Tagged with "Predictions"
The Big Game Pick
Category: NFL
Tags: NFL Picks and Predictions

OK Chilluns gather round for a story. We go way back to 1959 when the NFL consisted of 12 teams in 11 cities and was just starting to emerge as a force on the sporting landscape.  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 was the poor south side cousins in Comiskey Park to the more affluent and popular 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 an 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.

Now at first the NFL was helpful, then commissioner Bert Bell gave Hunt a copy of the NFL’s constitution and by-laws to give a framework of a setup. Bell seemed to be at the very least indifferent to the idea of a new league but wasn’t openly hostile at first. Unfortunately Bell passed away during the 1959 season at a game and the NFL took its time about naming a new commissioner. The 12 owners of the NFL in contrast were openly hostile to the thought of a competing league and tried to take steps to kill the league before it got off the ground, creating expansion teams in Dallas and Minneapolis the former was where Hunt was creating a team and the latter awarded to owners who were going to create an AFL in the Twin Cities. They also approved the Cards move to St. Louis to keep them out of that city as well. The AFL had to scramble to find a new owner and market and settled on Oakland whose initial owner the enigmatic Chet Soda who had to be talked out of naming the team the Señors, he settled on Raiders instead (the iconoclastic Al Davis would join the team as a coach a couple years later). In any case the AFL launched with 8 teams and though at times unsteady developed as a pro league with teams in new cities with Boston, Buffalo, Denver and Houston and teams in established NFL cities of New York, Los Angeles. Dallas was a newly created NFL City and Oakland was just across the bay from the 49ers who had been in the NFL a decade.  Though wobbly, with the Chargers having to move downstate to San Diego after one season and the Texans having to relocate Kansas City and rebrand as the Chiefs the league began to establish itself as solid pro league despite the shaky status of the Raiders, the ineptness of the Titans ownership (who would later become the Jets) and the hideousness of the Broncos brown and yellow vertically striped socks. After gaining a TV contract with NBC in 1965 that added a nice cash infusion to the teams, the AFL stepped up its pursuit of the best college players, the problem started when Giants kicker Charlie Gogolak played out his option with the New York Giants and signed with the Buffalo Bills becoming the first NFL player to “jump leagues”  This enraged the NFL who then went about trying to destroy the AFL with a bidding war. But the AFL hung in and the number of players were drafted by teams in both leagues increased dramatically, when Raiders GM Al Davis became commissioner of the AFL in 1966 and openly tried to recruit established NFL stars to jump to the AFL this started a series of negotiations that would end the bidding war and merge the two leagues. Not only did this bring about a merger, both leagues were creating teams that would bring pro football to what was once considered far flung outposts like Atlanta, Miami, New Orleans and Cincinnati. In June 1966 a merger between the AFL and NFL was announced for 1970 and creation of a World Championship game between the two leagues in January, 1967. Initially called the AFL-NFL Championship game, the first matchup between the Packers and Chiefs was a 35-10 rout and to some confirmation that the AFL was still out of their league but what many overlook was that the game was only 14-10 at the half and a Packers interception in the 3rd quarter that set up a score making it 21-10 was the key point in the game.  The game was nicknamed the Super Bowl but NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle hated the name. He wanted to initially call the game the Pro Bowl but that was already in use as the NFL’s All-Star game, with no workable alternatives eventually the name became official with the 3rd game. That game was the historic Jets upset of the seemingly invincible Colts gave the AFL more credibility and with the Chiefs thumping the Vikings in the 4th Super Bowl, the last game for an AFL team as its own league, the game was seen more and more as the crown jewel of the pro game. The NFL went on as a 26 team, 2 conference entity with the Super Bowl as its championship game.  The game has grown in stature being the most watched sporting event every year with the top four most watched broadcasts in US history are Super Bowl game with the broadcast rights and commercial spots being highly coveted as it rotates among the networks. How much food is consumed? Only Thanksgiving ranks higher in consumption. Fast forward 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 it’s the foot high 7 pound 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 it’s the ring that lasts forever" So now you have a bit of insight on how we have come to know as the defacto sporting holiday as Super Bowl Sunday.

SUPER BOWL 48 (XLVIII)

Seattle Seahawks (15-3, #1 NFC Seed) vs Denver Broncos (15-3, #1 AFC Seed)

For the NFL Championship and the Vince Lombardi Trophy

MetLife Stadium East Rutherford, NJ 6:30 (FOX)

Favorite Broncos by 2½

Fast Facts on the Game:

First Super Bowl played in cold weather/outdoor venue

First Super Bowl being played on Groundhog Day

There has yet to be a shutout or overtime in the Super Bowl

Last Meeting Broncos won 34-10 in 2010

Playoff History: Seahawks defeated Broncos 31-7 in 1983 AFC Wild Card game

NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks

Regular Season: 13-3 NFC West Champions

Earned First Round Bye as NFC #1 Seed

Defeated NFC #2 Wild Card New Orleans 23-15 in NFC Divisional Round

Defeated NFC #1 Wild Card San Francisco 23-17 in NFC Championship

Team Leaders Russell Wilson 3357 Yards 26 TDs Marshawn Lynch 1257 Yards 12 TDs Golden Tate 64 Rec 898 Yds 5 TDs NFL #1 Defense by yards and points allowed and have held last 7 opponents to under 20 points

0-1 in the Super Bowl (40)

SEA Fast Fact: First team since 1990 Bills to make a Super Bowl appearance with no players on its roster with Super Bowl game experience.

AFC Champion Denver Broncos

Regular Season 13-3 AFC West Champions

Earned 1st Round Bye as AFC #1 Seed

Defeated AFC #2 Wild Card San Diego 24-17 in AFC Divisional Round

Defeated AFC East Champion New England 26-16 in AFC Championship Game

Team Leaders Peyton Manning 5477 Yds 55 TDS (NFL records) Knowshon Moreno 1038 Yds 10 TDS Demaryius Thomas 92 Rec 1430 YDS 14 TDS (offense NFL record 606 points)

2-4 in the Super Bowl Wins (32, 33) Losses (12, 21, 22, 24)

DEN Fast Fact The Broncos are part of an AFC monopoly over the last 18 Super Bowls, the Steelers, Patriots, Colts and Ravens have all been to multiple Super Bowls 16 of 18 in that span and all the wins have been by these five franchises (Raiders and Titans the only interlopers who both lost) Have scored 20 points or more in all 18 games this season.

When the Seahawks have the ball

The Seahawks are a run to set up the pass type of team. Marshawn Lynch is bruising yet deceptively quick running back that is capable of breaking a long run as well as running through and over tacklers, sometimes on the same play. Russell Wilson has grown into the big time and has the mobility enough to make defenses respect his scrambling. The Broncos defense is much maligned but the emergence of Terrence “Pot Roast” Knighten has become an intriguing angle. The Seahawks don’t have a real go to receiver as Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice have been waylaid with injuries most of the season but if either is healthy, they can stretch a Broncos defense that without Von Miller is fairly thin on the pass rush and whose secondary can be thrown on.

 

When The Broncos have the ball

Start with Peyton Manning, the Canton bound QB is a virtual coach on the field. Showing no ill effects from 2011 neck surgery Manning riddled defenses at will leading the NFL’s most prolific offense. That’s  not hyperbole, Manning started with a 7 TD performance on opening night against the defending Super Bowl champ Ravens and never let off the gas as the Broncos scored 606 points to set an NFL record. Knowshon Moreno has quietly developed into a dependable running back with a nice receiving touch to complement his skill set. Manning has an embarrassment of riches at wideout with the wily vet Wes Welker leading a squad of receivers that each have 1000 yards, 10 TDs resumes. They face a Seahawk defense ferociously nicknamed the Legion of Boom, led by the ever loquacious Richard Sherman who is fast becoming the standard bearer of shutdown corners in the NFL. Add in the very underrated, lesser heralded Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, the Seahawks secondary is as tough as the Broncos secondary is suspect.  The problem is he can’t cover all the Broncos receivers and the onus will be on the Seahawks defensive line to get a push up front and hit Manning early and often

 

Coaching

Pete Carroll is a player’s coach, his unbridled enthusiasm is no act he’s a coach that brings an energy that his player feed off of and mirror. He runs a tight ship but is loose enough where the players play hard for him. John Fox is taking his second different team to the Big Game and is savvy enough to know he’s got a virtual coach on the field in Peyton Manning and runs the team with just enough smarts to not push too hard. This will be an interesting chess match to be sure

The Prediction

This is probably one of the more evenly matched Super Bowls in a long time. High powered offense versus ruggedly stout defense, yet it will be how the opposites fare that will define the game. The Seahawks want to take a page out of the Giants 1990 playbook and limit the possessions the Broncos have. If the Seahawks can set a grinding tempo with Lynch and force Manning to be perfect on every drive they could carry the day. But I see Knighted as a possible x factor to clog the middle and negate the Seahawks decided edge in the run game. While not totally solving the Seahawks defense totally, he is so good on sight reading and adjusting on the fly. If the Broncos start fast and cash in scoring opps first watch out. I think the Seahawks grind out a score, the Broncos parry with a couple quick scores of their own and the Seahawks become too reliant on the pass when they get behind. Three years ago baby brother Eli won a Super Bowl in his backyard in Indy, I think Peyton turns the trick in Eli’s crib and adds a rare jewel to his sparkling resume, first QB to win a Super Bowl with two different teams

 

 

Pick Broncos 34 Seahawks 24

 

Conference Championship Picks
Category: NFL
Tags: NFL Picks & Predictions

And then there were four. The NFL does what it can to gussy up what are essentially the league semifinals and call them Championship games but you better best believe that the players who come out with the win won't be as happy with this trophy being their only postseason hardware. But to get to Jersey you have to win on Championship weekend. The odds are provided by ESPN Scorecenter for comparison and entertainment purposes only. If you have to ask why by this juncture, you really don't need to be bothered with the odds.

NFL SCHEDULE CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND

Sunday, January 19

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

#2 New England Patriots (13-4, AFC East Champions) @#1 Denver Broncos (14-3, AFC West Champions)

Sports Authority Field @ Mile High, Denver 3:00 (CBS)

Favorite Broncos by 6

How they got here: Both Teams earned 1st round byes. Broncos defeated #6 seed Chargers 24-17, Patriots defeated #4 Seed Colts 43-22 in Divisional Round

Previous Playoff Meetings: This is the 4th meeting between the teams in the postseason with the Patriots beating the Broncos 45-10 in the 2010 Divisional round

Fast Facts: Home team has won each playoff meeting NE: Tom Brady starting his first road playoff game since 2006 AFC Championship game which was a loss to the Colts led by Peyton Manning DEN: Peyton Manning is 6-11 against Bill Belichick 2nd worst win percentage against one coach

With all the talk about the future hall of famers set to square off in another high stakes duel, the key to this game may very well be which team can establish its run game. New England pounded the Colts into submission with a devastating ground game that scored 6 times. Led by reclaimation project LaGarrette Blount the Pats suddenly have their best running attack since Corey Dillion at the tail end of his carrer. The Broncos have the increasingly dependable Knowshon Moreno in their backfield to give defenses pause. Both teams on defense have their flaws, the Pats give up tons of yards but few points while the Broncos defense just knows they don't have to be perfect but have the luxury of the Manning scoring machine to counter their lapses. The Pats have the big game experience but have a lackadaisical manner that often times look like that their waiting for a big game to pique their interest. Without the benefit of the forgiving Foxboro crowd im interested in seeing how the Pats play in a playoff atmosphere. I think the rugged running of Blount keeps the game score lower than the Broncos would like but the Rocky Mountain magic comes through and the Broncos make their first Super Bowl since the halcyon days of Elway and further cements Peyton Manning's legacy by being the 2nd Super Bowl winning QB to take another team to the Super Bowl (Kurt Warner, 1999 Rams 2008 Cardinals)

Pick-Denver

?

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

#5 San Francisco 49ers (13-4, #1 NFC Wild Card) @ #1 Seattle Seahawks (14-3, NFC West Champions)

CenturyLink Field, Seattle 6:30 (FOX)

Favorite Seahawks by 3

How they Got Here: 49ers defeated #4 seed Packers 23-20 in wild card round, defeated #2 seed Panthers 23-10 in the divisional round. Seahawks had a first round bye then defeated #6 seed Saints 23-15 in the divisional round.

First Playoff meeting

Fast Facts: This is the first all West Coast NFC championship since 1990 SF: 15th NFC Title game (most all-time) appearance (6-8) and 3rd straight, first team to make 3 straight NFC title game appearances since 2002-5 Philadelphia Eagles. SEA: 2nd NFC title game appearance, only team to have played in both AFC (1983 loss to LA Raiders) and NFC title games. One of three teams that have yet to lose in the NFC title game (NY Giants, Arizona)

The NFC title game is a bona fide grudge match. For two teams that have only been divisional rivals for 11 years, the animosity and disdain between the teams is palpable. Plain and simple these two teams don't like each other from the coaches (whose history of contempt goes back to when Niners coach Jim Harbaugh was at Stanford and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was coaching USC) to the players to the fans who have taken out billboard ads in the opposing city (49ers fans purchase billboard time in Seattle touting their Super Bowl Rings, Seahawk fans bought engraved fan bricks at the under construction Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara) Both teams are strikingly similar in offensive style being led by mobile QB's in Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson respectively. Both teams have hard hitting, ball-hawking roughneck defenses that create havoc and turnovers led by dynamic playmakers like Aldon Smith and Patrick Willis of the Niners and Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas of the Seahawks. Both have solid gamebreaking running backs in Marshawn Lynch of the Seahawks and and Frank Gore of the Niners. Statistically both teams are mirrors are of one another as well. So what is the difference? Though honks like Colin Cowherd maintain that the Niners are a couple points here and there from having a 14 game win streak , I still don't think that they have solved the riddle of Century Link Field and their notorious 12th man. They have had nightmarishly bad games in Seattle their last two times there and despite their bluff and bluster will have to take the crowd out of the game fast. If they start with a turnover or a three and out or the Seahawks march down the field on their first drive the Niners could be playing being a ten ton eight ball. I see a tight nasty slugfest, and with the weather not being a much a factor I can see all facets of the offensive game being in play. I give the slightest of edges to the Seahawks who I think at home are just a little more formidable.

Pick-Seattle

Last Week: 4-0

Divisional Round Picks
Category: NFL
Tags: NFL Picks and Predictions

The picks split but at this time of the year, Im just happy when Im getting them right. Odds are provided by ESPN Scorecenter for entertainment and comparison purposes only. If you don’t know by now you really need to stop betting.

NFL SCHEDULE – DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF WEEKEND

 

Saturday, January 11 –

NFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF

#6 Saints (12-5 #2 NFC Wildcard)  @ #1 Seahawks (13-3, NFC West Champion)

CenturyLink Field, Seattle 4:30 (FOX)

Favorite Seahawks by 7½

Previous Playoff Meeting Seahawks defeated Saints 41-36 in 2010 NFC Wild Card Round

Fast Facts: SEA: Leads NFL in total defense NO: The Saints had their lowest scoring (7) and yardage output (185) in the Sean Payton era in their previous visit to Seattle in December.

The sheen of invulernabilty began to thin for the Saints when they went to Century Link on 12/2 and caught a frightening beatdown on national TV. The defeaning crowd mixed with the big play ball hawking Seahawks defense made for a potent mix and the Saints were never in the game taking a 34-7 loss that could have been much much worse. The Saints have shook some of their road demons with a gritty 2 point in the wild card round that in truth was a lot less of an upset than many would think. The Seahawks are much more than wily whirling dervish that is Russell Wilson and the bruising running of MarShawn Lynch. The offense can score points and control the clock while the defense seems to get tougher with every possession. I think the Saints are a great team, at home and an average team on the road. This is a venue that the Saints wanted to avoid simply because they look so much like road teams in the Superdome, confused ordinary and ripe for mistakes. This wont be a blowout like their last meeting but I think the Seahawks will keep enough control to get a win.

Pick-Seattle

 

 

 

AFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF

#4 Colts (12-5 AFC South Champion) @  #2 Patriots (12-4, AFC East Champion)

Gillette Stadium; Foxboro, MA 8:15(CBS)

 Favorite Patriots by 7

Previous Playoff Meetings Patriots lead 2-1, last meeting Colts won 38-34 in 2006 AFC Championship game

Fast Facts: The Home team has won every meeting. NE: QB Tom Brady coming off lowest season passer rating (87.3) since 2003   IND: DE Robert Mathis led the NFL with 19½ sacks

The Colts are a team that by its strictest definition shouldn’t be here. They slogged through a paper thin division and struggled with legit playoff teams. They then proceeded to fall behind by 28 points to the Chiefs. Yet the slugged a number of other teams (handing Denver their first loss, throttling the Seahawks and Niners and beating the Chiefs in Arrowhead) and rallied from that 28 point deficit to hand the dispatch the Chiefs by 1 on Wild Card Saturday they face a playoff tested squad in the Pats who may be the weakest they’ve been in the Brady/Belechick era yet is still oh so dangerous. With no legit dangerous receiver  the Pats have made Julian Edelman a star and have its best running game since Corey Dillon. Still even with 12 wins and home field many think the Pats as a suspect team ripe for an upset. I think the Luck and the young Colts will give it a go but spent all their playoff mojo last week in that furious rally. Brady and the veteran Pats have that been there done that on a playoff Saturday night game look about them. Why? Cause they’ve been there done that and will do it again.

Pick-New England

 

Sunday, January 12 – 
NFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF

#5 49ers (13-4 #1 NFC Wildcard)  @ #2 Panthers (12-4, NFC South Champion)

Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte 1:00 (FOX)

 Favorite 49ers by 1

First Playoff meeting in 19 meetings since 1995, Panthers lead series 11-7

Fast Facts CAR: Is 2-1 lifetime at home in the playoffs.  SF: QB Colin Kapernick has rushed for 362 yards in four postseason games, his total has him 5th all time behind playoff vets like Steve Young (594 in 20 games), John Elway (461 in 22),  Roger Staubach (432 in 19) and Donovan McNabb (422 in 16) 

When these two teams met up in November, many people (your humble scribe included) didn’t take the Panthers seriously. Here, we all said, was when the young Panthers would get a lesson in hard knocks. The defending conference champs would lay the wood to Cam and the set the universe back right. The Panthers instead won a gutty, grimy, gritty 10-9 decision as part of a 8 game win streak and current 11-1 run that pushed the Panthers from afterthought to legit NFC contender. The problem now is that the Panthers are right back to where they were on November 10th, no one takes them serious. Especially as the Niners come in as a strong 12 win wild card who won a icy grudge match with the Packers in Lambeau last week. Cam Newton has done a lot of growing up this year and the Panthers are banking on his smarts and savvy despite this being his first playoff game. The problem here is that they are facing a ruggedly veteran playoff tested defense  led by defensive and the curve has gone seriously up. Yes the Panthers will be formidable at home and yes the Niners are coming cross country but they are one of the few teams that I think are good enough to overcome it and win.

Pick-San Francisco

 

AFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF

#6 San Diego Chargers (10-7 #2 AFC Wildcard) @ #1 Denver Broncos (13-3 AFC West Champion)

Sports Authority Field @ Mile High, Denver 4:45 (CBS)

Favorite Broncos by 9

First playoff meeting in 109 games since 1960 Denver leads series 58-49-1

Fast Facts SD: All ten of their wins (10-2) have come when they have more than 102 yards rushing.  DEN: Broncos 37.9 points per game average was the highest of any team in the Super Bowl era, their 606 total points besting the old mark by 17.

The Chargers come in hot having had to storm down the last quarter of the season, get a few breaks and survive a grueling OT thriller just to snag a playoff berth. The way they dismissed the perpetually playoff jinxed Bengals almost seem boring and rudimentary. That curve gets a lot steeper as they head into the mountains to face Peyton and the Broncos. The Chargers make no bones that they want to play keep away from the Broncos Mile High powered offense with its multifaceted weaponry.  Meanwhile the Broncos get another facet to that weaponry as Wes Welker will get playing time after a lengthy absence from concussion recovery.  Now this isn’t to say that the Chargers have no offensive weaponry, with the all but crowned rookie of the year Keenan Allen showing good form opposite future Hall of Famer TE Antonio Gates. Also supplementing a solid running punch is Ryan Mathews and the ubiquitous Danny Woodhead all triggered by the resurgent Philip Rivers, though Mathews is battling another set of injuries. Though the Chargers have been showing moxie in spades as of late, I think that they have been playing with house money. While that is good to be able to play relaxed and loose, you can only get by with that so far. This is the one team that held the Broncos well under their scoring average twice andtheir two lowest scoring totals. Can they do it a third time? Peyton Manning isn’t totally playoff money in the bank as last years playoff flop to the Ravens has shown, but I think he has enough this time around to get the win. It wont be a shootout but not a playoff flame out.

Pick-Denver      

 

Last Week:  2-2

Wild Card Round Picks
Category: NFL
Tags: NFL Picks and Predictions

Now that is what you call finishing strong… 14-2 to finish the year and 16-1 on my locks. But now to quote Chuck D in his rap in the obscure Janet Jackson song New Agenda. “Time to step it up, step it up, cause its playoff time!” The fakers, jakers and perpetrators have been shown the door. That means no terrible towels or snooty air of the so-called Americas team, but also no New York teams or Monsters from the Midway. Sadly a 10 win Cardinals team also can’t get into this party from a deep NFC West but a 9-7  Chargers and an 8-7-1 Packers team both are playoff bound.  The Broncos, Patriots, Panthers and Seahawks are decamped in their respective barcoloungers, mancaves and hideouts sitting this weekend out having earned the coveted first round byes for top two records in their respective conferences and will host this weekends winners in the divisional round. All eight of this weekends combatants have faced each other in the postseason at least once before, with the Chargers-Bengals meeting being most ancient from the so-called 1982 freezer bowl that decided the AFC Title. Odds are provided by ESPN Scorecenter and are for comparison and entertainment purposes only.

 

Saturday January 4

AFC WILD CARD

#5 Chiefs (11-5, #1 AFC Wild Card) @ #4 Colts (11-5, AFC South Champion)

Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis 4:35 (NBC)

Favorite Even

Previous Playoff Meetings Colts have won all 3 meetings last 23-8 in 2006

Fast Facts: KC: Has not won a playoff game in 20 seasons, the 2nd longest current playoff win drought (0-7) . 3 of these losses have been to the Colts.  IND: Have lost their last 3 playoff games

These teams met just three weeks ago and the Colts dominated in Arrowhead. After a 9-0 start the Chiefs have went just 2-5 with the wins coming over sad sacks Washington and Oakland, Indy’s first home playoff game in the post Peyton era. Im not sold on the Chiefs even after resting their starters being ready to face the Colts who I think are better on both sides of the ball. The home field will be a decided advantage to the Colts and I think they roll to the win.

Pick-Indianapolis

 

NFC WILD CARD

#6 Saints (11-5 #2 NFC Wild Card) @ #3 Eagles (10-6, NFC East Champion)

Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia 8:10 (NBC)

Favorite Eagles by 2½

Previous Playoff Meetings Saints have won both meetings both were in New Orleans

Fast Facts NO: Have never won a playoff game outside the Superdome (0-6) PHI: Leads the NFC with 247 plays of 10 yards or more.

A month ago, the Saints were one of the most feared teams in the NFL, they were in firm control of not only their division but the team no one wanted to face especially knowing that they would be at home. But after 3 straight road losses that cost them the division, they have to go on the road to face a very underrated Eagles team that had to survive a showdown with the Pokes to win the NFC East. The Saints have that offense which under Drew Brees is getting more and more skittish on the road which is puzzling.  Nick Foles is the pilot of an Eagles offense that is coming into its own nicely and has a number of weapons of its own including the versatile and quite dangerous scatback Shady McCoy. I think on paper that the Saints are the better team, but I cant shake the feeling that their road woes will continue to dog them. A cold rowdy road venue will help matters little and I think the Eagles will grind out a tight win.

Pick-Philadelphia

 

Sunday January 5

 

AFC WILD CARD

#6 Chargers (9-7, #2 AFC Wild Card @ #3 Bengals (11-5, AFC North Champion)

Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati 1:05 (CBS)

Favorite Bengals by 6½

Previous Playoff Meeting Bengals defeated Chargers 27-7 in 1981 AFC Championship Game

Fast Facts: SD: Lost last 3 playoff games, but last playoff win was on the road  (at IND in 2007)  CIN: Last playoff win was 23 seasons ago and the Bengals played 2 teams that are not in existence anyore (Defeated Houston Oilers, lost to LA Raiders) Bengals are 0-5 since last playoff win.

The Chargers were dawdling along at 5-7 before fashioning a late run to snag the final AFC playoff spot, their last loss was to these very Bengals who with a stout defense will be a formidable test. The Bengals offense will go as much maligned QB Andy Dalton takes them. The Good Andy is throwing like a beast and usually at home directs a high powered, high scoring offense, the Bad Andy on the other hand cant get out of his own way and the Bengals offense looks worse than it did in the pre Marvin Lewis dark ages.  The weather will definitely be a factor here, it will be cold and the Chargers face the double whammy of not only being warm weather team heading into a Midwest deep freeze but also heading east to play an early kickoff. The Bengals should be able to finally banish their playoff demons once and for all, though a date with a Patriots team hungry for revenge might be next on the docket.

Pick-Cincinnati

 

NFC WILD CARD

#5 49ers (12-4 #1 NFC Wild Card) @ #4 Packers (8-7-1, NFC North Champion)

Lambeau Field, Green Bay 4:40

Favorite 49ers by 2½

Previous Playoff Meetings: Seventh meeting, 49ers defeated Packers 45-31 in 2012 Divisional Round

Fast Facts SF: Ranks 3rd in scoring defense at 17.0 ppg  GB: After winning their first 13 home playoff games the Packers are 3-4 in their last 7.

Last year, the Packers were the road team that was expected to win and got handed a 45-31 thrashing that wasn’t even that close. This time the Packers in spite of their so-so record get a home game on the frozen tundra against a “wild card team” in the 49ers that has already defeated them  and has more wins. Aaron Rodgers makes this team dangerous on the offensive side. But the Packers defense is a couple paces from horrid, add to the fact that Clay Matthews will not be available and that makes things even more difficult. I think that though the weather may play a factor, the Niners can grind out on offense and keep Rodgers off the field.

Pick-San Francisco

 

Week 17: 14-2 (Lock Correct, Upset Incorrect)

Final 2013 Stats:  163-90-1

Locks: 16-1

Upsets: 10-7

NFL Week 17 Picks (season finale)
Category: NFL
Tags: NFL Picks and Predictions

 

Another decent week in the penultimate week of the season, and I try to finish out strong but here’s where the story ends for 20 of the 32 teams in the NFL with the conclusion of the 93rd NFL regular season. Of the 12 playoff spots 7 are already claimed including all of the division champions in the AFC; but to the delight of our beloved Commissioner Rozelle way up in his super sky box, there are tons of meaningful games in the finale of the 2013 season. None of the divisions in the NFC have been claimed, four teams are jockeying for the final AFC wild card spot with only one team locked into its playoff slot (KC is the #1 wild card and will travel to the #4 team next weekend) No fewer than 13 of the 16 game this Sunday with some kind of Playoff implications. These games will have the designations in the capsule, I avoided placing the possibility of ties dropping in the mix since the last time an NFL season had multiple tie games was 1997. To no one’s surprise, the Cowboys-Eagles game was designated as the wild card flex game with the NFC East title on the line. The odds are provided by ESPN Scorecenter and are strictly for entertainment and comparison purposes only. SinceI’m tapped out from Christmas and don’t pay off bookies, you’re on your own if you bet the lines and get took.

NFL SCHEDULE – WEEK 17

 

Sunday, December 29

 

Ravens (8-7) @ Bengals (10-5)

Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati 1:00 (CBS)

Favorite Bengals by 6½

Last Week Ravens lost to Patriots 41-7, Bengals defeated Vikings 42-14

Playoff Implications Bengals have already clinched AFC North Championship; can clinch first round bye with win AND Patriots loss, Ravens clinch wild card with win and losses by Dolphins or Chargers

Fast Fact The Bengals have averaged 34.4 points per game at home this season and have scored 40 or more in each of its last four home games.

The Ravens were the chic pick last week with the “Champions coming together at the right time” talk. There was one small problem, the lack of a running game, limited mobility of Joe Flacco and the suspect schedule finally caught up to them and they got housed by the Patriots (just as your humble scribe said that they would) Now they need help to make the playoffs, which is not very likely facing a Bengals team eager to deep six their hated divisional foes fledgling postseason dreams. The Bengals looked sharp in thrashing a woeful Vikings secondary and if their defense gets to Joe Flacco they will carry the day. With an outside chance at getting a bye, for once the Bengals cash in the opportunity and finish an unbeaten home sked, only their 4th in team history.

Pick-Cincinnati

 

Panthers (11-4) @ Falcons (4-11)

Georgia Dome, Atlanta 1:00 (FOX)

Favorite Panthers by 5½

Last Week Panthers defeated Saints 17-13, Falcons lost to 49ers 34-24

Playoff Implications Panthers have clinched a playoff berth and can clinch NFC South with win OR Saints loss

Fast Fact This will be the final game for the Canton-bound TE Tony Gonzalez who is one of five receivers to have surpassed the 15,000 yards receiving plateau, he will retire with the most receptions (1321), yards (15,071)  and TD’s (111) of any tight end in NFL history.

The Panthers won a taut duel with the Saints and now are in control of not only the NFC South but a coveted first round bye as well. The Falcons are at the tail end of a most disappointing season and coming off a painful loss at San Francisco where they had a real shot of pulling the upset. Cam Newton continues to blossom before us into a real leader and big game player. The Panthers are playoff bound and will want to finish strong to gain that bye. I see no real reason why the Falcons will be able to offer anything more than token resistance

Pick-Carolina

 

 

Browns (4-11) @ Steelers (7-8)

Heinz Field, Pittsburgh 1:00 (CBS)

Favorite Steelers by 7

Last Week Browns lost to Jets 24-13, Steelers defeated Packers 38-31

Playoff Implications Steelers clinch playoff berth with win ANDlosses by Ravens, Chargers AND Dolphins

Fast Fact The Browns have lost in their last nine visits to Heinz Field (1-11 overall)

The brash Steelers are sure that they have destiny on their side…hey they’re the Steelers they always get the breaks and they are sure that they will get them here. First up a cakewalk game against the Browns who are already looking at tee times and the fastest way out of town when this is all over, then as sure as they are sure everything falls their way and they make an improbable playoff appearance, Bully the Bengals and march to another Super Bowl title to lord over all the non-believers. Problem is, though I have them winning this game. It will be a pyrrhic victory since they will soon find out that though the Ravens will lose, either the Dolphins or Chargers will not and the Steelers supposed manifest destiny will look like so much braying in the cold wind of reality of an 8-8 season.

Pick-Pittsburgh

 

Lions (7-8) @ Vikings (4-10-1) 

Mall of America Field @ HHH Metrodome, Minneapolis1:00 (FOX)

Favorite Vikings by 3

Last Week Lions lost to Giants 23-20 in OT, Vikings lost to Bengals 42-14

Fast Fact This is the Vikings final game in the Metrodome as they move to TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota for two seasons while their new facilityis built. The Vikings are 162-89 over the last 30 years at this facility (Not counting the 2010 game played in Detroit after the roof collapse)

The Lions frittered away their playoff chances in stunning loss to the G-Men while the Vikings got straight housed in Cincy by a rampaging Bengals squad. Which team is the bigger mess? The Lions have so much talent on both sides of the ball, yet play maddeningly inconsistent. That is a word that could describe every facet of the Vikings. Their offense played high speed and high scoring against the Eagles two weeks ago only to drop an o-fer on 3rd down the next against Cincy. Matt Stafford could really have his way against a weak Vikes secondary but Adrian Peterson is determined to play in the dome’s finale. The Lions have never played well in the dome and will likely be glad to see it go, having lost 14 of their last 15 visits. Just for the heck of it, I think the Vikings reach deep and pull one out, just to frustrate the Lions.

Pick-Minnesota

 

 

Texans (2-13) @ Titans (6-9)

LP Field, Nashville 1:00 (CBS)

Favorite Titans by 5½

Last Week Texans lost to Broncos 37-13, Titans defeated Jaguars 20-16

Fast Fact Since defeating the Titans on Sep 15th, neither they nor the MLB Astros have won since.

Both teams are going nowhere but the Titans are trying to finish strong and the Texans are trying to get off the longest losing streak in the NFL in a decade. I’m thinking that the Titans would like to avoid being the one that they couldn’t beat in the division. I also think the Texans started mailing it in a long time ago.

Pick-Tennessee

 

 

Jaguars (4-11) Colts (10-5)

Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis 1:00 (CBS)

Favorite Colts by 10½

Last Week Jaguars lost to Titans 20-16, Colts defeated Chiefs 23-7

Playoff Implications Colts have already clinched AFC South Championship and can clinch bye with win AND losses by Patriots AND Bengals

Fast Fact If the Jaguars lose by 7 points they will finish with the exact same record and point differential as they did in 2012 (4-12, -182)

The Jags were being earmarked as possibly one of the league’sall-time worst teams, now they’re looking like just another bad outfit. They won’t even finish last and as mediocre seasons go they will be just another doormat. Facing a Colts team that still harbors dreams of a 1st round bye in addition to home playoff games, the Jags are badly overmatched having scored the fewest points in the league (and it aint even close) and tied with the Raiders giving up the most points in the AFC. The Colts might not repeat the 37-3 shellacking they laid on the Jags exactly 3 months ago, but they won’t be threatened either.

Pick-Indianapolis

 

 

NY Jets (7-8) @ Dolphins (8-7)

Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens 1:00 (CBS)

Favorite Dolphins by 5½

Last Week Jets defeated Browns 24-13, Dolphins lost to Bills 19-0

Playoff Implications Dolphins clinch wild card with win AND Ravens loss or Win AND Chargers win

Fast Fact Since their last road win the Jets are 0-4 losing by anaverage of 34-12

The Jets are playing with some fire down the stretch though many think that their grinning jeering coach is dead man walking. They played well in their home finale and now face a Dolphins squad that many figured would crumble in light of the Martin/Incognito mess but despite their flat performance in Buffalo are still in line to snag a wild card berth, I still like the play of Ryan Tannehill and Mike Wallace and for some strange reason think the Dolphins will bounce back nicely.

Pick-Miami

 

 

Redskins (3-12) @ NY Giants (6-9)

MetLife Stadium; East Rutherford, NJ 1:00 (FOX)

Favorite Giants by 3½

Last Week Redskins lost to Cowboys 24-23, Giants defeated Lions 23-20 in OT

Fast Fact The Redskins are trying to avoid their longest losing streak in over 50 years and their worst season since 1994

The Redskins are a team in turmoil though they did play heroically in a tough tight loss to their hated rivals in Dallas. The G-Men are finishing strong and put the Lions out of their misery with a come from behind OT win. Though Kirk Cousins is playing decently at QB, he is a place holder. One wonders if Mike Shannahan will be back as coach, the G-Men are as just as much in flux with Eli Manning throwing a bushel of interceptions and will not have the services of Victor Cruz. Are the redskins good enough to win their finale? Ummmm…no.

Pick-New York Giants

 

Bills (6-9) @ Patriots (11-4)

Gillette Stadium; Foxboro, MA 4:25 (CBS)

Favorite Patriots by 8½

Last Week Bills defeated Dolphins 19-0; Patriots defeated Ravens 41-7

Playoff Implications Patriots have already clinched AFC East Championship; can clinch 1st round bye with win or losses by Bengals AND Colts

Fast Fact The Bills have never won in Gillette Stadium (0-12)

The Bills ambushed the Dolphins in their home finale and looked rather stout on the defensive side.  Pats stunned the so-called experts with a thrashing of the Ravens and are now in control of the second bye. Though the Bills are playing a lot better as of late, asking them to win in Foxboro is a bit over their skill set as of now, the Pats are aging before our eyes but still have enough in the tank to make a final push into a much needed bye. To the disappointment of the Bengals and Colts fans that were hoping for a rollover, it’ll be the Bills who get rolled up on.

Pick-New England

 

 

Broncos (12-3) @ Raiders (4-11)

o.Co Coliseum, Oakland 4:25 (CBS)

Favorite Broncos by 12

Last Week Broncos defeated Texans 37-13; Raiders lost to Chargers 26-13

Playoff Implications Broncos have clinched AFC West Championship AND 1st round bye; can clinch home field advantage with win or Patriots loss

Fast Fact The Broncos need 18 points to break the NFL record for points in season and 28 points to be the first team to ever score 600 points in a season; don’t bet against it the Broncos have only scored under 28 points twice this season.

This just isn’t fair; the Broncos finish the season against a pair of dog teams with butta booty soft defenses. If Alex Smith and Jamaal Charles could strafe the Raiders defense what do you think that Manning and all his weapons will do? Keeping a close eye on the game 3100 miles to the east (Its actually 3097 but work with me, folks) Needing a loss by the Pats to assuage their fears of having to travel further than back to Denver the Broncos should make this a moot point by dominating the Raiders who will have 11 seasons running without a winning season.

Pick-Denver

 

 

Packers (7-7-1) @ Bears (8-7)

Soldier Field, Chicago 4:25 (FOX)

Favorite Packers by 3

Last Week Packers lost to Steelers 38-31; Bears lost to Eagles 54-11

Playoff Implications Winner clinches NFC North

Fast Fact The Bears have allowed 11 individual 100 yard rushing games this season, if they allow another it will match the winless 2008 Detroit Lions for the most allowed in a season

The Packers buoyed by the return of their all-everything QB face a winner take all showdown on the Midway, in the 8 games without Aaron Rodgers the Pack went 2-5-1 with the wins by a total margin of 2 points. Manning may be the league MVP, but Rodgers is the team’s most indispensable part of their offense and team and are much more complete with the running of Eddie Lacy and against the soft Bears defense, especially their run defense. The Packers will find the going quite easy. You wonder if Bears coach Marc Trestman is having 2nd thoughts about changing quarterbacks after Cutler played fairly indifferent in their Sunday night, but even with the home crowd, the Bears are not the better team. Yes, a rusty Rodgers will be that much more of a difference. .

Pick-Green Bay

 

Chiefs (11-4) @ Chargers (8-7)

Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego 4:25 (CBS)

Favorite Chargers by 9

Last Week Chiefs lost to Colts 23-7; Chargers defeated Raiders 26-13

Playoff Implications Chargers clinch playoff spot with win AND losses by Dolphins AND Ravens, Chiefs are locked into #5 AFC playoff slot

Fast Fact Chargers are 5-0 when RB Ryan Mathews has 20 or more carries.

The Chiefs played extremely flat in their home finale and with another road trip to be determined to a playoff game have nothing to play for. This bodes well for the Chargers who are barreling down the home stretch in a late desperate dash for an improbable playoff spot which included a wild shootout win in Arrowhead a month ago. This game might be meaningless if either the Dolphins or Ravens win earlier in the day though. I’llsay that they Chargers despite having nothing to play for finish out strong.

Pick-San Diego

 

 

49ers (11-4) @ Cardinals (10-5)

University of Phoenix Stadium; Glendale, AZ 4:25 (FOX)

Favorite Even

Last Week 49ers defeated Falcons 34-24; Cardinals defeated Seahawks 17-10

Playoff Implications 49ers clinch NFC West with win and Seahawks loss, home field advantage with and losses by both Seahawks AND Panthers.  Cardinals clinch wild card berth with win and Saints Loss.

Fast Fact A Cards win would tie a franchise record for win set in 1975, but might still leave them as the 2nd team to miss the playoffs with 11 wins (2008 Patriots)

This is likely the best game anyone east of the Rockies likelywon’t see. The Niners are going to the playoffs and are hoping for a little help to steal the division crown but the Cards are playing like a desperate team and have been a tough out down the back half of the season. I think that behind a crazy crowd the Cards come out smoking and pull the shocker. It won’t matter, because other fates will keep the best team you know nothing about from making postseason noise and the other 6 teams that do make it will breathe a subtle sigh of relief

Pick-Arizona (Upset of the Week)

 

Rams (7-8) @ Seahawks (12-3)

Century Link Field, Seattle 4:25 (FOX)

Favorite Seahawks by 11

Last Week Rams defeated Buccaneers 23-13 Seahawks lost to Cardinals 17-10

Playoff Implications Seahawks clinch NFC west and home field advantage win OR 49ers loss

Fast Fact A Seahawks win matches the 2005 Super Bowl team for record number of wins.

It was supposed to be the beginning of a month long home stand march to the Super Bowl, but the Seahawks got zapped by the Cards and now the questions and doubt creep in like a Puget Sound fog, the Seahawks are another loss away from falling all the way from top seed to a 5 seed and road playoff games. The Rams are far from a pushover and have been playing a lot of players you’ve likely never heard of like Zac Stacy and Kellen Clemens to a nice late season run. I’m thinking the Seahawks got their wakeup call last week and will leave nothing to chance to lock away the home field advantage.

Pick-Seattle

 

Buccaneers (4-11) @ Saints (10-5)

Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans 4:25 (FOX)

Favorite Saints by 12

Last Week Buccaneers lost to Rams 23-13, Saints lost to Panthers 17-13

Playoff Implications Saints clinch NFC South and first round bye with win AND Panthers loss, clinches wild card berth with win OR Cardinals loss.

Fast Fact Saints QB Drew Brees needs 219 passing yards to eclipse 5000 yards for the third straight season extending his record.

The Bucs are playing out the string but look to be the spoiler as the Saints road woes have hurt them to the point that they could be playing their home finale and heading out of their formidable venue to face an uncertain fate on the road. No longer in control of their divisional fate, the Saints will have to win, wait and wonder.  The first part shouldn’t be a problem as the Saints Jekyll and Hyde act will be a house of horrors for their guest. Brees should get his yardage and the Saints should romp, but it’shighly likely that the Saints won’t be home for New Year’s or beyond.

Pick-New Orleans

 

 

Eagles (9-6) @ Cowboys (8-7)

AT&T Stadium; Arlington, TX 8:30 (NBC)

Favorite Eagles by 6½

Last Week Eagles defeated Bears 54-11; Cowboys defeated Redskins 24-23

Playoff Implications Winner clinches NFC East

Fast Fact The Cowboys have the NFL’s worst record in Week 17 games (2-11)

The Eagles could have rested and coasted into this do or die showdown instead they dropped a frightening 54-11 rout on the Bears that shook off thoughts of a look ahead mentality. The Pokes again tottered badly with an overmatched Redskins squad but drove the length of the field to get the win. The wonks that so dearly love Tony Romo point to his drive to win and scream “See he IS clutch.” Problem is Romo is now out with a herniated disk on had surgery on Friday, despite the bleatings you heard from Coach Jerry Jones….uhhh coach Jason Garrett. Head poobah, Jerry Jones was trying to fool everyone into thinking Romo would play but everyone and their brother knew it would be Kyle Orton getting the start. In an interesting side note, the Pokes signed 41 year old Jon Kitna from a teaching job in Tacoma Washington to a backup position (which I know irks Tim Tebow fans) and Kitna will donate his game check to the school he teaches math for. Kitna will only get that one check, because the Eagles sharp run game and hot offense won’t give the Pokes a 2nd opportunity to beat on them. The Cowboys won’tpull this one out and mercifully be sent home.

 

Pick-Philadelphia (Lock of the Week)

 

 

 

 

Last Week: 11-5 (Lock & Upset Correct)

Overall: 149-88-1

Locks 15-1

Upsets: 10-6

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