Category: playoffs

AFC Conference Championsip Preview

New England +4.5 @ Denver (55): The New England Patriots beat the Denver Broncos in overtime, in New England earlier this season, after the Patriots handed over a 24-10 halftime lead thanks to multiple fumbles early in that game.  This game is in Denver, and I don’t expect it to be a sloppy game like the first one.  I do believe the Patriots will pull this game out, but if the line was Denver +4.5, I would tell you to take Denver on the betting line. 

The game will come down to a field goal or less, because, well, why not when you have a matchup of the two best quarterbacks in this generation.  In all the great Peyton vs. Brady mathups, neither has ever won a playoff game against the other on the road, but that changes this weekend.  Denver fans can get loud, but nothing like the Colts fans used to get in the dome, so Brady’s audibles at the line shouldn’t be an issue on Sunday.

The Broncos have lost another defensive back, and that could prove to be the difference.  The Patriots have the biggest selection of unassuming wide outs, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, and Austin Collie, as any team has ever had, but they are productive.  In addition, the running back depth is impressive, and Shane Vereen can create mismatches all over the field.

For the Broncos to win, they will need to lean heavy on Knowshon Moreno.  The Patriots are thin at defensive tackle and middle linebacker, so a between the tackle running attack is their biggest weakness on defense.  Despite this being a game between two Hall of Fame quarterbacks, the winner will be the team that is able to run the ball more efficiently.

You can follow Shaun Kernahan on twitter @shaunkernahan, add him to your network on Google, and like Shaun on Facebook.

NFC Championship Preview

San Francisco +3.5 @ Seattle (40): Does anyone else think it’s really funny that the Seahawks refused to sell tickets to anyone in California? Hey, a “rivalry” suggests that teams don’t like each other, right? And while both would probably deny it if you put them on the spot, I’m pretty sure the coaches don’t like each other much. Well, Pete Carroll probably doesn’t like Jim Harbaugh much from their college days after Harbaugh went for a needless two-point conversion with Stanford late in a blow-out win over Carroll’s USC Trojans. And Harbaugh…well, he’s just kind of a d*ck. 

Anyway, here’s where we cover all the obvious stuff. The game is in Seattle. Seattle almost never loses at home. It’s really loud. Blah blah blah. 

Well, last time San Francisco came to Seattle, they got embarrassed. Don’t think they will have forgotten that. So, the question then is, will that serve as motivation for the 49ers, or will it boost the confidence of the Seahawks defense? 

It’s going to prove tough for both offenses to move the ball. It may come down to which of two excellent kickers, Phil Dawson or Steven Hauschka, gets more opportunities. There have been times, this season where Seattle could be run on. If Frank Gore and company get going, it could make the difference. I’m going with a 16-12 win for the ‘Niners, with a late comeback attempt by Seattle stalling in the red zone.

NFL Divisional Weekend – AFC Preview

I will twist Torten’s rodeo analogy, a solid pull by the way, and twist it into the upcoming Olympics.  The Stain is standing atop the podium receiving our gold medals for terrible predictions last week.  Among the eight potential betting lines, spread and over under for each game, I am pretty sure we almost got one right, so if you are in Las Vegas this weekend, be sure to go completely opposite of our choices here.

Indianapolis +7 at New England (53):  As a Patriots fan, and knowing my history in predictions posted online, I am tempted to take the Colts in a blowout, you know, to reverse jinx it, but I have to remain objective here.  The Patriots should win this game, but the seven point spread is huge for this matchup.  With Brandon Spikes hitting IR this week, join Jarrod Mayo and Vince Wilfork, the three best middle defenders, and run stoppers, are now on IR.  Lucky for the Patriots, the Colts are terrible when it comes to running the ball.  The Colts will have to rely on Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton, which is actually a good matchup for them this week.  Aqib Talib is a master at shutting down big #1 receivers, but can struggle against the smaller quicker types, aka T.Y. Hilton.  The Patriots offense is a whose who of who’s that.  Gronk is on IR, and the only household name left is Tom Brady.  Shane Vereen is as versatile a back as there is in football, and the best rusher is a guy best known for decking a guy on Boise State, LeGarrette Blount.  Amendola and Edelman are excellent slot guys, but the big play will need to come from one of the rookie receivers.  Robert Mathis will be in the backfield all game, and Brady will come out of the matchup beat up, but will do enough to win.  I see a high scoring game, 34-30 Patriots. 

San Diego +9.5 at Denver (55.5): San Diego is the hottest team in the NFL, having won five straight, including two against Kansas City, and one against Denver, and will give the Broncos all they can handle again.  Picking against Denver is a terrible idea regardless of the matchup, they are the most talented team in the NFL, and have the greatest offense in NFL history, so, I pick the Chargers to win.  Yup, I am running with the terrible idea, and I feel good about it.  Weather shouldn’t play much of a factor in the game, outside of the wind gusts that should reach about 25 mph, which can cause some trouble for Peyton, but that is not going to be the difference in the game.  Keenan Allen is as good a rookie receiver as there has been in several years.  He seems unassuming when watching the game, and never makes the big highlight plays, but watch a Chargers game, and #13 will be a staple.  He will end each game with near 10 grabs, around 100 yards, and a touchdown or two every game.  Ryan Matthews is running like the first rounder they expected when they drafted him several years ago, and Phillip Rivers might be the second best quarterback in the league right now.  Yes, I just punched myself in the gut after writing that, but he is truly playing the quarterback position as good as anyone not named Peyton Manning.  In order to win the game, the Chargers need to keep the score reasonable, and they will, easily covering the spread, and just coming in on the under.  I pick the Chargers, 28-24.

You can follow Shaun Kernahan on twitter @shaunkernahan, add him to your network on Google, and like Shaun on Facebook.

NFL Playoff Weekend Preview: NFC

Well, if they were giving out belt buckles for worst playoff predictions last weekend, our pants would certainly have been securely fastened to our waists. This weekend’s matchups will hopefully make us look less like blithering fools, and more like we actually know what we’re talking about with this stuff. 

New Orleans +8 at Seattle (46.5):  Well, what do we know? Seattle is brutal at home. Last visit the Saints made up there didn’t go well for them at all. And whatever this polar vortex thing is, it’s making places cold. Very cold. Does Drew Brees like the cold? Not really. Seattle can be run on, but unfortunately, the Saints don’t really have a strong running game. Last week, I bagged on the Saints D a little bit, but they performed better than I thought against Philadelphia’s explosive offense. And Seattle, while good, is not Philly on offense. That 46.5 over/under looks really high for me. I’m seeing a defensive and elemental battle here. Nobody (besides Arizona) beats Seattle at home, I’m taking the ‘Hawks 17-10. 

San Francisco -1 at Carolina (42): I hate clichés like “point are going to be at a premium,” and nonsense like that. Points are always at a freaking premium. Without them, you can’t win. It’s going to be a real “field position battle.” Really? F*** you! Every game is a field position battle. If it wasn’t, teams would go for every single fourth down. But anyway, they rankle me less for this game than others. I’d bet my life’s savings (not very much) on the under (and probably lose, kowing my luck). Coaches, except in game-winning situations, view field goals largely as consolation prizes. Well, we didn’t get in the end zone, send the pseudo football player out there to boot one through the big yellow thing. But when you look at this game, “field goal range” is probably going to be a very early consideration. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: when you go against superior defenses (which both teams have), you tend to adopt a conservative game plan, thereby putting a ceiling on how effective you can be on offense, making it easier for the defense to stop you. But at least you’re not committing turnovers! Anyway, both teams use the read option, so both teams can stop it. I really have no idea. I’m going to go with Carolina by a score of 16-6, but not because they’re the home team. Because they have former 49er Ted Ginn returning punts, and he might break one off.   

There you have it. Am I right? You can bet on it! Just know, if you do, you might lose.

NFL Wildcard Weekend – AFC Preview

So, without further ado, the AFC predictions sure to go wrong:

Kansas City (+2.5) @ Indianapolis, 47: The Indianapolis Colts have been a truly blessed franchise going from Peyton Manning straight into Andrew Luck, but they are not yet a complete team.  Even with the franchise quarterback, the Colts needed a corporate partner to buy up the final 1,200 tickets, granted for a good cause, in order to avoid a blackout.  Trent Richardson should have a bounce back season in 2014, but it won’t start Saturday against the Chiefs.  The Kansas City defense is really good, despite struggling down the stretch, and the Colts just don’t have enough offense.  T.Y. Hilton is really the only threat Andrew Luck has ever since Reggie Wayne went down with a knee injury.  The Chiefs offense can ride check down king, Alex Smith, to a win in the playoffs, but they are not a Super Bowl contender.  Jamaal Charles is an easy MVP in almost any season except this year, and he will have a great game on Saturday.  Look for Charles to put up close to 200 yards of total offense in a game where the final score is much closer than the feel of the game, 20-17.

San Diego (+7), @ Cincinnati, 47: The Chargers might have been the most dangerous team of the final four AFC teams that had a chance at the playoffs, but then again they almost lost a must win game against a Chiefs team that was almost entirely backups.  The Bengals have an excellent 1-2 punch in the backfield with Benjarvis Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard, and the second best receiver in football, A.J. Green.  Their biggest issue is quarterback Andy Dalton.  Dalton is not a championship level quarterback, he is overrated because of Green’s incredible ability to catch bad balls and defenses ability to keep games close.  Ryan Matthews is finally looking like the first round running back Chargers fans had been hoping for since the day he was drafted, and Keenan Allen has emerged as a star at receiver.  This will again be a close game, with San Diego covering the spread, but in the end, I see the Bengals escaping with a victory, 27-24.

You can follow Shaun Kernahan on twitter @shaunkernahan, add him to your network on Google, and like Shaun on Facebook.