The Wild, Wild Wests : Your Guide to the Correct Predictions and Analysis of the 2014 NFL WildCard Playoff Weekend

It really is amazing what a difference a year can make. A year ago, my Washington Redskins had just come off the NFC East division title and were set to host their first playoff game against the upstart Seattle Seahawks. Everything was going well, RG3 was firing on all cylinders as the ‘Skins put up a 14 point lead that quickly started to fade as Griffin III got injured and was kept in the game by Shanny, which basically took away RG3’s playmaking ability. A healthy Robert Griffin would’ve had Pete Carroll selling used cars out of his back yard, but we all know the ending to this story. Washington proceeded to go 3-13 this year, forfeiting their Number 2 overall draft pick to St. Louis from the trade up to grab Griffin, and Mike Shanahan got canned because of disagreements with Darth Daniel Snyder.

Just as one year can make a difference to my favorite team, so can it affect the overall playoff scheme in the NFL. So if you need to make some quick cash, read the factual predictions and analysis that I have below, and prepare to become a rich man.

Saturday, January 4th Games

Kansas City Chiefs @ Indianapolis Colts 4:35 PM EST

Remember when people were talking about KC running the table and being undefeated? Obviously that hasn’t been realistic since Priest Holmes was their star player, but Andy Reid has certainly turned this team around. In a division where three out of the four teams made the playoffs, Kansas City’s 11-5 record can be rather deceiving. They haven’t really beaten anybody very good, and other than blowing out horrible teams like Jacksonville, NYG, and the Redskins, they’ve lost to every playoff team except for a game against Philadelphia. There are some great things about this team, with Reid doing an amazing job turning the keys of the offense over to an electric player in Jamaal Charles, and creating a terrific defense that can take advantage of the offense controlling the clock. But, Alex Smith is still their quarterback, and he fails to make plays when he needs to, lacking good receivers to help him out. I like what this KC team has built so far, however they’re not battle tested enough to survive in the world of the playoffs.

Indianapolis on the other hand is perhaps the most battle tested team in the league. They’re very streaky, and despite the loss of veteran offensive leader Reggie Wayne, have come together to see the emergence of TY Hilton and a team with a defense that is built to bend but not break.  They’ve beaten both number one teams in each league, and wrecked the Chiefs during the regular season at Arrowhead. They also beat the 49ers, but got shellacked by the underrated Arizona Cardinals and the terrible St Louis Rams. The Colts have built a reputation on starting slow but coming back, led by Andrew Luck who has cut his interceptions in half from last year. I don’t think they’re going to come out guns blazing, even though they are on a three game win streak. Two of those wins came against the awful teams in Houston and Jacksonville, and the other was against KC who turned the ball over four times to gift wrap the victory to Indy. I expect them to be down 14-3 or so at the half, but to come back and force Alex Smith into a bad play or two and coast to victory. 27-17 Indianapolis

New Orleans Saints @ Philadelphia Eagles 8:10 PM EST

I love the Saints and cannot stand the Eagles and their obnoxious fans. As I’ve said before, living in the great state of Pennsylvania is torture if you’re not a fan of either of their football teams. Steelers fans are like the village idiot, whereas Eagles fans are like the village drunk. You simply can’t win either way. Although the Saints are playing away from the friendly confines of the Louisiana Superdome, I really think this team is vastly underrated. People say “oh, well the Saints are playing on the road so they’re definitely going to lose this game.” Yes, all their losses have come on the road this season. But look who they were playing. They barely lost in a game that they should have won to New England, they lost to the best team in the NFC in the most hostile atmosphere (whose crowd noise registers on the Richter Scale) in Seattle, and they lost to division champion Carolina. Granted, they also lost to the most inconsistent and unpredictable team in the NFL in the New York Jets, as well as the St Louis Rams (who, it may be noted, embarrassed the Colts as well), but they also beat a healthy Chicago Bears team on the road. Don’t forget that this team has the best statistical quarterback of our current generation in Drew Brees, and a much improved defense under Rob “the Wolfman” Ryan.

Philadelphia isn’t exactly a pushover this year though. They’re probably the most volatile team in the playoffs, capable of losing hysterically or creating an utter blowout. Nick Foles it seems is the answer to the Eagles’ quarterback search, and with one of the most talented running backs (and rushing champion) Lesean McCoy, their offense is very potent even without mentioning playmaker Desean Jackson. However, like Kansas City, their record is a bit deceiving. They played in the worst divison in the NFL, and yet failed to have any convincing victories against any of those horrible teams, even losing to the Giants and the Cowboys once each. For being gifted three turnovers by Kyle Orton and the Dallas Cowboys last week, they still almost found a way to lose the game. The defense is a leaky siv, and it seems like their team almost quits in the second half letting teams back into games with ease. They also have only beat one team that is currently in the playoffs (the Green Bay Packers), and that was when Green Bay didn’t have Aaron Rodgers. The Eagles have several things going for them, such as the weather and the Saints on the road, but barring a massive offensive output, I don’t seem them winning this game. 24-20 New Orleans

Sunday, January 5th Games

San Diego Chargers @ Cincinnati Bengals, 1:05 PM EST

The Chargers in my mind simply don’t belong here. Yes, they’ve played in the second best division in football, but if Philip Rivers wasn’t having a career year this team would be under .500. San Diego has quietly been able to beat playoff teams in Philadelphia, Indianapolis, and the Chiefs backups, but they have also lost games to the dreadful ‘Skins, Texans, Raiders, and Titans. Keenan Allen has had a breakout season, and it seems that Ryan Mathews might finally be restoring decency to the running game of the Chargers. Danny Woodhead has also been a key acquisition, fitting nicely into the utility playmaker role by catching the second most passes on the team and rushing for over 400 yards in a backup role. This team is all about offense, with a defense focused on bending as much as possible and trying to desperately not get outscored by the opponent. Even though their D is middle of the pack where PPG (points per game)  is concerned, they rank fourth to last when it comes to YAPG (yards allowed per game). It’s all about the offense in Sea World, where if the Rivers doesn’t dry up, the team has a chance to win.

Cincinnati is a bit of a question mark in these playoffs. They have beaten Indy, San Diego, Miami, New England, and Green Bay, but they’re playoff untested. Remember how they got blown out by TJ Yates and the Texans last year? This team is virtually unchanged, sporting a better defense but benefitting majorly from a division that has gotten considerably weaker. Andy Dalton is progressing and maturing, but still is missing a soul. AJ Green has turned into a monster of a wide receiver, capable of torching any cornerback for a huge gain. Giovani Bernard still has the run of the year, but the split carries role he gets with “The Law Firm”, BenJarvus Green-Ellis is hindering his talent. The trouble with this team is that if Dalton does nothing, this team will lose. Without a threatening running game, Dalton has to put points on the board by himself, and have a good game for the Bengals to win. Which, with the Chargers defense and undefeated Bengals record at home, shouldn’t really be much of an issue. 34-20 Cincy

San Francisco 49ers @ Green Bay Packers, 4:40 PM EST

The Niners are 12-4. And they’re a five seed. The Packers have won eight games, and they’re a number four seed. It really sucks to be San Francisco, because they’re going to lose this game even though they’re such a good team, and only because they play in the same division as the Seattle Seahawks. Why? There’s only one thing you need to look at. The weather. In Green Bay on Sunday, the high is going to be 1. One degree Fahrenheit. With a low of -19 at night. The record low in San Francisco for January 5th is 39 degrees, a whole 38 degrees warmer than the highest predicted temperature on Sunday. The furthest North San Fran has had to play this year was against Seattle, in September. There’s no way this tropical team is going to be ready to play in the utterly bitter cold that is at Lambeau Field, where Aaron Rodgers and the Packer faithful will thrive and create a hostile environment for Colin Kaepernick and the rest of the 49er team. 35-10 Green Bay

NFL Week 11 Picks

Last Week: 3-2 Overall: 27-23

New York Jets minus 1 at Buffalo: Woods and Johnson are both out for Buffalo and Manuel looked bad next week. Jets win 20-17 unless Geno gives it away.

Washington plus 4.5 at Philadelphia: Philly doesn’t win at home. Washington has had a long week with extra time to prepare. They fought back in the second half of the first matchup and the offense last week was fine. Desperation mode brings out a win for the ‘Skins 31-28.

San Francisco plus 3 at New Orleans: The 49ers looked bad at home last week so what better time to go on the road against a team Kaepernick plays well against? Niners behind Kap win 34-31.

Denver minus 7.5 v Kansas City. Primetime game in Denver brings out the best in Peyton. I don’t think this is close. Denver 34-13.

Jacksonville plus 8 v Arizona: Second week in a row I’m going with the Jags but what makes you trust Arizona on the road? Cardinals win 23-17.

NFL Week 9 Picks

Last Week: 3-2 Overall: 20-20

Almost halfway through the season and right at .500. Have some work to do to make some money!

New York Jets plus 6.5 v New Orleans Saints: Bad Geno means good Geno comes next. New Orleans struggles offensively on the road especially on the ground. I think the Jets pull the upset 20-19.

Tennessee minus 3 at St. Louis: Yes the Rams defense kept the game close against Seattle but they’re not in primetime, they’re on a short week, and Tennessee is coming off of a bye. Kellen Clemens is so so bad. Titans win 27-13.

Washington minus 1 v. San Diego: What choice does Washington have but to win home games? They have been so bad this season but this is the time of year where San Diego starts to deteriorate so what better time to do so against a desperate team on the road on the east coast with a 1:00 start time. Skins win 31-24.

Seattle minus 15.5 v Tampa Bay. Look for the defense to make plays for Seattle. The offensive was so anemic last week that I think Lynch will get the ball a lot in a simplified approach. Rookie quarterbacks and winless teams don’t fair well in the Pacific Northwest so why would this week be any different? Seattle ugly 31-14.

Indianapolis minus 2 at Houston: Houston is the home team with awful fans for a primetime game that pits them against Andrew Luck. Those fans will turn on the Keenum led Texans early and Luck will execute a victory. Colts 28-17.

NFL Week 8 Picks

Last week: 3-2 Overall: 17-18

New England minus 6.5 v Miami. New England is at home coming off of a loss. Tannehill is shaky and Miami is in free fall. Pats 34-20

Cincinnati minus 6.5 v New York Jets. The Jets are coming off of an improbable home win vs the Pats but Cincy beat the Pats at home too. The defensive front of the Bengals is too strong for the Jets and Smith will be dared to throw. Cincy wins ugly 23-10.

Denver minus 12 v. Washington. I know Shanahan has ties in Denver but Peyton has ties to destroying bad defenses. Manning will ruin the Mike’s return to Denver because the skins can’t cover a cadaver with that secondary. Denver 45-31.

Minnesota plus 9 v. Green Bay. The Packers are still without Cobb and no Freeman for the Vikings could be a blessing. This seems like a silly pick but AP is embarrassed and the Vikings don’t want to ruin a primetime home game with another clunker performance like last week. Pack win 27-20.

Seattle minus 11 at St. Louis. Sam Bradford is not walking through the tunnel. Seattle will go on a feeding frenzy and win 38-14.

NFL Week 6 Picks

Last Week: 2-3 Overall Record: 12-13

Pittsburgh plus 1 at New York Jets: The Steelers are hungry coming off of a bye, but healthier too. Bell and Miller are back and Dick Lebeau is incredible against rookie quarterbacks. The spread is basically non existent because the Steelers are on the road but I don’t believe in Geno in two consecutive weeks. Steelers win 26-17

Seattle minus 13.5 v Tennessee: Seattle is at HOME. The Titans are starting Fitzpatrick. Seattle will be resting people in this game I think by the second half. Seahawks big 34-13.

New England minus 2 v New Orleans. Brees and company are coming off of an impressive win last week at Chicago while Brady and the bunch are reeling from a road loss at Cincy. If you know anything about the NFL week to week that screams for betting with the home team Patriots. Saints can’t run and the Patriots are proficient in pass defense and they have Tom Brady. Patriots win 31-27.

Washington plus 5.5 at Dallas: I like Washington off of the bye this week. Dallas looked good and lost to Denver but their defense was carved up and RGIII is still very capable. Washington covers but Cowboys win 38-34.

Houston minus 7.5 v St. Louis. I struggled a lot with this one but St. Louis won’t have an answer for the Texans D. Schaub will break his pick 6 streak and the Texans will do just enough to cover. 24-16.

NFL Week 4 Picks

Last Week’s Record: 3-2  Overall Record: 8-7

Over .500…not bad.

Pittsburgh minus 2.5 at Minnesota (London) Matt Cassel is seemingly an upgrade over Christian Ponder but he is turnover prone and, believe it or not, Minnesota’s problem is not offense. They have been scoring points, their defense is the issue. The Steelers problem is their offense and I think this week is a perfect matchup to change their fortunes a little bit. Steelers win 24-13

Houston plus 2.5 v. Seattle – Some regard Seattle as the best team in the league but Houston needs this game coming off of a road blowout in Baltimore and Seattle is a different team on the road. I like Houston 23-17

Washington minus 3.5 at Oakland – Never trust an 0-3 road favorite but I think Washington will finally have a satisfactory matchup for thieir awful defense. Raiders are unsure of Pryor’s concussion health and McFadden has been as entertaining as Run DMC’s current rap skills. Washington 27-19.

Denver minus 11 v Philly Denver is 3-0 against the spread so far and the line is high but Philly just can’t stop anyone. I would not be shocked if they cover however because they can score but Denver can so easily win by three scores against any opponent than even money says Denver covers again this week at altitude. Denver 45-28

Atlanta minus 2 v New England: Gronkowski is not expected to play and Wes Welker is still playing for Denver so the Patriots are weapon-challenged. Ridley has been awful and Amendola is also on the shelf. This is a primetime game which usually favors New England but Atlanta is tough at home, especially coming off of a loss, and with the Saints undefeated the Falcons cannot afford to lose this game. Atlanta wins 30-27.

NFL Week 2 Picks

Last Week’s Record: 2-3 Overall Record: 2-3

Shaky start, but here goes.

Houston minus 9 v. Tennessee. Jake Locker on the road can’t be good two weeks in a row right? Houston will run the ball to set up the pass and win by two scores. 38-17

Atlanta minus 6.5 v St. Louis. Atlanta needs this game and St. Louis narrowly escaped against the Cardinals last week. Atlanta is an incredible team at home. The Roddy White injury is damaging but don’t underestimate Stephen Jackson’s energy level going up against his former team. 34-20

Denver minus 4.5 at Giants. Peyton will stay undefeated in the Manning bowls. Neither team knows who will run the ball for them but luckily that’s why they have the Mannings to throw it. Of the two, Peyton is better than Eli and with the longer layoff after starting last Thursday that means more time to prepare. Giants secondary is not great. They need the D-Line to win the game if they are to win. 28-23

Washington plus 7 at Green Bay. Don’t get me wrong, I think the Packers win here but this is just too much to turn down. Green Bay doesn’t have a defense and Washington found a rhythm in the second half on Monday night.  Packers 31-28

Dallas plus 3 at Kansas City-This is an incredibly perplexing matchup. Dallas is a crapshoot on the road and K.C. is largely unknown. Kansas City was not incredibly crisp and efficient on offense last week and I think Dallas will be able to run on them and control the game, while Smith won’t be able to lead the comeback although it may be close. Dallas 24-20