Friday, January 11

NFL Picks: Divisional Round

The playoffs are off and running, with Nick winning the opening round by posting a 3-1 mark. He had to root for the Ravens on Sunday to do so, but such is the price of success. All of the favorites covered, a rarity for the tournament's opening weekend.

On to the Divisional Round, which should be splendid as always.

Wild-Card Round
Nick: 3-1
Figgs: 2-2
Joe: 2-2
Andy: 2-2

Figgs' $ picks: 2-1

AFC Divisional, 4:30
BRONCOS (-10) vs Ravens
Figgs: Denver. This is a huge spread and I could definitely see Baltimore keeping it in single-digits, but the fact of the matter is I think Denver is a far superior team and I hate the ratbirds. Peyton looks invincible right now, and I'm not going to go against him for those ass clowns.
Joe: Broncos; I agree, it's a big number, but I have to give it. The "Play for Ray" mentality should be different now that they are not at home. And Baltimore's most valuable Ray (Rice) seems to turn into a fumbler once the playoffs start. Those two balls he put on the ground vs. the Colts last week will certainly lead to a blowout loss if he does that against this Bronco team. And Denver hasn't lost in over 3 months, has the superior edge at QB with Peyton, has WR's good enough to match the Ravens there, and Knowshon has found some of his Georgia explosiveness lately. Defensively, with Miller and Dumervil, I would definitely take the Denver pass rush over Baltimore's, which is something that used to be unheard of. All in all, this points to Denver, by at least 2 TDs.
Nick: Broncos
AFF Um, yes, I'll be taking the Broncos, in another fuck-the-Ravens pick.

NFC Divisional, 8:00
49ERS (-3) vs Packers
Figgs: Pack. Possibly my favorite spread of the entire year. I see no way Green Bay loses this game. They are finally healthy on defense, Kaepernick is shaky, and Rodgers is in "don't-fuck-with-me" mode right now. ($)
Joe: Packers; "This is the one Marvin, this is the Silver Tuna!" This is the game I am most looking forward too of the weekend, with the most potential to give us a great game. The Niners gave us two epic playoff games last year vs. the Saints and Giants. San Fran beat up the Pack in GB this year, but it was way back in Week 1, and Alex Smith had probably his best game as a pro. Now, Alex has stepped aside, and the more talented, but unproven, Colin Kaepernick gets the start. With him, we could get the guy that put up 41 on New England, or the guy who went winless in two games against the Rams. As for the Packers, they are finally healthy, they are playing much better down the stretch, and have the obvious edge at QB, with the former MVP and SB winner in Rodgers. The game is at San Fran, so that could be the equalizer, but I am going to go with the Pack in this one, since I believe they are a better team, and getting points.
Nick: Packers
AFF Hey, look at me following the group and taking the Packers. I've harped numerous times here in this space on how crucial the turnover battle is - everyone knows turnovers are key, of course, but not always the degree to which they matter, which is potentiall greater than you realize. Anyway, Bill Barnwell pointed out how the Packers basically do not lose when they acquire a turnover, and though Kaepernick has been splendid, that's still what rookies do. Also, Joe made a Home Alone reference, wow.

NFC Divisional, 1:00
FALCONS (-2.5) vs Seahawks
Figgs: Seattle. I hate to go against my boys, but I went back and forth on this for awhile and ultimately decided to go with what I deem as the better team getting points. This is the only game in either week so far that I don't want to touch money-wise, not even in a teaser. I'll be rooting for Atlanta and think they have every shot to win it, but my gut tells me Hawks.
Joe: ATL;I was thinking Seattle all week, but when I got to this game, something told me to change my mind and go with the dirtier of the two birds. The Falcons problem has been that they haven't looked impressive enough for people. But they still won 13 games, so color me impressed. Matty Ice is in the 2nd tier of QBs and needs his signature playoff moment to put himself in the discussion with the top guys. They have to be more motivated than ever, given their early exits from the last 3 postseasons. I think that losing Chris Clemons will be a big loss for Seattle and will certainly hurt their ability to get pressure on Ryan. The most intriguing matchup to me will be Roddy White and Julio Jones trying to get open against Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner. If the Falcons can beat them on a couple of deep balls, than I think they can get the win. Lynch will get his yards, but I think Russell Wilson's spectacular rookie season will finally come to an end in what should be a very close game.
Nick: Falcons
AFF I agree with a lot of what Joe said, though Seattle definitely has a chance to go into the dome and win this. I just think Atlanta has been dismissed and marginalized too long for their recent early playoff exits and will have an extra edge on Sunday.

AFC Divisional, Sunday 4:30
PATRIOTS (-9.5) vs Texans
Figgs: Pats. Both AFC games with big spreads, and I'm taking both favorites. I've talked all year about how I'm more confident taking NE with high spreads than any other team, and we are all well aware of the success brady and Belichick have in the playoffs. Just like in the Denver game, I'm not super confident laying all these points, but I see more scenarios playing out where the Pats win by double-digits than where they don't.
Joe: Patriots; I am not nearly as confident taking the Pats with all these points as I am with Denver, but I will do so reluctantly. The key is, Houston must jump out to an early lead and then keep it close the whole way, so they can use Foster throughout and also hit some deep balls on playfakes because defending the deep ball is New England's biggest weakness. In their 1st meeting, the Pats jumped out to a quick two-score lead, and then Foster became irrelevant and once you become one dimensional against Belichick, forget it , your done. With Brady, they always have the potential of doing that to teams, so that's why I'm picking them.
Nick: Patriots
AFF I love that Figgs won't even capitalize New England's QB's name. I even took the liberty of lower-casing it on Joe's picks. We all watched the Houston-Cincy game last week and saw that the Texans can't score TD's in the red zone. Those field goals won't cover this spread and the Patriots will cover.

Figgs other $ bets: New England (-2.5)/Denver (-2)
Atlanta (SU)/ATL-Sea OVER (46)

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