My Picks for the Wildcard Round of 2009 NFL Playoffs
Who Will Win and More Importantly (At Least Here In Vegas) Who Will Cover the Spread
Well, much like the fans in Minnesota and Arizona, I'm a bit late to the game this week, but, for what it is worth, here are my picks both straight up and against the spread. I'll be somewhat brief and to the point rather than dwelling any further on the fact that two teams are struggling to sell tickets to a playoff, including one who hasn't had that opportunity in 47 years including the entire time they've resided in their current host city.
Atlanta (-1) at Arizona
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 time. Furthermore, the cardinals are just 3-7 outside of their own division having padded their record by going 6-0 against the less than imposing NFC West. Unless Matt Ryan suddenly remembers he's a rookie and has a complete meltdown, the difference won't be Arizona's high voltage offense. Instead it will be Atlanta's solid run game (#2) and the Cardinals inability to do so (#32).
Atlanta wins straightup and against the spread.
Falcons vs. Cardinals
Which team will win?
Indianapolis (-1.5) at San Diego
Plenty of storylines: Two QB's playing at an MVP level this season (Manning actually got the award); one of the all-time great runners despite not having had his best of seasons (who just might be too injured to provide much of an impact); the Colts winners of 9 straight after being left for dead with a 3-4 start; and the Chargers having engineered their own resurrection by winning four straight games to overcome a 4-8 start to win the AFC West after trailing Denver by 3 games with just 3 games remaining. So both teams are red hot coming in, but who will get cooled down? The telling stat is that San Diego's amazing comeback came at the expense of teams with a cumulative record of 24-40 (that's an average of 6-10 for those playing along at home) and with no small assist from the Broncos annual second half collapse.
Indy takes it on the field and against the spread.
Colts vs. Chargers
Which team will win/cover?
Baltimore (-3.5) at Miami
Two rookie coaches have managed to turn their teams and meet in what is just the second time in the Superbowl era that first-time coaches have met in a playoff game. Both teams are actually pretty similar featuring a good, but not spectacular quarterback, buoyed by solid running and defensive play. Of course the big matchup is Miami's innovative wildcat formation vs. Baltimore's dominant, attacking defense. Of course, this is a rematch from earlier this season in which the wildcat was shutdown by that defense and the Ravens won 27-13. As impressive as Miami's ten game turnaround has been, it has to be pointed out that they did benefit greatly from playing both the NFC West and AFC West and are just 2-4 against teams with a winning record. Pretty much everything, except the rookie QB, points to the Ravens, but I think it'll be a close hard fought game.
Baltimore wins but fails to cover.
Ravens Vs. Dolphins
Which team will win/cover?
Philadelphia (-3) at Minnesota
Two teams that have been the definition of inconsistent led by QB's that were benched during the season before coming back and playing at career best levels (OK, I know Tavaris Jackson's career doesn't even add up to a full season of games). Both teams feature running backs that are arguably within the top five backs in the, although Andy Reid has a tendency to forget Westbrook is on his roster and Adrian Peterson seems to forget that you have to actually hold onto the ball when you run. Of course there is also the much hyped "student vs. teacher" angle with Brad Childress having been the long-time assistant of Reid prior to getting the gig in Minneapolis. Personally, I think everything will come down to the defenses. The Vikings are tough, especially against the run and they might convince Andy Reid to abandon the run early (not that that's hard to do). In that case, I think they can pull of the upset. However, I think it is the Eagle's blitz happy, big play defense that will rattle Tavaris Jackson, recover AP's fumbles, and break open a close, low-scoring game (up to that point) in the second half.
Philadelphia wins on the scoreboard and in the sportsbook.
Eagles vs. Vikings Poll
Which team will win/cover?
Links to My Other NFL Picks Columns
- My Picks for the Divisional Round of the 2009 NFL Pl...
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...
- 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.