Saturday, January 17, 2015

2014 NFL Playoffs: Conference championship games

Green Bay Packers (+7-1/2) at Seattle Seahawks: This is a rematch of the 2014 season opener where the host Seahawks whipped the Pack 36-16. However, the Packers' offense became exponentially better as the season wore on. The scary thing is Seattle's top flight defense did as well.

To me, this is simple. Were Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers close to 100% for this game, I'd call it a "toss up." However, it was clear he lacked mobility (he also showed slight hesitation to even move around in the pocket) in last week's win over the Dallas Cowboys. Sure, Rodgers threw for over 300 yards, but that was against a porous Cowboys pass defense. This week Green Bay has to try to solve the best defense in the NFL.

If Green Bay is to pull the upset, they best score early. In the past seven games (including playoffs), the vaunted Seattle defense has given up exactly seven points in the fourth quarter, and that was last week when they were up 31-10. Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch will do his part to keep Rodgers off the field by running over the Packers' feeble run defense. QB Russell Wilson, in only his third season in the NFL, seems to elevate his game in the postseason.

As difficult as it is to pick against Rodgers even when he's battling a calf injury, I just think Seattle is on an unstoppable roll at this point. They're going to repeat as Super Bowl champs (Yep, I said it).
Seattle 27 Green Bay 17

Indianapolis Colts (+6-1/2) at New England Patriots: Andrew Luck and the Colts have faced the Pats three times (including playoffs) over the past three seasons. New England emerged victorious in all three games, winning by an average score of 48-22. They have also averaged nearly 200 yards rushing in those contests.

Despite the stellar play of third year QB Luck (he now holds the record for most postseason pass yardage after five games), the Colts turned the ball over 31 times in the regular season (third worst in the NFL) and had a turnover margin of -5 (tied for 22nd overall). Meanwhile, the Patriots had the fewest giveaways in the league and had a turnover margin of +12, good for second best.

Like I said last week, as long as Pats TE Rob Gronkowski is healthy, there's no defense in the league that can slow him down. Also, which RB will be the primary ball carrier for New England? In last year's playoff game vs Indy, LeGarrette Blount had 166 yards rushing and 4 touchdowns. In this year's regular season matchup, somebody named Jonas Gray ran for 201 yards and also had 4 TDs. It appears QB Tom Brady has some nice options this game.
New England 48 Indianapolis 22

2014 Postseason record: 
Straight up: 5-3
Against the spread: 2-6


No comments: