Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Wild Card Picks - Part 1

After finishing the regular season a dismal 14 games under .500, I've got eleven playoff games to at least partially redeem myself. It's going to take nothing short of an 8-3 record including a correct pick of the Super Bowl for me to be able to show my face around the club for people who make NFL picks that should not, under any circumstances, be used for wagering real money (Ron Jaworski just joined the club last week*). Here we go.

Houston by 4.5 over Cincinnati

Not sure I want a quarterback
with his hands that close to
his neck all of the time.
I don't remember a potential Super Bowl team careening into the playoffs quite like the Texans are. On December 10th, they went to New England with a chance to basically secure the #1 seed in the AFC, got their doors blown-off and now they're riding a two game losing streak where they've been outscored 51-22. Matt Schaub is starting to look like the cross-state version of Tony Romo and their previously vaunted defense suddenly don't look so good when you consider that they built a significant part of their 2012 reputation by stifling teams like the Jags (twice), Titans (twice), Dolphins and Bills.

On the other side, you have the Bengals who would have had one of the most underwhelming eight game winning streaks in NFL history** if they hadn't given one away to the Cowboys in Week 14. Andy Dalton has established himself just above the Ryan Fitzpatrick/Sam Bradford tier meaning that he's probably not going to make a clutch play late in the game but he is also unlikely to give it away with a 4th quarter turnover.*** For the Bengals, this is going to be similar to their Week 16 game in Pittsburgh where they ugly balled their way to a 13-10 win. I'm not convinced they're going to pull that off this week, but the score is going to look pretty similar.

Texans - 17 . . . Bengals - 14
_________________________________________________________________

Green Bay by 7.5 over Minnesota

It's a long way to tank
tops and Tallahassee.
I'm sticking with the Packers as my Super Bowl pick but the way they blew the bye last week has me a bit nervous. Aaron Rodgers did his part by throwing for 365 yards and 4 touchdowns but I'm not sure a defense that gives-up 199 yards to Adrian Peterson AND allows Christian Ponder to throw for 3 TD's and no picks (while only getting sacked once) is going to beat three playoff caliber teams in a row. But we'll worry about that later. For now, the question is whether Ponder can repeat last week's performance but at Lambeau Field where his combined stats for two career games are 28-59 for 309 yards with one touchdown and three picks. And don't ignore the facts that (a) this will only be the 4th game that Ponder has played outdoors this season, (b) the Vikings have lost the other three, (c) it's going to be about 25 degrees and (d) he played at Florida St. Too many factors going for the Pack.

Packers - 31 . . . Vikings - 17

Endnotes

* Last time I checked, Jaws was about ten games below .500 picking seven games per week on the Tony Kornheiser Show while Reginald the monkey was ten games over. Either film study is an overrated way of picking games or that monkey is watching a lot more of it than Jaws.

** How is this for a gauntlet? After beating a Giants team that was about to come unglued, the Bengals beat the Chiefs, Raiders, Chargers, Eagles, the corpse of the Steelers and the Ravens' scout team. No one has knocked-out that many tomato cans in a row since Sylvester Stallone during the fight scene montage in Rocky III.

*** Having not watched many Bengals game, I am making something of an assumption on this but I don't remember seeing any highlights of Dalton pulling-off the "Flacco Strip Sack" or the "Romo Lob Pass into the Flat Interception" (which really isn't getting the attention it deserves as one of the most reckless and devastating throws in recent memory).