The 2010 NFL Picks
The Playoffs ~ Week Two


It was kind of a funny opening round. I mean… even beyond the Seahawks winning and other excitement of the first playoff games. It was funny for the six of us making picks.

As a start, I have to point out… Terry went with Seattle all the way to the Super Bowl in here initial picks of the full slate.

Gus and Mike Jr changed things up here and there… and that led to them jumping out of the gate to 3-1 marks and the leads in our two week-by-week efforts.

Me? Doomed. Lost the Saints from my Super Bowl prediction. Lost the Colts from my AFC championship. Those two opening round losses end up creating five losses in the eleven playoff games since neither of those teams will be winning this weekend (or, for New Orleans, next).

And it was funny for the repercussions. How about Atlanta? Because Seattle won their division… placing them in the fourth seed… the Falcons get the Packers this weekend while the Bears host the Seahawks. I’m not sure you can say it matters… since I think they would have been playing Green Bay or New Orelans, and neither would have been a treat. Still… when looking to the opposite side of your home field, Seattle is a bit more comforting than Green Bay.

Four games to consider this week. A trip to the conference championship for the winners.

Baltimore at Pittsburgh (3½) – Worst game of the week to pick. Check this out… the past three seasons… these teams have met seven times. Pittsburgh is 5-2 in those games. This year… each team won once, both games were amazingly low scoring, and each team won by 3-points. In 2009 they also split their games… and go figure, both were 3-point contests. (Got that? So far four games, each team 2-2, all four victories were by 3-point margins.) In 2008 they met three times, with one team taking all three games. Pittsburgh won the playoff game by 9. During the regular season, the Steelers swept the matches, once by 3 points and once by 4. I think you see where this is going. This should be a close, low scoring battle. Final team with the ball could win it. Trying to kick field goals in Pittsburgh could decide it. The thing is… again, use all three years and not just the past two… Pittsburgh is 5-2 in those games, 3-1 at home, and they are the only team of the two to win games by more than 3. On top of that… as I’ve mentioned before, there’s only one active quarterback in the NFL other than Tom Brady that has won multiple titles. He plays for Pittsburgh. (In fact… funny thought… there are only two quarterbacks left playing this season that have won even one title. Brady and Roethlisberger.) Have to take the home team here. (And… side note… keep in mind that these teams play on Saturday. Why? If they win, they get at least one extra day off before the title game next week.)
Bob: Pittsburgh (both with and without the spread)
Terry: Baltimore (both with and without the spread)
Mike: Pittsburgh (both with and without the spread)
Mike Jr: Baltimore (with spread) and Pittsburgh (without spread)
Molly: Baltimore (with spread) and Pittsburgh (without spread)
Gus: Pittsburgh (both with and without the spread)

New York (Jets) at New England (9) – The basics are in place… we know these teams are familiar with each other, and we know the Patriots have the advantages of a week off and home field. To answer this, I decided to go back to 2009. In the playoffs last season, the Jets averaged less than 20 points in their three games. And that matters to me because I don’t think of the Jets as an elite team. If New England plays a good game… a solid, no turnover game… New York won’t win. They aren’t the better team. And, in big games, their quarterback hasn’t ever been dominant. Now… credit where credit is due. Peyton Manning is 9-10 in the playoffs. Losing record for his career. And… consider this… he’s been to the Super Bowl twice. I didn’t look it up to see if it was better… but that means he went at least 5-1 in the playoffs those two years (a title and a Super Bowl loss, with both seasons requiring at least two wins to get to the big game). So… sit down for this, because it gets good… Peyton is 4-9 in the playoffs when he doesn’t get to the Super Bowl. Is Rex Ryan a good coach? Is Mark Sanchez a franchise player? I say yes, he’s a good coach (but has a personality that tends to wear thin quickly and burn out after five or so years)… and no, he’s an ok quarterback but not a superstar. Still… Rex is 20-12 over the past two seasons, plus 3-1 so far in the playoffs. And Mark Sanchez? Yeah… he’s 3-1 in the playoffs so far. It will be 2013 at the earliest for Sanchez to start a season with a losing record in the playoffs. I expect the Patriots to win. I expect a frisky game with a lot of pushing and shoving and finger pointing. I expect Tom Brady to do what he usually does when he feels disrespected… dismantle the opponent. But New York taking this game or at least making it comepetitive will hardly be the surprise we saw last week in Seattle. New England should put 27 or more on the scoreboard… and for the Jets, that means the 17 to 20 Sanchez could deliver isn’t going to get it done.
Bob: New England (both with and without the spread)
Terry: New England (both with and without the spread)
Mike: New England (both with and without the spread)
Mike Jr: New England (both with and without the spread)
Molly: New York (both with and without the spread)
Gus: New England (with spread) and New York (without spread)

Green Bay at Atlanta (2) – A few items about Green Bay: (1) Only one team has scored more than 26 against them all season (New England, with 31). (2) In only seven games have their opponents hit 20 points, and that includes the playoffs. (3) No team defeated them twice this year. (And, I admit, Detroit beating them in their second meeting of the year takes a bit of wind out of the sails, since saying they had won every second meeting would have been a nice touch here. Still… no sweep of the Packers in 2010 so far.) That said… Atlanta has taken care of a few things that had been troublesome in recent years. (For instance… in 2009, the Falcons lost five road games. This year they took care of teams they should defeat and went 6-2 on the road while utterly dominant at home.) This has the potential to be the best game of the weekend. Close… quality defenses taking on quality offenses… should come down to the final few minutes. And while I like Atlanta overall, I’m taking Green Bay.
Bob: Green Bay (both with and without the spread)
Terry: Atlanta (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: Atlanta (with spread) and Green Bay (without spread)
Gus: Green Bay (with spread) and Atlanta (without spread)

Seattle at Chicago (10) – Ok… big news out of the way first. Number one, Chicago has won a couple of games by two-digit margins. Carolina… Minnesota… man I hope this gets more impressive… Miami… which I suppose could be impressive, but it was in Miami, where the Dolphins stunk… Minnesota again. Ok, not impressive, but they have won big. Number two, the Seahawks won in Chicago back in October. In other words… yes, Chicago could win and cover this spread. And yes, the Bears are just consistent enough to lose this game. A quick look at the season though says this… despite their two road victories, the Seahawks get demolished on the road. And… Chicago’s losses have come when they score 20 or less. Yeah… three of their eleven victories were when they scored 20 or less. But all of their losses have come that way. What I’m left with is simple… water finds its own level. Last year Baltimore crushed New England in week one of the playoffs. In week two, they couldn’t get out of their own way. (Yet another thing to keep in mind about that game with Pittsburgh when considering Baltimore this week.) Sure, Seattle earned a big and unexpected victory last week. Unless Cutler turns the ball over repeatedly (which is quite possible), the Bears will take an early lead, put up at least four or five scores, and coast in this one.
Bob: Chicago (both with and without the spread)
Terry: Chicago (both with and without the spread)
Mike: Seattle (with spread) and Chicago (without spread)
Mike Jr: Seattle (both with and without the spread)
Molly: Chicago (both with and without the spread)
Gus: Chicago (both with and without the spread)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

With spread –
Mike Jr: 3-1
Mike: 2-2
Terry: 2-2
Bob: 2-2
Gus: 1-3
Molly: 1-3

Without spread –
Gus: 3-1
Mike: 2-2
Terry: 2-2
Mike Jr: 2-2
Bob: 2-2
Molly: 1-3

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