Home > Uncategorized > Divisional Round Picks

Divisional Round Picks

January 9th, 2014

Here’s how I know I’m going to be wrong at least once, maybe twice this weekend: I’m picking all of the home teams. And they’re not all winning. The last time all four home teams (also known as the top seeds in both conferences) won in the divisional round was 2004. Since then, the one seeds are 7-9 (.438) in this round, while the two seeds are 11-5 (.688). That’s a combined 18-14  for a winning percentage of .563, which will barely get you into the NBA playoffs most seasons. So, yeah, maybe it’s time for the home teams to have a big year. But probably at least one, maybe two, will get to stay home after this weekend — and not in a good way. You’d have to say, based on circumstances and matchups, that the Patriots and Pass Interferences are the home teams most likely to take a bow, so I probably should have picked against at least one of them. But I didn’t. So there you have it.

Here’s what not to expect.

New Orleans (+8) at Seattle
Remember the bloodbath last time the Saints visited the Seahawks back in week 13? Yeah, so do I. You can talk, I suppose, about the Seahawks having come back down to earth a bit, and having lost a pair, including a home game, in the six weeks since then. But it’s not as if the Saints stormed through their final four games. And, honestly, do you have a real reason to believe that the Saint’s are that much better, or that the Seahawks that much worse, than they were in early December? I didn’t think so. Neither do I. So let’s figure it’s a little closer this time around, but just a little: Seattle by 17.

Indianapolis (+7.5) at New England
Seven and a half is nuts. Nuts. As in crazy. Yeah, OK, the Patriots had a bye. And they’re at home. And they’ve got Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. And they’re gritty as hell. All of that stuff, which has been enough to get them over an obscene number of obstacles on both sides of the ball all season long. It’s been a hell of a ride. Best yet for the Patriots is that while it’s all well and good for fans to be happy about the mere fact that the team has made it this far under the circumstances (fans should be happy about that; hell, if you’re a Patriots fan, you should get up right now and dance a little jig) the coach, quarterback and team clearly are far from satisfied. That’s meaningful when you’re a team that wins more by smarts and determination than by raw talent. But seven and a half? Against a team that, on paper, is all but a mirror image of New England?  It’s simply insane. I think the Pats come out on top here. And I think they do it largely because they have a better chance of taking advantage of the Colts’ weak run defense than the Colts have of taking advantage of the Patriots’ weak run defense. If New England can control the ball on offense, and either win or at least come up even in the the turnover battle (I’m talking to you here, Stevan Ridley), the Patriots should be able to move on to the conference championship. But a win isn’t guaranteed. The game is going to come down to the final possession. And it’s not going to be decided by more than a touchdown. I’ll take New England by a field goal.

San Francisco (pick ’em) at Carolina
I’ve come to the conclusion that the Pass Interferences are only going to fail if I start believing in them. So let’s see what happens next week. Because I still don’t believe in Carolina. Not big picture, anyhow. That said, I do believe that Carolina should be able to hold off a San Francisco team that’s traveling for the second straight week, barely got by a defense-impaired Green Bay squad in the wild card round, and lost to the Pass Interferences in San Fran in week 10. I expect to see a few more points scored by both teams this time around, but I think Carolina comes out ahead — if only by one — yet again.

San Diego (+9.5) at Denver
Let’s get this straight right up front: The Broncos aren’t winning this game because of its supposed import to Peyton Manning‘s legacy. A win in a divisional round playoff game isn’t going to strengthen the case for Manning as one of the all-time greats. Neither is a loss truly going to diminish it. (Much as Manning detractors may relish the idea of another one-and-done postseason performance, the difference between eight of those and nine is a trifle.) At this point in his career, we know who Manning is. Those believe he’s one of the greatest (or perhaps, the greatest) ever are going to keep on believing that no matter what happens in this postseason. Those who think otherwise are unlikely to be swayed by a Super Bowl victory let alone a home win, in the week after a first-round bye, over a team that backed into the AFC six seed. And one suspects, talk about light at the end of the tunnel notwithstanding, Manning isn’t nearly so concerned about what this game means for his legacy as he is about the indisputable fact that he only gets to keep moving forward in the playoffs if his team wins. Plus, there are 52 other guys who play for the Broncos. And while I’m sure all of them like or at least respect their quarterback, I’m pretty certain that they’re all a lot more concerned with earning a ring than with propping up the case for Manning as GOAT. The reason the Broncos are winning this game is that they are simply the better team. Denver’s maybe a step behind San Diego on defense (where neither team is exactly Seattle), but they’re a dozen steps ahead on offense. And that’s what matters. Because, let’s be realistic here, it’s one thing to overcome the Bengals in a game in which an unending stream of turnovers allows you to score 27 points by way of just 318 yards of total offense, quite another to try to outpace an team that scores 38 points a game with a high-powered offense captained by a guy who may not be Tom Brady, but who certainly isn’t Andy Dalton. And, yes, I do know that the Chargers beat the Broncos in Denver a month ago. That’s nice, but it’s not happening twice in a season. It just isn’t. So go and talk about Manning’s legacy. Or talk about one seeds falling in the divisional round (it happens quite a bit, so it’s a fair topic of conversation). Or whatever it is you’re interested in. But don’t get too caught up in the idea of a Chargers upset, because you’ll only be disappointed in the end. Broncos by 14.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
Comments are closed.