Tagged with "Picks & Predictions"
Spec Sheet 2/15
Category: FEATURED
Tags: College Basketball Picks & Predictions

Spec Sheet Feburary 15th

“Your subject love is minimal, its sex for profit” Chuck D of Public Enemy.

Its no secret that im no fan of Valentines Day, I return to my true love basketball at this time of the year. As it stands now there is little movement though there are some teams that have pushed their way onto the working list. The list remain speculative and very fluid.

 

Atlantic Coast
(Conference Class-Power)
Solid: Miami Duke, North Carolina State,
Work to do: North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland
Skinny on the ACC: Miami and Duke are just about a safe as you could expect better than a month from selection Sunday. Now North Carolina is ahead of NC State and Virginia in the standing has the pedigree (and numbers to back) but they other than struggling to beat UNLV back in December have no signature wins (No they don’t go look at their schedule they have gotten beat by every ranked and name team that they have faced.) North Carolina State keep teetering toward the working ranks but have an ace that their in-state rivals don’t a signature win over Duke but that is starting to look small on the ledger and with few chances to garner more name wins, the Wolfpack need to keep winning. Maryland and Virginia are a pair of puzzling teams with high numbers but weird caveats. Virginia has a win a Wisconsin and are unbeaten so far against top 100 teams yet they have lost to three (count ‘em three!) Colonial teams including 3-22 Old Dominion (Ack!) but they are better off than Maryland who is even more on the fence with a nastier profile but 17 wins. This conference will get messier before things thresh out

Key Game: Duke at Maryland Saturday 9p  If the Terrapins want to turn heads they couldn’t pick a better team to come calling. Beating the #2 ranked Blue Devils would gain them some traction on the so-called bubble.

Projected Bids: 5

Atlantic Ten
Conference Class-Mid Major
Solid: Va. Commonwealth, Butler

Work to do: Saint Louis, LaSalle, Xavier

The Bulldogs took another puzzling loss and their bulletproof status is in jeopardy, though they are still ranked. The Rams are still on and the safer of the two solid squads, though there is a morass of teams (6 to be exact) within 2 games of the top slot. This scenario is far from settled.

Key Games: Charlotte at Saint Louis Saturday 7p  The Billikens had best be wary of the Niners who have coming off a win in Hinkle have no fear of road venues.

Projected Bids: 3

Big East
Conference Class-Power
Solid: Syracuse, Georgetown, Marquette, Louisville, Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Pitt

Work to do: St. Johns, Villanova
Big East Skinny: Not much movement here, The Bearcats stopped their skid and really haven’t ost their solid spot so the only jockeying is for the best position ahead of the Big East tourney and trying to garner one of the four coveted double bye in New York.  The Johnnies got housed in Louisville and their tourney chances are dwindling. Nova is in the same sinking boat.

Key Game: Pitt at Marquette Saturday 1p (CBS)  The Golden Eagles celebrate the 10th anniversary of their beloved 2003 Final Four team and host a hard charging Panther squad looking to solidify their top 4 conference standing.

Projected bids: 7

Big Ten
Conference Class-Power
Solid: Indiana, Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State, Illinois, Wisconsin
Work to do: Minnesota, Iowa
The word on the Big Ten is: The Illini are probably the one team that many people cant figure why they are solid and its not because they beat Indiana, they have the numbers and I cant find a bad loss but dang it if I solidfy Illinois I have to solidify Minnesota and I’d be more likely to do so for the Golden Gophers because of their monster SOS number (currently 3) and winning an ugly slugfest against Wisconsin but Ill leave them on the working line for now and joining them is Iowa who in spite of their ugly conference record still is in the conversaton

Key Game: Minnesota at Iowa  Sunday 2p (BTN) Coming off an emotional OT win, the Gophers face another archrival as both team need a win here.

Projected Bids: 6

Big 12
Conference Class-Power
Solid: Kansas, Oklahoma State, Kansas State
Work to do: Baylor, Iowa State, Oklahoma
Skinny from the heartland:  Kansas made all right in the Big 12 world by pounding K-State. The Wildcats and Pokes are in and safe.

Key Game: Oklahoma at Oklahoma State Saturday 1:30p  The Sooners could really force their way into the conversation with a win at Gallegher-Iba

Projected Bids: 5

Conference USA
Conference Class-Major
Solid: Memphis
Work to do: Central Florida, Tulsa, Southern Miss
Oh Say Can You C-USA Spec: Memphis is turning C-USA into the Tiger invitational…again. They hold a 2 game lead and now are the only solid team here. If Southern Miss doesn’t get it collective minds right, C-USA will be a one bid conference

Key Game: Southern Miss at East Carolina Saturday 5p The Golden Eagles need to start banking wins but Greenville is not the easiest of venues to win in.

Projected Bids: 1

Missouri Valley
Conference Class-Mid Major
Solid: Wichita State, Creighton
Work to do: Indiana State
Missouri Valley Skinny: The MVC gets more and more messy with each post. The Sycamores got zapped in Springfield and as it stands now the BlueJays and Shockers are co-leaders. This race will get tighter and tighter.

Key Game: Creighton at Evansville Saturday 3p(ESPNU) The Jays are just a game off the MVC lead but must be wary of the road upset.

Projected Bids: 2


Mountain West
Conference Class-Major
Solid: UNLV, San Diego State, Colorado State, New Mexico
Work to do: Air Force
Spec from the Mountains: The Lobos are still on top here, I still say the Aztecs are safe despite their loss to Colorado State but the Falcons profile is super shaky and they have no quality wins, that could change however…

Key Game: Colorado State at Air Force Saturday 4p This is a chance for Air Force to give their tourney resume some needed heft. The ranked Rams come calling on a five game win streak.

Projected Bids: 4


Pacific 12
Conference Class-Power
Solid: Oregon, UCLA,  Arizona
Work to do: Stanford, Arizona State, Colorado, Cal
Spec from the left coast: The Buffs avenged their much questioned buzzer beater loss against Arizona by taking the Wildcats back of the woodshed in front of a deliriously happy home crowd. They are now on the list but still with work to do. Also moving on to the list are the Golden Bears who thrashed their despised downstate namesake.  The Bruins are tottering toward the working side of the ledger but will stay solid for now, but if they stumble against Stanford they make have to move down.

Key Games: Arizona State at Colorado Saturday 9p (ESPNU). The Buffs best be careful after their emotional win that they don’t let down against a Sun Devils squad looking to bank solid wins of their own.

Projected Bids: 3



Southeastern
Conference Class-Power
Solid: Mizzou, Florida, UK
Work to do:  Ole Miss, Alabama
Spec is Down South: UK will make the tourney, they got too much juice (and rowdy fans) to miss it but their chances of a decent seed or a deep run took a damaging hit with the season ending knee injury to shot blocking rebounding beast of a fab frosh Nerlens Noel. The next time you that cat will be striding across the podium to get a dap and a hug from David Stern. Meanwhile Florida is in solid control of the SEC now with their win, Mizzou should have enough to hang on to a seed.  Neither Bama or Ole Miss have enough cred to be able to move up and need to continue to win out. Any loss would be damaging.

Key Game: Missouri at Arkansas 4p Saturday (ESPNU) The Tigers had best take care playing a Hogs squad that is still got designs of getting back to tourney considerations.

Projected Bids: 4


Western Athletic
Conference Class- Major
Solid: Louisiana Tech
Work to do: New Mexico State, Denver
Spec on the WAC: The Bulldogs are rolling off wins with an almost boring regularity and the Aggies need to keep winning themselves to keep Tech in shouting distance. The Pioneers are a good team no one talks about but they may need to win out and get deep in the WAC tourney to get any notice.

Key Game: New Mexico State at Utah State Saturday 11p (ESPNU) The Aggies need to keep winning to keep the Bulldogs in sight and keep Denver from passing them. Not an easy roadie in Logan to do so.

Projected Bids: 2

West Coast
Conference Class- Mid Major
Solid: St. Marys, Gonzaga
Work to do: BYU
West Coast Spec: The Bulldogs are making a case not for tourney entry but a number 1 seed. This is probably the best team that you’ve never heard of. Im still good on the Gaels despite taking a loss at home.  The Cougars are fading badly after getting housed by a middling San Francisco and may need to win out to have any real chance.

Key Game: St. Mary’s at Loyola Marymount Saturday 4p The Gaels need to bounce back strong to keep in shouting distance of the Bulldogs and the #2 seed in the WCC

Projected Bids: 2

There are others in the mix to be sure. Teams from the always dangerous Colonial and Big South always are in the mix and can send multiple teams. Of course the champions from the following conferences get an automatic bid: Amer. East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big West, Horizon, Ivy, MAC, MAAC, MEAC, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Sun Belt, Summit, and SWAC projected bids from these conferences will be posted here starting February 21st

Since this is still early spec, nothing here is solid and we haven't even brought up the possibility of upsets. But those never happen, right?

Next Spec Sheet:  Feb 19

 

NCAA Spec Sheet 2-8
Category: NCAA
Tags: NCAA Basketball Picks & Predictions

 

 

It’s February and the stretch drive to the NCAA Men’s tournament is under way. For the 9th season, I bring you the Sheet of Speculation on the NCAA tournament. Call it the Spec Sheet for short. From now until NCAA selection show on March 17th, I will speculate on who I think will fill the 68 slots for the NCAA tourney. I don’t worry much about seeding; it’s who I think will get in. For right now, the teams are classified into two groups. Solid teams are on good track to make the tourney, and Work to do are teams that have a good shot but need to buff up their respective resumes to see their names among the chosen ones.

 

Atlantic Coast
(Conference Class-Power)
Solid: Miami Duke, North Carolina State,
Work to do: North Carolina, Virginia
Skinny on the ACC: Miami is the bully on the block this year, ask Duke who went to Coral Gables and got housed, ask NC who had the Canes come into the Dean Dome and dominate. Now ask NC State who lost a thrilling duel in Raleigh. The Canes are for real and it the Heels and Cavs who are scrambling for credibility.

Key Game: Virginia at Maryland Sunday 1p The Terps lack a quality win and the Cavs are needing to put some distance between them and a middling ACC pack

Projected Bids: 5

Atlantic Ten
Conference Class-Mid Major
Solid: Va. Commonwealth, Butler

Work to do: Charlotte, Saint Louis, LaSalle
The A-10 Spec is: The two newcomers in the conference are highly enjoying being the bully. The Bulldogs are ranked and the Rams should be. I think that they are solid for the tourney. Now the Niners, Billikens and Explorers might have something to say about this but the latter three need to keep banking wins to bulk their resume

Key Games: Va. Commonwealth at Charlotte. Saturday 7p  The Rams will find out how dangerous a road venue Halton Arena is. The Niners who have tourney aspirations themselves would love to take the Rams down and bulk their own resume in the process.

Projected Bids: 2

Big East
Conference Class-Power
Solid: Syracuse, Georgetown, Marquette, Louisville, Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Pitt

Work to do: St. Johns, Villanova
Big East Skinny: The Big East is having a nice last hurrah. The Cuse, Cards, Bearcats, Hoyas Iris, Golden Eagles and Panthers are on solid ground. Yes that is seven teams out the box. As of right now, it’s the haves and have nots in this conference. All the teams that I mentioned are ranked. UConn is only playing spoiler, since they are banned from the tourney this year. Most teams have to avoid taking dumb losses as the Bearcats did on Wednesday at Providence

Key Game: St. John’s at Syracuse Sunday 3p (ESPN)  The Johnnies need another signature road win, the Orange have a 36 game win streak at home…good luck.

Projected bids: 7

Big Ten
Conference Class-Power
Solid: Indiana, Michigan, Ohio State, Minnesota, Michigan State, Wisconsin
Work to do: Illinois, Purdue
The word on the Big Ten is: This is the elite league this year, the Hoosiers and Wolverines are top 5 and just about as safe as you could imagine. The Bucks, Spartans, and Gophers are ranked and are on pretty solid ground. The Badgers are the only unranked team here but I think that they are pretty safe but they could use a big win. Clown on the Illini’s 3-7 conference record but their stunning upset of the top ranked Hoosiers at the buzzer keeps them in the conversation.

Key Game: Michigan at Wisconsin  Saturday Noon (ESPN) The Badgers would more or less make themselves bulletproof with a third win over a ranked team

Projected Bids: 6

Big 12
Conference Class-Power
Solid: Kansas, Oklahoma State, Kansas State
Work to do: Baylor, Iowa State, Oklahoma
Skinny from the heartland:  Baylor and Oklahoma State played an absolute thriller not decided till the Pokes Markel Brown went coast to coast to a winning layup with .2 seconds to win it. The win keeps the Pokes hard on the Jayhawks (who are way safe as usual) heels in the Big 12. The Bears still need wins to build on. I’m not real sold on Iowa State yet, though I’ve always been fond of Fred “The Mayor” Hoiberg’s coaching

Key Game: Kansas at Oklahoma Saturday 2p The Sooners have a single digit strength of schedule but no real signature win…but beating the Jayhawks would take care of that

Projected Bids: 5

Conference USA
Conference Class-Major
Solid: Southern Miss
Work to do: Central Florida, Memphis, Tulsa
Oh Say Can You C-USA Spec: Memphis is unbeaten in conference but their numbers outside of conference is so-so. They have no signature out of conference wins but no bad losses. Southern Miss has solid numbers but the C-USA is weak beyond them. Is this a one bid conference? I’ll put them down for 2 but there’s nothing ironclad

Key Game: Memphis at Southern Miss Saturday 8p Can the Golden Eagles slow down their longtime archrivals? Hattiesburg has long been a tough win for the visiting Tigers.

Projected Bids: 2


Missouri Valley
Conference Class-Mid Major
Solid: Creighton
Work to do: Wichita State, Indiana State
Missouri Valley Skinny: The MVC is one of my favorite so-called Mid-Major and is always a fun watch. This conference has a ranked team in Creighton and despite a loss on Wednesday The Jays are way way safe but the Shockers took a bad loss to Southern Illinois and need to bank more wins to overshadow this hideous loss. The Sycamores are on the fringe and have a rout of the aforementioned Jays to put on their resume. They have as many good wins (Ole Miss Miami-FL) as horrid losses (Morehead and Drake) so they have plenty of work in front of them.

Key Game: Illinois State at Creighton Saturday 10p The Jays are in need of a bounceback but the Redbirds are just good enough to make it a tough home game

Projected Bids: 2


Mountain West
Conference Class-Major
Solid: New Mexico
Work to do: UNLV, San Diego State, Colorado State, Air Force
Spec from the Mountains: The Lobos are the ranked team but there are plenty of teams that could make a major move. The Rebels and Aztecs are the prime suspects here. But there are as many as 5 teams that could come out of this conference. Seriously they could have more than either the storied SEC or PAC12 and deserve it.

Key Game: New Mexico at UNLV Saturday 4p The Rebels could use the win to tighten the conference standings and get a signature win.

Projected Bids: 4


Pacific 12
Conference Class-Power
Solid: Oregon, Arizona
Work to do: Stanford, UCLA, Arizona State
Spec from the left coast: The Pac-12 has a couple top notch teams but after Arizona and Oregon it really falls off. I don’t trust UCLA any further than I can say Pauley Pavilion (It should be called Wooden Arena) but their buzzer beater against the U-Dub keeps them from another bad loss. The Sun Devils and the Cardinal really lack signature wins.

Key Games: Stanford at Arizona State Saturday 7p. Both teams need the win to be taken more seriously as legit tourney contenders
Projected Bids: 3



Southeastern
Conference Class-Power
Solid: Mizzou, Florida
Work to do: Arkansas, UK, Ole Miss, Alabama
Spec is Down South: Yeah, I know the loss to Arkansas was ugly but the Gators are not in any kind of danger. Mizzou has made a nice transition to the SEC from the Big 12 and are playing well. They too are pretty safe The Hogs still have work to do but that win will go far. Ole Miss and Bama all really lack a signature win. Kentucky? (Long sigh) they are hanging around the peripheral but their tourney ticket is far from a lock. If they keep putting up solid wins they will be in better shape

Key Game: Mississippi St at Florida Saturday 5p The Gators need to bounce back strong and not get caught looking ahead to a visit from UK next week.
Projected Bids: 4


Western Athletic
Conference Class- Major
Solid: Louisiana Tech
Work to do: New Mexico State,
Spec on the WAC: The Bulldogs are the bully here, but they have a super weak schedule which their glittering unbeaten conference slate isn’t going to overshadow. The Aggies are 10-2 in conference but they have nothing

Key Game: Seattle at New Mexico State Saturday 9p The Aggies haven’t lost in the 2013 calendar year and need to keep banking wins to stay hard on the Bulldogs heels.

Projected Bids: 2

West Coast
Conference Class- Mid Major
Solid: St. Marys, Gonzaga
Work to do: BYU
West Coast Spec: The Bulldogs (I refuse to call them Zags) are top ten, son. You are out of your head if you question their dance ticket. St. Mary’s is only a game out of the top spot and might be very well safe. The Cougars are the wild card, they have no real signature wins but no bad losses they might need to keep banking wins they could have 23 wins going into the WCC tourney and still have no legit shot at the tourney unless they win it.
Key Game: Saint Mary at San Diego Saturday 11p If the Gaels want to keep up with the Bulldogs a win in SoCal is necessary.

Projected Bids: 2

There are others in the mix to be sure. Teams from the always dangerous Colonial and Big South always are in the mix and can send multiple teams. Of course the champions from the following conferences get an automatic bid: Amer. East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big West, Horizon, Ivy, MAC, MAAC, MEAC, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Sun Belt, Summit, and SWAC projected bids from these conferences will be posted here starting February 21st

Since this is still early spec, nothing here is solid and we haven't even brought up the possibility of upsets. But those never happen, right?

Next Spec Feb 11 in the Hoodwood

 

BlackBandit20s Super Bowl Pick
Category: NFL
Tags: NFL Picks & Predictions

Students, Professor Bandito will give you a bit of history lesson today. Lets go back some 54 years ago. The NFL consisted of 12 teams in 11 cities. The league would mourn the death of its commissioner Bert Bell midway through the season. The Colts (who were playing happily in Baltimore would defeat the New York Giants for the second time in as many seasons to win the NFL title. The Cardinals franchise played in Chicago, and were the poor south side cousins in Comiskey Park to the more affluent Bears who played in Wrigley Field. But they were owned by Violet Bidwell-Wolfner widow of Charles Bidwell one of the more senior owners in the NFL. She was besieged by suitors for her ball club who was losing money. The Bidwell family decided to spurn all the suitors and not sell, and instead moved to St. Louis where for 27 years they would be the football counterpart to a more famous (and more successful) baseball team of the same name.

One of those spurned suitors was Lamar Hunt, heir to a oil tycoon fortune. Hunt was frustrated in his bid to buy the Cardinals and annoyed that the NFL showed no signs of expanding beyond its 12 team, 12 city base. Hunt contacted another Texas oil tycoon, Bud Adams as well as 6 other owners including Barron Hilton (yeah the hotel owner and Paris’ grandfather) Bob Howsam in Denver, Billy Sullivan in Boston and Detroit insurance magnate Ralph Wilson (who was considering Miami, then chose to go to Buffalo because it had a stadium to join his “foolish club” which would become the American Football League.

The league started in earnest in 1960, though the NFL initially gave the AFL owners some guidance (Bell gave Hunt a copy of the NFL constitution to copy as a framework for the AFL’s bylaws.) they strategically moved to kill the upstart league before it got playing. The NFL awarded an expansion franchise to the owners of the AFL’s Minnesota contingent, but the AFL scrambled quickly and came up with a new team to play in Oakland. With 22 pro teams playing (14 in the NFL and 8 in the AFL) there was a lot more football. The NFL tried its best to ignore the younger league and for the first five years succeeded. Some of the AFL teams struggled, most notably in Oakland, Denver and New York and two of the stronger teams in Dallas and Los Angeles had trouble competing with their NFL counterparts and moved to Kansas City and San Diego respectively. Nevertheless the AFL survived and began to thrive after inking a multimillion dollar broadcast deal from NBC in 1965. This set off a brief but very expensive signing war. Realizing that this war would ultimately hurt everyone involved, the two leagues would agree to a merger, but not before two more franchises were formed in Atlanta & Miami and still two more were formed in New Orleans (to placate a Louisiana congressman that was helping to push through the merger) and Cincinnati (Paul Brown’s re-entry into football after 5 years.) The lasting result was 28 teams in a new NFL going forward.

Oh and one other thing, the NFL and AFL decided to have a championship game between their respective league champions. Then NFL commish Pete Rozelle liked the name Pro Bowl but since it was the name of the NFL’s all-star game, it would be foolish to change it to that. The name of the first two games were the awkwardly named NFL-AFL World Championship game, though writers had taken to the nickname Super Bowl. Rozelle hated that name, something Hunt had thought of watching his kids play with a rubber “Super Ball” but the name stuck and the NFL decided at the third game to make it the official title, retroactively renaming the first two games which were won the NFL’s standard bearer the Green Bay Packers in decisive routs. The Colts looked to be ready to hand the AFL’s third champ the New York Jets the same fate, but a confident Jets team backed up the “guarantee” of its brash cocky QB Joe Namath and handed the heavily favored Colts a 16-7 stunner that more or less legitimized the AFL, when the Kansas City Chiefs knocked off the Minnesota Vikings in the last game between a separate entity AFL/NFL setup the AFL had more than proved it belonged and the Super Bowl was already a football institution.
Fast foward back to present day where the Super Bowl is the crown jewel of football and the dream of every football player. The winning team will get a $92K payday but its the foot high Tiffany Silver Trophy that is the desire. The best quote is from Johnny Davis who was a reserve running back for the Niners in their first Super Bowl win. "The money is nice, but I'll spend that its the ring that lasts forever"

 

Super Bowl 47

Baltimore Ravens (13-6) vs San Francisco 49ers (13-4-1)

For the NFL Championship and the Vince Lombardi Trophy

Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans 6:30 (CBS)

Favorite 49ers by 4

Super Bowl Fast Facts: There has never been a shutout or overtime in the 46 previous games and all but one (Miami in 6) has seen both teams score at least one touchdown each.

Fast Fact: This is the first time that teams with no losses in the Super Bowl have faced one another.

Last Meeting: Ravens defeated 49ers 16-6 in 2011 Ravens have won 3 of the 4 regular season meetings

 

AFC Champion Baltimore Ravens

Regular Season: 10-6 AFC North Champions

Defeated AFC Wild Card Indianapolis (#5 seed) 24-9 in AFC Wild Card Round

Defeated AFC West Champion Denver in 2OT (#1 seed) 38-35 in AFC Divisional Round

Defeated AFC Wild Card New England (#2 seed) 28-13 in AFC Championship

Team Leaders Joe Flacco 3817 Yards 22 TDs, Ray Rice 1143 yards rushing, 9tds, Anquan Boldin catches 921 yards 4 tds, Torrey Smith 49 Catches 855 Yards 8 TDs

1-0 in the Super Bowl winning Super Bowl 35

 

 

NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers

Regular Season 11-4-1 NFC West Champions

Earned 1st Round Bye as NFC #2 seed

Defeated NFC North Champion Green Bay 45-31 in NFC Divisional Round

Defeated NFC South Champion Atlanta 28-24 in NFC Championship

Team Leaders QB Colin Kaepernick 1814 Yds 10 TD, 415 Rushing Yards 5TDs, Frank Gore 1214 Rushing Yards 8 TDs, Michael Crabtree 85 catches 1105 yds 9 tds

5-0 in the Super Bowl Winning Super Bowls 16, 19, 23, 24 & 29

 

 

When the Ravens have the ball

Led by their quietly confident QB Joe Flacco the Ravens started fast kind of coasted to the postseason and grinded out 3 wins over teams with higher profile QB’s The Ravens arent the game manager/possession manager type team that won the Super Bowl 12 years ago. They have top notch players at the skill positions. With the highly underrated Ray Rice able to break off a long run at any point but able to pound the ball when needed. Speed at the wideout is in abundance with Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith being burners but keep an eye on cagey possession Dennis Pitta who has become Flacco’s security blanket. The Niners have a punishing defense led by MLB Patrick Willis, Navarro Bowman, Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks who have been stingy with yards and gruding with points. Joe Flacco has had plenty of time to throw the ball with a solid offensive line led by veterans Matt Birk and Michael Oher but the Niners are exceptional at putting pressure on the QB so it will be inter

 

When The Niners have the ball

Since taking over QB duties for Alex Smith some ten weeks ago. Colin Kaepernick has taken the Niners from playoff contender to Championship caliber. He adds a dimension of speed and daring to an offense that had gotten predictiable under Smith. Frank Gore is a bulldog of a running back who has a solid blend speed and power that keeps opposing defenses honest. Michael Crabtree has really matured into a primo target and had a monster season. Vernon Davis has become a bit of a forgotten man in the offensive scheme with Kaepernick’s rise but was getting plenty of touches in the conference championship he is a tough matchup for any defense. This defense aint the feared squad of yesteryear. Many of the names are the same Ray Lewis, Ed Reed et al. They are a bit older and slower but are still cagey enough to cause offenses problems and must be accounted for. The Ravens give up much more yards but dont give up the big play or big score

 

Coaching

Much ado has been made about the Harbaugh Brothers facing off but the truth is that both coaches are top notch and are more alike than one would think. They both have the teams playing at top notch. The younger Harbaugh (Jim) may be a bit more likely to take a gamble or three while the older Harbaugh has been accused of being a bit too predictable in his play calling and forgetting about his running game at times.

 

The Prediction

The game is a bit too close to call. Both teams are more alike than not. Strong running games, swashbuckling QB’s unafraid to go after the big play. Defenses that will ballhawk and create turnovers. Coaches who are literally cut from the same coaching cloth. I think that the unflappable Kaepernick will be the slight difference here and for some reason, I think that this is the best defense Joe Flacco has faced and he will make just enough mistakes to get beat. This will be one of the better Super Bowls regardless.

Pick Niners 28 Ravens 23

Black Bandit20's Confernece Championship Picks
Category: NFL
Tags: NFL Picks & Predictions

 

Well the divisional round split the baby, again. I only got the Sunday games right this time. Now it’s the final four teams. Three of the four teams that are playing this week are holdovers from last year as only the defending champ Giants are not here this year. Odds are provided by bodog.net and are for informational, comparison and entertainment purposes only. If you bet the lines and get took its on you.

NFL SCHEDULE – CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND

Sunday, January 20

 

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

49ers (12-4-1, #2 seed as NFC West Champions) @ Falcons (14-3, #1 seed  as NFC South Champions)

Georgia Dome, Atlanta 3:00 (FOX)

Favorite 49ers by 5

Last Week 49ers defeated NFC North Champ Packers 45-31, Falcons defeated NFC #2 Wild Card Seahawks 30-28

Fast Fact SF: QB Colin Kaepernick rushed for a 181 yards a playoff record for a QB  ATL: The task of slowing down the Niners offense will fall to Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan who went 18-37 as coach of the Niners from 2005-2008.

The Niners slugged it out with the Packers and rolled to a pretty easy win. The Falcons raced out to a big lead, blew it and rallied late to steal the win. Colin Kaepernick is the dynamic edge that confounds defenses with his running as well as his precise passing. Meanwhile the Falcons Matt Ryan finally got the playoff monkey off his back with a solid performance. Im still curious as to the thinking of Falcons Mike Smith who tried his best not to lose instead of playing to win, they blew a big lead in the 4th trying to play conservative. Im looking at the Falcons playing at home where they are 7-1 as a formidable task to overcome especially for a young QB like Kaepernick. I think that the Niners defense is the real edge here, I think that they can get to Matt Ryan enough to force him into mistakes. The Falcons have a bad tendency to wander on defense and gave up 7.44 yards a play in the divisional round game. With having trouble with mobile QB’s this could spell trouble. I have a feeling that the Niners will string along the Falcons and grind out a win.

Pick-San Francisco

 

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

Ravens (12-6 #4 seed as AFC North Champions) @ Patriots (13-4 #2 seed as AFC East Champions)

Gillette Stadium; Foxboro, MA 6:30 (CBS)

Favorite Patriots by 10

Last Week Ravens defeated AFC West Champ Broncos 38-35 in 2OT, Patriots defeated AFC South Champ Texans 41-28

Previous Meetings: Two previous meetings in Foxboro, 1-1 split last meeting Pats defeating Ravens 23-20 in the 2011 AFC Championship game.

Fast Facts NE: Patriots are 4-0 at home in the AFC Championship BAL: QB Joe Flacco is the first NFL quarterback to have at least one win in each of his first five appearances, they have been in consecutive years to boot.

The rematch of last years epic AFC title game is the nightcap. Joe Flacco led the resilient Ravens to upset the Broncos in Mile High. Meanwhile the Pats looked almost bored in dispatching the Texans in the divisional round. Many people think that Joe Flacco continues to mature and develop into an upper echelon quarterback but the one thing that has been eluding the Ravens signal caller is a conference title, it seems that every other team in the AFC has beaten him for a conference title when in reality it has been 3 teams Pittsburgh, Indy and yes New England. Having had lost in the title game last year when a last second game tying field goal was shanked, the Ravens feel that they are not far off from beating the Pats, especially when they defeated them in week 2. Tom Brady has had an uneven record against the Ravens, but I just cant see then aged Ravens defense slowing down the Pats offense and I cant see the Ravens offense who got let off the hook by bad defensive secondary play, getting the same kind of breaks against a Pats team who seemingly always is going for the throat. The media would love to see a Harbaugh brothers Super Bowl to play up the sibling rivalry. But they wont get it, it’ll be the Patriots…again.

Pick-New England

 

 

BlackBandit20s NFL Divisional Playoff Picks
Category: NFL
Tags: NFL Picks & Predictions

 

Yeah, I know I split the four games, and should have known better on both the ones I lost. The degree of difficulty is steeper now as the best 8 teams in the NFL are left after the wild card round. Washington was the only divisional winner that did not survive the wild card round. This weekend of doubleheaders is the best weekend of the football season. Odds are provided by bodog.net and are for comparison and entertainment purposes only.

 

 

NFL SCHEDULE – DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF WEEKEND

Saturday, January 12

 AFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF

Ravens (11-6 #4, AFC North Champ) @ #1 Denver Broncos (13-3 #1 AFC West Champ)

Sports Authority Field @ Mile High, Denver 4:30 (CBS)

Favorite Broncos by 10

Last Week Ravens defeated AFC #1 Wild Card Colts 24-9, Denver had a bye as the AFC #1 seed

Playoff History: The Ravens defeated the Broncos 21-3 in the 2001 AFC Wild Card Round

Fast Facts BAL: DEN: Denver has yielded 237.3 total yards and 13.5 points during a six-game home winning streak

Most of the eyes wont be on the matchup at first it will be on the temperature gage where it is well publicized that Peyton Manning is 0-3 in playoff games in which the kickoff temp is under 40 degree. Even in midday (2:30 MT kickoff) it will still be a frigid 17 degrees on Saturday. Manning  didn’t exactly torch the Ravens defense earlier this season in Baltimore in week 15, he threw for a modest 208 yards in their 34-17 win it was the Broncos defense that played lights out. They have been the unsung heroes of the Broncos 11 game win streak never giving up more than 24 in any game. Bottom line, I don’t trust Joe Flacco. He has played good enough to garner wins when needed but I don’t think that they will be able to get Ray Rice on track against the Broncos defense when its needed

Pick-Denver

 

NFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF

Packers (12-5, #3 NFC North Champ) @ 49ers (11-4-1 #2 NFC West Champ)

Candlestick Park, San Francisco 8:00 (FOX)

Favorite 49ers by 3

Last Week Packers defeated NFC #2 Wild Card Vikings 24-10, 49ers had a bye as the NFC  #2 seed

Playoff History The Packers have won four of the five playoff meetings, most recently a 25-15 win in Green Bay in the 2001 wild card round

Fast Facts GB/SF: Packers QB Aaron Rodgers grew up a Niners fan and was in attendance for the Packers last playoff visit to San Francisco, the only Niners only playoff win in the series in the 1998 Wild Card round.

This might be the best game of the divisional round, Aaron Rodgers is still playing with a chip on his shoulder after his favorite boyhood team passed on him with the first pick. He gets a chance to really stick it to them as the player he was passed on for Alex Smith is cooling his heels on the Niners bench watching Colin Kaepernick lead the Niners to an NFC West title. Rodgers and the Pack looked almost bored in stuffing a QB-less Vikes squad last Saturday but the curve gets considerably steeper facing a tough Niners defense that aside from a beatdown in Seattle have played pretty well. I know that I picked the Niners to make the Super Bowl and I really like their balance in the run and passing game. I said that I didn’t trust Flacco in the earlier game, I cant trust Kaepernick in his first playoff game against a battle tested Aaron Rodgers (with that chip) even at home. The Packers will win a tight game.

Pick-Green Bay

 

Sunday, January 13

NFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF

Seahawks (12-5, #5 NFC Wild Card) @ Falcons (13-3, #1 NFC South Champ)

Georgia Dome, Atlanta 1:00 (FOX)

Favorite Falcons by 3

Last Week Seahawks defeated NFC East Champ Redskins 24-14, Falcons had a bye as the NFC #1seed

Playoff History: First Postseason Meeting, last regular season meeting was 2011 won by the Falcons 30-28 in Seattle

Fast Facts SEA: Attempting to be the 2nd NFC West Coast based team to win consecutive playoff games in the Eastern Time Zone (1989 Rams won in Philly and New York)  ATL: TE Tony Gonzalez is 0-

The Seahawks are riding a 6 game win streak and Russell Wilson has quietly come into his own as bona fide star in this league. Has there been a more maligned #1 seed than the Falcons? After winning their first eight, the Falcons went a pedestrian.5-3 on the back half of their schedule. Matty Ice is starting to catch more and more hell for his repeated playoff failures. The Seahawks defense is tough and after spotting the Redskins a 14-0 lead roared back to win their Wild Card matchup. But I cant give the Seahawks all the credit. Playing a hobbled RGIII on a horrid field the Seahawks had to simply sit back and wait for the Redskins to crack. I cant see them pulling off a second road upset. The Falcons are a flawed #1 team to be sure but they can win a track meet which I get the feeling that the Seahawks will try to do…and fail.

Pick-Atlanta

 

AFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF

Texans (13-4, #3 AFC South Champ) @ Patriots (12-4, #2 AFC East Champ)

Gillette Stadium; Foxboro, MA 4:30 (CBS)

Favorite Patriots by 10

Last Week Texans defeated the #2 AFC Wild Card Bengals 19-13, Patriots had a bye as the AFC #2 seed

Playoff History: First playoff meeting, last regular season meeting Patriots defeated Texans 42-14 in week 14

Fast Fact NE: With a win QB Tom Brady can pass boyhood idol Joe Montana for most playoff wins (currently tied at 16 wins apiece) HOU: DE JJ Watt led the NFL with 20 ½ but had none of Tom Brady in their week 14 meeting this season.

The Texans are putting on a brave face, with the us against the world mentality. They may even get a break on the weather as they may be playing under a climate mild for Foxboro in January. The Texans are a decent team but they faded badly down the stretch and only a more anemic showing from the Bengals in the wild card round got them a win. They can not be that anemic against the Pats. Brady will direct his pinpoint offense and points will come plenty. I doubt that the Texans will be able to put points up to match.

Pick-New England

 

Last Week: 2-2

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