Friday, January 04, 2013

Wild Card Predictions

I've been pretty bad at these the last few years, but dammit, that doesn't mean that I'll stop trying.  A broken clock is right twice a day, but a broken clock with a seconds hand is right four times a day, so I just need to keep trying.

Here we go, in chronological order, home team in CAPS.

Bengals over TEXANS

Bill Barnwell is smarter than me and he wrote this article for Grantland, basically taking 2,500 words to say this: Since a 16 game season isn't enough of a sample size to get a sense for whether or not a team is good or bad, then you also can't pick up any useful information from the last eight games, because that tells you even less.  Then something, something, the Texans are better all around, Andy Dalton is average, JJ Watt is awesome, and the game is in Houston.

Here's what I think: If 16 games aren't enough, then shouldn't you just go with the team that's playing the best in the recent past, since the game is being played tomorrow?  The Texans have not played well in the recent past and Cincinnati has.  The Bengals turned around their run defense, their front seven is solid, and, looking at their roster, they have one of the deepest secondaries in the NFL (Barnwell mentions this somewhere in the 8th paragraph or his 6th footnote, not sure which). 

If they can contain Arian Foster -- and I think they can -- Houston doesn't have enough weapons in the passing game to score against this secondary.  The Texans have a tough defense, but the wheels have started to come off a bit in the second half of the season.  If they can't force turnovers and Watt and company can't pressure Dalton, they don't have the cover guys on the back end to stay with AJ Green, even if they put two guys on him. 

Ultimately I think it's a close, low scoring game (take the under at 43 points) and the Bengals slog their way to victory.  At +283, the money line is damned attractive.  I'd take that, since I think Cincy wins outright, but I'd still take the Bengals to cover with the Texans favored by 4.5.

PACKERS over Vikings

Adrian Peterson is the best player in both brackets, but the Vikings don't have much else.  I think Christian Ponder is solidly OK and doesn't deserve all the heat that he's taken, but there's something to be said for the fact that Percy Harvin still leads this team in receptions and he hasn't played since Week 9.

Green Bay is a talented, focused, deep team that played its best football in November and December.  I think they're going to make a deep run.  If their defenders think to themselves, "We need to do everything possible and impossible to keep 28 from murdering us," they'll be able to contain him and Minnesota won't be able to keep pace.

These teams combined for 71 points in Week 17, so take the over (46) and I'm gonna say take the Packers to cover, even though 8 points is a hell of a big spread for division opponents.  If we were still doing NFL Pick Em, this would be my Lock of the Week.


It's the Mayflower Bowl, new Colts vs. old Colts, new Colts vs. old Browns, Ray Lewis' Retirement vs. Chuck Pagano's Leukemia.  There are a lot of storylines for what I think is going to be a pretty disappointing game for Indy fans.

I don't trust rookie quarterbacks in the playoffs, but I especially don't trust them in the playoffs on the road.  Luck's been riding his "suck for three quarters, then turn it on in the fourth" for a while now and, ultimately, I think... are you ready for this... his luck is going to run out on Saturday.

The Colts are a flawed team that took advantage of an easy schedule and made the playoffs.  Unlike the 2012 Steelers, they beat the teams they needed to beat and pulled off a couple shockers (like at home against Green Bay), and they finished 11-5.  Like the 2011 Steelers, they're not as good as their record and were able to skate by by beating some really crappy teams.  Like the 2011 Steelers, they're going to be one and done.

I think Luck has a bright future, but it doesn't begin on Sunday.  I don't think Baltimore is a dominant team, but I think that they have more than enough to beat Indy and a rookie quarterback that doesn't play particularly well on the road in the first place.

I'm thinking the Old Guard teaches the Young Upstarts a much-needed lesson in this one and it's all over but the crying by half time.  This game has the biggest point total of the weekend (take the Under at 47), but I think the hated Ravens also cover the seven point spread.  Something like 27-3 or 27-10 sounds about right to me.

REDSKINS over Seahawks

Remember that thing I said about not liking rookie quarterbacks in road playoff games?  Well, that, for starters.

Then there's the fact that the Redskins are home dogs, which is something that no team takes well.  Then there's the fact that Washington hasn't hosted a playoff game since 1999 and their fans are bound to be pretty fired up.

As magical as Russell Wilson has been this season, he's up against too many intangibles in this game, not the least of which is the equally magical RGIII.

Seattle also sucks on the road in general, but particularly this season. 

The best way for the Seahawks to win this game will be to do what they do -- play tough defense, establish the run early to set up the passing game, and beat on the opponent until there's nothing left.  Trouble is, I don't think they'll be able to do the first part, since their run defense is suspect.  The second part will be difficult because the Redskins have a surprisingly stout run defense.  But, if Seattle can accomplish the first two objectives, the third one will be relatively easy.  They grind Washington down like the Steelers did in Week 8.

I just don't see that happening.  I think the Redskins will come out firing on offense and defense.  I think they'll be able to mask the weaknesses in their secondary because Seattle rolls Wilson out a lot and the Washington defense will only need to cover half the field.

The Seahawks aren't built to overcome a big deficit and I think that's exactly where the Redskins will put them early in the game.  Both teams will jockey and fight for position from there, but the crowd and the pressure on Wilson will be too much for him to overcome and Washington will win a squeaker.

A money line of +230 is pretty sweet and I usually like to take home underdogs.  If you think Seattle is going to win, I'd still stay the hell away from a 3 point spread.  If they win, I don't think they win by more than a field goal.  Regardless, I'd take the Under (46) and run.  No matter who wins, I think this ends up being a low scoring game.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    Nice site, very informative. Would you please consider adding a link to my website on your page. We are happy to offer you a 10% discount to our Online Store if you do so. Please email me back and I would be happy to give you our link.