“I’m putting my heart in this shit.” – Ed Reed
Beyonce has revealed in past interviews that before she performs on stage, she’ll lift her hands to the sky and a strange power washes over her. In that moment, she is no longer Yonce, she is Sasha Fierce. Who apparently is a hell of a performer. I attempted this arm raising practice myself right before I began this write up and I actually do feel a little funny. However, come to think of it, that might just be the kratom.
Let me start off by saying, the NFL is having a fantastic season. The level of intrigue is as high as its been for me in a while. Coming into these playoffs, I can conceivably imagine any one of these teams making a run, and I’m not sure I’ve ever felt that way before. That’s evident in this weekend’s matchups, there’s not a single game on the slate that I don’t find compelling, and the odds are reflecting that with three of the lines within three points, and all of them under a touchdown.
This year hasn’t only been good from an entertainment perspective, I’ve been killing it with my picks. As good as I was doing in college, I was doing even better in the NFL. So good in fact, it made me ponder if I should have been writing NFL articles all along. I finished 5th overall out of over 800 participants in the Sports Gambling Podcast Freeroll Contest, where you pick every game, every week against the spread.
Defense. Defense. Defense.
There’s plenty of good teams in these playoffs, but is anybody great?
The Rams looked like the NFL version of the Warriors with the caliber of talent they amassed in the offseason, but late in the year, they had a couple performances that were straight up duds.
I love young Patrick Mahomes, but do you trust Playoff Andy Reid?
Tom Brady can drink all the avocado smoothies in the world, but father time is undefeated. If they get a ring this year, I’ll be shocked to be honest.
The Saints are probably my favorite team to win it all right now, but they have looked nowhere close to invincible.
After the NFL hit its peak offensive orgasm on Monday Night Football, with a 100 plus point game between the Chiefs and Rams, something curious happened. The offensive juggernauts started to struggle a little. The Rams were practically shut out by the Bears on Sunday Night Football, the Saints only put up 10 points in a game they gave the Cowboys their mojo back, and the Seahawks were able to subdue the Chief’s offense. I say all this to point out, that the more things change the more they stay the same. Offense is great, but at the end of the day, predominately speaking, defense will always be what wins you championships.
Why not the Bears over the Rams or Saints with that dirty nasty D they have? If Blake Bortles can bring Jacksonville to practically the doorstep of the Super Bowl, then Mitchell Trubisky is more than capable of getting this Bears team there.
Why not the Texans with the 4th best scoring defense in the league over the Chiefs or Patriots? Hell, the Ravens have a solid defense too, rookie quarterback be damned.
Last year I rattled off a 9-2 ATS record in the playoffs. Let’s see what magic the Money Train has in store for this go round.
Colts @ Texans -1
The rest of the country hates on the AFC South, and no doubt its the lack of tradition with it involving recent expansion teams. The ‘powers that be’ relegate the game they assume is the least marquee of the bunch to the early Saturday window, and to the notion that its this game, I say bullshit. This game is bad ass. Both these teams are on fire, both can ball, and both games between theses two from earlier in the year went down to the wire.
If you’re out there and you’re an AFC South hater, think about the fact that this is the second year in a row that two AFC South teams made the playoffs. Not only that, but the two teams that made it last year found themselves in the divisional round, and one was close enough to sniff the Super Bowl. By the way, the two teams that are in the playoffs this year are not the two teams in it from last year. Its a deep, and very good, division.
Speaking of marquee, does it get much better than DeShaun Watson vs Andrew Luck? Both of them are in comeback seasons, and both have managed to lead their team back from the brink (Texans started 0-3, Colts 1-5). Another reason for the Colt’s emergence is they had a great draft. Their rookie linebacker leads the entire league in tackles and Quentin Nelson has helped make the Colt’s offensive line the best in the league.
The offensive line play and the fact that the Colts are a smoking hot 9-1 in their last ten games should make this play a little concerning, but for some reason, I’m fairly confident in the Texans. If you want to be good at this, you have to be able to listen to your inner voice, and I’ve been wanting to bet the Texans when they got to the playoffs all season. I think they’re underrated, and the ticket discrepancy demonstrates it. The public is coming in on the Colts and most people I listen to are on them too. But you know what they saw about public road dogs? They got fleas.
Houston’s got Watson (who if you watched in college, you know he has ICE in his veins), a top five receiver in DeAndre Hopkins, JJ Watt and Clowney on the defensive line, and the freaking Honey Badger himself in the secondary. This team is sick.
Interesting stat: Both these teams haven’t allowed a 100 yard rusher all season.
Seahawks +2 @ Cowboys
If you really thought I was going to bet the Cowboys, you’re out of your gah dang mind. I actually like winning money in January.
Seriously though: I give this team more of a chance to make a run than Dak and Zeke’s rookie year. As crazy as the Cowboy fans were going , it was painfully obvious that they didn’t have anything even closely resembling a championship defense. At least now they have some pieces on that side of the ball. DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory have really come along on that defensive line.
But you know the best way to neutralize a pass rush? An effective running game. And Seattle statistically has the best rushing attack in the league, averaging 160 yards a game.
To me, the mental aspect in this game is big. If the Cowboys get down early, things could go bad. Dak Prescott is known to make poor decisions with the ball from time to time and the Seahawks are first in the NFL in turnover margin at +15. If the Seahawks get a couple takeaways, with the weight of repetitively choking in the playoffs, I don’t see Dallas coming back.
Russell Wilson is a hell of a competitor. The way he out battled Patrick Mahomes in that game in Seattle was impressive to watch. There’s no doubt that him and Pete Carroll have had a touch of magic to them in the playoffs, and considering we haven’t seen any of that the last couple years, I think they could be due for a big moment.
Matchup to watch: Zeke ‘Fat Ass’ Elliot vs Bobby ‘Hasn’t missed a tackle since Pee Wee Football’ Wagner.
Chargers @ Ravens -3
Similar to the Cowboys, I simply can’t bet on the Charge Daddys in this type of situation. Everyone seems so sure that the Chargers are going to take care of business, and all I have to say is be careful. The Ravens with John Harbaugh at the helm have always been a gritty, tough, defensive team, and they’re always a hard out in the playoffs.
I can’t help but think the Ravens finally threw off some of the bad mojo that’s been sticking to them the past couple years. They had a brutal loss that kept them out last season, and for a minute I thought they were going to have another one. You can laugh at this if you want, but the Browns are a good team, and I think that was a really nice win the Ravens had to get them in this position.
Baltimore has an edge to them this year, and I just get a good overall vibe from what they’re doing. I absolutely love seeing Lamar Jackson at qb, and I think their win over the Chargers a few weeks ago was no fluke. The Chargers seem like they’re built to stop the pass, and the Ravens may just be a tough matchup for them. They gashed them for 159 yards on the ground in that meeting.
It seems to me that the Chargers haven’t necessarily excelled in pass protection. In the game I watched them beat the Chiefs, Kansas City was actually able to get a lot of pressure on Rivers. The Ravens have a hyper-aggressive, blitzing defense, that I think could cause problems Sunday.
Eagles @ Bears -6
I’ve been pretty deadset on taking the Bears in the first round, no matter who they played. I was hoping I’d get to fade Kirk Cousins in Soldier Field, but Big Dick Nick isn’t stopping me. I don’t like this Bear’s team. I love them. I think there’s a good chance they could do something similar to what Jacksonville was able to do last year, except this team is better than they were.
The Bears are on an absolute tear right now. They’re 9-1 ATS and SU in their last 10, and that loss was with freaking Chase Daniels. Their defense is first in the league in sacks and third in INTs. Kendall Fuller leads the NFL in INTS and Khalil Mack leads the league in causing opposing quarterbacks to have nightmares.
Foles has been a great story, but come on, its time for this run to be put to bed.
Tasty Teaser and Playoff Prediction
Teaser: Seahawks +8, Bears (pick)
NFC Conference Championship Game: Bears @ Saints
AFC Conference Championship Game: Patriots @ Chiefs
Super Bowl: Saints over Chiefs
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