Picking only one of the four NFL Wild Card game winners last weekend coincides lock, stock and barrel with how the regular season played out…Completely unpredictable.
Fans, reporters and even ESPN couldn’t be sure of anything week to week. It was like watching Jekyll and Hyde football, and it has continued right into the playoffs.
So this week I am taking a different approach, not with the previews but with my predictions. Normally, logical stats, knowledge and history would be used to guess the winners. Since my Wild Card picks bombed, this weekend I will flip a coin to determine my choice.
Maybe it is a magic penny; guess we will know shortly, so let’s get to the game previews for this Sunday’s match-ups:
The Bears, like everyone else, were expecting to see the reigning Superbowl Champion Saints in Chicago this weekend—that is until the Seahawks proved they could to win.
Instead of falling at the mercy of the mighty champs as most teams with a 7-9 record would, the Seahawks were almost flawless.
This was a Hawks team that nobody could believe were in the playoffs in the first place. The problem for the Saints was that the Seahawks have faith in themselves. The Seahawks were down 10-0 and 17-7 in the first half, but they fought back.
Seattle’s QB Matt Hasselback surely didn’t play like the leader that had an under .500 season, going 272 yards and throwing four touchdowns. He and RB Marshawn Lynch will have to be superb once again, with zero margins for error against a lethal Bears defense.
The Seahawks’ defense can lose this game if they don’t step it up against Bears QB Jay Cutler. Giving up 400 yards will not win the underdogs another game, and in the playoffs it shouldn’t anyway.
Jay Cutler can be rattled into throwing bad pass routes right into opponent’s hands and he is not known to fight back when he’s down. Cutler plays the blame game on everyone except himself; but he knows in the playoffs egos get checked at the door. Still, the Seahawks defense has to blitz and be aggressive.
Statistically and logically this game favors the Bears over the Seahawks on every level. Also, the Bears are coming off a bye week, well rested and for a game at home in Chicago.
The question remains whether the Seahawks believe this, because last week they sure didn’t think they shouldn’t have been exactly where they won…The Playoffs.
And the COIN says: Tails…Seahawks win.
Never underestimate the underdogs, as a New York Giants fan I can promise you that if they believe, they will achieve.
If anything, last weekend’s results were a warning that history is in the past, and that the point spreads can now be deemed practically inconsequential in trying to predict outcomes.
In all honesty, predicting the NFL Playoff games based on logic and stats is pointless because anything can happen. This was the theme of the 2010 regular season, as no team could stay undefeated after week four and teams played like Jekyll and Hyde.
Last weekend, I went one and four in my picks. My formula was pick winner, score and give a preview that explained how I came to that choice.
So, for the Divisional Games I will still give short summary of the match-up, but I am going to flip a coin to decide the winners/losers.
HEADS: hosting teams, coming off a bye-week…. Patriots, Steelers, Falcons and Bears.
TAILS: Wild Card Game winners, also known ‘the visitors’…. Jets, Ravens, Seahawks and Packers.
What a perfect way to kick of a playoff weekend, but with a ferocious rivalry between the Ravens and Steelers.
Right off the bat, physical is what comes to mind at the thought of each team individually.
Both teams’ Defenses, Ravens lead by Old Spice’s Ray Lewis and Steelers by Head & Shoulders Troy Polamalu, hit hard, and are dominate against the running game. The Ravens will shutdown Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall, but Ravens RB Ray Rice was the last RB to run 100 years against the Steelers defense.
Knowing each other so well, there are not many unknowns between them.
For the Ravens, the offense needs to have another good throwing week. Rice needs to distract the defense by earning some yardage to get the Steelers d-line’s respect, along with another good performance by Flacco who will look to TE Todd Head.
The Steelers need their offensive line to protect QB Ben Roethlisberger better because they won’t get away with not against the Ravens d-line lead by Terrell Suggs. Roethlisberger has not been going deep as much and has been solid throwing short passes this season. The Ravens dominate in stopping the short game, so look for Big Ben to go yard more this game.
For these two teams, the result in seven of their last eight match-ups was decided by a touchdown or less; the last four rendezvous have been decided by only a field goal and two of those four went to overtime.
This game is between two brutal bullies going at each other for blood, and it will be close. The victory will come within the last few minutes in the fourth quarter, either by Special Teams or by a fumble, would be my guess.
And the COIN says: Heads… Steelers will win. I might disagree with the coin on this one, as the Ravens looked really good last week once they got their composure before the half.
This recent good news came from a tweet by Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated just minutes ago, of the reported three-year, $35 million dollar deal.
Well, Yankee fans will sleep well tonight, because Soriano to Mariano is without question the best one to punch to shut down opponents in the eighth and ninth innings. Soriano was a Tampa Bay Ray in 2009, so he is already familiar with the competitive AL East.
Strength in a team’s bullpen and closer are absolutely vital in winning games.
A solid bullpen takes pressure off the starting rotation to have to go more than five to six innings.
In tight game circumstances, if your relievers have the ability to shut down hitters, it closes the opponent’s capability to score, inevitably giving a team a better shot at winning more games.
Once again, Cashman continues confusing Yankee fans, as Duchscherer is a nightmare version of ace Zach Greinke.
Greinke was just on the auction block, but the Yankees didn’t feel Greinke could mentally handle the bright lights in the Bronx.
Greinke had suffered from depression and social anxiety disorder, which sidelined him in 2006 for the season. Returning to the majors in May of 2007, Greinke was demoted to the bullpen but made it back to the rotation in 2008. He won the Cy Young in 2009 and has been an ace with no real injury history to date.
So, for what feels like the billionth time this offseason, the Yankees passed on a player. Instead, the Milwaukee Brewers traded for Greinke and bettered themselves for 2011.
At the time, Cashman’s excuse for not going after Greinke seemed to make sense.
That is why this Duchscherer rumor is so off-putting, here is why:
Now 33 years old, Duchscherer’s first full season in the majors didn’t come until 2004 as a reliever for the Oakland A’s.
This happened the same year 25-year-old Greinke debuted as a starter for the Kansas City Royals.
Unlike Greinke, Duchscherer has had brief periods of major league success, both out of the bullpen and as a starter.
Duchscherer’s career year-by-year is a mess, and he was on the same team each season except for a 2001 stint with the Rangers. To make life easier, below is a timeline from his first full season to present; all with the Oakland A’s:
2004-2006: Pitched in relief all three-seasons, appeared in 171 games for a total of 236.5 innings and 195 strikeouts. Named to the 2005 All-Star Team.