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My Picks for the Divisional Round of the 2009 NFL Playoffs
Who Will Win and More Importantly (At Least Here In Vegas) Who Will Cover the Spread
Well, my Wildcard Round picks could have been better. Ended up 2-2 straight up (Bal. + Phil.) and 1-3 (only Philly came through for me) against the spread. But I'm back and I'm ready to turn it all around this time.
This is the rerun week for the NFL with every game being a rematch of an earlier meeting and Eagles/Giants going for a tiebreaker. Unlike most network shows lately however, these reruns should be worth watching being that the largest margin of victory in the previous games was six points. The big question is how much more of an advantage will the bye week give the home teams this week. Recent history says homefield is a definite advantage with the home team going 47-17 since 1993. However, it isn't so significant a factor against the spread with teams splitting 31-31-2 during that same time period.
Baltimore at Tennessee (-3)
This game should be an all out slugfest that could go either way. Their first game in week 5 was won 13-10 by the Titans and this one looks to be a low scorer as well. Just like last week, Ravens are involved in a game in which both teams feature a dominating defense and a strong running game complimented by a solid, but not great QB. The slight advantage in the air goes to Kerry Collins due to experience and a lower turnover percentage, while the Titans get the edge on the ground. I think the difference is going to be negligible and they will pretty much cancel each other out. Which brings us to the defenses. Both have great defenses, but the Ravens defense is playing head and shoulders above everyone else right now, while the Titans stumbled a bit during Tenn.'s 3-3 finish.
The Ravens win outright as a dog.
Ravens vs. Titans Poll
Which team will win?
Arizona at Carolina (-9.5)
Arizona came out and played the game of their life last week silencing all the critics with a great defensive effort and finally running the ball. Or did they? Everybody is again picking them to get clobbered this week. Of course, the fact that Carolina is 8-0 at home and Arizona is just 3-5 on the road, including 0-5 (by an average of 20 points) east of the Mississippi, has alot to do with that.
The other factor involved is that, as impressive as last week's win was, it had more to do with the Falcons playing badly than it did with the Cardinals. Kurt Warner has a tendency to make mistakes under pressure, so if the line doesn't keep the Panthers defense away from him, it could get very ugly, very fast. However, I believe the Arizona offense will allow them to keep it close, even though Steve Smith and Carolina's running backs will have a big day.
Carolina wins where it counts, but Arizona keeps their bettors happy.
Cardinals vs. Panthers Poll
Which team will win/cover?
Philadelphia at New York (-4.5)
Philly comes into the rubber match riding a hot streak that has them being compared to last year's Giants, who rode such a wave straight to the championship. Winning four of five games, with Mcnabb playing as good as ever in that time, and with the fates seemingly pulling for them (Oakland had to beat Tampa Bay for them to get into the playoffs), they look to be a good fit for that "Team of Destiny" label. Of course, this years Giants hope to have a few things to say about that idea. New York, however, hasn't been burning things up lately, having lost three of their last four games to finish out the season.
As mentioned earlier, they split the season games each winning on the road. The score literally couldn't have been much closer with a combined total of 51-50. There's two big factors at play coming into this rematch. First, New York's nosedive corresponded with Plaxico Burress' dismissal from the team for chronic stupidity. Second, Philly's resurgence has coincided with Andy Reid's realization that you are allowed to run the ball in the NFL. However, I think the X-factor will be Brandon Jacobs. If he's healthy and he is able to get loose the Giants might win big. If the Eagles can contain him, they will win in a close hard fought game.
Philadelphia wins outright.
Eagles vs. Giants Poll
Which team wll win/cover?
San Diego at Pittsburgh (-6.5)
For the Chargers it's one of those classic love/hate relationships. They hate playing in Pittsburgh during the regular season where they are 0-13 all-time, yet they love that they are 2-0 there during the playoffs. True to form, the Steelers won a sloppy, mistake game 11-10 in week eleven that sent the Chargers into a tailspin of three straight losses and put them a very thin hair away from missing the playoffs. In spite of the close score, Pittsburgh dominated the game throughout, but couldn't put it i the endzone once they got close partly due to committing thirteen penalties.
There are two big questions in this game. One is if Ben Roethlisberger is fully recovered from being dropped on his head in the season finale and just how much longer he can survive getting beat silly every week by opposing defenses. The other question is whether Darren Sproles can have another big day in place of LaDainian Tomlinson who is all but officially out. If Big Ben plays decently then Pittsburgh should have the advantage due to their defense and San Diego's weakness on defense against the pass. However, if he isn't able to the Charger's offense should have a huge advantage since theSteelers have been uncharcteristically ineffective at running the ball this season. I think the former will be the case and Roethlisberger will do just enough to put the game in his defense's hands.
Pittsburgh's defense will come up big and they will win by 2+ TD's
Chargers vs. Steelers Poll
Which team will win/cover?
After a less than stellar record of 2-2 straight up and 1-3 against the spread in my Wildcard Round picks last week, I redeemed myself with a near perfect 7-1 record (3-1 straight up, 4-0 against the spread) this time around.
Overall, I'm 5-3 straight up and also 5-3 against the spread. I think I'm starting to get the hang of this. Once again, I underestimated the Cardinals and it cost me. But I won't do that again, or WILL I?
Tune in next week for my Conference Championship picks to find out!
Links to My Other NFL Picks Columns
- My Picks for the Wildcard Round of 2009 NFL Playoffs
The Cardinals led by 37 year old Kurt Warner host the Falcons and their 23 year old rookie. Atlanta is hot having won three straight and seven of their last nine, while Arizona limped to the finish after clinching a playoff spot going 1-5 since that
- My Picks for the Conference Championship Round of th...
Another week of reruns, but of course, both of these retreads are going to be well worth watching. One is a genuine grudge match; with no hyperbole needed to sell it as such. The other is the most unlikely conference championship matchup ever; featur
- My Picks for Superbowl XLIII
My picks for Superbowl XLIII, featuring the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. the Arizona Cardinals. Who will win and why, both straight up and against the spread. Also, predictions for the over/under, Suberbowl MVP, and the opening coin flip.