Friday, January 8, 2010

12 comments Divisional Round Picks

Divisional round? Why? No divisions are decided. In fact that LITERALLY can't happen because of the seeding system. It's not between division leaders either. Oh, apparently it's officially "Wild Card Weekend"...that makes much more sense. I'm thinking of baseball, divisonal point still stands for baseball.

At any rate, it's hot here in Australia and I come armed with a cold beer, seven tabs of NFL stats and my typical inflated sense of self righteousness.


Line: Cincinnati -2.5

Pick: New York 16-10

1) This was the really tough one. Neither team looks particulary impressive until the eye popping combination of 1st in total defense and 1st in rush, truly inconceivable numbers. These guys SURELY aren't that good. I respect Revis to a point, but I remember the Jets secondary getting burned repeatedly by fucking Miami.

2) Ochocinco vs Revis. This is the one on one matchup of the first round. Whoever wins this probably wins the game. I've actually been extremely impressed wih Johnson (no way I'm writing "Ochocinco" each time). He's really stepped up and been a dare I say leader, on that team. He takes a lot of tough catches up the middle these days, and a comment I say purely on instinct and not thinking it through, is a receiver more important to his team than certainly most.

Revis I agree is for real. The Jets have played some nasty #1 wideouts - Moss, A.Johnson, Colston, Roddy White and Reggie Wayne. I can't remember the exact numbers, but he held all below fifty yards and some to like, 14 yards. I favour Johnson because I really believe he's having an unheralded but great year and I think Palmer still, despite a modest season, has a few tricks up his sleeve. He knows how to get Johnson the ball.

3) Yes? So? But? Well, there's got to be something to the 1st D and rushing thing right? This is the cornerstone of playoff winning mentality. Offensive line is great, the only issue is Mark Sanchez. But he can't be that much of an atom bomb can he? Against these Bengals? I don't know. This one is tough, but I don't think anyone's convinced of Cincinnati, and be honest, you nver were. I can't trust them.


Line: Dallas -4.0

Pick: Dallas 31-17

1) Last week. This was a game that mattered, on a number of levels. It's not like the other two, relatively meaningless games that the Bengals, Jets, Cards and Packers played. Dallas fucking mauled them. They doubled Philly in yardage. They lead time of possession 40-20. Had two guys run for 91 yards and that's not even the story, it's that they blanked these guys. That combined with beating them earlier in the season...what more do you want to prove to you that Dallas are better? Playoff meetings between teams that had swept the season series? 12/19 times, that team won the third game as well. I think I've seen enough.

2) My intrinsic bias over the last four or so years. I've written on this site before, that I'm more a Cowboys guy or an Eagles guy, and you sort of can't be both, and I've chosen a side. These two have been in this epic war for really about five years for this division (face it, the Giants the last two years has been a bit of a weird situation after losing Strahan, Burress and Barber) and I think Dallas are consistantly better. Eagles have scored one touchdown in 120 minutes of football against these guys. People have been so hard on Dallas every December, but Philly lost to Oakland and everyone brushes it off. Face it, Dallas are better and it's not as close as you think.

3) OK, let me show you my collection of numbers (and I know you could almost certainly form an equally good case for Philly). Dallas were 2nd in total offense this year. Philly? 11th - that's relevant. Philly were in the second half of the league in first downs. The gap in defense is much smaller, but still apparent. 2nd in running the football, 2nd in stopping the run. Dallas have not given up a single point in 127 minutes. They beat the second best team in football this year (end notwithstanding) IN their bulding. It's the Cowboys, you know it, I know it.


Line: New England -3.0

Pick: New England 34-26

1) Foxboro. Not since the 2006 regular season has New England lost here with Brady, and that's a hell of a number - 21. The last 21 times you bet against Brady here, you would have lost. Do you really wanna try your luck this time? You like the Ravens that much?

How good have they been at home? They have won games here by 28, 28, 17, 16, and beat the seemingly unbeatable giant killer Panthers by 10 recently. They put points on the board, and beat the Ravens here when they were at their peak in Week 4 (many had them as the best team in the NFL after they scored 30 in each game, won in San Diego and smashed the Browns by 31). Brady throws for an average of 311 yards here and their three most dominant rushing performances have been at home. No one has put more than 17 on them here in three months.

Finally, no one has beaten New England at home in the Brady era in a playoff game. Not Indy, not San Diego, not Pittsburgh. These Ravens are not going to be the first.

2) And about those Ravens... In the last two months, the Ravens have only beaten Pittsburgh of note - and it took OT to do it. They are 6-7 in their last 13 and two of the wins were Cleveland and Oakland. Flacco has thrown for over 200 yards just five times in their last twelve games, they just don't have the firepower. Ray Rice aside, this is a vanilla offensive team.

3) The year after the year theory. I have seen so many teams have the big year after they were heavily favoured and the "it" team. It was true of Indy in 2006, Cleveland Indians in 2007 and other teams in other sports as well. Geelong Cats in AFL for instance in 2007. It's strikingly good at picking dark horse teams, and believe it or not, that's what New England are this year.

In a sense, every year since 2004 has been the "it" year for the Patriots. They never started a year looking anything other than invincible and no titles. This year? Different. They've been a bit "I don't know" all year, but they have been very impressive at times (59-0 against the Titans in the snow - and they might not been as bad as they looked - comes to mind) and you know that they have the know how. Indy is a problem, potentially, but no way the Ravens are. It's a bit of a hunch I know but New England's about 6th seeding overall by the media in these playoffs I think will have an equal and opposite reaction; stay tuned.


Line: Pick

Pick: Arizona 27-24

1) Warner v Rodgers. It's not that Rodgers can't play, he ostensibly can. He was 4th in QB rating, 6th in ypg, 4th in ypa, 4th in TD - by any measure (sacks aside), Aaron Rodgers has proved himself a very good player. He hasn't thrown an interception in a month. He's good. But his offensive line isn't.

Sure, it's better since the early season chaos on the left side, but Green Bay has yet to shut a team out in sacks this year and Arizona just happens to be 6th in the league. And it's Rodgers first playoff start. And it's on the road. This seems like a combination that doesn't exactly doom Rodgers - really, it doesn't - but then I look to the other side of the ball.

Warner has started 11 playoff games. He's 8-3. I really don't need more than that to be honest. This is not open and shut, Rodgers has had a much better season, no question. But this is different, it just is, and the advantage in the QB stakes,when it comes down to a play in the last two minutes that needs to be made, I'd rather be with Warner than Rodgers.

2) Injuries. Only Antrel Rolle is a concern for Zona. Whereas for Green Bay you know that Al Harris and Aaron Kampman are done for. Woodson is questionable, and this is no time to be carrying a bum shoulder facing Fitz (who I fancy in that matchup, wideouts that versatile get theirs in big games, and he's the best big game wideout out there atm, not to mention Boldin vs Tramon Williams, they are gonna miss Harris on Sunday). With that and Harris out (and I know they are 5-1 without these two this year, I don't care, and I love Clay Matthews) Arizona have the better secondary - there, I said it.

3) Special teams. No foolsies. There's an edge here, and I wouldn't mention it unless it was a significant one.

Kicking - Arizona were 1st in the league making 94.7% of field goals, Green Bay 25th at 75% (and 7 of their last 10).

Punting - Arizona are 7th in net punting, Green Bay are 28th.

Kickoff returns - Arizona 9th, Green Bay 19th.

Only punt returns are remotely the same. This is likely to be close, I don't think anyone realistically thinks the Pack will blow the Cards out, so which way does the weathervane point on the close stuff? I think it rather emphatically and decisively points in the direction of the Cardinals - experience, injuries, special teams. Happy to sit with them.


Bengoodfella said...

You know you could have at least thrown Steve Smith in the discussion of wideouts that Revis shut down and pretended he is still an elite WR. I respect your picks and I like your picks to an extent.

You can have your fancy statistics that prove your point, but I am predicting like the BBWAA votes for the Hall of Fame...on recollection and gut instinct.

I don't really want to talk too much trash until my picks go up.

Fred Trigger said...

hey guys, may or may not be able to get my picks up. I made a last minute decision to head down to Long Island to see my family (its shit like this that is the reason I am single, haha.) I offer my deepest apologies, but I will offer this: Ravens over Pats. I just dont like what I've seen from the Pats defense, especially in the 2nd half of games. Also, I need to get away from my PC since the keyboard keeps sticking and it took me about 10 minutes to type all of this.

Fred Trigger said...

hey guys, may or may not be able to get my picks up. I made a last minute decision to head down to Long Island to see my family (its shit like this that is the reason I am single, haha.) I offer my deepest apologies, but I will offer this: Ravens over Pats. I just dont like what I've seen from the Pats defense, especially in the 2nd half of games. Also, I need to get away from my PC since the keyboard keeps sticking and it took me about 10 minutes to type all of this.

KentAllard said...

I would list my own opinion of how the games will go here in the comments, but I'm starting to feel uneasy with my pre-season pick of the Bears in the Super Bowl. I don't think they are going to make it.

Bengoodfella said...

That Chicago pick wasn't terrible, because Peter King picked it too! Just wait until I decide to post my playoffs picks w/ analysis, they will make the pick of the Bears in the Super Bowl look like the smartest pick of the year.

KentAllard said...

Peter king picked that, too? Wow, now I feel better. :-)

Seriously, somebody could make a fortune by betting against my predictions for sporting events. My accuracy rate has to be around 5%, worse against the spread.

Anonymous said...

TheBigLead did a thing on mainstream media's projections for the season. Good ole Peter King came in second to last on their rankings. A nice 72nd place finish for the coffee king.

Martin said...

I'd make the same picks J.S. did, except I think the Packers are going to be able to beat the Cards. I think going back and playing them again will dampen the playoff atmosphere for Rodgers, since he jsut did it last week. The only team I would be surprised to see lose though would be the Cowboys. I think they completely have the Eagles number.

Bengoodfella said...

Yeah, if I recall correctly Peter had Chicago in the Super Bowl. I can be accurate at times with sports picks. I feel like I generally do better with college sports, though that may not be accurate and it's all in my head.

I saw on PK's Twitter that he mentioned he was 72nd and I had no idea what he was speaking about. No I get it. That is sad...what is worse is that I lost to him in the Pick 'Em this year. That's brutal to be 72nd though.

Martin, my picks have been ready to go since yesterday, I just haven't posted them yet. I am with you on the Packers and I explain a little bit better in my pick. I don't feel 100% confident on any of my picks and I think my analysis will show that. It's so hard when the teams just played last week to project what they will do this week. You know some teams held stuff back.

Dylan Murphy said...

Its hard to ignore that the Cardinals did play hard last week, except they went down 14-0. It was only then that they pulled their starters. And Green Bay should be (minus Big Ben's game winning TD pass) on an 8 game winning streak.

ivn said...

I'm going to put my picks down here real quick:

Cincinnati 20, NY Jets 7 (shades of the Denver/Indianapolis playoff game five or six years back when the Broncos whupped on the Colts in Week 17 when Indy had nothing to gain, and then the Colts came right back and squashed the Broncos. Mark Sanchez has been playing like shit and the Jets just aren't that good of a team)

Dallas 37, Philly 24 (toughest one to pick, actually, because I would not be surprised if Dallas somehow gags and I think Philly can win it if they can get big plays early and turn this into a track meet)

New England 28, Baltimore 17 (the Ravens seem like a hot pick but they went 1-6 against playoff teams this year, and that one win came three and a half months ago. they really haven't played well in big games at all this year.)

Green Bay 26, Arizona 16 (a relevant stat that J.S. didn't mention: Green Bay was +22 in turnover margin, best in the league, and Arizona sits at -5. the Cards only had one less turnover than the 27-interception Bears.)

Bengoodfella said...

Dylan, I feel pretty good about the Packers over the Cardinals...which means I will be wrong. So choose accordingly.

Ivn, you aren't the only one to compare the Bengals to the Colts and the Jets to the Chiefs a few years ago. I think it could be an accurate comparison. I will have faith Dallas doesn't choke, I think it is their year. I am not a huge Ravens fan, so I like your stat a/b them against playoff teams. Good stat a/b the Packers and I think it is relevant.

I guess I should go ahead and post my picks now...