a deer season I will never forget as the Lord really blessed me. There were the :
Each of those deer were special and unique. In fact, they allowed me to tie my previous personal best deer seasons of 2007 and 2008 in which I got four deer. They also put a little stress on me as I went into the last afternoon of the season wanting to get number five and break what amounted to a personal record. I also wanted to shoot a second deer with the AR15, because I wasn't thrilled about the way everything had worked out with the first one.

Deer (Photo credit: marttj)
Normally, deer hunting is just flat-out fun for me. The 2012 season had been just that - fun. However, since shooting the AR deer on November 24th, I had not seen a single deer. It was beginning to seem as if my shot at a record fifth deer and the completion of the AR deer hunting test was slipping away from me. It led to some pressure and stress - pressure and stress that I inadvertently was putting on myself, and I didn't like it.

On the afternoon of January 6th, my hunting buddy, Dennis, and I headed out to one of our usual spots. We decided to do our usual routine - try to push the deer out of the thicket, and then set up and hunt until dark. For those of you not familiar with the term "push" in regards to deer hunting, it's nothing more than when one hunter, the pusher, walks through the woods or a thicket trying to flush the deer. The trick is to get the deer to run in the direction of another hunter, called a stander, who then shoots the deer. Dennis did the pushing, as usual, and I was the stander, as usual. Dennis' push proved unsuccessful.

Normally, when we have pushed this location without success, it is a sign that the deer are not in the area. When you couple that with the 20+ MPH wind that was blowing, we figured we were just outta luck that day. We were tempted to load up and head home. However, we had driven about 20 miles, and we only had about 90 minutes of daylight and season left. We decided to stick it out.

Dennis went to the woods at the end of this large field to setup, and I went off to the right into a little woodlot. I thought it might be the place to be, because it was full of oak trees and there were plenty of acorns on the ground. So, good deer food was plentiful. I set my stool up against a big oak tree at 3 PM sharp. I started settling in, and then begin re-thinking my set-up. I wasn't happy with the visibility and shooting lanes I had. At most, I could see and shoot only about 25-30 yards in any direction. I was thinking about moving further over into the woods.

As I mentioned, the wind was blowing pretty hard. I couldn't hear anything. I couldn't differentiate between the sound of the wind blowing the leaves around vs. the sounds of squirrels playing. So, there was no way I could count on my ears to alert me to the sound of deer hooves in the leaves. I was going to have to count on my eyes. I didn't like it, as I prefer to use my ears first and my eyes second.

I decided to stay put. I was afraid that it was more risky to move, because a deer might see me than it was just to make the most of the spot I had. The biggest concern was that I had thin to thick brush all around me that I would have to shoot through, if a deer appeared. I had some real concerns about the ability of the AR's .223 bullet to go through the brush without being re-directed off target. I was afraid it could lead to me missing a deer. If I had been hunting with a larger caliber weapon, such as my muzzleloader, I wouldn't have given the brush a second thought.

The worst area of brush was to my right and in between me and a little, narrow strip of field which still had some green grass in it, even though it was January. I thought to myself, "With my luck, if a deer shows, it will come through there, and I'll have to shoot through that crap." However, since time was running out, I made the decision then, that even with the brush all around, I was gonna try to get a shot through it if an opportunity presented itself. If I didn't, I likely would not get another chance before the season closed.

I had not been sitting there 15 minutes when I see movement to my right at 2 o'clock. Sure enough it was deer. One, two, three, four, five of them. All does. They were moving fast right through that little strip of field where I had hoped they wouldn't go. I didn't worry about the brush. I knew I had to get on them quickly or they and my last chance of getting a deer before the season ended would be gone. I swung the AR around on the shooting stick, picked out the biggest deer, flipped off the safety, and went "baaahhhh, baaahhhh." They stopped in their tracks, and I squeezed the trigger. The AR barked. The deer took 3 or 4 steps forward and stopped. The one I shot at did not act like it had been hit. I shot again. This time they all took off running.

AR15 Deer #2 - January 6, 2013
I only had 45 minutes until dark, so I immediately got up to go pick up the blood trail. I remembered how scarce the blood trail had been on the first AR deer, so with daylight fading, I wanted to find this deer fast. I got to the edge of the woods and about 10 yards in front of me, on the other side of the narrow strip of field, laid one of the deer. She hadn't gone 10 yards. I had done it - deer #5, and a new personal record for deer shot in one season. To say I was happy would be an understatement. I realized very quickly that if I had moved further up in the woods like I considered, the shot would have been much tougher, if I would have had a shot at all. Just goes to show that you should always go with your first instinct, especially in hunting, and don't second guess yourself.

Since I had shot twice, though, I needed to check for blood and figure out if I had hit two deer. I looked and looked, but there was no blood anywhere. I went over to the downed deer to try to find a blood trail to her - nothing. I was now glad she had dropped quickly, because with no blood trail, it would have been extremely hard to find her. I spent the next 30 minutes looking the field and the bordering woods over to make sure no other deer had been hit. I found no other deer down. I went back to my stool and tried to re-visualize how everything went down. As I sat there and played it back in my head, I came to the conclusion that since the deer appeared unscathed after the first shot, the bullet must have hit the brush and been deflected off course. The second shot I took was one that I had to squeeze through a narrow opening between two trees. That was the one that connected since all the deer took off running immediately. I was now confident that I had only hit one deer.

My deer season was now over, and I had accomplished what I set out to do that day. I felt like I had just scored the winning touchdown with less than a minute to go in the game, and I hadn't cracked under the pressure I had put on myself. However, the more I thought about it, I realized that once again things had gone down so fast that I didn't have time to crack. I only had time to react based upon the things my dad had taught me years ago and my own experience gained through nearly 30 years of deer hunting. Better yet, when Dennis and I got the doe to Lebanon Locker for processing, I learned that she field dressed at 87 pounds making her the 3rd largest doe I had ever shot. She was a great one to not only end the season with but to set my record with, too.

After getting the election day buck, I had decided to turn the remainder of the season into a test session for the AR15. I had shot two deer with it. The first one with a 69-grain Remington, and the second with a 75-grain Hornady. Based upon my own research of ballistics data, these two rounds fall in the top five .223 cartridges made in terms of the amount of downrange energy put on the target. The first deer ran 100-150 yards leaving a minimal blood trail before dying. The second deer only made it 10 yards before dying but left no blood trail at all. Both rounds left me with concerns about their effectiveness even though both deer died and were recovered. I almost lost the one shot with the 69-grain bullet. The one shot with the 75 had died quickly, but what if it hadn't ? If it had run the distance the first one did, it's likely I never would have found it due to the lack of a blood trail. Then again, perhaps every deer shot with the Hornady would die that quickly, but I felt like that assumption was equivalent to assuming you would win the PowerBall every time you bought a ticket. Such an assumption was not only too much of a gamble, it was unrealistic.

So, what's an AR .223 deer hunter to do ? Well, if Mr. Obama and Congress let me keep mine, here's what I'm gonna do, and I suggest you do the same if you hunt with an AR in .223 or some other rifle chambered in .223. Even though I read several articles and ammunition reviews which praised the .223's deer worthiness before deciding to deer hunt with it, my 2012 experiences did not bear that research out. I shot both AR deer this year right through the vitals which should have provided good blood trails and been lethal very quickly. However, that did not happen.

Therefore, in future deer seasons, I will only shoot deer through the neck with the AR15. I would encourage anyone else who wants to hunt with a .223 to do the same. Do your homework and figure out which round your gun is most accurate with, whether it's the standard 55-grain or the heavyweight 75. My gun is most accurate with the 69-grain Remington providing baseball sized groups at 200 yards out of its 16-inch barrel. I figure that's pretty good and will consistently make neck shots easy and effective. So, that's what I will shoot going forward. Besides, with neck shots, accuracy is what's important, not the weight or knockdown power. Any deer shot in the neck is going down instantly with a broken neck and severed jugular vein because the .223 will start tumbling on impact. Therefore, no tracking will be necessary. It's probably the most humane way to harvest them.

Also, if you are worried about shooting a trophy buck in the neck and messing up the mount - don't be. In both deer I shot with the .223 this year, the entry wound was so small it was basically non-existent. The exit wound was about half the size of a dime. Any taxidermist worth his or her salt can patch those little, bitty holes up.

That wraps up The Sheepdog's 2012 deer season. It was fun, and I learned a lot. I learned things that I will use in 2013 and, Lord willing, beyond. Now, I'll take a little hunting break for a few months and then get after the turkeys. Hopefully, my luck will still be good come springtime. Gobble, gobble.  
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Friday, January 18, 2013

Crimes Stats Video

With the gun control debate going on, we are hearing a lot of talk about "crime rates." The problem is that depending on which side of the issue is providing the stats, the answers may differ. I suspect that this debate will not end any time soon. I also suspect that even though Mr. Obama, Mr. Biden, and others have voiced what they intend to do, they will not have the last word on the issue or get everything they want. I just hope that cool heads will prevail.

Today is another Firearms Friday. Therefore, I think it's the perfect time to share the video embedded below (or click here to watch) that a friend forwarded to me the other day. I think it's worth a watch and worth sharing, because it provides some interesting information and perspective that even I had not heard before. I also encourage you to take the time to verify the information the video provides. Who knows what else you may discover and learn.

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Monday, January 14, 2013

"Noize" Improves Your "Metal Health"

Over the weekend, The Sheepdog blog reached a new milestone. I have now reached the 50,000 pageviews mark. I want to take a moment and thank my friends Alice and Elizabeth for all their help in getting the blog up off the ground. Their initial "time investment" has been crucial in its success.

To celebrate this milestone, today's post, my first Music Monday of 2013, will crank up the volume with a double shot of Quiet Riot on this "Metal Monday." The band garnered its notoriety with the release of its album Metal Health in 1983. There were two huge singles on the album that shot it to #1. In fact, Metal Health was the first metal album to ever reach #1 and knocked another popular '80s band, The Police, from the top spot. The band's two huge singles from Metal Health are my featured videos for today.

Video #1 is of the band's hit "Cum On Feel the Noize." It is embedded below or can be watched by clicking here. Video #2 is of "Bang Your Head (Metal Health)." It is also embedded below or can be watched by clicking here.

So, crank it up and "Bang Your Head." I think the "Noize" will be good for your "Metal Health" as we start 2013. Trust me - I'm a Sheepdog.

Quiet Riot - Cum On Feel The Noize by Harun_Celik

Quiet Riot - Metal Health by Dan_of_the_Land
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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

2012 Deer Season - Part 3, The AR Deer

As I mentioned in a previous post, one of my goals for the 2012 deer season was to shoot my first deer with my AR15. In my New Year's post, I let the cat out of the bag by sharing that I did indeed achieve that goal. Today, I tell the story.

My Thanksgiving weekends are usually made up of three main things - eating, watching football, and deer hunting. 2012 was no different. I deer hunted Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.

Gary with his monster 11-pointer.
Myself and my hunting buddies, Dennis and Gary, were in the woods at 6 a.m. just before daylight broke on Saturday morning November 24th. We had barely gotten settled in good for the morning hunt when Gary shot at 6:30. I could see him in his treestand from my perch on top of a hill where I was tucked up under a cedar tree hoping to allude the eyes of any deer. It was the same perch I had shot the two does from on opening day of muzzleloader season just three weeks earlier. I watched Gary climb down out of his stand and a few minutes later he got on the radio letting us know that he had shot a monster buck. It turned out to be the largest deer, an 11-pointer, to ever come off the property we were hunting. I was proud of him. He has been trying and hoping for a deer like this for years. Gary was on Cloud 9. The deer was huge. I would have been floating, too.

Dennis and I decided to hunt for a couple of more hours. About 8:30, I see a deer coming toward me from the direction where Gary had been hunting. It's a good size deer, but it's a buck with 2-points on his left antler and his right antler is broken off about two inches up from his head. Apparently, the little dude got into a fight with a bigger buck, and it didn't turn out too good for him. I know immediately, I'm letting him walk hoping he will stick around for a couple of years and grow up.

Then, I hear something moving through the woods to my left. I know by the sound that it's a deer. I turn to my left and see a doe trotting through the woods headed toward this little buck. I know when she exits the woods, she will be about 70-75 yards away offering a perfect, easy shot. I had let the buck pass, but she's not gonna be so lucky. I've spent a lot of time studying ballistics on various .223 cartridges for over a year. I've also spent quite a bit of time at the range. Now, it's time for the payoff.

The doe stops beside a cedar tree I had ranged at 75 yards earlier in the morning. This is a piece of cake. I flip the safety off and squeeze the trigger. The AR barks, the doe buckles a little, and then takes off running for the cedar thicket below me. Crap. This is not gonna be a fun tracking job. The little buck wonders around in front of me, apparently not realizing what just happened to his "girlfriend." I think, "Dude, you better wise up, or you're not gonna live long enough to become a trophy buck."

When the AR bug bit me in the fall of 2011, I started doing my homework to decide which one would be best for me. I planned to use an AR for 3 things - target shooting, deer hunting, and home defense. Depending on who you talk to, you will get varying opinions on using an AR chambered in .223 for deer. I've read stories of guys using them effectively on large mule deer, so I figured it was enough for whitetails. I also knew from all the internet research I had done, and from talking to folks who had owned AR's for a while, that if I was gonna use one for deer hunting, I needed to use heavier weight .223 bullets in it. When I say heavier, I mean 62+ grains or heavier, not the standard 55. My research also showed me that in order to shoot the heavier bullets, I needed a faster twist barrel, such as 1:7, instead of the standard 1:9 in order to stablilize the heavier bullets adequately for the best accuracy.

I made a list of all the various AR manufacturers, including Armalite, DPMS, Bushmaster, Sig, Colt, Stag, Del-Ton, Rock River, etc. For each manufacturer, I went through and made another list consisting of the ARs they made that a scope could be mounted on easily, that weighed 7 pounds or less, had a 1:7 twist barrel, and had a lifetime warranty. I quickly eliminated all of them except Colt, Stag, and Sig. I then eliminated Colt, because they were more expensive and out of my budget range. That left Sig and Stag. I like Sig handguns a lot, so my first priority became to go look at a Sig AR.

I went and looked at two different Sig AR models - the M400 and the 516. I decided the 516 was too heavy and the M400's trigger was lousy. AR weight and trigger feel was very important in my decision. I've spoke of my muscular dystrophy many times on this blog. Due to that disease, I felt like the AR would be a great hunting weapon for me, due to the design's lightweight and compactness. It would be easier for someone like me to tote around in the woods and fields. Additionally, I wanted the trigger to be smooth, with no takeup, and pull weight to be less than six pounds. These characteristics would help with accuracy. I felt like if I was gonna use a smaller caliber round, like the .223, accuracy was even more important - bullet placement was everything. So, I was a little disappointed with the lousy trigger on the Sig M400. I knew I could change out the trigger, if I wanted. However, I had read horror stories about aftermarket triggers. Now, I'm down to the Stag.

Stag Arms had been making AR parts for the other AR manufacturers for years, but a few years ago they decided to start making complete guns. One of their newest models was what they referred to as the Model 3. It was a flat top which made scope mounting easy, only weighed six pounds, and could be ordered with the 1:7 rifle twist in something they called the "Plus Package." I found one at a local gun shop, looked at it, loved it, and ordered one with the Plus Package. Once I started shooting it, I loved it even more.

So, back to the doe. I had also done my homework on various .223 cartridges, as I mentioned earlier. I had settled on two possibilities for deer hunting - a 69 grain Remington and a 75 grain Hornady. At the range, the Remington provided the tightest groups. This round had worked well on deer for me in other calibers, so I decided to start with it.

Dennis, Gary, and I started looking for the doe. There was no blood where she was standing at the shot. However, she had lurched and stumbled when I fired before taking off running for the woods. I knew I had hit her and felt good about the placement. Dennis found some blood, a small amount, about twenty yards from where she had been shot. We began following the trail, finding a little here, and a little there. The blood trail was minimal at best. Occasionally, the blood trail would stop, and we would have to spend several minutes trying to pick it back up. After some 45 minutes of tracking the blood trail stopped. We couldn't find it again. I began to have flashbacks to the doe I had lost in 2010 after shooting it with my crossbow. I was beginning to feel sick. I couldn't bear the thought of losing another deer. I just couldn't.

The "AR Deer" - November 24, 2012
I said a few prayers, and a few minutes later Dennis yelled, "Dead deer !" He had found her ... finally. Thank God. We had been searching for an hour. I got over to her and saw that I had hit the deer perfectly - right behind the front leg, about halfway up the body. However, there was basically no entrance wound and the exit wound was smaller than a dime. When Dennis field dressed her, we saw that I had gotten a double lung hit. So, she shouldn't have run that far. What had happened ? Despite all the research I had done and found where others had great success with the .223, I didn't feel like my experience on this day was bearing all that out. Either the bullet didn't have enough punch, or this deer was just tough and had a great will to live. She had ran 100 yards from where I shot her before dying. I had never had a deer run more than 50 after being shot with other firearms. This was not acceptable to me.

I was relieved that we found her. I had accomplished my goal of getting a deer with my AR. She was my fourth deer of 2012 tying my personal best for number of deer shot in a single season. I had also gotten four in 2007 and 2008. However, questions remained about the .223's feasibility for deer hunting. I now had a decision to make, and three questions were going through my mind :
  1. Do I stick with it in hopes that this deer was just tough ? 
  2. Should I only take neck shots with the AR ?
  3. Should I try the 75 grain Hornady ?
After a ton of thought, prayer, and looking at ballistics charts again, my decision was to try the 75 grain Hornady next. If I had the problem again, I would re-evaluate ... again. I felt that the Hornady might be more successful, since it was a little faster and a little heavier. The problem was that my deer sightings had slowed down drastically. In the first four days of muzzleloader season, I saw 7 deer and shot 3 of them. Since I shot "The Election Day Buck," the two deer I saw on this day were the only ones I had seen. Would I even get another chance with the AR in 2012 ?

I sure hoped so. I needed to settle this ".223 Issue," but only time would tell.
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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Picking the 2013 NFL Playoffs and Super Bowl XLVII Champ

Last year, I went out on a limb and picked the NFL Playoffs from the first Wild-Card Weekend game all the way through Super Bowl XLVI. I didn't do well, either. I only got 3 out of 11 games right and didn't pick either of the two teams that played in the Super Bowl. Guess what ? I'm gonna try it again this year. Hopefully, the results will be better. After all, if at first you don't succeed, try, try, again. Right ?

Logo of the National Football League Playoffs,...
Logo of the National Football League Playoffs, 2011–present (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The 2012 NFL Season contained more than a few surprises. At the halfway point, the Chicago Bears were red-hot and looking like the team to beat. They didn't even make the playoffs. The N.Y. Giants won't get a chance to repeat as Super Bowl Champs. They were a dismal failure. Plus, who woulda thunk that the Washington Redskins would win the NFC East or that the Indianapolis Colts would make the playoffs with a rookie quarterback at the helm. It's a strange game.

I am disappointed that my Steelers flopped this year and didn't make the playoffs, but I felt like they got what they deserved. In my opinion, the losses to the pitiful Raiders, Browns, inconsistent Cowboys, and the hated Thugs a.k.a. Titans earned them an offseason at home. I did watch the last two weekends of games intently, though, because the outcomes would impact playoff seeds. When it was all said and done, my pick for Super Bowl Champ is a no-brainer, at least to me. So, I could make this a short post and just put it out there, but where would be the fun in that ?


NFC Wild-Card Games
  • #6 seed
    Washington DC
    Washington DC (Photo credit: ktylerconk)
    Minnesota Vikings @ #3 seed Green Bay Packers - These teams finished out the regular season last Sunday in a thriller in Minnesota. The Vikings needed the win to make the playoffs and got it done. Adrian Pedersen has had an awesome year carrying the Vikings into the playoffs on his legs alone. I think this one is close all the way to the final horn. I'm giving the edge to the Packers, though, for one reason - they're playing in Lambeau in January.
  • #5 seed Seattle Seahawks @ #4 seed Washington Redskins - I think this matchup could be the best game of the playoffs. Both teams come in red-hot with the Seahawks winning their last five games and the Redskins winning their last seven led by rookie quarterback Archie Griffin III and rookie running back Alfred Morris. The 'Skins and 'Hawks ranked 1st and 3rd in rushing offense this year. The 'Skins defense was good at stopping the run, while the 'Hawks defense was better against the pass. RGIII is not yet 100%, so I think the 'Skins will pound the ball on the ground against The Birds. Couple that with having homefield advantage, and I'll take Washington in a close one.
NFC Divisional Playoffs
  •  #3 seed Green Bay Packers @ #2 seed San Francisco 49ers - The 49ers have been a bit "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hydish" this year. They've beaten Green Bay at Lambeau and New England in Foxboro. However, they've struggled in losses to the Giants and Vikings, had a close win and a blowout loss against the Seahawks, and a loss and tie against the lowly St. Louis Rams. However, I'm not sure the Packers have got what it takes to avenge their loss to the 49ers earlier in the season, especially since they are playing in San Fran. The 49ers defense has played well carrying the team at times. So, I'm gonna take the 49ers in this game.
  • #4 seed Washington Redskins @ #1 seed Atlanta Falcons - This game is almost too easy to pick. Over the last few years, the Falcons have consistently had a great regular season and the #1 seed in the NFC Playoffs. However, they have also consistently "laid an egg" in the playoffs. There's no use taking much time to break this game down. This year is no different. The 'Skins will scalp the "Dirty Birds" in Atlanta to advance to the NFC Championship for the first time in 20 years.
NFC Championship - Washington Redskins @ San Francisco 49ers

As mentioned above, the 49ers have been a bit inconsistent this year. When you couple that with Frank Gore's slipping production at running back and the red-hot Redskins 8-game winning streak coming in, I think the 49ers are in trouble. The Redskins will "out-physical" the 49ers in a close game pulling off a big upset and preventing the 49ers from getting a shot at tying my Steelers with six Super Bowl titles.

I have been hard on the Redskins the last few years, referring to them as the "Deadskins" on multiple occasions. However, they have peaked at the right time. Perhaps all that money that Dan Snyder has spent over the years is finally paying off.

AFC Playoffs

AFC Wild-Card Games
  • #6 seed Cincinnati Bengals @ #3 seed Houston Texans - The Bengals are another team that is red-hot. They've won 7 of their last 8 and their last 3 in a row, which includes wins over their arch rivals Pittsburgh and Baltimore just to get into the playoffs. The Texans, on the other hand, have crashed hard losing 3 of their last 4, including a 42-14 lashing by the Patriots in Foxboro. This game is a rematch of Wild-Card Weekend last year when the Texans won by three touchdowns. Unfortunately for the Texans, after starting the season 11-1, their crashing continues and 2012 will be known as "The Season That Could've Been." They are one and done getting a bad case of cat scratch fever from the Bengals. The Bengals next stop is Denver.
  • #5 seed Indianapolis Colts @ #4 seed Baltimore Ravens - The Colts could be the surprise of the NFL this year. They've went from 2-14 in 2011 to 11-5 this year and made the playoffs with a rookie quarterback (Andrew Luck). The Ravens lost 4 of their last 5 to end the season. Until I learned of Ray Lewis' announcement that he would retire at the end of the Ravens playoff run, I intended to pick against the Ravens in this game. However, even though I can't stand Lewis due to being a Steelers fan, he has been the team's emotional leader for a long time. As much as I'd love to see Peyton Manning against the Colts in the playoffs, I think Lewis will get his team up for this game, Andrew's "Luck" will run out, and Baltimore advances to play the Patriots in Foxboro.
AFC Divisional Playoffs
  • #4
    Patriots World Champions banners at Gillette S...
    Patriots World Champions banners at Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Massachusetts, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
    seed Baltimore Ravens @ #2 seed New England Patriots - As much as I dislike Ray Lewis, I dislike Tom Brady even more. I think Ray Lewis gets his team up again sending Tom Brady's dream of matching his idol's, Joe Montana, four Super Bowl wins crashing into the frozen Foxboro turf. It will be enjoyable to watch Ray Lewis and company smack Brady around one last time. Bye, bye Brady. The Ravens are going to the AFC Championship.
  • #6 seed Cincinnati Bengals @ #1 seed Denver Broncos - Just as the Colts turnaround this year has been monumental, the Broncos improvement with the addition of Peyton Manning has been incredible as well. The Broncos made the playoffs as, in my opinion, a mediocre team last year. The team's decision to kick the non-NFL material quarterback named Tebow to the curb was the smartest thing the franchise has done in years. Manning's addition immediately turned them into a championship contender. The Bengals will be no match for the Broncos. "The Stallions" run wild all over "The Pussycats" by at least two touchdowns. Denver will host Baltimore in the AFC Championship.
AFC Championship - Baltimore Ravens @ Denver Broncos

English: Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis...
English: Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis at the 2008 regular season game against the Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Ravens made it to the AFC Championship on Ray Lewis' leadership, motivation, and raw emotion alone. They are down having played inconsistent football this year. As I mentioned earlier, if it hadn't been for Lewis' retirement announcement, I would have picked the Ravens to be one and done. The problem for the Ravens is that emotion will only take you so far.

Peyton Manning is pissed over how the Colts threw him out on his butt after his neck injury. He has a chip on his shoulder after carrying that franchise on his shoulders for years. Personally, I felt like he was done wrong. He has proved this year he can still play and is arguably the best quarterback in the NFL.

In this game, Manning will dissect the aging Ravens defense and undersized secondary handily leading to Ray Lewis' retirement beginning at the conclusion of this game. Manning earns a trip to his third Super Bowl with a chance to win his second if he can beat the re-hot Redskins.

Super Bowl XLVII
Washington Redskins
vs. Denver Broncos

Quarterback Peyton Manning talks with the pres...
Quarterback Peyton Manning talks with the press after the Indianapolis Colts met with President George W. Bush during their visit where they were honored for winning the 2007 NFL Super Bowl. Head coach Tony Dungy is behind Manning to the left. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In what will be the 25th Anniversary of the last time these two teams met in the Super Bowl, we will see a remarkable rookie quarterback (Archie Griffin III) against a proven veteran quarterback (Peyton Manning) who already owns one Super Bowl ring. When these two teams faced off in Super Bowl XXII, the Redskins were huge underdogs. The Broncos got off to a quick start in that game jumping ahead 10-0 early. However, in the second quarter, the Redskins scored 35 points on their way to a 42-10 win stunning the football world. Will Super Bowl XLVII be a repeat of that game ?

The answer is simple - no way, no how - absolutely not. Once the Broncos earned the #1 seed in the AFC, I knew who the Super Bowl XLVII Champion would be. It became a no-brainer. The Redskins have had a great, great run. Nobody expected them to get this far. However, as I mentioned earlier, Peyton Manning is pissed and taking it out on opposing defenses. The only thing that will make him happy is his second Lombardi Trophy. The game will be tight early, but Manning will eventually shred the "Deadskins" defense and teach RGIII a thing or two about playing quarterback in the NFL.

If Peyton Manning is not the NFL Comeback Player of the Year, I don't know who is. In Super Bowl XLVII, justice will be done. Peyton Manning will win his second Super Bowl, be awarded his second Super Bowl MVP, and bring the Broncos franchise it's third Lombardi Trophy.

Mark it down. You heard it from The Sheepdog first.    
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