Saturday, January 8, 2011

NFL Playoff Picks-Wild Card Playoffs, Saturday Edition

I finished the regular season a hair under 60% and have had a pretty good run on the bowl games, so let's try to keep it going for the 11 playoffs games on the board. For the record, a few years back I went 10-0-1 in the playoffs. If I go 0-10-1 this year, you'll understand why.

Here is what I'm banking on this weekend:

New Orleans at Seattle +10.5:

Tough game to get a handle on. Seattle is the first team ever to make the playoffs with a 7-9 record. Translation: they suck. I'm guessing if you are a casual fan you can't name one player on their offense other than the quarterback. All nine of their losses have come by 15 points or more. The other 11 playoff teams have lost a total of eight games by that amount. On the positive side home dogs are 11-3 in this round of the playoffs ATS, New Orleans is the biggest road favorite in playoff history and Seattle does have a legitimate home field advantage.

The Saints come into this game banged up. Running backs Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory were placed on the IR this week so Julius Jones and Reggie Bush will carry the mail. New Orleans will also be without stud rookie TE Jimmy Graham and DB Malcolm Jenkins. While Drew Brees threw a career high 22 interceptions on the season, he torched the Seahawks for 392 yards and four TDs when they met in week 11 and the Saints won 34-19 in the Big Easy. Seattle is going to have to find a way to get pressure and force Brees into some of the uncharacteristically bad decision-making we have seen this season. Having already seen him once should be an advantage.

Matt Hassleback will get the start for Seattle and has a 4-1 record in postseason games at Qwest Field. He also had a big game when the teams met earlier, throwing for a season-high 366 yards. But, the key for Seattle will be running the ball.

I really don't like this game, but I think Saints' six hour cross country flight, the relative health of the two teams, the home field advantage and the chance of some weather (70% chance of rain) all play to Seattle's favor. I'd be shocked if the Seahawks can run effectively enough and create enough turnovers to win, but I do think they can keep it within double digits. I see Seattle putting 17 on the board, so the key is to make the Saints kick field goals and control Marques Colston in the redzone.

I'll take Seattle: New Orleans 23 Seattle 17

New York Jets at Indianapolis -2.5:

The Twelfth Man in Seattle doesn't have a lot on the home crowd at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. It gets loud and is a factor that has gone largely overlooked in the discussion so far. The Colts knocked the Jets out last year in the AFC Championship game. This difference this year is they take care of Rex and his boys two rounds earlier.

It really is pretty simple. Peyton Manning had his lowest passer efficiency rating in eight years. He checked in at 91.9, completing 66.3% of his passes for 4,700. The 17 interceptions, to go with his 33 TDs, were the anomaly. Jets QB Mark Sanchez checked in at 75.3. That's terrible. On the season he only completed 54.8% passes and had a 17 TDs and 13 Ints. On top of that he has a sore shoulder.

For the Jets to win the game they are going to have to run the ball effectively and get pressure on Manning. I don't see it happening. I expect Indy to run the ball better than expected and to get an early lead. That is a disaster for the Jets. I don't see this one being close. Give me the Colts in a blowout.

I've got Indy: Indianapolis 31 New York Jets 13

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