4-0 picking games last week but only 3-1 against the spread. (Seattle line went off anywhere from 8.5 to 9.5.) Last week I was confident. This week I am not. Well at least half not. Let’s go!
3:00 PM ET – NEW ENGLAND AT DENVER
Line: Broncos -5
Analysis: Think both teams are going to have a ton of success running the ball. Think neither team is very good defensively. So what does the game boil down to? Same thing this game always boils down to: which of the all-time great quarterbacks makes more plays in the fourth quarter. I’m sticking with my gut. I believe this is Manning’s time.
Side note: I was disheartened by the performance of Manning’s receivers against the Chargers. Decker let a touchdown pass bounce off his chest and gave away the onside kick. Julius Thomas was a no-show for three and a half quarters. Wes Welker dropped one of the most perfect back shoulder tosses I’ve ever seen. (If Welker catches this ball it would be have been the signature play of the game.) Before last weekend I would have argued the Broncos have a significant advantage over the Patriots on the outside. Now? I’m not so sure.
Final Score: Denver 30, New England 28
6:30 PM ET – SAN FRANCISCO AT SEATTLE
Line: Seahawks -3.5
Analysis: This game has two principle elements for me.
Element I: Russell Wilson’s ability to extend drives with his legs. With the Niners limiting Marshawn Lynch’s influence and the general absence of playmakers on Seattle’s offense, I’d guess Wilson faces 10-12 third-and-longs over the course of the evening. His ability to stretch the defense with first-down runs the last time these two teams played in Seattle was a huge factor in Seattle dominating the contest. Niners must fight their aggressive tendencies and err on the side of discipline/containment.
Element II: Colin Kaepernick’s turnovers. He can’t throw the ball to the other team. Not in a game where every point will be gold and field position will be the name of the game.
Side note: Wouldn’t it be great if this turned into a wild shootout? If all the prognostication and analysis was wildly off-base and we ended up with a 48-45 game? That’s what I’m rooting for Sunday. Scoring fest.
Final Score: San Francisco 16, Seattle 13