Super Bowl 52 Patriots vs. Eagles

Two weeks ago the Eagles mauled the Vikings as an underdog and paved their way to the Super Bowl. Their 38-7 win over the Vikings changed the narrative for the next two weeks. The Super Bowl betting line opened up at Patriots -5.5 and is currently down to -4.5. There have been multiple million dollar bets placed in Vegas on the Eagles to win outright or lose by less than 4.5 points. RJ Bell the public face of the Vegas sports books have come out and said that the majority of bets are placed on the Eagles. Everyone is getting caught up by that NFC Championship game where Nick Foles looked like a legitimate quarterback.

The analysis points out that the Eagles are going to be able to get pressure on Tom Brady without sending extra men because of the talent they have on the defensive line. Their offensive line rates well and they are an overall well rounded team. They were excellent at the QB position until Carson Wentz was hurt and Foles has played just well enough to win, until the NFC Championship where he was excellent. Their weakness has been in playing against athletic tight ends, struggling against the Chiefs’ Travis Kelce. The Eagles have won a lot of games this year by big margins. They aren’t as tested in close matchups and how they play from behind or in high pressure situations could be key.

The Patriots have the greatest coach and quarterback tandem of all time. They are well coached and execute better than anyone. People point out that the Eagles have a better overall roster, but Belichick and Brady have built up so much trust over the last 18 years that they are the favorites. Generally picking the team with the best quarterback isn’t a terrible choice, but this postseason has been an anomaly. Brady had to beat Mariota and Bortles to get to the Super Bowl. Brees, Ryan, Roethlisberger have all been eliminated and great defenses have won games. Even Brady had to have an amazing comeback to beat the Jaguars. The Patriots have been terrible in giving up yards, but good at keeping teams from scoring points. The Patriots situational defense will be key to keeping the Eagles to field goals and not touchdowns.

So how do you beat the Patriots? Hit Tom Brady with a normal 4 man pass rush. It has been repeated so many times it is now cliche. That scheme seems to work against all quarterbacks. If you hit the quarterback like Snoop Dogg hits the hippie lettuce you are going to minimize his impact on the game and give yourself a chance to win. Brady has learned from those Super Bowl losses and can handle that pressure. He gets rid of the ball quicker and has such excellent timing with his receivers he can minimize the damage of an effective pass rush and that is why I am taking the Pats to win by more than 4.5 points. Nick Foles won’t be able to repeat his performance against the Vikings, he’ll remember he is a back up quarterback and play like one. Brady and Belichick get their 6th Super Bowl trophy together and Brady joins Michael Jordan and Babe Ruth as the greatest of the greats.

Eagles Vs. Vikings

I am taking the Eagles +3. The Vikings are not going to be able to come off that emotional rollercoaster from last week and perform this week. They are playing on the road and that Eagles defense held the Falcons to 10 points, they should be able to hold Keenum to as little. My picks have been terrible the last two weeks, so maybe pick opposite.

Sunday Divisionals

Steelers vs. Jaguars

To me this is simple. Blake Bortles is terrible. Roethlisberger is really good. I am taking the Steelerrs to win and to cover the 7 point spread.

Saints Vs. Vikings

Last week this was a no brainer, taking the Saints was easy. I haven’t watched many Vikings games and have felt they were overrated playing as easy schedule. This week though, I have heard a lot about how good their defense is and it has made me scared. The reminder of how different the Saints play on the road makes me hesitant, but I keep coming back to Brees vs. Keenum.

In this era of offensive football, I am sticking with Brees. The Saints defense isn’t terrible, but good enough. I trust Brees offense against a good defense more than Keenum against a decent defense. Saints cover the five points and win outright.

Saturday’s NFL Divisionals

Falcons vs. Eagles

The line on this game is Falcons -2 1/2. I’m picking the Falcons to cover. I am taking the superior quarterback over the well-rounded Eagles. The Falcons topped the Rams last week and I don’t see any reason why they couldn’t beat the Wentzless Eagles. Their defense is solid and they have a lot of offensive talent. The Eagles have a top 5 defense and the 7th overall offense. They are tough with an extra week of rest. I will take Dan Quinn over Doug Pederson and that is the main reason why I have the Falcons winning. They do have the better quarterback, but the Eagles have played well without Wentz. Foles is one of the better backups in the league and he will play fine.

Patriots vs. Titans

The Patriots are favored by -13.5. They are going to win this game by a lot. They are playing at home with a week of rest and will be very well prepared. The Patriots not only are the better team, but the Titans have no business being here. They had an unbelievable comeback win last week and there is 0% chance they win this week. I am betting $60 to win $7 on the money line, which means if the Patriots win, I get $7 (technically $6.98).

Sunday’s Wild Card Predictions

Buffalo Bills Vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville Jaguars will win this game. Their defense is too tough and the Bills are too weak on offense. The Bills are playing on the road and their “happy to be there” attitude defined by their celebration last Sunday tells me all I need to know about them. There season was a success and it is over. They aren’t a very good team and there best player isn’t at 100%. Their only chance is if Blake Bortles gives them defensive points and the Jaguars fall behind. The Jaguars have the 2nd best defense in the league and beating Buffalo’s 29th ranked offense is a no brainer. But, then again, Mariota throwing himself a TD and the Chiefs ability to squander an 18 point lead at home reminds me that nothing is absolute.

New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers

This matchup is the hardest for me to pick. My inclination is that the Saints will win. They have a better running back, a better and more consistent quarterback, and a better coach. Their defenses are almost identical in terms of points per game, Carolina allows fewer yards, but both teams could win this game. The main question I have is how well will Cam Newton play?

Cam Newton at his best takes over games and is sensational; bad Cam is irrelevant and ineffective and I expect bad Cam. The Saints have played him plenty of times and can prevent Cam from taking over and winning. Sean Payton will scheme Cam into a bad game and will stifle him. Without an elite Cam the Panthers will lose this game.

Also, the 2013 postseason was a long time ago and Brees isn’t about to waste a home playoff game losing to a team he has beaten already 2x’s this year. Bree’s now has a balanced offense, and though he doesn’t have the gaudy total yard numbers like previous years, he is in the playoffs. Bree’s wait is over and I expect the Saints to make it to the NFC Championship game at least. I’ll take the Saints. I a not willing to lay money on this game, which tells you my confidence in a Saints cover, but I think you should.

Playoff Predictions

Kansas City Chiefs vs Tennessee Titans

Tennessee is a terrible team. There defense is average and their offense is 23rd in the league. They have lost 3 out of their last 4 games and have no momentum. While the Chiefs, have won their last 4 games and are on a tear. Kansas City’s experience and their talent in key positions is why I am picking them. Alex Smith will do enough and Andy Reid will have a great game plan. The Chiefs have the 5th ranked offense and which will make up for their poor defense, which is why Kansas City will end the Titans season.

Atlanta Falcons vs. LA Rams

I feel like the public is overzealous on the Rams. They moved to LA, have the new coach who turned Jared Goff into a viable QB and have been putting up a ton of points in games, yet their return to the playoffs will be spoiled by the Falcons. The Falcons have playoff experience and will win this game on the road. The Falcons have a better QB and Julio Jones is the best player on the field. The Falcons offense’s problem has been scoring points, not getting yards and I think that will give this weekend. Their defense is significantly better than the Rams, which will help deal with Gurley. Ultimately, I trust Matt Ryan in this game more than I do Goff and that offense. and pick the Falcons to win outright.

BYU Prediction for 2017

Finally! It has been a long time since Brady came back and buried the Falcons like the New York Times buries a retraction. The football drought finally ends this Saturday. This is kind of a college football appetizer, but I am so hungry I am not being picky. Football is back!!!

What are the experts expectations?

Phil Steele, by his own admission, is the most accurate predicter of college football. I’ll touch on his two different ratings. His first ranking is where he predicts the final rankings at the end of the year. He has BYU ranked #27. Meaning that after the end of the bowl games, he thinks BYU will be ranked #27. Notables on BYU’s schedule is Wisconsin #10, LSU #13, Boise St. #45.

In Phil Steele’s power poll, which ranks best teams, not according to where they will rank, but how good they are. BYU is ranked #33. Other notables are Utah #43, LSU #13, Wisconsin #11, Boise St. #56, Utah St. 104.

In the AP poll BYU is #38 with Utah and Boise being ranked higher at 27 & 29 respectively. The coaches poll has BYU #42 with #25 Utah, #29 Boise St., and they even have Mississippi St. #35.

Their strength of schedule is #84. Similar to other years they have about 5 good games, and the rest are cupcakes. The tough games are: @LSU (technically neutral) Utah, Wisconsin, Boise State, @Miss St. (only because they are SEC). They have Utah, Wisconsin, and Boise St. at home. They are scheduled for 13 games.

BYU 2017 Prediction: 11-2

The main reason I believe that they will win 11 games is because of Tanner Mangum. Mangum is an elite QB and will carry this team to a great season. They will be closer to winning 12, then winning 10. This is Mangum’s 2nd year under Coach Sitake, with Detmer as his offensive coordinator. He played great when Taysom Hill was hurt, and I am expecting results as good or better than Max Hall and John Beck.

So, yeah, I believe they will beat Utah. I understand that none of my kids have ever seen a BYU win over Utah, but c’mon, Utah’s running a high tempo offense? Utah is a punch-you-in-the-mouth type of team, and trying pretend their something else won’t work. My only concern is that BYU’s receivers and running backs aren’t like last years, a good QB will equalize it out, which is why I trust Mangum to lead them to an 11-2 season.

Marshawn Lynch

Marshawn Lynch knelt during the National Anthem in the Raiders first preseason game. This was Jack Del Rio’s conversation with Lynch about this.

“[Marshawn Lynch] said, “This is something I’ve done for 11 years- it’s not a form of anything other than me being myself.” Del Rio responded, “So you understand how I feel, I very strongly believe in standing for the national anthem, but I’m gonna respect you as a man. You do your thing, OK, and we’ll do ours.”

People get far too upset, so I’m not calling for outrage. But, I think it is far worse to sit during the Anthem because you are too lazy, or can’t be bothered, than to sit without reason. This is a good litmus test to drill down people’s true reasons for hating Kaepernick. Those that are outraged, why are they outraged? Are they outraged because Kaepernick didn’t stand for the Anthem, or the reason why he didn’t stand? Those that were outraged, because he wasn’t showing proper respect to the troops, should have the same level of outrage, for Lynch who sits without reason.

If the real reason people are upset over Kaepernick is because of his political position, which is what I think it is, this will blow over without much fanfare. There is much doubt on whether Lynch has sat down for 11 years during his career, but nonetheless. I find Lynch’s dismissal of the anthem without reason, worse than Kaepernick’s reason for black social justice.

Super Bowl Prediction

Super Bowl 51.  I have listened to many sports podcasts and have been reading article after article all week.  Talked to my friends and during radio row I have heard many current and former players and analysts weigh in.  Which is what brings me to my opinion:

The Patriots Cover

Of course, there was no way I was going to pick any other team.  But, the real question is, “Do I always pick the Patriots because I like being right, or becuase I like them?”  Who knows, nevertheless they are my pick.

The Patriots have a weak schedule and haven’t been tested this year.  Their best win was against the Steelers last week in the AFC Championship and they dominated.  Their defense held the Steelers offense to less than 20  points and dominated the game from start to finish.  The Steelers, like the Falcons, had a prolific offense.  Back in 2001 the Patriots stopped the greatest show on turf and upset them.  Many would point out that the Patriots defense was the strength, which held the Rams to 17 points.  There is reason to belive that this Falcons team is comparable.

While, I agree that this Patriots defense isn’t as good as that years, their offense certainly is.  Brady and Belichick have now played in 6 of these and have won 4 of them.  They have dynamic receivers and running backs and have been able to play successfully against many teams.  The Patriots defense will hold the Falcons to under 30 and I believe the Patriots will score more than 30.

Many have pointed out that the Falcons defense  played well over the last part of the season.  Their opponents were 2nd and 3rd tier teams.  Green Bay last week was depleted and this week they are going to face the greatest quarterback of all time.  I understand, Ryan doesn’t have to beat the legacy of Tom Brady today, just his performance, but I doubt that he will be able to be as effective against the Patriots defense as Brady will be against the Falcons defense.

Brady will take advantage of the young Falcon players and will be the undisputed greatest of all time.  Go Pats!

 

 

Ranking Patriots Super Bowl Teams


Charles Curtis for USA Today:

7.  2003 (against Carolina Panthers)
“they just barely eked out a Super Bowl win over Jake Delhomme (he had a pretty great game, to be fair) and the Carolina Panthers.”

6.  2001 (against St. Louis)
“The first team of the dynasty obviously sits toward the bottom because Brady was a rookie pushed into action when Drew Bledsoe went down.

5.  2011 (Giants)
“Another team that caught fire at the end of the season, only to run into the New York Giantsfor a second time in the Super Bowl. But the defense was just average, finishing 15th in points allowed that year.”

4.  2016 (Falcons)
“Are they really that good or is the competition weak? That explains why they’re smack dab in the middle of this list.”

3.  2014 (Seahawks)
“…Yes, they were one play away from losing the Super Bowl. But it’s hard to argue with a defense that could do it all”

2.  2004 (Eagles)
“When I think of the Patriots dynasty, this is the team I’ll think of.”

1.  2007 (Giants)
“If the 16-0 Pats hadn’t run into the Giants’ pass rush and the Helmet Catch, this squad would be in the conversation for greatest team in NFL history.”

Going back over these Super Bowls you realize that the Patriots have never won an “easy” Super Bowl.  All of these Super Bowls were games late into the 4th quarter, being decided by 4 points or less.  The endings of the last 3 Super Bowls were some of the best Super Bowl finishes, in terms of excitement.  All three had unbelievable catches in do or die situations against the Patriots.  Luckily for the Patriots, Pete Carroll refused to use Marshawn Lynch and Malcolm Butler intercepted Russell Wilson.  This has been an amazing run for Belichick and Brady and they have given us great games, lets hope that Sunday is no different.

Carolina Panthers: Where it went wrong

Projections

After posting a 15-1 win season in 2015, the Carolina Panthers were predicted to go 13-3 or 12-4 in preseason predictions.  They didn’t.  They fell short of preseason predictions and was analysts biggest miss. Where did it all go wrong?

David Newton for ESPN wrote:

The foundation that helped Carolina to an NFL-best 17-2 record (including playoffs) and a trip to the Super Bowl in 2015 for the most part remains intact. Blame an inexperienced secondary with three new starters, catastrophic injuries on the offensive line and inconsistent play by reigning NFL MVP Cam Newton for the huge step backward this past season. Middle linebacker Luke Kuechly’s absence in the final six games after suffering a concussion didn’t help either.

Offense

Their offense was all over the place.  One week they scored 46 points then the next week they scored 10.  They scored 25 points or more 7x and 16 points or fewer 6x’s.  Last year those numbers were completely different.  They scored 25 points or more 13x’s and under 16 points only once, which was the Super Bowl.  Without drastic changes to personnel, I would still say their transformation was more substantial than Bruce to Caitlyn Jenner’s.  Cam Newton, the offensive line, and losing Greg Norman headlined their decline.

Cam Newton

If Cam Newton was Superman last year, then consider him Robin’s sidekick after this year, his stats were pedestrian and his inconsistency showed up in the win column.

He had career lows in completion %, average yards per completion, QBR, and rating. He ranked last in the league in completion %, below Brock Osweiler and Fitzpatrick.  His touchdowns dropped from 35 to 19, and he threw more interceptions than any other year since his rookie season.  Besides a poor offensive line, what’s the problem?

Personally, I think what happened to Newton this year is the same thing that happened to Rocky III.  Rocky was pounded by Clubber Lang because he lost his eye of the tiger.  Cam was too well fed and lost his hunger.  He spent more time complaining about refs not calling hits on him and less time preparing and focusing on how to make plays.

Cam also complained that football wasn’t fun anymore.  Football isn’t fun?  That to me, explains his mental makeup.  He loves game day and being a superstar.  When the going gets tough Cam complains.  He needs to learn to enjoy the grind and be consistent.  Which is sad because has the Lebron James body of the NFL and this year he played like Dellavedova.

Offensive Line

Michael Oher, the only offensive lineman your wife might know, Ryan Kalil and Gino Gradkowski all were injured in the year.  These losses were too much and they weren’t able to protect Cam which helped result in Cam’s poor year.

Defensive Backs

David Newton for ESPN wrote:

2016 grade: D-plus. I debated going with a C-minus here because rookie corners James Bradberry and Daryl Worley showed marked improvement in the second half of the season. But it’s hard to ignore that starter Bene’ Benwikere was released after a Week 4 loss to Atlanta in which Julio Jones had 300 yards receiving. It’s hard to ignore that the corners played a major role in a 1-5 start from which the Panthers never fully recovered. It’s also hard to ignore the Panthers still ranked 28th in pass defense a year after ranking 11th in 2015 with Norman.

This says it all.

The Panthers were unable to build upon the success of 2015.  If Cam can humble himself, get back to work, and revive his career like the Italian Stallion, they can return to prominence.  Cam has all the tools, lets just see if he has the discipline.

Preseason Predictions: Who saw it and who didn’t?

Every year after surviving months between the NFL draft and the first NFL game, websites everywhere make their preseason predictions.  Some people enjoy picking teams that have no business being there, for shock value, ie the Jaguars.  They back it up with stats, offseason acquisitions, coaches, and draft picks.  I like to review some of these predictions the week of down time before the Super Bowl.

Researching these preseason predictions, my biggest takeaway is that 75% were pretty spot on this year.  Everyone seemed to miss the same things.  The biggest misses were the Panthers and Cardinals taking a nose dive this year.  Most had those teams competing for a Super Bowl.  Many had the Colts followed by the Texans in the AFC South.  The biggest omission was the Falcons and Matt Ryan.  Matt Ryan wasn’t on anyone’s MVP list and the Falcons were pegged to be awful this year.

Plenty predicted the Cowboys good fortune  and  were accurate about the Raiders playoff birth.  Read on to see those who picked the Jets to make the playoffs.

CBS Sports

5 out of 7 CBS predictors predicted the Falcons to take last in the NFC South.
Only 1 of 7 predicted the Patriots in the Super Bowl.
All 7 of them had the Panthers as NFC South division winners
5 of the 7 had the Broncos as third in the AFC West.
1 had the Jets in the Playoffs.

ESPN

First Take

Max Kellerman and Stephen A. Smith did not Pick Falcons for playoffs
Stephen A. Smith picked the New York Jets to make the playoffs.

Commentators

0/43 Predicted Matt Ryan to win MVP
3 out of 43 picked Tom Brady for the MVP
0/43 picked Falcons as NFC Champ
17/43 picked the Patriots to play in the Super Bowl
6/43 picked Patriots as Super Bowl Champion

FS1

Colin Cowherd
Had Texans last in AFC south
*Guaranteed Andrew Luck will be an MVP Candidate
Had Falcons last in NFC South
Had Jets in playoffs
Predicted demise of Bengals
*Link

Skip Bayless

*Watch out for the Bears
*Did Pick Cowboys to win NFC East, 10-6 conservative
**Picked Chargers to win AFC West

*1st Video **2nd Video

 

 

 

Brees 5:4 Blessed are they that Mourn

At Brees 2014-206 Grave
Mourn with those that mourn

Brees Chapter 5 verse 4  says,

“Blessed is he that puts up 5,000 yards in vain, he shall get nothing.”

Can we all take a moment for Drew Brees?  He continues to be a top quarterback in this league, but his team is awful.  It would be like if Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was stuck on The Power Rangers.  He has been so consistently good, we see his 5,000 yards and we collectively sigh, “meh”, it’s Brees.  Like he is some how given 5000 yards every season by the football gods and it should go without note.  I say we take the time to look at his season compared to the odds on favorite for MVP.

Drew Brees vs. Matt Ryan

Take a look at Drew Bree’s numbers and compare them to MVP favorite Matt Ryan’s and you won’t see a stark difference.  People are heralding Matt Ryan’s season epic.  So, let’s compare the two.  Touchdowns?  Matt Ryan threw for 38 and Drew Brees threw for 37.  Yards?  Drew Brees threw for 5,208 averaging 314 yards per game.  Matt Ryan threw for 4,944 averaging 7.7 yards.  Sacks?  Matt Ryan was sacked 37 times and Drew Brees only 27.  Interceptions?  Matt Ryan threw for 7 interceptions with a int% 1.3, while Brees threw for 15 with a int% of 2.2.  Their ratings were 117.1 to 101.7 for Matt Ryan.  It should be noted, Drew Brees was the whole team.

Their numbers aren’t that different, but their seasons were the difference between The Godfather and Mickey Blue Eyes.  Brees went 7-9 while Matt Ryan finished 11-5 on his way to his first Super Bowl.  The Saints have good coaching, a top quarterback, consistency in the organization, and still can’t put together a winning season. They are 31st in the league in points allowed per game.  Not even Brady could drag his team in the post season with that defense.  (He really would though, but then again he is the g.o.a.t for a reason)

Something needs to change, or Brees needs to get out of town and go  to a team in contention that lacks a quarterback.  This leads us to the Texans, the Broncos, or even the Chiefs.  Those teams need a quarterback and Brees would make them contenders immediately.  I am sure contractually it isn’t an option, but the NFL would be better off if that happened.  Seeing, Brock Osweiler, Alex Smith’s 16 points and Matt Moore in the playoffs isn’t good for anyone.

Brees last 3 years have been wasted on a terrible team.  I feel for the aging statistician.  He deserves more than a defense built like the French.  So take a moment and mourn Brees last 3 seasons today before we completely lock onto the Super Bowl.

Prediction: Belichick and Patriots will lock up Bell

Comic: Patriots' Bill Belichick lock up Le'Veon Bell

The Patriots will invite the Steelers into Foxboro on Sunday and send them home packing up and they can Facebook live their way home on a cold long flight back to where they come from.  That is what happens to teams in the playoffs at Foxboro and this year will be no different.  Here’s why.

Lock Bell Up

Lock him up!  Belichick has had the Patriots do this for years.  He takes your best asset and locks them up and makes them effectively useless.  That is what happened when the Patriots played the Steelers earlier in the year.  Le’veon Bell had 21 carries for only 81 yards.  If Bell has a similar performance the Patriots will win this game and be headed to their 7th Super Bowl.

Dion Lewis

Dion Lewis is another reason that the Patriots will win Sunday.   He is 15-0 in games that he has played in.  He has always been a duel threat and after returning a kickoff for a touchdown last Sunday, he is now a triple threat.  Lewis’s explosiveness will help them recover from what they lost when Gronkowski was hurt.  The Patriots haven’t used him a ton and I feel like they have been waiting for the right time and not show their hand too early.  Last week was his coming out party and this week watch Pittsburgh try and contain him.

The Flu

Pittsburgh’s first match this week was the flu, which won’t help them on Sunday. Add this ontop of having to go on the road, Antonio Brown’s Facebook live distraction, going up against Bill Belichick, who has had more time to prepare than you, and facing the greatest Quarterback of all time.  This is too much for an undisciplined Steelers team.  They had a good run and a good season after a mediocre start.

NFL Playoff Weekend Recap, and what I learned

I missed big on this playoff prediction

Rodgers torches Cowboys in Playoffs

This weekend we finally had some exciting playoff football games.  They didn’t come until Sunday, but both games came down to the end.  The above comics were my playoff predictions heading into the weekend, along, with Brady’s beat down of the Texans, which was far from Nostradamic.  So I  picked 2 out of the 3 games correctly.

Seattle

It is time to admit that Earl Thomas was key to Seattle’s defense.   The Seattle defense showed signs of decay after his injury and showed up against good offenses.  They gave up too many points against elite offenses and 20 points wasn’t going to beat the Falcons.

I have been stubborn to relegate the Seahawks from a great team to a good team, but not being able to flip the switch in the post season, consider them relegated.  Their offense can’t score enough and their defense now doesn’t keep them in games when the offense struggles.

Packers

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers look unbeatable.  The last throw to put them in field goal range was incredible.  The story goes that he drew that play up on the spot and just told each receiver what to do, grade school style.  All-time quarterbacks need all time stories.  Rodgers recent success with Hail Mary’s and making up a game saving plays on the spot are all time stories.  If he finishes this year off with a Super Bowl ring, he wil be added to the top tier of all-time quarterbacks.

Kansas City

Kansas City tastes playoff disappointment again.  A different season and we have the same story.  Holding the Steelers to just 18 points going against Roethlisberger, Brown, and Bell, is quite an accomplishment, only to have your offense  muster 16 points.  The Chiefs are consistently good, but never great as they exit the playoffs again.  Alex Smith is good, but not quite good enough.

 

 

The Inevitable

John Breech describes the Patriots inevitably of going to the AFC Championship:

You know you’re in trouble when the oddsmakers in Vegas have basically given up on you. That is kind of what has happened here with the Texans. Houston is a 16-point underdog in this game, which I’m only letting you know because it’s the largest playoff point spread in 18 years.

The Texans have played at New England four times in franchise history and they’ve been blown out every time (27-0 in 2016, 41-28 in the 2012 playoffs, 42-14 in 2012 regular season, 40-7 in 2006).

To give you an idea of how hopeless things are for the Texans, the odds say that Tom Brady has a better chance of being elected president in 2020 than the Texans do of winning this game.

Sean Tomlinson from Bleacher Report talks about the Texans only chance:

Now the Texans’ ability to pull off a colossal upset as 16-point underdogs (per OddsShark) doesn’t rest with the quarterback, as it so often does in the playoffs. Brock Osweiler is still a liability and free-agency bust despite his brief flashes of competence Sunday.

It rests with running back Lamar Miller to some degree… it rests with wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins a bit, too, but he was wasted by Osweiler in 2016 and finished with just 954 receiving yards.

…That’s where Clowney comes in with his ability to be a constant menace…The hallmark of a dominant pass-rusher often lies in how much they can tear down the opposing offense and alter plays even when not recording sacks. That’s what Clowney did frequently against the Raiders, a game that ended with four pressures from the 23-year-old.

The Patriots are going to roll the Texans and roll them big. They have a superior offense, coaching, quarterback, experience and team. They are playing at home and I give the Texans no chance at all. In sports, we always know that upsets can and do happen. Any doubt that Patriot fans may have is how Osweiler beat them last November with a good defense and an out of character successful performance.

The key to any and all QB’s from Bart Starr to Tom Brady is to hit the quarterback. Any and all quarterbacks play significantly worse when they don’t have time and they are constantly getting hit. This isn’t good analysis, it is the key to beating any quarterback. The Texans finished with the Top Defense in the league and if they can hit Brady early and often it will be much more difficult for the Patriots. This is how Denver beat the Patriots last year.

They had an incredible defense that hit Brady over and over. It keeps the game low scoring and gives them a chance. Osweiler was the quarterback last year in that Denver game and he threw some great passes and beat the Patriots last year. If the impossible happens, that will be how.

Aaron Rodgers Inferiority Complex

The best game of Wild Card Weekend, will be the Giants and the Packers.

Cameron DaSilva, from Fox Sports writes:

The Packers’ pass rush will get to Eli Manning

Through Week 12, [Eli Manning] had a passer rating of just 67.7 versus blitzes and 96.2 when four or fewer rushers were sent at him. When pressured, he’s coaxed into mistakes.

Eli Manning isn’t playing well

Eli Manning is not playing good football. Since Week 13, he has a passer rating of just 77.0 with six touchdowns and six interceptions.

Green Bay’s offensive line is great

In their first meeting back in October, the Giants didn’t sack Rodgers once. The pressure rarely got to him in the pocket as he was able to remain comfortable, going through his progressions. If the Giants can’t put pressure on Rodgers, he’s going to either find an open receiver or he’ll escape the pocket and burn them with scramble drills, allowing his targets to shake free.

John Breech, from CBS Sports, is predicting the Giants to win:

I’m guessing the reason Odell and the other Giants receivers went down to South Beach on Sunday night is because they were celebrating the fact that everyone in the Packers secondary is injured. The Giants’ receivers might be playing against air in this game, and I’m only slightly exaggerating.

…The Giants are basically the worst possible matchup that the Packers could’ve asked for in the wild-card round. Green Bay is going to need a perfect game from Aaron Rodgers…It’s going to be tough for Rodgers to be perfect when he’s being pressured on nearly every play, which is likely to happen Sunday.

 …By the time this game is over, Rodgers and Tom Brady are going to have to start a support group for quarterbacks who inexplicably lose every big game they play against Eli Manning.

My pick is for the Packers to win the game.  Aaron Rodgers has risen and righted the sinking ship rebuilding a stronger engine in the process.  Packer fans are finally getting the team they have expected for two years now.  Jordy Nelson is back to form and I would be shocked for the Giants to go in Lambeau and win again.  But, then again this wouldn’t be the first time that Eli Manning would have shocked me.

Comments: tweet @woodswinsor

5 Stages of Grief

 

 

Paul Gutierrez for ESPN:

“McGloin lost his last five starts as a rookie and has played sparingly since. But Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. is impressed with McGloin’s tape.

“Right now I see him as a gunslinger,” Harris said of McGloin. “From the past and watching him play, he doesn’t have any fear. He can fit the ball into coverage. That’s something I’ve seen from him in the past.”

The sideline throw that Matt McGloin made to Amari Cooper in the fourth quarter on Saturday did more than seal the Oakland Raiders’ 33-25 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

It also sparked an instant chemistry between the new Raiders starting quarterback and the Pro Bowl receiver.

“It’s really huge,” Cooper said Wednesday, “the fact that he trusts me to put the ball up there, allowed me to make a play like that. It just shows his confidence in me.”

Rookie offensive lineman Vadal Alexander said:

“He’s going to be a great leader,” Alexander said. “He leads men. You can feel it when he gets in the huddle, the presence he has. He’s a natural guy who’s meant to play quarterback.”

Phil Simms gives his sense byway of raiderswire:

“It’s tough to compare. First off, Jeff Hostelter is a better quarterback than Matt McGloin . . . McGloin, I like a lot of things about him. I know a lot about him, I’ve watched almost all of his throws in preseason. But the gap between Derek Carr and Matt McGloin [is bigger] than it was with me and Jeff Hostetler, that’s for sure.”

“It’s going to be rough. I expect it to be rough, I really do. The Raider defense is going to have to be outstanding.”

Raider fans still have hope that Matt McGloin can carry on what Derek Carr started. They can read all the articles and opinions that remind us of how much Matt McGloin has overcome. The problem is, he has started and he went 1-5. The good news, I guess, is that his one win was against Kubiak.

It is unsettling when Rookie Vadal Alexander, an offensive lineman, telling us how good McGloin is, only to two-time Super Bowl winning QB Phil Simms, who tells us that he is going to have a bad day. But, what does he know, he isn’t even a hall of famer.

McCaffrey leaves early for the NFL

There are opinions all over the map on what is right and wrong, with strong arguments on all sides. SB Nation has an article explaining the sides:

“Put yourself in their shoes, an injury could change the course of the rest of their lives,” the veteran NFL personnel man said. “We’re not talking about a left guard here. We’re talking about a skill (position) player who is a huge target. That’s the reality of it.

“Look at what these coaches are making now. Those guys are making $5 or $6 million a year and they may pressure these kids to play? Look at what these coaches and ADs are doing. It’s OK for them to leave, but it’s not OK for players to think about their futures? For coaches to (be critical), that’s incredibly selfish. Hold on a second here, guy. You pressure these kids to play, and then one of them (suffers a career-altering injury) and it’s, ‘I love you, and you’re a great teammate. Sorry about that.’ And it’s all for some bowl game who no one cares about? That’s a joke. I’m looking at it practically. If it was your son, what are you gonna say?”

Bruce Arians, the Arizona Cardinals Coach, doesn’t seem enamored.

“That would concern me. Depending on what their situation is as a team, because this is a team sport. But you’ve had a couple of guys get injured in the last couple years. Agents have a lot to say about it. Parents have a lot to say about it. But, it would concern me.”

Current Strength of Schedule

Top 15 Teams Strength of Schedule
              Week 17
Rank     Team Difficulty
1 Broncos 49
2 Buccaneers 47
3 Steelers 46
4 Raiders 45.5
5 Redskins 44.5
6 Chiefs 44.5
7 Packers 43.5
8 Ravens 43.5
9 Cowboys 41.5
10 Falcons 41
11 Lions 40
12 Seahawks 38.5
13 Giants 38.5
14 Dolphins 34.5
15 Patriots 34.5

Who has had the easiest path to the playoffs?  Who has had the hardest?  This strength of schedule table is based off current power rankings and gives you those answers.  Key word, current. This is not a projection of strenth of schedule from before the season, but based off the current power ranking positions of the teams they have played.

The Patriots have a 13-2 record, but have had a patsy schedule, not to mention they played the Steelers without Roethlisberger.  They do have a 12-3 record against the spread, but haven’t been tested besides a Seahawks game, that they lost.

Also, if the Dolphins and the Broncos had switched schedules, maybe the Broncos would be in the playoffs.  The Buccaneers strength of schedule knocked them out of the playoffs.  The Raiders record with the 4th toughest schedule is impressive.  Vegas still hasn’t shown them respect, they have gone 12-3 against the spread.  The Steelers may have 5 losses, but they came against a schedule tougher than most.  They have been tested this season.

Before you buy too much into the records of the teams, check out their strength of schedule to determine whether there value is inflated.

Week 16’s Power Rankings by Andrew Sumsion

From Andrew Sumsion:

 1.      Cowboys
2.      Patriots
3.      Falcons
4.      Chiefs
5.      Packers
6.      Steelers
7.      Seahawks
8.      Giants
9.      Raiders
10.    Dolphins
11.    Lions
12.    Texans
13.    Redskins
14.    Ravens
15.    Broncos
16.    Saints
17.    Bucs
18.    Cardinals
19.    Colts
20.    Bills
21.    Eagles
22.    Titans
23.    Vikings
24.    Panthers
25.    Bengals
26.    Chargers
27.    Bears
28.    Jets
29.    Jaguars
30.    Rams
31.    49ers
32.    Browns

Brady and Belichick have dominated this league since 2001. I don’t think that two rookies, who have been playing really well, will come in and upend things. If the Cowboys and Patriots played, I don’t care where it is, I am taking the Patriots every day. The Patriots have played a weak schedule compared to other teams, but they have been handling business.  They are 12-3 against the spread. I take tried and true over new and shiny.

Sherman forgets his role

Timothy Rapp reporting on Richard Sherman:

After Sherman said he would have accepted criticism from offensive players if a defensive call cost the Seahawks a game—much like Russell Wilson‘s interception to end Super Bowl XLIX against the New England Patriots, which Sherman referenced—Moore, a radio host for 710 ESPN Seattle and a columnist at SeattlePI.com, asked Sherman if he had thought he had a better handle on play-calling than Bevell.

“No, I just had a prior experience, so we talked about it,” Sherman responded. “But let me guess, you have a better play call. Let me guess, you have better experience.”

“No, I don’t have a better play call,” Moore replied.

“Then you should probably stop,” Sherman added.

But Sherman wasn’t done. As he walked away from the podium, he confronted Moore.

“You don’t want to go there,” Sherman said. “You do not. I’ll ruin your career.”

“You’ll ruin my career?” Moore asked. “How are you going to do that?”

“I’ll make sure you don’t get your media pass anymore,” Sherman countered.

The Pack is Back! Beat Seattle 38-10

Looks like The Green Bay Packers avoided the Grim Reaper and have put the NFC on notice.

Pete Carroll, as reported by the Green Bay Press Gazette said:

“This is such a rare occurrence for our team, we’ve been playing for a lot of years and have not seen a game like this. We don’t remember those days. We’ve had a remarkable run. The thing just snowballed on us; it just turned out to be a terrible night.”

This puts Green Bay where everyone thought they would be.  A top tier team with a chance to win it all.  This shows their recovery wasn’t because they played the Eagles and the Texans.  It is because their receivers are playing better and their defense is healthier.  They no longer let opposing quarterbacks throw touchdown passes on them at will.  They have the Bears next weekend, then finish with the Vikings and the Lions.  The Lions at 8-4 play the Cowboys, Giants, before finishing the season against Green Bay.  The Lions have a tough schedule leaving many to think the Packers can get in by winning out.

This is sports and anything can happen, but in my opinion, the Packers are going to the Super Bowl.  The best way to prevent this is: collusion.

Both the Cowboys and Giants play the Lions in the next two weeks.  If either team beats the Lions, and the Packers take care of business beating the Bears and the Vikings, the winner of the Lions/Packers game would win the division and are in the playoffs.  After treating Seattle yesterday, like a Fast and Furious movie treats cars, not one team wants to see them.  The best way to keep the Packers out would be for the Giants and the Cowboys to tank against the Lions.  That would seemingly ensure the Packers were out.   They would avoid the hottest teams in the league and everyone would sleep better keeping them out.  They still might be able to get a wildcard, but this is the NFC’s best shot.  All of the teams would prefer the road to the Super Bowl not include the Green Bay Packers.

Aaron Rodgers playing this well against the Seattle defense?  I’d rather play against Dak Prescot, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Eli Manning, or anyone else not named Brady.

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