NFL Playoff Picks:Wild Card Weekend

Happy 2015!   The playoffs are finally here and so are my picks.  This and next week, I still have an upset, not a lock though as it’s hard to find in the playoffs, but I will talk just as much about the remaining games.  I will not have a picks post super bowl week, but I will talk about my pick in my super bowl preview.  I may even have individual posts for conference final week, and a pro bowl pick once the teams are chosen, but I won’t have my lock and upset picks after next week.

Upset Of The Week
Arizona,24,Carolina,27   Saturday, January 3, 2015   4:20 PM     ESPN
This is clearly an upset seeing Carolina entering the playoffs at 7-8-1
And Arizona an 11-5 wild card.  Well, the Panthers clearly still have a decent offense after last week’s blowout.   Cam Newton to Greg Olsen.  There’s no safeties or line backers worth it on Arizona that can get him down, although Patrick Peterson may take on him or Kelvin Benjamin, who I don’t expect to have a monster game.   Throw to Philly Brown and Jerricho Cothchery.  Or hand it off to Jonathan Stewart.  So, the Cardinals defense works well together, but no individual on it is an all-star.   There’s more intercepting weapons than anything, I can see that from how many defensive touchdowns they scored in the regular season.  Just run the ball when they try.
On the Cardinals side of the ball, who’s the quarterback?  Is Drew Stanton returning, Carson Palmer’s out for the season, and then they have the safest choices of Ryan Lindley and Logan Thomas fighting for the start.  Andre Ellington’s gone, but hand it off to Stepfan Taylor, Marion Grice, even Kerwynn Williams.   They can pass, to Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, John and Jaron Brown.  Even lowly tight ends(they need a new one in the draft in May) John Carlson and Rob Housler.
Just pass, but don’t forget that the Panthers have a defense too.  The QB needs to throw in time before somebody can catch it.  Some of the guys the Cardinals will be dishing out at quarterback will be easy Luke Kuechly sack targets.   So, it’s done.  They’ll get some passes and runs in, Kuechly can’t get him every time, but the Panthers have the advantage.  Face it, Kuechly is better than Patrick Peterson, the Cardinals cornerback.  So, I have a feeling the Panthers can pull off this upset, I wouldn’t have called it that at the start at the year, but Carolina can win, especially with the home field advantage in this game.

Other Games
Cincinnati, 27, Indianapolis ,34.  Sunday, January 4, 2015  1:05 PM.  CBS
This is the closest to a lock I could find but I didn’t call it that because it’s not.  Indianapolis has Andrew Luck with four wide receivers-TY Hilton, Reggie Wayne, Hakeem Nicks and Donte Moncrief plus tight ends Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener and maybe even Jack Doyle.  Also, running backs Dan Herron and Trent Richardson.   Although Geno Atkins and Vontaze Burfict will get the running backs down, but the Bengals have a hole at cornerback, a potential draft targeting position for them.  So if Luck passes, him and his receivers and tight ends dominate.
For the Bengals, it’s the exact opposite.  The Colts lost Robert Mathis for the season, and have Vontae Davis back at corner.  AJ Green will get humiliated.   They’ll just run the ball.   Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard along with Mohammed Sanu I expect to be the three Cinci touchdowns.
For the Colts, it’s TY Hilton, Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen and Hakeem Nicks.  When you think about it, the Bengals are better defensively although the Colts have some improving defense so it could be the opposite.  But the Colts passing and receiving offense is just too good, so I think the Colts can still pull off the win by a touchdown.

Baltimore, 27, Pittsburgh, 31. Saturday, January 3, 2015.   8:15 PM.  NBC
This is another tough AFC North divisional match.   I have simply said that AFC North home teams win when they play other AFC North teams.  There’s more to it with this game than that though.  Some advice for playoff challenge players and Ben Roethlisberger, don’t start-for fantasy owners, and don’t hand off to Le’Veon Bell.  The Ravens linebackers will humiliate him.  Pass, to Antonio Brown and Heath Miller.  Ben Roethlisberger is also a sack target, but should have a good enough offensive line for him to get sacked that much.   Bell might even be injured, which leaves you sitting newly signed Ben Tate, who was released by the Vikings last week after being sat week after week.  So, just pass constantly and Pittsburgh can get some touchdowns, and if they can’t, maybe field goals, Shaun Suisham’s a good kicker.
When the Ravens are on offense, it’s a different story.  You could definitely say Pittsburgh’s secondary is the best part of their lowly defense, with rookie Ryan Shazier, along with Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor.  However, they might sit Polamalu.  So, the Ravens will just give it to Justin Forsett, Bernard Pierce or Lorenzo Taliaferro.   So, that means it’s just too bad for Steve Smith Senior, Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, Owen Daniels and Kamar Aiken.  So, Forsett is not enough to match Heath Miller and Antonio Brown, so the Steelers should win this game.

Detroit, 10, Dallas, 13.   Sunday, January 4, 2015.    4:40 PM     FOX
I know, these teams are better than that, but the Lions defense is really good and the Cowboys also have a decent defense although both offenses are really good too.  I still think this could be a game of two very bad teams, it’s one of two very good teams, I still just can’t say either is amazing yet though, but being so wrong may change my mind.  I actually thought that Detroit would be a little bit better, but now I think the Cowboys can win.  On offense, if Suh plays, it’ll be Bryant and Witten all the way.  Otherwise, the Lions defense doesn’t have any key weapons, and the Cowboys will mix up their dominant offense.  They still will struggle to score though, at least that’s what I think because I think Ndamukong Suh will play.
For the Lions it’s a similar situation on offense.  Matthew Stafford will first try running to Reggie Bush and Joique Bell.  But not for long as Sean Lee brings them and Matthew Stafford down.  Then they’ll pass to Clavin Johnson, who Morris Claiborne will take down and Golden Tate, where Barry Church is a threat to tackle him.  So, the Lions only options are tight ends Eric Ebron, Brandon Pettigrew and Joseph Fauria who all aren’t that good.  So, in that case, the Cowboys should be able to win this game, maybe even by more points, scoring more for Dallas.

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