Note: Due to the format limitations on blogspot blogs, I publish the full versions of my weekly previews and picks column on HubPages is an online article publishing platform and as such it allows me to incorporate images and video much easier than blogspot does. The full versions of my weekly previews and picks are available here on HubPages.

In addition, most of the other posts on this blog are also published on Bleacher Report, a sports writing site. They can be found here on my Bleacher Report profile

NFL Playoff Picks: Divisional Round

This is admittedly somewhat of an unscientific study, but I'm pretty sure me and this guy were the only ones outside of Arizona's fans who picked the Cardinals to beat the Packers last week.

I'm also fairly certain that I'm the only person on the planet who didn't think the big shootout between Arizona and Green Bay was the most amazingly great game ever played in the history of the National Football League.

Aaron Rodgers and Kurt Warner are undoubtedly great quarterbacks, but the score of that game had a lot more to do with neither team's defense bothering to even pretend they were going to cover receivers or attempt a tackle, once they caught the ball.

My immediate impression wasn't what an exciting game this is, but more along the lines of: if the winner of this game plays like this next week, the Saints are going to be the first NFL team to score 100 points.

Partly because of the way they packed up their tents early at the end of the season, I actually thought New Orleans might be ripe for an upset. However, after last week this has turned into one of the hardest picks of the divisional round and I'm leaning toward the Saints again.

The Cardinals should have enough to make it a close game if they decide to play defense. If not though, it will be over fast.

The one game that did catch me off guard last week was the Ravens beating the Patriots. Not so much the fact that New England lost to Baltimore, but the way they lost. Unfortunately for the Patriots, the playoffs have a way of making the cream rise to the top.

You might be able to overcome injuries and positional weaknesses in the regular season, but once it gets down to the elite few those kind of things get exploited. The bad news for the Ravens is that next week is their turn to be the exploited.

It's probably going to be a somewhat close game, because the Colts have a habit of letting teams hang around until the fourth quarter, but I have very little doubt that Indy will come out on top.

Before last week's games, Rex Ryan countered all the talk of New York not deserving to be in the playoffs by declaring that the Jets should be favored to win the Super Bowl. Then they went out and beat a team they should have beat, which somehow made everyone take that boast seriously.

In spite of the fact that the Bengals limped into the playoffs and missed two easy field goals during the game, a lot of people are suddenly considering the Jets one of the top contenders based on that victory.

As much as I would actually like to see Rex Ryan succeed (I picked the Jets to go to the AFCC in my preseason predictions largely based on him being the coach), I just don't see New York getting past the Chargers. In fact, I think it is going to turn ugly.

Which brings us to the final game between Minnesota and Dallas. There are several keys to this game and I think in the end they all point to one team.

The most obvious of the them is the momentum of each team going into the game.

Much like the Saints, the Vikings stumbled down the stretch. They ended up losing three of their final five games and not looking at all good in those losses.

The Cowboys, on the other hand, come into this game playing as good as they have all season. They've managed to avoid a December collapse and instead have won four straight games including being the first team to beat the Saints.

Another factor that will come into play Sunday is the match-ups and, once again, I think those point mostly one direction.

Teams that have been able to get pressure up front have had success at disrupting the Vikings offense. Unlike early in the season, the offensive line hasn't been doing a very good job of keeping pass rushers off Brett Favre.

Minnesota's other glaring weakness all season has been their defensive backfield. Every game they have played against a top quarter back they have gotten gashed. I expect that trend to continue when Tony Romo, Miles Austin, and Jason Witten come to town.

Similarly, the absence of E.J. Henderson (who was injured in week 13) should leave some room for Felix Jones and Marion Barber to maneuver.

So in case you somehow haven't figured it out yet, I'm picking the Cowboys to come out on top in this game and I won't be at all shocked if they win big.

Last week, my record was 2-2 both straight up and against the spread, with the Jets and Cards each covering on the field and against the number as underdogs. 

My Picks for the 2010 Divisional Playoff Games

Sat, Jan.16
1:30 PM (PST)
2:30 PM (MST)
3:30 PM (CST)
4:30 PM (EST)
Point Spread
Straight Up
Against the Spread
@New Orleans 
New Orleans
Sat, Jan. 16
5:00 PM (PST)
6:00 PM (MST)
7:00 PM (CST)
8:00 PM (EST)
Sun, Jan 17
10:00 AM (PST)
11:00 AM (MST)
12:00 PM (CST)
1:00 PM (EST)
Sun, Jan 17
1:40 PM (PST)
2:40 PM (MST)
3:40 PM (CST)
4:40 PM (PST)
@San Diego
New York Jets
San Diego
San Diego

BallHype: hype it up!
Related Posts with Thumbnails