Divisional Weekend – Round 2

NFL DivisionalSeattle (11-6) @ Carolina (15-1), Sunday 1:05 PM

Line: Sea +2.5 O/U 44.0

With all due respect to Russell Wilson, he’ll be the second best quarterback on the field today. If The Machine’s application is approved in time, SuperCam will definitely get our vote for MVP this year. Cam has been putting up ridiculous numbers in the passing (and running) game all season; including Week 6 at Seattle, where Newton threw a 26-yard TD dart to Greg Olsen to cap a come from behind win against the reigning NFC Champs. While Newton was picked twice in that game, he added a rushing TD along with the Olsen score, and, like all season, made big plays in big spots. He is seeing the entire field, spreading the ball to his ho-hum receiving corps, and trusting his freakish athletic ability. He’s been a force at home (to go along with 257 rushing yards + 6 rushing TDs):

homesplitUnfortunately for Cam and the Panthers, they are facing one of the hottest…and easily the luckiest…teams in the league. After being gifted a ticket to the Divisional Round, Seattle is playing with house money, so they’ve got no reason not to play free and loose. Plus, they get BeastMode back, who has a penchant for making game-changing plays in the playoffs.

Defensively, Seattle is much more average on the road than at home. Cam Chancellor has looked like a liability in coverage, as evident on the final drive last week, where he drew a 19-yard PI penalty only to get torched by Kyle Rudolph on the very next play for 24-yards. That *should* have cost the Seahawks their season. Greg Olsen should see double-digit targets and put up big numbers (he gashed the ‘Hawks this year to the tune of 7/131/1). The Panthers boast a formidable front-seven and a true lockdown corner in Josh Norman. Their athletic line backing corps should be able to contain Russell Wilson and keep him from creating outside the pocket and on broken plays, a lethal facet of his game.

Vegas basically has this one as a toss-up if it were on a neutral field. After facing a tough defense in Minnesota, and traveling across country this week to face the best team in the conference, I think Seattle’s luck runs out in Carolina.

newton gifPrediction: Carolina 20, Seattle 17


Bengals-ScalpPittsburgh (11-6) @ Denver (12-4), Sunday 4:40 PM

Line: Pitt +7.5 O/U 41.0

If the first game is the “good” than this one promises to be the “bad and the ugly”. The Steelers come hobbling into Mile High to face dead-arm Peyton Manning. Both teams are playing for the right to get whipped by Brady and Company.

Let’s start with the home team. The Broncos formula for winning is simple: play great defense (1st in total defense, allowing only 283 yards/game), run the ball (with the uninspiring duo of CJ Anderson and Ronnie Hillman), and don’t let the quarterback lose the game for you. Peyton Manning, the first ballot Hall-of-Famer, has been physically reduced to a game-manager that got (rightfully) bench for Brock-freaking-Osweiler this season.

If you’re to believe the cockgobblers Nance and Simms, Peyton Manning’s presence sparked the running game in their Week 17 victory over the Chargers. Admittedly, we might have been a few cases of Silver Bullets deep at the time, but we’re not blind. Manning was 5/9 with 65 yards and he was launching ducks all over the field. The spark in the run game probably had more to do with San Diego’s atrocious run defense and less with Manning’s presence. But that’s just our analysis.

I liked the Steelers to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl this year. That was before Antonio Brown was decapitated and Big Ben’s arm fell off.  Adam “Pacman” Jones claimed Antonio Brown (who was clearly knocked out before he hit the ground) was faking his injury (as if the refs needed more justification to throw a flag?!) and predicted Brown would be cleared to play this weekend. Yeeeeah. Pac also thinks his Enron stock will rebound and Jupiter Ascending will take home the Oscar for best picture. We long for the days when Pacman did what Pacman does best: make it ran dolla dolla bills (and bullets) in da club. Already reduced to a running back committee of Fitzgerald Toussaint (sounds like a French painter) and Jordan Todman, Brown’s play-making ability is a huge lose. Pittsburgh will rely on young but capable wide outs Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton, while Heath Miller figures to be peppered with short targets.

While Brown’s injury is devastating, Roethlisberger’s busted shoulder is of greater concern. Reports out of Pittsburgh claim that Ben is driving the football with good velocity, but isn’t that exactly what you would expect reports out of Pittsburgh to say? He certainly wasn’t able to throw the ball down the field during the final drive in Cincinnati; a fact that was overshadowed by the Bengals meltdown (with an assist from Joey Porter). This isn’t exactly uncharted territory for Ben, as he annually seems to be a walking infirmary.

So who do you trust more: and banged up Big Ben or going-on-40 Peyton Manning? Manning was no good in cold-weather playoff games in his prime when he had an arm (Eli clearly got all the clutch genes). Despite how decimated the Steelers are, I have to believe they can make enough plays to keep it close. The Steelers could easily lose by a touchdown, so I love getting the ½ point hook. I’m guessing Pacman Jones likes the Broncos to run away with this game in a shootout; so give me the Steelers and the points.

Prediction: Denver 17, Steelers 12







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