Last week’s picks weren’t a total disaster, so here we go again!
The NFL playoffs really start this weekend. Last week’s games were duds, other than Redskins-Seahawks. Before we dig into who wins and loses, let’s take a moment to whine.
I went 2-2 last week, which means if you bet with me you lost money. I apologise. But, it’s not my fault. We have a million NFL reporters tweeting every time Chip Kelly eats a sandwich, but somehow they all whiffed on the fact that Christian Ponder was seriously injured.
Moments before the Vikings took the field against the Packers, the NFL’s crack reporters got their butts into gear and told the world that Ponder’s arm was busted and Joe Webb was going to be the starter. Great. Really helpful.
All this shows is that when serious news needs to be kept quiet, it is. Keep this in mind when all these scoops and leaks about who’s getting hired or not for head coaching jobs comes out. All the leaks about Bill O’Brien, Chip Kelly, Dirk Koetter, et al, seem to do is make them guys richer.
News that could make you richer, like whether or not Ponder can play, is kept quiet. It’s a tough world. Whine completed, let’s move on to the picks!
Photo: CBS Sports
Baltimore Ravens are on the road against the Denver Broncos, who are 9.5 point favourites.Peyton Manning is 9-0 against the Baltimore Ravens. I suppose you could argue that means the Ravens are due for a win. I’m not going to do that, because it would be insane. Manning is going to torch these guys and easily cover the spread. It’s amazing that a year ago people thought he would never play again.
The lead pipe lock of the week: Broncos, -9.5
The Green Bay Packers are on the road against the San Francisco 40-Niners, who are 3 point favourites.
I could argue either side of this one.
Sometimes, the 49ers seem like the best team in the league. Other times, not so much. They essentially have a rookie quarterback who statistically appears to be the same as Alex Smith, but lacks the experience of playing in a big game. They also have the best coach in the league, Jim Harbaugh. The way he’s turned the Niners around is amazing.
The Packers were pre-season darlings. They stumbled in the beginning. But now they’re healthy. The offence is clicking. Their defence is pretty good. (Their coach, Mike McCarthy, is not impressive. He tried to challenge something that was already being reviewed.)
Harbaugh has had two weeks to develop a game plan against the Packers. You have to like his chances to out smart McCarthy. But one of the Niners most important defensive players, Justin Smith is dealing with an injury. Will the Niners be able to pressure Aaron Rodgers?
In the end I think the Packers step up and win this game. I believe Rodgers will be able to beat the Niners defence which is a little weakened by Smith’s injury. And with a bunch of receivers to deceive the defence, Rodgers will be able to air the ball out.
The Niners offence isn’t as impressive as people would have you believe. The Packers defence should keep it in check.
And, oh by the way, I almost forgot to mention that David Akers is a total mess for the Niners. The kicking game can’t be trusted.
The Matlock: Packers, +3
Photo: Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
The Seattle Seahawks are on the road against the Atlanta Falcons, who are 3 point favourites.Weirdly, the Seahawks are now seen amongst the smart-set as the league’s best team.
According to Football Outsider’s advanced statistic, DVOA, the Seahawks are the number one team in the league and have the best offence. The Falcons are the lowest rated team by DVOA in the playoffs. They have long been regarded as frauds who didn’t deserve the top seeding in the NFC.
The easy choice is to take the Seahawks and call it a day. There’s no need to over think this one. And yet, I can’t help but feel like the Falcons are going to win.
Can we really learn much from the Seahawks-Redskins game? The Seahawks were getting thumped by the Redskins until Robert Griffin III got hurt. Then they won against a one-legged player. Bravo. In that same game, Chris Clemons, one of the Seahawks most important defensive players was hurt. And, as good as Russell Wilson has played, he’s still a rookie.
As for the Falcons, it’s easy to make the case against them. Their big strength is their wide-receivers. They’re going against the best cornerbacks in the league, so that’s negated. Their defence has been shredded by the Carolina Panthers, who run an offence similar to the Seahawks.
The problem is, I can’t really make the case for the Falcons other than people are under rating them and Matty Ice is due for a win.
In the end, I’m going to make the easy choice and take the Seahawks. I think their strengths are stronger than the Falcons’ strengths.
The head lock: Seahawks +3
The Houston Texans are on the road against the New England Patriots, who are 9.5 point favourites.
The only argument I could see someone making in favour of the Texans is that when they were blown out by the Patriots a few weeks ago, there was a brief period in the second and third quarters where the Texans defence shut down Tom Brady. If they were able to figure it out for a little while, then surely they can do it for a long while, right? Wrong. The Patriots are the better team. Don’t bend over backwards trying to come up with reasons for them to lose.
The padlock: Patriots, -9.5
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