Saturday, January 14, 2006

divisional playoff picks...

Saturday's games:
Washington +9 at Seattle - Total 41

Washington had a whopping 120 total yards against the Bucs last week; expect much of the same vs the Seahawks who will look to take Clinton Portis out of the game. Brunell's gone 8 straight games without a 200 yard passing day and has completed only 23 total passes the last 3 games.

Seattle is rested, and at home, both good things and are 9 point favorites (history says this a a good thing). Seattle rolls in having turned it over only 17 times in 16 games! They have the best red zone offense in the league and offer an incredibly balanced offense. The Skins are not likely to get steady pressure against the veteran (and perhaps best in the league) offensive line. Less pressure = less turnovers. And it's turnovers that have been feeding these Skins the last month and a half. Expect Shawn Alexander and Seattle to roll and win by at least 2 touchdowns.


New England +3 at Denver - Total 43.5

With the kind of roll NE's been on (7-2 SU in their last 9), spotting them 3 points seems to invite a play on the Pats. But look closely at those 7 wins. Their victims include Miami, New Orleans, Tampa, Buffalo and the Jets twice before pulling away from Jacktown last week in the second half. In fact, only 2 of NE's 11 wins came over playoff teams: Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay. Denver has only 2 such wins also but one of them was a 28-20 beating of the Pats in Denver in mid-October. The Broncos didn't lose a home game this year.

NE's run has been fueled by a return to health of several key defenders. That health's seen them cut their rushing yards allowed just about in half since the eighth game of the year. The Broncos finished last in the league in sacks and 29th in passing yards allowed. That last stat's understandable given that Denver's been ahead of everyone, forcing them to throw and abandon the run.

NE's won 10 straight in the playoffs, two as a dog. Maybe the most important stat of this game is Bill Belichick has been incredible when facing the same QB for a second time in the same season (as he is Plummer). Coach Belichick is 14-1 SU and 12-3 ATS in such situations while at NE, the one SU loss coming against Miami in the last week of the season when the starters were pulled early.

One last interesting stat, the three winningest QBs in the NFL over the last three years are:
1. P. Manning
2. T. Brady
3. J. Plummer

This appears to be a close game and I'll take Brady to make the plays over Plummer.


Sunday's Games:
Pittsburgh +9.5 at Indianapolis - Total 48

Indy has by far the better offense and an underated defense that quite possibly is as good as the Steelers if not better. Indy will be able to shut down the Steeler running game forcing Ben Rothelberger to win this game with his arm. Special teams might give an edge to Pittsburgh and the coaching matchup is even. Indy had a bye week and will be well rested. This game comes down to two factors... Indianapolis is the better team and is playing indoors at home. From a betting standpoint, this is could be the playoff game of the year.


Carolina +3 at Chicago - Total 31

An obvious defensive battle between the Bears and Panthers which will feature many punts and a battle for field position. A key stat is Rex Grossman has only played 6 qtrs all year. Carolina has a definite edge on the offensive side of the ball. Can anyone stop Steve Smith? The defenses are about even with maybe a slight edge to the Bears. I think the overall edge here goes to the Panthers as this team's been to the playoffs before, the Bears haven't sniffed the playoffs in years. A close game to be decided by turnovers.


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