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NFL picks, Tice and Chili news, and Vikings hangovers

  • Blog Post by: Jim Souhan
  • January 20, 2012 - 5:54 PM

Mike Tice is set to interview for the Oakland Raiders' head coaching job. Brad Childress has interviewed in Tampa and could be on the Colts' list.

Make all the jokes you want about Tice's mistakes and Childress' foibles, but both became good NFL head coaches while on the job in Minnesota, and both will probably be even better if given a second chance.

Tice got blamed for the Love Boat scandal. I can tell you as someone who covered the Vikings for years that Tice's leadership had nothing to do with the scandal. The Vikings held similar parties for decades, it's just that while Tice was in charge, the players got caught having that party on a boat in front of people they had not paid off.

Tice deserves full blame for scalping Super Bowl tickets. That was stupid. But he's not the only NFL coach to do so, he was just the guy who got caught.

Tice helped the Vikings improve and took them to the playoffs with a very limited roster and a JV coaching staff, because Red McCombs, at that juncture of his ownership, did not want to pay for good people. Had Scott Linehan stayed and Matt Birk stayed healthy, Tice probably would have taken the team to the playoffs in consecutive years and would have been much harder to fire.

Childress went from 6-10 to 8-8 to 10-6 to 12-4 before Brett Favre and Randy Moss got him fired. He's a smart, talented coach who drove a lot of people inside and outside the Vikings' organization crazy, but I believe he gained a lot of perspective while he was here. Put him in the right organization, with a real general manager and clearly defined responsibilities, and I bet he wins a lot of games. Tampa Bay could be perfect, because they have a talented young quarterback, and finding and developing a quarterback was Childress' main problem in Minnesota.

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As for this weekend, here are my sure-to-backfire picks.

Ravens at Patriots:

I know the Ravens destroyed the Patriots in Foxboro the last time they met in the playoffs, but I believe this Ravens team has lots of problems that will doom it on Sunday.

The defense is old and a step slower than when it was a dominant unit. Joe Flacco is playing without confidence. And the Ravens don't scare anybody with their outside receivers. If Bill Belichick can find a way to rattle Flacco and control Ray Rice, the Ravens won't score many points.

Tom Brady is playing at a high level and can use Gronkowski and Hernandez to take advantage of the Ravens' diminished defensive speed. On defense, the Patriots had a terrible statistical season but are healthier now than they've been all year, and the return of Patrick Chung could make them more formidable.

I think this one's simple: The Patriots have a chance to score a lot of points, and the Ravens don't.

Patriots 27, Ravens 22.

Giants at 49ers:

Eli Manning is better than Alex Smith, and the Giants are the best and most complete team remaining in the playoffs. In researching my Sunday column, I found out that the Giants had the least rushing yards in the NFL this season. But they remain dangerous on the ground.

Modern sports championships are won by the hottest and healthiest teams, and the Giants qualify, just as the Packers did last year at this time.

As in the Patriots' game, I'm picking the team with the best chance to score a lot of points. As good as the 49ers' defense is, I think Manning uses this game to gain the kind of recognition usually reserved for his brother, Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees.

Giants 24, 49ers 16.

Upcoming: With Tom Pelissero headed to Mobile to cover the Vikings staff at the Senior Bowl, Joe Schmit will join me at the boat show to run Sunday Sports Talk, from 10-noon.

Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.

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