The 2011 NFL postseason officially kicks off on Saturday (Jan. 7), and like the rest of us, many high-profile artists will be glued to their TV and rooting for their favorite team. To celebrate the NFL playoffs and get some predictions on the first-round matchups, Billboard.com spoke with eight artists about their favorite pro football teams and how they see their beloved teams faring in the race to the Super Bowl.
NEW YORK GIANTS (Waka Flocka Flame) vs. ATLANTA FALCONS (Roscoe Dash)
The Giants sealed their playoff spot on the final week of the season, while the Falcons have had another strong year after finishing with the top record in the NFC last season. Brick Squad rapper Waka Flocka Flame doesn't think Matt Ryan and the Falcons have a chance against his Giants, but his "No Hands" collaborator, upstart Atlanta MC Roscoe Dash, believes that ATL could get it done.
Waka Flocka Flame, New York Giants Fan
Billboard: The Giants sort of snuck into the playoffs and have a tough matchup against the Falcons. What do you see happening on Sunday?
We won. I already know we won. I just got off the phone with Eli Manning, he's like, "Man, you know we won, don't even watch the game. It's a waste of time. We won." They ain't even gonna practice because it's so easy.
That's crazy! I guess the Falcons aren't even a threat then.
They ain't got no chance of winning. Matt Ryan is a beginner. Eli Manning was great even before he touched the pro NFL game. When he came into the NFL, Peyton Manning disappeared.
So you see the Giants winning the Super Bowl this year?
Yeah, I honestly see it. It ain't gonna be easy, but I know we're gonna win. The Packers make the game look good, but they got flaws. Wait 'til they meet Eli.
Would you put Eli Manning in the same elite class of quarterbacks as Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady?
He's creeping right behind them! He's tapping on their shoulders; I've seen it in a couple of games. They're jogging, and we're running.
Who do you see the Giants facing in the Super Bowl? Will it be a rematch of 2008, with the Giants and Patriots?
I would love that. That's what I'm wishing for on my end.
Roscoe Dash, Atlanta Falcons Fan
How are you feeling about the Giants game?
I'm on edge, actually; I'm 50-50 on it. The Giants have impeccable defense, and I'm an Eli [Manning] fan, but Eli has his issues sometimes. I feel like, if they just keep putting pressure on him, he'll be forced to make mistakes. On the opposite side, we'll have to be on point as well, because they got Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck coming at Matt Ryan. We gotta make sure our line is there, we can't have any dropped passes… there's a lot of stuff we have to do.
The Falcons were the top seed in the NFC last year, but lost their first game. Do you feel like this is a better team than last year's team?
I feel like we've made some big additions to the team and are only getting better. As long as we're making progress, that's all that really matters to me.
Do you see them being able to beat teams like the Packers and Saints in the playoffs?
The Packers are gonna be a tough matchup for anybody -- they're really the team to beat right now. I don't think we'll have too much of a problem with New Orleans, just because we've played them so many times. That's a rivalry game, but I don't think we'll have any problem taking care of that.
How far do you think this Falcons team can go?
I think that we can probably make it to the second or third round. If we can get past New York this week, I think that we'll be straight for the next game. If we can beat a couple of good teams, we'll have momentum, and I know that we can beat tough teams in the playoffs whenever everybody's turned up.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (Birdman) vs. DETROIT LIONS (Danny Brown)
The Saints have rattled off eight wins in a row and look to return to the Super Bowl after winning the championship in 2010. The Detroit Lions aren't exactly experienced in the playoffs -- the last time they were in the postseason, Bill Clinton was the President -- but their high-powered offense is ready to deliver an upset. Cash Money founder and co-CEO Birdman feels good about his hometown Saints and Drew Brees' MVP chances, but Danny Brown wants the Lions to use some of their "weird luck" and earn the W.
Birdman, New Orleans Saints Fan
How are you feeling about the game?
I feel great. I think we should take care of business. We play great at home. So I'm excited, I think we should win that -- maybe not easily, but I think we should take that one.
The Lions have a pretty high-powered offense. Are you scared of seeing a bunch of Matthew Stafford-to-Calvin Johnson touchdowns?
I mean, Calvin and Stafford are both nice. But I think, with the blistering package that we bring, our offense is real high-powered. At the end of the day, I think the Saints' offense is gonna put up the most points, and I think the defense is gonna get the stops.
A lot of people are talking about Drew Brees being an MVP candidate. I know Aaron Rodgers has had an insane season, but do you see Brees possibly taking the award?
It could go either way. Aaron did have a great season -- I mean, [the Packers] lost one game this season -- but I think what Brees did with the team, as a unit… it could go either way. To me, both of them deserve it.
So you're thinking Co-MVP, like Peyton Manning and Steve McNair in 2003?
I don't think Drew deserves it over Rodgers, and I don't Rodgers deserves it over Drew. If it could go both ways, it should.
What are the Saints' chances to make it to the Super Bowl?
I think we're gonna get there. We just gotta get past the Cheeseheads! We gotta figure out how to go there in that weather, and take care of business. That's our only bump, but I think that we can get there.
Who do you see coming out of the AFC?
When it comes down to the come-down, Pittsburgh. I like New England, and the Ravens are strong too, but they don't put up enough points. I think it's Pittsburgh.
Danny Brown, Detroit Lions Fan
This is the Lions' first trip to the playoffs in 12 years.
Yeah, I mean, the whole city's is really excited about it. Detroit can be really messed up, so anytime something positive can start happening, it gives us something to be happy about. So I'm proud of them right now.
Were you a Lions fan growing up?
Always -- I think I'm more of a Lions fan than a fan of any other sports team here. Maybe it was just because of Barry Sanders -- Barry Sanders is pretty much the biggest sports player we've had in Detroit, like a Superman type of guy.
But over the last decade, the Lions have really struggled while the other Detroit teams have thrived: the Red Wings and Pistons have each won championships, and the Tigers made it to the World Series…
Even the Shock, the girls' basketball team, won the championship! They got one a few years ago.
Unfortunately, the Lions drew the Saints -- who might be in the hottest team in football -- in the first round. How do you like their chances?
I actually think they're gonna upset them. We're just that type of team. Some teams just have a type of weird luck, and this year we're the weird, lucky team. I feel like they might get it. But of course I'm gonna say that. (laughs)
Do you have confidence in playoff-unproven guys like Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson?
I have more confidence in Johnson than anybody. I think it's our defense that has the weird luck though. Expect a weird interception or something.
Are you a fan of Ndamukong Suh?
Yeah! He's my favorite player on the Lions right now.
Even after he stomped on a Packer's leg and got a two-game suspension?
Yeah, yeah! That's what the Lions need. That's what Detroit sports is about -- when you look back on all of our championship teams, they were bruisers! So to get it, that's how you gotta be coming from Detroit.
HOUSTON TEXANS (Slim Thug) vs. CINCINNATI BENGALS (Hi-Tek)
Although the Bengals are relying on a rookie quarterback, Andy Dalton, to lead them through the postseason, the Houston Texans must lean on a third-string quarterback, T.J. Yates, to guide their normally formidable offense. Houston rapper Slim Thug is happy to see his squad finally punch their ticket to the postseason, while hip-hop producer Hi-Tek thinks the Bengals could surprise some teams in the playoffs.
Slim Thug, Houston Texans Fan
The Texans had a great season going, but then quarterback Matt Schaub gets hurt and their backup Matt Leinart gets hurt, so now they're playing their third-stringer, T.J. Yates. Are you still confident in this team with Yates under center?
I gotta be confident. I mean, we lost Mario [Williams] too. But Dre [Andre Johnson] is back, and I think Dre could catch the ball if I was quarterback, so it doesn't matter. And if T.J. Yates shows up… I still have faith, especially against the Bengals. We're gonna make it past this week, for sure.
So you're not scared of Andy Dalton and A.J. Green?
Nah, I believe in my Texans. As long as we got [Arian] Foster out there, as long as we got Dre out there, I think we got a chance.
And the Texans' defense has really stepped it up this year, with Brian Cushing and Jonathan Joseph leading the charge.
Exactly. And we're still missing Mario! Just imagine if we had all our real players -- we probably would have had a perfect season! (laughs) We lost a couple of them, but I'm still not scared at all. We're gonna beat them Bengals for sure -- we're gonna beat the stripes off the Bengals!
Realistically, how far do you see these Texans going? Because after the Bengals, they'll have to play the Ravens, and then maybe the Patriots…
That might be a little tougher. But with Dre and Foster out there for us… I just believe in them so much, and I think we can pull it off.
This is the first time the franchise has ever made the playoffs. What does it mean to the city of Houston for them to get over that hump?
It means that we're finally established. For a long time we were a new team, and for so many seasons we had a lot of heartbreak. And now we're starting to become a solid team, and I think, next year, we're definitely gonna go to the Super Bowl. When everybody's right, we're going all the way.
Hi-Tek, Cincinnati Bengals Fan
The Bengals have a bunch of rookies and weren't expected to contend this year, but snuck into the playoffs. Were you surprised?
I loved this whole season, because it showed that it's not really about the names or celebrity, but about being a great team. And those rookies have promising futures as long as they stay focused, and they'll be a team that continues to get into the playoffs.
Their matchup against the Texans this week is pretty interesting -- they're a solid team, but their starting quarterback, Matt Schaub, is out for the year.
And we lost the last game we played against them by a point [20-19 on Dec. 11]. We were supposed to win that game, and we kind of let up. I think we should come out victorious on this one, though.
If they do beat the Bengals, how far do you think they can go in the playoffs?
In reality, I think we can win a couple of games and surprise a couple of teams. You never know -- the way the season has gone, things have been really unpredictable, with a lot of the teams you'd never expect to win beating better teams.
What team is the best bet to win the Super Bowl this year?
I'd have to go with Green Bay. I thought Detroit was a tough team, but Green Bay's backup [Matt Flynn] played against them last week and put some points on the board. They're gonna be tough to beat.
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