11-for-11: The Quest For Post-Season Perfection – Wild Card Weekend

The playoffs are about to be in full swing, and it’s time to see who’s worth their weight in Swami-gold. I’ve traveled far, and I’ve searched wide (went through my recent Facebook conversations… Don’t judge me), and I’ve put together eleven of the games biggest fans, and challenged them to do the unthinkable: Conquer the beast that is playoff football, by going 11-0 against the spread.

I know. I know. It’s MADNESS THAT I SPEAK OF! It just CAN’T BE DONE! Not this year, dear reader. It’s time the beast is slain. And if not, well, we’re going to try like hell, and we’ll see who sucked the least.

Before submitting their picks, our competitors answered a brief questionnaire, which is going to be used for the sole purpose of using against them later, and making them feel stupid. I know, I know. I’m too much sometimes.

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There’s a lot to take in, but here’s a few quick stats to make sense of it all, before we dive into the games.

  1. 7 favorite teams
  2. Rodgers with right under 50% of the MVP vote
  3. Every ‘out this year, in next year’ team is in the NFC, with four votes apiece for Philly and the G-Men.
  4. Nobody buys the Lions or the Ravens
  5. Shamus REALLY wants the Pats to play the Washington Generals, the oft-defeated opponent of everyone’s favorite trick-basketball team, The Harlem Globetrotters
  6. SB Picks: 4 apiece for GB and NE, 2 for the defending champs, and one for the Broncos… From a Broncos fan… But this is Totally Biased, so I love it.

Also, I’m dying for my good friend John Chow to feature on a the picks piece in the next round, he had some great, in-depth answers I wasn’t able to share, only for lack of space in the spreadsheet style I went with.

Alrighty, on to the games.

Cam

The Worldwide Leader’s first televised NFL postseason game is, uhhhh, sure to be a thriller.

Cam Newton’s Carolina Panthers have been playing some lights out defense as of late, and you don’t need to be an NFL guru to know that Ryan Lindley taking snaps under center probably put’s the Cards at just a biiiiiit of a disadvantage. The Cards fell in four of their final six games, all but giving away the number one seed to the Seahawks, and are now forced to hit the road and play an NFC South champion who put the boots to the Falcons to clinch in the week’s final season.

The Panthers will look to let Newton do super-hero things, and ground pound against a defense that placed dead last, yes, 32nd in the league, against the run over the year’s final six games. That included a blistering 79-yard run by Marshawn Lynch, a 63-yard score by Jamaal Charles, but the real dagger was a 55-yard haul by Steven Jackson. Yeah. That Steven Jackson.

I can’t see Carolina slipping at home, especially with Arizona’s road struggles this year. Of course, they went .500, but that included road wins over Derek Carr, Brandon Weeden, Shaun Hill, and Eli Manning pre-Odell Beckham Jr. I’ll take Superman and a hot defense over Ryan Lindley and the Cards struggling defensive unit.

Panthers win, 27-13

Antonio

With only 3 of last year’s 8 post-season teams playing January ball this year, the familiar match-ups are few and far between. Pittsburgh’s finest vs the purple and black of Baltimore will come to us Saturday night, but it won’t be a typical Pitt/Bal tilt.

These teams are used to splitting games by 3, 4, maybe 6 points if a team really dominates. This year has been different though, with both squads winning by at least 20, splitting their regular season series. It might be more of the same, with Pittsburgh certainly primed to take advantage of a terrible Ravens secondary. Baltimore was lucky enough to go 4-0 against the NFC South, with only one win over a winning team… in week 2.

It’s almost like the Ravens were destined to end this ugly season by getting dismantled by their rival in round one. The only game worth betting this weekend, the Steelers are my playoff lock this week.

Steelers win, 31-17

Luck

It’s Andy Dalton, on the road, in the playoffs. All we’re missing is the prime time slot, and we’d have the bettor’s Jesus and his holy trinity.

Lest we forget though, Indy is this year’s good bad team. Andrew Luck has done a lot, with very little, but can his best season roll right into the playoffs? Luck’s already picked apart Cincy this year, in what was easily their largest victory margin, with a 27-0 shutout.

Don’t be fooled though, this is the same Indy team that got straight up waxed by the Dallas Cowboys in week 16, in what was one of the worst QB fantasy letdown’s of all-time, a -2 point dud by Luck. 

Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not about to roll with the Red Rocket in the post-season, especially since it’s likely he’ll be without his top target, AJ Green. Does it matter if Green bites the bullet and plays through some pain? Not likely. Indy’s top CB Vontae Davis is the 2nd rated CB on ProFootballFocus.com, allowing a catch percentage of only 43.7, tops in the league of any corner targeted 40 times or more. 

Indy will do enough to win, and barely enough to cover. By far, the shakiest game of the weekend. Stay away.

Colts win, 21-17 … It’s rare games like this one that a kicker can make all the difference… And I’ve got Adam Vinatieri ranked much higher than Mike Nugent in my ‘2015 Q1 Fantasy Kicker Analysis’ 10,000-word manifesto I’ve got coming out next month.

Dezzy

Just a few bullets I want you, dear reader, to really think about during the game on Sunday evening.

  • Matthew Stafford is 3-31 against teams that ended the season .500 or better. Seriously think about that for a second.
  • No. Seriously. And this isn’t a “week 7, at home, against a team that would finish 8-8” game. This is the playoffs. On the road. Against a team that finished 11-5
  • Tony Romo had the 5th highest passer rating of all-time, playing with a broken f***ing back. He’s the second oldest QB to do it in the top 10 (37-year old Manning in 2013), he also led the NFL in completion percentage (69.9), and YPA (8.5). I hate all of the Romo hate, constantly. Cowboys fans have called for his head for years, and I don’t get it. Do you know who the free agent QB’s are? Yeah, that’s because they suck. The potential trade targets? RGIII and Cutler. Romo has spent his career doing a good amount, with a whole lotta not much. His numbers have always been great, even when he’s had a poor offensive line, and a non-existent defense. He finally has a PHENOMENAL offensive line, a great RB, and the best wide receiver in the league. Yes. Best. Romo responded by proving something I’ve always said, he CAN win a Super Bowl. Now that I’ve gone out on this limb, you should probably shift all your money to Detroit.
  • But Aaron Rodgers is probably going to win the MVP even if he WAS the second best QB this year. I mean, good on him for touching up the Vikes and Bears for 15 TD’s and 0 picks. Throw another trophy in the cabinet.
  • Sorry, I’m bitter.
  • Even if it might be smarter for the Cowboys to go to the air for this game, will they have the balls to do it?
  • If Suh drilled Romo in the back and took him out, what do you think the odds are Dez Bryant would rip his head off on the field? 5-1? Can we bet on this?
  • The Lions front four is REALLY good. There hasn’t been a better run defense by DVOA (Google it, I don’t have time to hold your hands, filthy casuals), since the 2000 Baltimore Ravens. And they won the Super Bowl in a game against the Giants that I’m SO HAPPY I was only 9 for, and didn’t really care about.
  • The Cowboys front five is also REALLY good. Zack Martin should come in 2nd or 3rd for OROY, even though he won’t because nobody cares about people who don’t score touchdowns. But really, they’re all studs. Every member of the Cowboys offensive line finished in the top 11 for run-blocking, or pass-blocking, for their respective positions

          RG – Zack Martin – 2nd in pass-blocking
          LG – Ronald Leary – 6th in run-blocking
          LT – Tyron Smith – 9th for pass-blocking, 6th in run-blocking
          RT – Doug Free – 11th in run-blocking
          C – Travis Frederick – 1st in pass-blocking

There WILL be holes, and Romo WILL have to find Dezzy and Witty.

Cowboys win, 35-14

 

Betting Table

Good luck, men.

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