Saturday, January 14, 2017

PIGSKIN 2016: Divisional Round Playoffs


Divisional Round

Featuring the revenge of Tom Brady 
and the continuing demise of Jerry Jones

Saturday Home Favorites

FALCONS -5 (Seahawks)
I would love nothing more than to watch Matt Ryan and Julio Jones lay siege upon Richard Sherman and the Legion of Boom.  It is high time Matt Ryan stepped out of the shadows and into the NFL limelight ... or not.  He's an MVP candidate, but that means nothing unless he finally makes his mark in the playoffs.  The Falcons playing at home will help as there will be no 12th man backing the Seahawks.  The Falcons averaged over 30 points a game this season.  I'm not sure they'll score that many against the Seahawks defense, but I do feel Atlanta will outscore Seattle.  Atlanta's generous defense will need to make stops, though, in order for the Falcons to emerge victorious.  The Seahawks do not run the ball as well as they used to, which could lend itself to a few more offensive possessions and much needed clock consumption for Atlanta.  The question here is whether Seattle can hold Atlanta under 20 points ... and to that I say probably not.
WIN  36-20 Falcons

PATRIOTS -15 1/2 (Texans)
Will the Patriots cover all that cheese?  Houston has a good defense.  They can sack (the statue) Tom Brady early on (like the Giants did to Aaron Rogers).  But how long would Bill Belichick allow that to happen before he adjusts?  Moreover, how often can the Texans force New England into settling for field goals?  And there's the rub.  Tom Brady's and Bill Belichick's propensity to run up the score is now legendary.  It's Super Bowl or bust for them both.  But this is when the NFL will truly start to feel the wrath of Tom Brady in particular over DeflateGate.  On the other side of the ball, the Texans are not an offensive juggernaut to begin with.  Whichever QB they have under center will prove inconsequential playing against the NFL's stingiest defense.  Any given Sunday does not apply here as this is a Saturday night game, making this outcome as sure as taxes and death.  It'll be a wicked good time in Foxboro.
WIN  34-16 Patriots

Sunday Road Underdogs

Packers +5 1/2 (COWBOYS)
Unlike the New York Giants, Dallas can protect their QB, and rush the ball behind the best offensive line in football.  And unlike against the Giants, Green Bay's defense will need to play a more honest game, having to respect the run and the Cowboys ability to throw into their secondary.  For as long as Dak Prescott and the Boys pass the ball on their terms, they should be okay ... right?  After DRC left last week's game with an injury, you saw how Aaron Rogers picked apart a good Giants defense.   The Giants did a great job of containing him in the pocket all game, but after recording a few early sacks they never touched Rogers again.  Under little duress, Rogers threw five touchdown passes (while the Packers maintained run/pass balance throughout).  Outside of two or three designed QB roll-outs, Rogers never felt the need to scramble.  If he decides to take-off this week, Dallas is in trouble, because even minus Dominique Rogers Cromartie, I still think the Giants defense is better than the Dallas Cowboys defense.  In this situation, I like the hot team playing on a roll over the team returning from a week off.  On a side note, I wouldn't mind seeing Dak Prescott struggle, and having Tony Romo inserted into the game ... if only to take down Jerry Jones for old times sake.
WIN  34-31 Packers

Steelers +1 (CHIEFS)
This is the toughest of all four games to pick.  The spread accurately reflects a game between two evenly matched cold weather teams playing in poor conditions.  But are the Chiefs laying a point because they're the home team, or because of Big Ben's questionable foot injury?  After all, Roethlisberger's ability to buy time and throw on the run are part of which make him him great.  He's big and bouncy and creates magic outside the pocket.  He's big and bouncy within the pocket too, and throws to a guy named Antonio Brown.  But if Big Ben's foot isn't up to the task, then perhaps the feet of Le'veon Bell will be.  The worse the conditions are, the more Bell will be asked to do.  When the Chiefs have the ball, Alex Smith rarely makes mistakes.  I respect that.  I think he's underrated.   Overall, the Chiefs aren't flashy, but they're effective and consistent.  With regards to Sunday's potential playing conditions, that means business as usual for the Chiefs.  Edge Kansas City because the Steelers rely somewhat more on creativity.  If the Chiefs create and convert turnovers, they'll win. But if the Steelers keep it clean, they win.  That's what this spread is all about.  P.S. - See Green Bay.   I like the team playing on a roll over the team returning from a week off.
WIN  18-16 Steelers

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