NFL Wildcard Weekend Picks and Analysis – FootballSaturday, January 7, 2012 12:33
Game picks for the Wilcard weekend of the 2011 NFL football season.
NFL Wildcard Weekend Picks & Analysis
It is about that time of year when we take a look at your humble columnist’s prognostication powers by reviewing his 2011 preseason predictions.
Let’s start off by agreeing my soothsaying talent is unmatched in human history; my foresight the envy of Kings, and my prescience–nothing short of brilliant.
Don’t believe me? Check out these little nuggets about the AFC South:
A few years ago Del Rio made a splash by choosing David Garrard as his QB guy and has since watched Byron Leftwich play excellent football as a back up in Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, Garrad has never ranked higher than 17th as an NFL signal caller.
With only five picks in the ’11 draft, the Jags chose Blaine Gabbert with the tenth overall pick. Garrard and Del Rio’s days leading the Jags are numbered.
Blackouts will be an issue, again, in Jacksonville.
Major Story: Blaine Gabbert proves he belongs; Del Rio fired during the bye.
Predicted Finish: 5 – 11
And this on the Texan’s best off-season move:
The smartest move made by Smith and hot-seated coach Gary Kubiak was convincing Wade Phillips to be Houston’s DC.
We also managed to nail what the Colt’s season would look like:
Kerry Collins can’t carry a team like Manning; he needs a balanced attack.
And the defense needs too many better football players.
Major Story: Manning’s career in jeopardy. The Blue Ponies miss the post-season for the first time in nine years.
Some of my readers blessed with better memories are probably asking, “Didn’t you pick the Titans to win the AFC South?”
Yes, well…Let’s move on to my insightful comments on the AFC East, starting with the Jets:
If Sanchez doesn’t step up his game and the secondary doesn’t stay healthy, it could be a difficult year for the Planes.
Major Story: Rex Ryan goes on and wins the “Biggest Loser.”
I tabbed the Pats to go 13 – 3 and win the conference, got Buffalo’s 2011 record about right and was sure the Fins would end up signing David Garrard.
I really tried hard to hedge my bet when it came to the AFC West bad boys:
If Campbell pulls through, the defense remains near the top ten, and the rushing game averages its stellar 4.9 yards per carry, the Raiders just might steal the AFC West–unless Al Davis escapes again.
It could all come down to the season finale versus the Bolts.
I won’t even mention that I picked San Diego to run away with the division, I promise.
Oh yeah, over in the AFC North, I got just about everything wrong. I had the Ravens as slow and old on defense, Marvin Lewis in his last year, and was damn sure the Browns would “surprise some people.”
I’m beginning to think I’m not as sharp as I thought.
However, I did call the NFC East on the money, although I checked off the Eagles as a wildcard:
Each team was a dropped pass, fumbled snap, or bad break away from winning, or losing, the crucial two games necessary to make, or miss, the playoffs.
It is conceivable–and wouldn’t it be fun–that the NFC East Champ, this year, ends up being 9 – 7 or worse.
Picking the Giants as division champs was my best NFC prognostication.
Debate springs eternal as to which prediction was my worst.
I knew the NFC West would be pretty awful–just not as awful as my rant touting the Rams as division champs. My opinion on the 2011 fate of the 49ers was almost as absurd. Could Mike Singletary have been that bad a coach?
This division, but for the Rams, has stabilized. Pete Carroll, Ken Whisenhut, and Jim Harbaugh have proven to be solid coaches with potentially solid quarterbacks. St. Louis’s Sam Bradford probably wishes he’ll be as lucky some day.
I missed the train on how well the Lions would perform, but was probably right about the Packers destroying all 2011 challengers.
My worst division winner call (if the Rams don’t meet that criteria) was my misguided analysis of the NFC South–except my picking Cam Newton as the ROY–culminating in a bold, impassioned prediction declaring the Buccaneers as sure-to-be champs of the NFC South:
The easy pick in the NFC South is the Falcons or the Saints. Both have a good mix of veterans and youth, and, given the talent on the division’s top three teams, the winner of the NFC South might have trouble winning ten games.
Call us crazy–and, I’m sure you will–we think the Young Bucs will end up on top.
Major Story: Josh Freeman breaks every major TB passing record.
Overall, I nailed half the playoff teams and still have a shot at calling the conference winners correct.
Nobody ever said predicting the future would be easy.
(I don’t think there has ever been a smoother segue in the history of blogdom…)
Last Week’s Picks
My mediocre record calling division winners is reflected in my final tally picking against the spread for all 256 NFL games. After a slow start I got over .500 but then ended the season with needing two or three 10-win weeks to be able to dub myself a gambler’s ally.
That dream never materialized.
My saving grace, like last year, was my percentage on my four weekly Specials picks–and each Special category saw us pick more winners than losers.
A 60% success rate means you beat the bookie for some real cash and we made that benchmark via perfect Specials selections in Week 17…
Week 17: 7- 8 – 1 (.466)
Overall Tally: 119 – 125 – 12 (.488)
Specials Tally: 40 – 26 – 2 (.610)
All playoff games rank as specials and will be included in my final tally. I will always pick a Game of the Week, but all other Specials calls are at my discretion.
This Week’s Picks
Lock of the Week (11 – 6)
I can’t believe people take the Broncos as a serious threat in the weekend’s final game in Denver. Their 20th-ranked defense has been overrated in the punditocracy and they lead the league in rushing because Tim Tebow stinks at quarterback. John Fox will go down fighting and, who knows, maybe Brady Quinn–NO! If Pittsburgh doesn’t beat the Broncos by at least fourteen, they don ‘t deserve to play in their ninth Super Bowl. I’m not buying the conventional view this game will be low scoring. The Steelers will make Tebow the player who has to beat them with his arm, and he doesn’t have the talent to pull it off.
Pittsburgh 36, Denver 15
Upset Special (10 – 5 – 2)
I’m picking against the home squad in the GOW, so I’m not reluctant to ride the Bengals into Reliant Stadium and call for an upset of the Houston Texans. Houston is playing in the franchise’s first playoff game ever. But they are banged up at quarterback and wide receiver–and the Texans won’t be the only accomplished defense on the field. This Bengal “D” keeps themselves in games and has good leadership on the defensive side of the ball. The Striped Cats haven’t won a post-season contest in 21 years; the drought ends this weekend.
Cincinnati 23, Houston 21
Game of the Week (9 – 8)
In the playoffs, experience counts for more than in most regular season games. Drew Brees and the Beatified Ones know what its like to feel that extra pressure and how to hit the clutch for that extra gear. Matthew Stafford and the Lions will keep it close into the fourth quarter–then lose by fourteen.
New Orleans 41, Detroit 27
Over/Under of the Week (10 – 7)
We might as well make it a Quad-Fecta and parlay the number when Atlanta invades the new Giants Stadium. Normally I wouldn’t bet the number in this game, but I’m a fan of symmetry and each Wildcard game has Specials potential. I have a hunch the Atlanta/Giant’s tilt will be the most entertaining game of the weekend. Both teams are inconsistent week to week, and both have offensive firepower–I think the Giants will score on defense. Take the over.
New York 34, Atlanta 23
My picks can be found below in italic…
Wild Card Weekend Playoff Games NFL Game Lines, 1/7 – 1/8, 2012
|Date & Time||Favorite||Line||Underdog||Total|
|1/7 4:30 ET||At Houston||-4 US||Cincinnati||38|
|1/7 8:00 ET||At New Orleans||-10.5 GW||Detroit||59|
|1/8 1:00 ET||At NY Giants||-3 O/U||Atlanta||47.5|
|1/8 4:30 ET||Pittsburgh LW||-8.5||At Denver||33.5|
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