RR 2016 NFL Divisional Weekend Preview

By The Ruddy Report Staff nfl playoffs nfl

Kashev is 3-1! Patrick is 4-0! We're probably standing by our picks! Let's do it.

Kansas City at New England

Saturday, January 16th at 4:45 ET

Patrick Said: Kansas City 23 Tom Brady 21 1
Kashev Said: New England 28 Kansas City 12
Vegas Says: New England -5 2

Kashev:

Patrick may be 4-0, but this game right here is where Patrick lost his damn mind. Andy Reid is not going to the Super Bowl. Alex Smith is not going to the Super Bowl. I don't care if Gronk accidentally gave Bill Belichick a concussion, he's gonna be fine, and the Pats are gonna cruise to a victory here. Especially since Julian Edleman, Danny Amendola and some other people 3 will be healthy. Do I listen to too many Bill Simmons podcasts? Yes I do. But am I overestimating the Patriots here? Nope.

Patrick: some inane bullshit

Sigh. I left Kashev's joke headline for me intact, because he's right; I'm about to spew some inane bullshit.

For some reason, I put, in writing, that I expected the Kansas City Chiefs to make the Super Bowl. That probably can't be undone. Needing to talk myself into standing by my pick, I decided to google Jeremy Maclin to see if he would be able to play in this game, because that would make a huge difference. The first headline I encountered was "Chiefs Expect WR Chris Conley to Step Up in Jeremy Maclin's Place."

Crap.

I expected to win the $1.6 Billion Powerball last night, but my odds of doing that were about the same as Chris Conley stepping up to Maclin's level.4

I originally felt, and I still feel, that the winner of this game will represent the AFC. I originally felt, and I still feel, that the Chiefs match up well against the Patriots. I originally thought that Maclin would be healthy and Edelman out or at least hampered. Oops.

So the Patriots are probably the healthier team. The game is in Foxborough. In January. Gronk exists.5 Tom Brady is still alive. Bill Belichick is grumpy as ever.

Go Chiefs!

Green Bay at Arizona

Saturday, January 16th at 8:15 ET

Patrick Said: Arizona 21 Green Bay 20
Kashev Said: Arizona 63 Washington 13
Vegas Says: Arizona -7

Kashev:

I wasn't right about who was going to be in this game, but I am right about who is going to win it. I adjust my score prediction to Arizona 35 Green Bay 28. I think this is going to be a high scoring game; Bruce Arians is an offensive wizard, and his five star general is Carson Palmer. 6 Aaron Rodgers will not be able to will his Packers to victory here.

Also, don't forget; the Cardinals eviscerated this team 38-8 in week 16. Rodgers only threw one interception, but he also got sacked 8 times because his receivers are never open. 7 Arizona's defense is not gonna make this easy, especially off of a week of rest.

Patrick:

I was pretty high on the Packers before their offense woke up against Washington last week. Now, Aaron Rodgers is smiling for the first time all year; this should be very scary to Cardinals fans.

Look at that damn smirk! That impish grin. That little twinkle in his eye that says "I'm always going to beat the Bears forever but I'm also so nice that you'll look like a butt if you hate me for it."8 I've never seen someone be so smug without looking like a pompous ass at the same time. Look at that picture and try to honestly convince yourself that the guy is about to not win...at anything. Can't do it. No wonder model Olivia Munn husbanded him...or not.

Bruce Arians is a pretty cool cat too, though. Earlier this season he called a team meeting and said only one thing:

"Tomorrow, are you going to be the guy who says, 'My bad?' Or are you going to be the guy who makes the plays?" 9

Then he walked out of the room. That's some pretty epic coaching right there. I'm counting on it being enough for the Cardinals to overcome the loss of Tyrann Mathieu and take down the suddenly surging Packers.

Seattle at Carolina

Sunday, January 17th at 1:05 ET

Patrick Said: Seattle 26 Carolina 23
Kashev Said: Carolina 45 Seattle 40
Vegas Says: Carolina -1.5

Kashev:

I hate to say it like the worst of talking heads, but Seattle is not a team anybody wants to face right now. They look dangerous. Russell Wilson can put the team on his back and create something out of nothing on any given snap, as we saw last weekend. It didn't seem to matter who was playing running back for them, they still out-rushed Adrian Peterson, who nobody out-rushed in the regular season. But let's try to look on the bright sides:

  1. Cam Newton: Cam Newton is also dangerous. He might be the second coming of Russell Wilson, especially with his recent development as a pocket passer. I think he's up there with the most dangerous QBs in the league— along with Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, and unfortunately, Russell Wilson, this week's opponent. Furthermore, Seattle's secondary more or less gives the same sort of coverage on most plays, and doesn't blitz often. 10 Cam Newton, given some good offensive line play, should be able to keep the ball moving on Seattle.

  2. The Quietly Productive Carolina Running Game: Here's a good read on this. This running game kept the passing game open against the Legion of Boom, which is important.

  3. The Number One Seed Advantage: This is what I'm banking on. Seattle played a brutal game in the brutal cold last week, while Carolina practiced. I am really hoping this makes a difference. Moreover, Carolina doesn't have to travel. One has to think that on a neutral field on the west coast, Seattle would have beat the Vikings by more than a fluke play. Neither of those things are true this week, and Carolina is a much, much, much better team than Minnesota.

Despite all of these things, I am still really nervous.

Patrick:

Carolina is better on paper.11 I don't care.

I'm sticking with my pick, and with my gut. Roll Hawks.12

Pittsburgh at Devner

Sunday, January 17th at 4:40 ET

Patrick Said: Denver 29 Pittsburgh 23
Kashev Said: Denver 17 Pittsburgh 16
Vegas Says: Denver -2.5

Kashev:

On any given week, I think Pittsburgh could beat the crap out of Denver, even with their 1st place defense. 13 But this is not any given week.

  1. Ben Roethlisberger got his right arm amputated. I know! Crazy right? The entire thing! He's still gonna play though.

    Just kidding. But seriously! He has torn ligaments in his throwing shoulder. He said that he wasn't able to throw far down field on that last drive in the Bengals game. But the part I wasn't joking about was that he is going to play. I seriously think Mike Tomlin would rather have Roethlisberger throw lefty than let Landry Jones play. 14 Despite anything Big Ben says.

  2. Antonio Brown took a nap on the field last week. All reports say that he is not going to play this game.15 This is going to hobble Pittsburgh's offense.

  3. Denver is at home and got a bye week. This is a big deal since their quarterback is really old and needs his rest.

Finally, Denver still has that number one ranked defense, and they are healthy. They leaned on them in the beginning of the season, and they're going to lean on them in the post-season. This is going to be enough to overcome a ravaged Steelers.

Patrick:

Since Pittsburgh's last display of sportsmanship ran somewhere between childish and criminal, I will be rooting very hard for the Denver Broncos.

I have no earthly idea what we are going to see from the Ghost of Peyton Manning. He could come out and play like a ghost with a vengeance...or he could not. Either way, I will be rooting for him.

I originally predicted that Denver would sign Tim Tebow for this game. As of press time, that has not happened yet.16 However, there is still time. I stand by my prediction.17

Footnotes

  1. All predictions from the RR NFL Picks for the 2016 NFL Playoffs.

  2. All Vegas Lines from OddsShark.

  3. I don't care about the Patriots enough to know about all the Patriots on IR. I don't want to know enough about the Patriots to know which Patriots are on IR. Bill Belichick doesn't even fill that thing out properly.

  4. Basically, 1 in 292 million. The reason I bought my first lottery ticket last night was because it was getting close to being mathematically rational to do so. Interesting read for any stats nerds out there.

  5. Probably.

  6. Interested readers are encouraged to read the two part series by the MMQB's Peter King about Carson Palmer's preparation. Part 1 and Part 2.

  7. ESPN

  8. You see that too, right? At least we got one on him this year.

  9. From an excellent Bleacher Report article on Bruce Arians.

  10. MMQB's Divisional Weekend Preview Podcast.

  11. Although, Wilson is 4-1 against Newton.18

  12. For the record, I'll definitely be rooting for Carolina. As Kashev has mentioned previously, they're basically the Bears.

  13. Football Outsiders DVOA.

  14. Mustache Photo Courtesy of Celebrity Mustache.

  15. So shut up, Adam Jones.

  16. Apparently someone thought this was possible at one point, in the not a joke way.

  17. Tammy Wynette on Youtube.

  18. Patrick may think this is a good stat, but I do not. Russell Wilson's 1 loss? This season. Cam Newton is rising.19

  19. Thank goodness you're the one that opened up this meta-footnote thing, I can't tell you how many times I've thought about doing that. Be afraid, readers. Pandora's box20 has been opened.

  20. Which was actually a large jar.