If you thought the Wild Card weekend was wild, the Divisional Round games could get weird. And if you think last weekend’s games were hard to pick, you have no idea how much calculation and tape I’ve had run through my brain for these picks the past couple of days. Seriously, it’s a problem. I’m going to end up hurting myself.
So as I was fighting through what I call a “Football Freeze” in my head this past week, I realized something; and it’s something really quite simple.
I have to stick with my initial thoughts.
Whoever I pick or determine is going to win a game first, I STICK WITH THAT TEAM. That’s what I should be doing.
Take the Eagles vs. Bears game for example. I originally had the Eagles winning that game. I thought to myself, “This is going to be an upset. I like the Eagles’ experience, and I think Foles will have ice in his veins.”
But then after overthinking HARD, I said to myself, “Well the Bears’ defense is so good, that normally the best defensive team in the NFL manages to get past at least the Wild Card round.” Right?
The Eagles ended up pulling off the crazy win 16-15 after Bears kicker Cody Parkey shanked what would have been the game-winning field goal for Chicago.
How do you spend your offseason?
Some players will go golfing. Some will go clubbing. Perhaps some will go on a nice vacation with their families. If you’re Russell Wilson, you’ll go play for the Yankees! (sort of). But Cody Parkey…he goes on the Today Show.
Now that’s one way you can kick off the offseason.
I felt so bad for Parkey. But this is the playoffs, and you have to make those kicks. Every point, every yard, every inch, counts at this stage of the season.
Then we all came to realize after further review (hehe) it appeared that Parkey’s kick was actually tipped by Philadelphia’s Treyvon Hester; and Hester had this to say after the game:
“Me and Haloti [Ngata]…we got penetration, got the hand up like coach always says. Tipped off my fingertips. Felt good…but actually, I thought I didn’t get enough of it, I thought it was going to go in. When I saw it going in, I turned back around. Then I heard everybody screaming, I was like, oh, [expletive]…he missed it.”
So was it really Parkey’s fault? After all, the Chicago offense only managed to put up 15 points, and 9 of those 15 points came from Parkey himself. I don’t think Parkey necessarily lost the game for the Bears. Here is where I think the biggest problem was for the Bears: They ran the ball 18 times…for 65 yards.
You know, teams are lucky if they even have one good running back on the team. But when you have TWO good running backs on the team, you should be counting your lucky helmet stickers. Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard aren’t scrubs by any means. Howard and Cohen ran for a combined 1,379 yards and 12 TDs this season.
So what the f**k happened?
Did the Bears forget they had running backs? Sure, Philly is 7th in the league against the run, but the Bears had 18 carries, and only 11 of them actually came from Howard and Cohen.
Tarik Cohen had ONE carry…the whole entire game. Mitch Trubisky, in the first playoff game of his career, threw the ball 43 times and completed 26 passes. Chicago was 11th in the league in rushing this season.
WHY DIDN’T THE BEARS RUN THE BALL?!
That to me, is the biggest crime coming out of this loss…not Parkey’s missed field goal. The bears did not run the ball enough and Trubisky did not have a great game, and that is really why the Bears lost that game.
I did the same stupid thing with the Cowboys vs. Seahawks game.
I originally picked the Cowboys, but then made a last-minute change to the Seahawks. I should have stuck with my initial pick!
I said earlier in the season before the playoffs when the Cowboys were actually winning games: The two best things the Cowboys did this season were 1). Feed the ball more to Ezekiel Elliott, and 2). Trade for Amari Cooper. Those were the absolute two best things the Cowboys did this season…besides winning their division of course.
Prescott was good and he was able to find Cooper seven times for 100 yards, and Ezekiel Elliott was a beast, rushing for 137 yards and a TD, while reeling in four catches for 32 yards.
So the lesson learned here is stick with your initial picks! That is what I’m doing this week. Ok, enough about the past games. It’s time to see who will survive these games in the Divisional Round. But before we get to my picks, check out fellow Turf Writer Ryan Kelly’s picks here!
Ok, here we go!
Wild Card Round Record: 2-2
Colts at Chiefs (Saturday @ 4:35PM ET)
The Colts just seem to be doing everything right lately.
Andrew Luck has been great, the offensive line is physical and probably the best o-line in the league, the run game is getting better and better, and even the defense has stepped up big time.
The Colts have held their opponents to under 15 points on average in the past four games. However, this Kansas City Chiefs offense will certainly be the best offense Indy will probably face this season.
Marlon Mack ran the ball 24 times for 148 yards and a TD against the Texans last week. If he can pull that off again or something close to that this week, Indy will be in good shape. It’s about keeping Patrick Mahomes and that Kansas City offense off the field as much as you can, and the Chiefs defense is 27th in the league against the run. So I expect Mack to get a lot of work in again this weekend.
Can Mahomes win his first playoff game?
As great as Patrick Mahomes is, this is in fact his first playoff game of his career, and it’s against a piping hot Colts team. Quarterbacks who had their first playoff starts this year all lost last weekend. Mitch Trubisky, Lamar Jackson, and Deshaun Watson all lost their first playoff games.
Now that doesn’t mean Mahomes is going to lose his first playoff game too, but I just don’t like Kansas City’s defense…at all. I wrote in one of my earlier articles that I thought the Chiefs were one of the worst defenses in the league.
I think both offenses will have big games, but I like the Colts offense to move the chains and win the possession game. And it might take just one Chiefs turnover that may make the difference here. It would be great if Darius Leonard was the one to do it, who was the biggest defensive Pro Bowl snub this year.
Give me Indy to stay hot and pull off the upset in a high-scoring affair. Colts win 38-35.
Cowboys at Rams (Saturday @ 8:15PM ET)
Ok, so this is one of those games. This is a game where I am absolutely torn on who I think is going to win. My initial thought: Cowboys.
So now that I have spoiled my pick already, let me tell you why I like Dallas to pull off the upset.
I am not completely sold that Todd Gurley is 100% healthy. He will play in this game, but something tells me he won’t be 100% there. And even if he is completely healthy, Dallas is very tough against the run (5th in the NFL).
Will the Rams defense come alive?
I also don’t like the Rams defense. They give up 5.1 yards per carry which is the worst in the league. So again, FEED ZEKE. Give the man two spoons. The secondary has not been playing well either for the Rams, and it’s to the point where I’m thinking, if given enough time and protection, even Dak Prescott can take advantage of this secondary in a big way.
The Rams gave up 32 points to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 17. Let that soak for a second…and it’s not like the Rams were playing their scrub second stringers either.
I think the Rams are basically the NFC version of the Chiefs – they’re an explosive offense with a really crappy defense (except for Aaron Donald of course). Only two defenses in the league give up at least 5 rushing yards per carry: The Chiefs and Rams.
The Cowboys need to play better on the road.
The Cowboys have not played well on the road this season, but I really like how Dallas matches up. I think the Cowboys have the right pieces on defense to give Jared Goff some trouble and potentially force a couple of turnovers. I also think this will be a game where the Rams will really be missing Cooper Kupp.
If the Rams are going to win this game, it will be because Aaron Donald and the boys up front will bring their A-game. Dak Prescott has been sacked 57 times this year – that’s second-most behind Deshaun Watson. That hinders my confidence in my pick, but regardless I gotta go with my initial gut, right?! Cowboys win 27-23.
Chargers at Patriots (Sunday @ 1:05PM ET)
Before the playoffs started and once I found out what the playoff seeding was, I said to myself that the Patriots will go to the Super Bowl…but on one condition:
They can’t run into the Chargers.
Well, here we are…they’ve run into the Chargers. So you probably think I am going with the Chargers in this one, right?
Because here’s the thing – I actually picked the Patriots before the season even started. That’s right, I had the Patriots vs. Vikings as my preseason Super Bowl pick. Obviously, the Vikings aren’t in it, and so what has been the theme here thus far? That’s right…STICK WITH YOUR INITIAL PICKS!
So yeah, I’m going with the Patriots here, and boy it wasn’t easy.
I actually believe the Chargers are the better team here. I truly believe that they may very well be the most balanced, complete team in the AFC. They have a strong, talented defense, an elite quarterback, a stud for a running back, and a plethora of talented receivers.
But guys…come on…this is the New England Patriots at home, in the playoffs, and IN THE SNOW!
On the road (or air?) again…
The Chargers will be making their third cross country trip these playoffs (because, you know, they had to go back to LA, right?!) and it’s a trip to a land where no visiting teams ever come out with a win. Seriously, the Patriots are the only team in the NFL who are undefeated at home this season.
And how about this for being the only team to do something crazy: The Patriots are the only team in the NFL this year to have gone undefeated against playoff teams but suffered all of their losses against non-playoff teams.
That is unbelievable. Like my good friend Christopher Crider-Plonka (and possibly Jon Gruden at some point) has said: “Football is weird man.”
Is Winter Coming in Foxboro?
So I just took a look at the weather forecast in Foxboro on Sunday at 1:05pm, BECAUSE YOU GOTTA GET IT ON THE MINUTE, and I see that there is actually no snow coming. Does that change my pick?
Nope. Remember our little theme here.
Even if it doesn’t snow, Philip Rivers has thrown 11 interceptions in his past 10 games that were below 40°F, so don’t be that guy that says “Oh the weather doesn’t mean anything.”
I’ll tell you who won’t be affected by the cold: Melvin Gordon. Because that man played college football in the great frigid state of Wisconsin, and I don’t know if you’ve been to Wisconsin or have been there lately, but yeah…it’s fucking cold this time of year. Are you kidding me? This will be another park, another Sunday for Melvin. No worries there
Gronk Could Be Key
If I’m Rob Gronkowski by the way, this may be the last time I am in a Patriots uniform; or perhaps even a football uniform of any sort. So I actually think Gronk is going to play out of his mind. I mean I’m expecting absolute maniac play, like…Jennifer Beals-Flashdance-maniac play, and if you haven’t seen Flashdance before, then I don’t know what you’re doing reading my article right now.
Anyway, look for Gronk to come alive. His days in New England are numbered. Also, look for the Patriots to try and establish the run early against this Chargers defense.
This is a tough game to pick because I really think the Chargers are the better team, and they’ve been absolute road warriors. But it’s just so damn hard to pick against New England at home, off a bye, and in the Foxboro tundra. It will be a tight one, but give me the Patriots to survive and move on to the AFC Championship. Patriots win 24-21.
Eagles at Saints (Sunday @ 4:40PM ET)
Remember the last time these two teams played? Yeah things will be a little different this time.
The Eagles are probably playing their best football right now, but going into New Orleans will be a tough task. The Saints’ offensive line has been banged up a bit, but with the bye they have had time to recover, so I expect Brees to get a little more coverage in this game.
The Saints are 5-0 at home in the playoffs under Sean Payton, so you know Payton prepares his teams well in New Orleans.
Speaking of preparing…
Sean Payton pulled an ultimate Joe Maddon move and this happened:
Every other team in the playoffs right now…you’re all fucked.
I mean how can you top that shit? But in all seriousness, that stuff means nothing if you don’t execute. But who are we kidding here, the Saints ARE GOING TO EXECUTE. Just in case you were wondering.
So sorry folks, the Nick Foles “magic” will stop here, and I like New Orleans to move on to a rematch with the Cowboys for the NFC Championship. The Eagles are a good team, but they aren’t last year’s Eagles. Saints win 34-21.
Enjoy the games!
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