Went 2-2 ATS last week and would have been 3-1 if I’d remembered never to lay 9 points on an Andy Reid-coached team under any circumstances. Still, 2-2 is a good start. Need a 3-1 week to keep the dream of topping 7-4 alive. I’m confident.
All spreads from BETUS, Thursday evening.
Saturday – 3:20 pm CT
Pick: Falcons -3
This is the hardest game to analyze on the weekend because it’s impossible to know what to expect from Nick Foles. But if the Falcons defense plays as fast and angry as it did against the Rams, how could anyone expect Foles to get anything done through the air? A few interceptions are likely as the Falcons continue their journey to Super Bowl redemption…maybe. Falcons 20, Eagles 14.
Saturday – 7:15 pm CT
Pick: Patriots -13
This Titans crap has gone on long enough. Patriots 27, Titans 10.
Sunday – 12:05 pm CT
Pick: Steelers -7
Here’s my hot take for the column: the Jaguars defense is overrated. Jimmy G tore them to ribbons on Christmas Eve. Since then they’ve faced the offensive juggernauts of Tennessee and Buffalo and could easily have lost to both. (Tyrod Taylor had plenty of opportunities.)
I can’t imagine a scenario where Ben Roethlisberger repeats his mid-season “maybe I don’t have it anymore” nightmare. I can imagine a scenario where Chad Henne finds his way onto the field to replace Blake Bortles. Steelers 30, Jags 10
Sunday – 3:40 pm CT
Pick: Saints +5
Last week I didn’t trust Goff. This week I don’t trust Keenum. Both had wonderful regular season but the playoffs are an entirely different animal. Every single throw carries the weight of the entire season. Is Keenum ready for that pressure?
New Orleans has the corners to limit what the Vikings receivers can do outside, allowing their front to harass the Minnesota signal caller into mistakes. Then the game falls on the arm of Drew Brees and, well, he’s just fine with that. Saints 20, Vikings 17
The Bears won a game they had no business winning without the use of a quarterback. Their defense and rushing attack were so good they could have beaten any team in the league yesterday. Their quarterback? Non-existent. More thoughts:
I always like the Chicago Bears. But that hourglass has been flipped.
There are three possibilities, as I see it, for the Mitch Trubisky era to begin in Chicago.
Possibility #1: Monday night, October 9th – Vikings at home
Under this scenario, Mike Glennon eats the hardest four-game stretch of the Bears schedule (and subsequent 0-4 record). The Bears would then have 11 days to prepare Trubisky for the Vikings and they’d be able to create an event atmosphere at Soldier Field that night.
Possibility #2: Sunday, November 12th – Packers at home
Under this scenario, Mike Glennon gets the entire first half of the Bears schedule. This would certainly require him playing better than he has through two games. Then Trubisky gets the bye week to prepare for a debut against the team’s oldest rival at Soldier Field. Would the fans get pumped up enough by his first start to fill the building? I think they might.
Possibility #3: Mid-game
I texted both of my league connections, both high-ranking personnel guys with other franchises, and asked how they felt about bringing in a rookie quarterback in the middle of the game. The two responses were “wouldn’t do it” and “fine with it”.
Here’s what I’ll say about the idea. I would not bring Trubisky into a blowout. You don’t want him on the field down three scores, having to drop back every play. But if the Bears are down 13-10 Sunday to Pittsburgh at the half and Glennon has looked like Glennon, I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to bring Trubisky into the game.
Administrative Note: The Weekend Show will return Super Bowl week and continue to run throughout the off-season. Our guests will not only be Bears-related but also branch out to other Chicago institutuions – bars, restaurants, culture, politics…etc. And we’ll do A LOT on the quarterbacks available in this draft.
Went 3-1 against the spread last week but only 2-2 picking winners. So I’m an alarmingly mediocre 4-4 ATS and 5-3 picking winners this postseason. Not good.
Atlanta had the most impressive win of the division round. Took some body blows early from a proven contender and then did what this franchise has failed to do for what feels like a decade: knocked out an opponent. This is unquestionably the most exciting and dynamic offense left in the playoffs. But what I love about the construction of this roster is they are now equipped to hold a lead because of a young, exciting pass rush.
Will that matter against Aaron Rodgers? Nobody knows. Rodgers is now playing the quarterback position better than anyone in the history of the league. His receiving corps stinks. His running back is a slot receiver. He has a brilliant pass blocking offensive line but the rest of Ted Thompson’s team is the definition of mediocrity. Can Rodgers win this game? Of course he can. But I’m saying the magic runs out. Barely.
Falcons 41, Packers 38
I have no idea what to make of this game.
Houston’s defense was brilliant a week ago but were beaten by two things: (1) Weirdo Tom Brady moon balls his receivers managed to haul in and (2) their own quarterback throwing the ball to the other team. If the Patriots had either the Chiefs or Steelers on the other side of the field Saturday night, I don’t think they’re playing this week.
Kansas City should have beaten Pittsburgh but Andy Reid and Alex Smith executed an offensive game plan the league hasn’t seen since the invention of the forward pass. (Reid is quickly venturing into Schottenheimer territory.)
Here’s what I know. Le’Veon Bell is amazing, Bill Belichick knows that and agenda item number one for the Patriots will be stopping him. If they do, they win. If they don’t…?
Patriots 24, Steelers 21
28-13 Steelers late. Matt Moore brings the Dolphins down the field for a solid backdoor cover.
Steelers 28, Dolphins 20
Giants 17, Packers 13
Administrative Note: We’ll resume our postseason positional analysis columns on Monday with running backs, Tuesday with wide receivers, Wednesday with tight ends & Thursday we’ll wrap up the offensive side of the ball with our analysis of the line. (Defense will come after the division round.)
Am I willing to embrace the notion of Brian Hoyer winning a postseason game? No, I’m not. Am I willing to cast my support unabashedly for Andy Reid in a postseason game? No, I’m not. But since I picked the Chiefs to make the Super Bowl in August I might as well continue seeing red. And on a football note, the Chiefs don’t look to throw the ball downfield so their short passing attack should be able to neutralize the Houston’s greatest asset: Watt, Whitney and the pass rush. Chiefs 20, Texans 13
Here’s what I keep hearing from folks analyzing the wildcard round: nobody wants to play the Pittsburgh Steelers. Here’s my follow-up question: why? The Steelers controlled their road to the postseason and lost to Marc Trestman and Ryan Mallett! (And the game wasn’t particularly close.) Then in Week 17 the Steelers were horrible against Cleveland, with Big Ben throwing ugly picks to second-rate linebackers. If Austin Davis weren’t starting for the Browns and they didn’t decide to fumble away the second half, the Jets would be in the playoffs. So is Pittsburgh just going to turn it on? Bengals 24, Steelers 22