Friday, January 6, 2012

TRG, Playoff Edition: Wildcard

The second season is starting tomorrow! After ending the regular season on a high note, and managing to finish at about 54% on the season as a whole, I'm pretty happy. Last season was horrendous, so I'll take what I can get at this point; a win is a win!
Hopefully I'll ride the momentum into the playoffs. There are some great matchups this weekend and I'm looking forward to some exciting games. Here's who I like this week.

Cincinnati +3.5 over HOUSTON

Boomer is the last Bengals QB to win a playoff game.
This is a rough one, with both the Bengals and Texans backing into the playoffs. Cincinnati lost to the Ravens and has still only managed 1 victory against teams with a winning record. The Texans enter on a 3 game losing streak, after suffering defeats at home to Carolina and Tennessee, and on the road in Indy. Houston's last victory was 4 weeks ago, against Cincinnati, oddly enough. T.J. Yates won in dramatic fashion with a late touchdown drive. After watching the Texans the past 3 weeks however, it has become difficult to think they can beat anyone. The defense is plenty capable of keeping them in game, but the offense is barely good enough to keep them in it, no matter how well the defense plays. The line opened at 3, so the money has been moving on Houston, but even if they somehow do win, I can't imagine they get it by more than 3. The Bengals aren't slouches on defense either; they have the 10th overall rushing defense and 9th passing defense. That's certainly good enough to contain T.J. Yates. I think the Bengals win outright.

NEW ORLEANS -10 over Detroit

I find this line difficult as well, as Detroit's offense is definitely good enough to keep it close, or maybe even pull off a shocking upset. I just can't bring myself to do it though, not after watching the Lions defense get obliterated by Matt Flynn and the Packers to the tune of 45 points. It's difficult not to think the Saints won't do the same thing, as they are more than capable. The Saints also won in week 13 against the Lions, 31-17, in New Orleans. ... Honestly, I don't have much more to add, as I really don't want to pick this game, but for the sake of the blog, I made a pick. I couldn't be more on the fence, though. I feel like the Lions could do anything from lose by 30 to win outright, so I'm staying away... but, if forced to pick someone, I'd pick the Saints. And really hope they can stop the Lions on a few drives. This should be a great game to watch.

No doubt about it, WR Victor Cruz is a game-changer.
NY GIANTS -3 over Atlanta

If this game was being played in Atlanta, I'd take the Falcons... but it's not. Atlanta has been very inconsistent on the road all season long, getting beatdown 45-16 in their last road game against New Orleans, and they finished 4-4 on the road for the season. It might be tempting to pick them after an offensive explosion against the hapless Bucs, but the Bucs have been blown out the past 5 weeks in a row. I'm pretty sure anyone could have poured it on against them last week. Moreover, I'm a big believer in this Giants offense now that Victor Cruz is taking over. He's a beast. Nicks and Cruz make for a pretty awesome WR tandem, and they will be able to exploit the 20th ranked Falcons pass defense. The Falcons have allowed the 5th most plays over 40 yards on the season (12) and the 9th most plays over 20 yards (56). With the Giants defense getting healthier and playing relatively well, Atlanta will be in big trouble if they give up a few big plays, and I think they will. New York should advance.

DENVER +9 over Pittsburgh

This seems like a big spread for a Steelers team that has been struggling offensively against good defenses. Say what you will about Tebow and the Broncos offense, but the Denver defense has been playing well and they can pressure the QB (ranked 10th in sacks). I'm not saying I think Denver will win this game. In fact, I think Pittsburgh will definitely win. I wouldn't be surprised to see them win 9-3, though. The Steelers lost RB Rashard Mendenhall for the rest of the season, C Maurkice Pouncey is out for this week, and Ben Roethlisberger is still gimpy. They have the depth to survive, but I think the offense will struggle, similar to how they struggled against Cleveland twice, KC, and lost to San Francisco. In fact, I should probably be taking under 33.5 for this game. I really don't think either offense will find too much success. In the end, the Steelers have both a better offense and defense, so they'll come out on top, but it could be close. We may even have to endure some more Tebow Time...

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