Here we go!
The NFL playoffs start this weekend. The wild card weekend is always a bit of a snooze, but still, playoffs!
Let’s preview and pick these four games.
Lines come via Vegas Insider.
The Carolina Panthers are 6.5-point favourites at home against the Arizona Cardinals.
I don’t think there’s a single person in the world picking the Cardinals to win this game. Cardinals’ quarterback Ryan Lindley has looked very bad in his first two starts.
I only saw Lindley’s game against the Seahawks. The Seahawks make even the best quarterbacks look bad, but Lindley was sailing passes, and missing open guys. The Cardinals drafted him in the sixth round in 2012, then cut him. He was on the San Diego practice squad when the Cardinals grabbed him to start. He’s, perhaps, the worst starting QB in playoff history.
The Panthers, on the other hand, have been hot. They have transformed themselves in the past month, and look like one of the best teams in the league. They have won four in a row. However, here’s who they have beaten during that stretch: The Falcons, the Browns, the Bucs, and the Saints.
That’s four terrible teams.
The Cardinals are led by Bruce Arians, one of the best coaches in the league. I think he realises that the defence will have to play well for the Cardinals to win. I think he realises he can’t let Ryan Lindley try to beat the Panthers. I think he comes up with a game plan that won’t let the Cardinals get blown out.
The pick: Cardinals +6.5
The Pittsburgh Steelers are 3-point favourites at home against the Baltimore Ravens
Here are the teams that beat the Steelers this year: The Jets, the Bucs, the Browns, and … the Ravens.
With the exception of the Ravens, those are three terrible teams. Those losses are so weird that they make it hard to trust the Steelers. But, we should trust them. They’re one of the best teams in the league.
If there’s a reason to think the Steelers lose this game it’s that running back Le’Veon Bell is out. He’s been a key piece of the offence all season.
Another reason to be worried: The Steelers and Ravens are divisional opponents who play each other twice a year, so the Ravens will be well prepared for the Steelers.
I don’t think either of those things are enough to make me pick the Ravens.
The pick: Steelers -3
The Indianapolis Colts are 3-point favourites at home against the Cincinnati Bengals
I honestly don’t have much in terms of analysis for this game. Here are my thoughts:
- Marvin Lewis’ Bengals are 0-5 in the playoffs. There’s two ways to interpret that stat. Either he’s going to lose again, and he can’t win. Or, he’s due for a win.
- This Bengals team is pretty good. It has a solid running game, a strong defence. And it’s looked good down the stretch.
- The Colts are the least respected playoff team going. The pundits say they are Andrew Luck, and little else.
- It sure seems like if the Bengals were ever going to finally get a playoff win, this would be the time.
- But, the Colts beat the Bengals 27-0 earlier this season.
- Logic says to pick the Bengals. They’re a more complete team, and they should have learned something from getting crushed earlier in the year.
- But, I hate logic.
The pick: Colts -3
The Dallas Cowboys are 6.5-point favourites at home against the Detroit Lions
Two thoughts on the Cowboys:
1. At the end of the season Tony Romo started to get some MVP buzz. This made no sense to me. Sure, he was great this season, but the reason Romo was great was because of DeMarco Murray. Murray was running all over teams, thus opening up the passing game, making life easier for Romo.
2. If the Cowboys weren’t the Cowboys, more people would be talking about them going to the Super Bowl. The Cowboys just blew out their last three opponents, two of which — the Colts and Eagles — had winning records for the season. The Cowboys beat Seattle in Seattle earlier this year. They Cowboys can run the ball, and they can throw the ball. They have an offensive system that’s slow moving and methodical. Why aren’t they getting Super Bowl buzz?
The Detroit Lions are the number one run defence in the league, so they match up well against the Cowboys. The Lions, arguably, have more talent than the Cowboys. However, Matthew Stafford is 0-17 on the road against winning teams.
This game will come down to Stafford/Calvin Johnson on the road against Tony Romo/Dez Bryant. I like Romo/Dez.
The pick: Cowboys -6.5
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