go 2-2 and I’m not really kicking myself.
sure… I suppose after the way the Giants finished out the season,
I could have gone with them over the Falcons. Probably should
have been more willing to take them at home. Plus, now there is
definitely some consideration to be given to Atlanta and how trustworthy
this team is in the playoffs.
picking the Bungals wasn’t exactly wise… after all, did you see
the game? Top defense at home against a club that made the playoffs
on the final week.
did I ever nail the Pittsburgh game!
overall, with my final four still alive, I’m feeling pretty good
entering week two, even if that ever elusive perfect record is
shot to hell.
the way… only San Francisco and New Orleans aren’t lining up for
a second meeting this year. Yup… three games are playoff repeats
of regular season meetings. Green Bay, New England, and Baltimore
all won the previous contests. Only Denver and New England play
in a different location. New England and Baltimore won the first
at New England (13½) – I have only one
Tom Brady playing?
chances are you think I’m being funny. But I’m not. And there’s
a bit more to the question.
hasn’t played well early in several games this year. In fact,
over the last three weeks of the regular season the Patriots have
looked awful in the early parts of games. They trailed Denver
13-7 after the first quarter, trailed Miami 17-0 at halftime,
and trailed Buffalo 21-0 early and 21-14 at halftime.
you really don’t think much about it. Why? Because the Patriots
beat Buffalo 49-21. If you didn’t see the game, and only got the
final score, it probably never even entered your thoughts that
the Patriots scored 49 unanswered points and at one time were
now we get Denver visiting New England in the playoffs.
Denver have a chance?
that chance starts with Tom Brady not showing up… which, early
in recent contests, he hasn’t.
do you see what I mean?
Broncos did ok early in the game against the Patriots about a
month ago. But… (1) that was a home game… (2) they couldn’t hold
the early lead… (3) once the Patriots got rolling, they did whatever
if… and let’s really stress the if… Denver gets out to a lead
of 10 or 14 or 21 points, then they might have an opportunity
to win this game. It would happen more or less in exactly the
same fashion as last week. Big early lead… don’t turn the ball
over… shorten the game by running the ball and limiting opportunities
for New England… hold on late.
don’t see it happening though.
watched in recent weeks as New England’s defense has locked down
opponents in the second half of games. And the offense has proven
absolutely no lead is safe.
and this is more opinion than anything I can prove… I think New
England understands how they have struggled in the playoffs in
recent years, and also early in games in recent weeks. So, I do
believe they would love nothing more than to get out to a solid
lead and never have to worry in this contest.
expectations are that New England gets out in front and never
looks back. History suggests that their legendary coach-quarterback
combination tends to destroy teams when they meet in a second
game. But… I ask again, because nerves are there for me in this
one… is Tom Brady going to play?
the spread: New England
Without spread: New England
The beginning to end selection (have Cincinnati at New England):
Orleans (3½) at San Francisco – For me,
the reality is that I don’t have a good feel for any of the remaining
games. For instance… after what the Giants did last week, and
how they’ve looked the last three, I’m quite tempted to not overlook
their swagger heading off to play Green Bay. And then Houston
is moving on to Baltimore, looking very much like a quality team
that could go deeper into the postseason.
on those games in a moment.
now… the Saints and the 49ers.
can’t overcome a feeling that the 49ers are a bit over their heads
right now. While I personally like Alex Smith… and I’m thrilled
he’s been given a chance to start with a solid system and team
around him… right off the bat I’d place four quarterbacks ahead
of him in these playoffs (Brady, Rodgers, Brees and Manning).
now I keep hearing people talking about how New Orleans isn’t
the same playing outside. (They aren’t… but this is California
folks, not Buffalo.) And then about how San Francisco has this
awesome defense. (Again… very true… but the absolute specialty
is stopping the run. And, when we think of the Drew Brees aerial
assault tour, we think of how a defense might stop the running
fine… let’s at least glance at the surface of the statistical
Orleans at home… 41 points per game. That includes walloping Indianapolis,
Atlanta and Carolina. It also includes destroying New York (Giants).
New Orleans on the road… 27 points per game and all three of their
is quite a difference.
road schedule was significantly weaker than their home schedule.
(Packers and Falcons on the road… Giants, Lions, Texans, and Falcons
at home.) So just from a basic look, there might be something
to think about.
it over to San Francisco… at home they score 28, while on the
road they score 19 per game. On defense, or as a team, they give
up 10 points at home and 18 points on the road.
like this is going to be a really close game.
thing is… if you look over the San Francisco scoring, you’ll see
a lot of funny things. For instance, a 16-6 loss against Baltimore.
Or a 20-3 win over Pittsburgh. In short… lots of field goals.
New Orleans games, the Saints put the ball in the end zone.
what we have here is simple. The stats say this could be a close
game, and the 49ers defense is not likely to get blown out at
it is the playoffs. And if we are willing to believe that Brees
can lead at least four scoring drives and put 24 points on the
board, minimum… then what we need to decide is whether or not
Alex Smith gets the ball into the end zone… or only into field
the spread: New Orleans
Without spread: New Orleans
The beginning to end selection (have New Orleans at San Francisco):
York (Giants) at Green Bay (8½) – Things
are really quiet in Green Bay… and in New York people are comparing
this year to the Super Bowl march that ended the quest for perfection.
And to be honest, after watching what happened to Atlanta, I can
understand the comparisons.
let’s look at the facts. The Giants stunned the Patriots late.
Other than that game, they played three playoff teams. In a sort
of wonderful scheduling quirk… those were the top three NFC Seeds,
and also the other three remaining NFC teams… the 49ers, Saints,
and Packers. They lost all three games. Two were good games… they
do not want to go back to New Orleans.
the season they went on two long winning streaks… well, not really
long… streaks of three games. Last week was their third in a row.
They went 4-3 on the road (I just can’t call the Jets contest
a road game).
can go on… and we can debate this for a long time. The Giants
beating the Packers would not be as strange as any of the last
four playoff losses by the Patriots, including the past two seasons
at home after a bye week. The Giants are a good team, with a solid
coach and a very good quarterback.
for me I think this game is going to have a score closer than
the actual contest, with the Packers prevailing.
the spread: New York
Without spread: Green Bay
The beginning to end selection (have Atlanta at Green Bay):
at Baltimore (7½) – I am so incredibly
tempted to pick the upset here. After last week, I think Houston
deserves some credit.
let’s be honest…
didn’t lose at home this year. That included defeating the following
playoff teams: Pittsburgh (35-7), Houston (29-14), Cincinnati
(31-24), and San Francisco (16-6). Average score at home against
playoff teams during the regular season: a 28-13 victory.
went 6-0 against playoff teams this season.
29-14 victory over Houston included some worthwhile notes: Baltimore
won by 15 despite turning the ball over twice (Houston didn’t
turn it over at all), and Baltimore had more passing yardage and
more rushing yardage (in fact, Ray Rice used 23 carries to easily
outgain Arian Foster and Ben Tate combined).
Johnson didn’t play in the first game… which, of course, matters.
Matt Schaub won’t play in this game… which, of course, also matters.
overview I told you Baltimore will go far
as long as they remember Ray Rice is on their time. Evidence suggests
that in this game, at home, they will let Rice carry them to a
the spread: Baltimore
Without spread: Baltimore
The beginning to end selection (have Denver at Baltimore): Baltimore
spread – 2-2
Without spread – 2-2
Beginning to end – 2-2