Friday, 9 January 2015
Can The Top 4 Beat The Odds?
#NFLPlayoffs Divisional Round Begins Saturday
Last Week: 3 - 1
Overall: 3 - 1
Ok I made 2 cardinal mistakes last week when I made my wild card round #NFLPlayoff picks:
1) NEVER take all 4 home teams to win
2) ALWAYS know a 6 seed should upset a 3 seed on the road
I will admit I did consider picking a 6 over a 3...but in the NFC matchup, not the AFC. I will also admit I was probably blinded by my love of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Those who know me would quickly know I am a HUGE Steelers fan, have been my entire life. I went with my heart in picking that match-up I suppose. To be fair to me though, the Steelers were the favorites entering the game given how they have played recently and many of the finest sports prognostics from ESPN, SI and others picked the Steelers as well. Oh well...that was last week. Let's move on as we continue our Road to Arizona.
The divisional round match-ups appear to be very one sided. The top 4 teams, all playing at home, are heavy favorites to win and advance. However, we have not seen a home team sweep in the divisional round in 5 years. Will the divisional round upset streak continue or will the home team sweep curse be broken?
(1) New England Patriots over (6) Baltimore Ravens - Congrats to the Ravens on eliminating their biggest rival last weekend. The question always asked is how a team follows up a huge emotional win on the road again the following weekend. The Patriots have had the extra week off to rest and prepare. The Ravens played great last weekend. I expect them to give the Patriots fans a scare in the 1st half but the Patriots will show why they are the AFC favorites when they pull away late in the 4rd quarter. The Ravens were able to contain Big Ben last weekend but they will not be as successful with Brady.
(2) Denver Broncos over (4) Indianapolis Colts - Manning vs Luck. What more needs to be said? This is the late game on Sunday and what a perfect way to end a weekend of playoff action. The Colts were outplayed when these teams met to kick of the season but that seems like ages ago. This will be a more even game with neither team pulling away. Expect to see Manning and Luck go blow for blow with offensive drives. The difference here will be the Broncos getting to play at home. Denver is 8-0 this season at home. The Colts have a chance to pull off the upset if they can get to Manning early and Luck has time to throw for some deep plays. This could be decided in OT.
(1) Seattle Seahawks over (4) Carolina Panthers - I have read a few sports journalists actually picking the Panthers to win this game. I think those picking the Panthers may be just riding a bit of the upset after effect and be caught up in the story of seeing a sub-.500 team continue their march towards the Super Bowl. But let's get realistic here and quick. The Seahawks are playing better football than any team in the league. They are playing at home. Don't these stats and facts mean anything to you people: 24-2 at home since 2012. Defending Super Bowl Champions. The Panthers have played Seattle the past three years and have scored one (1!!!) touchdown COMBINED and those games were home games. Midnight has arrived Panthers fans and the glass slipper is about to fall off. Be happy you got this far.
(3) Dallas Cowboys over (2) Green Bay Packers - And here is the upset game! The game that will continue the streak of ensuring the top 4 seeds to do not all advance to championship weekend. This is a tough match to pick, very similar to the Broncos-Colts match actually but for different reasons. Manning vs Luck is going to be a knockout title fight between great quarterbacks. This game could see Tony "Jekyl and Hyde" Romo vs Aaron "Keep Me Healthy Another Week" Rodgers. If the Packers O line can protect Rodgers all game, the Pack have a great chance to win this game. If the Cowboys can do the same with Romo, they have as equal a chance. The Cowboys D needs to step up in this game and limit the play of Rodgers, which I think they will do. Can Rodgers take a few sacks and still perform? I doubt it. I think the Cowboys end up sneaking out this win, similar to last weekend, and pull off the upset on the road. Let's just hope we don't see another ref controversy this weekend though!