Saturday, January 12, 2019

PIGSKIN 2018: Divisional Playoffs


Week Eleven
Thanksgiving Day
Week Twelve
Week Thirteen
Week Fourteen
Week Fifteen
Week Sixteen
Week Seventeen
Wild Card Round

Wild Card Weekend Record:  1-2-1
Overall Record:  96-124-11
Bagels in the Basket:  -45
*Playoffs: three bagels per game.

Friday Line NYDN

Colts +5 1/2 (CHIEFS)
There's the Chiefs who started the season 9-2, and then there's the Chiefs post Kareem Hunt.  Kansas City's offense has not been the same since releasing their miscreant running back.  They finished 3-2 over their final five, twice defeating the moribund Raiders, and barely overcoming the Ravens.  Their two losses came against the Chargers and Seahawks (both playoff contenders).  With one less thing to worry about, how then do the Colts stop Patrick Mahomes?  Answer: their defensive front must be disciplined; the edge rushers must maintain their lane.  They don't have to sack Mahomes, they merely need to contain him; turn him into a pocket passer; make him play by the book; force him to read and react.  Just don't let him create plays on the run.  That's when the best laid plans go awry.  On the other side of the ball, the Chiefs this season have allowed an average of 26.3 points per game.  If Andrew Luck was able to generate 21-points last week against the Texans, how do you suppose he'll do against the worst defense among this weekend's contestants?  The Colts are arguably the hottest team in football.  They enter Saturday's game on a five game win streak, and winners of 10 of their last 11 games.  And unlike the Chiefs (minus Kareem Hunt), Marlon Mack brings balance to the the Colts offense.  Therefore, it is with great confidence I take the points.
Loss; 31-13 Chiefs

RAMS -7 (Cowboys)
On the heels of their victory over Seattle, the past week has been filled with talk of Dallas having finally figured things out; how Jason Garrett is proving Jerry Jones correct insofar as being a good coach; and Dak Prescott evolving into a more effective game leader.  I don't buy it.  My unhealthy bias aside, they are 8-1 over their last nine, which includes two victories over the Eagles, and a classic smash-mouth beat down of the Saints.  The Cowboys were second behind only the Bears in the NFC in fewest points allowed.  Back in Week Fourteen, the Rams were humbled by the Bears, limited to just two field goals in a 15-6 loss.  Jarred Goff threw four INT's that game.  Question is, can the Cowboys defense treat the Rams similarly?  Like I said, they did it to Drew Brees and the Saints - smash mouth all the way.  However, Goff doesn't seem likely to throw four INT's, and Todd Gurley appears ready for full time duty again.  L.A.'s defense is good, not great.  With the addition of Amari Cooper, Dallas could potentially hang with L.A. if this turns into a shootout.  But that's when it gets sketchy.  Who makes the mistakes?  If anyone, I believe Dak Prescott would be the one throwing an untimely pick (eh hem .. Tony Romo).  A seven point spread is the best repellent against even the strongest conviction.  Yet, somehow, someway, I still believe the Rams figure this out.  But, yes, this has upset written all over it.
WIN; 30-22 Rams

Friday Line NYDN

PATRIOTS -4 (Chargers)
All season long I've been calling the Chargers a paper tiger.  They've been making me eat my words of late, but I'm not about to back down now.  If you wanna be the man, you gotta beat the man.  Philip Rivers, this means you ... Wooo!  Vegas seems to be a little skittish regarding this game, and perhaps for good reason.  These teams appear fairly equal ... on paper.  But until someone finally knocks the Patriots off the mountain top, I'm sticking with Tom Brady at Foxboro.  No team comes off bye weeks better than New England.  This is Bill Belichick's ideal post-season scenario: two weeks of healing and preparation, and home field advantage.  The Chargers are 7-1 on the road this season, but the Patriots are undefeated at Foxboro.  Maybe this is the year a team finally comes into Gillette Stadium and kicks New England's ass up and down the field.  The Chargers appear poised to do just that.  They're a legitimately good team and are well coached.  But the onus remains on them to prove the NFL pundits wrong.  I happen to think the Patriots defense is underrated, and I'm betting Sunday they prove me right.  Four points is a very friendly spread.
WIN; 41-28 Patriots

SAINTS -8 (Eagles)
I have no doubt the Saints win this game.  They're on to something big.  I think they jump out to an early lead, and ultimately outlast the Eagles, just not in the same convincing 48-7 manner as Week Ten.  But like the Rams/Cowboys game, this is another law abiding recreational gambler's nightmare ... if not worse.  The force is strong with Nick Foles.  He somehow compels the Eagles to achieve greatness.  The Saints playing at dome sweet dome is all nice and well, but in all my decades watching this game the darnedest things imaginable to transpire on a football field often involve the Eagles.  This week should be no different.  This is also an interesting clash between head coaches.  They're gonna throw everything in the book at each other.  That Sean Payton is a vicious competitor.  Should be fun ... less so for Eagles fans.  Vegas is begging people to bet on Philly, but I'm not biting.
Loss; 20-14 Saints

Post Game
Division Round Record:  2-2
Overall Record:  98-126-11
Bagels in the Basket:  -45

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