The 2010 NFL Picks
The Playoffs ~ Week Three


I had a plan. A theme of sorts in mind. See… to start this essay off, I wanted to launch into a deeply detailed investigation about how Rex Ryan was right. It did come down to coaching last week between the Jets and Patriots. And, just as he hoped, his group was better.

I had all sorts of items ready to go and worthy of investigation… none of which stood on their own as impressive or conclusive, since the game really didn’t have much amazing coaching as it developed. Alot of the great coaching was in the New York preparation. But as a group of ideas, they really asserted quite well that the Jets made fewer mistakes and played a much more sound and complete game.

The concepts I was going to focus on included how often the Jets scored after driving a short field, and ideas about the fake punt and onside kick. I mean, seriously, look…

I am not against faking a punt. Not at all. But there are certain moments where football is absolutely situational and not conditional. For instance…

I say that the fake punt was the wrong call at that time. Neither offense had been particularly effective in the first half. New England was set to get the ball to start the second half. And when the fake failed… New York was given a short field, scored a touchdown, and left the Patriots two scores down heading off the field at half time.

Sure… I also understand the two-fold argument in return, based on what we have been told about the whole situation: Part one – Some of the effectiveness of faking the punt comes from running the play exactly when it is completely unexpected. Part two – The unit had been coached to look for a certain set of conditions to exist. If they did, one player was supposed to run the play. In summary, it was an unexpected moment where the supposed conditions were in place. Call for the fake is automatic.

Thing is… I don’t agree with that argument. It’s one of the reasons I want to combine my thought with the onside kick to build a stronger case. Because the timing of it was just way, way off. And a team that has been burned by the halftime possession game before should be vaguely aware of its power. (Think back to that amazing Indianapolis comeback against New England in their Super Bowl run that involved having possession right after the half.)

We can go back and forth on all the factors. The end result is simple though… New England was outplayed. Whether because the Jets played outstanding defense or because the Patriots were laughably horrendous on offense or because of a coaching decision or a fake punt debate… it doesn’t matter.

The game gives you situations and you either act upon them or you don’t.

I’m not impressed by the Jets, in part thanks to the number of short-field opportunities they were given. And yet, while I can point to New York never needing long drives to win… and man, did I want to do just that… it doesn’t matter. In the end… irrelevant… scoreboard… the Jets did what they had to do. The Jets are playing this week.

You don’t need me to examine what happened. These games can turn on a fumble or blocked punt, they can be decided by an unstoppable quarterback or a relentless defense. And all we can do is offer some predictions and thoughts.

Which brings us to this week’s games. Enough about last week… what happens next?

New York (Jets) at Pittsburgh (3) – I really like the Steelers in this game. I like that important players on the Pittsburgh roster didn’t play when these clubs first met. I like that Roethlisberger is a more sound quarterback overall, playing on his home field… which is a field known for being one of the worst in the league. I like that Pittsburgh’s strengths… primarily defense… allow for them to challenge New York in ways neither Indianapolis or New England could. What I don’t like when picking Pittsburgh is New York can keep this a low-scoring game, and that they also have the advantage on special teams. Pittsburgh will… in my humble opinion… win or lose this game by their ability to force New York to start their drives 70-plus yards from the end zone. That means keeping kick and punt returns short. That means limiting turnovers. The difference between New York starting 50-60 yards away and 70-80 yards away? That’s the difference between a field goal and a touchdown on a successful drive. And, in Pittsburgh… where field goals are often not successful from lengths over 40-yards… that yardage earned on special teams could easily be the difference between the Jets scoring and not scoring.
Bob: Pittsburgh (both with and without the spread)
Terry: New York (both with and without the spread)
Mike: New York (both with and without the spread)
Mike Jr: Pittsburgh (both with and without the spread)
Molly: New York (with spread) and Pittsburgh (without spread)
Gus: New York (both with and without the spread)

Green Bay (3) at Chicago – I don’t think either of these clubs will look as impressive this week as they did last week. Too much going on defensively to believe either club will clear 30-points or score with ease. Instead I think the game will be decided by Green Bay’s defense against Jay Cutler. See… I don’t trust the Bears to be able to do something if they have to do it. For instance, it’s in the fourth quarter, Chicago down by 4-points, and Cutler has to drive 75-plus yards for a touchdown… or, since this could very easily be a game where the teams combine for less than 35 scored, protecting the football and not turning it over could be of ridiculously monumental importance… or, if in the middle of a play, Cutler’s response (throw it away instead of taking a sack, not completing a pass in the middle of the field) determines their fate. In short… I don’t see the Bears coming from behind to win it… and I don’t believe in the Bears if Cutler has to win the game.
Bob: Green Bay (both with and without the spread)
Terry: Chicago (both with and without the spread)
Mike: Green Bay (both with and without the spread)
Mike Jr: Green Bay (both with and without the spread)
Molly: Chicago (both with and without the spread)
Gus: Green Bay (both with and without the spread)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

With spread –
Bob: Last week 3-1, overall 5-3
Mike: Last week 2-2, overall 4-4
Mike Jr: Last week 1-3, overall 4-4
Gus: Last week 3-1, overall 4-4
Terry: Last week 1-3, overall 3-5
Molly: Last week 2-2, overall 3-5

Without spread –
Gus: Last week 3-1, overall 6-2
Molly: Last week 4-0, overall 5-3
Mike: Last week 3-1, overall 5-3
Bob: Last week 3-1, overall 5-3
Mike Jr: last week 2-2, overall 4-4
Terry: Last week 1-3, overall 3-5

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at