Sunday, January 13, 2013

Preview: Texans vs Patriots - AFC Divisional Game

Schaub vs Brady, Part II:
  • Brady is having an MVP-type season once again. With a win against the Texans, Brady can become the all-time playoff leader in wins. Schaub is just getting started, winning his first playoff start last week (Schaub missed last year's postseason run with a foot injury). However, since their week 13 meeting, Schaub hasn't thrown the ball as he did before this meeting. He needs to get back to how he was playing during the 12-1 start in order to at least match up with Brady's performance he did to this Texans team in week 13. 
Will Arian Foster who the world that the Texans aren't frauds?
  • Arian Foster took offense to what Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy said about the Texans being frauds and that the Patriots will have 2 bye weeks before the AFC Championship Game. Foster put those quotes on his twitter profile and now has a chip on his shoulders. Will if the Texans want the world to know that their for real, Foster will have to be most involved then he was back in December. 15 carries for 49 yards isn't going to win you no playoff game for a top 5 RB in this league.
Will the Texans Defense show up this time?
  • The second time around for the Texans should be a better one then the first. It better be, if the Texans want to go to and play in the AFC Championship game. This defense has been getting touched since their last meeting with the Patriots back in December. If it was for a few missed throws from Andy Dalton last week and we could be talking about the Bengals/Patriots instead of the Texans. There defense have to get back to playing the way they we're during the beginning of the year, even though that could be tough because of the Brian Cushing injury earlier in the season. I do believe that the Texans will show up and play better on defense, but the question is can they force turnovers and make big stops as well? If so, then they could win but if not, then we could be seeing another blowout.

Dangerous game for the Patriots?
  • If you're a Pats fans, before you go off saying that your team will annihilate the Texans, remember what happened just two seasons ago. A 42-3 molly-whopping of the Jets, only to have them come back to Foxboro a month later and have a dominating performance from their defense as they won that AFC Divisional Game 28-21. Well just a month ago, the Pats slapped around the Texans 42-14 and now here's the rematch. We'll find out if Dan Shaughnessy is right (or wrong) about the Texans being frauds.
X-Factors: Texans CB's vs Patriots WR's
  • Can the Texans CB's force turnovers and control the Pats WR's?

Confidence Picks: Texans (23) vs Patriots (7)
  • QB: Schaub (7) vs Brady (1)
  • Defense: HOU (8) vs NE (5)
  • Coaching: Kubiak (8) vs Belichick (1)

Prediction: 28-24, Patriots

Preview: Seahawks vs Falcons - NFC Divisional Game

Will the Ryan/Smith combo get it done and win on Sunday?
  • It feels as if this could be the beginning of a possible Super Bowl coach/QB duo or this could be the beginning of the end for one or the other. Coming into this season, this core of Falcons players knew that the regular season would mean nothing. Their goal: Get back to the playoffs and get to the Super Bowl. After their "2 point" performance last year in wild card game at MetLife, the Falcons know if they lose again in the playoff, this core group could see some major changes in a season or two. However, if they can win this game, this could open up the opportunity for a Super Bowl appearance in their "hated rival's" own backyard. This game is a huge barometer for this Falcons organization going forward.
Seattle Secondary vs Atlanta WR's: Who dominates who?
  • This will be the matchup most people would and should want to watch. Seahawks very physical, big secondary vs the Falcons big and speedy WR's. With such offensive explosion, can that be the one thing that can even out the physical play of that Seahawks secondary or will that explosion be put on ice. I don't think the Falcons WR's have been tested to handle the physical play all season. As well, this could be a big test for the Seahawks secondary, who haven't had big, quick WR's like this either. 
Can Wilson continue he's amazing play or will the Falcons stop him?
  • Russell Wilson can join Joey Flacco and Mark Sanchez as the only QB's to win their first 2 playoffs games as a rookie. However, it seems to be something different about Wilson. He seems to have been here before, I mean the way he carries himself, to the way he's so calm and relaxed when the pressure is on. He played almost like a poised veteran last week against the Redskins and if he plays anything remotely similar to that in this game, then the Falcons could be in for a long afternoon. 
Will the cross-country trip and the start time of this game help or hurt the Seahawks?

  • From Seattle, WA to Washington D.C. is 2,329 miles (4,658 round trip). From Seattle to Atlanta is 1,891. All those miles would equal 6,549 miles in a span of 7 days. Not to mention that the game is a 1pm Eastern/10am Pacific start. This could be a dangerous thing for a team that might be a little slow getting into the game. If the Falcons manage to jump out on the Seahawks, that could be domesday for the Seahawks. However, this team was down 14-0 last week and still won, so hey......maybe they can pull off the road upset. Or maybe not...

X-Factors: Seahawks Pass Rush vs Falcons Pass Rush
  • With the injuries to Chris Clemons and John Abraham (although he will play), which pass rush can disturb the other's passing attack?
Confidence Picks: Seahawks (12) vs Falcons (21)
  • QB: Wilson (5) vs Ryan (6)
  • Defense: SEA (1) vs ATL (7)
  • Coaching: Carroll (6) vs Smith (8)

Prediction: 23-20, Seahawks

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Preview: Packers vs 49ers - NFC Divisional Game

Rodgers vs Kaepernick:
  • This will be Kaepernick's first playoff game as a starter. This could be either a good thing (Wilson, Flacco, Sanchez, Yates just to make a few QB's who won their first playoffs starts) or this could be a bad thing for him. Since 2008, QB's making their first playoff starts are 8-7. So for Kaepernick, its almost a 50/50 shot at giving the Niners the win. As for Rodgers, he could make this tough on the Niners faithful. Winning he's last 3 playoff road starts, playing on the road doesn't really phase him, but this will be his first ever game at Candlestick Park. Rodgers, who is a California-native, rooted for the 49ers his entire life until he became a Packer. Now he must beat the team he loves dearly in his heart. Likewise for Kaepernick, born in Wisconsin but raised on the west coast, he also has to play against the team he so loved as a child, the Green Bay Packers. It will be a tough game for both of these QB's, on and off the field.

Can Frank Gore do the the Packers Defense as Adrian Peterson did to them this season?
  • If we rank the top 5 RB's in this league from the last 5 years, Gore would be on that list. At least he should be. With that being said, this Packers defense had serious issues with the guy would most, if not all, would say is #1 on that list: Adrian Peterson. Lets not forget that Gore also destroyed this defense up at Lambeau back in September for 112 yards, including the game-sealing TD run. If he can run like that again, this Packers defense will be in for a long evening, which isn't good for the Packers. Period.

Battle of the "3-4" defenses: Who wins?
  • Well the Niners defense won round one of these battle at Lambeau. This time around, both defenses have had their share of injuries, but now both teams seem to be getting everything back to together at the right now. Its all about the matchups: Which defense can exploit the other offenses weakness? The defense that can do that, and play physical, smash-mouth defense, will be the ones who wins this battle and the game.

Can the 49ers win this game if they score under 20 points?
  • Well they scored 30 points at Lambeau (although 23 of those came from the offense). I believe that this will not be an issue for the Niners. I think they'll get over 20 points and so will the Packers.

X-Factor: Dujuan Harris vs 49ers Defense
  • Can Harris take some pressure off Rodgers against this 49ers defense??

Confidence Picks: Packers (11) vs 49ers (15)
  • QB: Rodgers (2) vs Kaepernick (8)
  • Defense: GB (6) vs SF (2)
  • Coach: McCarthy (3) vs Harbaugh (5)

Prediction: 23-20, 49ers

Preview: Ravens vs Broncos - AFC Divisional Game

Could the Broncos be re-living the John Elway glory days with Peyton Manning?
  • For the first time since the 1997-98 seasons, the Broncos faithful have something to be happy about going into this playoffs. They have a great QB behind center. Not since Elway have Broncos fans had so much optimistic hopes on winning another championship. Manning is having one of his better seasons at QB and if, he does pull off the championship feat, will have his second championship. That will tie him with his younger brother, Eli.
Can Ray Lewis continue to bring the energy needed for the Ravens defense to beat the Broncos?
  • The Ravens defense going into the playoffs have been less impressive and had been that way since Lewis went out with this biceps's injury back in October. However, with him playing his last game in Baltimore, this defense played quite well against the up and coming Colts. Despite him dropping a very easy interception and the Ravens D being on the field for 37 minutes. If those two things happen again this weekend, the Ravens season will come to an end. 
Can Joe Flacco make enough big plays vs. this Broncos defense or will Broncos D be too much for Flacco?
  • Flacco will have to play keep away with Manning if he hopes to win this game. Now the question is, will the vaunted Broncos D let him? Playing very well, the Broncos defense is holding opponents under 100 yards rushing and under 200 yards passing. If they have their way, they will take out both Flacco and Rice, which would be mean "Blowout City" for the Broncos. Can Flacco exploit the defense and use his strong arm to go over the heads of their safeties, all while trying to make sure that Von Miller doesn't take his head off? 
Remember 1996 season:
  • I usually do one intangible with these previews, so I'll do one on a possible history lesson that Broncos don't want to hear. When was the last time the Broncos went 13-3 and was the #1 in the AFC? Well you guess, 1996. For those who remember this, it didn't end well. To add injury to insult, the Super Bowl that year was held in New Orleans. This year's Super Bowl guessed it, New Orleans. That year the Broncos we're the most dominate team in the AFC with the 2nd place team that year being the New England Patriots, who happen to be the 2nd place team this year. If you believe in omens, then you know this may not end well for Broncos fans. Being a double-digit favorite against the upstart Jacksonville Jaguars, most people outside of Denver, believed that the Broncos would destroy them by at least 3 TD's. I sense that most think the same way with this weekend's game with the Ravens. The Jaguars won that game, which is considered by few as the biggest upset in NFL history. Something to think about for Broncos fans this weekend: BE VERY CAREFUL OF THIS GAME!!!
X-Factors: Ray Rice vs Broncos Front Line
  • Can Ray Rice control the line of scrimmage and help take the load off Flacco?
Confidence Picks: Ravens (10) vs Broncos (10)
  • QB's: Flacco (4) vs Manning (3)
  • Defense: BAL (4) vs DEN (3)
  • Coaching: Harbaugh (2) vs Fox (4)

Prediction: Ravens 27-24

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Divisional Confidence Picks

Three categories will be chosen: Quarterback, Defense, and Coaching. We'll rank all of the teams playing this week (1-8) and add up the numbers from all three categories. Lowest number will win the picks.

Quarterbacks Defense Coach
1. Brady SEA Belichick
2. Rodgers SF Jon H.
3. Manning DEN McCarthy
4. Flacco BAL Fox
5. Wilson NE Jim H.
6. Ryan GB Smith
7. Schaub ATL Kubiak
8. Kapernick HOU Smith

Quarterbacks Quarterbacks
Flacco 4 Rodgers 2
Manning 3 Kaepernick 8
Defense Defense
BAL 4 GB 6
DEN 3 SF 2
Coaching Coaching
Harbaugh 2 McCarthy 3
Fox 4 Harbaugh 5
Quarterbacks Quarterbacks
Wilson 5 Schaub 7
Ryan 6 Brady 1
Defense Defense
ATL 7 NE 5
Coaching Coaching
Carroll 6 Kubiak 8
Smith 8 Belichick 1
Ravens (10) vs Broncos (10)
Packers (11) vs 49ers (15)
Seahawks (12) vs Falcons (21)
Texans (23) vs Patriots (7)

Based on the number, the confidence picks goes as followed: Patriots, Packers, Seahawks should win over the weekend. Now we have a pick em game with the Ravens/Broncos. Keep in mind that these are not my official picks.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Preview: Seahawks vs Redskins - NFC Wild Card

Rookie QB's: Wilson vs RGIII:
  • Before the start of the season, if I was to ask you that one of these QB's would make it to the playoffs, 100% would of said RGIII hands down. However, Russell Wilson has really come from nowhere and could be the future leader of this Seahawks organization. This match-up will also ensure us that a rookie QB will win its first playoff start (5 have completed this feat so far).
Running Attack: Beastmode vs. Alfred:

  • Which running attack will have a good game and which running attack will be responsible for winning this game? This very well could be the reason why each team can disrupt the other team's hot defense. These two RB's are the best RB's not named Adrian Peterson this season. Alfred Morris is 2nd in NFL in yards followed by Marshawn Lynch. However, with both defenses being in the top 10 in run defense, getting those yards could be difficult.

Which hot streak will continue?

  • Entering this game, the Seahawks won 5 straight game while the Redskins won 7 straight. Well as the saying goes: "Something has to give". These are the NFC's top two hottest teams and for the rest of the conference, its a good thing they'll play each other early. Redskins we're 3-6 and had started to looking forward to the off-season. Well that's until this team caught lighting in a bottle and haven't lose since their bye week. As for the Seahawks, their winning streak started in a huge make or break game  in Chicago. An overtime win against the Bears sparked a December that most Seahawks fans will remember for a long time. As for which streak will last the longest, well remember before December, the Seahawks wasn't a good road team. As for the Redskins, they haven't lost at home since their bye week. I guess we'll find out is playing at home all built up to be or is their is a such thing as a road warrior.

Can the Seahawks Defense slow down RGIII?

  • Well its been 3 weeks since RGIII knee injury against the Ravens. Still wearing the knee brace from that injury, will RGIII be restricted by that brace or the brace of the Seahawks D? One of the most physical defenses in the playoffs will have their hands full. Which leads us to the big question: Can RGIII out throw and out run this defense to lead the Redskins to victory or will the Seahawks Defense  unleash the "Legion of Boom" and limit RGIII mobility?

X-Factor: Seahawks Secondary vs Redskins Pass Defense

  • Will the Seahawks secondary be though test for RGIII or will the Redskins Pass Defense get to Wilson?

Confidence Picks: Seahawks (6) vs Redskins (17)

Prediction: 21-17, Seahawks

Preview: Colts vs Ravens - AFC Wild Card

Can Flacco lead this Ravens team to a Super Bowl?
  • This could be the "make or break" year for Flacco. Now we must admit, last year in the AFC Title game he played very well only to watch Lee Evans drop a sure game-winning TD and a Bill Cundiff game-tying field goal miss wide left. You would think that he would go through this season with a chip on his shoulder to go and get back to the game that's haunted him this season. But he's not playing up to par, and some have questioned if he's a elite QB. Well if he loses this game, those questions will become serious doubts as to if he'll ever reach that level of "elite". 
How will Luck fair out in his first playoff start?
  • Well for his rookie season, he's done beyond what's needed for any other typical rookie QB. Now lets see how much he's really come along now that it's "Money Time". If the Ravens defense play how they've historically plays, then this could be a long day at the office for Luck. But if the Ravens D play the way they've played during this season, then it could be a easy afternoon for Luck. This will be a hard test for one Andrew Luck, but after the challenges this team has overcame over the last year, anything can happen.
Will Lewis and Suggs make a difference to a Raven's D that's has been struggling as of late? 
  • Well to add one future first ballot Hall of Famer and a dominating Pro Bowl defensive player can make a difference to any defense in the NFL. All of this was BEFORE the news that came out this week about Ray Lewis hanging it up after this playoffs are over, now may add a new sense of urgency to a defense that's been slacking all season. If this the last hoorah for Lewis, then you better believe it that this defense will go out with a blaze and all hands on deck.
Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano recovery from leukemia and the soon-to-be retired Ray Lewis, which story will motivate their team more?
  • Before this week, the storyline of this game was going to be about the "Chuck Strong" (campaign that Colts used during the recovery of leukemia by their head coach) before the news came out that the Ravens franchise player was set to retire after the playoffs (or when their team gets eliminated). Pagano, who was the DC of the Ravens just last season, has had a huge response from his team after they found out about him having leukemia. Most could say that their season was decided on "Chuck Strong", which is a great story. Against, which could be the Ray Lewis last game at home in that stadium forever. Yea this could be a slight problem for the road team. 

X-Factors: Ray Lewis Retirement vs Chuck Strong Season

  • Which will be that "extra" for each team: Chuck Strong for the Colts or Ray Lewis possible last game at home?

Confidence Pick: Colts (21) vs Ravens (9)

Prediction: 31-17, Ravens