When I decided to do an NFL picks column for The Echo, I didn’t want to dedicate much of the content of the column to my picks from last week. Unfortunately, my 0-4 record last week was too ugly to ignore. There is an added degree of difficulty picking games this early in the week, especially without the benefit of the Vegas spread. But I’m better than 0-4. Let’s take a look at what happened last week, and see if I can’t do better this time around.
I picked the Saints, of course. An explanation for this pick last Tuesday would’ve gone something like this: “Hello, it’s the Saints!” A 10-point spread is not something you see very often in the playoffs, but upsets like this happen in the regular season a few times a year.
The New England Patriots have only lost two games all season, and one of them was to the lowly Cleveland Browns by 20 points. Upsets happen all the time. Don’t confuse Seattle with the 2008 Arizona Cardinals or 2007 New York Giants teams that made Super Bowl runs. This was just a team with a great home-field advantage, great coach and great quarterback against the blitz.
In Kansas City, the Chiefs offense laid an egg. After Jamaal Charles’ long touchdown run to give KC a early 7-3 lead, there was nothing from the team the rest of the afternoon.
The other games were decided by in-game adjustments. The play of the game helped the Jets win over the Colts wasn’t a play, but a timeout that Jets’ coach Rex Ryan called before the Colts’ Adam Vinatieri made the go-ahead field goal. This saved the Jets precious time to drive and kick a field goal of their own. Still, the game was lost by the Colts before that timeout.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Chicago Bears: The Seahawks beat the Bears in Chicago in week six of the regular season, but I don’t expect them to repeat that performance. Since then, plenty has happened, Most importantly, the Bears have found an identity on offense. Also, the Bears defense doesn’t blitz like the Saints do.
The Pick: Da Bears
Green Bay Packers vs. Atlanta Falcons: One thing I get a pat on the back for saying last week is the Packers were the one team the Eagles didn’t want to face in round one. Once again, the Packers are a team nobody wants to face. We know they can throw it, we know they can stop you from throwing it, and now they apparently have a running game. I don’t think they’ve peaked yet. Here it is, my upset special of the week.
The Pick: Packers
Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: After both teams grabbed a victory in the season series, they were destined to play each other again in the playoffs. Pittsburgh earned its bye week by pounding the Browns the last week of the season. And it had a nice week of rest before preparing for Baltimore. The Chiefs had nothing downfield against the Ravens last week, but Mike Wallace is the best deep threat in the league.
The Pick: Steelers
New York Jets vs. New England Patriots: Could Mark Sanchez have played any worse last week? Patriots fans must have been praying for the Jets to win after the 10th pass he threw way over a receiver’s head. Pats by ten or fourteen points at least.
The pick: Patriots.
Hyper-conservative just begins to describe the Colts’ offensive strategy in this game. Quarterback Peyton Manning refused to test Darrelle Revis at all, and stuck to short outs to Jacob Tamme and Blair White on third down. The most egregious play call, was a handoff to Dominic Rhodes on third-and-seven from the Jets’ 15 yard-line with less than five minutes left. The Colts certainly had the opportunities, they just left points on the field.
In Philadelphia, the Eagles had no answer for the Green Bay Packers’ dominant running game. Wait, what? Yes, the Packers didn’t beat the Eagles because of Aaron Rodgers or their defense. They beat them because of some guy named James Starks who ran for 123 yards and allowed them to control the game.