Blog Archives

Your Average Picks For The NFL Playoffs – Championship Round

And then there were four. The first two weeks of the playoff’s are behind us, and four teams survived to make it to Championship Sunday. Green Bay invades Atlanta while Pittsburgh tries to do the almost impossible and beat Tom Brady in January in New England. Here are our predictions.

Green Bay @ Atlanta (-5)

Both home teams are decent favorites this weekend, but the NFC title game is the only one I can see being an upset. Here’s how I picture Vegas sports books who are rooting for the under watching this game:

Enough!

The over/under on this game is a whopping 60.5, but I’d be shocked if we saw anything less than 70 overall points scored. In Green Bay’s case, last week’s game showed us two things: Aaron Rodgers may be some type of human/sorcerer hybrid and Green Bay’s defense can’t hold a lead. Luckily for Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers will still be there QB Sunday. Unfortunately, they’ll also trot out the same defense, except this time they’re facing Matt Ryan and the Falcons. Ryan will most likely win the MVP this year, and for good reason. He threw for 38 TDs against only 7 interceptions while completing 70% of his passes. That was good for a 117.1 QB rating, which happened to be the best in the league. Last week against a Seattle defense that was 8th against the pass this year, Ryan threw for 338 yards and 3 touchdowns. Green Bay was 31st against the pass this year, and gave up over 300 yards and 3 touchdowns to Dak Prescott last week. Unless GB can force some turnovers, not even Aaron Rodgers will be able to save them.

Which brings me to Aaron Rodgers. While he finally threw an interception last week (breaking his streak of 22 TDs without a pick) he also did this:

He’s playing out of his mind right now, and he’s the only reason the Falcons aren’t favored by double digits in this game. The bad news for Rodgers and the Packers is that he’ll either be without Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams or they’ll be extremely limited. Coach Mike McCarthy said today that if this were a regular season game both guys wouldn’t be playing, which is never a good sign. Also, Atlanta’s defense looked great last week, picking off Russell Wilson twice. If they’re able to force even one turnover from Rodgers, that could be enough to put away the Packers with the way Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense is playing.

Pick: Falcons 45 Green Bay 34

Pittsburgh @ New England (-6)

Isn’t is funny how teams going up against the Patriots always seem to shoot themselves in the foot before the game even starts? Whether it’s Rex Ryan or Richard Sherman, the way other teams behave when they’re playing the Pats is like clock work. Someone opens their mouth and calls out the Patriots, they play the game and Tom Brady and Bill Belichick move on to the next round or win the Super Bowl. The most recent example we have is thanks to Antonio Brown and Mike Tomlin. Brown decided that going on Facebook live during a postgame victory speech by his coach was a good idea, and caught Tomlin calling the Patriots assholes. In the grand scheme of things that’s pretty minor, but do you really want to give the Patriots more ammo heading into this game? You’re already 6 point underdogs, and earlier in the day you watched Brady and Belichick improve to 119-21 at home in their careers, including 16-2 in the playoffs. Maybe shut your mouth and hope Le’Veon Bell can score you a hundred touchdowns. Anyway, here’s what I think Pittsburgh fans will look like after the game:

Fozzie F

There are a lot of stats that prove Brady and Belichick’s dominance, especially at home, but it comes down to one simple point: they just don’t lose. Recently, they haven’t even TRAILED IN A GAME. Check out this stat I found on Twitter:

How insane is that? That’s without Gronk, and without their ‘best defensive player’ Jaimie Collins who they traded away midseason. No matter what happens, the Pats always find a way to win. Most of my friends are Patriots fans, and playing Pittsburgh was their worst case scenario, but that’s only because the other options in the AFC were almost comical. The other four AFC teams that the Pats could’ve played were the Raiders (without Derek Carr), the Dolphins (without Ryan Tannehill), the Chiefs (Andy Reid, play caller. Enough Said) & the Texans. They played the Texans last week and won a very ugly game, but again, they still didn’t trail the entire time. While Pittsburgh might be the toughest matchup for them, they’re only tough compared to the other birthday cake matchups they could’ve had.

As far as Pittsburgh goes, Ben showed last week why his team is so much worse on the road, as he threw for 224 yards, 0 TDs and 1 interception. Pittsburgh won that game thanks to Le’Veon Bell, Chris Boswell and Alex Smith being Alex Smith. While Bell has been unstoppable all year, Belichick specializes in taking away your best weapon, and if I’m aware of Ben’s home/road splits, I’m going to assume Belichick is too. He’ll do his best to focus on Bell and make Ben beat him through the air, something Roethlisberger hasn’t proven he can do on the road against a decent defense. Also, if Pittsburgh is banking on Brady playing anywhere near as bad as Alex Smith did, they should forfeit now.

Pick: Patriots 38 Steelers 26

Your Average Picks For The NFL Playoffs – Week 2

The wild card round has come and gone, and every team that was expected to advance did so without any real drama. Now comes week 2, and with that comes the best four teams from the regular season entering the fold with a shot at a championship game on the line. Here our picks for the winners of the second round of the NFL playoffs.

Seattle @ Atlanta (-5)

Besides Patriots/Houston later on Saturday night, this weekend’s slate of games should be very interesting. While the spread in this game indicates a clear favorite in Atlanta, Seattle is one of those teams that always seems to play their best football in the playoffs. This is the kickoff to a fun football weekend, so here’s how I picture fans watching this game:

joker and here we go

The story of last week’s Seahawks win was the domination of their defense. Detroit had a decent offense during the regular season, and Stafford was clearly hurting, but the Seahawks smothered them all game. They only allowed 231 total yards and 12 first downs, and dominated the time of possession 36:39 to 23:21. Seattle scored first and never looked back, and the most important part of their offensive game was Thomas Rawls. He ran for 161 yards and a TD and was a big reason the Seahawks were able to keep the call out of the Lions hands. That’s going to be even more important as they head to Atlanta.

While Atlanta’s defense finished the year strong, and Vic Beasley dominated with 15.5 sacks, all the talk going into this game will be about Matt Ryan and his offense. Ryan finished the year with the highest passer rating of any QB in the league (117.1) and threw for just under 5,000 yards with a great TD/INT ratio of 38/7. While Ryan has been historically better at home than on the road, it didn’t matter this year. With the help of running back’s Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, plus the combination of old faithful Julio Jones and young speedster Taylor Gabriel, Atlanta had the best offense in the NFL this year, scoring 33.75 points per game.

Pick: Will Thomas Rawls and the Seahawks D keep the ball out of Ryan’s hands, or will Seattle be playing catchup all day? I think this is Matty Ice’s year to improve upon his 1-4 playoff record and win his first playoff game since 2013.

Atlanta 38 Seattle 24

Houston @ New England (-15)

Houston at the Patriots is the most lop sided game of the weekend (and most likely the entire playoffs) and it’s still a little unsettling to see a 15 point spread for a second round playoff game. But that’s what happens when a Brock Osweiler led wild card team heads to Foxborough to take on Bill Belichick and his Frankenstein creation Tom Brady. Here’s my pre-game advice to the Texans:

you tried

Here are just a few stats that should help you understand why the Patriots are such huge favorites (H/T boston.com). The Patriots are 4-0 versus the Texans at Gillette, beating them 27-0 in their last meeting back in September. The Patriots played that game without Tom Brady. Texans coach Bill O’Brien is 0-2 in his career versus Bill Belichick (both losses coming this year). Tom Brady has the most playoff wins, completions, passing yards and touchdowns for a QB in NFL history. Brady is 22-9 in the postseason, five more wins than any other QB. Overall (including the postseason) Brady and Belichick have a career record of 205-61, including an otherworldly 118-21 at home. Brady and Belichick are 15-2 at home in their respective careers in the playoffs. Conclusion: the Texans are going to chalk this one up as a loss.

Pick: New England 45 Houston 21

Pittsburgh @ Kansas City (-1.5)

This game is the closest game of the weekend spread-wise, and it’s the only game out of the four where I can realistically see the visiting team winning. While Seattle and Green Bay could definitely win on the road, they would absolutely be upset wins. If Pittsburgh and their supremely talented offense win in KC, I wouldn’t consider than an upset. Here’s how I picture fans of both teams watching the game:

Nervous Sweating

Pittsburgh lives and dies with it’s offense, especially against a team like KC who’s going to use time management to win or keep the game close. While Le’Veon Bell continued to prove that he’s matchup proof, a playoff road game in Arrowhead is going to be a huge test for Big Ben. It helps that he has the best receiver in football in Antonio Brown, but it’s tough to brush off his home/road splits. Ben’s QB rating drops 38.3 points on the road, and his TD/INT ratio changes dramatically from 20/5 to 9/8. I don’t think this game will be a blowout on either end, and the Steelers haven’t lost a road game since November 6th in Baltimore, so this game has the potential to go either way.

The Chiefs have two main weapons: their defense and Tyreek Hill. The Chiefs defense hasn’t given up more than 21 points at home since week one and forced 18 turnovers in their 8 home games this year. That number is skewed by the Jets game in week 3 where they committed 8 turnovers, but the Chiefs had three other games where they forced three or more turnovers as well. Turnovers are going to important in this game, especially when you take into account Ben’s struggles on the road. Weapon X for KC, also known as Tyreek Hill, has transformed their offense this year. Hill has six receiving touchdowns and three rushing touchdowns on the year, but where he’s really had an impact is in the kick return game. He’s run back one kickoff and two punts this year, and even when he’s not scoring TDs, he’s giving the Chiefs solid starting field position by either gaining yards or forcing the kicker to alter his game plan. Hill is a weapon very few teams have, and good starting field position for a team like KC who likes to milk the clock is incredibly important.

Pick: There’s a reason this game has a 1.5 point spread, as it’s almost a toss up. I’m going with the more talented squad.

Pittsburgh 27 Kansas City 24

Green Bay @ Dallas (-4.5)

The outlook of this game changed dramatically when it was announced that Jordy Nelson wouldn’t be playing, and that might be a blow that Rodgers and Green Bay are unable to overcome. Green Bay won last week thanks to Aaron Rodgers continued resurgence and the human dumpster fire known as Eli Manning, but this week’s game might be a little different. Here’s how I picture Ezekiel Elliot’s dad watching the game:

Green Bay has now won seven games in a row, and most of that credit has to go to Rodgers. All he’s done over the Pack’s seven game win streak is throw 19 TDs and ZERO interceptions. He hasn’t thrown a pick since November 13th versus the Titans, and for any Cowboys fans hoping that Rodgers will suffer on the road, I have more bad news for you. While Rodgers has been sacked 7 more times on the road, he has a passer rating of 101.9 and an 18/3 TD/INT ratio. How could someone who’s been this good possibly lose? Enter the Cowboy’s rookies.

As impressive as Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot have been, I think the best thing they do is take care of the football. The Cowboys only turned the ball over 13 times this year, with 9 of those belonging to Prescott and Elliott. While the two rookies got lucky at certain points (they fumbled 14 times total, however 9 times the Cowboys recovered) 9 turnovers for two guys who handled the ball as much as Dak and Zeke is a very low number. They both take care of the ball, and they both have no trouble scoring touchdowns. Elliott scored 16 total touchdowns this year while Dak added 29 more, which means their touchdown to turnover ratio was 45/9. Also, Dak finally got on the same page with star receiver Dez Bryant towards the end of the year, so this could be a long, painful day for the Packers.

Pick: Cowboys 35 Packers 27

 

 

 

Your Average Picks For the NFL Playoffs – Week 1

After a long, underwhelming/wonderful season depending on who you talk to, it’s playoff time for the NFL. Fantasy football championships have been decided, the weaker teams have been eliminated (RIP Bucs & 49ers) and the Patriots are probably going to win the Super Bowl again. Before we get to that, we have the first round matchups. Here are our picks (against the spread) for the winners and losers of round 1.

Oakland @ Houston (-3.5)

If you’re new to football or spreads in general, just look at it this way: the team with a minus number next to it starts the game with negative points. In this case, before the opening kickoff, the score of the game will be -3.5 to 0, or 3.5 to 0 in favor of Oakland.

I’m not sure if the NFL can see into the future or not, but it was very nice of them to put what is most likely going to be shittiest game of the weekend on first. Here’s what people will be thinking during this game:

jgdc

The main reason for this? Five words: Brock Osweiler versus Connor Cook. Who are these two men, you might be saying to yourself. Are they famous chefs? Are they movie critics? Nope, Brock and Connor are the two starting quarterbacks for two playoffs teams. While Osweiler did have a decent run last year with the Broncos, he’s gone out of his way this year to prove that he should not be a starting QB for any extended period of time. Any QB that makes Deandre Hopkins look pedestrian deserves a slap in the face, so I hope Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin brought their dueling gloves. They combined for 18 sacks this season, but Houston’s offense line has been slightly better than middle of the pack. If they can get Lamar Miller some positive carries early on, this game could get ugly for the Raiders.

The Raiders offense is in a bit of disarray thanks to the season ending injury to QB Derek Carr. Third string rookie QB Connor Cook took over last week after Matt McGloin was injured, and he’ll be the signal caller against the Texans as well. I don’t want to be too hard on Cook, but anytime you use the words ‘behind Matt McGloin on the depth chart’ to describe a QB, it’s not a great start. His only regular season experience came last week against the Bronco’s top ranked pass defense, so who knows what he’s capable of. Working in his favor is one of the best offensive lines in all of football and the potential for a devastating clock managing running game with Latavius Murray. Oakland’s O-Line gave up the least amount of sacks this year, and Houston defensive line is obviously not the same without Mr. Wonderful JJ Watt.

Pick: If Pittsburgh beats Miami at home like everyone is predicting, this game will basically decide who New England murders next week. If that’s the case, I think it’d be nice for Brock to go to New England so Brady and the Pats can get some revenge.

Houston 24 Oakland 13

Detroit @ Seattle (-8)

Read the rest of this entry

#DeflateGate Is The Stupidest Thing In The World But It’s All We’re Going To Hear About Until Super Bowl Sunday

No Fun LeagueThe NFL has found that 11 of the New England Patriots‘ 12 game balls were inflated significantly below the NFL’s requirements, league sources involved and familiar with the investigation of Sunday’s AFC Championship Game told ESPN. The investigation found the footballs were inflated 2 pounds per square inch below what’s required by NFL regulations during the Pats’ 45-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts, according to sources. “We are not commenting at this time,” said Greg Aiello, the NFL’s senior vice president of communications. Troy Vincent, the league’s senior executive vice president of football operations, told The Associated Press late Tuesday in response to this report that the “investigation is currently underway, and we’re still awaiting findings.” He told “Pro Football Talk with Mike Florio on NBC Sports Radio” earlier Tuesday that the NFL expected to wrap up its investigation in “two or three days.” Yet to be determined is what, if any, penalties may be imposed upon the Patriots. One source described the league as “disappointed … angry … distraught” after spending considerable time on the findings earlier Tuesday. Part of the investigation that needs further vetting is how the 11 footballs became underinflated. The game balls that each team received for preparation were required to be inspected and approved by referee Walt Anderson two hours and 15 minutes before kickoff, then returned to a ball attendant. No alteration of footballs is allowed once they are approved, under league rules and regulations. The balls are required to be inflated between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch and weigh between 14 and 15 ounces.

image

Before I get started, I need to point something out to Patriots fans. Any time something like deflate gate or spy gate happens, Pats fans call everyone else haters and bring up how successful they’ve been since 2001. Both of these points are facts, as Patriots fans, just like every other fan of a professional team, do have haters and the Patriots themselves have been very successful since 2001. My problem with Patriots fans is that they act as if they’re the only dynasty in NFL history. I’m a 49ers fans, so I’ll use their best stretch as an example. From 1981-1994, the San Francisco 49ers went 159-56 in the regular season, won 5 super bowls, and made the playoffs every full season except for 1991 (1982 was strike shortened). During their current run from 2001-2014, the Patriots have gone 170-54, won 3 super bowls, and only missed the playoffs in three of those years. The Patriots have had the same head coach and quarterback, while the 49ers had two different coaches and two quarterbacks. An argument can be made either way for which is more impressive, so for arguments sake, we’ll cancel that part out. Any time a Pats fan uses the ‘we’re the most successful franchise EVER YOUR TEAM SUCKS talking point I can now just point them to this blog so 1. they’ll shut up and 2. we’ll get more views!

Now, onto deflate gate. It seems as if everyone with a Twitter account has an opinion on this, but the most level headed view comes from Patriots fan and writer Bill Simmons.

The worst part of ‘deflate gate’ is that the media is so happy about it and now that’s all we’re going to hear. Ravens players are already coming out and saying they thought the balls felt lighter in their game against the Patriots the week before. A few Colts players went on Twitter and asked if they were going to play the game again, because apparently getting embarrassed on national television twice in one year isn’t enough for them. One Boston writer said if the claims are true, then Bob Kraft SHOULD FIRE BILL BELICHICK. What world does that guy live in? And the worst part is if it comes out that the Patriots intentionally did this, it’s the dumbest thing in the world. Instead of celebrating a blowout win and focusing on the Super Bowl every coach and player is going to have to answer questions about how much a football weighs. And instead of analyzing what should be a very good Super Bowl, every analyst is either going to hate on the Pats or try to dismiss ‘deflate gate’. I can picture Ray Lewis right now flexing in the mirror yelling to himself “Tom Brady is a cheater! Bill Belichick is a cheater! You never would’ve heard of either of them if the football weighed between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds!”. On the flip side, what a year for the NFL, eh? Not only are their players terrible people, but their officials can’t get through a playoff game without a major scandal. First the picked up flag in Dallas/Detroit, then the reversed call in Dallas/Green Bay, and now this. The NFL probably won’t make this point in public, but some blame has to be attributed to the referees. I was looking forward to watching Sportscenter now and again between now and the Super Bowl, but it looks like that’s not going to happen. And anyone who thinks this is just going to go away has severely underestimated social media in 2015.

– Ryan

The Seattle Seahawks Beat The Green Bay Packers In Overtime To Advance To The Super Bowl In One Of The Craziest Games You’ll Ever See

I don’t have much analysis to provide here, but just know that if you missed the last 6 minutes of this game, you missed one of the most improbable comebacks in sports history. Seattle was down 12 with 5 minutes left and Green Bay had the ball after Russell Wilson threw his fourth interception of the day. That Green Bay was only up 12 with 5 minutes left when the opposing quarterback had thrown 4 picks (and they fumbled a kickoff) is still baffling, but we’ll save that story for another day. The rest of the game belonged to the Seahawks. They scored twice in the final 3 minutes, including a Hail Mary two point conversion that I still don’t believe I saw. Rodgers marched Green Bay down the field to set up a game tying field goal, but once Seattle won the coin toss in overtime, you knew it was over. If you’re a Green Bay fan, this is as heartbreaking as it gets. If you’re a Seattle fan, this might be the peak of the season. They have two weeks, but they’re going into the Super Bowl with key injuries on the defensive side against an offense that just cannot be stopped. To put into perspective how much this victory meant to Seattle, look at Russell Wilson’s interview after he won last year’s Super Bowl, starting at the 1:20 mark*:

Now watch Wilson’s interview after yesterdays victory:

That is someone who is physically and emotionally drained. Wilson and the rest of his teammates used everything they had to win that football game, and who knows what’s left in the tank for the Super Bowl. What I do know is that we saw one of the greatest games in sports history yesterday, and if the Super Bowl is half as good, we’ll all be in for a treat.

– Ryan

*Thanks to Grantland for pointing out the difference in the interviews.

%d bloggers like this: