Brady vs. Manning: The End of an Era: AFC Championship (Patriots at Broncos) Preview

This is the 17th time Tom Brady and Peyton Manning will face off, possibly the last.  Between the Colts and the Broncos, Manning knows are team too well.  He knows Brady, he knows Belichick, so we have to play are game, but run a couple plays that we don’t normally do.  The New England Patriots take on the Denver Broncos at Mile High.  In November, we went to Denver and they came back to win 30-24, but it was Brock Osweiler under center last time, Manning was out with plantar fasciitis.

NFL Roundtable: The Best Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning Game
Tom Brady face off for the 17th time in the AFC Championship but this might be the last if Manning retires.

My Prediction: Patriots, 27, Broncos, 23

So, who has the advantage in this game?  You saw in Week 12, it will be a close game, tough match-up and very physical game.  So, lets break it down.  Injuries had way more of an impact in Week 12 than now, Edelman was out, DeMarcus Ware was out, Gronk left, Hightower, Collins and Amendola sat too.  Now, we have a team at decent health, so does Denver.

Denver has a dominant front seven: Sylvester Williams, Malik Jackson, Derek Wolfe, DeMarcus Ware, Von Miller, Brandon Marshall, Danny Trevathan and Shane Ray.  That’s EIGHT GUYS, you can only start 7!!  Their secondary also includes star corners Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. plus T.J. Ward and Bradley Roby.  Steven Jackson, Brandon Bolden and James White better be ready to bull through the defense and find space between the stars, and I trust that they can.  I also think that the secondary isn’t strong enough to guard Gronk, Edelman, Amendola, Chandler, LaFell and Keshawn Martin.  I think 2 of these 8 will score: Jackson, Bolden, Edelman, LaFell, Amendola, Gronk, Chandler.  My original prediction was Gronk and Chandler but now I’m thinking maybe Jackson, Bolden or a receiver will score.

Now Denver’s offense.  The Broncos even without Peyton Manning would have an overpowered offense.  C.J. Anderson usually really shows up this time of year, while Ronnie Hillman continues to do his thing.  Plus the receiving game didn’t just use DeMaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders last time.  They used Vernon Davis, Owen Daniels, Cody Latimer and Andre Caldwell, who had a TD, too.  But the young Patriots secondary will have to try and stop Denver’s pass, they should be able to double cover Thomas, and contain Sanders and Daniels on one man coverage.  Vernon Davis, Virgil Green and those sleep receivers, may let loose.  They also need to do a better job containing the running game.  But in the end, despite facing to more overpowered defense, and being the road team, I think the Pats have the edge with their offense’s match-up and will win by a nose.

 

Keys To The Game

Patriots

  1. Even against a ferocious front seven, the Patriots run game needs to keep it up.  Tom Brady might not have the protection he needs, and he’ll have to depend on his backfield. They have the individual players to do it, the questions are: Do they work together enough to?,  Is the match-up against the defense in their favor?
  2. The Broncos run game is revamped too with CJ Anderson at his best.  The Patriots have struggled to stop the run all year.  This game, they need to excel at it.
  3. The young Patriots secondary needs to contain a large number of Broncos receivers that make up its offense’s core.  Last time, sleep receiver Andre Caldwell caught the TD that brought the game to overtime, where CJ Anderson had a long run for a touchdown.

Broncos

  1. The Patriots have just as good of receivers when healthy.  The Broncos secondary isn’t quite as good as their pass rush, and they might have trouble keeping the receivers from doing much.  Between Edelman, LaFell, Amendola, Keshawn Martin, Gronk and Chandler, there’s plenty of guys to cover.
  2. CJ Anderson needs to pick up the pace.  Between some big games, he’s still been somewhat consistent unlike late last year, even when Manning’s super bowl hopes got crushed in the Divisional Round last year Anderson made an impact.
  3. The Broncos need to use their receiving depth to their advantage.  Unleash all their sleep receivers and play like the Pats haven’t seen them play yet.

Injury Report

New England Patriots (13-4)

 

Out

​G Tre’ Jackson – Knee (LP)
OL LaAdrian Waddle – Shoulder (LP)

 

Doubtful

NONE

 

Questionable

WR Danny Amendola – Knee (LP)
TE Scott Chandler – Knee (LP)
LB Jamie Collins – Back (LP)
DB Nate Ebner – Hand (LP)
WR Julian Edelman – Foot (LP)
LB Darius Fleming – Back/Shin (LP)
LB Jonathan Freeny – Hand (LP)
TE Rob Gronkowski – Knee/Back (LP)
LB Dont’a Hightower – Knee (LP)
DE Chandler Jones – Abdomen/Toe (LP)
DE Rob Ninkovich – Shin (LP)
WR Matthew Slater – Shin (LP)
C Bryan Stork – Ankle (LP)
OT Sebastian Vollmer – Ankle (LP)

 

Probable

QB Tom Brady – Ankle (FP)
S Patrick Chung – Foot (FP)
OL Josh Kline – Shoulder (FP)
WR Brandon LaFell – Foot (FP)
S Devin McCourty – Ankle (FP)

 

Denver Broncos (13-4)

 

Out

NONE

 

Doubtful

NONE

 

Questionable 

NONE

 

Probable
S Josh Bush – Shoulder
TE Owen Daniels – Knees
ILB Todd Davis – Shoulder
G Max Garcia – Groin
CB Chris Harris Jr. – Shoulder
QB Peyton Manning – Foot
ILB Brandon Marshall – Ankle
QB Brock Osweiler – Knee
S Darian Steward – Hamstring
S T.J. Ward – Ankle
OLB DeMarcus Ware – Knee
CB Bradley Roby – Quadricep

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Gronk and Edelman Rebound, Patriots Trump Chiefs

It has been a roller coaster ride, this week, this season, and this 2015 for the Patriots.  From DeflateGate, to the Super Bowl.  From the suspension to the banners revealing.  From a crazy week to an awesome win in the Divisional Round.  The Pats outscored the Chiefs 27-20.  The game broke many records.  Gronk now leads all tight ends in playoff touchdowns, and all Pats players in playoff receptions.  He has never been on a team that has not advanced to the AFC Championship.  It’s also Tom Brady’s 30th playoff game, the most by any NFL player in history!!  This is also only the 2nd time a team has gone to 5 straight conference championships, tying the record set by a 1970’s Pittsburgh Steelers squad.

 

Now let’s talk about the exciting ending first.  The Pats led 27-13 after 2 30-40 yard field goals by Stephen Gostkowski.  The Chiefs had difficulty managing the clock.  They blew about 5 minutes.  They were hesitating, taking their time on play after play.  They had blown it with 1 minute to goal on 3rd and goal when there was a flag.  Pass interference on the Pats.  It reset to 1st and goal.  On 2nd down, they scored.  It was now 27-20.  The Pats just needed one first down.  2nd and 12.  Brady threw.  The ball bounces of a defender’s hip.  Tamba Hali misses it and Edelman makes the first down catch!!!!  All TB12 had to do was take a knee 3 times and it was over!  Well, how did we get there.  It all started opening drive.

It was 3rd down.  Brady had struggled on 3rd down conversions ever since Edelman got hurt.  But he was back.  He proved it.  Brady threw to his favorite receiver, and Edelman, he caught it, for a first down!  Next play went to Edelman for 13 yards again!!!!  Then 16 yards to Amendola the very next play!!!   They were doing hurry-up offense, just pass after pass after pass to Brady’s best slot receivers.  Healthy and dominant as they could be.   Then he got to third down again, and got to Gronk for 32 yards!!!   He jumped over defenders and broke tackles, but he got there.  Two plays later, touchdown Gronk!!!  That was all on the 1st drive.  5 minutes, 11 plays, 80 yards and a touchdown!!!!

The following drive ate up 8 minutes of clock, and ended with a 34 yard field goal.  7-3 Pats.  It ended the 1st quarter at that score.  The 2nd quarter started with 3 short drives, ending in punts.  After a quick first down to Edelman, then a 5 yard penalty.  Brady threw an amazing pass, Edelman bobbled it, but lost it!!!  But Keshawn Martin was wide open right in front of him and he caught it!!!!  A 42 yard pass!!!  The offense was booming!!!  They slowly got through to the red zone from the 50, and it was first and goal.  Tom Brady ran it in for 10 yards and thought it was a touchdown but it was called out of bounds at the 1!!!  Belichick challenged, but lost as the call stood.  No worries, he had a QB sneak up the middle for a TD!!!  14-3. The following drive was a field goal again.  14-6 Pats.  The pattern was, touchdown Pats, and the next drive, the Chiefs would score a field goal.  “If they keep scoring touchdowns, and the Chiefs keep scoring field goals, you know who will win”, I said to my dad right then.

“I can live with that”, he said.  The half ended soon after.  The Chiefs got the ball, they had won the toss and deferred.  They were marching down the field, but on 2nd and 8, Knile Davis fumbled and Dont’ a  Hightower got it!!!  The offense did its thing.  Gronk for 18 yards.  Edelman runs for as many yards as his own jersey number!!!  14 yard pass to Edelman!  10 yards to James White.  Then Gronk scrambled for his second TD of the night, this time for 16 yards, double the yards of #1.  That’s when he broke the record.  He didn’t spike it, he was so happy, he just danced.  But next drive, things changed.

The Chiefs went to Jason Avant for 26 yards!!!  This is a former Eagles second-string who is now and old and washed up Chiefs sleep receiver.  He had 2 receptions for 69 yards.  Then 13 yards to Kelce.  They were slowly marching down the field, Alex Smith doing his usual thing of lots of short plays for big total yardage.  He went for it to Chris Conley, but was incomplete.  But after a 5 yard penalty on the Pats, they easily went to Albert Wilson for a touchdown.  They had broke the pattern.  It was now 21-13 Pats.  Next drive though, James White caught a 29 yard pass.  Then he went to Edelman for 14.

The quarter ended, and they lost their momentum but managed a 40 yard field goal, a solid one.  24-13.  After a quick Chandler Jones sack, the Pats got the ball back at like the 30.  On 4th down, Duron Harmon’s so-called interception was called back for an incomplete pass and turnover on downs, but thankfully it saved us 30 yards.  Keshawn Martin got a 15 yarder, but they had to settle for a 32 yard field goal.  27-13.  We led by two touchdowns.  Then the Chiefs scored their TD after horrible clock management, and Brady finished the game.

Tomorrow the Broncos and Steelers play.  The winner plays us.  What do you think.  Will we host a banged up Steelers team or go to Denver against the dominant Broncos, where we lost in Week 12?  Comment what you think.  Whoever we play, “We’re on to the AFC Championship.”

Star Of The Game: Rob Gronkowski

Gronkowski scoring his 2nd TD in a nice win over the Chiefs.

Of course Gronk earned this.  Two touchdowns, eight total in the playoffs any year, most by a tight end in playoff history.  Also, Gronk leads the Pats in playoff receptions ever.  Gronk had several deep passes, which he is not known for and despite back trouble and knee troubled, he also caused Chiefs trouble.  He also had some good blocks to help Edelman star in his return.  He led the Pats to revenge for an ugly game.

Revenge: Patriots-Chiefs Preview

Week 4, 2 2014.  The Chiefs blow out the Patriots, 41-14, dominating the ball.  The Patriots fell to 2-2, and the Chiefs rose to it.  That is what happened the last time these two teams played.  This time around, our roster is younger and better and the Chiefs’ is more banged up.  The weather will be colder, which is good for the Pats, and the game is at Gillette.

Image result for chiefs at patriots

Also, Bill Belichick had the backups mimic the Chiefs’ stars play style.  Plus, Belichick showed the tape of 2014 to the current players and told them what they need to do differently that can really help.  The environment is also different.  It was a Monday Night Football game early in the regular season.  This is a 4:30 playoff game on a Saturday.   The Patriots have done plenty to prepare.  Plus, none of the coaches have interviewed for jobs for us, put Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson interviewed for and got the job as the Philadelphia Eagles head coach.

Now here are the keys during the game to the Patriots winning.

  1. The Patriots need to do better on third down.  The return of Julian Edelman will really help with that, but he is still hurt, they have to be careful and have other guys ready to make third down conversions.
  2. The offensive line needs to do a better job protecting Tom Brady from the great Justin Houston and Tamba Hali.  Despite LaAdrian Waddle and Tre’ Jackson being out, Sea Bass’ return will really help with that
  3. The run needs to continue to make an impact.  Weren’t you jumping for joy when Steven Jackson scored his first Patriots touchdown 2 weeks ago?
  4. The defense needs to contain the Chiefs offense.  Maclin, Albert Wilson and Travis Kelce will all be playing, other dangerous names are running backs Charcandrick West and Knile Davis, so the Chiefs offense is at a high point.  But they need to contain them, no matter who’s playing.

My pick is that the Patriots win 30-23.  I’m a little worried about players re-njuring themselves or the offense continuing to struggle regardless of Edelman’s return, but I think the o-line and defense have enough guys active to contain the Chiefs.  Here’s the projected starting o-line today

LT: Sebastian Vollmer

LG: Shaq Mason or Bryan Stork

C: Bryan Stork or David Andrews

RG: Josh Kline

RT: Marcus Cannon

 

Not bad, but still not ideal.

 

Surprise Stars: My predicted stars of the game are Steven Jackson,Brandon Bolden, James White, Julian Edelman, Keshawn Martin, Rob Ninkovich, Jamie Collins and Malcolm Butler.  Butler has top 5 league CB potential, Collins and Nink could continue what they did against the Jets, Keshawn Martin and Edelman are primed to breakout as they lead the team in 3rd down conversions, and Steven Jackson is ready for an encore of both last week and previous years after being team-less most of this season.  Bolden and White should have good runs too.

Inactives

 

Chiefs

Marcus Cooper CB Inactive  Decent Corner
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif OG Inactive  —
David King DE Inactive  —
Mitch Morse C Inactive  Good Center
Aaron Murray QB Inactive  Need QB Depth
Rakeem Nunez-Roches DT Inactive  —
Ramik Wilson ILB Inactive  Decent Pass Rusher

Patriots

Jon Bostic OLB Inactive
 Need The Extra LBs
Geneo Grissom OLB Inactive  Need The Extra LBs
Chris Harper WR Inactive  —
Tre Jackson OG Inactive Made Impact on Line
Ishmaa’ily Kitchen NT Inactive  —
LaAdrian Waddle T Inactive Made Impact on Line
Tavon Wilson SS Inactive  Helped Secondary

 

NFL Divisional Round Picks: Seahawks Win Again, Pittsburgh, Green Bay Just Lose

The playoffs have began to unfold, and at this point we have gotten to the Divisional Weekend.   This is the weekend that decides the final four teams, and the top 28 teams, maybe top 27 if the Pats lose, draft picks.  But I doubt it’ll be 27 because the Pats have the biggest lock of any favorite and seek revenge on the team that blew them out in 2014 like they did to the Texans last week.  Here’s an overview of all my score predictions.  Then I’ll talk about each individual game’s match-up.

NFL Postseason Schedule

Divisonal Round Playoffs Time (ET) Stadium TV
Sat, Jan 16
4:35 PM
Kansas City Chiefs
(11-5)
@ New England Patriots

(12-4)
Gillette Stadium CBS
Sat, Jan 16
8:15 PM
Green Bay Packers
(10-6)
@ Arizona Cardinals

(13-3)
University of Phoenix Stadium NBC
Sun, Jan 17
1:05 PM
Seattle Seahawks
(10-6)
@ Carolina Panthers

(15-1)
Bank of America Stadium FOX
Sun, Jan 17
4:40 PM
Pittsburgh Steelers
(10-6)
@ Denver Broncos

(12-4)
Sports Authority Field at Mile High CBS

Patriots, 30, Chiefs, 23

NEvsKC.jpg
Minitron stars and the defense steps up as the Pats get revenge on the Chiefs.

 

 

 

 

The last time these two teams played, the Pats lost to the Chiefs by 27 points.  But things are different this time.  First the rosters.  The Pats have gone younger, the Chiefs are without Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe (gone now) and newbie Jeremy Maclin (questionable with injury).  Second, the place.  The game was in KC last time, but the Pats host them at Gillette this time around.  Third, the environment.  It was the regular season on Monday Night Football last time, this year it’s a 4:30 playoff game on a Saturday.  Fourth, the conditions.  It may be rainy again, but it will be colder, with more of sleet-ish showers.  The other difference is that it’s winter.  That all completely changes the game.

The Chiefs have plenty of offense, Charcandrick West, Travis Kelce, Albert Wilson, Knile Davis and Jeremy Maclin if he play, but this is a defense based team with an offense that has good individuals, but lack overall depth.  The Pats defense should be good enough to contain the Chiefs offense at least they can’t fully emerge and pick off Alex Smith, or return fumbles for touchdowns.  They’re good enough to limit them to 20 or 25 points.  The question is, is Tom Brady protected enough by a weak o-line and is the offense healthy enough to outscore that?

Some keys to the Pats offense doing well are the o-line providing enough protection, with or without Sea Bass.  They also need all their best receivers in the game, like Gronk and Edelman, to improve how the Pats do on 3rd down conversions and increase how often they score to what it was before the injuries got to this point of severity.  That is how they can get revenge.  Also, I could easily see that happening because the Pats are pumped up.  Belichick probably showed the tape from these two teams’ last meeting.  They want revenge and Belichick explained to them how to do it and had guys like Jimmy Garroppollo try to mimic Alex Smith and the Chiefs’ play style for the defense while backups on defense likely mimicked Justin Houston and Tamba Hali for the o-line and Brady to prepare.

Cardinals, 30, Packers, 26

GBvsARZ.jpg
The Packers try their hardest, but the Arizona offense and defense steps up and works as a team to win them the game.

Injuries have made a big impact on the playoffs.  I originally went with the Cards.  When I first broke it down, I changed my mind and went Packers.  But with Davante Adams out, I now have Arizona again, because I had Adams scoring the go-ahead touchdown.  Yup, injuries can decide a lot.  This game is a rematch of the ugly match-up in Week 16, when the Cards blew Green Bay out.  Aaron Rodgers struggled as the Arizona defense attacked him  Last week, Rodgers really shined.  Now he has a move on going and they might actually have a legitimate chance.  The Packers’ other issue though, is their own defense.  They have a ton of minor names that you may know but they don’t do much, like Damarious Randall, Sam Shields and Micah Hyde.

Carson Palmer and the Cardinals offense can surely score on them.  They have the weapons, Fitzy, Michael Floyd, John Brown, David Johnson and Andre Ellington, despite injuries and they have the teamwork.  Meanwhile, the Packers offense has began to really get a move on.  Guys like Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy, James Starks, James Jones and Richard Rodgers struggled at one point but are all on their highest end of their seasons.  But the Cardinals defense, in some ways, can match up to them.  They got the RBs with a good rush D, but don’t have quite that good a secondary without Tyrann Mathieu healthy, not enough to even guard both Randall Cobb and Richard Rodgers, unless guys like Justin Bethel and Jerraud Powers step up, but for those reasons, the Cardinals will slip away and prevail.

 

Seahawks, 33, Panthers, 24

SEAvsCAR.jpg
Marshawn Lynch leads the Seahawks offense in his return and gets them the win.

 

If I was still doing lock and upset of the week, the Pats would be my lock, while this would be my upset.  But I say Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks keep rolling.  Lynch being back will really help.  Despite the fact that the Panthers beat the Seahawks, the Panthers only beat one other team with a record above .500.  The other 13 were against pretty bad teams.  So I thought they were the most likely to go one and done.  The Panthers have a pretty good offense,but the Seahawks defense matches up with them and will hold them up.  The Panthers defense is really good too, but I really think the Seahawks are bouncing back from a rough start and they will outlast the Panthers.  Even with Jonathan Stewart back, Beast Mode is too, and Beast Mode is boss.  He’s really good.  Top 5 running back in the league.  So Beast Mode leads the Seahawks offense and they earn a nice win.

 

Broncos, 27, Steelers, 20

PITvsDEN.jpg
The Broncos offense could struggle a bit, but the Steelers offense is too banged up and the Broncos defense is good enough anyways.

Again, injuries make an impact.  I would have went Pittsburgh if Antonio Brown was playing, Big Ben could even be out.  But the Steelers are battling a seriously banged up offense, and their offense is what took them to the playoffs.  Especially against an amazing, healthy Denver defense, the Steelers offense I don’t think will have enough power to score that much.

But the Denver offense is a little banged up itself, and it is very feast or famine, especially with Peyton Manning back in the mix.  Risk of them struggling is high, even against such a weak defense.  But I think the Denver offense has just enough in the tank to edge the Steelers.

 

So those are my picks for the Divisional Round.  Comment with your thoughts.

Celtics Win 2nd Straight vs. Suns, Great Weekend for Boston?

A great weekend is already brewing for Boston sports fanatics.  The Celtics had a nice win over the Suns last night, the Bruins beat the Sabres 4-1, the Pats are bound to pounce on the Chiefs for revenge, and the Red Sox and Joe Kelly avoided arbitration with a one year deal.  The Celtics and B’s also play again today.

The Celtics won 117-103 over the Phoenix Suns.  This is the first time Boston has played the Suns since Isaiah Thomas was on the Phoenix Suns.  Thomas and Marcus Smart, who had his first career triple double, the youngest to do it (10 pts, 11 assists, 11 rebounds), helped them to a big win.  The game puts the C’s at 21-19.

Marcus Smart shooting for two of his 10 points that contributed to his triple-double.

Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder also each contributed 17 points, Kelly Olynyk scored 21 despite limited court time, Thomas gave in 19, and Jared Sullinger had a double-double.  So the offense was still booming like the 4th quarter of Celtics-Pacers, when they came back by constantly doing this pattern, steal, pass, run, shoot.  It got them 4 unanswered baskets.  This time, they had such a big lead at half that 2nd half struggles didn’t matter, they still held a lead.

The start was rough.  While the Suns got to shoot more, the Celtics got more 3 pointers, and they led 16-12 with 6 minutes to go.  The struggles continued throughout the quarter, but they piled up enough extra points to lead by 7 by the end of the 1st. They grabbed on to their largest lead when they went on a 22-5 run to end the 1st half.  Kelly Olynyk led the offense during the run, responsible for 13 of the 22  points.  Olynyk finished the game leading the offense with 21 points and 9 rebounds, most of it coming from just that portion of the game.  He made four 3-pointers, three during the second quarter.

In the 3rd quarter, the Suns began to come back.   For most of the quarter, they did it slowly, but they had a short 11-4 run at mid-quarter.  The Suns just barely outscored Boston 31-28 in the quarter.  They continued the slow comeback, but the Celtics were just scoring too much overall for the Suns to get too much of a move on.  They went from a 21 point to a 14 point deficit but still won, 117-103.

Mirza Teletovic and Brandon Knight had decent games combining for 38 points, but the Celtics had 4 players with at least 17 points, the Suns only had two that had at least 16, one that had 22.  Two players on the C’s had double or triple doubles, Phoenix had none.  Best of all, Isaiah Thomas was second in points for us, with 19.  If he did the same for Phoenix, but not us, we would’ve lost 122-98.  So the Isaiah Thomas trade was surely worth it.  The Celtics are beginning to look like a young, but powerful playoff team.  Their conference is the easier one to do well in, and their division’s only competitors are the Raptors, and possibly the Kristaps Porzingis led Knicks.  The season continues on.

Also be on the look out for my NBA mid-season report soon.  I will include playoff predictions, and will be preparing it after the Celts play their 41st game today.

NFL Playoff Picks: Wild Card Weekend

4 non division winners will challenge the teams the edged a division win.  First, which teams are more of super bowl threats?  Second, who will win?  Let’s start with a look at my straight up playoff bracket.

FullSizeRender (3).jpg

I have the Seahawks knocking out the top 3 NFC seeds and losing in the Super Bowl, and the Steelers upsetting Cincy in the wild card round but losing to Denver.

Here are my picks:

Texans, 23, Chiefs, 20: Saturday, 4:35 PM EST

Both of these teams are on fire.  Kansas City has clearly shown themselves by winning 10 straight.  Houston struggled for a longer period of time, but have bounced back with 3 wins in a row.  This will come down to every last second.  The Texans have DeAndre Hopkins at his prime, who has broken out this year, and the Chiefs have Travis Kelce and Jeremy Maclin who will make an impact.  But one thing that will surely impact this game is defense.  In my opinion, both teams have a top 10 defense in the league.  They both have extremely powerful pass rush and good to decent secondaries.

I don’t think this will be very high scoring, and I think it will come down to a field goal.  Neither of these kickers, Nick Novak and Cairo Santos, are that good, but Santos has been streaky in good and bad ways.  Novak once was very solid.  I think Novak still has some of that consistency in him and that he can save the Texans’ butts in this game.

Steelers, 34, Bengals, 26: Saturday, 8:15 PM EST

I think that Pittsburgh’s run game will really miss DeAngelo Williams, not to mention Le’ Veon Bell.  But the powerful pass and a solid QB in Big Ben should make up for it as he throws four TDs in this 8 point upset win.  Ben Roethlisberger will go to his favorite trusty receivers, Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton and Heath Miller, maybe Darrius Heyward-Bey, Matt Spaeth and Jacoby Jones for a bit.  But the point is, Ben Roethlisberger and the pass will make a huge impact.

The Bengals on the other hand, have just mediocre receiver depth with a QB that’s a novice to the playoffs.  Their run game trumps Pittsburgh as it’s at full health, but passing and QBs, along with experience are very important in the playoffs.  Despite a much better defense than Pittsburgh, the Steelers’ offense will pay off.

 

Seahawks, 30, Vikings, 24: Sunday, 1:05 PM EST

Despite missing Marshawn Lynch this week, Seattle still has a shot to take down the Vikes on Sunday.  The Seahawks are starting to discover a decent pass game, and the defense has been awesome.  The pass rush should be good enough to limit AP, especially if he’s still a little banged up.  The secondary should help limit Teddy B’s new receivers as well.

The Vikings defense is still young and developing, and should be able to limit the Seahawks, but not as much as they limit Minnesota.  Seattle has edge in that way, and they should win, despite a weaker, more injured offense.  They have great sleepers that haven’t come out of their shell yet this season.

Packers, 34, Redskins, 27: Sunday, 4:40 PM EST

I think this is a game that will be surprisingly high scoring due to bad defense.  Aaron Rodgers is finally starting to throw the ball around a bit, and Eddie Lacy has begun to return to full form. James Starks has done well too.  This team has gone a little bit young, but is growing power once again, power that may be strong enough to take out a top seed team after this.  But Kirk Cousins will provide a challenge.

He has found his guys that he needs to win games and the Skins’ offense works very well together as a team.  They’re good too.  They’re o-line is much better, they have some reliable young receivers and the whole team is beginning to re-develop.  But in the end, the Washington secondary is just too empty to stop the Packers in their reign and they will win by a touchdown or so.

So those are my picks for the week.  Comment what you think will happen in the games.

 

NFL Week 17 Match-Up Breakdown

Despite having no games outside of the division, week 17 has some intriguing match-ups.  Below I’ve broken down the toughest grudge matches, including Jets-Bills, Cowboys-Redskins, Eagles-Giants, Packers-Vikings and Seahawks-Cardinals.

The New York Jets try to get into the playoffs for the first time since 2009.  Will the Bills trip them up, or will the Jets stand strong?

Playoff Scenarios

Jets

The Jets clinch a playoff berth with a win, or a Steelers loss to the Browns.  It’s easier to just win because the Steelers prettymuch have a lock over Cleveland.  It would be a huge 10 point upset for the Browns to win.    Thjey want to lose, they’re in the race for the #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft.

Bills

None, they are mathematically eliminated.

 

Keys To Victory

The Jets need to keep up their consistent offense.  Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker have had great years due to a better QB.  So in order for this offense to use it’s other weapons well, they need a good quarterback.  Ryan Fitzpatrick has had a strong season, and has turned back into the one from the Bills who was decent.  He needs to keep doing what he’s been doing to stay strong.

The Bills have plenty of potential.  Between young players like Tyrod Taylor, Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins, and older players like Percy Harvin, LeSean McCoy and Charles Clay, it looked like a playoff team going in to the season.  But their roster was only that good on paper.  The offense needs to live up to its playoff potential and you know, score for once.

 

What To The Stats Say?

If the Jets make the playoffs, Todd Bowles will be the fourth straight Jets head coach to make the playoffs in their first season, joining Rex Ryan, Eric Mangini and Herm Edwards.  The Jets are riding their first five game win streak since 2010, and haven’t had a 6 game winning streak since 1998.  They are the only team to have 2 plus offensive TDs every game this season.  Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall broke Cris Carter and Randy Moss’ record of games where they both have a TD in a season, they had seven, the Jets WRs had eight.  Marshall also has 1,376 reception yards.  The Bills only key stat is that they haven’t lived up to their expectations.  The stats highly favor the Jets in this game.

Bold Prediction of The Game: The Bills offense finally shines as they edge the Jets at the last minute.  Meanwhile, Ryan Fitzpatrick struggles, but rookie Bryce Petty comes in and shines.  However the Bills still edge the Jets.

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The Cowboys have nothing to play for, but can they take down the 4th seed bound Redskins, who can’t get any better or worse?  That’s what makes this match-up so intriguing.

Playoff Scenarios

Neither team has any playoff scenarios.  The Redskins are so bad they have no higher seeding to play for, but so good that they clinched the division.  The Cowboys are so bad, that they are mathematically out already.

Keys To Victory

The Cowboys defense needs to live up to its name and stop Kirk Cousins and his receivers.  The Redskins have been a pass heavy team all year, so the secondary has to be ready to go, and the pass rush needs to go heavy on the blitz and go for the big guns, (Kirk Cousins).

The Redskins need to run the ball more as no running back, between Alfred Morris, Matt Jones, Pierre Thomas and Chris Thompson has rushed for 100 yards since Week 2 (Jones).  Jones only did pit once this season and is the only one on the team to do it this year.

 

What Do The Stats Say?

Jordan Reed has had a dominant season (83 recpetions for 11 TDs, 93 yards shy of an 1,000 yard season).  Reed has the most reception yards by sany TE on the Redskins in a season.  The Cowboys meanwhile, are already experiencing their first under .500 season since 2010, when Tony Romo broke his clavicle.  Their 4-12 record with a loss will be the worst since 1989, when they went 1-15 in Jerry Jones’ first season.  Darren McFadden however has 3 TDs and is just 3 yards shy of an 1,000 yard season.

Bold Prediction of The Game: Jason Witten has 2 TDs, 100 yard game.

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The Eagles take on the Giants in a now meaningless game, with the Redskins having clinched the division with the W over the Eagles.  Will the Eagles win in a shocker with a new coach and mindset, or will OBJ bounce back as the Giants prevail?

Playoff Scenarios

None, the Redskins clinched the division last week, mathematically eliminating the Eagles and the Giants from playoff contention.

 

Keys To Victory

The Eagles need to use their powerful running game to their advantage.  Guys like DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews are in Philly for a reason, to upgrade the run.  The whole offense needs a booster.  The defense too!  This team is a mess.

The Giants have a horrible defense, so the offense needs to step up.  They need to run more, to Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen, and use OBJ to their advantage along with Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle.

 

What Do The Stats Say?

The Eagles have given up 35+ points in 4 of the last 6 games, and they have allowed 400 yards of total offense in all six of those same games, tied for the second longest streak by any team since 1950, (2012 Saints, 10 straight, lead them).  The Giants started the season 5-4 but have lost 5 of their last 6, giving up the division.  Tom Coughlin may be fired after going 102-89 for two super bowl rings with the Giants.  In each of the last four seasons the Giants have missed the playoffs, gong 28-35 in that span.  OBJ just needs 26 yards to pass Randy Moss for most yards in first two seasons. (2,726)  Beckham has 2,700.  The stats don’t clearly favor anyone, but the Giants have a slight edge.

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The Seahawks will try to prevent the Cardinals from sangging the home field advantage, with the help of the Panthers to keep Arizona from even having a chance, win or lose.  The Cradinals need a win and Panthers loss to get the home field advantage?  Will the Seahawks regain relevance ater an ugly loss or will Carson Palmer prevail?

Playoff Scenarios

Cardinals

The Cardinals clinch the home field advantage with a win plus a Buccaneers win.

Seahawks

The Seahawks get the #5 seed with a win and a Green Bay win.  They will be held to the #6 seed if eitehr the Cardinals beat the Seahawks or the Vikings beat the Packers.

 

Keys To Victory

The Seahawks defense needs to live up to its name and stop the dominant Carson Palmer and his Arizona offense.  The Seahawks also need to run the ball well, especially with injuries to Doug Baldwin, Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson.  Marshawn Lynch and Thomas Rawls could be back soon, but for now, the team has to ride on Fred Jackson, Bryce Brown, Christine Michael and Will Tukuafu.

The Cardinals offense needs to keep it up, and their magical secondary needs to get some picks.

So, both teams have offensive and defensive keys to winning.

What Do The Stats Say?

Russell Wilson has thrown 11 TDs to Doug Baldwin in the last five games tied with Brett Favre and Sterling Sharpe for most TDs by a QB-WR combo in a 5 game span.  Baldwin has 1,023 yards thsi season meanwhile, and is the first Seahawks receiver with an 1,000 yard season since 1998 (Joey Galloway with 1,047 and 10 TDs), and Baldwin is set to do better than Galloway, needing just 25 yards.  Wilson needs 2 TDs and 140 yards to break those single season QB records on the team.  He is chasing Dave Krieg (32 TDs in 1984) and Matt Hasselbeck (3,966 yards in 2007).  The Cardinals are 4-0 against teams that made the playoffs in the 2014-15 season.   They are also 4-0 vs. super bowl winning QBs.  None of those QBs had more TDs than INTs against Arizona, Drew Brees (Week 1), Joe Flacco (Week 7), Russell Wilson (Week 10) and Aaron Rodgers (Week 16).  This is the first time in history the Cardinals have won 13 plus games in a season, they have existed since 1920!   Larry Fitzgerald has 1,160 yards for 8 TDs, ninth in NFL reception yards.

Bold Prediction of The Game: JERMAINE GRESHAM goes for 2 TDs, 75 yards

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Packers.   Vikings.   Winner wins the divsion.  Adrian Peterson vs. Aaron Rodgers.  Best Week 17 match-up ever?  We shall see.  Will Aaron Rodgers stay strong as him and his receivers bounce back, or will AP and the Vikes upset for the division?

Keys To Victory

The Packers need to be able to catch the darn ball.  Their receivers have struggled of late.

Meanwhile, the Vikings need to be able to throw the ball in the first place.  What would they do if AP got hurt or suspended again?  It’s called: they would suck.

 

What Do The Stats Say?

Teddy Bridgewater has thrown 6 TDs in the last 3 games.   Rodgers has 4 TDs plus two picks.  Adrian Peterson leads the league in rushing yards this season (1,418), 64 ahead of Doug Martin, 2nd place.  Stefon Diggs has 712 yards and 2 TDs.  Eddie Lacy ahs just 724 yards.  Since Week 4, only James Jones has an 100 yard game.  Julius Peppers has 9.5 sacks, and Clay Matthews has 5.5.   The stats actually favor the Vikings.

Bold Prediction: The Vikings WRs lead Minnesota to an upset win.

My Pick: Minnesota_Vikings_Logo.png