LADIES AND GENTLEMAN, BOYS AND GIRLS IT’S NFL PLAYOFF TIME! Last week I racked up a 9-7 record in My NFL picks and finished the regular season year with a 139-86-1 record. I plan on a much better regular season record next year. It’s a new year now as the playoffs have officially started. So let’s pick some playoff games.
#4 CAROLINA PANTHERS (7-8-1) over #5 Arizona Cardinals (11-5)
Saturday, January 3rd,4:20 P.M E.T
Carolina became only the second team in NFL history to make the playoffs with a losing record. Coincidentally enough the first team to do it, the 7-9 Seahawks in 2011 won their first playoff game and I think the Panthers will win as well. Carolina is getting hot at the right time and have won their last 4 games.
Arizona quarterback Drew Stanton will not play and we will see Ryan Lindley start once again. Lindley was cut by the Cardinals after the preseason and was playing for the San Diego Chargers practice squad, but when Carson Palmer got injured, Arizona signed him. This does not bode well for a team who has no offense to speak of as is, especially against a Panthers defense that crushed the Falcons last week 34-3 in Atlanta. While Arizona has a mean defense, they have struggled lately against mobile quarterbacks.
Russell Wilson rushed for 161 yards in two games against them and Colin Kaepernick rushed for 63 yards last week. I expect that trend to continue and for Cam Newton to run all over them.
Prediction: Carolina: 13 Cardinals: 10
#3 PITTSBURGH STEELERS (11-5) over #6 Baltimore Ravens (10-6)
Saturday, January 3rd, 8:15 P.M E.T
I am looking forward to this game.
These two teams hate each other and are have been arguably the greatest NFL rivalry for an entire decade. It will be old school smash mouth football like the NFL should be played. and these players will be battling before, during, and after the whistle is blown. I expect at least three flags for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Despite those two blow out scores don’t expect this one to be the same. It should be a hard fought and close game. Pittsburgh finished the regular season with second best offense in the league in yards gained, but could be playing without running back Le’veon Bell whom is a big reason why.
Bell suffered a hyper extended knee in last week’s game. This will be a huge blow to that Steelers offense, but they will still have Ben Roethlisberger who was tied for the league lead in passing yards (4952) and Antonio Brown, who lead the league in receiving yards (1698).
I have been unimpressed with the Ravens the last few weeks but they do have a history of stepping up their level of play come playoffs time. This game should be no exception. At the end of the day I just don’t think Baltimore has enough offensive power to keep up with the Steelers with or without Bell.
Prediction: Pittsburgh: 27 Ravens: 20
#4 INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (11-5) over #5 Cincinnati Bengals (10-5-1)
Sunday, January 4th, 1:05 P.M E.T
I have mentioned this before, but Andy Dalton has been historically awful in the playoffs. He has been there 3 times in his career, his stats: 0-3, 1 Tds, 6 Int’s. Until he proves that he can win a playoff game I will continue to pick against him. He has one of the best receivers in the game in A.J Green so I just cannot understand this. Certain players for whatever reason cannot win big games and Dalton is one of them. That is why I am picking the Colts here.
Andrew Luck, a superstar in the making considered an MVP candidate, had another fantastic year throwing for 4,761 yards, 3rd most in the league. Speedy T.Y Hilton continues to be his primary target and has 1,345 receiving yards and 7 TD’s. As good as Luck as has been in his first 3 years as an NFL starter, he can be very turnover prone at times, with 16 interceptions and 12 fumbles on the year. Limiting these turnovers will be key for him if he hopes to defeat the Bengals.
Last year in the wildcard he threw for 443 yards and 4 Td’s, overcoming a 28 point deficit against the Chiefs to eventually win 45-44. It was the second largest playoff comeback in NFL history. I will take a quarterback that can do that over a quarterback that is 0-3 in the playoffs with a horrendous quarterback rating.
Prediction: Indianapolis 31 Bengals 17
#6 Detroit Lions (11-5) over #3 DALLAS COWBOYS (12-4)
Sunday, January 4th, 4:40 E.T
Tony Romo can not keep winning games in December and January, it goes against the natural order of the world.
Romo is 1-3 career in the playoffs and was 0-3 in other games when a playoff berth was on the line up until this year. Despite the fact that he was 4-0 in December and statistically the best quarterback in the league in that span, I just can’t pick him to win this game.
Detroit actually is the perfect team to try to shut Dallas down. They have the best run defense in the NFL and it’s not even close It is a team designed to bottle up DeMarco Murray, which will force the game to come down to Romo’s arm. Can he handle the pressure? If he gets it done in this game I can only assume he saw a shrink or something in the offseason who helped heal him of his choking ways.
A big part of the reason Detroit has had such a good run defense is because of Ndamukong Suh, AKA the dirtiest player in the game. Suh was originally suspended after appearing to purposely step on the leg of Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers last week while Rodgers was on the ground but he appealed the suspension and won. Suh was instead fined $70,000. Because Suh is playing I am picking the Lions to shut
Murray down and cause Romo to somehow screw this game up.
Prediction: Detroit 24 Dallas 17