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.

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.

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.

 

 

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