Andy Cash’s Money Playoff Picks – The NFL Divisional Round
Well, I was 1-3 on my NFL Wildcard playoff picks last week but in my defense, there were some crazy games and one huge upset I did not see coming. Just to give a quick summary because I don't want to dwell on the past, I will start with my one correct pick. That was the Indianapolis Colts over the Kansas City Chiefs. For a while I thought they would lose, but we all know now about the collapse of the Kansas City defense and the outstanding drive and perseverance of Andrew Luck. As for my other picks, Andy Dalton blew it and showed his true colors, Rob Ryan did an outstanding job of shutting down Philadelphia's running game, and Green Bay needs to fire Dom Capers because if you lose four straight to San Francisco for the same reason (Kaepernick's rushing) you need to accept where the problem is coming from and handle it. Green Bay's defense is atrocious. That's all I have to say about that.
Let's get right to it! Here are my picks for the NFL Divisional Round of the Playoffs.
1. The New Orleans Saints at The Seattle Seahwawks
Honestly, the Saints are a good team. I did not think they would be able to stifle the running game of LeSean McCoy, but they did. Having said that I am confident in saying that they will have a lot harder time going into Seattle and beating this dominant Seahawks team. I know I used the same argument with Cincinnati in regards to home field advantage but Andy Dalton and Russell Wilson are two completely different animals. Yes it was hard to beat Cincinnati at home during the regular season, but Dalton proved that he could not handle the playoff pressure.
Russell Wilson is only in his second year and he has a playoff record of 1-1. Last year he set the record for the most passing yards in a playoff game for a rookie. Despite the loss last year in the divisional round against Atlanta, Wilson threw for 385 yards. He completed 24 of 36 passes and threw two touchdown passes. I know the Saints are going to go into CenturyLink with the momentum of a road playoff win and believe they will have what it takes to shut these Seahawks down, but I just don't think they can. Let's not forget, the Saints only won last week by a field goal, and that was against an Eagles team that was not playing their best. Having said all that, the Saints are going to go into this game positive, ready, and excited. They will leave disappointed. The Seahawks offense and the 12th man that is CenturyLink Field will be a winning combination. Predicted Score: The Seattle Seahawks 27, The New Orleans Saints 17.
This game can be seen Saturday, January 11th @ 4:35pm on FOX
2. The Indianapolis Colts at The New England Patriots
There is no doubt that Andrew Luck and The Indianapolis Colts had an incredible game against the Kansas City Chiefs. They had the second biggest comeback in NFL history overcoming a 28 point deficit in the second half. I really like Andrew Luck. I think he has an excellently accurate throwing arm, he's tough both mentally and physically, and he's a top team leader despite his young age. I see this young man having an incredibly good career, including a Super Bowl win, just not this year.
Here's the thing, Bill Belichick and his New England Patriots have dealt with intense adversity both in the off-season and this regular season. They faced the murder indictment of one of their star tight end Aaron Hernandez, tight end Rob Gronkowski has battled injury on and off and is out for the season, and to top it all off Tom Brady's favorite target, Wes Welker, is now on Denver's roster. Even with all these events taking place, The New England Patriots have the number 2 seed in the AFC with a 12-4 record. Tom Brady hasn't won the big title since 2005 and he's had two opportunities since then to take it, and he's hungry. I'm not saying that they will win it this year, however the strategy of Bill Belichick and his coaching staff is too good to go down in their first round. The Patriots will take this game handily. Predicted Score: The Indianapolis Colts 20, The New England Patriots 30.
This game can be seen Saturday, January 11th @ 8:15pm on CBS
3. The San Francisco 49ers @ The Carolina Panthers
My father still to this day does not let me forget that he said at the beginning of the year that Carolina would be a great team. Okay Dad, I get it Carolina was good this year, very good. Even though Cam Newton has the least amount of passing yards out of his three years in the league (3,379), his overall rating is the highest it's ever been at 88.8, He's thrown a career high 24 touchdown passes, and his completion percentage is the highest it's ever been at 61.7. In addition to Cam's impressive season stats he's had the help of an outstanding defense. This Carolina defense finished up the regular season ranked 6th in passing yards allowed and ranked 2nd in rushing yards allowed. These stats are all very impressive and Ron Rivera is to be commended. I know all that I have said so far indicates I am leaning toward a pick in favor of Carolina, but I just can't.
Being a Green Bay Packers fan, I debated whether or not to admit that, I have trouble making this pick given my disdain for San Fran. However, San Francisco is a good team plain and simple. They have a dominant wide-receiving core, their run game is strong with Frank Gore, and Colin Kaepernick whether you love him or hate him (hate him) has a good command of his offense. I've given the stats for Carolina so I think it's only fair to justify my pick with some San Francisco stats.
Offensively, they were only ranked 30th in passing, but a good passing game isn't a huge necessity when your running game is ranked 3rd overall. Their defensive rankings are equally impressive with a rank of 7th overall for passing yards allowed and 4th overall for rushing yards. I honestly believe Cam Newton has a shot for some playoff wins, just not this year. He has no NFL post season experience and most of this San Fran team does. It's just not Carolina's year. Did I mention Carolina Wide-Receiver Steve Smith is questionable for the game? He missed Thursday's practice with a knee injury. Predicted Score: The San Francisco 49ers 24, The Carolina Panthers 17.
This game can be seen Sunday, January 12th @ 1:05pm on FOX
4. The San Diego Chargers @ The Denver Broncos
I'm just going to say it! I was 1-3 last week so my record this week has to be better than that. I am going with the upset here. I really believe that San Diego can pull off the miracle. Let me start off by saying I seriously under estimated this team. I thought they were going to go into Cincy and get stomped. Yes, I know Andy Dalton had a terrible game, but the San Diego defense came up with those turnovers and more importantly capitalized on them. San Diego was lucky to get into the playoffs however, The New York Giants were lucky to get into the playoffs in 2011 and they won a Super Bowl. I am a man of my word and in my last playoff pick post I said, "If San Diego wins this game, they might as well go on and win the Super Bowl." I'm not saying they definitely will, but who knows, it's been a crazy season. Again people, this is an UPSET PICK.
Even though I am picking San Diego I have to talk about this Denver team. Peyton Manning at 37 years of age is still a dominating force in the National Football League. He set the single-season record for touchdown passes this year with 55. When you watched Denver this year you knew that there was a 90% chance they were going to score no matter where they were on the field. Manning has so many weapons. At the wide receiver position you have Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and until he got hurt Wes Welker. Welker will play in Sunday's game. Knowshon Moreno at running back was an additional threat. Their defense was decent but by no means great. They didn't need a good defense, they had Manning. With a passing defense ranked 27th, that may help give Philip Rivers the edge. Predicted Score: The San Diego Chargers 31, The Denver Broncos 28.
This game can be seen Sunday, January 12th @ 4:40pm on CBS
Well, there they are. Again I encourage you to comment in the section dedicated to them below. I know I was 1-3 last week, what do you think my record will advance to?