NFL Season: 35-35-2, (50.00%) -3.5 Units
Hit right at 50% in the regular season, so my futures and playoff plays are going to have to do some damage if I want to finish in the black this season. Here’s what I’ve got for Wild Card Weekend…
Raiders/Texans Ov 37: On the surface you look at this game and wonder how either team is going to score. 2 awful QB’s facing off and the Texans with the number one defense in the NFL. It seems destined to be a 13-10 game doesn’t it? A lot has to go right for a game to finish under 37 points. Any kind of special teams or defensive TD really throws a wrench into things. You’ve also gotta dodge short fields, big kick returns, etc. Despite Connor Cook playing QB I still think the Raiders are going to take their shots down the field. They’ve got Crabtree and Cooper out there and it’s just who they are. If they do nothing but dink and dunk in the pass game and run the ball they’ll have no shot in hell, and they know that. On the flip side the way to beat this Raiders defense is by attacking the secondary and throwing down field on them too. I think we see some turnovers, some big plays, and overall more action than I’m sure most people expect. I’m not saying we get a shootout here but something along the lines of 24-17 wouldn’t surprise me a bit.
Seahawks (-8): I think you can just about stick a fork in the Lions right now. They won coin flip game after coin flip game in the middle of the season, but now they’ve lost 3 straight and I think their true colors are starting to show. This Lions team has an 18th ranked defense, a 21st ranked defense, and a -12 point differential on the year. To put it simply they are just a mediocre to maybe even below average team. They just found their way into the playoffs on the strength of winning a bunch of those 50/50 type games. Credit to them for winning those games, but they are in over their heads here. They now have to head about 2000 miles west and play in one of the toughest stadiums in the league. They have to face a team and QB that’s been there before and do it with absolutely no momentum at all. It was a feel good year for the Lions but I can really see this one getting away from them. Expecting a 28-13 type Seattle win.
Steelers (-10): There’s a ton working against Miami in this game. Their starting QB is hurt, they are a warm weather team playing in what will be roughly 20 degree weather on Sunday, and the Steelers are out for revenge. Back in October the Dolphins physically dominated the Steelers in a 30-15 win where Jay Ajayi went wild, and the Fins put up nearly 500 yards of offense while holding the Steelers under 300. For as good as that game was at the time for the Dolphins it could work against them here. At that point in the season it’s reasonable to think the Steelers didn’t respect the Dolphins or take them seriously. After that performance however you can bet the Dolphins have the Steelers full attention now. Jay Ajayi isn’t going to sneak up on anyone this time around and you know the Steelers will be keying in on the run game. On the offensive side you have Big Ben and Antonio Brown who will both be looking for revenge on a personal level. In the first meeting Big Ben was hurt and Brown was held to only 4 catches for 39 yards. Very likely the most frustrating game of the season for each of them. They’ll be licking their chops for another shot at this team. If the Steelers jump out to an early lead the Fins will have to abandon the run (clearly the strength of the team) and hope Matt Moore can bring them back. That’s where the game could get ugly. I think the Steelers blow Miami’s doors off.
Giants (+4.5): I just can’t pass on the Giants in this spot. I love their defense, I love their pass rush, I love their experience, and I love how many big playoff games they’ve won as dogs over the years. The Packers pass defense is horrid and this seems like the kind of game where Odell Beckham will be an absolute nightmare to deal with. Beckham is the most explosive WR in the NFL and I expect the Pack to double him all night long. With him doubled it should open things up for Shepard and Cruz as well as emerging TE Will Tye. Even with the assumed double coverage that Beckham will see you’ve gotta figure he’s going to find a way to get his regardless. Say what you want about Eli Manning but the guy has been there time and time again. He’s won big games, he’s won on the road, he’s won as a dog, and if you give him a swiss cheese secondary to pick on I believe he’s going to have success. On the other end we have a typical Giants defense. They get after the QB and from there they hope for rushed, low percentage passes for guys like Collins and Rodgers-Cromartie to break up or pick off. Aaron Rodgers of course is amazing but he doesn’t have much of a running game to work with at all and if he’s running for his life all day it could be trouble. As good as the guy is he isn’t immune to his share of INT’s or fumbles here and there. This game is going to come down to the wire and while I’m not sure who wins, I’ll gladly take 4.5 points in a game I’d have lined at GB -2.