This is what I do – give me some time to do a write-up, I make it look good. But it’s about WINNERS… let’s see if there’s any inside….
GiLz Wild Card Weekend Predictions:
**** WILD CARD WEEKEND ****
• Texans (-4.5) -vs- Bengals = (O/U 43)
Remember how the Texans started the year off? Front runner of AFC championship where no Brady, no Manning was in talks. Bashing of the Broncos. Took a butt kicking from the Packers but then bounced back with a 30 point trouncing of the 4th seed Ravens… remember those Texans? Well, they aren’t those Texans anymore. Finishing the year going 1-3 heading into the playoffs is a spell for disaster. Historically, going into the playoffs NOT HOT can cost you an early exit. Texans had something to play for the last 4 games, a win secured a game up and homefield throughout. They lost 3 of those games by 28, 17, 12; 19pt average. The team visiting Texan Stadium are the 6th seed, The Bungals. The HOT Bungals. The Bungals who won 7 of 8 coming into playoffs, and only loss was a 1pt loss to Cowboys. Those 7 wins were by an average of 2 touchdowns, 14pts. And more importantly, of those 7 wins… they covered ATS all 7.
[GiLzKey] = HOU; Schaub, A. Johnson, Foster, JJ Watt -vs- CIN; Dalton, AJ Green, Gresham, O-Line, D-Line. If Dalton can stay upright -vs- the pass rush of the Texans, I think he can pick apart that secondary. I will go ahead and pin *BOUNCE BACK MODE* right now on Andy Dalton for his poor start last year in the playoffs; same time, same place, same round. Bengals best shot is Dalton -vs- Schaub. Keep it out of Foster’s hands.
> ATS Pick: Bengals +4.5
> TOTAL Pick: OVER 43
> WINNER ADVANCING: Bengals
• Packers (-8) -vs- Vikings = (O/U 46.5)
The hottest thing in the league right now heading to Lambeau Field… Adrian Peterson. 9 yards shy of ED’s NFL record and his focus was clearly on the Vikings advancing to the playoffs with last week’s 37-34 win over the Packers. For the Vikings to be doing what they’re doing is amazing; give the ball to AP, AP run the ball, O-Line block, Ponder complete 2 deep balls, and that’s it. All this being done without arguably the best offensive weapon on the team, Percy Harvin. Not only is this team All AP, All Day, but the defensive has been on a tear of late too. Scoring on defense keeps you in games, or takes over games. They’ve been doing that. Going into Lambeau away form their dome will be different then last week, I expect the outcome to be much different too… one sided, actually. Christian Ponder will feel the pressure of winning the Vikings 1st playoff game since Brett Favre was in purple & the pressure of the Packers 3-4 Capers scheme. Charles Woodson will be back playing his SafetyBackerBack position. Packers are fairly capable of shutting down the run game this time around -vs- AP; AP had 210 on the ground last time @ Lambeau and 143 was after contact… which shouldn’t happen this time with Clay Matthews & Charles Woodson both on the field. They weren’t last meeting @ Lambeau.
[GiLzKey] = GB; Rodgers, All WR, O-Line, Front 7 -vs- MIN; Ponder, AP, any WR, D-Line, DB’s. Vikings D-Line -vs- Packers O-Line has a clear advantage. Jared Allen has sacked Aaron Rodgers 15 times in his career. Aaron Rodgers has been sacked more then any QB in the league. But outside of Allen, the Vikings pass rush in below average. And with Aaron Rodgers’ Career QB Rating of 116.4 -vs- the Vikings (highest -vs- any team with 4+ starts/11 career starts -vs- Vikings) I think the Vikings are going to have trouble, All Day. I’ll take the more talented team in a rematch, especially after just 1 week, any time, in any sport.
> ATS Pick: Packers -8
> TOTAL Pick: UNDER 46.5 / GiLz Trend; Primetime Divisional UNDER’s are 17-6 this year.
> WINNER ADVANCING: Packers
• Ravens (-6.5) -vs- Colts = (O/U 46.5)
Chuck. Friggin. Strong. Now for playoff Mojo (and we know all about GiLmojo) that is no greater mojo then battling freaking leukemia while coaching on the sidelines. I’ve been on the Andrew Luck / CHUCKSTRONG train all year long. However, I have mixed feelings on this game. Playoff Football is a different atmosphere then a game during Weeks 8, 9, 10, etc… those coaches who’ve been there before gameplan differently and effetively. Advantage – Coach John Harbaugh. Harbaugh has coached the Ravens to the playoffs every year he’s been there, and since then (2008) he’s won the first playoff game played (WildCard/Divisional off bye) by an average of 18pts. Ravens had an up and down year; injuries, play calling debacles, midseason firing of OC Cam Cameron, media scrutiny… but this team is a playoff built team. They excel in January. The opposition, the Colts, have a rookie QB who guided them to the playoffs. Before this year (3 rook QB’s in playoffs) that was basically unheard of. Unless you’re the opposing QB Joe Flacco, who did it for the Ravens back in 2008 (Harbaugh’s/Flacco’s 1st year) but that team was led by it’s all world defense. This Colts team is far from all world, comparing it’s defense to a 3rd world country in the means of all world isn’t necessary, all thought I type it… anyways…. now can Luck and his supporting cast keep the Chuckstrong Train full steam ahead @ Baltimore? The cold weather? Outside Lucas Oil? With a below average defense? Their best bet is letting Flacco air it out, rather then Ray Rice doing his thing on the ground. In 9 career playoff starts, Joe Flacco has only 1 outing where he posted a QBR above 100. Flacco has taken the heat for his playoff performances, and with that added pressure this upcoming wild card weekend… I can’t see the Ravens not allowing Ray Rice to get his hands on the ball at least 20 times. And those 20 times should be all carries -vs- one of the worst Run D’s in the league; Colts give up 137 AVG on ground.
[GiLzKey] = BAL; Flacco, Rice, Ed Reed -vs- IND; Luck, Bruce Arians, Chuck Pagano. Only 1 player named as a key for the Colts? YES. There is really no pressure for these Colts. They’ve been on this emotional high all year long. So let those emotions play out with those who coached & guided it. Andrew Luck needs to not change a thing. Do what he’s done all year. Bruce Arians gets back to being strictly an O Coordinator. And Chuck Pagano gets to coach this team on the sidelines for a second week in a row. These 3 are in command and with the veteran role players of Reggie Wayne, Freeney, Mathis, Super Bowl Champions… I think they can cover. Advance? Not likely. I see Ray Rice having his way all day, but a Flacco turnover or two can lead to points. Ravens have the defensive playmaker Ed Reed to create 1 or two turnovers alone, and he’ll have his gold glove on in center field all day as I expect for Luck to have close to 50 attempts, possibly even more.
> ATS Pick: Colts +6.5
> TOTAL Pick: OVER 46.5
> WINNER ADVANCING: Ravens
• Redskins (+3/-120) -vs- Seahawks = (O/U 46)
This is the game I am anticipating on being the game of the Wild Card round. Who would’ve thought Andrew Luck, RGIII, and DangeRuss Wilson to take their teams to the playoffs. Let me add really quick that this is the 1st time in NFL History that teams that drafted #1 & #2 advance to the playoffs the same year. Just seen that a few hours ago, thought it was worth noting. Maybe not in the WAS/SEA write-up, but ‘sawl good. Anyways – RGIII had the hype, the tools, the confidence, the leadership out the gate to have the best shot under HC Shannahan to take his team to the playoffs. But, in comes Russel Wilson. A draftee who was looking at being a 3rd stringer, maybe even find his way to backing up FA acquisition Matt Flynn. But HC Pete Carroll knows young players better then any coach in the league, took his shot, and the 5 foot 11 Russell Wilson has been one of the best QB’s in the league the 2nd half of the year. Whether it’s a base 4-3, cover 2, 3-4, Wilson has performed well -vs- any defense he has seen. After the Seahawks have won 7 of 8 and their last 5 in a row, there’s still talk of them being just a “home” team. We all know about the Seahawks, 12th man, etc… so even with the better record, they have to hop Paul Allen’s jet and fly 3,000 miles cross country to face a Redskins team who’s even hotter then the Seahawks, if possible, winning their last 7, 7-0 after their bye, and this Redskins team has pinned their rookie QB as the team leader. Looking outside the hype of 2 magnificent rookie QB’s facing off in the playoffs for the first time in NFL history, you have 2 great running games (WAS #1/SEA #3) and well coached ball clubs, and aggressive coached. One, if not both coaches will be looking deep into the playbook for some sort of trickery, I would love to lay a prop bet on that, if there is one. The Seahawks D is one of the best in the NFL. The Redskins I believe are a tad underrated. They rank 3rd in INTS (21), Top 5 first the run, 1 more defensive TD then the Seahawks. Both ball clubs are Top 5 in Time of Possession. Both have Top 5 RB’s in the league this year. So are we going to see a 38- 35 type game… or a 13-10 type game?
[GiLzKey] = WAS; RGIII, Morris, LB’s -vs- Sea; Wilson, Lynch, DB’s. RGIII isn’t as mobile and runs with as much quickness and power after his knee injury. He will now show his pocket presence as he did last week -vs- the Cowboys. The DB’s in the Seahawks, who are arguably the best in the league, go up against a receiving core who are undersized, which is hard to imagine. I look for Santana Moss and Pierre Garcon to find their ways in the middle of the field a lot. RGIII out of the pocket on a scramble, on the run, creates separation all around, and that’s how Moss and Garcon will have their ways with Seattle. Seattle is a different defense on the road then @ home. L3 away games, Buffalo, Chicago, Miami, they went 2-1 but gave up yards and didn’t create many turnovers. The LB’s for the Redskins will have to generate a consistent pass rush and create turnovers which they’ve been doing during this 7 game win streak. We know what the 2 headed offensive monsters can do for each team; RGIII/Morris & Wilson/Lynch. I am expecting the Redskins’ home crowd watching their first playoff home game since 1999 to act like it’s own 12th man.
> ATS Pick: Redskins +3 (-120)
> Total Pick: UNDER 46
> WINNER ADVANCING: Redskins
**** Early Projected Lines for the Divisional Round ****
• AFC Divisional Playoffs:
> Broncos (-7.5) -vs- Bengals (O/U @ 48.5)
> Patriots (-4) -vs- Ravens (O/U @ 50)
• NFC Divisional Playoffs:
> 49ers (-1.5) -vs- Packers (O/U @ 44)
> Falcons (-4.5) -vs- Redskins (O/U @ 48.5)