January 8, 2016

A wide-open post-season + NFL wild-card picks

by Dan Bilicki In: Football, Picks

It’s not often that we get a NFL post-season that could go in so many ways. Usually there’s at least one conference with a clear-cut favourite, but that’s not even the case this year.

In the AFC, you could make a good Super Bowl case for any team except the Houston Texans, really. But even they could do it with a healthy dose of defence and Nuk. You can also build cases about any team from the AFC as well.

Denver hasn’t looked great for large portions of games and their QB situation looks like a mess. New England is one of the most banged-up teams in the league. Cincinnati is relying on A.J. McCarron to guide it through at least one playoff game. Kansas City has Andy Reid coaching and the Steelers might be playing with two running backs that have a combined 22 carries this season.

In the NFC, there’s three teams that figure to make things interesting: Carolina, Arizona and Seattle.

But the Panthers have been known to have some trouble at times, the Cardinals were just blown out by the Seahawks and Seattle will have to do it on the road, without its fervent support at Qwest Field.

There’s also Minnesota, Washington and Green Bay, who can’t be overlooked.

What it all means is that there’s no real favourite this year and that should make for one of the most interesting post-seasons in a long time.

The lines are from Vegas and the home teams in CAPs.

Kansas City -3.5 over HOUSTON

Woof. What a game to start things out. On one hand, you have Andy Reid and Alex Smith on a ten-game winning streak. On the other, it’s Brian Hoyer being one hit away for the quiet room and Brandon Weeden leading the way in a playoff game. This one should be a defensive affair with both sides bringing the heat. But the Chiefs have the better line to contend with J.J. Watt and Co. while the Chiefs are likely getting Justin Houston back. K.C. has largely beaten mediocre teams during their run and this Houston side is no contender.

Pittsburgh -3 over CINCINNATI

It would be pretty fun if the Bengals could win their first playoff game in 15 years with Andy Dalton on the sidelines, but that’s just not going to happen. A.J. McCarron is a fine backup QB, but he’ll get eaten alive in a playoff game against the rival Steelers. Pittsburgh’s passing attack is good enough to deal with the likelihood at DeAngelo Williams will sit out this game and someone named Fitzgerald Toussaint will be the starting running back. As long as Pittsburgh’s O-line can keep Ben Roethlisberger clean, the Steelers have a great shot at moving on to Denver next week.

Seattle -5 over MINNESOTA

It’s going to be a frigid game, but that shouldn’t matter much for these two teams. Both should be pounding the ball and the defence to play a lockdown game. But when you consider that Seahawks simply crushed the Vikings just a few weeks ago, you can’t feel very good about the home team in this one. The common playoff gambling mantra is that you don’t take the underdog unless you think they can and we don’t see Teddy Bridgewater and the Vikings overcoming a rolling Seahawks team on Sunday, even if the game is at 10 a.m. on the Seahawks’ body clocks.

WASHINGTON +1 over Green Bay

I’ll never argue that the Kirk Cousins is a better QB than Aaron Rodgers, but it has become very clear this season that the Packers’ supporting cast just isn’t up to his level. Washington is an OK team that is capable of putting up some points while the Packers have struggled to do so and have dealt with some injuries on defence. That could lead to a nice upset from a home team that should really be favoured. We think it will take a prime Packers performance to advance.

Last week: 8-7-1

This season: 136-108-9 (3 NLs)

Leave a Reply