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Tag:wildcard games
Posted on: January 10, 2011 11:43 am
Edited on: January 10, 2011 11:46 am
 

NFL Wild Card Weekend Recap: Five Key Points

1.  The only home team to win was the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks

Really?  Who would have predicted that to happen?  Sure it was a possibility that no teams would win at home given the fact that each game featured the better team on the road but to have Seattle be the only team that won, are you kidding me?  This was the first time a team under .500 won a playoff game in the history of the National Football League.  Not only did they win, but they outgunned the New Orleans Saints, the defending Superbowl champions, perhaps the most potent offense in the NFC.  Matt Hasselbeck threw for twice as many touchdowns as Drew Brees.  The Seahawks had almost double the amount of rushing yards as the Saints.  The Saints extended the streak of defending Superbowl champions not able to win a playoff game to 5 years.  Now Seattle heads to Soldier Field to face the Bears and there is one thing I guarantee won't happen, 400 yards of offense by the Seahawks for two straight weeks.

2.  Green Bay had a 100 yard rushing game from a running back for only the second time all season.

Green Bay was supposed to be a one dimensional offensive football team.  The Packers had only had a running back rush for over 100 yards once all season (Week 5 versus Washington in a loss), that is until yesterday.  Welcome to the NFL James Starks!  Who is James Starks?  Starks is a rookie running back from the University of Buffalo (I didn't even know that was a college) who before yesterday had only 29 rushing attempts all season.  On Sunday, Starks got the ball 23 times and rushed for 123 yards against an Eagles defense who had only given up 100 yards to a running back twice all season (Adrian Peterson and Matt Forte).  If Starks continues to rush the ball as he did yesterday, this Packers team becomes a whole lot more dangerous for the rest of the playoffs.

3.  After losing to the Jets, Peyton Manning's career playoff record is now 9-10.

Some experts consider Peyton Manning the greatest quarterback of all time.  Almost everyone considers him in the top five of all time.  After Saturday's loss to the Jets, Manning now has a less than .500 record in the playoffs, not a record I would consider the greatest quarterback of all time to hold.  Manning has been in the playoffs 11 of his 13 seasons and has failed to win a playoff game 7 of those 11 times.  The year that Manning won the Superbowl he had 4 more interceptions than touchdown passes and a 70.5 quarterback rating, not exactly a great post season performance.  Not only is Peyton Manning not the greatest quarterback of all time, he isn't even the best quarterback in the NFL right now.  Tom Brady has been in the playoffs 7 times in his career, 4 less than Manning but yet has only one less touchdown pass.  Brady has only failed to win a playoff game in 1 of his 7 trips to the post season and has won 3 Superbowls to Manning's 1.  Oh, and by the way, Brady's career playoff record is 14-4 which is slightly higher than .500.

4.  The Ravens only gave up 25 yards of offense in the second half against the Chiefs.

The Ravens defense stepped up on Sunday against the Chiefs and showed the entire country what a championship defense looks like in the playoffs.  The Ravens held the Chiefs to 161 yards of total offense.  They held Matt Cassel to 70 yards through the air and caused him to throw 3 interceptions.  In the second half, the Chiefs only had one possession that lasted longer than one minute and it only gained 31 yards and they turned the ball over on downs.  The other 5 possessions lasted a combined 15 plays and gained negative 6 yards.  The Ravens defense also caused 5 turnovers, 3 interceptions and two fumbles.  This is the Ravens defense everyone remembers and the defense that helped them win their only Superbowl.  The difference this year is they actually have a very good offense.

5.  In all four games, the team that won outrushed their opponent by an average of 60 yards.

There is a famous quote by Ben Franklin that states "but in the world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes."  In the NFL, my theory states, the only thing certain is if you win the rushing battle you will win the game.  Wild card weekend proved my theory correct as all four teams that won also outrushed their opponent.  It is a simple formula, if you run the ball you control the clock and you wear down the opposing teams defense.  If you run the ball effectively you open up your passing game which in turn will help you rush the ball even more effectively.  Control the ball, control the clock, control the game.  Don't believe my theory?  Check this weekend's games and the rushing stats afterwards, the four teams left battling for a chance to make an appearance in the Superbowl will have outrushed their opponents, guaranteed.

I also want to do a quick recap of my picks.  I went 3-1 last week against the spread with my only loss being the Eagles game which I wasn't very confident in to begin with.  Make sure to check out my weekly NFL picks video at www.moleandmeares.com and check back on Thursday for my NFL divisional playoff round picks.

Meares
Posted on: January 6, 2011 10:12 am
Edited on: January 7, 2011 4:02 pm
 

NFL Wildcard Playoff Picks

The playoffs are finally here!  This is my favorite time of the year, there is nothing like playoff NFL football.  Wildcard weekend will feature 4 games, 3 of which have a spread of 3 or less points.  The home teams are favored in all but one of the close spread games and normally Vegas gives the home team three points so Vegas is basically saying those two games are pick'ems.  I finished the season above .500 against the spread but barely.  This is my time to shine and I am predicting I will have a better than .800 record during the playoffs.  Let's get down to business...here we go...

Saturday, January 8th - 4:30 PM - New Orleans Saints (-10.5) at Seattle Seahawks - Mole & Meares Show Pick - Seattle Seahawks

At first blush this line seems really big, especially considering both Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory are done for the season.  The Saints running game will have to rely heavily on Julius Jones and Reggie Bush to step up or they will become one dimensional for the entire playoffs.  The Saints will win this game, especially considering the quarterback situation with the Seahawks.  Both Hasselbeck and Whitehurst have been sharing reps in practice this week meaning they have yet to decide on who will start the game.  I am not confident that the Saints will cover the spread though, mainly due to Seattle being at home and the Saints having to rely heavily on the pass.  I will take the points and take the Seahawks to cover.

Saturday, January 8th - 8:20 PM - New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts (-2.5) - Mole & Meares Show Pick  - New York Jets

This game is a rematch of last year's AFC Championship game where the Colts came out on top.  This is a completely different Colts team who, although they have won four straight games, is no where near the caliber of team they were last year.  Injuries have taken their toll on both sides of the ball and if it wasn't for Peyton Manning the Colts would have been 4-12 this year.  I like the matchup of the Jets defense against a depleted Colts offense and although I don't think the Jets will put up many points I believe they will put up enough to win this game outright.  I will take the two and a half points and take the Jets to win on the road.

Sunday, January 9th - 1:00 PM - Baltimore Ravens (-3) at Kansas City Chiefs - Mole & Meares Show Pick - Baltimore Ravens

There are a lot of factors going in the Chiefs favor in this game.  First they are 7-1 at Arrowhead stadium this year which is a very difficult place for opposing teams to play.  Second, they are basically playing with house money as no one expected them to be in the playoffs this year let alone host a first round game.  Third, they have the leading rusher in the NFL this season in Jamal Charles.  With all of that said I believe experience is going to play a huge role in this game.  The Ravens have been here before and they know how to win a road playoff game in a hostile environment.  The Ravens offense is much improved from a year ago with new weapons at the wide receiver position and Ray Rice can bruise opposing defenses with the run.   The Ravens defense will need to find away to shut down Charles and force Cassel to beat them through the air which I don't believe he can do.  I will give the three points and take the Ravens on the road.

Sunday, January 9th - 4:30 PM - Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles (-2.5) - Mole & Meares Show Pick - Philadelphia Eagles

This is the marquee game of the weekend.  The Green Bay Packers were a lot of people's preseason pick to represent the NFC in the Superbowl.  Since then they have been decimated with injuries but have found a way to make it to the playoffs.  Aaron Rodgers is having a great season when he is able to stay healthy and on the field.  The Packers have absolutely no running game and are basically a one dimensional team.  The Philadelphia Eagles, on the other hand, were not on anyone's radar before the start of the season, they were supposed to be in a rebuilding year.  But Michael Vick has proven he can still play quarterback and is perhaps playing better than when he was in Atlanta.  Even though the Eagles defense has been brutal this year I believe they can game plan accordingly for a team that is only going to throw the ball.  The x factor in this game is Vick, can the Packers contain him and keep him bottled up?  I like the Eagles to pull this one out at home so I will give the two and a half points and take Philadelphia.

There you have it, my wildcard playoff game picks against the spread.  I have a good feeling that I am going to get off to a great start in this year's playoffs.  Do you see the games going differently?  Let me know by leaving a comment below.  Also, on my site, www.moleandmeares.com, we are running a playoff contest for a chance to win a great prize.  You have to pick the participants in both the AFC and NFC championship games, the teams in the Superbowl and the eventual Superbowl winner.  Make sure to sign up before Saturday and Good Luck!

Mole & Meares
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com