January 13, 2017

Chargers, Raiders moves easy to see coming + division round picks

by Dan Bilicki In: Football, Picks

Anybody that is surprised by the fact that the Chargers are moving to L.A. or that the Raiders are probably moving to Las Vegas don’t follow the NFL very closely.

As the Rams’ move from St. Louis to L.A. last year proved, this is purely about business and not about the fans.

Even as the secondary team in Los Angeles, the Chargers stand to gain a lot more than staying in San Diego, where after years of trying and failing to get a new stadium, an escape hatch finally presented itself for owner Dean Spanos.

FOX published a good piece about how even with smaller crowds, the Chargers will still come out on top with this move. The reality is that the L.A. market is just too lucrative and full of opportunity.

Over the past few seasons, the Chargers barely had a home-field advantage. Qualcomm Stadium didn’t sellout nearly enough and visiting crowds routinely outnumbered the home fans, creating a borderline hostile environment for the team.

The Raiders haven’t officially announced their intended move to Las Vegas yet, but reports say it’s essentially a done deal.

Owner Mark Davis has already hammered out a stadium deal in Sin City and he no longer has the option to move back to L.A. with the Chargers taking that spot. Oakland-Alameda Coliseum is one of the worst venues in major North American sports and without a new venue, there was no hope of the team staying put.

Don’t get me wrong, you do have to feel bad for the loyal fans that lost their teams. The Chargers have been in San Diego for 55 years; the Raiders may have spent 12 seasons in L.A., but were a Bay Area fixture for 42 years. But without the backing from their city councils to get new stadiums – as wrong as it may seem to hold cities hostage to build new arenas – these teams were always going to leave.

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

ATLANTA -5 over Seattle

This Seahawks team isn’t the same as the one that should’ve lost to the Falcons in Seattle earlier this season. The big reason is that Earl Thomas is missing and, with him, the Seahawks’ best chance at stopping Julio Jones.

Richard Sherman did a great job in man coverage against Jones earlier this season, but are the Seahawks willing to break their scheme and have the mouthy corner in Jones’ pocket the entire game? It seems unlikely with the adjustments that would need to be made and with Thomas out.

Seattle coasted to an easy win against an overmatched Lions team, but that doesn’t tell us much about how good these Seahawks are. Away from the safe confines of Qwest Field, they were a meager 3-4-1 this season, which doesn’t bode well for them heading to Atlanta to face MVP candidate Matt Ryan and Co.

NEW ENGLAND -15 over Houston

Sure, it might seem crazy to give 15 points in a playoff game, but we should remember who’s playing here. It’s Brock Osweiler and the Houston Texans at Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

Enough said.

The Pats crushed Houston earlier this season with Brady suspended and third-string QB Jacoby Brissett starting in Houston. Why shouldn’t we expect more of the same this time?

If you’re thinking that the Texans might be hot after looking good against the Raiders last week, let’s just remember that Oakland was on its third-string QB, its defence isn’t nearly as good as Pats and starting left tackle Donald Penn was out, allowing Jadeveon Clowney easy access to Connor Cook.

The only thing that should scare you about taking the Pats is the potential for a back-door cover, but even that is slim, knowing that it’s Osweiler leading the charge.

Pittsburgh +1.5 over Kansas City

This is the toughest game to pick for sure and should be the closest of this weekend. The Steelers head to frigid Kansas City to take on perhaps the most well-rounded team in the playoffs.

K.C. can do it all, but isn’t particularly elite in any one category. Pittsburgh on the other hand, can be, depending on the day. With Le’Veon Bell in the backfield and Antonio Brown out wide, the Steelers can come at teams from multiple angles. Will the Chiefs be able to contain them?

The other two big cases for taking the Chiefs are that Andy Reid has been fantastic this season and is historically quite good with an extra week to prepare. Also, Ben Roethlisberger was a borderline disaster on the road this season, seeing his numbers take a big dip away from the banks of the Three Rivers.

This one is a close win, but I’ll go with the Steelers in a coin flip thanks to their momentum.

Green Bay +4.5 over DALLAS

Don’t get me wrong, there  are plenty of reasons to take the Cowboys: They’ve had a week off, they’re healthy, their running game is nearly unstoppable, they won in Green Bay earlier this season, they have home-field advantage this time and the Packers could be missing both Jordy Nelson and Ty Montgomery. But there’s not a team in the league that wants to face Aaron Rodgers right now. He has been on fire for the second half of the season and momentum can have a big effect in the playoffs. Plus, how could you not take the points when you’re getting more than a field goal?

Last week: 2-2

This season: 137-106-8

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