January 8, 2010

NFL Wild Card weekend picks

by Dan Bilicki In: Football, Picks

With the NFL playoffs set to start tomorrow, featuring the best teams in the league, without a doubt, why is there already movement in the hiring of coaches? Shouldn’t a good coach like Mike Shanahan wait until the playoffs shake out before he decides to hitch his horse to the broken wagon known as the Washington Redskins? Now, what if the Dallas Cowboys get embarrassed tomorrow night in prime time by the Eagles, wouldn’t they certainly fire Wade Phillips and start their coaching search with a prime candidate like Shanahan? The decision made by the former leader of the Broncos was a rash one and he will regret it down the line should a better position become available. There’s a reason that the itching-to-come-back Bill Cowher has signed on anywhere yet: He’s waiting for the right team, not the first one to throw money his way.

Another quick aside before getting to the first post-season weekend picks. Have you realized that the only possible cold weather NFC playoff game would be Philly at Green Bay? With all four of the division winners playing in domes or retractable rooms in warm climates, the only chance to see some snow in an NFC game would be if both wild card teams go on a nice run. And honestly, that’s not an uncertainty by any means.

The lines are straight from Vegas and the home teams are in CAPS.

New York Jets +2.5 over CINCINNATI
How seriously can you take the Bengals after Sunday night’s shellacking? Even their starters were beaten down by the tough as nails Jets for an entire half. Sure, the Jets have a history of choking, but I believe in Rex Ryan’s crew and that superb running game. I’m even willing to overlook Mark Sanchez as a rookie QB on the road … Since their opening flurry of wins this season, the Bengals have been unremarkable at best and now their injuries are piling up. Losing the late Chris Henry stalled their offence and the loss of middle linebacker Rey Maualuga severely hurt their defence last week … It will be fun to see the Colts possibly get some revenge next week against the Jets.

DALLAS -4 over Philadelphia
It won’t be a shutout or a blow out again. There’s no way that the Eagles can play worse than they did last week and were a few dropped balls and missed reads away from actually making that game close … Weird things usually happen during the Saturday night game and this one has a lot of possibilities. Should the Cowboys win, it would be their first playoff win in a decade, Wade Phillips first playoff win and Andy Reid’s first playoff-opening loss … Dallas is going to bring the pressure on defence and break up the Eagles screen-passing game, en route to the biggest win of Tony Romo’s career.

NEW ENGLAND -3 over Baltimore
To paraphrase Tom Brady, “If we don’t know what we’re going to do without Wes Welker, how are the Ravens going to know what we’re going to do?” There’s really no way to tell what the Pats are going to do on offence, which means New England can get an early jump on Baltimore, stay in the driver’s seat and take away Baltimore’s great rushing and possession style game … The Pats have been great on their home turf, going undefeated in the regular season and even beating Baltimore back in October … And do you really want to bet against the playoff experience heavy Brady when the QB you would be backing hasn’t shown great confidence much of this season? I didn’t think so.

Green Bay +1 over ARIZONA
Did the Packers tip their hand by running up the score and keeping their starters in last weekend? Folks in Wisconsin better hope not. Leaving in their starters with a huge lead in the third quarter could fire up the Cardinals for some retribution, but the opposite side of that is that the Packers will be playing with confidence and a swagger … The Cardinals, surprisingly haven’t had the big play explosiveness that they displayed last post-season and really picked on some weak QBs during their impressive run. Aaron Rodgers has evolved into a premier pivot in the league and could pick apart the Cards up and down defence on Sunday.

Last week: 8-5-1
2009 season: 138-101-4  = .576
2008 season: 131-107-8
Last playoffs: 5-6


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