Time for more picks…
Well, Wild Card Week was fun, huh? Oh wait…the games were brutal. Nevermind…
Not only were the games tough to watch, but my one pick against the grain of the New York Giants upsetting the Green Bay Packers was woefully off. The G-Men actually looked pretty good early. But when they couldn’t get into the end zone and kept dropping passes, I think we all knew how the game was going to turn.
Let’s leave that all behind us and move on to the current week’s games:
Seattle at Atlanta (-4.5):
Atlanta had a week off last week, while Seattle played…ok, they didn’t expend much effort against the Lions, but they still had to play. Seattle is 3-4-1 on the road. They have to travel cross-country. They don’t have Earl Thomas. The Seahawks played a little unevenly down the stretch, while Atlanta won their last 4. Matt Ryan is probably going to be the MVP. Blah, blah, blah.
I don’t care about any of that.
The Falcons are a good team. They scored 540 points this year, 71 more than 2nd place New Orleans and 99 more than 3rd place New England. But they play their games indoors or in excellent weather…ideal conditions, of course. Ask Peyton Manning if that helps. You can also ask Peyton if it inflates the value of certain players (him), but that’s a story for another day.
Guess what? The Falcons also gave up 406 points. 6th most in the NFL. The top 5? New Orleans, San Francisco, New York Jets, Cleveland, San Diego. YIKES! Does anyone else see this?
The ‘hawks found a running game last week. Doug Baldwin is grabbing everything. Russell Wilson remains dangerous. The Seattle defense can’t be set back by one player, can they? It’s the playoffs.
This Seattle team and coaching staff knows the playoffs. The same can’t be said for the Atlanta side…yet anyway.
The way it adds up? Seattle, 38-27.
Houston at New England (-16):
Believe me, I have flashed back to the 2010 Divisional playoff game between the Patriots and New York Jets. Where the Jets took down a 14-2 Pats team. After the Pats demolished the Jets a month earlier.
Because of that I ponder, can the Texans show up and make it a game?
Well, the J-E-T-S were 11-5 that year. Mark Sanchez was a bum, but he only had to manage the game, make no mistakes and watch the running game and defense win it with him in the sidecar. Which is essentially what happened.
The Jets running game and defense of that year is better than the Texans’ version this year. No doubt in my mind.
There were two key plays early on the Patriots side that were uncharacteristic and costly in the scheme of things. First, after marching down the field, Tom Brady floated a ball to a running back that can’t catch (BenJarvus Green-Ellis) that was picked and returned a long way. Second, backup tight end Alge Crumpler dropped a pass in the end zone, with that drive then only resulting in a field goal. If the same things happen in the first quarter Saturday with LeGarrette Blount and Matt Lengel, then will I be a little nervous. But only then.
Nothing else really to talk about here. New England, 34-10. It could be more. But the Pats will just try to “get through” this one. And Belichick won’t want to run up the score on a former loyal lieutenant in Billy O’Brien once it presumably gets out of hand early. If Eric Mangini was the Texans coach, I may have predicted 66-3…
Green Bay at Dallas (-4.5):
No question Green Bay is on a roll. 6 straight wins to close the year and last week’s hammering of the Giants. Aaron Rodgers is also on a roll, as we all know.
Things get a little tougher for the Pack this week. Wait…a LOT tougher.
Part of me says that a rookie QB (Dak Prescott), a rookie RB (Ezekiel Elliott) and an average (at best) head coach (Jason Garrett) are not a good mix for the Cowboys as they enter the playoffs this year, despite a 13-3 regular season record.
But these kids are not normal rookies. And the team can win despite the coach if they have the talent…against lesser competition for sure. Look at what the Raiders did for Jack del Rio this year as one example.
The Packers’ defense stinks, especially the secondary. Giant receivers were wide open all day behind them last week, as noted above, the G-Men just didn’t take advantage of the situation. Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, Cole Beasley and the rest aren’t likely to follow suit.
The Pack also have zero running game and no Jordy Nelson.
The run is over. Dallas 37-24.
Pittsburgh at Kansas City (-1):
Toughest game to predict. Now there is going out on a limb. #2 vs #3, 1 point spread, weather concerns, etc. Nice job Captain Obvious.
If you asked me before the commencement of the playoffs that as a Patriot fan who was I most nervous about in the AFC, I would have said Pittsburgh. Hands down. Now? Not so sure. I normally would have kept laughing off Andy Reid, Alex Smith and the Chiefs as a whole. But they have crept into my head a little.
The Steelers won 7 in a row to end the regular season and then beat the Dolphins in their Wild Card game last week. None of the 8 games were against juggernauts however. Their defense seems to be subpar. But Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown scare the bejesus out of me.
Tyreek Hill is someone to be concerned about and Travis Kelce has had a helluva year. Spencer Ware in the backfield though? Meh. KC’s defense is undoubtedly better than the Steelers’ this year, but not exactly dominant. I suppose that could be partly because Justin Houston hasn’t played much this year due to injury and Derrick Johnson is out.
The Chiefs were 6-2 at home for the season, but it appears that playing at Arrowhead hasn’t scared many teams off. The 2 losses were to Tampa Bay and Tennessee, fringe playoff teams for sure, but still…they shouldn’t be winning games at a historically tough place to play. KC also narrowly beat the Jaguars and Saints at home this year too. Not what you would expect.
So…I don’t know. But in the end I am going with my gut. Pittsburgh, 27-24. I’m not sure the weather will have a ton of influence on the game on the field. Reid will undoubtedly have clock management issues. Smith will check down all day. And all that…
Last week: 3-1 (2-2 against the spread).
Posted on January 14, 2017, in Uncategorized and tagged Andy Reid, Antonio Brown, Atlanta Falcons, Ben Roethlisberger, Bill Belichick, Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys, Divisional Round, Ezekiel Elliott, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Jason Garrett, Kansas City Chiefs, Le'Veon Bell, Matt Ryan, New England Patriots, NFL Playoffs, Pittsburgh Steelers, Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks, Super Bowl, Tom Brady. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.